Modeling grade crossing signals

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by AndyWS, Sep 15, 2006.

  1. AndyWS

    AndyWS Member

    I'm just curious, of those of you that have grade crossings on your layouts; how many are protected by electric signals of some type, and what brand/design are they? How did you modify them to motorize the gate/wigwag arm and automatically activate upon train approach, if necessary?

    Back when my dad and I were brand new to model railroading, we purchased a couple of Bachmann "operating dual crossing gate" packages on a molded plastic base with an ordinary section of straight track built in. Those were quickly rejected since the mechanically activated gates opened and closed haphazardly and sometimes the activation bar would derail the locomotive. One featured "operating lights and bell" which consisted of a mechanical alarm-clock style bell hidden inside a little house built on the base, and a single bulb on each signal post meaning the signal lights didn't even alternate flashes as the prototype would.

    We got rid of these and right now do not have any road-rail grade crossings modeled on our layout. We do have a set of Busch signals tucked away in storage somewhere, modeled after the standard modern American highway flasher (no gate) and complete with a model of the roadside junction box. The Busch signals do leave something to be desired, such as one pair of signals on each post is a dummy, so it cannot have two pairs of lights flashing toward each approach down the road as a real modern signal would. They did not come with any type of automatic train detector/activator and the instructions to install one are all in German.

    So, how do you protect your grade crossings? IHC makes a set of old-school highway flashers (with the "Stop on Red Signal" sign on each post) that is complete with a digital bell sound and optical train sensors. NJ International seems to make quite an array of crossing signal models, but they require modification to detect trains and motorize the gate (if present). The only wigwag signal they make appears to be an odd design that does not resemble your standard Magnetic Flagman or (in Wisconsin) Western Railroad Supply product. Kato makes a Unitrak signal for N scale (possibly HO too) but it is not quite accurate for an American prototype, since it has gates at all four corners of the crossing. Only the most rigorously protected (usually because they have a history of deadly accidents in the past) crossings in America have this type of protection.


  2. AndyWS

    AndyWS Member

    Wow so apparently no one has modeled grade crossings with active protectors. I've been searching for a better product and this looks promising. I just hope the name doesn't mean they make it in Z scale only!

    They offer a nice modern highway flasher, flasher with gate; and Magnetic Flagman lower-quadrant wigwag WITH motorized arm. All come complete with dection system.
  3. zedob

    zedob Member

    Try Walthers. NJ International is one name.

    I didn't go too deep in the search to find the actual circuit, but with a bit of research, you'll find it at the Big W. I know they have them, I've seen them, but I never installed any.
  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    We have a set of flashers on the Lionel layout that was sold off cheap last Christmas. They're about the size for Lionel, but the flashing mechanism could be used in any scale. The control box has a slide switch on it, but that could be changed for any other detector.
  5. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    I like in your photo both the CR geep and the AMC(?) auto were spotless for this publicity photo! :D
  6. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    Wait, how would you guys reccomend i make a flashing grade crossing? I want to put on on my layout. I think i made a bad decision by completely isolating the area i want protected power wise ( although i can just wire it all back together)

    I know some block detectors sense electricity, but what is there in the way of grade corssing detectors and flashers?

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