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Building the GRS machine

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  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: North Dakota
  • 4,802 posts
Building the GRS machine
Posted by BroadwayLion on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 9:41 AM

My layout is fully automated, once a train leaves 242nd Street, it does not need my attention again until it returns 18 minutes later. Given This, I turned my attention to the tower, after all that 1:1 guy does need something to do. And so I researched interlocking machines. A rail-friend send me an actual GRS lever (and some US&S levers) and I took it from there.

A *real* model builder would have cast new handles using the real one as a mold. Perhaps they could make it of aluminum or maybe resin of some sort. Even I could do it since we have a small forge in the garage basement, but LIONS were never known for patience, and so simply used brute force to shape 2" rounds (lumber sold as hand rails worked the best) in our carpentry shop.

---Notice the two motors on the sander. The original motor, the red one, was (is?) a DC motor leftover from the days when we ran our own generators, (indeed provided electricity to the entire town). To convert our machines to AC, we simply mounted an AC motor on top of the old one and disconnected the wires from the DC field. ---

On this machine there are three major parts, the first is the lever bed. You can see an interlocking dog below, that will prohibit two adjacent levers from being pulled at the same time. On the GRS machine a bed of vertical and horizontal levers provides the interlocking logic.

Lever handles alternate up and down for no other reason than to keep the operator from mashing his knuckles on the adjacent handles. A lever could control more than one switch, in that case the next space on the GRS machine would be blank since it still needs the mechanical devices for that turnout.  I did not bother with this detail since I needed to put as many levers as I could in the space that I had available.

Since I use tortoise switch machines these simple spst micro switches were sufficient to manage console indicators, switch machines and wayside signals.The second level of the machine contains the electronics. On the lect can be seen -12vdc (green); +12vdc (red); and ground (white). It is necessary that the ground wire actually be grounded and not left as a floating neutral as that would allow stray current to pull or hold relays that should be released. Each lever gets one single output wire (I call it the "stinger") that will control the switches, relays and signals out on the layout. These are all shown as black wires.

Finally, there is the indicator panel. A GRS machine would have single lamps mounted in a square box above the levers. I have follows US&S practice of having two round lamps, simply because 1) I like the round lamps, and 2) it is easier to drill round holes than square ones. However, my modular design allows me to swap out the indicators without any difficulty what so ever.

Here is a GRS model 5 interlocking plant on NYCT at the Court Street Station, now part of the Transit Museum. While visitors can come in and see the machine, it is fully live and active and controls the tracks in and out of the Court Street Station. The model board is on the wall above the machine, It shows the Hoyt-Schermahorn station as well as the court street station even though this machine controls nothing outside of court street. I seem to remember a much larger machine in this location, but I am told that my imagination is unreliable. The levers to the right and left control signals the two levers in the middle control switch machines.

On my finished machine I mounted the model board directly on the machine since I had no place else to put it. Since I cannot afford 300 track detectors, it does not display the locations of trains, but rather is used as part of my automated operation system. But that is a whole different story.


ROAR

The Route of the Broadway Lion The Largest Subway Layout in North Dakota.

Here there be cats.                                LIONS with CAMERAS

  • Member since
    May, 2012
  • From: mississippi
  • 291 posts
Posted by sakel on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 10:01 AM

RESPECT

Samuel A. Kelly

I can draw pictures with my keyboard!

-------- ( It's a worm)

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 17,395 posts
Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 6:20 PM

 Very nice. Reminds me of those old articles in MR on building an interlocking lever plant, what with all the brass dogs and frames to do the interlocking.

             --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

  • Member since
    December, 2008
  • From: Bracebridge, ON
  • 148 posts
Posted by mactier_hogger on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 6:38 PM

Freakin' amazing!!

Dean

30 years 1:1 Canadian Pacific.....now switching to HOSmile

  • Member since
    April, 2005
  • From: West Australia
  • 1,782 posts
Posted by John Busby on Thursday, October 25, 2012 4:54 AM

Hi BroadwayLlion

That is one very impressive bit of carpentry even wooden tappets.Surprise

Kind of thrown my idea out the windowSad I am a wood butcher not carpenter of that level

Do the lever/ switch colors follow the prototype and if so what do they mean I have the sneaking suspicion they will be different to the UK & Aus ones.

regards John

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: North Dakota
  • 4,802 posts
Posted by BroadwayLion on Thursday, October 25, 2012 7:06 AM

Some railroads invested different meaning with their lever colors, but generally speaking red levers controlled signals and black levers controlled switch points.

On the US&S armstrong type tower that I visited,  blue levers controlled things lick switch locks and derails, yellow levers controlled the crossing gates, and white levers were not in service.

On my layout, red = signals, green = mainline switches; yellow = yard/non-revenue switches.

I cheated with this machine, and it controls what would otherwise be four different interlocking towers, and so the colors help me visualize which levers belong to which part of the layout.

On an "Armstrong" machine you needed two levers and three movements to move a set of switch points. First you had to unlock the switch, then you had to move the switch points, and finally you had to lock it again. If you could not lock it again, then you would also be prevented from clearing the signal display: You would have to leave the tower and inspect the plant to see what the problem was and either remove some ballast or chip some ice.

The GRS machine uses one lever, but the locks are built into it.

  • When you pull at a lever, if it will not move, it is locked out by a different lever which will need to be cleared before you can change the alignments.
  • When you do move a lever, it will only move half way, at this point it locks out all other levers that will conflict with the new position of this lever, and it will energize the movement of the switch points.
  • When the switch points are fully moved and locked the switch motor will send back a signal to the interlocking machine allowing the operator to move the lever through the rest of its intended motion.
  • When the operator finishes the movement of the lever, it will release all levers that are no longer in conflict with the new position of this switch.
  • Once a route is established through the interlocking plant, the signal levers will be free to display a clear aspect.

ROAR

The Route of the Broadway Lion The Largest Subway Layout in North Dakota.

Here there be cats.                                LIONS with CAMERAS

  • Member since
    April, 2005
  • From: West Australia
  • 1,782 posts
Posted by John Busby on Friday, October 26, 2012 6:28 AM

Hi BroadwayLion.

If thats cheating I would hate to have to deal with full and proper studiesBig SmileWinkLaugh

Looks like your lever colors are pretty much the same as ours but we call white spare and use red and black as you state for us blue was for bolt locks

In mechanical days our level crossing gates where operated by something resembling a ships wheel.

When things started going electric I think we went straight to Automatic boom gates and flash lights.I have not been able to find an intermediate signal man operated boom gate.

But I still think it looks impressive when you have something like a proper signal box panel operating a model railroad there is something that is just right about it

regards John

 

 

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: North Dakota
  • 4,802 posts
Posted by BroadwayLion on Friday, October 26, 2012 7:11 AM

The Erie-Lackawana tower in East Stroudsburg had levers to control the crossing gates. That tower is now a locally owned restoration project, and is the only such tower that I have been in. I had seen such wheels in pictures of British towers and wondered what they were for. Now I know.

I do know that the crossing gates in Merrick and Freeport were controlled by a gate keeper who would lower the gates with a crank. The gates in East Stroudsburg were innocent of such an external crank.

The LION wonders about the motion of converting lever motion to a rotating motion used by gear controlled gates, but of course the gates themselves are levers, they were clearly perfectly counter balanced and so it is not beyond the realm of reality that they could be operated by a lever, beyond that, I never gave the subject any thought, beyoind what I was told: "That lever controls the crossing gates."

ROAR

The Route of the Broadway Lion The Largest Subway Layout in North Dakota.

Here there be cats.                                LIONS with CAMERAS

  • Member since
    September, 2012
  • From: Fraser Valley, BC
  • 408 posts
Posted by Rastafarr on Saturday, October 27, 2012 6:47 PM

Lion, every time I see more of your layout, my wife hollers "What was that noise?!" God love her, you'd think she'd recognize by now the sound of my jaw hitting the floor...

Bravo, and hats off the largest subway in North Dakota!

Stu

Titus Ore and Timber ca. May 1929

Sweet mercy is nobility's true badge.

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