Youtube Video: Talley Ober's Insulated-Rail 3-train, 3-rail O-Gauge Automatic Control System Uses No Relays Nor Electronics

  • This new video shows a clever O-gauge, 3-train, 3-rail layout built by a Ridgely, Maryland gentleman named Talley Ober.
  • Talley’s layout uses the “insulated rail” method to automatically control 3 “Thomas the Tank Engine” locos running on the SAME loop of track — using NO relays nor electronics.
  • It just uses 2 simple “insulated rail" type "Control Blocks", which control 2 "Stop Blocks".
  • One wire connects each Control Block to its corresponding Stop Block, so there is a total of 2 "Control Wires" for the whole control system.
  • I recorded this video at the Oct. 2017 York PA TCA meet.

Web Page:

 

Original Post

  The trains are likely short due to block sizes. Isolated car wheels might help with longer trains in some situations and complicate others; I didn't actually watch as I already know he must be using multiple forms of isolation as go/no go logic. 

  Actually simple and reliable with enough focus on clean track and good wheel contact. Relays can help avoid the need to be spotless, reduce some wire sizes needed, overall draw etc.

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





There are ways to get even more complicated than this example. Back in the early 80's, I did a setup that had a single passing siding, with two trains taking turns running in opposite directions, again, no relays or electronics. It wasn't too bad. I did end up using plastic wheel on the cars, but I also ran longer trains.

About 10 years later, I graduated to using relays, and never looked back.

My current layout will use a computer, with an all insulated rail mainline for detection.

prrhorseshoecurve posted:

Ok but did you see how dhort the trains are? Only 3 cars.

  •  You are right.
  • Thomas and Sidney the dark blue diesel are each pulling 2 cars. James is pulling his tender and 1 car.
  • I assume that the builder, Talley Ober, decided that this was the optimum train length, for the amount of space that he had available.
  • If you go further toward the end of this video to the 31:15 point ( youtu.be/1v_yhwUtwco?t=31m15s ) where it shows Rob Mueller's Pine Summit layout running two trains using this "insulated-rail" method -- you will see that the steam engine on that two-train loop is pulling its tender and 7 freight cars, and the diesel is pulling 8 freight cars.
  • Rob told me that this system works best, if the two trains are approximately the same speed and approximately the same length.

Train length can be used to help balance speed between trains when running off a single throttle. Those little Thomas trains probably have pretty low pulling power anyway. They're also handy because they won't overshoot the stopping blocks. Using relays would help with these issues, but that defeats the purpose in this exercise. He's got them running pretty smoothly, but I'll bet it took a number of tries to get them that way.

This is a very old idea. This page from a 1954 Lionel booklet illustrates just such a system using isolated blocks to control more than one train on the same loop of track. I remember trying this method when I was a kid in the 60's.

You can find this Lionel booklet among the Electrical reference material thread near the top of the Electrical Forum. Look for a post from Susan Deats and find the file in the attachments section.

Attachments

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My last carpet central before getting layouts off the floor started with reverse loops to give a lengthy direction change.

It didn't use relays initially, but got they added later as I complicated the auto running further.

  Just a dpdt was used to tie the auto anti derails operation together as opposite point, or mirrored point rail positions. The opposite setting gave "one direction travel" for running two trains with anti collsion.

   There were isolated stop blocks behind the blonde recliner & under the violet chair's table, all isolated outer rails tied to each other as anti collision safety, a train wheels was needed at each point for either to continue. It was effective and with two power supplies could be balanced for less actual stopping. Lack of amp power had me limited to two postwar motors using 2 1033's. I tried three, but it blew the breaker or slowed them too much to pull. (I pretty much ran only 6+ driver engines then)

  It often found its best 'balance' of timing at full throttles with a +6ft load. They would throttle back behind the blonde chair but not usually stop 100%.

100livingroom

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





Attachments

Photos (1)
Consolidated Leo posted:

This is a very old idea. This page from a 1954 Lionel booklet illustrates just such a system using isolated blocks to control more than one train on the same loop of track. I remember trying this method when I was a kid in the 60's.

You can find this Lionel booklet among the Electrical reference material thread near the top of the Electrical Forum. Look for a post from Susan Deats and find the file in the attachments section.

FYI:

~~~~~~~
WARNING:

  • Susan made a earlier post dated 7/31/12 titled "Dad's saved booklets with postwar trains".
  • She links to a copy that she has posted on her own website at slsprr.net/history/1954LionelTrainsAccess.pdf .
  • But this version is a LOWER QUALITY copy. Its size is only 4.4 MB .

pg39-Lionel-1954

  • Here is that same Page 39 titled "Automatic Control of Trains"  from the 1954 Lionel booklet titled "How to Operate Lionel Trains and Accessories".
  • I marked the "Stop Blocks" with red lines, and the "Control Blocks" with green lines (I was trying to make it a little easier to understand).
    ~~~~~~~~~
  • It would be great if someone who is both ambitious, and also owns enough Lionel equipment could set these layouts up, and then RECORD A VIDEO of them operating.

Attachments

Photos (1)

 

aco667-2: Insulated-Rail Automatic Control, 3 O-Gauge trains on Double Ended Reverse Loop, No Relays from James R. Ingram on Vimeo.

  • Paul Boston of Paradise and Pacific O-Gauge RR Club in Scottsdale AZ (PandPrr.com) sent me this short 37-second video clip.

The Configuration:

  • The configuration is 2 point-to-point single tracks -- with reverse loops on each end.
  • Each of the 4 reverse loops contains an insulated-rail “control block” and a “stop block”.
  • Each of the 2 tracks runs 3 locos, using this “insulated rail” method.
  • I am guessing the turnouts are spring-loaded, as I cannot see any wires going to them.

The Video:

  • The video only shows a close-up of 1 end of the layout.
  • These are short trains: 0 cars on each of the 3 locos running on the rear track, and 1 car on each of the 3 locos running on the front track.

 

On Aug 14, 2018, at 7:26 PM, PAUL BOSTON wrote:

  • "We here at the Paradise and Pacific RR have been using the isolated rail magic for about 20 years.
  • I first saw it at a train show in Upper Marlboro, Maryland and the builder shared the secret.
  • Now each autumn at RailFair at the McCormick Stillman RR Park (Scottsdale AZ), we set up two dogbones with isolated sections in the reverse loops.
    ~~~~~~~~~~
  • We run three engines on each track -- and because the loops are interwoven the action seems to be non-stop.
  • This is a video from 2013 but we still use the same setup."
  • Stop in in early October to enjoy the RailFair."

I am hoping somebody will be able to record some video this October, that shows the entire track system at once -- where we can see all 6 locos are operating.

While all this is an interesting academic exercise, it seems that you have to accept a lot of limitations to eliminate some inexpensive control components.  Other than saying "I did it", what's the point?

I think this is a terrific option for short trains, one of the benefits of 3 tail track.  I used this type of setup years ago on a xmas tree layout with lionel trolley cars.  It provided some viewing interest and was extremely reliable.  While I understand and use relays all the time on the main layout you really cannot beat this for simplicity.  

This is the perfect solution for 3 or 4 interurbans, RDCs, Doodlebugs...  that run on their own whenever you turn the power on. While your busy running the railroad.   In the mid 50s  I was eight- ten years old my father and me played around with the diagrams in the "How to operate Lionel trains" book. Based on the concepts in the book we came up with a layout with 4 reverse loops that connected through 2 back to back switches that could accommodate three trains. I remember how much fun it was and all the kids in the neighborhood had to see it. They were even bringing their parents over. I'm a junkie for reverse loops to this day.      j

I ve use this same method for the orange lionel box truck, the blue pickup, the white 57 station wagon plus a custom Vw bus, each takes a turn going down main street while the others advance, cant beat it for its simple automation and cost nothing, not a sensor, no relays, nor a timer, just a few strands of wire and insulated pins

Squirrelstrains posted:

I ve use this same method for the orange lionel box truck, the blue pickup, the white 57 station wagon plus a custom Vw bus, each takes a turn going down main street while the others advance, cant beat it for its simple automation and cost nothing, not a sensor, no relays, nor a timer, just a few strands of wire and insulated pins

This would be GREAT -- if you could get someone with an iPhone (or similar) -- to record a VIDEO of your system in operation.

New Video: Double-Ended “Insulated-Rail” Reverse Loops Control 3 Locos:

The gentleman in Scottsdale AZ (Paul Boston) who recorded the video clip used for the above 8/18/18 post that I made  —  which was for the Vimeo video showing 3 O-gauge trains operating on double-ended reverse loops — just made a new Youtube video that shows MORE of that same layout operating.

A. The Configuration:

  • The configuration is 2 point-to-point single tracks, with reverse loops on each end.
  • Each of the 4 reverse loops contains an insulated-rail “control block” and a “stop block”.
  • Each of the 2 tracks runs 3 locos, using this “insulated rail” method.
  • The turnouts appear to be spring-loaded in the straight position (I cannot see any wires going to them). 

B. More Comments:

  •  The “control section” appears to begin with the 1st curved section that the loco encounters after it passes through the turnout — as it enters the reverse loop (you can see this, watching the video).
  • The “stop block” appears to begin with the last piece of straight track that the loco encounters before it passes through the turnout — as it exits the reverse loop.
  • Note the earlier above Vimeo video shows the locos on 1 loop pulling 1 car each, whereas this video is just locos only.
  • I assume the cars that the locos in the earlier video were pulling, have to be WEIGHTED enough to go through the spring-loaded turnout without derailing.
  • Reminder: The web page containing drawings and video links for “insulated-rail” control is at autocontrols.wordpress.com/insulated-rail-3-train-3-rail-o-ga-automatic-control-system .

This is very impressive. The closest I have ever come is a two train single loop system that used IR detectors and relays, which was published in 2007. With the multi loco bluetooth systems, you can have several locos running simultaneously, but need to maintain constant control over every loco.

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