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Peco turnout #6 with tortoise first attempt

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Peco turnout #6 with tortoise first attempt
Posted by ChrisVA on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 6:15 PM

I've never hooked up a turnout to a tortoise switch machine before, but I've given myself an assigment to try to get it working.   I had some questions and any pointers appreciated.  Here are details:

Peco #6 left-hand on cork roadbed, on top of 1/2" plywood.

I drilled a 3/8" hole under the throwbar, centered.   

I'm able to thread the wire up through the hole into the hole in the throwbar, with excess of course.

I see that the Peco turnouts throw bar have 2 distinct positions when it throws back and forth. I'm wondering if the Tortoise has enough force to actually throw it from one position to another? I'm assuming it must work, since people use these turnouts all the time. Any pointers on how to make sure the Tortoise will be set up correctly to throw the points?

What do you cut the excess tortoise wire with once it is threaded through the hole? How much excess should I leave? Do you use any adhesive to attach the wire to the throwbar or just leave it "free"?

Thanks in advance!

 

 

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Posted by jjdamnit on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 6:34 PM

Hello All,

PECO turnouts use a stiff spring to hold the points in place once thrown.

Their turnout motors are dual solenoid type with enough "oomph" (amperage) to counteract the resistive force of the spring when moving the points. This is why Capacitive Discharge Units (CDUs) are recommended/needed.

Tortoise switch machines actually "hold" the points in place after being thrown, no need for a stiff spring to hold them.

Because a Tortoise switch machine is considered a "slow-motion" versus a "snap-switch" many users of PECO turnouts remove the spring and allow the Tortoise machine to hold the points in place.

Removing the spring from PECO turnouts does damage the turnout and actually makes it Tortoise "compatible".

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by selector on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 6:51 PM

The length and thickness (gauge) of the wire depend on the reach required and the resistance imposed by the machine and the turnout's throwbar.  As stated above by the first responder, Peco turnouts have an 'overcenter' spring, and it does offer some resistance.  Most remove the spring.  If you don't, you 'may' need more oomph from both the wire and the motor moving it.

As for trimming the wire after you have determined its length, I would use good sidecutters.  In a pinch, a Xuron rail nipper that I am about to relegate to 'other' tasks, especially if I have a new rail nipper to put into service actually cutting rail stock.

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Posted by peahrens on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 7:22 PM

On trimming the excess wire just above the throwbar, it needs to be below rail height if you have Kadee or similar coupler hoses hanging down.  Be aware that the hard wire will ding the edges of your typical wire cutters; i.e., wrong tool.  I had 20+ turnouts to install and bought a proper tool, which I have so far used only for that.  These Crescent PS5429C are recommended.  Note the pricing varies greatly with suppliers.

crescent ps5429c - Bing

If you are installing many of these, a few other comments:

- The supplied Tortoise wire is not as strong as it could (should) be, so installation imperfections and/or slight interferences (under the moving points) can benefit from a stronger wire.  Music wire 0.032" makes a big / sufficient difference.  I used it to overcome some issues on a couple of turnouts and was impressed enough to go back and change the others.  I would only install a new one that way.

- If you install the turnout and then the Tortoise, the typical method is to add it to the Tortoise and then thread the wire into the throwbar hole from below and secure the Tortoise.  It can be "fun" (frustrating) to thread the wire from below.  A recommended (by someone in the Forum) alternate is to add a wire from above.  You can locate and mount the Tortoise from below, but not necessarily include threading the wire into the throwbar.  Then, add the slight bend to a too-long wire.  Insert that wire from above, with a piece of tape on it to keep it from falling through.  (Pre-drill out the Tortoise moving lever hole (where the wire attaches) slightly to receive the larger diameter wire.)  Thread the wire through the Tortoise "fulcrum" hole, add a 90-degree bend, and secure it to the Tortoise lever.   

- Oh, you did good using a larger 3/8" hole under the throwbar than Circuitron recommends (1/4").  That allows for some alignment error; otherwise, the wire can too easily hit the side of the hole before closing the points securely.

- And, oh, be sure to adjust the moving Tortoise fulcrum for needed (or maximum) leverage.  Most leverage is with the fulcrum towards the floor.

- And, oh, file away a bit of the cork under the throwbar, to reduce friction.

- EDIT: On mounting the Tortoise, I used 3M Exterior Double Sided Mounting Tape.  You can position the Tortoise and press it in place, then add screws at 2 corners.  It can be loosened and re-positioned if needed.

3M Scotch 1 in. x 1.66 yds. Permanent Double Sided Outdoor Mounting Tape-411DC-SF - The Home Depot

 

 

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, March 25, 2021 6:44 AM

You definitely want to remove the spring from the Peco turnout before installing it with Tortoise power. Save the spring in case you decide to use it later or sell the turnout. 

When I install a Tortoise, I drill a 5/8" circular hole in the 1/2" thick plywood surface. This allows for plenty of movement by the throwbar.

After I install the turnout and nail it firmly in place, I center the point rails and hold them in place with a piece of masking tape.

Then, from under the layout, I poke the rod up through the hole in the center of the throwbar and screw the Tortoise into place. I toss the thin piano wire provided with the Tortoise and use a piece of 0.042" piano wire. I cut a length of piano wire long enough to protrude about 1/2" above the throwbar.

Once I am satisfied with the operation of the Tortoise, making sure that the point rails seat firmly against the stock rails, I use a standard wire cutter to clip the piano wire flush with the throwbar.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, March 25, 2021 8:19 AM

 To clip off the excess wire, you wand a diagonal cutter with hardened jaws, as piano wire is very hard compared to material like brass or nickle silver rail. 

 ABd absolutely wear eye protection for this - even if you wear glasses. The cut end can shoot off the layout like a bullet and can easily get around regualr eyeglasses. Obviously don't look down on it while cutting because it will hurt even if it hits your face. 

 While positioning mine, I usually put a flag of blue painter's tape around the free end if it's not getting cut off immediately. That makes the wire quite visible. And if you lean away while cutting, the big blue flag will help you find where the cut piece landed.

                                          --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, March 25, 2021 8:32 AM

rrinker

 To clip off the excess wire, you wand a diagonal cutter with hardened jaws, as piano wire is very hard compared to material like brass or nickle silver rail. 

 ABd absolutely wear eye protection for this - even if you wear glasses. The cut end can shoot off the layout like a bullet and can easily get around regualr eyeglasses. Obviously don't look down on it while cutting because it will hurt even if it hits your face. 

 While positioning mine, I usually put a flag of blue painter's tape around the free end if it's not getting cut off immediately. That makes the wire quite visible. And if you lean away while cutting, the big blue flag will help you find where the cut piece landed.

                                          --Randy

 

 

I just hold the excess wire in the fingers of my left hand while I cut the piano wire flush with the throwbar using a pair of wire cutters in my right hand.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, March 25, 2021 8:35 AM

jjdamnit
PECO turnouts use a stiff spring to hold the points in place once thrown. Their turnout motors are dual solenoid type with enough "oomph" (amperage) to counteract the resistive force of the spring when moving the points. This is why Capacitive Discharge Units (CDUs) are recommended/needed. Tortoise switch machines actually "hold" the points in place after being thrown, no need for a stiff spring to hold them. Because a Tortoise switch machine is considered a "slow-motion" versus a "snap-switch" many users of PECO turnouts remove the spring and allow the Tortoise machine to hold the points in place. Removing the spring from PECO turnouts does damage the turnout and actually makes it Tortoise "compatible".

 

As JJ mentioned, it damages the turnout to remove the spring, but not visibly from the top.

But why not just use Peco under the table switch machines and then you don't have to do surgery on them.  Get the CDU for them and it will feed mulitple turnouts.  That's what I plan to do on the few turnouts I am going to need machines for but for the present, I plan on operating most of my reachable turnouts manually.  I'll pre-drill holes for the option of adding later if I feel so compelled.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by ChrisVA on Sunday, March 28, 2021 4:52 PM

Following up:

I got it to work. Here's a summary of what I did:

1. Removed the Peco turnout spring. This video helped:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TJsz1hUxMc

2. I replaced the tortoise spring wire with .032 music wire. This made a *huge* difference in the amount of force being used to hold the points in place. I'm surprised Circuitron does not use this size as the default. These cutting pliers cut right through it without a problem:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000TDDP6E/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

3. I drilled a 3/8" hole instead of the 1/4" hole the circuitron suggests.

I may try using the Peco turnout motors instead of the Tortoise in the future. I do like the slow motion of the Tortoise.

Thanks for all of the help and suggestions!

 

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Posted by Renegade1c on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 5:08 PM

I have installed well over 200 tortoises over the years and come up with some tricks along the way.

When laying the turnout, I temporarily nail it where it is supposed to go and used a fine tip permanent marker to mark the roadbed where I need to drill the hole. I use a 5/16" bit but 3/8" will give you a bit more play. 

After drilling the hole I reinstall in the turnout. Underneath I use a homemade drilling template made using the drawing on the tortoise instruction sheet. The template is cut out from the instruction sheet and mounted on a 1/8" piece of hardboard (masonite). I drill out the 4 screw holes with a 3/32" bit and the actuation hole with the 5/16" bit. I glue a small 5/16" dia. dowel into the template. Its only about 1/2" tall

This allows me to insert the template into the hole I drilled in the plywood subroadbed. I then drill the 4 holes that hold the tortoise in place. This template makes drilling the mounting holes super easy and the dowel keeps everything align the actuator hole.  See image below for drilling template

 Tortoise Template by Chuck Lee, on Flickr

After drilling the holes I remove the template and install two screws caddy corner from each other. I leave them sticking out a hair more than the mounting lip of the tortoise

I then put the tortoise switch up agains the plywood and give it a small twist to lock it into the screws I already installed. 

Once there the machine holds itself pretty well while I put the last two screws in. I then tighten the first two screw to secure it in place.

The last thing I do is install the 0.039" music wire rod (comes in 3 ft lengths).  I drop the Rod in from the top side through the throwbar in the turnout. To keep it from falling all the way through i put a small bend in the end of the wire. 

Underneath I add the little green pivot point onto the rod and slide it into the grooves on the tortoise. I then bend the end of the rod with my pliers to make the diamond shape shown below. This goes around the screw in the tortoise instead of into the minscule hole in the throw arm. So much easier to do.

 TortoiseWire by Chuck Lee, on Flickr

The last thing I do is go back topside and trim off the excess wire from sticking up. i use a pair of diagonal cutters I have had for years to cut the wire. (they don't make tools like they used to)

in areas where access to the tortoise actuation screw is difficult I install the tortoises slightly different. I install the mounting screws the same way but i drop the rod down from the topside first, install the green pivot point on the wire, bend the wire into the diamond shape and install it around the actuator screw. I then install tortoise on the mounting screws. I finish up by putting in the last two screws to keep it in place.

This whole process takes about 5-10 minutes. 

There are also some instances where you can't have tortoise directly below the turnout. There ways around this too with some simple linkages. 


Colorado Front Range Railroad: 
http://www.coloradofrontrangerr.com/

flag

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Posted by peahrens on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 6:07 PM

Renegade1c
Underneath I use a homemade drilling template made using the drawing on the tortoise instruction sheet. The template is cut out from the instruction sheet and mounted on a 1/8" piece of hardboard (masonite). I drill out the 4 screw holes with a 3/32" bit and the actuation hole with the 5/16" bit. I glue a small 5/16" dia. dowel into the template. Its only about 1/2" tall This allows me to insert the template into the hole I drilled in the plywood subroadbed. I then drill the 4 holes that hold the tortoise in place. This template makes drilling the mounting holes super easy and the dowel keeps everything align the actuator hole.

Chuck,

I think you have described a superior approach.  I have printed it out for my Tortoise folder, to be used on (any) next layout. 

Besides the throwbar wire threading from the top, I particularly like the idea of the "jig" you made with the template plus dowel for perfect alignment of the Tortoise with the sub-roadbed hole.  Very smart!

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

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