Piko R5 switch with power motor

Switch and electronic switch motor
RELATED TOPICS: TRACK | PIKO
Piko switch motor
Kevin Strong
Code 332, gauge-1 (45mm)
R5 switch
Piko (Germany)
Piko America
4610 Alvarado Canyon Rd.
San Diego CA 92120
Prices: #35222 or #35223 R5 manual switch, $69.99; #35260 switch control box, $59.99; #35271 electric switch motor, $39.99
Website: www.piko-america.com

R5 (1200mm radius) switch; electric switch motor and controller

Pros: Rugged construction; waterproof switch motor
Cons: None
Piko R5 switch and switch motor
Kevin Strong
Piko continues to expand and improve its track system, which now features an electronic switch motor and control box along with its "R5" switch. The switch is built to Piko's "R5" curve radius, which is stated as 1240mm. For the non-metric among us, that's roughly a 4' radius. Note that Piko's "R5" is different from LGB's "R5," which is different from TrainLine45's "R5," so don't be fooled into thinking the "R" values are consistent.

The switch itself measures 19" long on the straight leg, and the diverging curve makes a 22.5° arc. The switch comes with a "make-up" section to extend the curve to a 30° arc. Mechanically, the switch is well built. Critical dimensions are within G1MRA and NMRA standards. (The flangeway on the frog is a bit looser but that doesn't affect operation.) The frog is insulated but shouldn't pose a power-pick-up problem on any but the shortest-wheelbase locomotives. Points have tapers milled into them, which tuck into the stock rails. This helps keep flanges from picking the points, a common cause for derailments at switches.

As delivered, the switch has a simple "V" spring holding the points against the stock rail. This is really all you need for reliable operation-I've been using a similar spring on my switches for years. A train coming through the switch with the points closed against it can simply push its way through; the spring is loose enough to allow the points to flop over against the opposite rail.
For those wishing automatic control, Piko has a new electric switch motor. This machine is ruggedly built and appears to be weatherproof. The throw arm is set in a rubber "boot" that moves with the arm. It's got screw terminals for attaching the wires, as well as a removable end, to which you can attach an electrical switch so that the switch motor not only moves the points but controls the power to the switch as well.

The switch motor simply screws onto the ties. It can be used for other manufacturers' switches as well, provided similar tie spacing. The unit contains a small motor that is not energized except when power is applied from the controller. This is nice because the switch retains is "rubber" points, where a train coming through opposite the direction the switch is thrown will simply push the points over, avoiding a derailment.

For controlling the switch motor, Piko has a four terminal, switch-control box. It's well built, with plastic covers for both the control switches and screw terminals on the back. On the side are two metal pins that transmit power from one control box to the next. Overall, it appears to be a robust combination of products to control your railroad's switches.

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