Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Grade Crossing Progress

Mostly finished and scenicked in. I built some footings
 for the crossbucks  from styrene, which I then painted with
Floquil concrete. Aleene's Tacky Glue holds the crossbucks
 down on the footings.
Over the recent long holiday weekend, I was able to nearly complete the Mineral Springs Road grade crossing. The road and wood crossing had been completed for some time, but was missing crossbucks.

I decided to try my hand at some lighting effects to add a visual action to the scene. Busch 5934 US Crossing Signals had the look and the price I was looking for, plus they were 'ready-to-run' with a flasher circuit included in the package.

The Busch signals are pre-wired with hair-like magnet wire, and the circuit is in very small case around the size of large ice cube. Two leads connect to a 12-24v AC or DC power source.  The magnet wire terminates into the circuit via binding posts that are secured by press-fit plastic pegs. Have never seen anything like this, but they work.

I like to test electrical things, and re-test them, and then test them again during all stages of construction and installation. I test-ran the circuit and crossbucks off an old analog power pack, and ultimately acquired a Radio Shack Enercell 15V wall wart power supply, which will now serve as accessory power for the whole layout. These Enercell wall warts can be equipped with a variety of tips, including a plain old set of test leads, but I chose an actual plug-and-socket arrangement that can break away easily when moving the layout .

The flashing crossbucks are controlled via a miniature SPDT switch mounted to the front of layout adjacent to the road. I considered but rejected a detector circuit (too expensive, too hard to install at my current stage of completion, and probably would be annoying on such a small layout) and DCC stationary control (too expensive and kind of complicated compared to direct control via a cheap and simple ol' switch).  I wired it all up to easily accommodate an ITT crossing bell sound module, which will go in over the coming weeks.
The crossbuck flasher circuit from below. At upper left, the SPDT control switch. The black doo-dad with three yellow binding posts is the Busch flasher circuit; barely visible wisps are the magnet wire leads for the crossbucks. At the rear left is the terminal strip for the installation, which is ready to accommodate the addition of a sound module. Left of the orange spring clamps is the socket for the type 'N' plug fitted to the Enercell wall wart on the bottom right.  A cheap AA battery-powered headlamp was essential for me to see and complete all under-layout wire terminations.