Articles - Track: Ground Throw Installation
05/25/2018
External Reference:
Nearly everyone is familiar with the Caboose Industries' manual ground throw switch stand. It allows for manual operation of the throwbar of a turnout. This photo shows their "5202S" product package. This package contains five "202S" ground throws, an example of which is shown in the lower, right-hand corner of the photo. The sprue in the upper, right-hand corner of the photo comes with their "210S" product, which includes detailing parts for showing a turnout indicator and turnout number.
Ground Throw Installation
The "S" in their product number indicates that the ground throw has an internal spring. When you throw the handle, you'll feel it snap to the end of its travel. This aids in keeping the point rail of the turnout firmly positioned against its stock rail, so that it doesn't have an opportunity to wander off due to track vibrations. Note that there is some flash on the model, which you may opt to clear up with a knife or file. When you first start to use the ground throw, it will feel a bit rough, but that will wear out to where the model will be easier to use over time.
Ground Throw Installation
This photo shows the underside of the ground throw. The movable bar has a pin protruding on one end, and a hole on the other. There are two holes on the base of the model, which allow for it to be installed on the layout itself.
Ground Throw Installation
If you look closely at the tip of the handle, you will notice that it has a V-shaped notch in its end. This is so that you can slip your fingernail into the notch to lift the handle, if the handle is all the way down on the layout's base. Without this notch, the handle might be very hard to grab in that scenario.
Ground Throw Installation
I have operated on HO- and N-scale layouts in the past that used these. They all worked fine. Occasionally, there would be a handle that popped off of the base, but it was easy to fix, by popping it back in. Unfortunately, if that happens too often with a particular ground throw, the base starts to be worn out and the handle will start to pop off more frequently. Replacing the ground throw with a new one is the only work-around. I mention this, because it may become necessary in the future to replace them, so keep that in mind when you mount them.
My personal experience was that the N-scale ones are so small that they are hard to use. Also, my personal opinion is that these ground throws are made for full-size humans, meaning that they are out-of-scale for the layout. So, from a visual perspective, my recommendation is to get the one for the next scale smaller than the scale of your layout. However, you do have to pay attention to their throw distance.

Their N-scale version has a throw distance of 0.135"
They have an HO/N version with a throw of 0.165"
Their standard HO version has a throw of 0.190"
Their O-scale version has a throw of 0.280"
For S-scale, the owner of the company recommends using the typical HO-scale version, "202", with a throw of 0.190". If you multiply 0.190" by 64, you get the scale throw distance, which comes out to 12" (one foot). The others scale out, in S-scale, to be 8.5" (N), 10.5" (HO/N), and 18" (O).
External Reference:
The NASG web site has the engineering standards for S-scale listed. The variables "G" and "P" are important in this discussion. Basically, the points P move in between the track spacing G. For regular standard-gauge track, G can vary between 4'8.5" (min) and 4'9.9" (max). P can vary between 4'4" (min) and 4'7" (max). So that means that the point rails can travel between 4.5" and 2.9". In the real world, points travel right at about 4".

So, that means that the Caboose Industries ground throws, even the N-scale one, provide way too much travel for an S-scale throwbar, if you build your turnouts to the standard (which I have attempted to do). So, some sort of flexible spring has to be introduced to the throw to "absorb" the difference of 8" of travel. Of course, commercial turnouts will have a different amount of travel, so you will have to evaluate that for your own situation.
I experimented with a set of different brass wires until I found one that was stiff enough to take the forces applied to it, yet not too stiff to not allow it to bend while being pushed.
Ground Throw Installation
You can see the shape I bent the wire into to get it to give me the flex I needed. I drilled a hole in the throwbar matching the wire's diameter, and bent the end of the wire a bit to keep it from slipping out of the whole. A similar approach was taken at the ground throw's end of the wire.
Ground Throw Installation
To prepare the ground throw for final installation, I cut off the unused side of the ground throw's moving piece of plastic (the side with the protruding cylinder). Next, I trimmed the base of the ground throw to match the spacing of the two ties I use for the head ties. I used rail nippers to make these cuts. I then cut a piece of double-sided tape (the thin, see-through kind), attached it to the bottom of the ground throw, and then positioned the ground throw in its desired location. Since modifying the base removed its mounting holes, I drilled four new holes in the base and into the headstock ties, and then inserted metal wires. These wires were about 1/2" long and have a 90-degree bent in their ends. These were glued in place with superglue (their "heads" are visible in the close-up photo below).
Ground Throw Installation