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

MarkInLA Jan 11, 2018

  1. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA TrainBoard Member

    1,880
    47
    28
    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

    16,776
    1,190
    190
    I wondered this myself. I know railroaders on 12" = 1' scale railroads call 'em switches....
     
  3. Greg Elmassian

    Greg Elmassian TrainBoard Member

    295
    44
    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

    2,022
    1,474
    48
    I like 'turnout' personally. A switch can be anything, even a whack on the backside! Jim
     
    dalebaker and Shortround like this.
  5. dalebaker

    dalebaker TrainBoard Member

    808
    295
    13
    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
     
  6. wcfn100

    wcfn100 TrainBoard Member

    1,012
    36
    25
  7. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA TrainBoard Member

    1,880
    47
    28
    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

    1,565
    210
    28
    Engineering may have their terminology, but train crews definitely say ‘switch’. I’ve seen people ridiculed for saying turnout.
     

Share This Page