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Trolley buses, anyone running them? anyone interested in them?

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Trolley buses, anyone running them? anyone interested in them?
Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, December 14, 2019 4:57 PM

My first layout featured a Eheim/Aristo Craft/Brawa trolley bus, it wore out, my interests changed, I never bought any more while they were still available new.

As I am planning the new layout, my interest in either a city trolley system, or a trolley bus system, has been rekindled.

Brawa, the last producer and marketer of the Eheim trolley bus, gave up on the product nearly two decades ago. It was after all product that had never really been updated much from it original 1950's design, and it was a little oversized, and dare I say toy like.

Rubber tired trolley buses were pretty common in many US cities from the mid 30's into the 50's. Here in Baltimore, after WWII, trolley buses made up about 1/3 of the Baltimore Transit Co system.

I am still working out the details to see if either a trolley or a trolley bus would be practical in my city scene, but it just got me wondering if anyone on here is running trolley buses or has any interest?

For those of you not familiar:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mS4Mhx-r1Y

Your thoughts?,

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by BigDaddy on Saturday, December 14, 2019 5:02 PM

I only rode them only a couple times in Baltimore.  Unlike streetcars, which had wheel noise that I could hear from my home 1 mile away from the #8 line.  They were dead quiet.  Then and now I don't know why they didn't accidentally stray too far from the cantenary.

Henry

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Saturday, December 14, 2019 5:49 PM

Well, it's certainly interesting.  If you have the city streets on your layout, it would be a fun addition.  Unfortunately, I don't --- and I'm in S scale.

Paul

 

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Posted by tstage on Saturday, December 14, 2019 6:00 PM

They still run trolley buses in Dayton, OH:

I've been interested in/kicking around the idea of a layout based on the Shaker Heights (OH) trolley line.  (It ran from Shaker Heights down to E.55th in Cleveland.  Not sure if it made it as far as Cleveland Union Terminal. Hmm)  I have both of the Bowser Shaker Heights post-war PCC trolleys and they are very nice models.  It would be a fun project and make a good, narrow, around-the-wall shelf layout for a given room.

Tom

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, December 15, 2019 12:27 AM

All electric buses (not hybrid) are coming very soon. The City of Gainesville, Florida is getting two of them next year.

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I have never seen an operating model of a trolley bus. I think it would make the fact that none of the other vehicles move seem way too out of place.

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-Kevin

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Sunday, December 15, 2019 1:38 AM

Trolley buses are still quite popular in Europe. Salzburg/Austria has a quite extensive network of trolley bus lines, and in Solingen/Germany are also a few lines. Britain has scrapped all trolley buses in the 1950s and 1960s, but in eastern European countries, they are still abundant.

There is no functioning HO scale model of a trolley bus currently on the market. The former Eheim line, later Brawa, was quite OK and only slightly oversize, but it wasn´t working very well. The catenary was quide crude and the movement rather jerky due to pick-up issues. Rietze in Germany makes a nice model of a trolley bus, which could be used as a basis for a working model.

I found this interesting video on Youtube:

Daniel used the Faller Car System to "steer" the bus around the track, and not the trolley poles, which Eheim linked mechanically to the front wheels. He was thus able to make the catenary look a little more prototypical. Electrical pick-up is done through the trolley poles.

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Posted by "JaBear" on Sunday, December 15, 2019 3:40 AM

SeeYou190
I have never seen an operating model of a trolley bus. I think it would make the fact that none of the other vehicles move seem way too out of place.

Yeah well Kevin, a lot of model railroading demands the suspension of belief, HO fflokes standing on platforms never getting on the train that they’re waiting for, is one that readily springs to my tiny mind. However, beautifully modelled scenes without people also strikes a nerve!
 
I see that the Brawa trolley buses appear to be available on eBay, but wonder if one of these Faller powered chassis would provide a reasonably accurate wheel base, though a body to suit a 50’s Baltimore trolley bus might be more problematic.
 
 
I found this on Shapeways, but while initially looking close, it certainly wins no cigar! Still a possibility for a kitbash?
 
 
Cheers, the Bear (who is not volunteering for such a task, even if he had the time!!)WhistlingSmile

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Sunday, December 15, 2019 4:06 AM

More inspiration:

SeeYou190
I think it would make the fact that none of the other vehicles move seem way too out of place.

Not, if you either add a Faller Car System or Magnorail system to your layout. With Magnorail, you can even have bikes running in the street!

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, December 15, 2019 7:18 AM

Yeah well Kevin, a lot of model railroading demands the suspension of belief, HO fflokes standing on platforms never getting on the train that they’re waiting for, is one that readily springs to my tiny mind.

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That is why it is always 2:00 in the afternoon on my layout, time never moves.

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I look at it as a diorama where only the trains move. I know that makes no sense at all, and requires a complete suspension of belief, but it works for me.

.

-Kevin

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Posted by SPSOT fan on Sunday, December 15, 2019 8:18 AM

From those videos (the OPs and Ulriches) it seems these trolley buses move quite realisticly! I think if you could add some details then you could make a quite realistic scene.

Or perhaps you could use a road system (EDIT just like Ulrich’s first video which I initially missed) of some sort as the drive and then have non operating wires. That might allow for a more realistic appearance.

Regards, Isaac

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, December 15, 2019 8:20 AM

Well, the Eheim/Brawa bus has the right look for the era:

https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http%3A%2F%2F1.bp.blogspot.com%2F-gLi6Iz2pWTU%2FVhPsl_vOyhI%2FAAAAAAAALUY%2FKRUOB0YSM9Y%2Fs1600%2Fusa_m_bal_brill_2133_yards_ss.jpg&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Feddiesrailroad.blogspot.com%2F2015%2F10%2Fbaltimore-transit-company-brill.html&docid=SqkEc2-XcKxQ4M&tbnid=dDzVQHxUVnCKWM%3A&vet=10ahUKEwjxitXR6bfmAhVChOAKHSe6BV8QMwhXKAowCg..i&w=868&h=505&bih=625&biw=1280&q=BALTIMORE%20TRANSIT%20TROLLEY%20BUS&ved=0ahUKEwjxitXR6bfmAhVChOAKHSe6BV8QMwhXKAowCg&iact=mrc&uact=8

https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Flive.staticflickr.com%2F8208%2F8214458462_ff81655d7b_b.jpg&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.flickr.com%2Fphotos%2Fd-dougied%2F8214458462&docid=BBGS7QoMHuuDGM&tbnid=UnHZzIOLLoMntM%3A&vet=10ahUKEwih-5PS6rfmAhVlTd8KHU6PAhsQMwhmKBUwFQ..i&w=1024&h=851&bih=625&biw=1280&q=brawa%20trolleybus&ved=0ahUKEwih-5PS6rfmAhVlTd8KHU6PAhsQMwhmKBUwFQ&iact=mrc&uact=8

Performance is a question......

Slightly over size I can live with, catenary could likely be improved some.

What I will not do is turn this into some massive project in terms of time or cost.

My hope would be to find a latter production Brawa set or two and check them out to see what improvements would be simple.

We will see.

Still working on the "route" and how big, small it might need to be for a reasonabley beleiveable effect. Even if it was just a small visable portion that appeared to connect a larger system to the passenger station?

Sheldon

    

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Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, December 15, 2019 8:34 AM

BigDaddy
Then and now I don't know why they didn't accidentally stray too far from the cantenary.

Yea, that got me wondering as well. So I just had to dig around.

Wiki calls it "dewirements", and drivers need extra training on how to keep in the lane when turning corners, and to slow down at overhead wire crossings to avoid dewirements.

I don't think I'd like that job.

Mike.

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Sunday, December 15, 2019 8:39 AM

Sheldon - I believe that, should a manufacturer be brave enough to market a trolley bus system, it would be an instant success, at least in continental Europe, as more and more cities seem to be interested in this form of "green" public transport.

If you plan to use old Eheim/Brawa buses, they would certainly benefit from having a new motor installed.

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, December 15, 2019 9:11 AM

Tinplate Toddler

Sheldon - I believe that, should a manufacturer be brave enough to market a trolley bus system, it would be an instant success, at least in continental Europe, as more and more cities seem to be interested in this form of "green" public transport.

If you plan to use old Eheim/Brawa buses, they would certainly benefit from having a new motor installed.

 


There are still a few system here in the US, and a few being considered from what I understand.

I'm currently reading a book on the history of the Baltimore Transit Company, they struggled in the 50's trying to decide between Trolley Buses and diesel buses. Several of the Trolley Bus routes lasted until 1959 here in Baltimore.

I was thinking a new motor and/or a better power supply might do a lot for the Brawa bus. Later ones are also made of better plastic and have the steering "internal", making them look much better.

We will see.

Yes, even here in the US, I think a new product could do well.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, December 15, 2019 9:21 AM

mbinsewi

 

 
BigDaddy
Then and now I don't know why they didn't accidentally stray too far from the cantenary.

 

Yea, that got me wondering as well. So I just had to dig around.

Wiki calls it "dewirements", and drivers need extra training on how to keep in the lane when turning corners, and to slow down at overhead wire crossings to avoid dewirements.

I don't think I'd like that job.

Mike.

 

It's not as hard as you might think, they were designed to have reasonable leeway.

That was actually one of the main advantages on top of not having tracks in the street to maintain.

The trolley bus could actually pull over to the curb, and steer around minor obstructions (dumb motorists).

Just like looking forward down at the road and staying in your lane, the driver could look up and the wires and steer toward them. If he stayed reasonably under them, the poles generally could track fine. 

Now, the way most people drive today, spoiled by power steering, making lazy and jerky turns, it might be hard to teach some of them to drive a trolley bus..........

Sheldon

    

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Sunday, December 15, 2019 9:23 AM

They are all over the place in Russia.

 

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Posted by nycmodel on Sunday, December 15, 2019 12:09 PM

Thank you for bringing back a memory from my youth. When I was about 10, I received a Christmas gift of an electrical trolly bus system, probably Brawa. It was just a simple loop with what I recall were fairly large catenary wires, more like metal strips than wires. It ran around inside my Super O Lionel 4 x 8 past the Plasticville structures. Wish I still had it all.

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, December 15, 2019 1:16 PM

Tinplate Toddler
Sheldon - I believe that, should a manufacturer be brave enough to market a trolley bus system, it would be an instant success, at least in continental Europe, as more and more cities seem to be interested in this form of "green" public transport.

The only thing there is that both the plug-in hybrid developments and the periodic-recharge alternatives give you most if not all of the 'green' advantages without the high fixed costs and eyesores of overhead double trolley wiring. 

There are certainly places for longer-distance running, for example larger regional services comparable to American interurbans, or in BRT-like schemes, where trolleybus operation is desirable - do you happen to remember where to find information on that British proposal to put the conductors, ground, and data in one "collector head" that would be servo-tracked to keep it on the overhead wires independent of vehicle movement? it was like three poles in one 'turret' head and as I recall the initial DFM for it had been done.  A modern clean-sheet-of-paper trolleybus need not use dumb poles or require someone to go 'outside' to rewire...

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, December 15, 2019 1:24 PM

Overmod

 

 
Tinplate Toddler
Sheldon - I believe that, should a manufacturer be brave enough to market a trolley bus system, it would be an instant success, at least in continental Europe, as more and more cities seem to be interested in this form of "green" public transport.

 

The only thing there is that both the plug-in hybrid developments and the periodic-recharge alternatives give you most if not all of the 'green' advantages without the high fixed costs and eyesores of overhead double trolley wiring. 

There are certainly places for longer-distance running, for example larger regional services comparable to American interurbans, or in BRT-like schemes, where trolleybus operation is desirable - do you happen to remember where to find information on that British proposal to put the conductors, ground, and data in one "collector head" that would be servo-tracked to keep it on the overhead wires independent of vehicle movement? it was like three poles in one 'turret' head and as I recall the initial DFM for it had been done.  A modern clean-sheet-of-paper trolleybus need not use dumb poles or require someone to go 'outside' to rewire...

 

That is all very interesting, but I believe Ulrich was simply refering to someone re-entering the HO model trolley bus market?

As currently there are no manufacturers in that space. In fact, since the 1950's introduction by Eheim, the only direct competitor to Eheim/Brawa was a brief Japan knock off sold in the 60's.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by freeway3 on Sunday, December 15, 2019 1:32 PM

nycmodel
more like metal strips than wires

You remember correctly. Earlier sets from AristoCraft (made in Western Germany) used metal strips instead of the round wire. Here's a set on eBay:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Western-Germany-AristoCraft-HO-Scale-Electric-Trolley-Bus-System/143377181646?hash=item2161f22bce:g:yHsAAOSwLhFddPmg

Pricey, of course... but just for reference.

My brother, who's into American Flyer S gauge, bought about a dozen or so of these sets many (40?) years ago, from a hardware store in Baltimore going out of business. A few ran, but most didn't, and the catenary was very clunky (even by Flyer standards!). Knowing my brother as I do, I'm sure he still has them boxed away somewhere...

 

Ed

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Sunday, December 15, 2019 1:57 PM

Ed - That´s interesting and a new one to me. The model sold under the Aristo Craft brand seems to be an early Eheim production model. Unfortunately, the performance was something else and this earned the system a bad reputation, even when Brawa took over and modernized it.

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Sunday, December 15, 2019 2:05 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
I believe Ulrich was simply refering to someone re-entering the HO model trolley bus market?

That´s quite right, Sheldon, I was referring to working HO scale models of trolley buses.

As for the prototype, the "dumb pole" still offers advantages over any battery solution. While battery operated may see an advantage in places with a rather moderate climate, cities with harsh winters certainly could face range issues.  Anyhow, cities like Zurich in Switzerland are still investing into the "classic" trolley bus and we all know that the Swiss are thrifty people ...

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, December 15, 2019 2:37 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
That is all very interesting, but I believe Ulrich was simply refering to someone re-entering the HO model trolley bus market?

My point being more that any 'new' model bus system might replicate things like point-recharge actually being built or considered, not just necessarily wired systems.

I'm surprised no one has tried building one of those periodic-recharge systems.  Bus reaches a stop, poles go up, you have the option of flywheel acceleration sound for those prototypes that use it.  Bus doors close, poles go down, bus moves to next stop.  Plenty of visual appeal there, and you could easily adapt it to live contacts and periodic recharge of running battery or supercap in the bus, just like many of the 'real' ones do.

 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, December 15, 2019 2:46 PM

Overmod

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
That is all very interesting, but I believe Ulrich was simply refering to someone re-entering the HO model trolley bus market?

 

My point being more that any 'new' model bus system would replicate things actually being built, not necessarily wired systems.

I'm surprised no one has tried building one of those periodic-recharge systems.  Bus reaches a stop, poles go up, you have the option of flywheel acceleration sound for those prototypes that use it.  Bus doors close, poles go down, bus moves to next stop.  Plenty of visual appeal there, and you could easily adapt it to live contacts and periodic recharge of running battery or supercap in the bus, just like many of the 'real' ones do.

 

 

Well, I think if anyone ventured into the HO or N scale trolley bus market again, it would anly make sense to develop one overhead wire system, then produce buses that refect current US and European systems, and buses that reflect the strong period of US usage, 1930 to 1960.

In the US, modeling present day, and modeling the post WWII transition era remain the most popular modeling choices from what we can tell. Such a product would have an appeal to both groups.

Modeling the cutting edge future, not to sure about that?

Here in my little world, two factory fresh SD9's from LaGrange are the newest locomotives in the world, in September 1954..........

1954 was likely the high water mark for trolley buses in Baltimore, and possibly in the whole of the US.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, December 15, 2019 3:08 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
1954 was likely the high water mark for trolley buses in Baltimore, and possibly in the whole of the US.

Pity you don't model Memphis, which in 1954 probably still had the most extensive trolleybus system in America.  You can still see the legacy of the overhead provision on many of the streets that had it.

I don't think there is much commonalty between trolleybus overhead wiring systems, just as there's relatively little in catenary systems for heavy rail.  What you'd likely have is the wiring made modular, as in the 'diorama' Ulrich provided, and then a range of molded/stamped supports, like poles or lattice supports or precast concrete, for different eras or as a starting point for more 'accurate' modeling.  

An interesting question is whether something like DCC ought to be provided for a 'new' model trolleybus system, which might simplify some of the power supply arrangements for the wiring but would have the same kind of issues with DC versions that model trains have.  In my opinion, there would assuredly be more market for these models if they can be programmed to follow complex routes with stops, door action, etc. than if they just go around and around faster or slower as you turn a knob.

One chassis, made with adjustable length and provision for single vs. dual rear, and appropriate scale wheel and tire designs for different prototypes.  All the electrics common to every bus, hardpoints for all the features provided on the chassis like those original Matsushita portable-VCR motherboards.

Then at least organized Shapeways file support or the equivalent for the range of specific trolleybuses people might want to model.  I agree that only a limited number of original prototypes 'need' to be made and factory-painted for sale as 'sets', and in particular a 'fishbowl' like Dayton's would be a sensible option... just not for the ATLANTIC CENTRAL.  In model aircraft, there is quite a market for superdetail kits and replacement parts to adapt a core model to a different configuration or even a different prototype.  That could be applied to shells for these buses.

I still do think that modeling contemporary and future transit is likely to be an important market in models, just as impending dieselization was a couple of generations ago.  If it can be made interestingly prototypical, or fascinating, to watch, it is likelier to find adoption by more than just the hard core of model railroaders or kids wanting a fun toy.

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Sunday, December 15, 2019 6:31 PM

Overmod
My point being more that any 'new' model bus system might replicate things like point-recharge actually being built or considered, not just necessarily wired systems.

You could easily use the Faller Car System for that - even without any major modification, if you skip raising or lowering the connectors.

I think the real challenge lies in making a working trolley bus system with "live" overhead.

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, December 15, 2019 8:10 PM

Tinplate Toddler
I think the real challenge lies in making a working trolley bus system with "live" overhead.

I think you are right.  Can you explain to me how the 'digital' Faller system integrates with the gamesontrack "satellite" system, and what the DCC code transmission rate that is practically achievable through the radio is?

I'm also not quite certain whether it's possible to do DCC modulation on the susceptible wire used in the Faller system.  Some combination of the two combined with a little onboard routine storage should give realistic stop, start, acceleration, braking and steering action to vehicles running under the Faller system, and of course raising and lowering conductors in a recharging system becomes relatively simple in a variety of ways.

Doesn't the diorama have live overhead?  Looks to me as if all the parts are made of conductive material.  The 'trick' we could do here appears to be comparatively simple: instead of making a live overhead system that has to conduct motor current without jitter or interruption, make it a continuous charging current for onboard battery power as is used in the Faller system vehicles -- wouldn't have to be a really big onboard battery, but one that can handle intermittent dropouts and impulse noise.  That in turn would allow for 'soft' make and break in intermittent contact, cutting down on spark erosion of the wire and shoes over time.

Then you could miniaturize the size of the U-shaped shoes on the poles, and probably the diameter of the overhead wire, and this would simplify at least some fabrication of the overhead wire elements.  I am not sure if they can be gotten down to the size they would 'bear' like a trolley-pole wheel on overhead wire without vertical standoffs to give some of the effect of those Brawa 'strips'; it helps greatly that the wire following can be essentially passive rather than implementing the vehicle steering.

I wonder if there is a set of tools and equipment that could simplify continuous bending of overhead wire in both 'planes' to get it not only into the right curves and pulloffs but show the correct amount of 'gravity sag' vs. 'tension' even for very fine gauge stiff wire.  Some of the components could be made of etched brass instead of round wire and not be too visible at scale (or if painted or chemically colored)

What we'd then need is a tool to simplify layout, bending, and fabrication of the overhead-wire segments,  using the path of the Faller wire as a guide.  I can think of several ways to mark a template this way, including just laying down paper, putting the equivalent of a pencil holder in the right location on the vehicle, and making passes.  You then bend to match the desired curves, and position adjustable supports to locate the assemblies of wire in correct orientation.

You've got me thinking now about similar approaches to use with a Magnorail system...

 

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Sunday, December 15, 2019 11:06 PM

Overmod
Doesn't the diorama have live overhead?

Yes, it does and from the looks of it, Daniel used Brawa masts and strung his own wires instead of using the Brawa curved wires.

Anotrher approach to modelling a working trolley bus would be the use of RC to control the bus, while the power is supplied through the overhead wires. Modelling HO scale RC controlled vehicles has become quite a craze recently and there are tons of videos on Youtube showing these miniature marvels. I have seen VW micro buses, trucks, bucket loaders, Caterpillars - but not yet a trolley bus. The stuff runs on 3V DC and I am surprised how smooth the movement is.

It would be quite challenging to drive a trolley bus without it getting de-wired!

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, December 16, 2019 12:08 AM

Tinplate Toddler
Another approach to modelling a working trolley bus would be the use of RC to control the bus, while the power is supplied through the overhead wires.

But isn't this precisely what the 'digital Faller' DCC system as controlled by the gamesontrack "GPS satellite" microdifferential system does?

In my opinion it wouldn't be *that* difficult to develop the equivalent of the sort of GPS mapped haptic space that the Carnegie-Mellon autonomous vehicle project (among others) worked out, and then use the millimetric precision of the the gamesontrack system to predictively control all the motions of the vehicle via proportional command (for which 128step coding ought to be quite adequate even in full servo).  On top of this you could have simple subroutines for effective momentum that would make both steering and acceleration/braking as realistic as wanted.

The first time I saw trolleybuses was when looking at colleges in 1974, on the line out of the tunnel at Harvard Square.  This was back in the days of the old dark-green buses that looked as if they were built in the early '30s, with identifiable light bulbs for headlights, and just during the time I was watching there were two dewirements ... both involving wide, sweeping missed turns that skidded the bus far wide of the 'proper' line.  In both cases the vehicle didn't dewire its poles until they were at a considerable angle to the line of the wire.  I think there was easily 4' of play on either side of the bus, which is enormous for lanekeeping, and that was on a comparatively sharp curve where the two poles are encountering different engaging offset.

On a model you don't have much ability to use vertical springing to keep the pole 'wired' firmly, but you can make the groove in the 'shoe' at the end of the pole shaped so it's wider at entry and exit and 'close' laterally in the middle.  This would tend to self-steer the pole to follow the wire for a wide range of divergence.  You'd need a relatively free pivot with very gentle but effective return spring centering, but that should be relatively easy to provide...

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Bradford, Ontario
  • 10,537 posts
Posted by hon30critter on Monday, December 16, 2019 12:45 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Well, the Eheim/Brawa bus has the right look for the era

I have seen several of the Brawa sets available over the years. Every one of the bus bodies in all the sets were seriously distorted. Buyer beware.

Dave

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