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!

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