Creating A Lever Frame

Before you start

It is a good idea to prepare yourself thoroughly before starting.


  • Lay all the track and check all routes, stops, reverses, uncouples etc work properly.
  • Set all points so that the default route corresponds to the point normal position.
    • This may mean changing the routing, for example a crossover may be set to route all trains to the correct running line, but this will not be the normal position of the point, therefore the points must be set to the other route and “other route” set to “*” to route all trains across the crossover.
  • Check that adjacent signalling areas are setup properly and signals function correctly
  • Check correct settings of section flags and that distant signals do not have section flags.
  • Check that the up/down flag is correct on all locations, stops, reverses etc - and that trains show the correct flags.
  • Prepare (or obtain) a plan of the layout with all signals, points and fpls (Etc) numbered. If you do not have a prototype track plan:
    • Main running signals are generally numbered in sequence from the ends of the frames inwards.
    • Points and shunting signals are then assigned levers in the middle.
    • The most efficient arrangement will depend on the way signals are used, and the locking between them.

Placing a signal box

Start by placing a suitable model for a signal box (this determines the viewpoint and lever frame position etc).

To host a lever frame, a signal box needs the new signal box parameters (see Signal Box Parameters), otherwise you will not be able to create a lever frame.

To create the lever frame:

  • Change the view mode to the overhead view - mode 5 - and centre the view over the signal box model.
  • Make sure Scenery / Show Scenery markers is turned on
  • Right click on the scenery item and select “New lever Frame” from the “Signals” sub-menu.
  • The lever frame dialog appears:
  • Enter the name of the signal box, the number of levers and a signal id prefix (this is for future use)
  • Click ok
  • Save the layout

You now have a lever frame, you will be able to enter the box (using the goto command) and view the layout from inside the box, you should have a row of dummy (white) levers.

Connecting the signals and points

Now we are ready to connect the signals and points.

To connect the signals to the frame:

  • Select the node of the signal (or point)
  • Select “Connect to Frame” from the “Signal” menu
  • A dialog opens:
  • Choose which lever frame you want to connect to in the “Lever Frame” drop down
  • The grid displays the levers (initially none assigned).
  • Click the selection button of the relevant lever, and enter a text description.
    nb, ensure the radio button in the first column is selected - this assigns the signal to that number
  • Click ok.
  • Repeat for the rest of the signals (and points).

Now, if you return to the box view, you should have some levers:

Note the section signals (3 and 10 above) have white bands - in a real box, this indicates electrical locking, in R3D they will be interlocked with the Is Line Clear signals.

You should find these levers now work - if you sign on, you will be able to operate the signals with these levers.

The box diagram

In all but the simplest ground frames, a box diagram is essential in order to know what levers to pull when.

Assuming you want track circuit indicators on the diagam, you start by creating a corresponding signal panel. (See Creating A Signal Panel)

  • Create a signal panel for the area covered by the lever frame
    • you simply need the track sections, the signals etc are not required (but do no harm)
    • don’t bother to add text or platform markers to the diagram
    • don’t bother with train describers - they are not used in a lever frame implementation.
  • When in signal box view, select “Edit lever Frame locking” from the “Signals” menu: the lever frame locking dialog opens.
  • Select the panel you have just defined in the diagram drop down of the dialog:
  • Click “Apply”
  • This will give you a simple (track circuits only) view of the diagram:

You will usually want to add a properly drawn bitmap, which can either be a background to the above diagram, or an overlay. For the most realistic interpretation of a mechanical box, use an overlay bitmap with “holes” to allow tc lights to shine through.

To create, and apply, a bitmap to a diagram

The dimensions and lining up the bitmap with the diagram are critical. The easiest way to do this is to copy the diagram:

Note that when you edit a panel, the dimensions may change, so it is best to complete all editing of the panel, and to save, close and re-open the layout before proceeding with the next stages.

  • Open the signal panel (Signal menu: “Open Panel”)
  • Enlarge the panel window until the whole diagram is visible (note the border)
  • Grab the screen to a bitmap and paste into a bitmap editor
  • Select the area defined by the grey border, and save this area (only) as a bitmap, in the same folder as the layout
  • Add text (etc) to taste:
  • With the signal panel open (Signal menu: Open Panel), select “Overlay Bitmap” from the “Settings” menu. This associates the bitmaps with the panel.
  • Note that by default, the bitmap is rendered behind the red/green lines drawn by the active diagram. (and in my example I also have red/green on my bitmap - which is at best going to be confusing)
  • To make the bitmap an overlay, rename it to use the #rgb colour key transparency format, eg #ff00FF_Marton.bmp. (and go back to the panel dialog and repeat the “Overlay bitmap” selection with the new bitmap name.)
  • You will also want to edit the bitmap to show signals and lever numbers, and add colour key “holes” where you want the tc lamps to show.

Setting up block instruments

The next task, is to define the block instruments. We will need two definitions for each route - one for up and one for down. ‘’nb, if you have multiple tracks, eg fast and slow lines, you will need two definitions for each set.

To define a block section from the box we are working on (Box A) to the next box in the up direction (Box B):

  • In view mode 5, goto the A’s up section signal.
  • Place Marker 1 (Right click / Set Marker 1) on the A up section signal’s node.
  • Move the view to Box B
  • Place Marker 2 on the first B up home signal from A. Ie, the first stop signal (not distant signal) that a train will reach after passing A’s Up section signal.
  • Return to the A signal box, and if it is not already opened, open the “Edit Lever Frame” dialog by selecting “Edit Lever Frame Locking” from the “Signals” menu.
  • Click the “Edit Blocks” button: the “Define Block Sections” dialog appears:
  • Click the “Add” button to create a new definition: a new row is created
  • This defintion is for trains going from this box, ie for sending trains, so click the Snd column until a green arrow is shown - this indicates the trains are going from A to B
  • Enter the position of the relevant block instrument (in metres) left (-ve values) or right (+ve values) from the block shelf centre.
  • Set Up to “1″ for this block section - it handles up trains
  • Give the block a name - this will appear on the block instrument
  • With the new row highlighted, click “From markers” and the coordinates of the signals are entered
    • you can also enter coordinates by hand, but “from markers” is much easier
    • The From coordinates should be the section signal
    • The To coordinates should be the first stop signal of the next box
    • If you do not follow the above conditions, some aspects of the box working, particualrly the train register, will not work properly.
  • For trains coming from B to A, repeat the above process and add another block section definition:
    • Marker1 / The From coordinate will be B’s down section signal
    • Marker2 / The To coordiante will be A’s first down stop signal
    • snd will not be true, so clear the tick (by clicking on it)
    • This is a down section so “Up” should be set to “0″

Repeat for all the other block sections.

Defining the locking

To define the interlocking, Select “Edit Lever Frame locking” from the “Signals” menu.

You can edit the lever names here, but the main purpose is to set lever locking.

There are two sets of locking, one defines the condition for a lever to be moved from normal to reverse, the other defines the condition for the lever to be moved from reverse to normal.

Locking is defined in boolean logic with ! for not & for and and | for or. () may be used. Other levers may be referenced by their number.


this specifies

  • Lever 1 can only be pulled if 2,3 and 4 are reversed.
  • There are no restrictions on returning lever 1 to normal.
  • Lever 2 can only be pulled if 23 and 25 levers are normal.
  • Lever 2 can only be returned to normal if lever 1 is normal.


Note also, that lever 4 (a section signal) is linked to the block section by the term “lc1″. This means that this lever can only be pulled if line clear has been obtained on block section 1.

Adding fpls

As Rail3D does not really have fpls, these are not connected to track features, however you can create an fpl lever and interlock it with other levers.

To create an fpl lever, simply give the lever a name sarting with “fpl” (you can do this easily in the lever locking dialog)

Other points

  • If you connect a signal/point etc to the wrong lever, you can either assign a new signal/point etc to that lever and overwrite the assignment, or in the lever locking dialog, you can right-click the lever and clear the assignment.
  • Junction signals often have two or more levers - one for each route. In Rail3D a junction signal is one signal: you can assign this one signal to two levers, but you will find both levers work the main signal arm. To correct this, open the lever frame locking dialog and enter “jct” in the “Flags” column of the junction arm lever and “!jct” in the “Flags” column of the main arm lever.
  • jc2″ can be used similarly with signals using Junction2.
  • Shunt signals can be controlled by adding “shnt” in the flags column of the lever locking.

Deleting a lever frame

To delete a lever frame:

  1. Select View > Goto and choose the lever frame.
  2. Once inside the signal box, select Signals > Edit Lever Frame.
  3. Click Delete to remove the frame from the signal box.
  4. In top down view (view mode 5), right click on the signal box scenery object and click Delete Scenery Item.

If you skip steps 1 to 3 and delete the scenery item associated with the lever frame before deleting the frame itself, you’ll won’t have deleted the lever frame. It’ll still be accessible via View > Goto but will show only the Train Register and may still ring the block bells. Most importantly, you’ll never be able to delete it.

See also: