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Monday, December 09, 2013

Repairing, Upgrading, Improving

Now that the layout is running regularly, the weak spots are making themselves known.

Specifically, my homemade turnouts are failing. Originally I just soldered the turnout rail directly on top of the post of the turnout link. But it turns out that those kind of forces are too much for the solder alone. So the engineering dept came up with a nub and groove design. The post has a rectangular nub filed on top and the rail has a matching notch. Then this interlocking design is soldered together. And that worked fine… for a while. But now with more frequent use, the hard snapping of the NJ International switch machines weaken that solder joint. And one by one, they are popping off again.

Above. This is the latest turnout point to pop off. You can see the nub and groove design (and I see that plaster from street paving got into the rail web). John McWhirter from the Southern California Traction Club suggested that I make a sleeve that contains the assembly, holding it all in place. Which I quickly dismissed as it would interfere with the flange-way.  But the more I thought about it the more it made sense.  So I thought I would give it a try.

This is what the engineering dept. came up with. A tube which slips over the post and is notched so that the rail seats inside. The sides of this notch fit snug against the base of the rail and is low enough to clear the wheel flanges. Simple.
The whole assembly is soldered together. So now, with this new nub and groove and sleeve design, things should be a lot more solid. (Eventually the old NJ Internationals will be replaced with the more gentle servo turnout motors, that should help too). The plaster was removed from the rail as well and everything is clean and shiny! We are ready to re-install.

The top of the hole is drilled out to accommodate the wider diameter sleeve, and the turnout point is installed.

A quick check to make sure everything is in gauge and... are you kidding me! We are out of gauge! You know, I noticed that the cars were bumping over some of the turnouts in the videos, this is probably why.

Yep, the hole is off center. How do you move a hole over?

The old hole is filled in with a same diameter dowel. Now I have a clean slate to start over with.

Then a carefully positioned pilot hole is drilled. That hole is widened with consecutively larger bits until the correct size is achieved. (This, by-the-way, is a real pain with the overhead in the way!) The turnout point is re-installed. The gauge is checked. And...

... we are back in business! Better and stronger than ever before. Yes sir! Better and stronger than ever before!


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