Homemade Coal Mine and Coal Loading Station Operating Accessory
A Bachmann Coal Station was used to make a Coal Mine and Coal Loading Station operating accessory building that can load coal into a coal car remotely.
The Bachmann Coal Station kit was used to make the Coal Mine Entrance into the underground mine in the mountain.
A new “A” frame roof was built for the top out of 1/8 inch Masonite with a window in the end and the end was scored to be vertical siding. The roof was roofed with some of the kit roofing.
The Coal Loading Section was also made of Masonite. The outside walls were scored with a knife to be vertical siding. Windows were in the installed in the side and end walls.
A slide gate valve was made of plywood and held opened with a rubber band. A 12v solenoid (DC solenoid rectified to AC) was use to hold the slide valve closed and to return the solenoid plunger out to engage a notch in the arm of the slide gate valve to hold it closed. A coal storage funnel was made from card board stock.
Picture of Plunger return rubber band, slide gate with hole in center and notch for solenoid plunger, black solenoid and card board coal funnel is shown below. This rubber band holds the solenoid plunger in the notch in the arm of the gate and keep the hole closed, ready to hold and drop coal. See the wire in bottom of cone tied to the solenoid plunger which is operated to break up coal jams in cone. The black bridge rectifier can be seen that converts the DC solenoid to operate on AC.
This picture shows the slide valve closed (hole in slide gate is not under the funnel hole and the solid part of the slide gate is blocking the funnel hole) and the solenoid arm is holding the slide gate closed.
This picture shows the slide gate open (the slide gate hole is now under the hole in the funnel).
Picture of slide gate return rubber band. This makes the slide gate valve stay normally open and pulls the slide gate to open when the solenoid is triggered. Both rubber bands are easy to replace as the are in open screw eyes and around posts and last a few years.
PS: Recently (9-4-2017) it was not dumping. Turns out a plot of piston stoke from the magnet shows the most pulling power is when the piston is 1/16 to 1/8 inch out. It was much more so I had to modify by adding about 1/16 inch wood to the sloped part to make the trigger pull when about 1/16 inch out. That fixed it.
Picture of Power graph for Radio Shack Solenoid I used. You can see the pull in oz is much higher at 1/8 inch or small stroke.
Picture below shows the 1/16 inch thick strips of wood I added to the notch (appear whiter) to make the piston get more into the magnet and shorten the stroke for more power.
The coal is dumped into a coal car when activated with a push button on the control panel. A flat roof for the Coal Loading Section was covered with sheet metal roofing. Two 12 volt mini Christmas bulbs were installer in the outside corners of the floor and floor was cut out to illuminate the track below and inside the Coal Loading Section.
The picture shows the lights inside to light windows and cut through bottom to light coal car area below.
The picture is from the outside of coal mine loading station showing the lights working for inside the building and lighting the car below
Like most active accessories, the coal mine/coal loader should be located for easy hand access by the operator. The coal must be hand loaded into the funnel and the slide gate valve must be hand closed. Lionel plastic coal is used which came with a Lionel coal dumping car from the 1980s.
This was a fun project, especially figuring out a working coal car loading system.