Turning a Train

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by sirrab, Aug 25, 2006.

  1. sirrab

    sirrab New Member

    Hi All :)

    I don't know if this is the right section to post in but here goes !

    I need to turn trains on my layout but I don't have room for a reversing loop or a wye.

    Does any one have any idea's?

    I was think of using a turn table? has anyone done it or able to give me a link to one someone has done?

    I am working in N gauge and using DCC so would I need to use a auto reverse unit?

  2. GearDrivenSteam

    GearDrivenSteam New Member

    I don't think an auto reverse unit will be necessary with a turntable.
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    An auto reverse unit is indeed required for a turntable. It acts just like a reverse loop - creating a short as you turn the table 180*.

    However, a turntable is typically only used to turn a locomotive, not an entire train. The prototype would turn a whole train either on a wye or with a "balloon track" (basically a big reversing loop ;)). If your layout cannot accomodate those things, you might think about a "cassette" - a section of removable track long enough to hold the train you wish to turn. You drive the train on (maybe off the edge of the layout, or a corner), turn the whole cassette, and then drive the train back on.

    Hope that helps.

  4. GearDrivenSteam

    GearDrivenSteam New Member

    THat's why I included the phrase "I don't think", because I didn't know for sure. Thanks for clearing that up.
  5. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    This 'cassette', is it like a massive man powered turntable?
  6. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    You can have a passing track, then let your locomotive move to the other side of the train. In real life, the tracks by me end about a mile or so down the line. what they do, is they double-head a locomotive, one facing in each direction. when it comes time to go back, the crew just walk over to the other locomotive.

    If this layout takes place back in the day with steam, there would be a turntable (there was on the same tracks i mentioned, although its long gone)
  7. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    A turntable can be wired with what is called "split ring" wiring to provide its own polarity reversal. With DCC, that is all that is required (DC requires the polarity of the feed tracks to be reversed when a locomotive is turned.). If the turntable doesn't use split ring wiring, just a DPDT toggle wired as a reversing switch (wire X across the outer contacts underneath) is nearly as simple to use, and a whole lot cheaper than an autoreverser.

    A cassette can be used as a train length human-powered turntable by swapping it end for end. If you power the cassette by contacts to the track where it connects, you have the same thing as "split ring" wiring, and all will be fine with DCC, no additional wiring necessary.

    my thoughts, your choices
  8. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Thanks for clearing that up. The autorereverser is then not required - but some sort of electrical solution must be used, whether it is built into the turntable, or external (like the switch). I think I have been spending too much time with the Digitrax/DCC guys at the club ;) :rolleyes:


  9. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    The cassette is indeed an "external, human powered" turntable. They are quite popular in Britain for staging as well. It is basically a section of track on a board (although some use aluminum angle spaced to match track gauge - this provides "track" and a guard rail to prevent the train from tipping over).

    You would "interface" the cassette with the layout somehow, drive the train on, lift and turn the cassette manually, reconnect it, and then drive the train back onto the layout.

  10. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    I've seen pictures of British layouts that use that cassette idea. Trains go "off layout" onto an unscenicked board with tracks that can be manually spun around so the whole train is turned. Then it is alligned with the tracks and sent back out on the layout. Neat idea. I'd guess that if you didn't have the space to permanently mount a three or four foot cassette turn table you could simply design it to be removed and refitted in the opposite direction. Maybe it could be built on top of an inexpensive rolling cart?
  11. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Hi Sirrab, and welcome to the Gauge.:wave: The best way to turn your trains depends on the style of your layout. If it's on a table, like a 4'x8', or if it's a shelf-type layout, green_elite_cab's suggestion is a good way to reverse an entire train. However, a table-style layout should have room for a reverse loop, or even two, so you can "re-reverse" a train without having to back it around the loop. If you have an around-the-room type layout, there should be room for a wye in any inside corner: I have a wye on my layout
    that is 50'' deep (from the mainline, which is about 30" from the walls on either side of the corner, into the corner). The tail track (the dead-end track which extends to the corner) will accomodate up to two steam locos, or one and and 80' passenger car, and this is in HO scale. If none of these solutions will work for you, Andrew's suggestion of a cassette should do the trick. A cassette, as I understand it, is a track or tracks, long enough (usually) to accomodate an entire train. It's mounted on wheeled platform (casters), and is rolled to and aligned with an access track which runs right to the edge of your layout. You run the train onto the cassette, then physically reverse the cassette by rolling it around so that the locomotives are headed back onto the layout, and "voila", your train is turned.

    Here are a few pictures of my wye, although I have none that show the overall scene.

    Here's a passenger car, being turned, on one leg of the wye.

    Here's the same leg of the wye without the train (on the lower level, between the parked freight cars and the tower). Just visible between the tower roof and the girder bridge behind it is part of the stub track, which dead-ends when it reaches the wall, which is just beyond the truss bridge.

    This view shows a loco backing into the wye. (Those freight cars are on an adjacent track.) If you look closely, you can see the end of the stub track, between the tower and that distant signpost.

    Here's the same loco, travelling forward, coming out on the othe leg of the wye. The track in the immediate foreground is a siding, while the next track back is the mainline.

  12. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member


  13. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

  14. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    Ha ha! Fiddle yard, I'd forgotten about that term. Model railroading has its own personality, asside from the people involved in it and what the models are of. I love it :)

    Edit: Failed to mention, I expected a cassette to be significantly larger than that. Perhaps a good four feet long. But I guess if you have room for a 4' cassette you've probably got room for a reversing loop, eh? ;)
  15. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Not necessarily - a cassette can be as long as you like. I have seen them for "vertical staging" where they are put up on wall brackets above the layout (or under) if the owner does not have the room for a full-blown staging yard.

  16. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    Hey that's a good idea. More staging yard lines without all the turnouts and such. Now I'm picturing maybe a 6 track staging yard about 8 feet long with four or five levels and a mechanized elevator. Suddenly you have 30 sets of track. Sweeeet.
  17. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Cassettes are usually used where you want to store a number of trains. Some modellers use a separate smaller cassette for turning the locos. On Lostock Junction, the builder put a series of cassettes made from 8' long metal studs (the building material that replaced 2x4s) with a long storage area under the layout; I've never seen it used.
    Another friend made a train turntable using a bicycle hub. This swings into the next room as well as the railway room.
  18. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    The late Art King worked on the same small layout for 30 years or more. He modeled 1880s with a wood burning 4-4-0 and about 1/2 dozen cars for a train. He had a long turntable that would turn the entire train off scene in the staging yard. The train would go through a tunnel into the next room where it would be on a train length turntable. He could turn it around and bring the train back on scene in the opposite direction.
  19. sirrab

    sirrab New Member

    Hi ALL

    Hi all and thanks for all the feedback !:)

    I think I will go with the cassette as I have room for it on a staging area and I like I idea about using a small cassette for the loco ! I hadn't thought of using one :thumb:

    Thanks Everyone !!

  20. Bardo

    Bardo New Member

    Turntables and DCC

    Hi Sirab!
    Yes you need an auto reverse unit and it will really simplify your operations.
    N Scale is one of the toughest scales to build turntables for because the operators almost certainly need help in positioning the bridge, and it is hard to see the precise alignment you need. Needless to say it's no fun if you encounter problems with a turntable, and there are many to be had with most that are available.
    I saw this and other posts on this site and joined to tell my fellow modelers that 8 years ago I needed an N Scale table to turn my Bigboys. None were available. It started a second business for me, AAA Precision Turntables.
    I've been modeling for 56 years, and have owned a small shop that deals with pump and motor control, as well as liquid sensing. We now build turntables as well! No one else in the time I've been modeling has advanced the turntable to where it should be in the hobby-
    they should be fun-a center for operations. Most of the time the ones I have seen are at best "scenic". A few work well, but are owned by "machinist/engineers/technicians" that are able to diagnose and cure obscure problems.
    I know this may come off as some sort of sales pitch, but it isn't. Nobody can touch our turntables, but they are not mass produced from plastic, and inexpensive.
    They do however work extremely well, and are designed to last for a long time. To all who read this, ask around, and consider how many of these you are going to buy when you set a budget. They may be too expensive for some, but being as objective as I can, I think most modelers could forego an engine or two, to allow for one troublefree turntable.

Share This Page