Above: Screen capture from AutoControls.org Video #666
(This page modified 6/2/2020)
A. Names and Types
These controls seem to be referred to by the following NAMES:
- Automatic Back & Forth Controllers
- Automatic Shuttle
- Automatic Point-to-Point
- Automatic Reversers
We’ll try to divide these controllers into 3 TYPES:
- Analog DC – Simple Versions
- Analog DC – Advanced Versions
- Digital DCC
- Analog AC: At least 1 company (Pocono Mountain Lines) made an AC unit that would “pulse” the E unit, but these are no longer made.
Section D below lists a few manufacturers of these units.
B. About the 3 Types:
Analog DC – Simple Versions:
- The simplest of these units use a simple timer to reverse the polarity every few seconds (usually adjustable from a few seconds to several minutes).
- Diodes at each end of the track stop the loco from going off the end, but then allow it to go the other direction when the polarity reverses.
- The AutoControls.org Video #666 (photo at top of page) demonstrates this using a long-since-discontinued PH Hobbies controller.
- A recently uploaded Youtube video Automatic Reverse Relay for Model Trains by Robert Wilkins gives a good explanation (outstanding narration) of how these work.
- It appears the video author sells these on ebay.
Analog DC – Advanced Versions:
- The more sophisticated versions allow intermediate stops, and/or gradual acceleration/deceleration.
- The Railroad Concepts Stationmaster is one of the more sophisticated units, as it allows for both gradual acceleration/deceleration, plus intermediate stops.
- This can be accomplished using an NCE DCC System plus an NCE “Mini-Panel” to do the controlling.
- Several AutoControls.org videos show this being done in HO, S, O, and Largescale.
- AutoControls.org Video #824 shows 2 trains on the same track being controlled point-to-point; click here-1 to view the part of the video that demos the O gauge trains, and click here-2 to view the part of the video that demos the S ga. trains.
- There is also a method using Lenz decoders and diodes to do automatic reversing. I don’t think this is used too much.
C. Related Articles
- Back and Forth Operation by Family Garden Trains
- Back and Forth Auto Controls for Train Display Need Ideas, Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine
- For ADDITIONAL information not included on this page, you can search Google for phrases similar to “back and forth controllers for model railroads“.
D. Companies Making Analog DC Controllers:
(Battery) G Scale Graphics:
- The G Scale Graphics “Enhanced Critter Control” provides automatic back-and-forth operation for battery-powered trains.
- Reed switches in the track control the location of the stops.
- AzaTrax Exhibit Controllers can operate one or more trains point-to-point.
- Their Facebook “Pickle Fork” video shows one of their units in operation.
- See page 29 of their online catalog for controllers
- They market several variations of their Automatic Back-N-Forth system.
- LGB markets the “Shuttle Train Automatic Circuit Box“.
- This latest version apparently has gradual acceleration.
- The Railroad Concepts Stationmaster/Reverser is one of the more sophisticated units.
- Their video RR Concepts StationMaster + YardMaster demo track shows it in operation with 2 trollies running point-to-point.
- His Youtube video Automatic Reverse Relay for Model Trains gives a good explanation (outstanding narration) of how these work.
- It appears he sells these on ebay (see end of video).
- Warrior Run markets a simple, inexpensive unit.
- The reverser is not shown on their website; you need to call them.