Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Saybrook Jct. Control Panel

I just realized going back through my posts that I never covered the track plan in Old Saybrook or installing the track. With a lot of help from Randy, et. al, I got it done in time for my Open House, but in the craziness (not to mention how fast it got done with all the help) I never dragged you through all the vacillation described how I finalized the plan. I'll definitely describe the track layout more fully in a future post, but for now I'm focused on powering all the turnouts there - more specifically, I'm focused on building the control panel. But first, a brief background...

Originally, I'd planned on having all my turnouts operated manually. I use Micro-Engineering turnouts and they have the handy-dandy built-in spring that will hold the points which ever way you throw them. And they work out great - and prototypically - on the Valley Line, but it occurred to me sometime during construction of the Saybrook scene (not to mention the Saybrook Tower) that it'd be really cool - and more prototypical - if the turnouts in Saybrook were thrown remotely by the towerman. Well, that would require the installation of switch machines, as well as the running of all those power lines from each machine to a control panel (which would, incidentally, be located above my agent/operator's desk on the other side of the room).

With Pete's help, I've started the wiring for all the machines. Now I'm working on the "operator's board" - also known as the Control Panel - for the Saybrook Tower. Fortunately, I have a picture of the prototype...

It's not the best photo, but it gives me a start.
It's kinda cool that even the real railroad had to make do with a slight modification for the wye track. I won't have room for that, but more importantly this photo gives me some critical information:

  • Unlike most model railroad control panels, which are basically single-line track schematics, the prototype had two lines representing the track.
  • I also see - by zooming in - that the location was called "Saybrook Jct. Conn." rather than "Old Saybrook" and "NYNH&H" was on the top rather than "New Haven Railroad" or otherwise spelled out.
  • And - interestingly - it looks like it's printed on some kind of paper.
One of the challenges I've had is figuring out how best to build the panel. Traditionally, you'd paint your board a light color (white), use narrow tape to mask where the track goes, spray the board again a dark color (black), and remove the tape. But I couldn't find any narrow tape, didn't want to make it, and the result of all that work wouldn't match my prototype anyway.

So I decided to follow the prototype and print my panel out on paper as well. At first, I tried the Paint program, but couldn't figure out how to do the "2-line" track - or how to get it to draw white lines on a black background. I must be dense impatient, so I tried Atlas' Right Track track planning freeware. I'd remembered that it can draw track with two lines like I needed, and it was also easy to figure out how to do white on black. Bonus: it (like most Microsoft programs now) will "Print to PDF" - just what my local Staples needs in order to print it to the size I need (12"x24").

(as always, you can click for a larger image)
Here's where I am so far. I just hope it's not too crowded for toggles and LED indicators. I'd originally planned on locating the toggles on the turnouts, with LEDs on each diverging route. Now I'm thinking it'd be better to just have a row of toggles along the bottom. But then I'd have to number each turnout, which would clutter things up further.

And since this is track planning software I'm using, this is actually "full size" track on a 4'x8' table. I'm hoping that the print shop can just scale it down and print it to the 1'x2' size I need.

Once I refreshed my memory on how the program works (it's been a couple years since I used it), I was able to do this in an evening - not too much time invested yet. Sooooo..... if you have any recommendations for any better way of going about this, please let me know.

Next step may be to do a test print to see how things really look . . .

1 comment:

  1. Nice job - and GREAT idea to use the Atlas planning software to build the diagram. Really out of the box thinking.
    - Trevor (Port Rowan in 1:64)