Our club is planning to install an above-the-head Hi-scale layout along a long wall, with a balloon track at each end. We’d like the simplicity & reliability of spring switches. The only ‘hitch’ with this plan is: Where do we find a supplier of spring switches?

philG
Original Post

They are very simple to make. Just take an unpowered Ross switch and a piece of music wire. Bend the wire so it so the end can go through the throw bar, and anchor the other end 4-6 inches away.

The trick is to get the proper tension. Do this by placing a fulcrum, in the form of a nail or screw somewhere along the length of the wire. The points should easily be pushed aside by the wheels, but also snap back into the closed position.

If using Fastrack, the O36 manual track switches are designed to be non-derailing. That is, a locomotive entering from the frog-end of the switch easily throws the switch to the proper position. I have used this technique in a return loop flawlessly.

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

phil gresho posted:

Thanks, Elliot.  I'd like to try that.  I assume you have done it.  Would it be possible to email me a foto?

Yeah Phil, I have five of them on my layout. They work perfectly every time. I'll have to do some digging to find a photo. When I do, I'll post it here.

A spring switch and a non derailing switch are two totally different things. The spring switch points always remain in the same position allowing a train to run through when entering from the frog end of the switch, and then returns to the original position.

The non derailing feature switch throws the switch points over and leaves it there.  

It does sound like in this case they are wanting a return loop on each end of a long straight track,. If that is the case, non derailing switch would work perfectly.

Train Nut posted:

A spring switch and a non derailing switch are two totally different things. The spring switch points always remain in the same position allowing a train to run through when entering from the frog end of the switch, and then returns to the original position.

The non derailing feature switch throws the switch points over and leaves it there.  

It does sound like in this case they are wanting a return loop on each end of a long straight track,. If that is the case, non derailing switch would work perfectly.

A non-derailing switch would also work well for this application, and actually would add a bit of visual interest, as it would allow the train to alternate directions in each loop CW and CCW. The drawback to that method is potential maintenance. Not a big deal, but the spring switch doesn't suffer from that issue.

Still looking for for my pics. A lot to go through. Could take a while.

As I stated earlier:  Yes, I know that I could install,  and wire-up, and supply power to, a pair of RCS non-derailing switches.  It's simply that spring switches would perform the desired result in the simplest possible way!  I therefore look forward to more info from Elliot.

philG

Found it Phil, I looked through more than seven years worth of pictures, and came up empty.  Then I looked in a different folder. Knew I had one I had one, too. 

You can see it best in the upper right circle. Not much to it.

spring switch

This is what it is.

SPRINGSWITCH

Take a piece of music wire, 4 - 6 inches long, and bend it as shown. The wire diameter should be no larger than will fit through the hole in the throw bar. Remember, the heavier the wire, the longer it should be.Too short, and the tension on the points will be too high. This is a balancing act. You are looking for just enough tension to hold the points closed, but not too much that the wheels can't push them out of the way. The wire should be parallel to your table top, so you'll need some kind of spacer on the anchor end. A few washers will do. Lastly, you'll need a fulcrum. The placement of the fulcrum, combined with the wire diameter, will set the tension. You'll just have to play with it. When you have it adjusted correctly, you'll hear a faint clicking as each truck passes through.

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Hi Elliot. Good to see you posting again.

We did something similar, but we used ball-point pen springs placed horizontally with one end holding the points and the other anchored to one of the ties -- i.e., sideways. They're soft enough that even scale pilot wheels on a steam locomotive will push the points. I'll try to remember to add a photo this weekend.

Matt Jackson
"The best service you can provide for the hobby is to pass on what you have learned."

 Angels Gate Hi-Railers San Pedro, California

"Celebrating over 20 years of moving freight and passengers from Point A to Point A!"
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Thanks Matt. This was one of those rare topics where I had some experience to share.

Now that you mention it, I think I recall you showing me your version at the club when I visited.

phil gresho posted:

Elliot:  Thanks for all that effort!  I ALMOST understand it.  The fotos help, but details are still vague.  Where do I get piano wire?

Matt:  Thank you, too!  I look forward to your pix.

The K&S metal rack at the hobby store. Hobby Lobby and Michaels, probably have it. Maybe Home Depot. It comes in 3' lengths You can order it up online, but the shipping is probably more than the cost of the wire. You'll need a special hardened cutter or you can use a Dremel with a cutoff wheel.

I once saw an HO layout, where the owner had used fishing line and some small weights to achieve this effect. That method took advantage of gravity.

When I had my trolley railroad I had a dozen or so spring switches. If possible you want the spring to close the switch points in the curved position. That sets the default route through the curve. When the train is going straight it will push the points to the straight position. If you do have a light car that would climb the points it is more likely to stay on the rails going straight. 

Mike

Guitarmike posted:

 If possible you want the spring to close the switch points in the curved position. That sets the default route through the curve. 

I don't think any of that matters, if you have the proper tension on the points. I have spring switches of both varieties, curved and straight.

In this photo, the one on the lower left, always routes trains straight on facing point travel. whereas the one on the upper right always routes facing point movements on the diverging route, through the crossover. This function is dictated by the logic of the situation, nothing more.

spring switch

 The upper right is connected to my helix. the lower left is connected to my hidden yard. The yard is built on a giant reverse loop. The track closest to the wall is the lead track, and all traffic has to be routed to that track. It is one way travel. Every train is traveling from right to left on that track. So no matter which helix track a train comes from. it is always directed to the lead. 

Until now, I haven't mentioned the switch in the middle. That one is really unusual. It can be thrown using a Tortoise switch machine, however the linkage is "soft enough" to act like a spring switch. so it doesn't matter which position it is in for a trailing point movement. It really behaves like a classic non-derailing switch, except that it doesn't change direction when the train passes through it in a trailing point movement.

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phil gresho posted:

Our club is planning to install an above-the-head Hi-scale layout along a long wall, with a balloon track at each end. We’d like the simplicity & reliability of spring switches. The only ‘hitch’ with this plan is: Where do we find a supplier of spring switches?

The ATLAS O Gauge Switches already are set up with Springs !!  FYI

FREDSTRAINS

As promised, here are photos of a sprung turnout on the club layout. It's part of a crossover that allows loop-to-loop running from the upper branch to the secondary main. There's also a spring on the switch to the upper reversing loop, but I wasn't up to getting and climbing on a ladder to photograph it.

On this one, the spring finally wore out and we decided to go with a slightly easier mount by stretching the spring and mounting it between the throw ties. Notice that we have a couple of spare springs nearby so we don't have to hunt for them. This is the entrance to the staging yard and isn't in public view. It initially surprises guests when the train changes direction on the secondary main since the reversing takes place in the staging room.

2019-10-19 13.05.20

This one has the original mounting (barely visible). We're going to change out the spring to match the other turnout when this spring goes.

2019-10-19 13.05.13

Matt Jackson
"The best service you can provide for the hobby is to pass on what you have learned."

 Angels Gate Hi-Railers San Pedro, California

"Celebrating over 20 years of moving freight and passengers from Point A to Point A!"
E-mail

YouTube Channel

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phil gresho posted:

Thanks, Matt:  I think I'll try this technique, as it seems simpler than Elliot's.

 

You're welcome, but it will take some tinkering/adjusting. The key is you need enough pressure to keep the point against the rail, but it has to be soft enough for light pilot wheels to push the points aside.

Matt Jackson
"The best service you can provide for the hobby is to pass on what you have learned."

 Angels Gate Hi-Railers San Pedro, California

"Celebrating over 20 years of moving freight and passengers from Point A to Point A!"
E-mail

YouTube Channel

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