Turning turntables

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by billk, Jul 19, 2002.

  1. billk

    billk Active Member

    Does anybody know how prototype turntables are "powered", that is, what makes them go around? I assume electric motors (or maybe internal combustion engines?) were used for the more modern turntables, but what about older ones? Steam engines? Horses or mules? Four strong men and a boy:D ?
  2. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Turntable Power

    Hi Bill,
    Early turntables and a lot of short line turntables were powered by the "armstrong" method. In other words the engine crew simply pushed the tuntable around. This was not hard as long as they got the engine "balanced" on the turntable bridge.

    I've also seen turntables that were powered by electric motors. The one that used be here on the Central of Georgia was powered by compressed air from the HUGE steam driven air compressor in the roundhouse. Don't know about steampower to turn the table but it would seem logical that arrangment would have been used.

    I sorta wonder if some of the more recent turntables might have been driven by some kind of hydraulic system as it would seem that it would be very efficent and powerful.

    BTW...The San Francisco Cable Cars are still turned by the "armstrong method" When the car reaches the turntable at the bottom of the hill it has to be turned so that the "grip" can grab the cable for the uphill trip. Passengers are expected and encouraged to help the crew do this.
  3. billk

    billk Active Member

    Thanks Vic. I think a neat little detail would be a crew of men (or horses or mules or giant rabbits) that would somehow move when the turntable turned so it would look like they were turning it. It would emphasize the period and provide a little animation. (I'll leave the details to someone else for now.)
  4. Chessie

    Chessie Member

    Hi Bill
    I saw a turntable the other knight on a TV show that used compressed air from the LOCO. They moved the engine out on the table then hocked up an air hose from the LOCO and it ran an air motor. I don't know how they moved it without the engine.
  5. BDC

    BDC Member

    Two options come to mind:

    1. "OK everbody, 1.. 2.. 3.. HEAVE!! 1.. 2.. 3.. HEAVE!!"

    2. "Bob, c'mere. It's your turn to blow into the pipe."
  6. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Armstrong Turntable

    Here's a good shot of an Armstrong Turntable. Its also known as a Gallows Type turntable...probably good for hanging rustlers and train robbers too:D :p

    Attached Files:

  7. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I've seen pictures of 2 types of power for British TTs -- vacuum and hand crank.
    The vacuum came from the brake lines (they love to use that where anyone else would use compressed air) but I don't know how it really works. This would be a problem as some locos didn't have the vac brakes.
    Some TTs had a box with hand cranks on each side, usually run by 2 people but sometimes one.
    The old Airfix TT kit had the long pole at each end.
    If you see a set of electric wires running to the "gallows" it probably powered an electric motor.

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