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September 2002 - Page 29


odel railroaders frequently have to compromise aisle width in order to maximize the space available for our layouts. Walk-around control systems have also encouraged the trend away from centralized control panels to fascia-mounted turnout and power routing switches. This combination often leads to operators getting hung up on protruding switches as they try to pass in our toonarrow aisles. Here is a simple way to recess all those switches for a neat, finished look. While strolling through the plumbing section of my local home improvement store I noticed that some of the plastic plumbing fittings were an ideal size for recessing toggle switches. The fitting had to be deep enough to protect the lever of the switch, yet wide enough to allow fingers to easily reach in to activate it. A lip of some sort is an added bonus since it can hide any flaws in the mounting hole. I selected a piece made of ABS plastic labeled as a 21/2" bushing. I have since seen the same item labeled as 21/2" reducer. To close off the opening in the back and to provide a surface to mount the switch, I used a 11/2" white plastic knock-out plug. The two pieces cost under $2.00 at my local home improvement store. You might find other components or different sizes more appropriate for your application, but the principle of using them is the same. The knock-out plug has a ridge molded partway across the front surface that I removed with a pair of flush cutters and a #17 chisel blade in a hobby knife. I eventually realized that I only needed to use the flush cutters if I mounted the plugs smooth back side toward the front of the bushing. I sanded all the markings of the front of the bushing for a better appearance, but this is purely cosmetic and not necessary. Drill an appropriate mounting hole in the plug then pre-paint both pieces to ensure good coverage. I used a semi-gloss black from a spray can. Use any paint you like but a flat finish will easily mar as fingers and hands brush against it. Glue the plug to the back of the bushing with the back side toward the front. Make sure you use cement specifically for ABS pipe. I then installed the switch into the new mount. Cut a mounting hole at the appropriate place in the fascia using a 23/8" hole-saw in a power drill. Paint the fascia as you normally would and wire the switch. My mounted switches have a nice friction fit, so I simply slip them into place. If yours are a little loose, a dab or two of silicone caulk the kind you use to mount locomotive motors should hold everything in place. My switches operate slowmotion motors on the tail track of two wyes. Since the points are clearly visible, no labeling is required. You may find it necessary to label the switch positions for your installation. Thats all there is to it. For under $2.00 you can neatly recess your various toggle switches so they no longer catch clothing as people pass. Discounting adhesive and paint drying time, it takes longer to describe the process than to actually build one of these recessed fixtures.

Easy Recessed Fascia Controls Easy
by Bob Foltz
Photos by the author

The ABS bushing and white cap are found in the plumbing section of your home improvement store. Remove the ridge cast into the cap with flush cutters.

The final recessed switch assembly is ready for installation.

Simply connect the wires and slide the assembly into a hole cut with a 23/8 hole-saw. If the fit is loose, a few dabs of silicone sealant will hold it in place.

The installed switch has a nice finished look. Labels were not needed in my installation, but they could easily be added to the fascia if needed.



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