Progress on trolley module

Discussion in 'Photos & Videos' started by spitfire, Oct 15, 2004.

  1. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Bachmann trolleys are just fine and can be easily converted to overhead using a pair of Bowser trolley poles and a couple pieces of wire--one can even do trolley pole reverse! By replacing the Lucite-rod "headlight" assembly (and replacing it with a reversible lighting kit) they'll go around 8" radius curves like a charm.

    If it makes you feel any better, most trolley modelers recommend that you don't start stringing overhead until after your street, trackage and assorted ground-level scenery is just how you like it (hmmm...maybe that's why I've been stalling my street trackage for so long!)
  2. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Thanks for that info Jetrock. I am hoping I can run for awhile just on powered rails and then do the conversion later. I don't think the conversion is all that tricky.

  3. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    It really only becomes an issue if you're using Orr single-point turnouts--those are made as one solid casting, so you HAVE to have the same polarity on both rails. Since your trolley section is just a single loop, you won't have to worry about that.

    Give the trolley wire a try, though--Apline Division Scale Models sells the old Suydam trolley-wire accessories (hangers and such) but I'm not sure where to get nickel-silver wire (I bought mine from George Huckaby of at a train show but it isn't listed for sale on his site.)

    You can make trolley poles very cheaply from 3/32" or 1/8" piano wire--cut them about 4" high, make a notch about 1/2" down from the top to accomodate the support wire, drill a hole in the tabletop and pound them in until they're about 19-20 scale feet from the top of the rails. Normally the poles should be placed every 80-100 feet, more frequently on curves.

    Craft-store Indian seed beads make great cheap insulators. Just having the trolley power poles in place, even without overhead, adds a bit of atmosphere and suggests the presence of wire (like HO scale telephone poles without wires suggest their presence) and when you work up the gumption to try stringing some trolley wire!
  4. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Jetrock, the "Streetcars" in Toronto did not really have "Trolley Poles", the wires were suspended across the entire road and joined with the hydro wires that ran the length of the street on either side.

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  5. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Thanks for the advice Jetrock! Fortunately I also have an excellent resource not too far from me - our friend Interurben!!! He has actually shown me how to make trolley poles, and there's a thread about it here somewhere too.

    My problem is that Toronto streetcars (that's what we call them here) did not have catenary, or pantographs - 2 things which make the whole issue of live overhead a lot easier. As Will says, our wires are strung from the utility poles, and those same poles carry phone wires and streetlamps.

    Until I can get, or make, tapered wood utility poles (with streetlights) for my wire supports, I prefer to run off track power alone. I'm more interested in a prototypical appearance than I am in prototypical wiring, and so far no one makes anything close to what I need. A massive scratchbuild undertaking that I am reluctant to do when I have so many other things to build.

    The pix below will show you what I'm talking about, and also why replicating this is going to be such a challenge.


    Edit: PS, check out that swanky car!

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  6. Chessie6459

    Chessie6459 Gauge Oldtimer

    Nice Photo Val. I can see what you are talking about.
  7. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    Hi Will that looks like Long branch loop. Can you date the photo.
  8. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Actually, the lack of catenary makes things SIMPLER--simple trolley wire is much easier to construct than catenary style--and the trolley poles described above would be just fine for your sort of project, because in Sacramento, trolley wire was also strung from utility poles on either side of the street! Rather than constructing an arm, put one pole on either side of the street and run either nickel-silver trolley wire or other 24-28 gauge wire from one "notch" (just above trolley shoe height, remember) to the other, with a couple Indian seed beads to represent insulators.

    Span poles (as this setup was called), rather than the single-arm style, are pretty common in cities.

    A little brainstorming on the subject--I suppose you could still use piano wire, and just make it a couple inches longer so there would be space for a couple of cross-arms. I did this for my sample length of "trolley wire" layout--I used a Rix utility-pole kit, which includes separate crossarms intended to be glued to their poles, and just glued them to my piano-wire poles instead.

    Wiring the streetlamps seems like it would be an interesting project--I suppose you could substitute 1/8" brass tubing for the trolley poles with streetlamps and run a GOW bulb up the middle and out through a hole poked in the tubing for the streetlamp itself--or you could just glue a non-functional streetlamp appliance to the pole. Or you could run the wiring up the side of a piece of solid tubing/wire and paint the whole thing black.

    In any case, it would be fairly easy to later add crossarms and streetlamps to a trolley/utility pole that had been cut to the correct height later on.

    But hey, I'm not here to tell you how you should construct your layout...and maybe before telling someone else they should put in THEIR trolley poles, I should put in MINE... (hanging head in shame)
  9. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    I appreciate the suggestions Jetrock. I've thought of brass tubing, as that would be a good way to run wires up to the street lights - which need to be working ones btw.

    Unfortunately, there is no way to get them to taper that I know of - and untapered poles just don't look right to me - I tried them.

    I'm concerned that wood dowels, tapered by hand, would bend over time, causing too much slack in the wires. As I said, this is a tough one to figure out!

  10. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    Val the trick is to use 3 different sizes of brass tube and taper it that way. :thumb:
  11. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    With tapered wood dowels, one could provide an anchor guy wire behind the pole to maintain a few degrees of negative "rake" (often seen on trolley poles) or just hold them upright. I suppose one could use some sort of modeling clay or squadron putty to put a gently tapering coating over piano wire or brass tubing, too.
  12. Chessie6459

    Chessie6459 Gauge Oldtimer

    How is the project coming along Val? Just curious LOL

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