Replacement switch throw bar

GLX Scale Models replacement throw bar
Replacement switch throw bar
GLX Scale Models
911-2759 Carousel Crescent
Ottawa ON K1T 2N5
Price: $9.99 per card—10 throw bars per card

UV-resistant acrylic replacement throw bar for Aristo-Craft switches (also compatible with other manufacturers’ switches)

Pros: Durable; laser-cut accuracy; easy to install; compatible with a variety of manufacturers’ switches or for hand-built switches
Cons: Single hole as opposed to a slot at the end may cause the throw mechanism on the switch machine to bind to the side
Plastics and ultra-violet radiation from the sun don’t get along very well. That’s why most of the plastics we use outdoors have some level of UV inhibitor manufactured into the plastic. “Inhibit,” though, does not mean “prevent,” and occasionally the plastic becomes too damaged by the sun’s rays and breaks. I live in Colorado where, if I don’t bring my newspaper in by noon, the sun’s UV will already have turned it yellow, so I’m no stranger to UV damage to plastics.

GLX’s replacement throw bars were created from a concern over UV damage. Members of the local garden-railway society in Ottawa, where GLX is located, were complaining that the throw bars of their Aristo-Craft switches were becoming brittle and breaking, so GLX set out to design a replacement that would better withstand normal environmental abuse. What they came up with is simple, elegant, and useful well outside their intended scope.

The throw bar is laser-cut from 1/8"-thick black acrylic. It matches the overall size of the original Aristo-Craft throw bar (3" x 0.35"), though there are some subtle variations in where the holes are placed, which gives it a little advantage over the stock throw bar. These bars come 10 on a card; just lightly press the throw bar out of the card to use it.

The holes to which the points attach are ever so slightly closer together (about 1/32") than the original ones. This gives just a little more room between the open point and the stock rail so that wheelsets that may be too narrow back-to-back will not hit the points as the cars move through. At the same time, they are not too close together to exceed the throw of the switch-throw mechanism.

The holes to which the switch machine attaches to the throw bar are also different from the original. First of all, the hole on one end of the GLX throw bar is slightly farther away from the points than the other. The manufacturer says this is to provide better alignment of the points when using a Bachmann switch-throw mechanism in conjunction with the switch, as opposed to the stock Aristo-Craft throw. If you’re using other manufacturers’ switch machines, you can use whichever end gives you better or more equal positioning of the points against the stock rails.  

If you scratchbuild your own switches, these throw bars are great for your purposes, too. You only need to screw the points to the holes in the throw bar and you’re good to go. I easily replaced a rather flimsy plastic throw rod on one of my switches with one of these, which is much heavier and stronger. With the pre-drilled holes, there’s no measuring or any other thought needed.

The only difficulty I had was that the throw-bar stems from GLX employing a single hole in the end of the throw bar (to attach the bar to the switch throw), as opposed to the slot used by Aristo-Craft and other manufacturers. GLX says this results in a stronger, more secure joint between the two, and it’s hard to argue that point. However, if there’s any misalignment between the throw bar and switch-throw mechanism, this can lead to binding. If your switch throws are rigid (i.e., the points are held firmly against the stock rails and cannot move if a train comes the “wrong way” through the points), this will not be an issue. The Aristo-Craft switch machine is sprung, meaning the points can be pushed open. However, there was enough of a misalignment to one side, where the switch machine tended to bind. This made the points difficult to move over. The upshot is that you’ll have to pay attention to the alignment and throw mechanism to make sure your switches spring properly.

These throw bars are great things to have in your parts drawer, in case of emergencies. If you’re going to break a throw bar on a switch, Murphy’s Law dictates that it will be the day before an open house, and you’re going to want a quick and easy solution. These throw bars allow you to fix it quickly and fix it right.


Read and share your comments on this article

Want to leave a comment?

Only registered members of are allowed to leave comments. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.


Get the Garden Railways newsletter delivered to your inbox twice a month

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Garden Railways magazine. Please view our privacy policy