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Looking for recommendations on a lift-out bridge. Considering expanding my upper layout loop but this will block a doorway. I would need to be able to remove the bridge and the resulting gap would need to be 30+ inches wide in the event that I need to replace a washer or dryer, haha!

I use Lionel Fastrack so their Fastrack bridge is compelling. Figured I would ask folks here first as I know this challenge has been addressed numerous times.

Thanks for the help!

Chris RBP

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You can buy a bridge kit with a hinge (they aren't cheap) from Bridgeboss or Trainlayouts.com (both forum sponsors I agree), they aren't cheap, but they have bridges that can meet the bill.

My current thoughts ,fwiw.

1)Use a hinged bridge to allow it to be swung up. Some of the bridge makers have a hinge kit to make it turnkey.

2)Use a 'drop bridge' that is the opposite of an 'up bridge'. The late Jim Barrett had articles describing his build, should be in Ogaugrr archives.

3)A bridge you physically lift out of place and then put back.

4)A bridge that can be raised up (like a prototype lift bridge). Would love to do that, but with a low ceiling in my basement not sure it would work.

I am leaning towards 3) above. I would have pins that would fit into the base support to make sure it is aligned. The other thing is having power get to the bridge, I'll prob use contacts in the base for the negative and positive power.  My opening is 33", so not huge, will be a double track bridge.  Downside is any time you handle it, could cause damage.

Assuming you want a lift-out that incorporates a railroad bridge and not a hinged bridge, I like to start with cutting a 1" thick (nominal) board (I like oak, but it's pricey, now) wide enough to incorporate the bridge. The board would be cut to the length of the opening and the bridge would be shorter than the board. 

Think about how you're going to mount the bridge to the board. I use locating pins at each end of the board to insure the board can be easily lifted out for door access. You will need to run power to the track on the lift-out. I use Anderson Power Pole connectors at each end to supply power. They are a strong connection, but can be readily disconnected if you need to lift out the bridge. Essentially, you will have a paired wire running underneath the bridge which will be the length of the bridge and connect at each end to your power connectors.

You also need to consider how you are going to get the power from that wire up to the track on the bridge. I like using T-taps which you can drill for through the bridge and board to connect to the underneath power wire. Using Fastrack helps because the underside has + / - male tabs for which you can use female .110 connectors.

I like to run the track at each end about 2" over the end and cut the bridge track and the main layout track at about a 45 degree angle with a thin Dremel blade.

Hope this helps.

I didn't use a model railroad bridge for the below project, but it could have been easily incorporated.

New Winter Project - Final Update 7-5-22 | O Gauge Railroading On Line Forum (ogaugerr.com)

   

@Chris1985  You are a strong still flexible young guy. Just do the lift out. 

Just a disclaimer - these are not fancy but they do the job intended.

I have 3 bridges right behind each other. One is a hinge (swing out with an MTH bridge) the other 2 are lift outs (one has a Lionel girder bridge). Just put pins or some kind of mating element to keep the sections aligned when moved. I used audio jacks to provide power, easily unplugged, others have done more complex connections. Also include a kill switch to remove power from the track section. I've had a couple of near crashes when I forgot to put a bridge back in place and started running trains. I also suggest using flat head screws to provide leveling adjustments in case you get any flexing or warping (humidity changes) between the deck and bridge.

Two of the bridges before adding superstructure. 1x4 pine. I just made side cradles to keep the section in place horizontally.

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Power wire soldered to the track. The wire goes to banana plug jacks so I can easily disconnect if needed.  As it is, it can easily lift out and lay on the other rails.

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Because this is cobbled together, I needed a method to adjust the height of the sections. This is where I used the flat headed screws. This kind of looks nasty - but it worked so I went on to other things.

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I tried making a swing out with a post. This worked, but not great, so I took it out and did a lift out.

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Note the Lionel bridge does not have much clearance. I raised it about 3/4 of an inch and got rid of  the metal base plate. The bottom girder is sitting on the 3/4 "shim" which is then screwed into the deck. I used the screw holes used to attach to the metal base plate for attaching to the "shim"

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So I you keep everything low enough, the bridges provide plenty of parking spaces for creative kids. Yours may be past this point age wise. Jeff

Breaking News Photoryan with trains

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I’m going to offer my two cents.

I have been using Fastrack for my layout also. While there is a little extra wiring I need to do, I actually like it. Anyway, my around the walls semi-permanent layout crosses an isle. I tried working with a piece of lumber and cutting the track to allow it to be removable. It worked, but I didn’t like it.  I wasn’t happy with the finished product. I also didn’t want to put a lot more effort into it. I wanted to run trains. I looked for another solution.

I knew that Lionel had a YouTube video with Mike Reagan covering their Extended Truss Bridge 6-82110. I watched the video a couple times and I dove in. I found a good price and bought it. I added the Lionel plate girder bridge to one end as they showed in the video. I built up the platform I needed, added the bridge, and done. It snaps on and off easily, it spans a nice distance, it’s versatile, and it is well built.

While all the choices here are great, for my situation and the ease of use, the Lionel bridge works well.

Take a look at the video Mike made.

https://youtu.be/KeX7AGurYKI

Here's a suggestion for wiring the bridge track. The idea comes from Eric Siegel (who you are familiar with). He has a hinged Atlas truss bridge on his layout. He attached hinges to the bridge so it basically works as a bascule bridge. He had a really great wiring idea to power the bridge. He soldered the wires to the hinges. One hinge is the hot lead from the center rail of the track, and the other is the ground. The two hinges are obviously isolated.

Another method of energizing the rails is thru square brass dowels and micro switches for safely de-energizing rails on both sides of a void.

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The use of doubled cabinet magnets help secure the bridge.  Can be used as a single or double.

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Single use magnet seen below:

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The East abutment dowel powered the + rail the West dowel powered the - rail.  Wires were soldered to the opposite end of the male/female dowels for connections to the buss or rail.

The rocker switch is used for cutting power to tracks on each side of the opening.

In the 18 years of using these setups on many RRs there has never been an interruption or hesitation of power delivery.

Armchair critics have scorned this method in their one and only visit.

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Last edited by Tom Tee

I am another to recommend a lift bridge for this situation.  Here are some shots of mine and like John, I used brass strips to make the electrical connections, solid on this side and flexible on the bridge side to make contact,.  I have several circuits, hence the number of strips.

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@Chris1985 posted:

Looking for recommendations on a lift-out bridge. Considering expanding my upper layout loop but this will block a doorway. I would need to be able to remove the bridge and the resulting gap would need to be 30+ inches wide in the event that I need to replace a washer or dryer, haha!

I use Lionel Fastrack so their Fastrack bridge is compelling. Figured I would ask folks here first as I know this challenge has been addressed numerous times.

Thanks for the help!

Chris RBP

Chris1985,

Check out the motorized access bridge my friend Nick made at the middle and end of this blog post:

"Friend's Layouts" Installment#4, Plus a Lionel T-Rail Track Primer Bonus! (warrenvillerailroad.com)

To add to my earlier post, I took a couple pictures of my installed bridge.  Forgive some of the painting and weather work - it’s not done yet.

The Lionel bridge makes contact on each abutment in two ways. First, there is a pin each rail lies upon when the bridge is in place. Also, there is a metal sprung contact below each rail.
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To Secure the bridge in place, there are pins on the bottom of each expansion joint  Also, the rail, being Fastrack, sets inside mod the track pins (this can be somewhat seen in pic 1).

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Now I am not going to say there aren’t some drawbacks. This bridge is not permanently hinged like some of the custom bridges and tables above. It’s either in or out, and for me that works fine. When I don’t need it and I am not using the trains, I place it to the side. When I am running the trains, I put it in place. My track is about 40” from the floor, so I can also duck under if needed.

I needed to paint the bridge abutments. The color they ship in is not prototypical or natural. I needed them gray, so I took the time and painted them. I will be doing light weathering on the whole bridge when I have time  

The bridge being Fastrack doesn’t matter for me. I use Fastrack now, and if I need to change in the future, I’ll buy an adapter track. This bridge is too nice to not use on another layout. It may not be Atlas detail, but it is solid metal frame with a few plastic details. It easily holds all my trains from 611 to 4014.

I am promoting this bridge because I think Lionel did a great job on it. I would definitely buy another if needed. I like the product, it works, and I am happy.  It may not work for all, but it definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.

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Another recommendation for the Fastrack truss bridge. Have one on my layout bridging the entrance to the interior and it's fantastic. Obviously integrates well with Fastrack. Probably the only concern would be that it's only ~30" long, which may not be enough for a doorway, especially if you think you may need to eventually get appliances through.

You can configure two of them together but a pier in the middle is required. Maybe you could trim down the plastic base of that middle pier (or replace it with your own custom connector piece), lock both bridges to the central pier/connector, add some strength to the bottom of the whole thing so it doesn't sag, and treat it as one big lift out bridge? Might be too long at that point, though

@PeterA posted:

I am another to recommend a lift bridge for this situation.  Here are some shots of mine and like John, I used brass strips to make the electrical connections, solid on this side and flexible on the bridge side to make contact,.  I have several circuits, hence the number of strips.

IMG_4014IMG_5075IMG_5076IMG_5077

I like the long dowel keeping the bridge open.

Hopefully, the cat doesn't come along and knock it out of place or you might end up with some crushed Dept. 56 buildings !

A lift gate did not make sense to me.

In my application I only needed a drop down to get through. Jumper wires with slack are soldered in place on the drop-down hinge end. Since its all modular, I use spring speaker terminals on the other sections. A chest latch along with a sliding door bolt secures and aligns the track the sections together.

Very quick in and out during operation! Never had an issue with this design. I say, let it hang.

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Pics of my solution. Since I took these pics, I have added some LEDs on the arms, and have a circuit to blink them. Used a magnetic switch like @Tom Tee posted, and some relays, to kill track power and turn off blinking LEDs on arms when walkthru is open. Since opening is hinged, use wire from fixed table to opening top for track power and blinking LEDs.

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