Tuesday, February 25, 2014


The major remaining task required to begin test operations on my SP Cascade Line was providing control to the power switch machines.  Switch machine installation provided a mechanical throw rod and frog wiring.  With this, I could reach under the layout to manually move the Tortoise ™ throw to the desired position.  While this was sufficient for limited testing by me, it would be unacceptable for visiting operators.  Further, installation of the fascia made it much more difficult to reach under the layout.  The fascia was needed for switch linkage support for the manual throw switches, which use Blue Point ™ switch machines.

The eventual plan for the SP Cascade Line provides for Centralized Traffic Control, wherein significant switches are remotely controlled by the Dispatcher.  Though I have been gathering the needed computer interface and control circuit boards for the CTC implementation, I am not quite ready to launch into that major effort.   This still left me with a need to control the power switch machines. 

For the interim, I opted to wire the Tortoise ™ machines with conventional toggle switch control via connection to a 12 volt power supply distributed around the layout.  Over two dozen switch machines have been connected using DPDT toggle switches for control. 

Of course, there were some challenges along the way.  One major challenge occurred with a machine at the end of the Springfield peninsula.  This spot is more than a little confined and has a concentration of both Tortoise ™ and Blue Point ™ switch machines. 

Switch machines under RR-West Springfield—a very confined space!

True to “Murphy’s Law,” one of the machines did not work when powered up and needed to be replaced.  This probably was a good failure, because it prompted me to change the switch machine mounting.  I originally used an offset throw, as provided by the Tortoise machine.  This results in a diagonally moving throw rod that also produced up and down movement in the throw bar on the turnout.  I found the rod had popped out of the throw bar as I trouble shot the switch machine.  I replaced the original mounting, which used a hole in the middle of the throw bar, between the rails, with a hole outside the rails.  This allowed the standard center (in the machine fulcrum) throw rod mounting which results in minimal vertical movement.  The close proximity of two Tortoise ™ machines, seen in the photo, is what led to the original mount.  My alternative mounting accounts for both machines, but is mechanically much better.

I took the opportunity to do some fascia painting as I dealt with the toggle switch mounts.  As with the magnet hatch throws reported recently (http://espeecascades.blogspot.com/2014/01/its-magnetic.html), I had clear access to the backing panels before hardware was installed.  This led to a more general fascia painting exercise.

Power switch machine toggle switch controls mounted in fascia inset.  Manual switch linkage knobs on either side have not had their backing plates painted yet.

Painting the fascia had a dramatic effect on the impression of the railroad, neatly framing it between fascia and backdrop.  I recognize the fascia will get messed up as I work on scenery, ballasting the track, and many other tasks, but paint is a relatively cheap way to provide a more finished look—important for visitors.

Overview of Eugene-Springfield aisle with fascia painted.

Springfield depot area with fascia and initial backdrop painted.

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