Why are large turntables so high?

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Nick8564, Dec 2, 2005.

  1. Nick8564

    Nick8564 Member

    I need a turntable to put on my layout. I have a 2-8-8-2 and would like to think about a 4-8-8-4 one day. The Walthers turntable is about the only one out that is motorixed and either already put together or easy to construct(full time college engineering student, don't have much time at home working on my layout to build a truntable:( ). Can anyone help me out with any other ideas for something. Thanks
  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think diamond Scale is out of business. If so, that leaves the Walthers as the only game in town for large turntables.
  3. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I think that Bowser is still offering large turntables, although possibly only as kits. You could scratchbuild a turntable quite cheaply, but if you don't have time for a Walthers kit, that's not likely an option. I guess they figure that if you have the cash to buy the big locos, you'll have enough left to by a big turntable. Is this another reason the real railroads dieselised?

  4. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Prototype railroads typically disconnected big articulated locomotives from their tenders in order to fit them on turntables, which were generally too small to fit both locomotive and tender.

    You could always turn them with a wye or balloon track, which is how real railroads whose turntables were too small handled the problem. If you don't have room, then you're probably stuck with the 0-5-0 switcher, preferably two units MU'd together for such a large load...
  5. Nick8564

    Nick8564 Member

    Well, I bought the 2-8-8-2 second hand and got a really good deal on it. My layout is modern ear with diesel engines, the 2-8-8-2 will be running passenger cars on my layout for a tourist attraction like many places do now a days in real life. I like both steam and diesel so I figured this was the best way to do it in a modern, present day era layout. The turntable will be used to move the steam locos in and out the round house, its mostly going to be for looks and part of my "steam loco tourist attraction" on my layout. Just trying to find a way to incorporate everyting I like about the hobby.
  6. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    :eek: Really?!?:D

    Just kidding around! :D
  7. Hammerli

    Hammerli Member

    I've been thinking about a large turntable also, but that brings up an interesting idea. What did they do with the tenders while the locomotives were in the roundhouse? I've hesitated on the 130' and Roundhouse since that combo consumes a minimum of 40" in length, while a 90' and smaller engine house would take up less than 30".
  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Nick, how many of these oversized monsters do you have? If there's just one, you could make one extra long stall opposite the turntable entrance and run it straight in. Leaves you with no way to rotate it, though.
    Some railroads economised on tenders by switching them between locos since tenders needed less servicing time than the loco.This would probably be for major servicing, not the daily/weekly stuff at a roundhouse.
  9. Yard Goat

    Yard Goat New Member

    I would just have a straight run-through "barn" for the big Mallet. Especially if you're modelling the present day, and the big steam is for a tourist train, it's more realistic to house it in a straight engine shed (even a modern-style one with metal siding and roll-up doors like Pikestuff sells) and to turn it on a wye or a loop instead of a turntable.

  10. Nick8564

    Nick8564 Member

    I have the Norfolk Western 2-8-8-2. I also have a NW Class J 4-8-4 and USRA Heavy Mountain NW 4-8-2. I hope to get the NW 2-6-6-4 also once I can get the money to buy a Broadway Limited(expensive when I got college too). Does anyone know the minimum length turntable a 2-8-8-2 wil fit on? I figured atleast a 15" bridge if I want to turn it. I wish Walthers offered there 130' in a kit and with out indexing, then maybe I could afford it. Im not to worried about prototypical looking layout, Im using all HO scale stuff, but also modeling whatever pops into my hand and I can create. Not trying to model anything specific. Thanks for all yall help.
  11. Hammerli

    Hammerli Member

    I believe the prototypes were between 111' and 115', so you would make it on a 90' w/o tender I would guess. I don't know anything about these, but I found them in a quick search so they may or may not be quality.




    The Bowser doesn't save you much over the Walthers, but it does look nice. Like I said I've no experience with any of these but I too have just started investigating turntables in the 130' range. Anyone have one of the Bowsers to speak to the quality?
  12. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    You need a turntable big enough for both engine and tender - model tenders are not so easily disconnected because of the wiring runs between engine and tender. Veryfew model steam engines (in HO) will run properly without their tenders. Another plus for postwar Lionel - you could generally swap tenders to your heart's delight.

    yours in turning tables
  13. Nick8564

    Nick8564 Member

    Well, I broke down and ordered a Walthers 130' turntable. I really want to get my trains running over christmas when I home from college. Can anyone woh has one tell me that kind of power supply they used to power the indexing and motor? It says it has to be bought separately. Was wondering if it could be any powersupply that meets the power needs listed or a special one that I have to buy too. Thanks
  14. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member


    I use the W's 90' turntable. It takes a lot of work to get it to work right. I use an old powerpack to power it (so I can regulate the speed), and dispensed with the indexing system. I use the ol' eyebal indexing...

    Gus (LC&P).
  15. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    I have the Walthers 90' turntable.
    I use the RoL5 (right or left hand) to power mine.
  16. James Bernier

    James Bernier New Member

    I noticed a comment about disconnecting the tender - Not something that was done on a regular basis. The only US engines that had a standard coupling I am aware of was the N&W 'Jawn Henry' turbine engine and the C&O 'Chessie' steam turbines.

    Most steam engines have a very solid 'draw bar' between the tender and the engine. Also there are water/air/steam lines and in the case of large coal burning engines, a coal auger that must be disconnected. Oil burning engines would have a oil fuel line running from the tender to the engine. These were not like 'B' units in a diesel consist!

    Jim Bernier
  17. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Turning big articulated locomotives was, I suppose, a huge pain in the neck and done as seldom as possible--but if you really had to turn the unit around, and your turntable wasn't large enough to fit the engine and tender, off it came, amidst much screaming, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Ideally a facility big enough to store big engines like that would have a suitable turntable, though. They weren't common if it wasn't a facility intended for such use--for the same reason as we modelers face: a really big turntable is expensive and a space hog!

    I do know that the enginehouse at Dunsmuir, CA had a couple of sheds alongside the roundhouse specifically for the big articulated locomotives, because even with the Dunsmuir roundhouse's later expansion it wasn't big enough to fit big AC units on the turntable!

    So, in response to an earlier comment, they parked the tender on a siding until it was the tender's turn to be turned around.
  18. espee

    espee New Member


    I think CMR has a 90ft table. Diamond Scale moved to Glendale Arizona a few years ago and to someplace else in AZ recently. They were still in business as of a year or 2 ago. Someone else makes metal turntables. Can't remember who. Bowser still has tables.
  19. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think it was probably common for a facility that didn't have a large enough turntable to turn an articulated locomotive and tender to have a balloon track or a wye for turning them. That was another advantage to diesel engines, an A-B-B-A consist is by nature bidirectional. A steam engine just isn't set up to run backwards for long distances on a mainline.
  20. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Not likely..That's why railroads with large engines had 130' turn tables..You just didn't uncouple a steam locomotive tender just to turn the engine.Railroads would not build balloon tracks or wyes on a whim when building a larger turntable was far cheaper seeing that most of the larger steamers came long after the railroad was built.
    Those sheds you speak of was more then likely built for maintenance on those long engines..The PRR did the same at Crestline(Oh) for the T-1s.In this case the PRR was force to build a wye to turn the T-1s because of space limitations at the Crestline roundhouse.

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