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Using piano wire for Tortoise and 2" foam

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Using piano wire for Tortoise and 2" foam
Posted by kasskaboose on Wednesday, February 15, 2023 9:52 PM

Before I order the piano wire and after searching online, seeking a sanity check  pls. I plan to use piano wire to flip the throwbars of tortoise switch machines. Correct that 0.032" piano wire is suitable to go through the hole (inside the rails) of #6 and #8 Atlas code 83 turnouts?  The Tortoise machines' wires will penetrate 2" of foam (holes already made for them!) If not, what is a suitable wire I'd need?

Thanks,

Lee

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Posted by maxman on Wednesday, February 15, 2023 10:59 PM

Do you have one of those small drill bit sets?

A number 65 is 0.035 inch diameter.  Insert through hole in drawbar.  If that goes through, then the 0.032 diameter wire should also pass.

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, February 16, 2023 4:58 AM

0.032" piano wire is acceptable and, in fact, that is the size provided by Circuitron with each Tortoise. But, 0.039" is even stronger, and that size will also fit through the hole in the center of the throwbar on Atlas #6 and #8 Code 83 turnouts, as well as most other turnouts.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by John-NYBW on Thursday, February 16, 2023 7:08 AM

If you haven't already been told this, be careful when cutting the piano wire. For starters, the metal in the piano wire is harder than the metal in many wire cutters and will put a half moon dent in the wire cutters. I have a heavy duty wire cutter that can cut the piano wire without denting. However, when the wire is cut, it can shoot across the room like a missile. When I cut the wire, I stick one end into a piece of foam before making the cut to prevent it from becoming a hazard. Another option is to use a rotary tool cutoff wheel but I find my heavy duty wire cutter to be an easier method. 

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Posted by NVSRR on Thursday, February 16, 2023 7:27 AM

As John said,  wire cutters are useless.  What you need are called wire shears.  Or by pass cutters.   They don't cut wire, they cut it by creating a high concentrated shear force.    Causes a clean shear break.     Not any more expensive than wire cutters.   I know micromark has them.   Walters might as well.   Two places to get them

shane

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Posted by pt714 on Thursday, February 16, 2023 7:45 AM

To add to John and Shane's points about good shear cutters: Xuron, who make the rail nippers, also make one of the best inexpensive shear cutters for piano wire-- looking online it looks like the number is 2193F. It's a blue-handled pair that clamps the wire in place, and shears it without sending the loose end across the room (it lets go once the handles are released.)

Source: I work on pianos for a living and use these all the time when replacing broken strings.

Phil

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, February 16, 2023 8:13 AM

All of my Tortoises came with a wire about 0.025" in diameter.

I replace this with 0.032" wire when I install the Tortoise, and I drill the hole in the Tortoise actuator with a #65 drill bit.

Of course, I have purchased a lifetime supply of K&S #501 0.032" wire to keep on hand.

-Photograph by Kevin Parson

The 0.032" wire will work through a stack of 3/4" plywood, 1/2" Homasote, and cork. I would believe it should be OK to use with 2" foam.

-Photograph by Kevin Parson

For cutting to length, I have been using this pair of Crescent compound cutters that were suggested by a member on this forum. These work great.

-Photograph by Kevin Parson

I use a wedge make-up sponge over the wire to catch the piece when I cut it. I also wear safety glasses (of course) while I do this.

I always have a bag of those wedge make-up sponges on hand. They are very useful for painting and all kinds of stuff on the layout.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by DanRaitz on Thursday, February 16, 2023 9:03 AM

Circuitron makes a device just for this purpose.  It is the Remote Tortoise Mount (RTM) #800-6100.

Dan

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Posted by Renegade1c on Thursday, February 16, 2023 10:30 AM

 TortoiseWire by Chuck Lee, on Flickr

I used .039" wire. Ocasionally, I add a brass sleeve over the top of the wire above the green fulcrum if I need additional stiffness. One thing I do instead of drilling out the hole in the black plastic actuator bar is bend a diamond shape into the end of the wire and then wrap it around the screw instead of trying to the wire to go into that tiny hole. Its way easier and takes way less time to install.


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

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, February 16, 2023 11:43 AM

Renegade1c
One thing I do instead of drilling out the hole in the black plastic actuator bar is bend a diamond shape into the end of the wire and then wrap it around the screw instead of trying to the wire to go into that tiny hole. Its way easier and takes way less time to install.

What tool do you use to do this?

I attempted this with 0.032" steel wire, and had a very hard time overcoming the "springyness", and gave up.

-Kevin

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Thursday, February 16, 2023 2:40 PM

I have used piano wire as long as 3 inches for some turnouts on non-standard locations.  No problems.

I do drill out the holes for the wires to make them fit more easily.  On the top end where the turnout goes I take a small file and round the end of the wire, and then put a tiny dab of grease on the wire so it slips in easily.

My local Ace Hardware sold single 3-foot lengths of piano wire, which was much easier than having it shipped.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by kasskaboose on Thursday, February 16, 2023 4:08 PM

Thanks everyone for the outstanding and detailed advice.  I hope the suggestions help others also. 

I like the idea putting the wire in foam to prevent it from flying off.  That and wrapping the wire around the screw make a lot of sense.  I was just about to ask about whether to put the wire through the hole.

Ace is too far from me, but Hobby Lobby has is closer.  If they run out (doubtful), I can order online.

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