An Operating O Scale Ground Throw Part 1

Written by Edward Traxler, photos by the author.

My modeling tends to wander about, evidently without any plans, since I am often surprised at the results. That means situations like the following turns up where I have to 'make it work'.

On the backside of the one of my switches, there is a drop-off to a road. To the front, a drop-off to the harbor. So the problem I am having fitting a suitable switch stand in this location.

One of the problems I found in the past with using the Caboose 202S HO Ground Throw is that just connecting the ground throw to the Peco On30 throw bar works, however, you find that some On30 engines will hit the ground throw with the footboards. The fix for that is to move the ground throw out on extended ties. And, it looks better too.


Most of my layout is constructed on Styrene foam insulation board. This is great for making modifications but it leaves something to be desired when attempting to do something like securing the switch stand.

To do that I took a piece of 3/4" square dowel cut to aproximately 1-1/4" long. This will be glued firmly into the foam and the ground throw secured to it.

Modify Peco Ties

Using a saw blades that fit an X-Acto knife handle, I removed the ends of the two ties flanking the throw-bar - just to the outside of the cast detail. This will allow me to extend the ties to support the switch stand. I also cut off the little nub on the throw-bar.

Gluing Dowel

I then removed some of the foam so the wooden dowel can be inserted. I like using Aleen's Tacky Glue and applying enough to secure it firmly in place.


I used additional pieces of foam to blend the old surface into the wooden dowel. I want it to look as if it has been there for years.

Paint, stains and rubble

I have a yellowish/beige latex paint that I got at a local hardware store, which I use as a base color for all my scenery. Once that dries I use powdered brown tempera sifted over the area and then washed into cracks and crevices with water from a spray bottle. I then use an AI (Alcohol and Ink) wash in areas to create contrast in colors, followed by gravel, sand, dirt and derbies which is a mix of sand and decomposed granite. I will then use black RIT dye to color the ties as well as a few drops around the scenery to add shadows and depth. Finally, I cement everything down with CAF (Concrete Acrylic Fortifier, which I like much more than white glue and water)

Once the CAF set, I come back and add a little dry-brushing across the rocks with a red/yellow mix of acrylics to tone the dark/shadow down. The various washes of AI and RIT black, darken the scenery. By dry-brushing back the base colors you create shadows.

Caboose Ground Throw Prototype

This article is about some slight modifications of the 202S Caboose Ground Throw. This is used by many of us as it is reliable, sturdy and looks ok with On30 equipment. Interestingly, there appears to be a prototype for the ground throw which can be seen below.

“The Stoney drum switch stand, designed by Chief Engineer E.W. Stoney, of the Madras Ry. (India), and extensively used on that road, is shown as Fig. 132. This device comprises a cast-iron cylinder or barrel which turns on an axle fixed in a suitable casting, being actuated by a weighted lever handle centered on the same axle, and passing through a short slot in the drum. The switch is moved direct by a roller on a pin fixed to the connecting rod. This roller fits in, and is driven by, a spiral slot S in the drum. The handle requires only a light weight to hold the points and works easily. It is made either trailable, or, by simply turning the lever over, to lock the switch dead to one or both sides, or so that it shall be locked for one side and trailable for the other. This arrangement is effected by simply altering the shape of the slot in the drum which actuates the connecting rod, as explained by the line engravings in the figure and the accompanying legends. The drum may be further locked, so as not to be moved, by a simple sliding locking bar secured by a padlock, as shown.“

Source: notes on Track: Construction and Maintenance, Volume 1 pg. 351 pub. 1904

In the next installment, I will discuss how I modified the ground throw to work with my On30 layout.

About the Author

eTraxx's picture

Edward Traxler

Retired from US Army as SFC. Living in South Carolina and enjoying that retirement.


eTraxx's picture

About the Stoney Drum Swtich Stand. If you look at it there is a pin on the throw-bar that follows a grove in the drum. The Caboose Ground Throw has a ridge on the drum that fits in a slot on the throw bar. Pretty much the same. I was thinking .. it wouldn't take much to make a Caboose look like a Stoney.

"I drank .. WHAT?"
--- Socrates

jrl2442's picture

so very eager to see part 2. thanks for your work and inspiration. jim/atlanta