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Turnouts forming a crossover - always thrown in pairs?

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Turnouts forming a crossover - always thrown in pairs?
Posted by FowlmereRR on Monday, August 3, 2020 4:29 AM

I shall have two or three places on my layout where a pair of turnouts effectively form a crossover - i.e. if one is thrown the other really ought to be to make proceeding on the track safe.

I have one place where the two turnouts are a fair distance apart (say 100 scale feet), and so during local switching operations it may be convenient to temporarily spot a car or caboose there while other moves are completed.

My question is - would such turnouts always be thrown in pairs, regardless of the distance between them, or was it permissible (1920s/30s era, New England branchline) to operate them independently, and thus potentially leave routes compromised?

Thanks,

Bob

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Posted by gmpullman on Monday, August 3, 2020 6:06 AM

If it were secondary trackage with not too much traffic each turnout would be thrown independently by the head brakeman. In the scenario you mention, where at least a car-length or two exists, both turnouts would be independent.

The employee timetable will have "special instructions" if needed to show what the normal position of the switch(es) should be and the switch would have to be returned to this position by one of the rear-end crew after the train passes.

The rodding to join both sets of points would take quite a bit of effort, especially in winter, plus added maintenance and adjusting of the rods. I have seen several hand-thrown double slip switches (some with three levers) but don't recall ever seeing a cross-over tied to one lever.

Areas where there was greater traffic there may have been a tower that would have rodding to throw both crossover turnouts simultaneously. Time locks were used on main lines (see below)

 BnA_TT-113_9-30-28 by Edmund, on Flickr

In recieving or departure tracks of larger yards there may have been switchmen whose duties were to align switches (hand throws) for incoming/departing trains.

In high traffic areas switch machines would throw both sets of points simultaneously.

I recall watching train movements in some of the smaller yards near me and I would often see a head brakeman hiking ahead of a slow-moving engine or train to align the switches.

Regards, Ed

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, August 3, 2020 6:18 AM

Depends on a couple of things.

In an interlocking with remote throw, or with power switches, expect the operation to be route-safe.  In actual practice with individual hand throws, even today I see one switch thrown, the engine start advancing toward the other, and the position of that other then changed separately.  In this case there will be a standing restriction in approach and a subsequently-approaching crew cannot expect the switches will not be 'as left' or that the route will be set 'safe' for them at either switch.

On a rural New England route the switches will be independent, hand-thrown, and economically impractical to interlock.  So either the above rule would apply, or if there were other 'priority' traffic like passenger trains going through, the rule would be for a switchman to re-line each switch for its respective main and re-lock it with confirmation as soon as the train clears it, which of course is the 'safer' practice in absolute terms.

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Posted by RR_Mel on Monday, August 3, 2020 10:35 AM

Wherever I have a turnout like what you described I parallel the switch machines.  For instance my double crossover, I used a single Tortoise and linkage to move all four sets of points.



The hairpin loops equalize the pressure on points.


Hasn’t failed since I installed it.  Super simple, single toggle control.


Mel


 
My Model Railroad  
http://melvineperry.blogspot.com/
 
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I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 

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Posted by Enzoamps on Monday, August 3, 2020 2:12 PM

SInce it is a crossover, I would think you'd also have to consider if the car on the crossover part would foul the other main line going by. - clearances and all.

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Posted by dehusman on Monday, August 3, 2020 2:28 PM

Part of the answer is whether iit is really a crossover or a connecting track.  A crossover is a connection between two parallel tracks.  Are the two tracks in question parallel tracks or are they just two tracks and there is a track connecting them?  If its actually a crossover then it wouldn't be permissible to leave a car there and they should be both operated together by the rules.  If its actually a connecting track and not a crossover then they can leave cars there and operate the switches independently.

Having said all that, the crew on the ground may do whatever they want, especially if thetrack isn't signalled or interlocked.  I know people who used a double/universal crossover as a runaround too.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by FowlmereRR on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 3:06 AM

Thanks to all, once again, for very useful input.

I think Dave has identified the key issue - it really is a connecting track, even though the turnouts at each end behave like a crossover. I shall treat it accordingly. No interlocking, and very little signalling come to that, on this line :-)

Mel - Yes, I have paired crossover turnouts in my yard environment, though not with your splendid mechanical approach. I have just operated two Tortoises with one switch. 

But for the main, scenic part of the layout, I'll make it more prototypical and operate them individually. Then I'll have the same restrictions (and opportunities for disaster) as the real thing!

That has made my mind up nicely. Thanks again.

Bob

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Posted by cv_acr on Thursday, August 6, 2020 3:46 PM

And realistically, if the turnouts are not interlocked/remote/powered control, even if rules may require throwing both of them before using the track, the crew is hand throwing each one independently...

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, August 6, 2020 5:59 PM

dehusman

 

I know people who used a double/universal crossover as a runaround too.

 

Been there, done that.  Almost in Dave's back yard, too.  Had a lead locomotive go belly up.  Shoved the leader between the switches and ran the rest of the consist around it.  Fortunately, the second engine was facing the right way and usable as a leader.

Jeff  

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Posted by gmpullman on Monday, September 7, 2020 11:24 AM

Crossovers:

 Etna_Pa_Vachon-6-41 by Edmund, on Flickr

Click to enlarge.

I happened across this John Vachon FSA photo taken in Etna, Pa. showing the PRR along the Allegheny River. It would seem these hand-throw crossover turnouts are linked in pairs.

At least there is some photographic evidence of such an arrangement.

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by zugmann on Monday, September 7, 2020 11:31 AM

gmpullman
At least there is some photographic evidence of such an arrangement.

I wonder if that's a "middle man"?

 

We have one that gets used... where there's a pair of switches that act as a crossover to a siding.  To operate either switch, you first have to unlock and throw a lever that is located in the middle of the little piece of track between the two switches. Hence: middle man. 

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by dehusman on Monday, September 7, 2020 2:58 PM

I would think those are links to switch locks, rather than links to actually line the switch.  When one switch of the crossover is unlocked, the linkage unlocks the other switch in the other track, causing the signals in that track to display an occupancy.   Doesn't line the switch, that's still manual, trips the signal system instead.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, September 7, 2020 3:42 PM

I recently replaced a lot of Caboose Industries ground throws on my layout.  Many of the ones on the layout below the partial upper level had become difficult to reach. 
For this crossover on the lower level, I used Rapido's RailCrew turnout motors, but set them up so that only one momentary switch was necessary to control both turnouts at the same time....

That way, they're both aligned for either straight through on each track or as a complete crossover, with one touch of the switch.

Wayne

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Monday, September 7, 2020 7:11 PM

For crossovers we use Peco parts. One passing contact lever switch throws both turnouts using the CDU power which has no difficulty actuating two solenoids simultaneously.

Peco offers four colours for the lever handles so all of our crossover levers are black. Each end of any mainline to mainline connecting track uses a white handle. Turnouts for sidings connecting to a main line get red handles (important  turnouts) while run of the mill yard sidings or secondary sidings are yellow handles. Peco levers are similar to UK prototype in that they are clearly either up or down. Our mainlines are correctly lined if all turnout switch levers are down. If an end of connecting track is lined to divert mainline to another mainline that lever is up at each end of the connector while the tracks are lined to be connected.

Before wiring the two to one actuating switch I thought carefully about whether there would ever be a situation where only one turnout would be lined differently to the other and concluded never.

A length of connecting track would change that into separately actuated turnouts at each end of the connector. The track with the two turnouts would  not be "double track" because of the intervening connector.

Alyth Yard

Canada

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Posted by gmpullman on Monday, September 7, 2020 9:08 PM

dehusman
I would think those are links to switch locks, rather than links to actually line the switch. 

Yes, that may well be the case. Here's a crop of one of the turnouts. The actuating lever is behind the lamp? Also there is a small box with a switchlock on another pair of headblock ties that may be tied to a signal actuating switch. Would it have actuated a timer for the signal circuitry?

 Etna_Pa_Vachon-6-41_crop1 by Edmund, on Flickr

That sure is a tight area to be working in. Notice also the length of plug rail or old switchpoint laying there waiting to sprain an ankle Whistling

 Etna_Pa_Vachon-6-41_crop-3 by Edmund, on Flickr

Regards, Ed

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