To complement the company’s new gauge-1 turnouts
, Bachmann has also released a manual switch actuator. While they call it a switch stand, it more closely represents what is known as a ground-throw. When properly installed, a lever just above ground level is swung through an arc of 180°, thus moving the point rails of the switch.
The plastic body has a molded-in gear box. By removing four small phillips-head screws, access to the interior may be gained. Inside are two metal bevel gears, one attached to the metal handle and one to the stainless-steel throw rod. The stainless-steel throw rod passes through the housing via a tiny, soft diaphragm that will help to keep out moisture and debris. When the cover is in place, the entire unit is well sealed against the elements and garden dirt, though it is not strictly waterproof.
The handle is stout. It snaps into position via detents molded into the case. On top of the case is a square hole into which the indicator flags easily drop—too easily, perhaps. This, I think, is the one weak point of the product. I’d like to see the flags held more securely in place. A little dab of glue in the hole could solve this problem. Because the hole into which the flags slip is square, the flags can be placed in any of four positions, depending on your track configuration.
Three different sets of standoffs and three actuator rods are supplied, allowing you to place the machine close to or farther from the track. Instructions are also supplied for changing them out. This necessitates opening the mechanism, for which you’ll need a tiny phillips screwdriver. The actual process is simple. Just make sure the gears are properly positioned on reassembly or your flags won’t align properly.
You also have the option of actually changing the throw distance of the machine to better match your points. The as-shipped default is 9mm. If your points don’t need that much throw, there’s also a 6mm option. Resetting the distance is also a simple procedure, covered in the instructions.
This well-engineered unit will operate virtually any switch. It screws right into Bachmann’s switches. When installed on one of those, the action is sure and positive. You may have to make some simple modifications to adapt it to switches of other manufacturers.