Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Quick Weekend Work: Powering Switch Machines, Finalizing the Drop Down

Since I've been busy enjoying our New England Autumn lately, I haven't worked too much on the layout, but with a little help, I made some significant progress on powering the switch machines in Saybrook.

While the Valley Line is all-manual as far as turnout control goes (I use MicroEngineering turnouts with center-over springs on the points), I wanted the Saybrook switches to be powered by "Saybrook Tower" - just as on the prototype. I think it'll be a cool contrast for a crew to go from the 74-train-per-day Shoreline and mosey up the branch. Getting clearance from the Tower each time you need to switch a switch (and having the towerman actually throw the switch for you) will go a long way to supporting that illusion.

So, while most (sane) people have their powered turnouts controlled by a toggle on the fascia near the turnout, I need to have all my toggles on a control board in the "tower" on the other side of the room. That means I need to have two power wires going from the toggle all the way over to Each And Every switch machine. For someone that enjoys the simplicity of wiring that DCC and manual turnouts affords, all this "extra" wiring is a pretty daunting task.

But with Pete's help - and a little bit of patience (and a lot of time) - it's not at all difficult. And if you keep pretty zen about it and work methodically, it can actually be a joy therapeutic not too bad.

The key is organization and doing one machine at a time:

I ran lamp cord (which has two wires) to each machine, one at a time, and temporarily labeled each wire as I went to keep track.

The other end of the wire is labeled the same. Here they are dangling waiting for me to install the terminal strip on that board and attach them all.
In addition to some wiring, I finalized the dropdown on the Air Line "New Haven" staging. Here are a couple close-up pics:

The "bridge" is a 1x2 L-girder mounted to a piece of plywood that provides a mount for the hinge.

You can see the other end here - the bridge's 1x2 subroadbed is cut back to allow smooth entry into the receiving slot.
This is the first time I've done a drop-down (as opposed to a simple lift-out) and I'm pretty happy with how it's come out. The key is to have the mounting for each end be absolutely rigid. Then, once you have things all lined up, it's just a matter of laying the track right across the gaps and cutting the rails in place. That's what I'll plan to do next so we can get the Air Line's "New Haven extension" finally done.

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