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I have been working on my new layout for several weeks - doing benchwork, running bus wires, working on track layout, etc.  I decided to tackle the power center before actually laying track and went with, what I think, is a creative way to mount and operate the ZW-L.  The "reveal-a-shelf" brackets are used in kitchens, generally for mixers (up to 60 pounds) to be stored out of sight in a cupboard.  I figured it would work for my transformer and Legacy command base.  When ready to use, simply pull the shelf up and out until it locks.  When finished, pull the levers and lower it out of the way.

The sides of the cabinet house the Power Bricks for the outer 3 tracks, which will be Legacy only.  The ZW-L will handle the inner 2 loops and allow for the option of command or conventional control, and control 2 accessory bus lines.

Dennis

Command Center 1Command Center 2Command Center 4Command Center 5Command Center 6Command Center 7Command Center 8

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Last edited by dennish
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Mark,

I was watching your progress, with interest, as you built your lift bridge.  I have a 32" span that I am going to attempt to put lift in.  It will contain 5 curved portions of track, so it should be interesting to design.  I would like to put it on a linear actuator with a joystick, but we shall see as things progress.

Lift Bridge Opening 1Lift Bridge Opening 2

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John,

What does the hinge mechanism look like for that lift "panel"?  As you may not know, I used "dennis" benchwork for mine !  But, I bet the lifting aspect could be tailored to fit my lift panel.  I figured on laying the track out on the hinged section, securing it down, and then cutting the track in strategic places.  It all sounds good!

The layout (13' by 32') is split into two halves right above the control panel and on the other end where the lift section will be.  On the outer 3 loops, there is a separate 180 watt power brick for each half of each loop - which are mounted on each side of the power center.  I wanted conventional control on the inner two loops and the ZW-L gives that option, as well as command control if I choose.

Dennis

Chuck, it may indeed bite me in the future, but I have it working well right now.   In trying to fit the track plan in, that's where it ended up.  I originally was using four switches there for a double cross-over, but as you can see, adding the inside loop and the siding on the other side made it necessary to come up with another solution.  This is what I started with...

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@dennish posted:

John,

What does the hinge mechanism look like for that lift "panel"?  As you may not know, I used "dennis" benchwork for mine !  But, I bet the lifting aspect could be tailored to fit my lift panel.  I figured on laying the track out on the hinged section, securing it down, and then cutting the track in strategic places.  It all sounds good!

The layout (13' by 32') is split into two halves right above the control panel and on the other end where the lift section will be.  On the outer 3 loops, there is a separate 180 watt power brick for each half of each loop - which are mounted on each side of the power center.  I wanted conventional control on the inner two loops and the ZW-L gives that option, as well as command control if I choose.

Dennis

There's no "hinge", the lift-bridge comes straight up.  Here it is up, down, and just before the tracks mate.  It actually moves on what appears to be heavy-duty drawer slides.  Once you get everything leveled, the bridge is quite precise in it's mating, and I've had no problem with the tracks lining up properly when it's down.  I actually have the tracks on the bridge slightly overhanging the edge to insure I don't catch the stationary sections of track with the moving bridge.  There is a cable system and winch motor that raises and lowers the span.  The cable loop you see along the sides bring the power and switch controls to the stuff on the bridge.

Lift-Bridge Raised (Open)

Lift-Bridge N1



Lift-Bridge Lowered (Closed)

Lift-Bridge N2



Lift-Bridge Just Before Mating On Closing

Lift-Bridge N3

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Speaking of power centers, here's my control center with power and command/WiFi systems.

I run 98% command, so I have the PH180 bricks.  For conventional, I have the two variable channels on the MTH TIU, one on the mainline and one on sidings. Along the top row are the DCS Perpetual Watchdog generators for everything but the mainline.

All my DZ-2500 switch machines come to the punch-down blocks near the bottom.  Right now the wiring is in flux, I'm working on a fix for the serial data issues for the CSM2 LCS boxes so I can clean up the wiring and lose the DZ-1002 Data Driver.  The relay boards at the top are for switching power to sidings remotely.  Most of my control wiring is CAT5 Ethernet cable.

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John,

I like the lift, but I don't think I would be able to create something of that nature from scratch!  It sure does look nice and it is functional.  There were several threads on the forum about using hinged sections and linear actuators to lift the section.  That was my plan.  I can still crawl on my hands and knees (for now) but you never know what the future holds.  This should be the last layout I build for myself !

I decided to stay away from the TIU (cost, availability, ignorance, etc.) and actually prefer to use just the Legacy remote for controlling trains.  For my MTH locomotives, I have no problems running them conventionally.

I can barely make a phone call on my phone, let alone use it to run trains !!!!!  So the Wi-Fi option was a no brainer for me - literally !

But, I do like your control center - out of the way, but accessible !

I have no issue crawling under today, but the lift bridge was for tomorrow.  As you say, you never know what tomorrow brings!

For the space you have for your lift gate, I don't know that you could use the Mianne lift bridge, it assumes you have a foot on either side of the actual lift section for the fixed portion of the structure.  This is what the whole kit looks like, the lift section can be anything from around 24" wide to what I have 48" wide.  The depth is also variable, mine is as wide as they allow as well.

The good part of my power and control panels is they don't have to be accessible for everyday running.  Everything runs from the Legacy/TMCC and DCS remotes, and I also have the WiFi capability for both MTH and Lionel.  I'll be using the LCS on the iPad for controlling the switches and having a visual indication of all the route settings is nice. One cool feature of the LCS WiFi is my computer has direct access to the Legacy base via the Legacy System Utility (LSU) application.  I can do base backups, add and delete engines and their descriptions, accessories, switches, routes, etc., all from a full keyboard.  Doing this on the CAB2 is a PITA, so I really appreciate how easy it is to do it with the computer.

My transformer power control and any required circuit breaker resets all happen from my little power controller.  I can reset any of the four PH180 from this remote and also kill power to the entire layout.  I have four of these, usually when operating I keep one in my pocket.

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Yes, I put the bridge down, laid all the track, and then used the Dremel with a 90 degree cutting adapter to cut the rails.

I haven't done anything to protect against the bridge being up, it's a fairly complicated issue.  There are three power districts represented by the bridge tracks, each would have to be individually switched.  Given this is a fairly small space, I'm just counting on not having stupid people running trains and manipulating the bridge.  I can always kill the power to the lift bridge for any operating session if I feel the need to protect against inadvertent bridge openings.  So far, there's only been a handful of people over, and they've all been smart enough not to raise the bridge when a train is trying to cross.

@dennish posted:

Mark,

I was watching your progress, with interest, as you built your lift bridge.  I have a 32" span that I am going to attempt to put lift in.  It will contain 5 curved portions of track, so it should be interesting to design.  I would like to put it on a linear actuator with a joystick, but we shall see as things progress.

Lift Bridge Opening 1Lift Bridge Opening 2

Dennis, a curved lift up bridge would look great!  I’ll look forward to seeing your progress!

@mike g. posted:

I would show you my lift, but I am sure you already seen it. LOL

Yes, Dennis has seen mine and it is an adaptation of Mike’s.

Dennis I do want to say you are smart in planning ahead for a time when you may not be as able as you are now.  When I started planning my current layout, I specified it had to be either walk-in or have a lift up entrance, with arm reach access to everything.  I was 61 and could still crawl around and wiggle into tight spots.  When I was 63, I had to have a knee replacement, and I can’t put my weight on it ever again.  Two weeks ago I had a double back fusion, and I am not quite 65 yet.  I didn’t have any accidents; all of it was described by the surgeons as wear and tear.  What a difference in less than 4 years.  I’m glad I planned for the future!!!!!

@Mark Boyce posted:

I was 61 and could still crawl around and wiggle into tight spots.  When I was 63, I had to have a knee replacement, and I can’t put my weight on it ever again.  Two weeks ago I had a double back fusion, and I am not quite 65 yet.  I didn’t have any accidents; all of it was described by the surgeons as wear and tear.  What a difference in less than 4 years.  I’m glad I planned for the future!!!!!

I guess at close to 78 and still able to crawl under the layout I don't have any complaints to lodge!   However, planning for the future was what the lift bridge was all about, I'm suspect my "flexible" days are living on borrowed time.

I guess at close to 78 and still able to crawl under the layout I don't have any complaints to lodge!   However, planning for the future was what the lift bridge was all about, I'm suspect my "flexible" days are living on borrowed time.

John, you have done well.  I took my dad to the doctor with a sore knee when he was in his late 80s, and one steroid shot fixed him right up.  I have not fared as well as he has because arthritis is getting me everywhere.  He would get sore muscles from working on things, but after a day resting, he was back at it.  I have to plan for the future differently than he did.

John,

I have that remote that you pictured and plan to use it to control my Lemax rides.

Just how are you able to reset the 180 bricks from a dead short.  I would think you would need to press the circuit breaker back in.

Based on your answer I should be able to reset a  dead short on my ZW-L without having to press the circuit breaker back in.

On my Pyle rack mount power strip, switches 3 through 8 each control one PH180 brick. Simply switching them on and off, in the event of a short, does the trick.  Switch 1 controls the Legacy system, switch 2 controls the ZW-L, and switch 9 controls the Legacy expansion remote.

Now, controlling each of THOSE switches with a remote would be cool !

Command Center 6

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Last edited by dennish
@dennish posted:

Now, controlling each of THOSE switches with a remote would be cool !

No problem, this is what I use.  One kills the whole layout, the other four individually control the PH180 bricks.

DEWENWILS Remote Control Outlet,15A/1875W (2 Remotes + 5 Outlets Set)

I actually bought more remotes for these so I could have scattered around within easy reach all around the layout.

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No problem, this is what I use.  One kills the whole layout, the other four individually control the PH180 bricks.

DEWENWILS Remote Control Outlet,15A/1875W (2 Remotes + 5 Outlets Set)

I actually bought more remotes for these so I could have scattered around within easy reach all around the layout.

I can vouch for these.  After I saw John post these the first time I bought them and they are fantastic.  For my AV system I have two devices behind my AV cabinets amidst a maze of wires.  One click and they are powered on instead of reaching behind to flip an on-off cube tap.

Thanks John,

John

When you turn off the power to the PH180 brick, that resets the breaker.  When you turn it back on, if the short is cleared, all is well.  To reset them I just turn them off and right back on, same as pushing the button.

So, if you have a short, once the short is resolved,  there is no need to press in the circuit breaker as mentioned on page 10 of the instruction manual just turn off and turn on the power.  Nice feature.

Too bad that will not work with the ZW-L.  Once you have a dead short and the circuit breaker is activated you need to turn off the power resolve the short press in the circuit breaker and then turn the power back on.

Well, I can't help with the ZW-L, I don't own one.  However, the ZW-L should normally not trip the thermal breaker, doesn't it have fold-back current limiting?

Your Lionel ZW-L is equipped with three levels of overload protection: dynamic power limiting, foldback
current limit, and circuit breakers. Each output has its own fold-back current limit and circuit
breaker. The dynamic power limiting is applied across all four outputs. This provides multi-layer protection
for your trains and transformer while supplying the maximum power possible for pulling lighted cars or
fighting over grades with heavy loads.

And their take on the actual physical circuit breakers, seems they assume the electronic current limiting will deal with most overloads.

The circuit breakers on the ZW-L Transformer are designed as a fail-safe for the electronic over-current
protection. Because most problems will be protected by and corrected during fold-back mode operation
(described in the previous section), circuit breakers should be tripped infrequently.

Seems like a power cycle would cure 90% of the ZW-L overload issues as well.

A look at the wiring!  The ABSOLUTE BEST piece of advice I have gotten on the forum is to run as many wires as possible BEFORE the deck is put on!  Much easier access!

Wiring 1Wiring 2Wiring 4

I decide to remove the grounding bars and use the remaining spots on the barrier strip for grounding.  There is a picture of a completed "feeder station" below.  There are a total of 18 of those for the layout.

Wiring 11Wiring 12

The before and after photos of a "feeder drop station".

Feeder Drop 1

Feeder Drop 3Feeder Drop 2

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dennish, you obviously have an excellent, detailed plan and your execution is first rate. Well done! One of my goals is to wire everything before laying the plywood surface as you have.

I can get under things and crawl around but I have to stretch for 30 minutes first. (I have to stretch to get out of bed.) It would be nice if one of the writers here on OGR came up with some kind of physical warm up program for model railroaders.

I agree: Wiring before the deck goes on is the way to go! I did that with the both levels of my new layout. Unfortunately, I've changed the wiring plan significantly for the upper lever. It is no fun making those connections with the frames in position and the decks installed! Contortion City!

Hmmm... I may have just renamed the town!

Chris

LVHR

Some track laying pictures:

I made a couple of jigs to keep the straight runs "straight-ish".  I have 2 runs of about 20 feet each that are essentially straight, so I figured it was worth the investment in time to make these.  The holes in the jig are for drilling holes in the deck for wire drops.  Because I am laying track on short-napped carpet (a sin for some people on the forum ), I heat up the drill bit with a torch and drill the holes through the template and I get no puling of fiber in the carpet.  Works like a charm!  We have run trains on carpet for our club for years and never once have I ever had to pull carpet fibers out of a locomotive.  I see it as instant ballast.  It looks great against green carpet for grass or brown carpet for "summer grass".

Dennis

Track Guide 1Track Guide 2Track Guide 4Track Guide 5Track Guide 6Track Guide 7Track Guide 9Track Guide 10Track Guide 12

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Thanks to all for the kind words and encouragement!  As a high school mathematics teacher, I always tell my students to plan your work and work your plan!  I try to model that motto in what I do, as well.  I generally build things 100 times in my head before I actually start the physical labor.  It is one way to occupy my mind when my wife does not go with me on afternoon walks with the dog !

The track plan is simple - 5 concentric, around-the-room loops on a 13' by 32' layout.  The scenery will consist of Lemax/Department 56 buildings and figures, for the most part.  I've done the detailed, high-rail scenery on my previous layout and it gets to be overwhelming, so much so that I felt I would never get done!  This way, my wife, who likes to help decorate the layout at club events can help on the home layout, too.  She has no interest in the high-rail scenery either !

The outer loop is O120, followed by a mix of O120 and O96 for loop 4, a mix of O96 and O81 for loop 3,  O81 and O72 for loop 2, and O72 for loop 1.  Should be able to run the Lionel Big Boy and Challenger at the same time on the outer 2 loops!  I had to move the outer loop because of a clearance issue, but at least I caught it now!

Loops 1 and 2 will be controlled by a ZW-L, and loops 3, 4, and 5 are command only, controlled by two PH180's each.

The cable management - I am just fussy !

Dennis

Last edited by dennish

Mark, there are 5 tracks crossing the lift section.

When you installed your linear actuator, what type of switch did you use?  Do you have a switch on either side of the lift, like a three-way light switch?  I am going to use two joysticks, one on the inside of the layout and on on the outside.  I didn't know if you had any advice on the best way to install switches for this.

Terry, for sure the hinges are above the rail level. Thanks for the advice!

Dennis

@dennish posted:

Mark, there are 5 tracks crossing the lift section.

When you installed your linear actuator, what type of switch did you use?  Do you have a switch on either side of the lift, like a three-way light switch?  I am going to use two joysticks, one on the inside of the layout and on on the outside.  I didn't know if you had any advice on the best way to install switches for this.

Terry, for sure the hinges are above the rail level. Thanks for the advice!

Dennis

Dennis, I thought about two three way switches, but decided I only need one on-off or in this case, down-up switch.  My thinking was, when I am outside the center of the layout, the bridges will always be up until I walk through to the center.  Then I would throw the switch mounted on the inner operating area of the layout to lower the bridges.  The switch is easy reach to raise the bridges to get out.

That is how I did it.  Actually that would only make sense if there was no reason to operate a train from the short, narrow aisle as I enter the room, or if the door entering the room was right at the layout edge where the bridges are, like Mike G. has.  So, I have actually set myself up to lower the bridges by reaching under them if I want to stand in that aisle to operate trains.  I’ll see how it works out in normal operations and change to two switches if what I have doesn’t work out well.

I guess at close to 78 and still able to crawl under the layout I don't have any complaints to lodge!   However, planning for the future was what the lift bridge was all about, I'm suspect my "flexible" days are living on borrowed time.

GRJ

Medical Science often comes to the rescue of hobbyists who want/need to scramble under their train layout and extend their hands-on worktime/playtime years with trains. Now 81, I applied another option -- I hire Imeril Johnson (a young hobbyist, now a college student) as a helper when I have a THINGS TO DO list. He does the under-the-table tasks and I do the above-the-table work. An inter-generational solution!

Mike Mottler    LCCA 12394

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My son Nicholas, who is a member here on the forum (I think he calls himself the Hebanator, a take-off of what my students call me at school) knows more about the "above-the-table" operations.  Below the table, he seems to lose interest.  And he knows enough about running trains to keep me in the "non-profit" repair business for life !

My son, who will be entering into his sophomore year of college this fall, is interning for a theater company this summer.   About a month ago they asked for volunteers to build the set.  My son, who has ZERO experience, volunteered but let them know up front he had no experience.   'No problem' they said.  He spent about 15 hours over a Saturday and Sunday helping them out.  Said he learned a lot.  Being on the autistic spectrum he can be a person of few words so I thought nothing of his response.

Two weeks later was Father's Day and like most weekends, I had a baseball game to umpire and away I went.  When I came home and after I had showered and changed my son tells me my Father's Day gift is down the basement.   A bit befuddled, down the basement I went....and found he'd done this while I was umpiring:

He knew I had to build benchwork for the new layout around a support post and figured he'd save me some time!! So whoever taught him the weekend he spent building the set obviously did a great job!

You never know!  And no, he's not into trains at all.

Dennis - Thanks for your idea on alignment pins - I never would have thought of it and ordered a set from Amazon as I will need a lift out section myself.

-Greg

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Last edited by Greg Houser
@dennish posted:

Greg,

No problem!  I'd like to see some close-ups of the joints/corners of the benchwork.  It looks good!  Drill holes and run bus wires before you put the top deck on.  It REALLY helps!!!!

Thank-you Dennis.  Here's a quick shot of the corners - just screws and wood glue:

I have sawhorses with built-in slots which hold 2" diameter lumber.  I made a jig to support the square frame to make it 38' from the ground and from there you can use shims to make sure it's level.  Once level, the legs are attached.  I cut 8' lengths of lumber in half and once attached the excess length on the top is just sawed off.   Essentially, I'm just following the steps Jim Barrett set forth in his book.  My son didn't realize I was using glue so there's no glue in the pic above and he did something a bit different with the section around the pole.  He built a smaller box to the left of the pole and then attached the final side once to complete.  That's why you see clamps attaching the 2 sections - that's how he kept it level.   I have to attach a couple of strong-ties to hold the sections together and then I will remove the clamps.   With 2 sections attached it's plenty strong enough without the glue. 

The flat support joists near the floor will be used as shelf supports for storage.  Essentially, all the boxes you see on the shelves along the basement wall in the first photo will be under the layout - they'll be empty by then so it won't be much weight.   I'm using 2" thick 4x8 foam boards for the layout top as it's easier to do scenery and it will not need to support the weight of a human. 

And yes, I will be either drilling holes in the benchwork or attaching cable clamps in order to string all the bus wires before putting on the layout top.  I plan for 5 bus lines - 1 common, 1 each for the 3 track loops, and one for accessories.  My switches will be hand thrown.    I will also blatantly steal your idea of feeder stations! Never thought of that and it's much easier to attach multiple accessories to to the feeder station and only have 1 tap to the common and hot bus wires.

I look forward to seeing trains running on all 5 loops of your layout - that will be some sight!

-Greg

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I recommend you rethink the single common, especially if you run DCS.  I'd run separate common for each track loop and the accessories.

John - The single common was based off of the recommendation of Mike Reagan in an instructional video he did back when he worked for Lionel.  That being said, you've never steered me wrong so if you are recommending a common for each, I'd be a fool to not heed your advice! Consider it done.  Thanks for the help!

-Greg

@Greg Houser posted:

John - The single common was based off of the recommendation of Mike Reagan in an instructional video he did back when he worked for Lionel.  That being said, you've never steered me wrong so if you are recommending a common for each, I'd be a fool to not heed your advice! Consider it done.  Thanks for the help!

I doubt Mike Reagan was considering DCS when he recommended that!

I recommend you rethink the single common, especially if you run DCS.  I'd run separate common for each track loop and the accessories.

John,

I have always been of the "common ground" school.  Is this concept changing?  I run Legacy only, with 180 watt power bricks and a ZW-L.  I ran a common ground for the entire layout - all 5 tracks.  Was this a mistake?

Dennis

@Greg Houser posted:

The ironic thing is that's what I had on my last layout (though it was only 2 loops and half the size) and I had no issues even with all the switches and accessories wired via an AIU.   Obviously, that was just pure dumb luck. 

The AIU control isn't the issue, it's the track signal that's the issue.  The AIU is connected directly to the TIU and to the switches & accessories, no track signal issues there.

@dennish posted:

I have always been of the "common ground" school.  Is this concept changing?  I run Legacy only, with 180 watt power bricks and a ZW-L.  I ran a common ground for the entire layout - all 5 tracks.  Was this a mistake?

IMO, that is a mistake, but the proof will be in the running of any MTH DCS locomotives.

The AIU control isn't the issue, it's the track signal that's the issue.  The AIU is connected directly to the TIU and to the switches & accessories, no track signal issues there.

IMO, that is a mistake, but the proof will be in the running of any MTH DCS locomotives.

I generally run my MTH locomotives in conventional mode.  Occasionally, I will dial up track power with the remote on a command loop, but not too often.  Given that I can not access any features with Legacy, I do not worry too much about it.  If the common ground is only an issue with MTH engines, then I think I will be OK.

Congratulations, Dennis!!!  That is a really sharp looking installation, besides the fact that it works beautifully!  I see the alignment pins in the bridge and the holes for them to fit in. 

As an interesting aside, our younger daughter was over last week and took a video of mine in operation.  Thursday, I saw a friend of theirs at the grocery store.  He told me she had shown the video and he was impressed enough to tell me.  I told him I got the concept for mine from a friend in Washington, mike g.  Mike, how do you like Dennis' bridge?

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