Posts Tagged ‘Cobalt slow acting turnout motors’

My new little timesaving / timewasting project Canute Road Quay has progressed slowly over the last few weeks. This post brings you up to date with that progress and also the details the modifications that I make to Peco electrofrog turnouts to improve both the appearance and the electrical performance that is especially important as I am using  Peco short radius turnouts including Y’ turnouts.

Canute Road Quay is starting to take shape

Canute Road Quay is starting to take shape

From the pictures left you can see that I have now completed following: painting of the baseboard with matt black paint to all the external fascias, leaving the inside faces and underneath white, the trackwork is now laid and glued in place (I actually on the recommendation of a fellow modeler simply used superglue for this) the LED lighting is in place (more of which anon) also the brickwork of the quayside along the very front edge has also been added.

Another view on progress so far.

Another view on progress so far.

Although not visible from the picture the DCC Concepts Cobalt point motors have been installed, and initial track feed and frog wiring completed. This has not yet been taken back to the control panel (which I have also made up, but more about this in a future post) as this will itself be mounted on the small bespoke fiddle yard module on the left hand end and I am still awaiting this from Tim Horn Baseboards.

The next steps will be the initial weathering or the track sleepers and painting rail sides in track colour, the addition of the check rail for the inset trackwiork sections and the construction of the remaining buildings. In addition to the low relief Bachmann Scalescene bonded warehouses, I have opted for using Skytrex Models resin components for the engine shed and the two warehouses / loading docks located at the front using laser cut components from LCut Creative.  Once in place I can make a start on the various ground covers.

Improving Peco turnouts

With respect to the Peco turnouts there are a number of improvements that can be made especially electrically to ensure better running which includes:

A diagram showing modifications to Peco points from underneath

A diagram showing modifications to Peco points from underneath

Firstly, I always recommend  switching the frog polarity using the built in micro switch on the point motor (or a separate micro switch depending on the motor type you are using, the DCC Concepts Cobalt point motors convenient have two built in switches) and therefore not relying on the switch blade contact, which can be unreliable if any dirt gets between the stock rail and switch blade.

The Peco short radius 'Y' turnout does not have wire links so requires the actual rails to be cut between the frog and links between the stock rails and the switch blade (just visible)

The Peco short radius ‘Y’ turnout does not have wire links so requires the actual rails to be cut between the frog and links between the stock rails and the switch blade (just visible)

This requires any electrical link between switch rails and the frog to be cut, and as such is made simple on most Peco points as there is an exposed wire link underneath the point that can be cut. However on the short radius ‘Y’ points this wire link does not exist and therefore requires the actual rails to be cut between the switch blade pivots and the frog.

A diagram from above

A diagram from above

Secondly, I electrically link each switch blade to its adjacent stock rail with a short wire link as this ensures good electrical continuity. Conveniently Peco leave a gap in the sleeper webbing, on most of their turnouts, to ease the soldering of this wire link, which is then hidden one ballasted etc.

Hopefully the diagrams / images to the left help to show this more clearly.

Picture showingthe tiebar has been cut either side and the spring and housing removed

Picture showingthe tiebar has been cut either side and the spring and housing removed

To improve the turnouts visually I also remove, by simply cutting them off the hand operating lugs either side of the tie bar and as I am using DCC Concepts Cobalt point motors that are of the stall rather than solenoid type that hold the switchblades in the required position the non prototypical Peco spring housing and spring can also be removed, these are held in place by a metal clip that can be easily unclipped from underneath the turnout.

I hope that the above post is of interest and use especially with respect to wiring and improving Peco elctrofrog points and clarifies the issue on the short radius ‘Y’ point where the wire links underneath are not provided by Peco.

Watch this space for further updates on Canute Road Quay over the next few weeks.




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One the benefits of recently changing to slow acting ‘stall’ type point motors as per my Controlling Interests #3 post, where I describe my fitting of DCC Concepts Cobalt slow acting motors, is that the unprototypical spring and spring housing in the middle of the Peco turnout is no longer needed, removal of this certainly improves the look of the turnout.

A Peco Turnout as previously Installed still with spring and spring housing

There are a number of simple improvements that can be made to the Peco turnouts even when using solenoid type motors that still require the spring to be in place. These include firstly removing the lugs at each end of the tiebar, that are designed for hand operation. Secondly, and if the motor is not being mounted directly under the turnout but under the baseboard, shortening the sleepers either side of the tiebar  that have the slots in them for the Peco point motor fixing tabs.

Spring, spring housing and spring housing sleeper base removed

I had already done these modifications on Fisherton Sarum’s turnouts and now have been able to go a step further by removing the spring, spring housing, the spring housing sleeper base and trimming back the spring location moulding on the tiebar.  The spring is easily removed along with the spring housing by simply bending back the metal clips on either side of the housing and removing complete with the spring. This then exposes the moulded sleeper base under where the housing was and this can be simply cut away along the edge of the neighbouring sleeper.

New sleeper and ballast added and lightly weathered to match the original

I then filled the resulting space with a sleeper, from a spare piece of plain Peco track, cut to length and glued into position. Ballast was then also glued between the sleepers, and the whole lot weathered to match the original turnout and ballast.

All of the above modifications would of course be easier to do before the turnout was installed on the layout, in which case I would suggest replacing sleepers either side of the tiebar with copper clad sleepers soldered into to position but as this is retrospective modification I decided on the process above.

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When I first built Fisherton Sarum I made the decision to use SEEP solenoid point motors to control the turnouts, this was partly due to being familiar with solenoid motors at the time and partially due to cost. In hindsight from both a visual and reliability perspective a mistake. It has become apparent after a number of exhibitions that reliability of the SEEP motors is questionable, even when used with a Capacitor Discharge Unit (CDU), and most frustrating issue has been the inconsistent operation of the built in microswitch.

The first two Cobalt motors in place.

Originally I used the built in switch of the The SEEP PM1 motor for changing the turnout frog polarity and had glued a Peco PL-13 Accessory switch to the underside of the motor to provide switching for point direction indications on the control panel. As time has passed where the built in switch has proved inconstant or unreliable I have swapped the duty of the two switches over so that the Peco Accessory switch is doing the more critical role of switching the frog polarity.

I have now decided to replace all the point motors with the slow acting type and have chosen the DCC Concepts Cobalt slow acting motor (note I have not gone DCC control, I am still of the analogue camp). I choose this over the other slow acting motors on the market due to it being slightly smaller than its competition, recommendations from other users and experienced gained with them on Ashland, one of the Hornby Magazine layouts I helped build.

There is always an awkward one, the clearance under the main baseboard L Girder is not enough for the Cobalt to be directly installed. I will install it to the side and operate the Turnout via a crank and probably leave the unpowered SEEP in place here to act as part of the crank.

Installation of the motors on the whole is quite simple with the exception of one location where the motor needed to be installed to the side (where I plan to keep the  unpowered Seep motor in place as part of the crank arrangement).
I am utilising the existing wiring and control panel push buttons, but as the Cobalts require a polarity change and a constant supply, I have turned once again to my friend, fellow Fisherton Sarum operator and electronics wizard Mark Riddoch who is building for me some cleaver circuitry to take the push button inputs to and turn it into the constant feed required by the motor. Being operated from a 12VDC supply I am retaining a diode matrix system to operate a number of motors from one button when required such as on the ladder of turnouts in front of the shed.

This weekend has seen the first 4 motors (6 to go) changed and wired up.

Update 20th May: All 10 motors have now been changed to Cobalts. Next step will be the changes to the control panel to power them.

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