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Dave's Park!

Dave's Park!

Trimming a Caboose 206S Ground Throw

When I first saw Caboose ground throws I knew I wanted them on my layout. I particularly like the 206S which is supposed to be for N scale but I think it is a bit too big to really work well with N scale. So, I took a good look at one and decided I could trim it down considerably. What follows here is the method I used to trim mine and a few cautions about things to watch for when doing it.

Click on any photo for a larger version in a new window.

The first two photos show the 206S just at it comes in the package.

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The first thing I did was to trim off the back end of the throw bar. There is something I did not understand about the design of this throw that is absolutely important.

The throw bar is actually two pieces - the throw bar and a top cover. The worm gear works against the top cover. The top cover and the throw bar have carved out inside what amounts to a tube shaped cavity. There is a small spring in there. When the worm gear moves the top cover, the top cover acts against the spring which moses the throw bar. The spring allows the gear and top cover to travel farther than the throw bar, allowing the handle to move the full range of movement while the throw bar has a smaller travel corresponding to the smaller travel of the switch. The travel is not as great for the throw bar and the spring takes up the slack.

That is important for two reasons. First, this is why it is necessary to install the ground throw with the arm (lever) dead upright (12 o'clock) and the switch points centered.

Second, and this is a CAUTION - it is important to keep in mind that the cavity and spring are in there when deciding how much to trim off the back. Ideally, never trim off any of the top cover. Trim ony the throw bar itself - the part that protrudes farthest. At most, I would say that you could remove about 1/16" of the top cover safely.

These two parts can be clearly see protruding from the back of the ground throw in the first photo. The second photo shows what happens when one does not know the cavity and spring are in there. This ground throw was trashed. I suppose I could have glued a small piece on to hold the spring - if the spring had not vanished into the dark corners of under the table or beyond.

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The next thing I did was to shorten the front end of the throw bar so as to make it more compact and easier to fit between tracks in the yard. The next four photos show: the end pin removed; the throw bar trimmed to length for Atlas switches (Peco is different - read on); the corner nipped off just to make it look a bit leaner; and the end of the handle (lever) trimmed off.

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When trimming the front end of the throw bar for Atlas switches, I left about 1/16" past the pin. Then I trimmed the corners at an angle. For the Peco switches, I had to cut the bar just about flush to the pin and I did not nip off the corners. The hole in the Peco throw bar had to be drilled out to 1/16" to accept the pin. Also the pin on the ground throw can be trimmed if it is too long in either case. In both cases I trimmed off about 1/16".

The other CAUTION is regarding alignment. The Caboose 206S does not tolerate much side to side movement. The angle at which the ground throw is aligned with the throw bar on the switch has to be fairly straight. It is essential to always have the points centered and the handle up. It is also essential at that point to make sure the line of the throw bar on the ground throw is in line with the line of the throw bar on the switch. Atlas switches are more forgiving in that regard but I did have one of the Pecos jamming because the alignment was not perfect. I filled the holes, waited, and redrilled.

The last two photos show the Caboose 206S with a Peco switch; and a comparison between a trimmed ground throw and a stock ground throw. As you can see, it does make a remarkable difference.

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