The On-Line Magazine of Rideable Model Railroading
  NUMBER 107


© April 20, 2008   

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A Primitive Signal


Written by Laurence Johnson


It only took me an hour to build this wooden signal: do you have a siding that goes around a bend and you cannot see its end from the switch you must throw to go there? This is a real question for my home track and might be for where you are railroading also.

Some time ago I ran across an article and photo describing the same situation on a 1920s short line railroad and this was their solution: on a wooden pole, beside the track the switchman pulled the rope that swing a red wooden arrow out into a horizontal direction and tied the end of the rope to a nail. Everyone on the line knew that this would mean someone was at the end of the siding and no one should come in and trap ‘em.

I cut a green treated 2 x 4 x 8’ down to 1½" x 2½" x 7’ and then cut a slot with the band saw (a sabre saw can be used as well) in the wide side at 1¼" x 10" and then bored a hole at the top in the narrow side.

Next I pulled a 1 x 6 green treated board from my scrap box and marked out the flag for shape and drilling. I drilled the hole first, not wanting to have problems with splitting, and then cut its profile.

Rather than using a wood rasp, I elected to knock off the sharp edges with my router and edging tool. Makes thing look "professional."

Bolted the flag into the upright, threaded a hank of rope through the hole, tied a figure eight knot to keep if from pulling through and then tied a loop in the other end so it could be attached around the nail. Everything works. A quick coat of red paint and this job is finished.

It is 20 degrees outside and the ground is froze; this post will be planted three feet down next spring giving a needed addition to my home track. How about yours?

Written by Laurence Johnson

HEY, Check out Laurence Johnson's CDs filled with cool blueprints:
CAD Drawings for the Live Steam Hobby vol. 1
CAD Drawings for the Live Steam Hobby vol. 2

Editors Note:  Information contained in this article is for reference only. 
We at and our authors are not responsible for any loss that might occur from the practical application of ideas presented here.

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