How To Hide Surface Mounted Point Motors On Model Railway Layouts

Dave's Point Motor Hide Away

Many railway modellers use the surface mount type point motors as a means to operate pointwork remotely. Various brands of point motors can be mounted out of sight under the baseboard including Peco & Gaugemaster Seep.  This does mean however that a hole has to be drilled to allow for the point motor actuator bar to connect with the pointwork tie bar. Careful positioning in mounting the point motor can be time-consuming & tricky. There may also be occasions where there isn't room under the baseboard, due to the baseboard framework getting in the way, or the baseboard sitting on a table etc.

So for some modellers, a surface mount point motor may be the only option. However, surface-mounted point motors are unsightly as they obviously don't look like a realistic lineside feature. With a bit of thought, surface mount point motors can be carefully hidden from view using a small building such as a lineside hut. A while ago Dave sent in details of how he hid a point motor on his layout using one of our small substation models.


Now you see it… The Surface Mounted Point Motor In Place

In Dave's photo above, you'll see Dave is using a Peco/Hornby solenoid point motor with a Peco polarity switch mounted on top of the point motor. If this was located in a fiddle yard then having the point motor on view isn't an issue as fiddle yards tend to be hidden from general view, but on a scenic section of the layout, it really needs to be hidden from view.  

Now you don't.

To hide the point motor Dave has used the Small Electrical Substation kit which he downloaded from the First Class section of the Railway Modellers Club. This download kit includes a base section, the substation building & also a perimeter wall with gates. A very easy kit to build, making an ideal corner filler.  As Dave is using the substation to cover a point motor, the only modification he's made to the kit is to assemble the kit without the base itself. 

One further tweak he's had to make of course is to allow space for the point motor mounting plate & the bar that connects to the point tie bar. On the lower part of the wall, a small section of the lower building side wall has been removed to allow the point motor bar to pass through as indicated by the arrow in the photo. 

As you can see from Dave's photos, small buildings such as this substation are perfect for hiding points. One thing to remember though is that the building shouldn't be glued down. Should you need to replace the point motor or troubleshoot an issue, you're going to need easy access!

Using Dave's method, other buildings, walls, lineside structures can also be used to hide the surface mount point motors.

Here's one we made earlier

Like Dave, a few years ago, I employed the same method with one of our laser cut kits on my own layout. The location of the points was right above the baseboard frame cross brace and a branch line incline going into a tunnel below meant I had to use a surface mount point motor in this location. The building I opted to use was our LX032-OO Laser Cut LNER Sectional Concrete Hut kit.

The pre-cast concrete hut is supplied as a pack of two & can be easily assembled in an evening. It can be left unpainted for a natural concrete finish or be easily enhanced with weathering powders & acrylic paints as required.

As with the substation building, the base section needs to be omitted when assembled to allow the hut to sit over the top of a Peco/Hornby pointmotor, as the photo above shows.

The Peco point motor I wanted to use also had the polarity switch which makes the motor quite tall. So I had to fashion a small plinth for the building to stand on, giving it enough clearance for the motor to sit comfortably inside. This was made using a few offcuts of card from the kit to make a concrete base around the point motor, and by making the base just a bit higher than the point motor mounting plate it saved me from having to cut a section out of the hut wall.

The photo above shows the base for the hut fitted around the point motor mounting plate.

The hut, like Dave's, is left loose so it can be removed for maintenance purposes, which has proved worthwhile as I had to replace this point motor a couple of years ago when it failed!

The photo above shows the in place over the point motor concealing it from view. The only tell-tale sign that there is a point motor there is the connecting bar on the pointwork tiebar.

Hopefully, these two solutions for hiding surface-mount point motors will come in useful when building your layouts. They can also be used to hide switches and other layout electrics too!

Happy modelling

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