I Wish I Had Shares In Circuitron

After spending quite a bit of time wiring up the layout and laying new track in preparation for the operation day I held at my home a month ago, I’ve spent the past few weeks pulling wiring out and hauling up some of the track I laid last year on another part of the layout. The most recent changes to the Morpeth Line are really a mix of things I knew needed to happen combined with some lessons learned on that day; I knew I needed to replace the Peco solenoid switch motors with Tortoise stall motors and I was also aware that I needed to address the yard in Raworth. However I’d had no thoughts regarding the length of my storage yard lines (being too short of course, are they ever too long?) and the ability to tell at a glance which way the turnout in the storage cupboard is set without having to open the door and look in there.

And don’t get me started on couplers! 🙂 After the operating session I spent most of two weeks converting every piece of my rolling stock to Protocraft couplers, in the process taking all the older style couplers that had been installed on my models over the years, including stock that never had knuckle couplers installed on the prototype. I’ll probably be arrested by the hobby police but I was sick of seeing my stock (especially the scratch built items) with three link and older style couplers sit in the yard unused because it was just too difficult to hook them up to a train. My two scratch built ICVs got a run around the layout for the first time last week. Yes the first time, and all because they had couplers that were incompatible with everything else rather than what was applied to those wagons on the prototype 70 years ago.

After waiting for packages to arrive in the mail from the US and a trip to Sydney to buy supplies I started in on the really big job: removing all the solenoid switch motors from the storage yard and changing these over to Tortoise machines.

There are 9 turnouts in the storage yard and I made the decision to change the way they were thrown from solenoids to Tortoise machines about 15 minutes after I completed the control panel for the solenoid motors last year. In this photo you can see them ready to be installed. All of them have been pre-wired to a screw terminal block and mounted on a small rectangle of 7mm (1/4″) ply, all of which have four pre-drilled and counter sunk holes in them to accept the wood screws I’ll use to mount the machines under the layout. This makes them a doddle to install and wire up and is well worth the effort. Once I prepare the turnouts by removing their over centre springs I’ll get all of these installed most probably in about 2 hours. Wiring them will take a little longer but it means no soldering under the layout.

Probably the two biggest decisions I’ve made in the past moth concern the arrangement of the yard at Raworth and the orientation of the turntable at the end of the storage lines.

I originally had decided to set up the turntable at the end of the storage yard with about 600mm (2′) of space beyond the table where spare locos could be stored. Pretty standard hey? The problem with this arrangement for me was that 1) I really don’t like locomotives on show in storage and 2) after running the longest train I could fit into the loop at QW around the layout back to storage I discovered that only 3 of the six lines could accommodate this admittedly modest length train. Something had to give.

I’ve included this shot to demonstrate the amount of space that was being eaten up by this completely unnecessary storage fan (well it would have been a storage fan if I’d ever got around to installing the track). This 600mm of length will be much better utilized added to the length of all 6 of my storage lines. Make that 7 as I’ve decided I can squeeze in a 7th line along the edge nearest the camera, although this probably won’t be able to be hooked up to the turntable so will be a simple dead end siding.

After the operating session a month ago I decided that storage space of excess (and as yet unbuilt) locos came a very poor second to storing my (as yet unbuilt) trains. So today I un-hooked the wiring and bolts holding the table that houses the turntable and dragged this around 180 degrees to place this unused space on the train side of the turntable, where it should have been in the first place.

As the turntable was located in the exact centre of the free standing table I’d built to house it, turning the whole affair around was a simple matter. A couple of temporary legs, disconnect a few wires and loosen two bolts and then spin. Easy Peasy! I plan to hook everything back up and actually run the tracks to the turn table as I work my way down and re-wire the entire storage yard.

As yet none of the re-wiring and track laying has started: all I’ve managed to do is undo all the work I did last year. Oh and the trains aren’t running again as I seem to have disconnected something vital in pulling all the wiring away from the Peco motors. But that will be addressed in the next couple of weeks.

Stay tuned. I haven’t even started on Raworth yet 🙂

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2 thoughts on “I Wish I Had Shares In Circuitron

  1. Trevor, I am interested to know what you will be using for Tortoise switches? I am thinking that I will need Double pole touch switches, but do not really know what I should be using. I am ready to install some machines and have hesitated. Your layout is looking good bye the way. Great progress.

    • John,
      I use an NCE DCC system and all my turnouts are thrown using stationary decoders, in my case mostly NCE Switch 8s. These decoders, when paired with NCE an Button Board allow you to throw the turnouts using either momentary on buttons or SPST switches. You can use DPST switches but one row of terminals is not used. I’ve always thrown Tortoise machines using DPST switches when I wire them up directly to the current but as the Button Boards allow the use of push buttons I’m going to experiment with these as I install these machines. The reason for the change is that the direction the turnout is set will be indicated by LEDs on the control panel and using the switches can be confusing to operators. They tend to look at the switch and see the way it is set as indicating the direction of the turnout. This is because the use of these stationary decoders allows the turnout to be thrown both at the control panel or by use of entering the turnouts address into the hand held throttle. In spite of how complicated this sounds I recommend both the use of a DCC system and the use of stationary decoders. I’ll wait to see how using buttons goes before I pronounce on this.

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