When an N-Trak module has sidings branching off one or more of the main lines, the modeler
often wants to be able to turn power to these siding on and off, or, if the siding serves
two main lines, the modeler may wish to select which power source serves the siding.
Historically this has been done with electrical switches that are mounted in various
positions on the module. Sometimes they are behind the skyboard (Figure 1), sometimes on
the front fascia board and sometimes on the module top.
Figure 1 -
Slide switches behind the skyboard
don't have to be pretty and can be
The problem with electrical switches that are not mounted on the module’s top surface is
that they are not easily accessible if the operator is on the wrong side of the module.
Even with DCC, the power load is low enough that double-pole, double-throw (DPDT) slide
switches (Figure 2) can easily and safely handle the voltage and the current. The beauty
of these switches it that they can be mounted right along side of the tracks they serve and
can be camouflaged so that they are totally inconspicuous, i.e. they’re hiding in plain
sight! (Figure 3)
Figure 2 -
Double Pole, DoubleThrow (DPDT) slide switch with a ribbedsliding button.
It’s a simple, five-step process that can be done when the module is built or added at
any time to an existing, completed module. Step one: if the sliding button has a rounded
and/or ribbed top, sand it flat so it is rectangular. Step two: solder sufficiently long
wire leads onto the bottom of the switch and label them since it will be difficult to do so
later. Step three: cut a rectangular hole in the surface just large enough for the switch
body to fit in the hole and so the switch face sets flush with the surface of the module.
Once in place, check to be sure the switch slides freely and completely. Step 4: glue the
switch in place with AC and then ballast around and over the switch, being sure not to get
glue or ballast on the sliding mechanism. It’s a good idea to work the switch periodically
as the glue is drying. Step five: paint the button and slide mechanism with aluminum
Figure 3 -
Slide switch on left, electrical junctionbox on right, both mounted betweenparallel tracks.
The result is that you have a switch that looks like a trackside electrical box and that
adds to the scenic effect rather than detracts from it (Figures 4, 5, & 6.). Also,
operators have easy access to the switch whether they are in the infield of the layout or
on the outside. Note that it is still wise to identify on the back side of the skyboard
what the switch controls. Other modelers may also have come up with this idea, but in
Oklahoma, this concept was developed and first used in the late 1980’s by Marc Montray
of the NEONS
(North East Oklahoma N-Scalers).
Figure 4 -
Another comparison of a
slide switch and an electrical box.
Figure 5 -
The same slide switch,
a different junction box.
Figure 6 -
Close up of a slide
switch with a rounded top.