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Good morning. When you listen to the morning news, you will learn that this issue is, indeed, in the news regarding real train crossings.

Let's set an example and lead that nation by making our model train crossings infallably safe.

I am happy to report that there has never been an accident in over 25 years at my main model train crossing:


So, how safe are your model train crossings, and what are you going to do to make them safer?

LOL, Arnoldo


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I have a confession to make.

The design of my main train crossing is brilliant because I doubled up with the crossing gates as shown in my above photo, but there is a problem I need to remedy. Take a look at this video:

That crossing gate was way too slow to come down. This is intollerable!

Fortunately, there is a simple solution: increase the power to the independently powered crossing gates. That should speed up the crossing gates and prevent any possible collisions from happening. Later today, I will send a work crew out there to fix this problem, and then we will do exhaustive tests, the results of which I will post on this thread.

It is shocking that I could have been so negligent as to cause this extremely dangerous situation by not having sufficient power for the crossing gates. Action must be taken!

I am putting myself on probation for this negligence, and if it ever happens again, I will fire myself on the spot as the trainmaster controller of this Fields of Dreams Along The Put Railroad.

LOL, Arnold


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Last edited by Arnold D. Cribari
@AlanRail posted:

it is a bit grim but Arnold means well.

And given his past topics, I dont see this as negatively intentioned.

I don't see this as "negatively intentioned," either. But perhaps a friendly reminder that all of our grades crossings on our layouts should be protected by operating crossing gates and flashers, or at least with a simple cross buck.

I can easily state that, because I have only one grade crossing on my layout and the flashers below the cross bucks are not working. Guess I'd better get a crew out there to fix them. 😉



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@MartyE posted:

Cross at your own risk on my layout for now. Personal responsibility is rule #1.

Ditto here.  No "protection" at all, but the locals who cross recognize that trains are unbeatable.  They don't travel with their windows up and their stereos blaring, texting or staring at their phones while driving, or blissfully unconcerned with anyone but themselves.  Fortunately, trains are big, noisy, and smelly:  they literally shake the ground, so they are pretty easy to spot, and nobody in Notch or Marmaros, MO, is selfish enough to ask for a law eliminating the bells and whistles that the engines use to alert drivers to their presence.  Therefore, there has never been a grade crossing incident, and it is unlikely there ever will be unless some city-slickers invade.

Now, I do have a lighted #77 Crossing Gate and a #45 Gateman for the Standard Gauge Christmas layout, but they're for the big city part of the scene, and, honestly, they are present mostly because the city gov't appreciates the lights and motion they add to the festive atmosphere.    And EVERYBODY on the layout knows that the trains always come from one direction and always pass at 30 second intervals, so crossing the tracks is predictable if a little frantic.

You go straight to your train room, young man, run your favorite steamer around for one hour and think about what you've done!

Thanks for calling this 70 year old a young man.  LOL

I've been derelict in other ways with other railroad crossings insufficiently protected, as shown below:


IMO, although the cross bucks are a definite plus, especially the one on the right with red flashing lights when the train goes by, and to have the Automatic Gateman (a more than full time employee at considerable expense which is unseen on the left) is highly commendable,  I really need to install automatic crossing gates on both sides of the curved track. Seriously, I anticipate this project will be very challenging for me.

On further reflection, it may be impossible because I don't think there is such a thing as curved crossing gates for a curved track.

What do you think? Arnoldo


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No protection at the crossings in my neighborhood and no mishaps, yet, but there have been a frightening number of close calls. Right now over at the West Side crossing there's a brand-new Chevy hung up on the tracks. Kyle from the Union 76 is out there with his wrecker trying to get her out of there, but traffic is all jammed up. More pressing is the fact that the Super Chief is due through in less than a minute. If Kyle can't get that wagon off the main line the Big Hands will have to swoop in to save the day. The Big Hands scare the heck out of folks in town, but they always get the job done.



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Well I guess we are called model railroaders for a reason... here's a suggestion that would eliminated but I'm sure would be costly ! I only have it on my prewar display and this post made me think about it.

If real railroads had a shanty with a person in to watch for the crossings or a recording with a person maybe it would help... so far not one issue on the prewar layout with the men on duty..  daniel 



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Not to interrupt a rollicking tongue in cheek session with a serious comment, but I actually *did* just modify my crossings!

Specifically, my two 'automated' crossings (each with a legacy Marx crossing gate and crossing warning flasher, plus a digital crossing bell module and speaker, all energized by track power) had been performing less satisfactorily of late, at the lower throttle settings that I found to keep the train running reliably. In an earlier discussion, someone had suggested powering the crossings from accessory power instead, rather than relying on track power. At the time, I'd rejected the suggestion, pointing out that this would require a separate power run from the control station, rather than being able to pick up track power anywhere on the layout (and besides, I'd already wired my crossings!) .

After some careful testing to be sure I could safely add an additional small legacy transformer and in the process cross-connect one terminal to my main ZW's common ground (which connects to the outer rails), I disconnected the original center rail power connections at both crossings, and instead connected a wire back to the 'new' transformer's 'hot' terminal. Long story short, it all worked -- the power activating each crossing device is now adjustable at the central control, and is not affected by throttle setting. The one downside I can see so far is that, if a train stops on the activation sections, the gate will continue to be held down, the bell will continue to sound (up to the end of the six second 'loop' recording), and/or the lights will light (though not 'flash', since there's no motion over the rail-top contacts). I think I'll be able to live with the limitation of having to avoid stopping the train in the crossing activation area without having to also manually kill the accessory power, but if it gets annoying, I have an extra track-voltage (actually, rated at 12 VAC) relay on order for another project I can throw in series with the 'new' power supply to kill power when the track power is off.

An additional benefit of this setup is that I can set up an isolated section and/or railtop contacts on the other loops that cross the road -- with an independent power supply and a common ground, *any* section of track, no matter how powered, can be used to activate the crossing devices. Given the number of loops I have 'crossing' the road (six!), I may be glad I can kill the crossing bell sound centrally!

This crossing is protected by flashers, but no gates on the ATSF mainline through this rural northern Arizona town.  After a recent grade crossing incident, the combined El Capitan / Super Chief has a speed restriction through town while the local police department has dispatched an officer to monitor the crossing for a few weeks to help deter those who would try and race the train.

Interestingly enough, this new enforcement measure seems to be lax looking at the pedestrians in the right of way!


Less than three years later on the east side of town, Amtrak is now the operator and the train is now the Southwest Limited.  This crossing is still only protected by flashers, but there have not been incidents in a while at this location.  Perhaps recent challenges with the new SDP40Fs, the return of E8s and a speed restriction have helped?  No one in town really knows or thinks much of it.  There is more frustration that Amtrak discontinued the station stop here.


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Last edited by GG1 4877

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