Under Table Switch Machines

mtaylor Aug 5, 2000

  1. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hello all,
    Yes, I have track on the brain today.
    I have never used the common under the table switch machines. I have used the UGLY Atlas switch machines for HO and the UGLY manual Atlas switches (Points for those of you outside the U.S. [​IMG]) This was one of the only reasons that made me consider Unitrack, the points are already setup with a built in switch mahine. Plus, there is no under the table hassle to worry about. Again, I have never used a under table switch machine. How do these work? How far do they hang down (inches please)? My planned layout is a multi-level layout, will these machines be a pain in the rear to maintain?

    I am eyeing up the Peco code 55 points and their switch machines. Are these good machines or are the tortuise machines the way to go?

    Any info and help would be great.

    One more thing...my guess is that these would not work too well with a foam baseboard. agree or disagree?

    Thanks
    Matt

    P.S. This is the best model railroad site on the web.



    [This message has been edited by mtaylor (edited 04 August 2000).]
     
  2. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I use peco points motors on my layout without any problems. I cut a hole under the points and directly connect the motor to the points. If you try and mount the motor under the baseboard and use a linkage this can cause loss of travel and poor performance

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    http://users.bigpond.net.au/railroad2000
     
  3. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Colonel:
    I use peco points motors on my layout without any problems. I cut a hole under the points and directly connect the motor to the points. If you try and mount the motor under the baseboard and use a linkage this can cause loss of travel and poor performance

    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Where can a novice find info on how to do this?

    as always, thaks
    Matt
     
  4. Gats

    Gats Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by mtaylor:
    Again, I have never used a under table switch machine. How do these work? How far do they hang down (inches please)? My planned layout is a multi-level layout, will these machines be a pain in the rear to maintain?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    These connect through a hole on the ends of the throw bar (on Peco, at least) and operate by moving an extended pin off a rod mounted within or between two coils called a solenoid or twin coil machine (Peco), by using a fulcrum type of mechanism off a cam like the Trotoise. There are a couple of others that are variations on a theme.
    The twin coil units don't have much height, maybe a little more than a inch. The Tortoise is quite higher - around 3"+. Scale Shops (?) have a similat flat mount screw drive machine about the same height as the twin coil units.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>
    I am eyeing up the Peco code 55 points and their switch machines. Are these good machines or are the tortuise machines the way to go?
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Peco (and ME) use an over-centre spring arrangement to maintain the points closed. The Trotoise is a stall-type unit - it is powered all the time - and uses this to maintain the points closed. I have heard recommendations to disable the spring in Peco points if using a stall-type machine.
    The Peco twin coil machines work fine for throwing Peco (obviously) but unlike the Tortoise which throws the points like the real thing - slowly - they 'snap' them over. They are noisy, by the way, but effective and simple. If you plan on throwing a couple of these twin-coils at once, I suggest a capacitor discharge unit to supply the 'oomph' to throw them.

    As for using them with foam baseboards, I'll leave that for other more familiar with that construction technique. [​IMG]

    Gary.


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    Gary A. Rose
    The Unofficial TC&W page
    N to the Nth degree!
     
  5. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Three inches....that is huge. What I am leaning towards for my baseboard is regular old plywood using the Woodland Scenics dense foam risers. I think that 3" would be a bit much for them to handle. Just when I thought I had by benchwork headaches completed [​IMG] Oh well that's what I get for being fussy. When you say they are noisy, in your opinion, do they deter from the enjoyment of the layout. Would you reccomend engineering benchwork to use more traditional methods such as plywood sub-roadbed which could handle the larger switch macines. Or, continue with my current plan to use foam risers and incline sets to offset the track with it's suroundings while using the smaller Peco switches. (plus, I think they are a whole lot cheaper). My layout will be three main levels with all ponts being remote controlled. I do not have the exact number of points but there will be many (at least fifty). The lowest level, level 0 (tecnicaly this layout has four levels) is strictly for staging. I have not decided if I will use manual points or remote controlled points. Needless to say, this part of the project has turned into it's own hobby [​IMG].

    If the Peco machines are "noisy" my fear is that my layout will resemble more of a mechanical computer than a railroad...at least in sound. Are they as loud as the old Atlas (and Tyco......yes many moons ago I used Tyco) switch machines? If so, I have issues [​IMG]

    Thanks
    Matt - closing in on a final plan....maybe.

    [This message has been edited by mtaylor (edited 05 August 2000).]
     
  6. Alan

    Alan Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I use Peco code 55, and use Seep point motors (switch machines). These are very similar to the peco ones, but are mounted differently, as I think the peco ones fit onto the underside of the switch, and need a rectangular hole cut in the baseboard to fit them.

    At some locations, I fit the switch machines above the baseboard, when they can be housed within buildings, etc.

    I use ones with a built-in switch to energise the frog, and always use a capacitor discharge unit, this ensures that the switch does actually move, and prevents coil burn-out.

    Some of my switches, due to their location, have extended rodding (wire) from the switch machine, via bell-cranks, to the switch, so the switch machine can be remote from the switch.

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    Alan

    The perfect combination - BNSF and N Scale!

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  7. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Alan:
    I use Peco code 55, and use Seep point motors (switch machines). These are very similar to the peco ones, but are mounted differently, as I think the peco ones fit onto the underside of the switch, and need a rectangular hole cut in the baseboard to fit them.

    At some locations, I fit the switch machines above the baseboard, when they can be housed within buildings, etc.

    I use ones with a built-in switch to energise the frog, and always use a capacitor discharge unit, this ensures that the switch does actually move, and prevents coil burn-out.

    Some of my switches, due to their location, have extended rodding (wire) from the switch machine, via bell-cranks, to the switch, so the switch machine can be remote from the switch.

    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Built in switch? Do you mean the switch machine and the switch (point) are one integrated unit?

    Thanks
     
  8. Alan

    Alan Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    No, I mean that the switch machine has a built-in single pole double throw switch to connect current to the frog from the appropriate stock rail, instead of relying on the switch rail/stock rail contact. Hope I explained that ok [​IMG]

    I am pleased we in England call them points, so we don't have the switch/switch confusion [​IMG]

    Alan
     
  9. ten87

    ten87 TrainBoard Member

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by mtaylor:
    This was one of the only reasons that made me consider Unitrack, the points are already setup with a built in switch mahine. Plus, there is no under the table hassle to worry about<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    OoRah Unitrack! I love the stuff, and this is one of the reasons. I know of at least one modeler who uses Unitrack switches with Atlas flex track.
    [​IMG]

    Ed Harrison
     
  10. porkypine52

    porkypine52 TrainBoard Member

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    Matt
    You need to check around. There are many different types of switch machines. Twin-coil models, ATLAS, PECO, SHINOHARA. Slow throw, stall types, TORTOISE. Rotary types, manual types, and home made types.
    I have used all types and find that each type has it's own pro's and con's. Don't get the idea that all switch machines have to be powered. Use a manual machine wherever you can. Once you have a manual operated turnout installed, they hardly ever go bad. Also the KISS procedure is in effect with switch machines. The one switch machine that takes several hours to install, takes another couple of hours of work to get operating right and is in a very hard to get to part of the layout, will be the first #$*@&* switch machine to go bad!
    So I say check around, ask other modellers, look in MODEL RAILROADER, RAILROAD MODEL CRAFTSMAN, N-SCALE, etc. etc. Magazines. Try several different types of machines to see what each type does and will it work for you.

    What's that burning plastic smell? Another $#**&@ twin machine machine has hung up and self-destructed! LOL hehehehhe

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    Let's Go Run Trains
    MARK

    [This message has been edited by porkypine52 (edited 05 August 2000).]

    [This message has been edited by porkypine52 (edited 05 August 2000).]
     
  11. nscaler

    nscaler Guest

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    I use scale shops machines and have had little trouble with them. I use the bell crank and direct connections with all machines under the layout. Some switches are almost a foot away from the machine. For more details (pictures) see my website and look at the layout page.

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    David
    http://www.geocities.com/nscaler_55
     
  12. nscaler

    nscaler Guest

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    I gave the wrong location at my site. It is under "newest pictures"(an oxymoron) and then look under "11/1/98". The machines can be seen in several pictures. And they are only about 1" to 1.5" high.

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    David
    http://www.geocities.com/nscaler_55
     
  13. ChrisDante

    ChrisDante TrainBoard Member

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    Let me preface my remarks by saying I'm in HO and not an ENNER. My layout is multi level running from a low of 45" to a high of 65". The height of the Tortoise machines do not interfere with my clearences.

    I use a bi-polar power supply supplying 9.5 volts[to insure the points move extra slowly] to my Tortoise machines. So far I've installed 42 of them out of the hundred that I'll need.

    1. Since much of my track had been put down 20 some odd yrs ago, I had to drill a 3/8" hole up from the bottom of the subroadbed. I used a razor knife as a blocker to keep the drill from eating into the turn-out.
    2. My subroadbed is pressed board. It dosn't like screws, hence putting in the Tortoise machines screws was a b****.
    3. On machine #41 I tried a technique from NCE that changed everything. They said to use hotglue. WOW, no more using a vise grip to hold the operating rod while I crawled underneath to insert the screws. I spread hot glue on the Tortoise, set it in place and 15sec. later it's done[Interesting point: If you don't get it in place quick enough and the glue sets up, it will peel off the Tortoise very easily].[This report is a short term evaluation. I'll let you know in 5 yrs if they still hold]
    4. I've used twin-coil machines with linkages and the diddleing you have to do to get them right is a pain.
    5. I use a resistance soldering unit to attach the 8 pins to phone co. wire to a barrier strip. I taught my neice[never knew what a soldering iron was]in about 8 min. She did 10 machines in 15 mins.
    6. Tortoise machines come with .025 wire. Dumb me I needed heavier wire to move some old corroded Shinohara turnouts, so I used .050, I should have gone to .037, a little overkill[I may have the numbers wrong but you get the idea]. But that's the beauty of the Tortoise; very forgiving.
    7. Overall evaluation:
    Tortoise machines or clones are very easy to install compared to twin coils. They operate the turn outs much more realistically. You don't need to be a mechanical engineer to figure out the linkage. Since I run Soundtrax decoders noise of turn out operation is not a factor. But even with nothing on they are not loud, but audible[which sometimes is reasuring, when you can't see the turn out and hope it just moved].

    I hope this helps with your descision making process.

    LOL


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    When in doubt, empty your magazine.
     
  14. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Well I hit up some of the local hobby shops today and fired this question around. The consensus is that I should be able to use Woodland Scenics foam risers (plywood base) with under the table switch machines. The only question I have left (for now) is about linkage. The wire going from the switch machine to the turnout, is that just regular wire? What about length considerations. Here is a possible scenerio on my planned layout.

    The base board is regular old plywood sheet. The turnout will be setup on Woodland Scenics roadbed sitting on their foam riser. The foam riser for this paticular turnout will be about 2.0" above the baseboard (mountainus region). To use a under the table switch machine, all that I would have to do is cutout a circular hole in the foam riser to pass the switch linkage through. Has anyone tried this? It sound like a good idea.

    Thanks
    Matt

    P.S. The riser could be as high as 3.0" from the plywood baseboard.

    Thanks
    matt



    [This message has been edited by mtaylor (edited 05 August 2000).]
     

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