Semaphore Signals Bounce!

Mike here.  I’ve been asked by some of our newsletter subscribers to dig out an article from the July 2015 issue. Dave Fenton who some of you might know from MegaPoints Controllers wrote an article on adding servo control to Dapol semaphore signals including the bounce.

If you want to see it working see below or visit our exhibition on the 11th and 12th March 2017.

So without further a do; over to Dave.

Adding Some Bounce to Dapol Semaphore Signals

I recently acquired a pair of broken N gauge Dapol semaphore signals and thought they would make for an easy upgrade to add some realistic semaphore bounce. The standard mechanism is incapable of bounce and had failed with differing symptoms on both units.

Undeterred at the small size of N gauge and my big fat hands, I acquired some HK- 5330 Ultra-Micro Digital Servos from HobbyKing. At just over 1 cm long and about 6mm wide, I thought they would make an excellent replacement drive unit. These have the added benefit of not twitching when power is applied thereby preventing any over stressing of the tiny linkages at power on time. Fitting a servo means that you loose the simplicity of a 14mm mounting the Dapol unit affords as it will need modifying to a rectangular hole so the servo can be navigated through the baseboard. I ended up cutting a hole 24mm x 17mm which would allow the new servo assembly to pass through unobstructed.

Work began by removing the lower screw at the base of the thread and splitting the motor housing. The circuit board was carefully prized out of one half and the wires to the built in LED cut leaving the longest possible length. On one unit the piano wire remained in place and was held under tension with a built in spring and capped with a plastic collet. The second unit had a different arrangement with the collet on the opposite side of the spring. It appears the design had altered between the manufacture of the two units making installation slightly different for each. Undeterred, I proceeded to cut the piano wire on the latter unit leaving enough room to solder a new piece to it when ready. I decided that on the first unit all I needed to do was position the servo with a cut down arm acting as a cam on the base of the spring retaining collet.

The second unit was going to have its own piano wire bent into shape and soldered to the remaining wire connected to the back of the semaphore arm.

Before installing any of the servos I glued in place a small square piece of balsa wood to make a base to attach the servo to. After it had set I sliced the top of the balsa to form a level surface with the opposing sides of the threaded shell half.

The servos were positioned in place and a couple of drops of super glue used to secure them into position. The second servo had the additional piano wire attached before fitting to help with its placement. As I had previously set the servo arms to their mid point with a MegaPoints Controller I only had to ensure the semaphore arms were in the middle of their travel before the glue set. This was to make final adjustment easy. The second semaphore had the two piano wires soldered together.

To current limit the LED I used a rather safe 150 ohm resistor and connected the LED in parallel with the servo
connector power leads (red & brown). To do this I crimped the LED leads into the servo connector housing and then tie wrapped a servo extension lead into place to secure. Had I had 100 ohm resistors available I would have used them as I suspect they could be brighter without risking any LED damage. Setting up was completed on the MegaPoints Controller within a few seconds and the semaphores cycled a few times to test their operation. The bounce is very realistic and can be clearly observed at this fine size. You can also clearly make out the cable slack being taken up as the signalman places his second hand on the lever prior to applying the big pull. To see a video of these modified Dapol signals being cycled do a YouTube search for “MegaPoints Dapol bounce”. The first unit took about 40 minutes to complete and the second about an hour. Not bad for under two hours work…

Mike again. This article can also be found here: Dapol ‘Bounce’

Its a Matter of Scale

The Scale or Gauge of is or should be one of a modellers main considerations when thinking about investing in the hobby.  True there are other things to think about; like location, time period and even things like method of control. But the gauge that you as a modeller choose will generally dictate the size and type of layout that will be built and also how far your money will go. There is a dazzling amount of different gauges but I’m going to look at the big three within the UK; these being O, OO and N.  These gauges tend to be the best supported by manufacturers and suppliers.  The image below isn’t to scale but should give some idea of the differences is size between gauges.

Size comparison of Gauges

O gauge is the largest of the three, also unsurprisingly the most expensive to buy. A lot of modellers build garden railways at this scale but I have seen some very good micro layouts as well.

OO is the most common gauge in use within the UK (Continental and US have HO) and is the scale that people are familiar with as this is the “Hornby” scale.  Between the three OO is the “Cheapest”.

N is the smallest gauge and the second most popular scale in the UK.  Models tend to be more expensive than OO but cheaper than O.  Being half the size of OO, layouts usually are either smaller or have capacity for larger trains and scenery.

TT, Z and T.  I’ve included these more for information, TT is a halfway house between OO and N but does not have the manufacturer support for UK outline models, Z and T are super small and again there is not much in the way of support for UK ready to roll models either.

There is no right or wrong way. There are modellers who collect different gauges either changing over time or even collecting at the same time! Most people start off with OO In my case I had a OO layout as a teenager but when I came back to the hobby I started with N simply because I didn’t have the space for anything else.

What if you find you started with the wrong gauge? Don’t panic, look at what the issue is and see if there is a way around with the stock you have already invested in, if not there is always eBay. But try not t o get to that point. All I can advise here is choose carefully, try to get a look at the scale you want work with either at an exhibition (ours is on the 11th and 12th of March, see the exhibition page) or in the local model shop. If you are still unsure contact your local club and trawl the web.

 

Is it a Train Set?

So what is the difference between a train set and a model railway layout? Very little to be honest and to be clear there is nothing wrong with a train set, but there are some differences and if the interest is there a train set can evolve into a layout.

A Train Set

A train set is usually bought as a complete package, it will include a locomotive, rolling stock, a controller and track. In other words everything required to have a moving model train. Most major companies produce these and they are a great entry into the hobby. For instance my first train set was the original Hornby blue and yellow Intercity 125.

You could also buy these things separately but the principle is the same, the track is set up temporarily on a table or on the floor and packed away in a box when finished with.

A Layout

In my opinion a layout is where the track is permanently attached to a surface; this is may be portable or a permanent fitting but the track is fixed to something. The actual beauty of a layout is that they come in all shapes and sizes; from massive loft busting towns and villages to little Dioramas that can be stored on a shelf or under the bed.  Layouts can be scenic masterpieces but they certainly don’t have to be and some people in the hobby just like to collect and run trains; Scenery is not a consideration.

It’s Your Hobby

So there it is, remember there is no right wrong way here,  a small section of track on a table with a couple of buildings here and there and watching the train go by is great. Pick it up and pack away at the end of the evening.

But even if the track is simply glued to a small board and left in a corner when not in use, you have a layout; and who knows where that may lead you…

Remember it’s your hobby; enjoy it the way you want to.

February’s Newsletter!

Yes it’s that time again. In this months edition there is a large spread given over to layouts attending the show, so if you have looked at the pictures on the site, this should add flavour and background of these wonderful layouts.

If Maglev trains interest you there is an article on these trains. Also there is a guide to loading gauges, what these are and why we have them!

Once again Mike has put together a brilliant magazine, there is a mailing list for those who’d like a copy in their inbox and a this is usually sent out at least week before we put the magazine on the website.  If you’d like to be added to the mailing list, please email queries@macclesfieldmrg.org.uk.

Download from here: February 2017 Newsletter

Back issues can be found here: http://www.macclesfieldmrg.org.uk/newsletters/

2016 Exhibition Video on YouTube

David from BearTownTV has took this video at our Exhibition last year.

Great video, thanks David.

 

Macclesfield Central

Macclesfield Central is our “n gauge” layout and last week I got some pictures of the recent progress of this layout.

Some real progress. Thanks to Alek for all the hard work here, it’s looking great.

January’s Newsletter

Januarys newsletter is now available for download here.

In this months issue you will find:

  • Round the Bend and Getting Curvy with a Backscene
  • ‘Ere! Where’s the Chimney Gorn?
  • ….. A Pre-loved Station 10
  • Looking into the Future

Plus the usual japes and club news.

 

GWR Pannier tanks on Sutton Hilltop

We had a couple of GWR pannier tank engines pulling some coaches on the layout.  It’s always good to see trains running on a layout, Sutton Hilltop is out large OO layout.  I managed to get a shot of GWR Pannier 2759 flying down the express line and bypassing Sutton Hilltop altogether!

Club members can and do run their locomotives on the club layouts, Sutton Hilltop is a large tail chaser (a loop layout) in OO gauge which is perfect for testing and running in locomotives.  A large layout also allows the opportunity to put together scale length trains and see them move through the scenery.

If you are thinking of joining us; you are more than welcome to come down to try us out as it were, please feel free to bring your stock to have a go.  For more details, see out “Contact Us” page.

Exhibition News; Sutton Central

I mentioned Sutton Central back in December (seems such a long time ago!).

Well work is currently taking place on the layout and it is taking shape. So what is so special about this layout?  Well It will be being ran as one of the Exhibition layouts at our exhibition in March but unlike all the other layouts which will be going home with their owners, Sutton Central will be going home with one of our visitors a prize, yes that’s right we are going to be giving away this layout to one lucky winner!

So a little background on this layout, it is a small layout designed to be stored away easily. It also illustrates what can be done with a relatively small space with not much track.  Anyway enough gassing, here are some pictures:

Happy New Year

Well there it is, already the 3rd of January!  Macclesfield Model Railway Group sends best wishes for 2017 and hope that this year is a prosperous one.

Time if you wish, for resolutions. I for one, fully intend to build a layout this year and you’d think with 12 months I might even do it!

We will be busy over the next 3 months, there are a couple of layouts to finish building ahead of our 2017 exhibition (a quick reminder – 11th and the 12th March), please check out here for more details.

but for now, happy new year!