Thursday, March 16, 2023

Powering a few more switches, Part 2

In the preceding post, I described a project I am undertaking to power some layout track switches that are awkward to operated manually, at the boundary between my layout towns of Ballard and Santa Rosalia (here is a link to that post: ). 

 An important part of this project is to design and build a new control panel, where the new electrical switches for these switch machines will be located. 

My first effort to use an MP1 linear-motion switch machine (as I had described in an earlier post: ) gave rise to this obviously temporary and rather clunky panel, showing the selection of either Track 7 or the main line (it’s just a scrap piece of Upson board):

Now, of course, I was going to re-locate the switch you see above, and add to it at least two more switches. I realized I could also perhaps power the switch between main and siding in the town of Ballard, which would be good to plan for. So I grabbed a piece of scrap card stock, eyeballed the approximate size that would fit the space where the clunky panel (above) was located, and sketched what might work.

Here I tried to reproduce the curvature of the mainline track in this area, just using a kitchen mixing bowl upside down to make a curve of the right size. I drew rough circles where each electrical switch could be located, four in all. Then I experimented with labels, making up a few to see how they would look, and how they should be arranged. I used the Hamilton type face, in 16-point size, which is what you see above.

Based on my experience, I know that the simplest way to do a track diagram is to start with the base color (in my case, I chose yellow) and use masking tape to make the track. Then over-paint with a final panel color (black). So the first step was to reproduce (approximately) the sketch above. Here is my piece of yellow-enameled Masonite, with tape applied. Note that I would now have to re-make the labels shown above, to be yellow letters on black.

 I then oversprayed this panel with Tamiya Matte Black (TS-6) and let it get mostly dry, then stripped off the tape. Tape will come off more cleanly at this point than later, in my experience. Here is the result:

Next, I re-made the labels you saw above, to have yellow lettering on black (easy in Photoshop). These labels were printed out, cut to size, and applied with canopy glue. Then holes were drilled for the four SPST switches (though only three would be installed at this time, as shown below). Also visible are the two wood screws attaching the panel to a support behind.

Incidentally, the empty hole at left is intended for the control of the track switch I showed in the previous post, the one that is operated by a Caboose Industries ground throw far from the switch itself (the last photo in this post: ). It isn’t powered yet.

With the panel complete and wired, I could go ahead with mechanical installation of the MP1 switch machines. I will show that work in a future post.

Tony Thompson

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