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Well that explains some of it. There are several switches labeled custom line and are new in the package. I think there is probably a mix of both. I have started reading your documents, I’ll dive deeper. The only derailment issues have been from running through incorrectly positioned turnouts.

Re the machine, it’s just not hooked up yet. I plan to use mighty mite machines for the accessory contacts ability to run signal lights through the switch. This seems like the simplest solution to user friendly turnouts with indicators. With this method the signal will accurately indicate the position of the switch machine which should be a high accuracy indication of actual turnouts position. Other methods seem to leave the possibility that the switch did not throw properly, but the indication will, leading to erroneous information.


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Vette-kid;

I suggest you start your reading with "Improving Atlas turnouts" and then "All about turnouts." I've sent you a lot more, and of course you're welcome to read them, but many don't apply to the little layout you have now. They might be helpful for a future layout.
I'm glad you're not having derailments. You're lucky, many have.
I'm not familiar with the "mighty mite" switch machine. Do you have any info on it that you can send me?
As for your turnouts; if it doesn't have a metal frog, and two straight routes, it's not a custom line turnout, no matter what the package says. It doesn't really matter all that much. You will do OK with snap switch, custom line, or a mix.

regards;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Thanks TF. I read through those two documents last night with more homework to come. A lot didn't apply directly to this situation, but it helps to understand the turnouts in general.

Mighty mite are old machines. The best I can do is an eBay link. I can pay up a picture of the instructions later if that helps. They seem quite powerful and work well so far. I just have to get them wired into the layout.



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Discussion Starter #23
Here is a better listing with pictures. He's asking too much



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Here is a better listing with pictures. He's asking too much



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vette-kid;

Thanks for the info on "Mighty Mite switch machines". They are indeed old. They look like some ancient Tenshodo twin-coil machines I had about 40-45 years ago, but with a box wrapped around the mechanism. Those are not the easiest machines to install, or adjust. They are quite powerful, and do have contacts. However, a Tortoise machine is at least as powerful, and has enclosed micro switches that are resistant to dust and very reliable. The same is not always true for leaf type semi-exposed contacts like those on the Mighty Mite. I'm not trying to tell you they won't work, just that they can be a bit high maintenance at times. The old Tenshodo machines I had tended to shake themselves apart over time. The slam bang of the heavy duty snap-action mechanism would loosen the screws that held the thing together. I ended up reworking mine extensively to keep them together.
I also used a CDU (Capacitive Discharge Unit) to keep them from burning out. I suggest you reconsider buying mighty mites.

In my opinion, Tortoise, or Switchmaster, motors, or Caboose Industries ground throws, would all be better options. The Tortoise comes with two built-in micro-switches standard. The Caboose industries ground throws are available with optional contacts, and while the Switchmaster comes without contacts, It wouldn't be all that difficult to mount a micro-switch that would be triggered by a Switchmaster motor. There is also a super-simple low cost alternative. An ordinary electrical slide switch with a hole drilled through the plastic handle, can be mounted next to the throwbar of a turnout. Link the slide switch to the turnout's throwbar with a piece of brass wire, music wire, or even an unwound paper clip. Setting the slide switch also sets the turnout. Only two moving parts,(the switch handle and the wire.) The switch contacts will operate your signals.
The problem you might have with the Tortoise, or Switchmaster, is clearance. Both are designed to mount below the table, and you don't have a lot of room down under your layout.
I think your young son would have fun with the Caboose Industries ground throws. He could "Throw the switch" (aka turnout) just like the real thing on a full-size railroad.The model with contacts factory-installed would operate your signals.

regards;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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I'll add an alternative to the Tortoise motors: servo controls by Tam Valley Depot (my personal choice) or the very similar Walthers switch machines. I find both more intuitive to set up than the Tortoises.
 

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Stumpy;

The other part of the problem is that the metal wheel should not be able to get far enough over to short those two rails. The fact that it can and, as you have experienced, does, is due to one, or perhaps two, things.
First, and most likely, is that the flangeways of nearly every brand of commercial turnouts, (including Peco) are too wide. This excess width lets the entire "wheelset" (two wheels on the same axle) move sideways at random, far enough to let the frog-side wheel get across those two rails, and cause the short.
The cure for this problem is to glue plastic shims to the inside surface of the guard rail, which narrows the flangeway to meet the specs of an NMRA gauge.
I'll have to check that out. Seems it would be a more permanent solution than nail polish. Thanks.

BTW... all turnouts are insulfrogs, so the frog is plastic.
 

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Discussion Starter #27
I'll add an alternative to the Tortoise motors: servo controls by Tam Valley Depot (my personal choice) or the very similar Walthers switch machines. I find both more intuitive to set up than the Tortoises.
Can either be mounted on top of the table?

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Discussion Starter #28
Thanks for the suggestions. I was about convinced to go with the ground throws, but there's two problems.

First, the Chief conductor wants buttons! Second, while those would work great for the turnouts on the front of the layout, there will be a years accessed from the back which is to far to reach for a ground throw. Those will have to be remote.

Also, I am able to get the front turnouts under the table, but three or for in the back will have to bed on top. Even if there was room to fit one, access to install it on another issue. I could raise the table by using 2x4 instead of 2x2, but I would have to disassemble the table completely to install them. That isn't going to happen. So those need to be remote, surface mount machines.

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Discussion Starter #29
Back to the turnouts for a minute. The comment about custom line being mislabeled got new curious, so I had a look. Here are three different turnouts I have. Two came out of a box as pictured, still wrapped. All three are different and the only one labeled "custom line" on the turnout is the middle one that clearly had a plastic frog. Note they are all brass as indicated in the box. So they must have made them in brass. They say "custom line supreme", not sure if there is a difference. Just kind of interesting, guess you never know what you've got until you open the box and inspect. I'm my case, I didn't know anyway, but oh well.

And in A drawer full of nail polish, my wife and daughter do not have ANY clear! I'll just try and replace it later with a different one.

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You could also use any other color. At least you'll know where the bad spots are from the color coding on the rail.
 

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I wouldn't worry about it matching your shoes...
 

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Note the price tag on the box? I really miss those days. The last time I had a train that was the typical price for an Atlas turnout. Fast-forward to a few years ago when I got back in the hobby, and the typical price was closer to $40. Talk about sticker shock!
 

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Can either be mounted on top of the table?

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vette-kid;

Yes, it would be physically possible to mount either a Tortoise motor, or a servo, on top of the table. They would work fine, but both, particularly the Tortoise, are bulky, and many would consider them ugy additions to a scene. It might be possible to disguise them by putting a building, or hill, over them; just make sure whatever hides them is removable for maintenance.

The Atlas switch machines you already have are functional, if not great, switch machines, and of course, they are already mounted on the surface. They are also controlled by buttons.*
Caboose Industries ground throws needn't necessarily be restricted only to turnouts within reach, neither does the electrical slide switch I suggested. Either can be mounted up front, and connected to a distant turnout by a very simple mechanical linkage. I do this on my own layout because I'm old, and partially disabled. I can't really get under the layout easily (to put it mildly!) So all my turnout motors are mounted in front, and use a rod-inside-a-tube linkage to move the points of the turnout. Now I'm well aware that the day has not dawned when you have any interest in duplicating the complex arrangement shown in the 1rst photo! 😄
However, the actual linkage is very simple. (see second photo) The 1/8" dia. brass tubes shown have .047" music wire rods inside them. Pushing or pulling on the rod moves the points of the turnout. The linkage can be mounted below even your low clearance layout, or it can be on top. If you do surface mount linkages, smaller (1/16") tube and rod can be used, and more easily disguised.
I use motors for "route control" but a simple lever, or push/pull button will work fine for setting individual turnouts. (see photos 3 & 4) Whether your "conductor in chief" will consider this kind of button acceptable is another matter.
A micro-switch can be hooked to such a mechanical linkage to operate signals if you choose, I have micro-switches attached to my linkages for frog polarity and other purposes. Atlas switch machines use buttons, and Tortoise & servos use toggle switches. I'm guessing any of those control devices would fit his requirements.

* One important difference, considering the age of the operator, is that holding the Atlas button down for more than 2 seconds, can burn out the coils in the Atlas switch machine.:cry:
Using a simple circuit called a Capacitive Discharge Unit (CDU) prevents coil such burnout no matter how long the button is held down. Since the "blue button" controls that come with Atlas turnouts are themselves somewhat prone to shorting out, here is a better alternative. The Stapleton 751D turnout control is both much higher quality than the Atlas blue button, and also has a CDU built right into it. If you elect to use the Atlas switch machines, I highly recommend using Stapleton 751D controls to operate them. The Tortoise, and servo, are a different story. The toggle switch that controls them can be left on indefinitely without harm.

So, you have lots of options for controlling turnouts. Any should work. You two guys just need to pick your favorite.

regards;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Can either be mounted on top of the table?

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Nope. The machine itself goes under the table. There is a pushbutton actuator which is typically mounted on the fascia or a dispatcher's panel, but it could be mounted next to the turnout if you wanted to. I personally prefer my layout surface uncluttered and my turnout motors invisible.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
TF, thanks again for all the information. Your tight, I have no interest in that top photo... You got a lot going on there!

I like the 751, my only hesitation and why the mighty mite is attractive is that it virtually eliminates the chance of an out of sync signal. If the machine or turnout doesn't throw all the way for some reason, the light will not change. With the 751, and other options, if the machine doesn't throw properly, the signal can still change giving a false indication.

I've only tested the mighty mite on my work bench, but it was reliable in that environment. But yes, VERY difficult to adjust. I probably fiddled with that one for over an hour just getting it in a position it would throw the bar correctly and then it was discreet further away than I'd like. But you can hold down the button all night and not hurt it (I tried holding it down for 20 seconds and had no issues, it stops after the initial movement).

751 pros are the toggles are a cleaner, easier switch than the Atlas plastic. Allows surface mount machines and signal control. Also allows for manual control in the event of failure. Cons are the chance of a false signal (signal indicates switch position only). I have an email out to them.

I was almost there on the ground throws, but it looks like several would have to be remote mounted and that causes some difficulty with my table setup. They will not fit between parallel track.

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Not having to worry about things fitting between parallel tracks is another argument in favor of the under table arrangement.
 

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Discussion Starter #38
Not having to worry about things fitting between parallel tracks is another argument in favor of the under table arrangement.
I'd agree with you in most circumstances. It just isn't feasible. Chief of household is not going to allow a table type layout. This area is our only real option, or a counter top that would have similar issues. It's just an obstacle to overcome.

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TF, thanks again for all the information. Your tight, I have no interest in that top photo... You got a lot going on there!

I like the 751, my only hesitation and why the mighty mite is attractive is that it virtually eliminates the chance of an out of sync signal. If the machine or turnout doesn't throw all the way for some reason, the light will not change. With the 751, and other options, if the machine doesn't throw properly, the signal can still change giving a false indication.

I've only tested the mighty mite on my workbench, but it was reliable in that environment. But yes, VERY difficult to adjust. I probably fiddled with that one for over an hour just getting it in a position it would throw the bar correctly and then it was discreet further away than I'd like. But you can hold down the button all night and not hurt it (I tried holding it down for 20 seconds and had no issues, it stops after the initial movement).

751 pros are the toggles are a cleaner, easier switch than the Atlas plastic. Allows surface mount machines and signal control. Also allows for manual control in the event of failure. Cons are the chance of a false signal (signal indicates switch position only). I have an email out to them.

I was almost there on the ground throws, but it looks like several would have to be remote mounted and that causes some difficulty with my table setup. They will not fit between parallel track.

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vette-kid;

The choice is yours, of course, but I want to address some of the concerns you mentioned, and, first, to comment on the mighty might's ability to survive long button pushes. Those old Tenshodo twin-coil machines I had (and the mighty mite's innards appear identical) could be wired to cut off the 16- 20 volts or so of AC current often used to throw them, with one of of their three sets of contacts. This worked by routing the operating current to the coils through a set of contacts. When the burst of power came along, the coil was energized briefly and the contacts were opened when the switch machine changed position. The other coil was now set up to receive current by other contacts. Flip a toggle switch on the control panel, the coil fires, and the switch machine changes back to the original position. Using this "less than spectacularly reliable design" allowed our model railroading ancestors to use SPDT (CONSTANT ON) toggle switches to operate the turnouts. You may see the catch coming. Absolutely everything, including whether the switch machine would work at all, and signal indications, and route control, and whatever else they wired into them, depended on those contacts working flawlessly. ......................They didn't.
Instead, the contacts got dirty, or corroded, or out of alignment because the screws holding them in place were loosened by the vibration of the switch machine's own operation, or the contacts got (literally) "bent out of shape" by the heat of the often heavy current passing through them.

Now I'm speaking in terms of the ancient Tenshodos that I wrestled with for years before getting smart enough to replace them with something more reliable. (stall motors)
The mighty mite"s contacts may be held in place better, your signals aren't going to draw any real current, and the mighty mite does have a cover (which I hope is removable) that will provide some protection against dirt build-up, but none against moisture & corrosion. So, mighty mights are not necessarily "Those old # $#@^& Tenshodos in a box" as I'm guessing, but they certainly look like it to me.

I get what your saying about the Stapleton's signal indication capability. A commonly used system employs a DPDT toggle switch mounted on the control panel with one set of its contacts wired to indicator lights/signals, either on that panel, or out on the layout.
These lights tell you which way the toggle switch is thrown. Something that should be blatantly obvious by just looking at the switch itself. They don't tell you diddly squat about what position the turnout is in. Neither, really, do the contacts in a mighty mite, or the Micro-switches in a Tortoise. They do get you one step closer to the information you need, but they are really only telling you what the contacts/ micro-switches/switch machines are doing, not the actual turnouts. and if the contacts are bent, dirty, corroded, whatever, not even that.
You indicated, (I think) that sometimes the points didn't throw all the way during your mighty mite tests. (It came out of auto correct, "it was discrete further away than I would like" ???) Contacts might, or might not, tell you whether the points were thrown all the way.
The only way to know for certain would be to mount a micro-switch, or other sensor, at either end of the throwbar's travel, and apart from that being a major pain to install, even it wouldn't be foolproof.

Remote control of turnouts with layout edge or control panel mounted ground throws, or slide switches, should not interfere with your track, or track spacing, at all. The turnout-operating end of the linkage connected back to the ground throw is shown below. Click on the photo's title, "Switch machine green points JPG" to enlarge the photo. As you can see, this end of the linkage is very small, and mounted between the rails of one track, not between two parallel tracks.
The ground throw's contacts are, of course, in the ground throw, so it (sort of) has the same limitation as the Stapleton, but since the linkage is super-simple, and therefore super-reliable, it would give an accurate indication of turnout position 95% + of the time, which, I think, makes it at least equal to, if not superior to, the assumed reliability of the mighty mite.

regards;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter #40
Sorry about my lack of proof reading. The mighty mite has shown to be very reliable, at least in terms of contact position matching switch position. I've yet to see it throw the contact without moving the switch. but I had to mount it a few inches away from the turnout to get it to work properly. That's not ideal. Ideally it would be right next to it.

The answer is, there is no perfect answer probably for any situation. For now I'm going to order the 751Ds and use the Atlas machines. I can still use the mighty mite as well with the 751. I think you had recommended it earlier in another post as well. I had some of the mighty mite on hand so they seemed like an easy solution... They are not.

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