Non-functioning Signaling. Do you power it?

YoHo Dec 21, 2014

  1. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

    So, I was talking with some club members about adding Signal masts around the layout to add realism, but I don't want to add a dispatchers station or make them functional. Just have them there.

    I'm wondering if it's worth wiring them up anyway? Or even tying them into power routing switch machines for locations where they protect crossovers and sidings.

  2. rhensley_anderson

    rhensley_anderson TrainBoard Supporter

    I have several on my layout and I have them wired into my switch machines. That way, they do serve a function.
  3. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I never have added signals or signaling. I contemplated doing this once before and my main concern was the damage that may be caused to the signals when cleaning the track. At that time, I decided that if I did add signals I would add dwarf signals that correspond to switch (turnout) position.

    Many of the signals on the club layout have been damaged by members either in operations or when cleaning the track. Those signals are not operational.
  4. COverton

    COverton TrainBoard Member

    Make small and suitable platforms for them with holes in the bases through which wires can drop down with quick disconnects on them. They'll need a resistor in some/all cases (?) When you need to perform a function that might put them at risk of damage, simply disconnect them under the layout, lift them off their bases, stow them, and perform your repair/maintenance.
  5. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Having what amounts to lighted but dummy signals just doesn't look right. Better to leave them dark. If you are going to wire them up, might as well take the next step and make them truly functional.
  6. Flashwave

    Flashwave TrainBoard Member

    I prefer a litt signal to a dark signal unless you put a bag over it to make it look like its out of service. If you're going to take time to light now at least I'm in the next block the club members don't know there somebody barreling at them. Block detection really not that hard.
  7. rhensley_anderson

    rhensley_anderson TrainBoard Supporter

    Ok, here is photo of three of my signals. They change with the settings of my switches.

  8. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

    It'd be nice if they made signal masts which electronically plug into a fixed base. Then each mast would simply be lifted upward out of the female plug, track cleaned or other work done in the area and mast simply replugged in. Another idea I had was to have a magnetic base system; mast has a metal bottom with holes for wires in, base is a magnet with matching holes in. Wires going under layout will have, say 8"-12" surplus so mast can be moved out of the way or accidentally moved....
  9. robert3985

    robert3985 TrainBoard Member

    Although I am planning on my signals being functional when I get enough of my layout built to justify block and train detection, I leave them dark right now, but add scratchbuilt masts and signal heads to get the "look" of U.P.'s big type D signals with their "Darth Vadar" snow hoods that are so characteristic of Big Boy era UP mainlines between Ogden and Cheyenne in the 40's and 50's.

    However, since I photograph my layout incessantly, it's nice to have something that at least looks like a lit signal when there's a train or engine in the photo, so I use MV lenses which are simply pressed into a small wad of that rubbery stuff used to stick photos and kids' pictures onto your wall. I tossed the label so I don't know what it's called. Some of my MV lenses have been stuck inside my brass light heads for over 15 years, so it works well. Oh, and I usually just stick a red one on as in my photos it's usually the aspect that would be lit and I don't want all three lights looking like they're lit simultaneously!

    Here's a photo of a non-functional signal I built using a much modified Traincat etched kit for my friend Nate on his layout that looks like it's lit because of the MV lens reflecting back at the camera:

    Here's a photo of one of my completely scratchbuilt U.P. cantilever signal bridges with an equally scratchbuilt old-style Type D brass signal head showing a red MV lens stuck inside the housing:

    On all of my next signals I scratchbuild for my layout, I'm gonna make sure that they've got the proper LEDs and wiring installed and are ready to go since I don't want to handle the finished models any more than I have to.

    I'm not sure how I'm gonna do it yet, but I'm also planning on making them easily removable and easy to just plug in with the circuity under the layout so I can take them off when transporting portions of my portable layout to shows, or if I want to clean track extra vigorously in their neighborhood.

    I consider the proper signal towers and masts to be essential if you're modeling a specific prototype as they add a lot to the ambiance and character of the railroad. Even if you're not modeling a specific prototype, they certainly make your model look more "railroady" and even dummy signals are better than none IMO.

    Additionally, if you just want to represent signals that are not lit, there is no reason to add MV lenses or paint the lenses on your dummy signals colors as the prototype signals I've seen and documented don't show any color in any of the lights until they're actually lit. Here's a photo to show you what I mean:

    Bob Gilmore

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