Author Topic: Undertable switch machines  (Read 3239 times)

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harrym

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Undertable switch machines
« on: January 12, 2009, 12:35:59 PM »
I'm going to have to replace my Atlas standard remote machines in my yard so I can move the tracks closer together.  I didn't think I wanted Tortoise machines because of their description as "slow moving" [I've never actually seen one].  I like the "snap" of Peco machines so I know the switch has thrown.  Any experiences with these or other undertable switch machines.  I just want them to throw turnouts, not activate signals or route power.

wm3798

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Re: Undertable switch machines
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2009, 01:01:15 PM »
I've got some tortoises, and can highly recommend them.  The Peco machines are pretty much bullet proof, but only work well with Peco turnouts (well, I suppose you could jerry rig them, but probably more effort than they're worth)  The Pecos also require a big hole in the road bed since they mount directly to the switch.

Atlas undertable mounts aren't terrible, but again, they needs some tweaking to make them reliable.  They cost a little bit less than the tortoise, and they work well when you're clearance below decks is limited.


But all in all, I'd go with the tortoise.
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randgust

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Re: Undertable switch machines
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2009, 07:01:08 PM »
Many, many years ago, when I melted my first Atlas N scale #6 solenoid, I went to the hobby shop looking for a solution.  I bought an HO scale Lambert machine, with external contacts.  That's a BIG machine for N scale.

The extra contacts let me have illuminated pushbuttons and signals, so little bit by little bit I migrated over that way.

On the 'new layout' (the one I currently have) every switch on the entire layout is controlled with those old Lamberts, some of which are 30 years old now.  The Rix switch machine is a direct knockoff of the same design - same size, same everything.  I made my own linkages out of brass and steel wire  and got very good at it.  The machines can be mounted almost in any orientation, and with handmade linkages (steel wire in 1/16 K&S tubing) can go several inches below track level if necessary.

They are big, powerful, and noisy - and invisible.  I power them with a big honkin' capacitor discharge system I made and throw up to eight at a time through GH illuminated pushbuttons, using the contacts to show switch position.  They put out a lot of 'WHAM', hold point tight, and you've got to have steel spring wire in there to absorb the shock or you will damage the points.  The second biggest reason to do all this is to have indicator lights that show routes 'locked and loaded', use diode-matrix routing, and build interlocking circuits for on-layout signals.  On my layout, you WATCH signals unless you want to derail a train.

I also have Tortise machines to power grade crossing gates.  They are reliable and quiet, and have a good contact system as well.  But they are a lot harder to mount.

If you really want pictures of these, ask, but I'll let you know that I'd probably use Tortise machines if I was starting over!

harrym

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Re: Undertable switch machines
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2009, 08:27:06 PM »
If the Rix/Lambert switch machines do the job for around $5 less, why would you use the Tortoise machines if you were starting over?  Are they easier to install or are they more reliable or are they easier on the turnout points?  What is the deciding factor?

asciibaron

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Re: Undertable switch machines
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2009, 09:08:55 PM »
If the Rix/Lambert switch machines do the job for around $5 less, why would you use the Tortoise machines if you were starting over?  Are they easier to install or are they more reliable or are they easier on the turnout points?  What is the deciding factor?

they last forever since they are a motor and not a relay.  you have to really work at messing them up.  the movement is voltage based - the higher the voltage, the faster the motor moves the points.  i use 3vdc for quiet, realistic movement.

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harrym

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Re: Undertable switch machines
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2009, 09:18:23 PM »
With the tortoise, how do you know how long to hold the button down?  Do you hear something?  Or does it cut the voltage when it is completely thrown?

randgust

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Re: Undertable switch machines
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2009, 09:25:55 PM »
On the ones I use, I have stepped the voltage down as well (probably 3v).  The motors are rugged and can stand being in 'stall mode' indefinitely. So you can simply use a micro DPDT toggle wired as a reverse switch.  In that function, you can tell switch position on the panel by looking at the toggle.

The problem with the Rix / Lamberts is that they really try, over time, to beat themselves to pieces.  Contact screws drop out. Linkages fatigue.  The contacts arc up.  Yeah, it may take years, but I've got like 50 of them.

And the C-C-C-C-CRACK!!!! of the yard ladder firing has actually made people jump.  What was THAT???

harrym

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Re: Undertable switch machines
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2009, 09:50:12 PM »
The Rix machines sound like some I used back in the 70's on my HO layout.  They had extra contacts for signals and really "snapped".  I am ordering some Tortoise machines to try them.  Thanks for the information.

Walkercolt

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Re: Undertable switch machines
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2009, 11:51:18 PM »
I can't pull-up the name of the other motor switch machine. You can buy them as kits or assembled. Duh, Circuitron! They're bigger than Tortises, and have micro switches you adjust to stop the travel and the switches can also control signals and panel lights. The kits by the dozen are a real bargain.

asciibaron

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Re: Undertable switch machines
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2009, 07:32:24 AM »
I can't pull-up the name of the other motor switch machine. You can buy them as kits or assembled. Duh, Circuitron!

Circuitron makes the Tortoise.
Quote from: Chris333
How long will it be before they show us how to add DCC to a tree?

inkaneer

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Re: Undertable switch machines
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2009, 06:05:47 PM »
I gave up on the twin coil machines after having several burnout.  I went to the Old Del Aire pneumatic machines.  Unfortunately they are no longer around but a new company call EZ Aire is now making them.  The pneumatic machines are especially liked by the oiutdoor Garden RR people as they are weather proof.  But if you want an electrical motor type of machine check out ScaleShops at www.scaleshops.com.  12 machines for $98.98 seems pretty good.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2009, 06:07:59 PM by inkaneer »

Walkercolt

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Re: Undertable switch machines
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2009, 12:38:17 AM »
OK, then who makes those blue plastic switch motor kits? My brain can't pull it up. Didn't see them in the Walther's "Wish Book" or from Horizon, but Branchline or somebody else may handle them. I've put several dozen together, although they take quite a bit of time to adjust the "throw", they were good pieces. Last one's I built were like $8 for the kits. They sure aren't pretty, but they worked well. I guess they could have gone away... ???

harrym

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Re: Undertable switch machines
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2009, 09:47:42 AM »
The Scale Shops machines look interesting, but their pictures and descriptions leave something to be desired.  Has anyone used them?  Do they do the job satisfactorily?  I don't get the "one wire" business.

sirenwerks

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Re: Undertable switch machines
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2009, 12:53:13 PM »
Anyone tried the MicroMark Switch Tender? http://www.micromark.com/SWITCH-TENDER-SWITCH-MACHINE,8394.html Costs not much more than the NRM Blue Point manual mechanisms, and less the Tortoise macines, but not sure how well they work or long they last.
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harrym

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Re: Undertable switch machines
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2009, 03:10:02 PM »
The postman delivered two Tortoise machines this morning.  There were no instructions included for wiring 8 contacts.  I finally found that the two outside connections move the motor, but DC polarity must be reversed to operate in both directions.  More of a problem than wiring Atlas or Peco machines.  I have been using RS momentary contact pushbuttons [red/black to indicate direction] in the past.  I won't be using the center 6 connections. 

 

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