Turnouts V

Yes. I finally finished installing all six SMAIL switch machines and remote mechanisms. One was a little fidgety, so I had to reposition the mechanism a bit to increase the “push” of the cable, but after fifteen minutes of honing the tension it works as well as the rest.

I tried taking pictures of the process (again) but after the first three steps or so they become so intensive that I cannot spare a hand. Sorry about that.

Here’s all six machines:

I played around with the layout for an hour and a half tonight; it’s already tons of fun, and I’m not even switching wagons yet. Once the turntable is active, this module will provide many hours of enjoyment.

Here’s a video of the 0-6-0 Bellwether moving over all turnouts.

Turnouts IV

I finally got around to installing two more SMAIL machines. Once again, I have no documentation of the process; I think I’d need someone taking photos as I go because the work is too fidgety to be dealing with a camera. But here’s the finished product, anyway:

What a mess, right? See, if I had any track-wiring experience, I’d have used about half as many feeders, but I’d have made them four times as long, and I’d only have installed a single set of bus wires down the center of the layout. That would have given me more space to work with, and all that crowding that you see would have been spread out.

Because some of my feeders are immediately beneath the turnouts, there wasn’t enough room to have the switch machines swing a certain way, so I had to turn them around and run the cables in a long arc to the SMAIL motors. In the image above, only the uppermost turnout has a straight cable.

All of the turnouts work perfectly, although I will probably use some electrical staples to help keep the cables in place.

Turnouts III

On LSR, there are a lot of steps and pieces involved in throwing a single switch!

First I bent six piano wires like so:

Then I cut six lengths of brass tubing like so:

I drilled a 1/16″ hole two ties away from each throw bar, like so:

And then I inserted a length of brass tubing into each hole until it was level with the tops of the ties:

And a bit of fussing on the underside. The feeder wires almost thwarted three or four switches, because they are so close. Almost.

With a pair of pliers, a pencil, and some wizardry, I bent each piano wire again after measuring each turnout from the hole in the throw bar to the center of the brass tube.

Then I inserted the piano wire so the long end extended through the brass tube to the bottom of the layout, and the short end was dropped into the hole in the throw bar:

After checking to make sure that each turnout moved freely, I flipped the module and bent each length of wire at a right angle:

Toggling this wire back and forth from under the layout throws the switch. The remote mounts will be affixed to these wires, and the SMAILs will be attached by wire and tubing.

I think I’m at the halfway point now with the turnouts. For fun, I connected a SMAIL to the terminal block and programmed it into the PowerCab. It moves exactly as I expected. Hopefully by the end of this coming weekend, I will be able to switch my turnouts by pressing a few buttons.

Wiring IV and First Run

I finished wiring all of the track except for the turntable. There are a few things I would do differently next time, but overall I am pleased with how it looks and functions, and it seems pretty bulletproof.

On the topside, my turnouts are still without the SMAIL switching machines (which will be installed and wired up soon), so the points on the turnouts aren’t very reliable. If I don’t hold the points in place tightly, trains running close to them will falter or stop completely.

It works well enough with a pencil in hand, so despite the lack of switch machines and without regard to my fledgling abilities with the PowerCab controller, here’s footage of the first run of the Bellwether.

The thump at the end of the video was my cat, Pisces, who batted the out-of-frame Bellwether off the tracks. This is why I will usually be operating the layout at shoulder-level, atop the bookcase which started this whole blog.

Here’s a photo of the perpetrator: