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Hidden solenoid

All modern Märklin K-track points use the detachable solenoids. This is a remarkable improvement compared to the old solenoids, but it would be even better if you couldn't see them at all. But how? Märklin markets a kit to mount the solenoid under the track bed. However, the solenoids are not exactly known for their reliability and the kit does not improve this to say the least. Furthermore, mounting the kit is a lot of work and it is not cheap.

A better and cheaper solution is mounting the solenoid upsidedown. Just try it: detach the solenoid, flip it and attach it again. You will see that it works. You just have to install it on the layout like this, right...

The major source of trouble with the points is the automatic shut-off feature of the solenoid. The little contacts pick up grease and become weak over the years. The points start to malfunction and will quit working altogether in the end. Mounting the solenoid upsidedown will speed up this process considerably. The solution: apply two drops of solder to bypass the contacts. This modification can de undone easily later.

The next step involves cutting a groove at the spot where the solenoid will be mounted. The solenoid will stick out below the points and needs a place to sit. Do not make the groove too narrow: a wider groove will make it easier to install the solenoid. Furthermore, it will allow you to reach the solenoids from the underside later on.

The solenoid has been attached to the points. Both have been pressed down in a track bed of Merkur Styroplast. It is ready to be fastened, but first the wires need to be lowered into the groove.

The points are in place and the solenoid is hardly sticking out from the track bed. With a little bit of scenery added, it will be invisible later. Special strips will be used to give the edges of the track bed a nice finish.

The solenoid is hidden with a little ballast. The next step is adding the last details, such as the lantern and the operating wires. Weinert is one of the companies that can supply you with the right parts for this.

The result: a perfectly hidden solenoid. A 'Handstellhebel' has been added to the lantern. Both were supplied by Weinert.

Tip: Instead of using a solenoid you can also make your own actuator with memory wire

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