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While studying layout operation, I realized that switches always operate in pairs (one from the sending track and the other from the receiving track) when crossing over from one main line to another. This lends the thought that a crafty engineer (or cheapskate hobbyist) could use a single switch machine with a bell crank to move both turnouts in parallel. Has anyone tried this? I'm interested in hearing both success and horror stories.
 

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Not really. It's just a matter wiring both turnout machines to the same switch. Press the button and they both open or close together.

It's the same as wiring a single machine.
 

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Not really. It's just a matter wiring both turnout machines to the same switch. Press the button and they both open or close together.

It's the same as wiring a single machine.
Gotcha. I'll be using Tortoise or similar under table switches. That's where I came up with the idea of manufacturing a bell crank to operate two turnouts with one switch motor. Thanks!
 

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A zigzag will change direction (one side push and the other side pull). On the same arm would be both moving the same direction.

Another idea would be to use bicycle cables instead of bellcranks.

The R/C folks have tons of bellcrank setups.
 

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I have done it in O gauge with these. Not sure who made them or what they were called, but I think I got them years ago at Henning’s Trains in Lansdale, PA. They are used when mounting the switch machine under the platform. I used NJI switch machines. The small screw (1) mounts to the turnout, the hollow brass tube (2) goes thru the platform and a solid brass rod goes inside the hollow tube. The spring from the switch machine goes in one of the holes in the brass bar stock (3). Normally one brass assembly and one switch machine is used for each turnout, but for most crossovers I used one switch machine and two brass assemblies. I used a brass rod inserted in the second hole in the brass bar stock to connect them. It worked well. I have been changing over to DZ1000 switch machines, but I may have one crossover still installed like that.

IMG_3405_LI.jpg
 

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Using one switch motor to operate two turnouts

While studying layout operation, I realized that switches always operate in pairs (one from the sending track and the other from the receiving track) when crossing over from one main line to another. This lends the thought that a crafty engineer (or cheapskate hobbyist) could use a single switch machine with a bell crank to move both turnouts in parallel. Has anyone tried this? I'm interested in hearing both success and horror stories.
TimW;

Yes, I have done that.
Depending on what type of motor you are using, an actual "bell crank" may not be necessary. Lets define a few terms, just for clear communication, and definitely not to pick on you for using one term rather than another

. "Bell cranks" are devices used to change the direction that a mechanical linkage works, typically by 90 degrees. To operate the two "turnouts" of a "crossover" a simple straight, bar linkage is usually all that's required. No bell crank is needed.
My old club used Shinohara brand turnouts. They have a metal strap on top of the plastic throw-bar that moves the points. This metal strap linked the two point rails both physically, and electrically.
We used a rotating bent wire inside a tube linkage to connect the turnout's throwbar to the switch motor below the table. Each individual turnout in the crossover had it's own linkage.
A simple bar connected these two linkages so that pushing the bar one way set both turnouts to the two parallel main lines, and pushing the same bar in the opposite direction set both turnouts to the crossover route. One motor moved the bar, and thus operated both turnouts at the same time.

Unfortunately we used a metal bar. This created the most perplexing short circuit in club history. Many hours, by many of the club's electrical experts, were expended trying to find out why we got a short only while the turnouts were set to the crossover position. The short went away when the turnouts were set for the two mainlines.

The problem was fixed by substituting a plastic bar for the original metal one. The metal throwbar straps carried power to the two rotating metal wire linkages which were, in turn, connected to each other by that metal bar. In the crossover position, only, this created a short from one of the rails to the other rail. So, if you do this, use a strong motor, and a plastic connecting bar. The first file below give some info on turnouts and the various motors & other devices used to operate them. The second file is sort of a dictionary of terms used in model railroading.

good luck;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:

View attachment All AboutTurnouts.pdf

View attachment Model Railroad Terminology 2.2.pdf
 

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Name that linkage

I have done it in O gauge with these. Not sure who made them or what they were called, but I think I got them years ago at Henning’s Trains in Lansdale, PA. They are used when mounting the switch machine under the platform. I used NJI switch machines. The small screw (1) mounts to the turnout, the hollow brass tube (2) goes thru the platform and a solid brass rod goes inside the hollow tube. The spring from the switch machine goes in one of the holes in the brass bar stock (3). Normally one brass assembly and one switch machine is used for each turnout, but for most crossovers I used one switch machine and two brass assemblies. I used a brass rod inserted in the second hole in the brass bar stock to connect them. It worked well. I have been changing over to DZ1000 switch machines, but I may have one crossover still installed like that.

View attachment 485806
Lehigh74;

That's an Earl Eishelman (sp?) linkage. Named for the guy who invented, made, and sold, them. I haven't seen one in many, many years.

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:
 

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Lehigh74;

That's an Earl Eishelman (sp?) linkage. Named for the guy who invented, made, and sold, them. I haven't seen one in many, many years.

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:
Neat. Did a little search and came up with about ½ dozen Earl R. Eshleman Turnout Switch Point Link offers on ebay. Made in Elizabethtown, PA. I remember the green cardboard packaging.
 

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I have used the RSA for two semaphores signals, the RTM can be used for two turnouts.

This from Circuitron,

Extra Cable and Actuator for RTM
The CIRCUITRON Remote Tortoise™ Mount is capable of driving up to 2 cables and actuators at the same time, thus allowing a single Tortoise™ to actuate two sets of points simultaneously, such as for crossover use. However, we generally recommend that if you have the room to mount a pair of TORTOISEs™ conventionally, it will only cost you a couple dollars more and the labor for conventional mounting is substantially less.

Go here for more information.

http://circuitron.com/
 

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Discussion Starter #12
A lot of great information here. Thanks for all the comments. Since I'm always looking for a challenge, I think I'll buy enough switch machines for the turnouts in my layout, but I'll try some of the parallel operation tricks y'all have mentioned above. Thanks again!
 

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Saving money on "switch machines"

A lot of great information here. Thanks for all the comments. Since I'm always looking for a challenge, I think I'll buy enough switch machines for the turnouts in my layout, but I'll try some of the parallel operation tricks y'all have mentioned above. Thanks again!
TimW;

All your turnouts don't necessarily need to be controlled by the same mechanism. You could control nearby turnouts with the cheaper, but very reliable, Caboose Industries ground throws, and use Tortoise motors on only distant turnouts, if you wish. In fact it's possible to use a ground throw on a distant turnout too, using a mechanical linkage. I use mechanical, "Steel-rod-inside-a-brass-tube" type linkages on my own layout. (see top center of photo #1)
In my case it wasn't to save money. I still use motors for "route control."(see photo #2) The single rotary switch on the right side of the control panel (photo #3) sets all the turnouts needed to route a train onto the selected track. I use these linkages to keep all the complicated electrical hardware up front, where I can easily get to it. (I'm 70 Yrs. old, and partially disabled.)
However the identical setup would work equally well with simple, cheap, knobs, or levers, instead of motors, thereby saving the cost of buying motors for any of your turnouts. ( I know, first CTValley takes the wind out of your Tortoise-buying sails with his servo recommendation, and now I lay this on you! :laugh: )

Speaking of the Tortoise, It's certainly a fine switch machine, and very popular, but if cost is an issue for you, the "switch machine" files below explain a low-cost (<$5.00 ea.) alternative that does everything the tortoise does, but mechanically, rather than electrically. Even with only ten turnouts, that would save you about $250.00! More turnouts;= more $ savings.

The "two turnouts with one motor" idea is usually limited to crossovers. They never need to have only one of their turnouts thrown, without also throwing the other.
I suppose you could operate the two turnouts at both ends of a passing siding, with a long bar, but you may find that to be a problem. When two trains approach a passing siding from opposite directions, it's often handy to throw each of those same two turnouts individually. This allows one train to enter the siding while the other is on the main line, or vise-versa. Linking turnouts together saves motor cost, but can limit operating possibilities too.

Have fun;

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:

View attachment Introductory letter for $5 switch machine.pdf

View attachment Assembly instructions for $5 switch machine..pdf

Cedar Falls section bottom view.JPG

Cedar Falls motors & linkages.JPG

Cedar Falls control panel.JPG
 

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Discussion Starter #14
That's quite the ingenious little gizmo and definitely something to think about. Thanks for the suggestion.

TimW
 

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Try it. You may like it.

That's quite the ingenious little gizmo and definitely something to think about. Thanks for the suggestion.

TimW


TimW;

You might consider building one of my machines and trying it out. You already have some Tortoise machines, so you could test one against the other. Obviously the Tortoise has the advantage of being pre-made for you, but it also has a much higher price. I'm recommending this trial because I think you will see just how easily, and quickly, my machine can be built. That may lessen the value of the Tortoise's pre-made advantage, relative to it's higher price, for you, or not, your choice.

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:
 
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