To paraphrase Vane Jones, "Knowledge is of little value until shared with others."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Second Part of Final on Automatic Block Signals for the Chicago & Utopia Ry.

Never mentioned before, on my layout as you stand inside of the oval of track to your left is west while to the right is east. This is true no matter the orientation of the layout room. Even if you are facing east in the room - left is west and right is east!

A number of visitors have commented even though the layout is a large oval, it seems like straight track with little or no curves. This was my intention when the layout was designed and built. The inside overhang of a model is less noticeable than a model's outside overhang.

The new signals installed in between the 2-track passing siding were a clearance nightmare. The single head signal placed in between the straight section of track at the west end was not as much of a problem as the multiple head signal to be installed at the east end. To check for clearance, 2 of my CSS 80 foot long cars were used. They are the longest passenger cars on my layout.

This is the clearance test for the single head signal installed at the west end. It's tight!
The platform and signal head appear to be off center. This is an effect of taking the photo at an angle instead of straight down.

Location of the multiple head, east end signal was not as easy. Both tracks are at the start of a wide sweeping curve. To locate the best spot for the signal, the two 80 foot long models were moved back and forth to positions where the overhang of each model was greatest.

For the car on the outside curve, the greatest over hang was at the middle of the car. For the car on the inside curve, the greatest overhang was at the corners of the car. You can expect to have similar overhang "problems" on  straight track within 12"-18" of any curve. As soon as one of the model's trucks is on curved track, the overhang of the model changes.
The signal ended up nearer the outside track. The overhang of the corners of the model on the inside curve were greater than the overhang of the other model on the outside curve.
Some words of wisdom if you ever have to  work under a layout installing electrical equipment and the like. Working over your head or even with your arms up, is tiring. Do as much as you can to prevent fatigue and problems before starting the under the layout work.

The wire used in signals is thin and light in nature. There are some steps which can be taken to improve the situation. I use Tomar  O-851 switch stands which have a 16 v bulb to light the switch lamp. To pre-wire the 16 v bulbs longer wire leads are added.

This switch lamp is painted yellow as is the practice of the CSS for derails. On my layout the voltage for the switch motors' electric circuit is 12 v. The 16 v bulb will still burn very bright on 12 volts. This is far too bright compared to the prototype kerosene lamps. Therefore, voltage reduction is required. A 100 ohm resistor is placed in series with the bulb. Radio Shack has resistors from 10 ohm and up. you may need to try different value resistors to find the one which suits your need.
Wire cutters hold the wires down for photo taking. The larger yellow wire is soldered on and heat shrink tubing used to cover the solder joint. The resistor is soldered on before a heaver wire is attached to the other lead. Smaller diameter pieces of heat shrink tubing were used before a larger diameter heat shrink tubing is used over the resistor.

The slightly heavier solid copper wire soldered on is anywhere from 12" to 24" long depending upon the application. The wire can always be cut shorter or extended. The solid wires are helpful in pushing the wire leads through a hole in the layout.
The switch stand is mounted on ties with spikes through holes in the base of the stand. This brings up an interesting point. Drilling holes is always easier before the installation starts than during the installation. Therefore, I drilled the holes for the spikes larger before the switch stand was installed.
Now, on to the signals. The top of the concrete base in most applications is at the height of the rail head. Per AAR rules when signal heads are installed on a mast, the center line of the lowest aspect (in modeling the bulb or lens) is 13 feet above the rail.
On my layout the concrete bases are higher than the rail head. This is my goof! The 13 feet above the rail head does have some exceptions. The reason CA&E signals appear to look so squat is they are! Interurban passenger cars when placed next to most mainline railroad locomotives and passenger cars are smaller in stature. The CA&E block signals were manufactured so the aspects (lenses of the lights) were in line with the motorman's vision. You can do the same!
This is a single head mast ready for installation. The black wire is the common ground for both the red and green bulbs. The red and green wires are extensions of the red or green wires. Heat shrink tubing was used on each wire at the point of soldering the heavier wires to the thinner wires. Then, so equal stress is placed on all the thinner wires at the same time when a wire is pulled, a larger diameter piece of heat shrink tubing was used over all 3 wires.
To install the signal, a large enough hole is drilled in the layout. My favorite adhesive, DAP's clear Kwik Seal or generic substitute, was used. The caulk was allowed to cure  before the signal was wired in.  The caulk was chosen for ease of positioning the signal plus easy removal of the signal at some future date without ruining the signal's pseudo-concrete base.

The more complex multiple signal head mast looked like this at the time of installation. There are 3 sets of wires. With multiple black, red, and green wire sets; short lengths of heat shrink tubing will be applied along the length of the wire sets to keep the wires of one signal separate from the other wires.
I have a feeling my style of mounting 3 signal heads may not have been very prototypical. Note the ladder to access the signals is mounted on the side.
Here is the signal with the 3 sets of heads after installation.  Only a thin signal maintainer can go up the ladder when a car is stopped next to the signal. The light bulbs have to be touched up with special glass paint. One of the advantages of the Keil-Like signal products is the plastic lenses included with the signal. This way all the red, green, etc. aspects have the same color red, green, etc..
More can be written about signals on my layout but it is time to move on!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

First Part of Final on Automatic Block Signals for the Chicago & Utopia Ry.

After posting the information on the block signals on my layout, I started to think more about them. There were 2 areas of concern. The first is the signals in the area of the turnout leading to the stub track at the CRT Westchester station. See the 2 drawings for before and after .

These photos show the work in progress.
The new signal is on the near side of the turnout instead of after the turnout. The signal to be replaced shows a green aspect.
The 2 new signals are on the far left of the photo. They will replace the signal on the far side of the turnout displaying the red aspect.

The 2 new signals on the left are now active (Please excuse the blurry photo.) and the old signal removed.

The new signal in the 1st photo is active. The old signal is removed. The top signal head is for the route straight ahead while the lower signal is for the divergent route into the Westchester "L" station.

The 2nd area of concern is my use of the very small ground signals for automatic block signaling. This style of signals is more commonly found in rail yards. While I know it's risky to use the signals heads on masts (due to space restrictions), I thought it was worth the effort to try. The signal at the west end of the double track would not be a problem. The set of signals at the east end of the double track has 2 separate sets of signals to be mounted on the mast.

As mentioned the signals head on the mast at the west end has only green and red aspects. A signal mast removed from another location was reused. The signal head had been filed flat ala the South Shore (CSS).
The new signal is the one closest to you. Wait until you see the clearance with passing trains.

In case you were not aware, many years ago the CSS started to cut off the sides of the black background plate when individuals living near the CSS's tracks used the signals as target practice. Cutting off the sides of the signal reduced the size of the target. This reduced the amount of damage plus the target practice itself.

The sets of signals to be mounted to the east signal mast were different. East bound traffic had 2 signal heads for the home absolute stop signal protecting the grade crossing with a another railroad.

The other signal to be mounted on the mast is the automatic block signal for east bound traffic to be able to use the normally west bound main. The 2 tracks in the passing siding are bidirectional.
This is a close-up of the signal heads mounted on the mast. The ladder to reach the service platform was moved to the side.

More about clearance problems and mounting signals in the next post.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

AEFRE 49 - #4B The Flat Car with Decking

Next comes the adding of 2 brass tabs to hold the power truck in place. The tabs need to be 3/32” thick. Each tab has to clear the "top" flange of the “I” beam in order to butt up against the web of the “I” beam. Making the tab from 2 pieces of brass provides this.

Each tab is 2 pieces of brass, 1/16” and 1/32” thick. The drawing shows how long to cut each piece of brass.

The 2 pieces of brass have been soldered together and filed, if required. Note the stepped area to clear the flange of the "I" beam.

Before adding the 2 tabs, the location of the where both power and trail trucks  needs to be marked. Locate the center point of both trucks on the beams. On the end where the power truck is to be installed, measure the width of the flat plate bolster of the power truck on the set of beams. I filed the beams to make the markings noticeable.

Always try to “tin” the pieces of brass to be soldered. Then clean up the area. Place the tabs in location. You may have to “eye-ball” the exact spot. To aid in the soldering, cut 1/16” long pieces of 6% silver solder and carefully place pieces next to the beam and tab. Apply only enough heat with a propane torch to melt the solder.

The brass frame is designed to have pieces of styrene glued to it – this includes end and side pieces. Place the frame on its side on a flat surface. When this is done the frame should not rock back and forth. If it does this means the tab is sticking out too far. The tabs should not stick out beyond the 2 end pieces. If a tab does stick out file it down.

After the tabs are soldered on and filed down, if required, carefully file down the web of the “I” beams where the power truck is located. When the filing is completed the flat plate bolster should fit into the filed out “slot”.

The flat plate bolster of the power truck will stick out further than required. Center the power truck in the frame. Mark where the excess of the flat plate bolster needs to be cut off plus the location of the 1-72 mounting screws in the tabs.

Here you can see both the power and trail trucks before they are mounted to the frame. The body bolster provided with the trucks is of the correct height.

Cut off the excess flat plate bolster material. Drill and tap the holes for the 1-72 mounting screws in the brass tabs on the frame. Drill or file out the 2 holes in the flat plate bolster so 1-72 screws will pass through them.
Normally the flat plate bolster is attached from the top. That's why the holes in the bolster are already tapped 1-72. IN our application the mounting screws are attached from the bottom.

I ran into problems with my 30 year old 1-72 tap – it broke in the brass tab. A new hole had to be drilled and taped. This is the reason the tapped holes on my frame do not match and line up.

File the screws flat with the top of the brass tab if you have to use longer screws like I did. Remove the power truck and screws and store them is a safe location.
On to applying the styrene.