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Model Railway Electrics - Control Box

Author "Silver Surfer" (forum member)


At some point during construction of your model you have to make or buy a control box for your switches etc, once you've decided what you want which is all down to personal choice really. This is one I knocked up in a couple of hours and thought it might give inspiration to others.

My layout will have two levels with the bottom level containing the fiddle yard. I therefore need this to be running perfectly prior to constructing the top board over it. With all the track laid and tested I installed Peco point motors resulting in dozens of wires hanging all over the place. So the time had came for me to knock up a box to house the switches. If it works okay, I'll have a similar one for my upper level positioned on the left of my controllers. This control box is going on the right hand side.

First thing to do is decide on and then purchase the type of switches / buttons you require. Also decide whether you'll be having any connectors in the box. Again buy a couple and take them all along to wherever you buy the box and make sure you can get them to fit inside the box, especially vertically. (see picture 2)

Product List

  • Aluminium Box PC24

  • Push to make buttons (to deliver a short burst of power to a point motor to change the points)

  • SPDT switches (on-on) or (on-off) to turn components on and off or to operate signals (on-on) Us DPDT to operate two separate circuits with one switch.



1.    The virgin box. (It's upside down by the way)

2.    Check the switches will fit inside the box

3.    Mark out your plan on the top (I used CD Marker pens)

4-5.    I went over the lines I had drawn with some 5mm coloured tape like this a roll insulating. A bit like the picture below. tip: It's easier if you drill the holes and then tape up otherwise the drilling makes an awful mess of your nice neat taping.

6.    To provide added protection and keep grubby finger marks off, I used some 2mm thick clear polycarbonate sheeting cut to size for the top.

1.Model Railway Control Box - Component Box    2.Model Railway Control Box - Box, Switches, and terminal blocks    3.Model Railway Control Box - Marking out track lines

4.Model Railway Control Box - Insulation tape    5.Model Railway Control Box - Switch holes    6.Model Railway Control Box

7.     Mark the position of your switches and gently centre punch these marks.

8.    Drill 1mm pilot holes through each button/switch punch mark.

9.    Tape the poly sheet over the top of your plan to aid accurate drilling.

10.   Turn the box upside down and drill back through the poly using the pilot holes as guides. Note: The pilot holes act as accurate centres for you to drill out larger holes to accept the buttons and switches. 

11.   Using a suitably sized drill bit to accept your buttons and switches (mine was 7mm) drill thro all the pilot holes in the box and the poly sheet - I found it easier and neater to drill the box and sheet as separate items. Don't worry about having to fix the sheeting to the box as the buttons and switches will do that nicely for you.

12.    Install your buttons and switches through the box face and the poly sheet, tighten them up and hey-presto you have one reasonable looking switch control box for under 20.


7.Model Railway Control Box - Hole punch    8.Model Railway Control Box - Drill switch hole    9.Model Railway Control Box - Poly sheet


10.Model Railway Control Box - Drill Hole through perspex  11.Model Railway Control Box  12.Model Railway Control Box - Finished


13.Model Railway Control Box - Inside

You just have a bit of soldering to do now.

The screw connectors will be installed in the base of the box and the wiring loom will exit through a hole in the rear to terminate at a suitable multi-pin plug and socket. This will allow the box to be removed to the work bench for any repairs, alterations or additions.

Hope it's of some help

[back to the top]


For an alternative Control Box please see Edwards Design Click here


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