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Walthers switch machines

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Walthers switch machines
Posted by Steffen1601 on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 9:57 AM

Hi All,

After 30+ years, I want to build a new model railroad again. I am planning to use H0 scale. I have a question about the switch machines (Walthers or Tortoise). My base board will be 1/2 inch plywood and I will be adding 1 inch foam on top. My question is: Are the actuator wires on those switch machines long enough to go through the 1.5 inches thick base? If not, what would I use to replace the actuator wires with?

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Posted by peahrens on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 7:13 PM

The Tortoise instructions are below.  I only had 5/8" plywood plus 1/4" cork roadbed so could use the standard wire.  They advise to substitute a longer (0.025") spring wire as needed. 

 http://circuitron.com/index_files/ins/800-6000ins.pdf

They recommend a 1/4" hole for the wire.  Even with my thinner (than yours) thickness, I found a larger hole helps prevent the wire from hitting the side of the hole, if everything is not sufficiently aligned vertically, which prevents a full throw to that side.  I imagine someone will come along with advice on something more exact for your setup.

Regarding the throw wire, the 0.025" Tortoise wire is sufficient if the whole setup is perfect.  However, any imperfections (friction somewhere, etc.) can easily prevent a strong tension on one side or the other of the throw.  The solution is music wire of 0.032" or 0.039".  Probably wise to go to the larger gage for your longer thickness.  It just requires enlarging the hole for the wire in the Tortoise throwbar, very simple to do.

I am very happy with my Tortoise choice.  I use the auxiliary contacts (two sets) for both frog powering and for layout switch position indicators.  I am not familiar with the Walthers machines (or others). 

EDIT:  I'm adding a search for earlier threads that may shed some light:

https://www.bing.com/search?q=site%3A+cs.trains.com+install+tortoise+foam&cvid=6742b68c003f40e2aff411d83c0d0f34&FORM=ANNTA1&PC=U531

 

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

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Posted by York1 on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 7:17 PM

I use Walthers switch machines, and I also use foam.  I replaced the wire with piano wire I bought at Hobby Lobby.  It was not difficult at all.

I learned a lesson -- don't cut the piano wire with regular wire cutters.  Use tin snips or something like that.  The piano wire is very hard.

York1 John       

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Posted by peahrens on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 7:31 PM

York1
I learned a lesson -- don't cut the piano wire with regular wire cutters.  Use tin snips or something like that.  The piano wire is very hard.

I bought these Crescent PS5429C just for that.  They will cut the piano wire without ruining the cutting edge.  Wear eye protection in case a wire piece flies at you.

https://www.amazon.com/Apex-Tool-Group-PS5429C-Diagonal/dp/B000TDDP6E/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=ps5429c&qid=1596068911&sr=8-1

 

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

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Posted by Steffen1601 on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 7:55 PM

What size did you buy? 

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Posted by York1 on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 8:04 PM

peahrens
I bought these Crescent PS5429C just for that.  They will cut the piano wire without ruining the cutting edge.  Wear eye protection in case a wire piece flies at you.

 

Thanks!  I might look for those.  They have to be more accurate than trying to use tin snips.

York1 John       

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Thursday, July 30, 2020 9:25 AM

Another option is to use a close fitting tube sleeve and wire of the same OD to extend. Peco includes these with their PL 10 motors for some reason. The sleeve will provide added rigidity. 

I just built a plywood tabletop layout, never again. There are no longer any advantages to adding a plywood underlay to a foam structure. If the foam doesn't seem strong enough very little wood structure would provide all the additional strength you might need.

For my foam layout I am planning to cut out the foam where the switch motors  will go and glue a wooden mounting pad to hold the motor. I'm not planning on also adding the weight of the 1/2 inch plywood underlay though. 

I am experimenting with one unit of Woodland Scenic Modurail system that seems to show that no wooden support structure is actually necessary when using foam to build the layout. I don't see me paying Woodlands for more than the initial unit because the retail price is so high but the basic design seems sound. Extending the design by copying it seems very feasible. Making duplicate connector strips should be a doddle and the foam required is not as thick as using regular insulation board. Plaster cloth seems a more efficient way of creating landforms than carving away unwanted foam. We shall see.

Using only foam would solve your anticipated problem very easily. You would simply cut up into the foam under each turnout specifically where the motor is to be mounted. The motors are very light and the servo stepper motor design means almost no torquing force is applied to the turnout. The leverage exerted is linear, not rotary. Glue the motor in with something readily removable like latex caulk or glue a wooden mounting pad to the foam to hold the mounting screws.  That's what I intend to do using Walthers integrated system. It's an expensive system but advertised as essentially plug and play which, after wiring a dozen Peco PL10 or 10E and 11 switch motors plus half a dozen Atlas motors, is VERY appealing to me. Walthers clearly targetted Tortoise and even offers an adapter kit to add their system onto any existing Tortoise based system. 

To my surprise this whole area of modelling is quite controversial. To me the Woodlands solution to layout building  by combining just foam and plaster cloth to produce the support structure should become standard. All the other structural support can come from the legs or wall mountings you choose to use and need anyway. If you use the currently fashionable  higher base elevation of 40 or more inches above the floor nobody is going to be leaning on the layout.

Put another way, why glue the foam and plaster onto a tabletop? Just resting on the table would be sufficient. Then you realize the tabletop itself is overkill, just use legs directly under the foam. If building "around the wall" just use wall supports as you would for shelving units. 

Plywood is darned heavy and a real nuisance to modify.

Alyth Yard

Canada

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Thursday, July 30, 2020 10:15 AM

https://woodlandscenics.woodlandscenics.com/show/video/ModURail

 

I also plan to locate my turnouts by locating and installing the turnout motors first. Then putting the turnouts on top in the precise location required by the motor location.

Using foam thick enough to need a cut out I intend to make the mounting plates first and use those as the foam cutting template. After cutting out the square with a foam knife (the best tool I've found for this purpose) from the top surface of the layout,  I will turn the cut out piece on edge and cut through to yield the correct mounting height. Then glue the mounting pad on, mount the motor and glue the foam back into the precisely matching hole you made when cutting it out in the first place.  Woodland makes a "cool " hot glue product and gun specifically to glue foam. Also, their proprietary foam tack glue works very well. 

Using the cut out piece of foam to mount the motor gives you both a perfectly flat and horizontal face to mount the motor on and an exactly fitting plug for the hole you made. 

Bonus, all this can be done, including connecting the wiring harness to the motor, from above. 

Alyth Yard

Canada

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, July 30, 2020 3:38 PM

 If you're looking at the Walthers system, look at the products from Tam Valley. Very nearly just as much plug and play - the machines (servos - which is what Walthers uses as well) and the fascia controls/indicators all connect via simple 3 pin plugs. And it's a heck of a lot cheaper than Walther's system.

                                        --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 gmpullman on Thursday, July 30, 2020 4:08 PM

York1
Thanks!  I might look for those.  They have to be more accurate than trying to use tin snips

This is what I've had good luck with:

https://xuron.com/index.php/main/consumer_products/3/17

Just another option. 

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by peahrens on Thursday, July 30, 2020 4:40 PM

Steffen1601

What size did you buy? 

For the Crescent PS5429C, I can tell you that mine have blue handles and the slightly longer handle is 8-3/8" long.  From looking at ads, I think they may be the nominal 9" ones, as most (not all) of the 9" ads have blue handles.  And most (not all) of the 8" ads have red handles.  It takes a good bit of force to cut the music wire, so I would suggest the larger ones if you don't mind the extra $6.

 

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, July 31, 2020 4:06 AM

Note that the pictured item has compound 'toggle' action and hardened triangle faces, probably ground to match, like a mini pair of bolt cutters. 

Occasionally a tool shows up on eBay that has the cutting edges made of Stellite, which makes working with even larger gages of hardened wire relatively easy.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Friday, July 31, 2020 8:57 AM

A Dremel type disc cutter works very well on hard wire. If you use the standard small cutting discs you can usually virtually flush cut the wire after installation.

 

Eye shielding is always recommended.  While the larger dremel cutting discs are robust composite material the small Dremel cutting discs are ceramic and quite brittle.  Wearing modern plastic lense eyeglasses usually provides sufficient protection for an experienced dremel operator but safety glasses are of course recommended. Trouble is I also tend to unconsciously remove my prescription lenses when working with tiny stuff...

Alyth Yard

Canada

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, July 31, 2020 1:10 PM

 Safety glasses are almost a must - even with prescription lenses, since while the lense may be impervious to impacts, since most are polycarbonate these days, they do nothing to protect from flying bits in from the sides and top. Being down to one good eye (not through an injury caused by lack of safety gear though), I've become a lot more paranoid lately. 

 Cutting off the excess throwbar wire with a diagonal cutter can send the cut end flying like a shot, unless you hold on to it while cutting. Cutting off the excess with a cutoff wheel can send the cut off end flying like a HOT shot, unless it's a really long excess, you can't really hold it with your fingers. Holding it with a pair of pliers isn't a bad idea. On my last layout, after I placed a servo, before I adjusted it and cut off the excess, I put flags of blue painter's tape on the end - it's hard to see that thin wire sticking up and poking your hand or face on it would be bad. 

                                         --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 SeeYou190 on Sunday, August 2, 2020 12:55 AM

peahrens
For the Crescent PS5429C, I can tell you that mine have blue handles and the slightly longer handle is 8-3/8" long.  From looking at ads, I think they may be the nominal 9" ones, as most (not all) of the 9" ads have blue handles. 

Paul: Thank you for the tool tip. I just ordered a pair.

Do you cut up to 0.032" wire with these? That is the largest size I use.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by peahrens on Sunday, August 2, 2020 7:56 AM

SeeYou190

 

 
peahrens
For the Crescent PS5429C, I can tell you that mine have blue handles and the slightly longer handle is 8-3/8" long.  From looking at ads, I think they may be the nominal 9" ones, as most (not all) of the 9" ads have blue handles. 

 

Paul: Thank you for the tool tip. I just ordered a pair.

Do you cut up to 0.032" wire with these? That is the largest size I use.

-Kevin

 

Kevin, yes the pliers cut the 0.032" wire fine, with a bit of force applied.  I upgraded to that size on the Tortoises, which adds significantly to the tension applied.  That is nice in terms of getting and keeping the points firmly seated against the stock rail, preventing picking of the points as well as maintaining electrical connection. (I did not add jumper wires to those, and the pivot on the point / closure rails is more a mechanical link than a reliable electical one on my Walthers-Shinohara turnouts.)

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, August 2, 2020 8:30 AM

rrinker
Cutting off the excess throwbar wire with a diagonal cutter can send the cut end flying like a shot, unless you hold on to it while cutting.

I always have cut wire the same way I fit little springy things that love to quantum-tunnel out of sight once airborne ... inside a fairly heavy Baggie.  Just put the end to be cut and the cutter end up inside, with the open mouth pointed away from you.  Wear a heavy glove and use a twist-tie or rubber band around the bag over its wrist if you're worried about hand cuts -- poking the wire through the Baggie from the outside to access it at a convenient angle doesn't pose a meaningful added risk of dangerous ejection, even after repeated 'access' (and you can use a little dab of glue or caulk on small holes or tears if you get nervous).

I was late to the idea of using a sheet of Saran Wrap when removing and fitting watch parts. I really can't remember why it took me so long to see the advantages, but the first time a sudden twitch dislodges something at speed and it stays there, you pay for the whole idea.

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, August 2, 2020 12:45 PM

 Saran wrap - now there is a great idea. The other night I was fiddlign with e Peco over center spring and I dropped it, not once, but twice. The second time I was SURE it landed on the dog sleeping at my feet - blackened spring on a black dog. But it didn't, it was on my chair mat both times, and I actually found it - and not by it impaling my foot. That was a small miracle. A piece of saran wrap on my desk, and it never would have bounced. Never heard that idea before, but I like it.

                                        --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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