Powering Atlas type remote control Snap Switches...

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by TinGoat, Sep 5, 2002.

  1. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all

    I was reading the "Newbie needing information" thread and decided to visit Woodie's Website.
    Click here for a link to Garahbara Railway website

    Under the Construction section #3 I saw the following.


    Wow! That's what I used to do. Instead of using the plastic Atlas slide switches or coughing up the cash for momentary switches for my remote control Atlas Snap Switches.... And I thought that I was the only one.

    It wasn't pretty, but it was functional.

    When I get to building my new layout, I will employ the same method, but with a little more finesse.

    I'm old fashioned (And cheap! ;) ) So I will be sticking with Cab Control for the time being. The layout (HO) will be going in to an eight foot by eight foot space in the corner of the basement and will likely be an "around the wall" set-up.

    The idea is to put a diagram of the layout at the control panel with the power packs and throttles. I'll use dpdt switches for the block power. To power the remote control snap switch machines, I will put a small brass nail into each branch of the turnout on the diagram. The tip of the brass nail will have the appropriate lead wire to the remote control snap switch machine soldered to it. A small piece of brass rod soldered to the "hot wire" will act like a little magic wand. All I have to do is touch it to the desired brass nail head to activate the remote control snap switch machine.

    Now I just have to figure out a way to convert the Atlas remote control snap switch machines for mounting under the layout. They are really ugly, and I'd like to be able to hide them. I know that Atlas makes under the table remote control snap switch machines, (Did I mention that I'm cheap? :) ) but I'd rather do the conversion on machines that I already own. Besides, if I am giong to cough up any cash, I would prefer to spend it on nicer looking turnouts like PECO's.

    This brings me to a question....

    What is the attraction for the Slow-motion machines like the Tortiose? I know that they allow all sorts of fancy wiring options like signal lights and such, but still....
  2. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi Ron, One of the big attractions of machines like the Tortise is that they only require a simple reversing toggle to control them rather than two momentary push buttons as on a twin coil machine. Another feature is that they are almost burn out proof as they use a "stall motor" that in essence stays on all the time. Also they are very powerful and work extremly well on turnouts that require a good deal of pressure to throw them like the Shinahora's. Additionally, they move the points of the turnout at a realistic slow speed.

    They are also great to use with scratchbuilt turnouts where the point rails actually have to bend to contact the running rails. The jerky "snapping action" of a twin coil machine on such trunouts causes the point rails to break over a period of time.
  3. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Ron, I controlled my turnouts the same way for years, and still do on the panels for my staging yards. But Vic is correct in everything he said about Tortoise (and SwitchMaster as well). I use these on all my other turnouts. Since you use a toggle switch, I mount them vertically, with up always being "normal" and down "reversed", or diverging route. On main line turnouts, the toggles are mounted on the fascia in front of the turnout. At crossovers one toggle will throw both turnouts and "up" in normal, down is crossover. I don't bother with led's on a panel. My yard throat is drawn schematically on a panel, with dry transfer letters at each turnout. A row of togglesbeneath the drawing labeled "A", etc., throw the assoiciated turnout and the handle position shows a turnouts position. The chief advantage, to me, of solenoid machines is the ability to use diode matrixing simply. I saw an article on wiring Tortouses to work the same way but didn't do so and have no idea where to find the article. Can't figure it out myself. Perhaps someone knows how?

  4. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi Gary, If the slow motion machine's motors were wired in parallel to a single control toggle and with an ample power supply would not that have about the same effect as a diode matrix on a bank of twin coil machines????:confused: :D In other words all of the motors would be activated at the same time.

    Actually I only use twin-coil machines....reason being is that I've accumulated so many of them over the years that its just not cost effective to replace them. I do have one Tortise on the yard throat as thats a scratch built turnout and the point rails have to bend.

    Just some thoughts...only had one cup of coffee this AM:D
  5. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

  6. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all

    Something to think about...

    Thanks guys,

    You've given me some things to think about. Especially re: hand layed switches which is something that I want to try doing....
  7. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Hi Vic, I haven't given it a lot of thought either, but wiring the machines in parallel would mean they would all throw when polarity changes. Not so good for a second route. Diodes can't be used to block current flow in one direction as you need both polarities to throw the machine. Any other ideas?

  8. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi Gary, Yep you're right.....If I'm remembering yesterday right:D :D :D I think I was thinking more in terms of a ladder track type of arrangement. But that's what a lack of coffee will do!!!:D :D :D

    Wished I had 5 or 6 of those machines just to "play around" with...surely there's got to be a way:confused:
  9. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all


    Here is an idea that I have been toying with for getting realistic operations.

    I read an article in Model Railroad Craftsman Magazine last spring... It was called bending the iron. It describes using barrel type electronics locks (like the kind you find on PC's) at each turnout. The idea is, that during operating sessions, the only person who can throw a turnout is the man with the key (usually the brakeman).

    I've seen many layouts that use pushrods to manually throw turnouts. Some of the fancier ones have toggle switches built in to activate signals or track polarity. Like the ones on the Saskatoon Railroad Modellers Webpage.

    [​IMG] Manual Switch Throws

    My Idea is to use threaded rod to throw the turnouts. Instead of a slow motion motor, I was thinking of using an old Black and Decker cordless screwdriver. So borrowing from the idea in the magazine, I could give the brakeman the cordless screwdriver, and he would be the only person who can throw the turnouts. (He could spend an entire operating session screwing around.... :D )

    It just depends on what the threads per inch is on the the threaded rod for how much torque is needed and how fast the turnout is thrown.

    I've got one of the old Black and Decker cordless screwdrivers that has the battery built in. It is now a manual screwdriver because the rechargeable battery is dead. I think that it takes 3 or 6 volts (but I will double check before I wire it up). I still have the charger base, and I might be able to use it to power the screwdriver.

    Another idea where I can use the cordless screwdriver is to have one for each turnout. I can sometimes find them at garages sales, flea markets and junk bins for next to nothing. I can also put the word out that I am looking for them. I think that I can pull them apart and remove the dead battery and reuse the switches from them to mount on my control panel. The switches on these are momentary spdt center off. The motor can be mounted under the layout at the turnout to drive the threaded rod to throw the turnout. I could replace the switches with spdt and add some relay switches at the turnout to cut the power to the motor once the turnout has been thrown.

    I'll try and figure out what switches would work best and at the same time try to keep things as simple as possible.

    I think that there's enough torque in these cordless screwdrivers to throw Large Scale turnouts too.

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