My Bowser Turntable - a chronology of one of the centerpieces on my train layout

I thought there may be some interest in the history of my Bowser turntable now in it's 22nd year!

In November of 1996 I purchased a Bowser 22" turntable with the motorizing kit as well as their bridge girder kit.

July, 2004:  A couple of gears needed to be replaced. I also installed a Lionel TMCC Accessory Motor Controller (AMC) enabling cab 1 control - this was a great improvement! I also installed Bowser's upgraded "Bogies" (wheels that the turntable rides on) which was also another great improvement.

October, 2006: Bowser came out with an improved drive wheel shaft clamp that made securing the drive wheel to the drive shaft much better.

September, 2007: Bowser came out with an improved motorizing kit which made another big improvement to the operation of the turntable - 2 can driver motors plus an idler box (roller) for much smoother operation.

At this point, all worked very well and the turntable, now in it's third home worked very well. It survived the move from PA to CA in 2014.

Recently, one of the drive motors failed. I somehow managed to get it working again, but a few weeks later it quit.

Remembering that Millhouse Studios (Alan Zamorski) had a turntable drive upgrade kit available, I contacted him and ordered the new kit.

The kit was very easy to install and now my turntable works better that ever!

IMG_2940

Chief Engineer of The Gitler Central Coast Railroad

Three Dimensional Art In Motion With Sound ©

Member TCA, LCCA and LOTS

Happy Railroading!

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Original Post

Nice ST. You have made lots of good upgrades. My Bowser 22" is 1998 vintage and still operates with mostly original equipment, including a manual On-Off-On toggle switch for rotation. If ever the drive system crashes I would order up the Millhouse drive as well, most reports about it are quite positive. Yours looks very similar to mine because We both run O gauge tubular track.

Rod

We are never too old to learn something stupid....

You've done a really nice job with that Stangtrain.

I have a similar Bowser turntable, though slightly older from 1992. I think it's 24". It was installed in a layout when it was new, but within a year and a half was removed and the layout torn down. I carried it around for all this time, until I installed it in my current layout last year. It would be nice to make it functional, but it's more of a visual show piece.

It's in kind of rough shape, and needs all of the modifications you described.  It's in far from working order. The original plywood disc and its shaft collar were toast, and the friction drive never worked well. So I went to the local surplus store, and found a motor and some sprockets and a notched belt, with the intention of creating my own. I think I found a winning combination with low speed and high torque. I like the accessory motor controller idea to run it all from a cab-1.

Here's the "new" motor with its reduction gear set and sprocket.

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The belt and turntable shaft sprocket. I'll need to devise a mounting and spring tensioning system for this setup, but it should be pretty straight forward.

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Here's the installation. It's never been scenicked, it still looks like the day it was new.

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stangtrain posted:

I thought there may be some interest in the history of my Bowser turntable now in it's 22nd year!

In November of 1996 I purchased a Bowser 22" turntable with the motorizing kit as well as their bridge girder kit.

July, 2004:  A couple of gears needed to be replaced. I also installed a Lionel TMCC Accessory Motor Controller (AMC) enabling cab 1 control - this was a great improvement! I also installed Bowser's upgraded "Bogies" (wheels that the turntable rides on) which was also another great improvement.

October, 2006: Bowser came out with an improved drive wheel shaft clamp that made securing the drive wheel to the drive shaft much better.

September, 2007: Bowser came out with an improved motorizing kit which made another big improvement to the operation of the turntable - 2 can driver motors plus an idler box (roller) for much smoother operation.

At this point, all worked very well and the turntable, now in it's third home worked very well. It survived the move from PA to CA in 2014.

Recently, one of the drive motors failed. I somehow managed to get it working again, but a few weeks later it quit.

Remembering that Millhouse Studios (Alan Zamorski) had a turntable drive upgrade kit available, I contacted him and ordered the new kit.

The kit was very easy to install and now my turntable works better that ever!

IMG_2940

Stangtrain, I am glad you like the new performance out of your Bowser TT. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

CSX AL

 

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I had to add a ball bearing center shaft, 5/16, floating sprung bogies, a scale pit rail and lots of good bracing underneath. Also a PTC 3 indexing System....But, it does work. (Bowser 32 inch TT) ...If I were younger, I would invest in a Millhouse 34 in a System...Happy Railroading...541B22FF-EB22-4009-A169-C618F3180915D6968B45-45C5-4AEB-A80D-4DD2F1410B31A5F0CAB2-C37F-40B6-8CEC-66F9E2541DD31651BDDA-29AC-41E5-8B7E-B8245BA966E647A2799C-755F-434A-A4EA-93D195530880

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RJR posted:

Big boy, can you supply any info on the brands, models, of the parts you got to use the belt drive?

Sorry, wish I could, but I can't. I got that motor, sprockets and belts from the surplus store. I just sifted through the bins til I found what I thought would work.

The motor was chosen based on voltage and RPM's. The sprockets were chosen to fit the motor and turntable shaft diameters. The belt just went with the sprockets, and I bought a couple different lengths. The motor has a label on the other side, but I don't recall any real identification beyond ratings.

It came out of a larger mechanism, but I have no idea what it was. I'll take a picture next time I go downstairs, but I doubt it's going to be something you can just order up.

Bigboy, thanks.  I figured that would be the answer, but I tried.  I'm not aware of any such stores in the northern Virginia area.

Mike, you're right, a good chunk of dollars.  I don't know if my old Bowser has the mod Millhouse requires, or not.  And theirkinks to Bowser  no longer function.  I do recall shaftslippage was always a problem, and then I did something which cured it.  I don't recall if I added something from Bowser or actually drilled and pinned the shaft.

RJR, I can't imagine that you don't have a surplus store in your area. You may just not be aware of it. Mine is called "Ax-Man", and you can check them out HERE. I wouldn't be surprised if they had more of these motors, but it's like looking for a needle in a haystack. Part of the fun is sifting through all the weird stuff, and finding things you never knew you "needed".

I was thinking of taking a field trip to the hobby store Thursday, and the Ax-Man is just a mile away. Beside, I still need a few more parts for mine. If I do, I'll look for more of these motors, and just buy them on spec for anyone who wants one.

I tackled the TT this morning.  I have placed non-skid strips around the plywood wheel , and the rubber wheel on the motor grips it like iron.  But I had installed it when TT was in place, and job was sloppy.  Took TT onto workbench and fixed that up.  I noticed it rotated very stiffly. So with much sledge hammering and Moto-Tool cutting, I got it apart.  Appears as if the zinc/steel fittings had swollen, making them very tight to the shaft even with screws removed.  But for some reason the brass shaft was seizing inside the steel bushing.  I'm going to do a rebuild of the shafting and see what happens, before I spring for an upgrade motor kit.  Incidentally, Ross Switches also makes one, $275.  Friction drive

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RJR, that is a great idea for allowing better friction between the motor and the round board that turns the bridge.  Although I had that issue with my Bowser 32 inch TT, I was able to get a welded plate (6 inches by 2 inches) and use a 5/16 Steel shaft that ridgedly allowed very little if any shifting of the bridge during turning. Also, went with the PTC 3 stepper motor with touch pad settings. If I were going to keep my layout, which probably will be sold in the next 3 years, I would invest in the best, MILLHOUSE TT.  Pictures are of Farmerjohns Layout in Kentucky. It’s a 34 inch Millhouse TT. The roundhouse is a Korber...10 stall, and the doors open and close via tortoise switch motors....Enjoy.613EE34C-4A40-42CC-A3C5-9BC40832E328375A9E32-43E8-4017-8ECF-F520242AEF09966D9CA9-319C-47FC-BB80-1BC21084A8812CAEDC76-8DB9-42F1-899A-C061A754A9C085052D06-66DD-4EA5-87D7-10918A5CE01B

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Hal, I haven't, but LEDs and light sensors offer a possibility.  As explained in a threas a few years ago, I jave converted all my operating cars to use loght sensors ratherthan slide shoes.  They only open when the car is properly positioned at the coal or log dock.  I am confident that the tolerance could be tightened up,

I still can't figure out why the brass shaft of my Bowser would have gotten very tight in the steel bushing.  I could understand the clamps swelling and reducing the ID of the shaft holes, since they seem to have been zinc,  but the 5/16" brass shaft and matching steel bushing shouldn't change.  Right now my plan is to make new shaft to table/disc clamps out of aluminum, drill through them and the new 5/16" shaft (aluminum preferred over steel for ease of drilling), and use roll pins. 

The Diamond Scale design, corrected the Bowser flaw.  It is/was extremely difficult to get a large turning device perfectly level.  A floating bridge, resting on the pit rail.  Turning block, floats with the bridge. 

The turntable bridge is transported in a separate box.  two electrical connections are required. 

 

 

RJR posted:

Hal, I haven't, but LEDs and light sensors offer a possibility.  As explained in a threads a few years ago, I have converted all my operating cars to use light sensors rather than slide shoes.  They only open when the car is properly positioned at the coal or log dock.  I am confident that the tolerance could be tightened up,

I still can't figure out why the brass shaft of my Bowser would have gotten very tight in the steel bushing. 

The smaller 5/16" shaft would bend, Diamond scale used a larger 7/16" shaft/bushing.  I had this shaft and horizontal drive bar fabricated.  Bowser Pit rail boggies were not position to roll smoothly on the pit ring.  Note: the pit rail/boggies/wheel alignment.  I could understand the clamps swelling and reducing the ID of the shaft holes, since they seem to have been zinc,  but the 5/16" brass shaft and matching steel bushing shouldn't change.  Right now my plan is to make new shaft to table/disc clamps out of aluminum, drill through them and the new 5/16" shaft (aluminum preferred over steel for ease of drilling), and use roll pins.  Shaft should be at least 7/16" steel. IMO.   Diamond Scale has a 7/16" thrust bushing.   The pit rail is anything but perfectly level, even with my fabricated TT.   As the bridge turns, with a strait, or slightly bent shaft, rigidly attached to the bridge, there are points where it will bind/stop/ or at least operate slower.  Floating attachment is a big plus. 

 

No doubt 7/16" would be better than 5/16", but then I'd have to find another bushing.  I notice that the TT pix above show that TT rides on flangeless wheels, which means you do need a sturdy shaft to hold the TT in place.  I do want to avoid spending $$ for fabricators.  There would reach a point where it would be better to buy one of the Ross or Millhouse TTs complete.  I haven't seen any recent ads from Diamond Scale, so wonder if they are in business.

No question that the Bowser doesn't compare to the current TTs in quality.  It was an economical design when nothing else was available, 20+ years ago.

 

RJR posted:

No doubt 7/16" would be better than 5/16", but then I'd have to find another bushing.  I notice that the TT pix above show that TT rides on flangeless wheels, which means you do need a sturdy shaft to hold the TT in place.  No, the floating bridge positioned over a block (of wood) is tightly aligned, but still moves up/down, I did some micro adjustment with masking tape at the ends of the block of wood.  Turns a true circle.   I do want to avoid spending $$ for fabricators.  There would reach a point where it would be better to buy one of the Ross or Millhouse TTs complete.  I haven't seen any recent ads from Diamond Scale, so wonder if they are in business.

No question that the Bowser doesn't compare to the current TTs in quality.  It was an economical design when nothing else was available, 20+ years ago.

Diamond Scale parts list. 

Diamond Scale website.

Merry Christmas.  

 

 

Here's an update:  With the friction wheel, the Bowser worked quite well, and then it seemed to slow down more and more.  The Bowser motor had a very poor setup for the brushes..  Hard to describe.  The brushes were on long copper bands that pivoted on insulated screws.  Opposite the pivot points a single spring held the two brushes apart.  The spring slid on a fiber(?) strip that had a lip to keep the spring from touching one brush.  The spring lost tension and had trouble keeping the brushes against the commutator.  Then the fiber strip failed.  I took the gearbox apart and found an MTH loco motor would fit, but couldn't get the worm gear off.

I gave up and ordered a Ross conversion kit, with a gearbox, decent motor, ribbed belt, and ribbed large wooden drive gear.  The gear went on the shaft with no trouble, and has a decently sized set screw.  Works great.  Seems to be excellent quality. Rather than using the power supply that comes with the kit and requires 120-volt access that is not available, I'm using my existing 18-volt feed for the Bowser motor, with rectifier & DPDT monetary switch, to which I'm adding a PWM control.

I'd have bought the entire turntable but it has a larger frame than the Bowser did and I can't spare the few inches.  I also reworked the turntable track so it's slightly longer than the turntable, as someone did above.  Not noticeable unless you look very closely, and now a few more of my large steamers can be turned.

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