Hay guys,

On my new layout, there will be approx. 17 switches, only two, or three, or maybe 4, of which that I will not be able to, easily, reach for manual operation.

This being the case, I am considering the Caboose Manual Throughs, in lieu of electrically powered actuators, for the balance of the switches.

The question is this: Can switches be manual, and still be set for non-derailing operation?

I am pretty sure that the answer is NO, as there would be no actuator to through the switch when the train enters it.

Do any of you run with manual switches without the non-derailing feature?
If so, how do you fair, regarding derailments in closed switches?

Thanks,
Roger

Original Post

It just requires that you pay attention. I have over 300 switches on my layout, and use a few different methods to throw them, and none are non derailing. Mainline turnouts are powered Tortoises. Yards and spurs, where I can reach use Cabooses. Where they are hard to reach, I use RC push rods, akin to a choke cable but cheaper. Then I have a few, where I want the train to go the same way when facing the points all the time, which use a piece of music wire as a spring to hold the points one way. When traveling through in the trailing direction, it is non derailing.

Then there's this one, where I used a longer than normal piece of music wire, in combination with a Tortoise. That is really non derailing. It's a spring switch that you can throw. I think that's what you seek.  

Big_Boy_4005 posted:

It just requires that you pay attention. I have over 300 switches on my layout, and use a few different methods to throw them, and none are non derailing. Mainline turnouts are powered Tortoises. Yards and spurs, where I can reach use Cabooses. Where they are hard to reach, I use RC push rods, akin to a choke cable but cheaper. Then I have a few, where I want the train to go the same way when facing the points all the time, which use a piece of music wire as a spring to hold the points one way. When traveling through in the trailing direction, it is non derailing.

Then there's this one, where I used a longer than normal piece of music wire, in combination with a Tortoise. That is really non derailing. It's a spring switch that you can throw. I think that's what you seek.  

Thanks so much for all of the suggestions.

I like the push rod method for those that I can't reach, and I like the spring loaded option for a form of non-derailing.

Big_Boy_4005 posted:

You're welcome. Your question was right up my alley. Be creative.

I am thinking of the push rod as either a solid rod extending to the switch pivot, or even something akin to a lawn mower throttle cable, in a fixed sheath.

I use caboose ground throws on all the switches on my layout. Since the 2 mains are loops the switches pretty much stay in one direction unless I'm changing trains, locomotives, or cars out. Since I use command control I just walk up to the switch and throw it by hand when I need it to move. No switch on my layout is non-derailing. I just put a dot of green paint on the side of the throw handle that sets the switch to straight through. That way I can tell at a glance if the switch is set to straight or the diverging route. 

Santa Fe, All the Way

I do my Tortoises and push rod throws with the same basic mechanism, a bell crank. The way it works is, I drill a small hole in the layout decking, about 1-1/2" from the throw bar on the switch. I then insert a brass tube in the hole and glue it in place.

Then I bend a piece of music wire to fit between the the hole in the throw bar and the tube. This needs to be fairly precise, because if it is off by too much, it will bind and not work smoothly. You've just created the upper arm.

Now for the lower arm. With the wire sticking down through the tube, bend the excess at a right angle, and form a loop on the end of it. The length of the lower arm will determine the amount of throw you'll have. It should be about an inch. Longer means you have to push or pull further. 

Doing the powered spring switch, just requires longer arms. The mechanism needs to be soft enough that the train can push the points aside when it thrown against it. Too much tension will cause derailments. It's a fine line. When working properly you should hear a small clicking as the points snap back after a set of wheels pass through.

Lou1985 posted:

I use caboose ground throws on all the switches on my layout. Since the 2 mains are loops the switches pretty much stay in one direction unless I'm changing trains, locomotives, or cars out. Since I use command control I just walk up to the switch and throw it by hand when I need it to move. No switch on my layout is non-derailing. I just put a dot of green paint on the side of the throw handle that sets the switch to straight through. That way I can tell at a glance if the switch is set to straight or the diverging route. 

I do plan to use the caboose ground throws for all but those that I can't reach, and some other method, like described in the next post, unless I can see a way to use some kind of reach device to throw a caboose from a distance.

Big_Boy_4005 posted:

I do my Tortoises and push rod throws with the same basic mechanism, a bell crank. The way it works is, I drill a small hole in the layout decking, about 1-1/2" from the throw bar on the switch. I then insert a brass tube in the hole and glue it in place.

Then I bend a piece of music wire to fit between the the hole in the throw bar and the tube. This needs to be fairly precise, because if it is off by too much, it will bind and not work smoothly. You've just created the upper arm.

Now for the lower arm. With the wire sticking down through the tube, bend the excess at a right angle, and form a loop on the end of it. The length of the lower arm will determine the amount of throw you'll have. It should be about an inch. Longer means you have to push or pull further. 

Doing the powered spring switch, just requires longer arms. The mechanism needs to be soft enough that the train can push the points aside when it thrown against it. Too much tension will cause derailments. It's a fine line. When working properly you should hear a small clicking as the points snap back after a set of wheels pass through.

Thanks for the descriptions.
You wouldn't be able to post any pics would you?

Thanks again

I was hoping you wouldn't ask. I have them here on this computer somewhere within the last six years. Let me see what I can find.

Got em. that didn't take as long as I thought it would. 

This is a mock up sitting on the workbench. The brass tube would normally be set into the decking, then you have the upper and lower arms.

IMG_5716

Here's an entire push rod style throw. The nice part is they come with the clevis. That's the thing that connects the rod to the wire. The wooden knob took a few drilling operations, and is connected to the rod with an Allen head 2-56 screw.

IMG_5715

Here's a push rod ready for install.

IMG_5708

Here you see the upper arms on a 3 way switch.

IMG_5727

This is what a push rod looks like from below. The lower arm is very short.

IMG_5731IMG_5711

To do a Tortoise installation, the lower arm is longer, and just bent in a hook shape.

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Thanks for the pics.
Always good to see it for real.

You mentioned that the push rods come with the clevis.
So, can I assume they are a purchase item?

Also, do they come in longer lengths, as I have 3 or 4 that are approx 4.5 feet away from, and not in line with the operator.
So, can these make curved bends, or do they have to go straight thru from knob to clevis?

I assume that the red portion is the outer sheath that locks into place, like a lawn mower throttle cable, or am I misunderstanding the way it works?

 

I think you understand perfectly. It's just easier to work with the plastic, and probably cheaper. 

They are intended for use with radio control planes, cars and boats. They are made by Sullivan. I think there two in a pack, with four clevises and threaded rods to connect them to the to the yellow inner rod.

Image result for sullivan flexible pushrods

I think they sell the clevises separately if you would need more, but that is unlikely, because you get two per rod, so four in a pack. Then you only need one per switch. RC guys need two per, one to the servo and one to the control surface.

They come in 3 and 4 foot lengths, but you can splice them together to make longer runs. I think my longest is close to 6'. I use the threaded rod to splice the yellow part, then a polystyrene tube to glue the red outer tubes together. When they get really long, you'll need to secure the red part to the layout in multiple places.

Here's a splice.

IMG_7141

  Curves, no problem. That combined with the fact that you can bend the wire crank in any direction that is convenient. You just can't bend them too tight, the red tube can split.

IMG_7057

You probably won't get this crazy. These ten work a yard. Note the one on the left end. That's about the limit.

IMG_7148

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Photos (4)

Thanks for all of that.
I get the idea.
The pics are awesome.
I really like this plan, simple and effective.

Tow questions:

What threaded rod are you referring to?
Why the double yellow and read sheaths?
I know that I am simply missing something.

Thanks again

The threaded rod is used to connect clevis to the yellow part. It just screws into the plastic, then the clevis screws onto the other end of the rod. It comes in the package. I later found that I needed more of them so I bought some 2-56 all thread, and cut off what I needed.

The yellow part is what transfers the motion. The red tube is just a guide path and needs to be secured at both ends, and if it is really long, maybe in the middle as well. Without the red part, the yellow part is like "pushing a rope". Doesn't work.

This is what you get in the package. The black thing is a piece of rubber tube, that I cut into small sections and use as stops. The little clips are used to hold the clevis closed. I don't usually bother with those.

Sullivan Products Gold-N-Rod Flex,2mm,Nylon,36", SUL573

OK, I have been looking at these on line, and I think I understand the yellow part.
In the pic that shows the assembly of those 3 parts, what you are calling the threaded rod, looks more like a mettle cable that would be the motion transfer component, and would slide inside the yellow part, making the red tube redundant.

I now see that, what looks like a mettle cable, is the threaded rod, end extension, that mates up to the yellow sliding component, and attaches to the clevis.
Is this correct?

Does the threaded rod actually thread into the yellow tube, or is it forced in, leaving the yellow tube to deform around it?
Do you glue it in as wel?

RWL posted:

OK, I have been looking at these on line, and I think I understand the yellow part.
In the pic that shows the assembly of those 3 parts, what you are calling the threaded rod, looks more like a mettle cable that would be the motion transfer component, and would slide inside the yellow part, making the red tube redundant.

No, the threaded rod is just a connector. There are different versions of these push rods. This picture may be what's confusing you. I don't know what that is sticking out of the yellow part in the lower part of this image. It is not the threaded rod. It almost looks like a special splice of some sort. It doesn't matter, it's the upper part of this image that is important. Trust me, you NEED the red part.

Image result for sullivan flexible pushrods

I now see that, what looks like a mettle cable, is the threaded rod, end extension, that mates up to the yellow sliding component, and attaches to the clevis.
Is this correct?

Yes!

Does the threaded rod actually thread into the yellow tube, or is it forced in, leaving the yellow tube to deform around it?
Do you glue it in as wel?

The threaded rod is screwed into the yellow part, and self forms threads in the soft plastic. The threaded rod is only about an inch or so long. No glue.

 

Got it.
The only other question is, do the switches stay where they are placed or do they tend to move on there own?
I can't see how they would be held, positively, in one direction or the other, given vibrations and such, unless the yellow plastic edges hold with friction against the red sheath, which could actually work.

That's a good question. I have some that stay and some that want to move. I may have to work on that. If you add some friction or tie it to something like a light switch to lock it in position, it should stay very nicely.

I visited a guy's layout once, and he used a dowel as a push rod, which he tied to a toggle switch. He was in HO, and used the electrical contacts of the switch, for power routing. We don't need that aspect, we just want something to have that positive click. To connect it to the linkage, he drilled a hole in the plastic paddle.

Image result for toggle switch

Yea, we simply need something that has some sort of detent, to hold the knob in place at either position.
And a little over with the motion should be no problem, as it would act a bit like a spring load.

Big_Boy_4005 posted:

That's a good question. I have some that stay and some that want to move. I may have to work on that. If you add some friction or tie it to something like a light switch to lock it in position, it should stay very nicely.

I visited a guy's layout once, and he used a dowel as a push rod, which he tied to a toggle switch. He was in HO, and used the electrical contacts of the switch, for power routing. We don't need that aspect, we just want something to have that positive click. To connect it to the linkage, he drilled a hole in the plastic paddle.

Image result for toggle switch

I went ahead and ordered a set of the Sullivan push rids, just to see how they will work on my layout. I am really liking this design a lot. I will have 4 switches that will require remote operation, and I think that this will work just fine. I really don’t want to get into all of the wiring required to operate all of these switches with an electrical controller.

Regarding the detent; I remember, several years ago, a guy posted that he used a large wooden dowel, with a knob on the end, as the actual pusher that would slide thru his layout fascia. He then connected his cable, or what ever flexible device to the end of that dowel, under his layout.

To lock it in place in either direction, he drilled a small hole in the dowel, at a designated position just beyond the knob, and put another much smaller dowel, or may be a roll pin, thru so that it protruded out of only one side of the larger dowel by, again, a designated amount.

He drilled a hole in his layout fascia just large enough for the large dowel to slide thru, back and forth, then he cut a small notch thru the fascia, from the hole up, just a bit larger than the smaller dowel or pin, so that it could slide thru from one side to the other as well. Once it was in the correct position, either on the outside of the fascia, or on the inside of the fascia, he would rotate the knob to turn the pin away from the notch, and it would then be healed in place by the fascia itself.

The key to all of this is, of course, to get the travel of the dowel assembly coordinated with the bends in the music wire such that the switch is thrown, with enough load on the music wire to truly hold it in place.

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