After nine weeks of trying various things, doing a good deal of "R&D" to lean what works, and building ten prototypes to discover what doesn't, I finally have learned how to design and built a completely satisfactory wire-following car for the new wire-guided roads I installed on my layout in place of the 'Streets Main Street I had had since 2007.  

I thought it fitting that this first vehicle I built be a former WBB 'Streets vehicle, so I used the body from police car version of WBB's sedan, since I wanted a police car to patrol my downtown area . . . .  The car in the photo below used to run on my layout with its WBB facgtory-made chassis, on rails in the 'Streets roadway.  Now it has a wire-following chassis designed and built entirely at home and ruyns on the wire-guide roadway I installed in place of streets earlier this year. 

The car was not that difficult to build (took about nine hours), but learning how and what to build it so it runs well was difficult.  It took nine weeks.  These wire guided cars are much more complex than, and "getting it right" is a lot more difficult that, with 'Streets vehicles.  Here it is running on the layout.  

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I built a second, identical chassis with white-wall tires.  Thus I can run any of the stock or modified  bodies I had by switching out the body for any of several stock or modified (WBB doesn't make a station wagon), which I saved for the WBB 'Streets vehicles I used to run on my layout.  Here are two of those bodies running on Main Street on the white-wall-tire chassis, which doesn't look good on the police car.

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The two chassis I made run very well: the cars cruise at a scale 23 mph smoothly and dependably for about 75 minutes before needing to be recharged.  Despite this I will build few other cars myself: mine run well but are noisier, and lack the speed control adjustment and the control/stop sensors that commercially made cars like those made my AutomotionFX and Faller (in Germany) have.  I will mostly stick with those.

What is important to me is in not the operating cars I have made, but what I learned in doing so.  I think I understand enough to understand the ins and outs of these cars, how they operate, how various factors like tire friction, weight distribution, motor power, steering tiller length, motor size and battery size/voltage affect operation, and how to successfully balance and engineer them.   But nonetheless, as I said, when I need more cars in the future, I will buy them commercially.  What I am going to work on now are vehicles that are not made by anyone: I want to see if I can convert bigger vehicles like scale O-Gauge buses and big rigs, to run on wire-guided roads, vehicles like these two guys . . .

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Video is at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbJpQ_BAtA8

Last edited by Lee Willis
Original Post

Lee, I have missed your posting over the last five years.  You have always come up with new and interesting ideas, I hope your back for good.  And thanks for all your input

Very nice again. 

I can't even imagine myself having the mechanical skills to do the sedans and sports cars you've shown so far, but I have to imagine doing that semi that will have to pivot properly to navigate the curves will be a whole other level.

I look forward to reading your updates as you try that one!

-Dave

Thanks for the update and video, Lee.  Good to see your creative juices flowing big-time once again.

It would be possible to add lights, but they would use battery power that would reduce the run time>  At least in initially I have decided to forego that.  It would be a nice touch, I have to say. 

@Lee Willis posted:

It would be possible to add lights, but they would use battery power that would reduce the run time>  At least in initially I have decided to forego that.  It would be a nice touch, I have to say. 

Very cool Lee the cars have a very realistic look and speed to them.

Have you considered painting the top of the tiller arm and magnet with the same paint as your roadbed to make it less conspicuous ?

 

 

Last edited by G-Man24
@Lee Willis posted:

 

What is important to me is in not the operating cars I have made, but what I learned in doing so.  I think I understand enough to understand the ins and outs of these cars, how they operate, how various factors like tire friction, weight distribution, motor power, steering tiller length, motor size and battery size/voltage affect operation, and how to successfully balance and engineer them.   

Lee, 

Welcome to powertrain engineering!  This precisely what engineers in this field do for a living.  I've been looking at these issues professionally for the last 30 yrs straight.  You'd be surprised how few there are in industry that really do this type of analysis (and even fewer that know what they are doing!)   

Fuel economy and emissions are huge drivers in trying to get the powertrain just right.  To your list I would add, engine (torque and logic control), torque converter design, transmission (gear ratio determination and logic control), final drive, tire size and inflation pressure, rolling resistance, Aerodynamics, gradeability, acceleration, top speed, trailer towing and a host of other parameters.   All of these elements are examined at nauseum about 3 - 5 yrs before actual production of a given model year.  

You've done a great job re-engineering the vehicle.

Could you give us a glimpse as to what the internals look like (either yours or the commercial products)?

Thanks!

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