|Track is down. Woo hoo! Super-|
detailing, here I come!
Why the hate, you ask? Some of my earliest memories of model railroading include the realization that Atlas and Tyco snap-track turnout motors are horrifically unrealistic, and a frustratingly precise touch of the button was needed to get those solenoid-powered things to actually fire.
The previous Dunes Junction layout used Fulgurex worm-gear motors and a home brewed linkage doodad that I cooked up with brass wire and tubing and some Rube Goldberg-style good luck. The Fulgurexes were not all that tricky, but expensive and noisy. My linkages were downright hideous, too.
In my quest for a happier, simpler Dunes Junction, I thought I'd go for a more elegant solution than grinding old turnout motors and DPDT control switches. I'd always liked the idea of throwing turnouts via a trackside mechanical throw, but that's impractical over track that will eventually sport a delicate lace of catenary wire. Thus, I needed a turnout control that is under the table and elminates the need to reach across the tracks. That's where mechanical turnout control comes in.
In the days of yore, some model railroaders used choke cables from the automotive world to control turnouts, instead of solenoids or motors and worm gears. The modern iteration of mechanical turnout control uses radio control airplane control rods, and a kind of mechanical-only, non-electrical locking mechanism such as FastTracks' Bullfrog or New Rail Models' Blue Point controllers. There are some homebuilt ways of doing mechanical turnout control as well, usually using an electrical switch or a door latch as a locking mechanism.
|FastTracks Bullfrog awaiting assembly. Did I mention|
these are extremely fun to assemble?
|BullFrogs and Tadpoles assembled and ready|
for installation. That SpongeBob mechanical pencil
adds visual interest to my workbench.
Piano wire provides a springy but firm linkage to the turnout throw bar. Nesting plastic tubes typically used in radio control aircraft provide the mechanical control rod linkage from layout edge or control panel to the controller. These control rods need be mounted and guided firmly, so the crossover kits also come with Tadpole mounts, which are also laser-cut wood.
|BullFrog with z-link for|
crossover control. That black thing
is an SPDT microswitch, which can
be used to power turnout frogs.
|Control nobs, front of layout view|
|Control knob from rear/underneath|
| The brass Sullivan clevis is clearlyvisible, as is some duct tape that|
steadies the control rod.
The brass clevises provided in the Sullivan Gold-n-Rod kit turned out to be a lifesaver--instead of trying to thread the z-bend rod ends provided by FastTracks into the BullFrogs after they had been mounted and adjusted into the layout, I was able to screw the clevises into the rod ends and simply snap them on to the BullFrogs.
|BullFrog control rod overview. Look, no turnout control wires or switches!|
Next up: feed wires, then track detailing.