Friday, March 29, 2019

Revising Turnout Controls

The three push buttons on the fascia control the position of the stub turnout on the railroad. 
I like the manual control of turnouts. It fits with my era and it simplifies the wiring considerably. Every turnout on the railroad is controlled by a Blue Point controller with a manual push-pull (except for the staging yards and the interlocking plant). I had previously modified two of the Blue Points to work with my two three-way stub switches at Copperopolis and Farmington. The one at Copperopolis has always worked fine but, for the last few months, the Farmington turnout has not worked well. I have tried several times to readjust things but could not make the "fix" work. My operators were getting perturbed as Farmington can be a busy place.I finally had to find a permanent fix.
    My solution to the problem was to remove the Blue Point and replace it with a Tam Valley Depot ( Dual 3-way servo decoder. This device is designed to work with either a 3-way turnout or a 3-position semaphore. You can easily adjust the position of the points (or blade) and even adjust the speed of the throw. In the case of a semaphore, the unit can be programmed to put a "bounce" as the blade changes position.
The servo motor controlling the turnout is at the upper
right of the photo while the control board is at the lower
left. Using servos to control turnouts is very simple and
easy to install.
     The installation was a two-man job with one person under the layout adjusting the track position and another on the top telling when the tracks were aligned. My friend, Mark Davidson came over and, between us, we managed to get everything adjusted. I am very happy with the results and, now, you only have to push one of three buttons to align the turnout.
     By the way, each of these controllers can handle two turnouts/semaphores. For those interested, I used another Tam Valley Depot device, their Dual Frog Juicer. It handles both frogs in the turnout routing power accordingly.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Beneath the Turntable

The turntable drive with worm and worm gear above. The Mercotac connector and its adapter are below.
After my posting on the new turntable, one the followers of this blog inquired as to what the drive mechanism for the table looked like. It is fairly simple with no indexing other than your eyesight (it lines up every time unless you're crosseyed!). The table itself has a 1/4-inch tube running from the center down through a brass bushing in the center of the pit. Below the benchwork, there is a brass worm gear driven by a steel worm. I use a 30-tooth gear but there is nothing critical about that. It's just what I chose. Both of these parts are from Boston gear. These gears tend to get fairly expensive so I searched ebay until I found some which met my requirements. I was going to use a plastic gear but they were not in stock and I would have to have ordered about 10 of them to meet their minimums.
    The shaft for the worm is just 3/16" steel rod I bought from the local hardware store. It runs through two brass bushings which are installed in 2-inch corner braces. The shaft is held in place by two shaft collars. Both the collars and bushing were obtained from McMaster-
Carr is a great supplier of hardware and other items used by industrial folks. They do sell to individuals and ship the same day. I can order a part on Sunday and have it by Wednesday. I suggest that they be checked out for the odd item which might be needed.
The Boston Gear U-joint connecting the drive with the rotating
The shaft is connected to a Boston Gear universal joint. I use these just in case my alignment is not dead on. You can change the position of the crank a bit by doing this. The shaft goes through a plastic bushing glued in the fascia and is driven by a crank wheel. My wheel was made on my lathe simply because I did not like the ones I could get commercially. If you are less fussy than I, a suitable handle can be purchased at the hardware store or through McMaster-Carr. I should mention that my hardware store had the brass bushings as well as the plastic ones in their normal stock. They just did not have the quantity I needed (I have two more turntables to build).
The complete Mercotac unit at the left with the components
at the right. The top part on the right will have wires soldered
to it for the rails and will press into the adapter in the middle.
Power still has to be routed to the turntable track. I did not use a pit rail because I found a rotating connector made by Mercotac in Carlsbad, California. It is designed for rotating electrical connections and works very well. I used their Model 205 unit. It is a two-pole unit to which you solder two wires. These go up through the central turntable shaft and solder to the rails on the table. At the bottom end, the connector snaps on to the main body of the Mercotac unit and track power can be soldered to its leads. I did have to turn another parts which has a hole to fit the 1/4-inch turntable shaft on one end and another to fit the press-in connector unit on the other. It attaches to the shaft with a set screw.
    I should mention that both the brass worm gear and steel worm had to be tapped for a set screw to hold them to their respective shafts. This was not a big deal as the brass was easy to drill and the steel worm already had a pilot hole which just needed to be slightly enlarged.
Turned rotating wheel with nylon crank handle.
  I use a reversing unit to change the track polarity on the table. I have used units made by DCC Specialties and Tam Valley Depot and both work well.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Wagons and Cuspidors

Both wagons are built from the same Glencoe Models  kit.
After working several weeks on the engine terminal project, I felt that I needed a break but still wanted to do some modeling. Going through a box of wagon kits, I found a few inexpensive wagons which I had acquired along the way. They were not in the same class as the Jordan wagons and my first impulse was to throw them out. I reconsidered just to find out what they might look like with a little work. Background models are needed as well as foreground ones and, with Jordan kits pretty scarce, I thought that I should not pass up any substitutes.
   The models are made by Glencoe Models and a box gives you a stagecoach and a covered wagon. I removed the top cover from two of the covered wagons which gave me a couple of freight wagons and then assembled two more wagons with the covers. The stagecoaches I assembled per the instructions minus the horses (they looked more the size of ponies). After painting, I applied some old Art Griffin stagecoach decals and they turned out fairly respectable. They will still be background models, though.
Glencoe Models stagecoach with Art Griffin decals. 
A slightly tipsy gent with his cuspidor. The 
spittoon will ultimately be painted to resemble
   Another project I have been accumulating parts for is a saloon with a detailed interior. I was able to find a nice bar, back bar, tables and chairs, an upright piano, bottles and even beer mugs. The one vital piece of any bar, though, I could not find, a spittoon (or cuspidor if you are more genteel). SS Ltd. had one but it was not what I had in mind. I wanted a more typical style like the one I have in my crew lounge. The only alternative was to 3D print some. I had doubts that such a small object could be reproduced but gave it a try and ended up with a lifetime supply of spittoons! I still have to figure out how to get the "misses" around the spittoon modeled.
   Now to get back to more serious model railroad stuff.