Back Index Next

Cutting and Recessing Holes for the Throttle Jacks
The nice thing about DCC is the walk-around throttle.  You simply plug in your throttle, dial up and start your loco, unplug your throttle, move to the next throttle jack, and so on all around the layout.  Club standards for throttle jacks typically require jacks on each side of the module.  We're now going to cut holes in the Front and Back pieces for the throttle jacks.  Then we'll recess the surface of the module so that the faceplate of the jack will be flush with the surface of the module.  The dimensions for the holes and the depth of the recess will depend on the type of jack you use. 
Here's the throttle jacks  we'll install in this module we're building.  They're a standard 2-plug RCA RJ12 6-wire telephone jack that I picked up at Home Depot.  I've snapped two jacks from the faceplate to give you a better idea of how they come apart.  I've trimmed the edges of the faceplate back to give me a flush-mounting jack.  Our jack measurements include the plastic lugs that the two jacks will snap into. 
For purposes of cutting the throttle jack holes, the length of the jack obviously is the longest measurement that will be completely inserted into the hole.  The width is the shortest measurement.  The faceplate provides a nice, neat look to the throttle jack.  The hole we're going to cut will be the same dimensions as the length and width of of the jack, but we're going to add 1/8" to the size of the hole so that we don't have to force the jack into place.  The dimensions of our jacks are 2¾"long x 1¼"wide.  If we add 1/8", we'll need to cut a hole that is 2 7/8"x 1 3/8".  You'll have to calculate your hole dimensions.  While our dimensions might vary, the location process is the same. 

1. Locate the Hole for the Throttle Jack
Select the Front Piece.  Remember that we previously located and drilled screw holes in the Front Piece for the middle Cross Members.  Measure 2" away from the edge of one side of the Cross Member as shown below.  Measure 4 7/8" away from one side of the Cross Member (2" +2 7/8" = 4 7/8").  Using a T-square, mark off these 2 lines as shown in the photo below. 
From the top edge of the Front Piece, measure 1¾" as shown in the photo below.  This is ¼" more than the thickness of our styrofoam surface.  From the top edge of the Front Piece, measure 3 1/8" as shown in the photo below (1¾"+ 1 3/8" = 3 1/8").  Using a straight edge, mark off the lines as shown in the photo below. 
We have now marked off a square which we will cut out so that our throttle jacks can fit into the hole. 

Repeat the same measuring process for the Back Piece. 

2. Cut Out the Hole for the Throttle Jack
This is one part of building the module where patience is a virtue.  You have to be in the right mood to do this.  If you don't feel like doing it tonight, save it for another night.  If you blow this cut, you'll flush a lot of work and wood down the drain. 
How you cut out the hole for your throttle jack will depend on the tools in your tool box.  If you have a router, it's a piece of cake.  If you have an electrical jig saw, it may take 5 minutes to cut the hole.  If you have a fret saw or coping saw, it may require a bit of patience.  Since I'm a very patient person, I'll use a fret saw. 


Select the Front Piece.  Using a ¼" drill bit, drill holes in each corner of the square for the throttle.  Insert the blade for the fret saw into one of the drill holes and patiently saw along the lines for the throttle jacks.  Make sure your cut is perpendicular to the surface of the wood. 
Put the throttle jack into the hole and make sure the jack fits snugly.  If the jack binds, it may require a bit of sawing or filing.  Take your time. 
Repeat the same process for the Back Piece. 

3. Recess the Faceplate for the Throttle Jack
This next step is optional.  I like to have my throttle jacks flush with the front of the module, so I recess the faceplate flush with the module frame.  It takes a bit of extra work but the end result is worth the effort.  Here's where it really helps if you have a router or know of someone who does.  If you don't have a router, you can achieve the same results with a utility knife, some chisels and a bit of sandpaper. 
With the throttle jack fitting snugly in the hole, trace the outline of the faceplate onto the Front Piece.  Remember this will be on the same side as the countersunk screw holes. 

 

Next, recess the outline of the faceplate by the thickness of the faceplate.  Your chiselling doesn't need to be fancy as any mistakes will be hidden by the faceplate.  This is what our recessed faceplate looks like.  Repeat the same process for the Back Piece. 

Would you believe that we have just completed the most difficult part of making our module frame.  We've done a lot of marking, drilling and a bit of sawing.  We're now ready to start assembling all of these pieces of wood into a module.