Origin of 'turnout' as sub for 'switch', theory

MarkInLA Jan 11, 2018

  1. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

    1,978
    71
    29
    The story I got decades ago was, that before digital control and push-button use, toggle-switches became the prominent components for operating DC analog model train layouts; those and 'knife switches' and 'wafer switches'. They turned off and on main power, track blocks, spurs, engine house track, city/town lighting, various accessories, and what had you. So, in order to separate this aspect from the term 'switch track' the hobby began saying 'turnout' when referring to what is the track routing devise, purely for clarity of what we were referring to at the moment; the electrical devise, or the track routing devise. With today's MRRing being controlled mostly via digital electronics, and for the most part having abandoned the use of toggle switches, I think the hobby can return to calling T.O.s what the railroads do and did, 'switches'. I respect that some claim 'turnout' is the RR term for the track routing devise. Well, it's not that serious, and those who prefer T.O. to switch certainly can.. I just think the 1:1 scale does say 'switch'.. Ex. " Dispatch to road engine 3211 " " 3211 copy". "At Kellogg's spur, take 3rd LH switch from main. Problem on usual 2nd switch today. Over ". " 3211. Roger that. Assume 3rd switch. Over ". " Thank you 3211. Tower out ".. This technically may not be the way it's communicated. But it must be close..Any dibs ?. MH, over and out ...
     
    Doorgunnerjgs likes this.
  2. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    17,184
    2,168
    211
    I wondered this myself. I know railroaders on 12" = 1' scale railroads call 'em switches....
     
  3. Greg Elmassian

    Greg Elmassian TrainBoard Member

    312
    47
    11
    I seem to remember reading in Model Railroader in the 60's that they used "turnout" to avoid confusion with real, electrical switches.

    Greg
     
  4. HOexplorer

    HOexplorer TrainBoard Supporter

    2,087
    1,926
    53
    I like 'turnout' personally. A switch can be anything, even a whack on the backside! Jim
     
  5. dalebaker

    dalebaker TrainBoard Member

    884
    473
    16
    Thanks Jim! This gave me some pleasant memories of my grandmother! She was big on sending us out to get our own switches! But I don’t remember her ever actually using one. Hehe
     
    HOexplorer likes this.
  6. wcfn100

    wcfn100 TrainBoard Member

    1,032
    44
    25
  7. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

    1,978
    71
    29
    Jaso
    Thanks Jason. I guess I stand corrected. But I'll bet other railroads or employees of, say 'switch' anyway. So I'd call it a draw in that both the 1:1 scale and the smaller scales use both and that there is no set rule, and leave it at that. Thanks,M
     
  8. jpwisc

    jpwisc TrainBoard Member

    1,617
    259
    29
    Engineering may have their terminology, but train crews definitely say ‘switch’. I’ve seen people ridiculed for saying turnout.
     
  9. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

    1,978
    71
    29
    Kari, yeah, that's kind of the way I see it too. But, Jason above has a point (pun not intended) ! ...M
     
  10. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    713
    302
    17
    That would make a great Bevis and Butthead bit. ...Heh, heh,...he said "turnout"...heh, heh.

    :D

    Doug
     
    hoyden and jpwisc like this.
  11. sp4009

    sp4009 TrainBoard Member

    802
    127
    21
    The term switch applies to the points(movable parts) of a turnout and the mechanism that moves them. You can throw a switch, but you can't throw a turnout, unless you're Superman;)
     
  12. COverton

    COverton TrainBoard Supporter

    1,855
    14
    30
    This has been my understanding...the switch is 'lined' for the route. I believe that term is a diminutive and is colloquial for "aligned", but I could be wrong.

    The turnout comprises two or more routes. So, the turnout is the big thing hoisted by a crane in modern times, swung out over the flatcar's deck and into place where the route change is needed. We know them as 'Peco, Atlas, Shinohara, Micro Engineering', and they are properly called turnouts. The switch is the headblock, throwbar, mechanism for throwing, and the points rails...only. Therefore, a railroad turnout includes a switch.
     
  13. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

    1,978
    71
    29
    SP4009
    Joe, I believe the entire mechanism is a a switch because it switches a train's direction when train is entering it from the small, or single track end, and the rails which decide the route through it are the points which are moved by a motor or ground throw that sets the points to 'normal' or 'reverse' position. Yes? Not sure. Are you in agreement with me that the whole enchilada is a switch ? Or do you mean it is a turnout ?... M
     
  14. sp4009

    sp4009 TrainBoard Member

    802
    127
    21
    The whole thing is a turnout as you "turn out" from the normal or tangent side of the turnout. I had a road master explain the terminology of it years ago. The turnout has several components, stock, wing, point and guard rails, frog, head block, throw bar, switch, etc... We use the term switch because that is the part of the turnout that has human interaction, whether by ground throw or electric/pneumatic/spring mechanisms.
     
  15. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

    1,978
    71
    29
    I do appreciate all the banter over this subject. But I think we aught to leave it at that because it's never going to be proven one way or the other. I will say this :Why 'turnout' ? Why not 'turn in', since it also allows trains to come into it from the diverging route !! Food for thought. Fugeddaboudit..! M
     

Share This Page