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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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