We were thinking about this for months…. Looking at the layout scheme it is clear that the future upper line can only be accessed from the first track of the main station. A simple modification would be sufficient to make access possible from all the tracks and would also allow an about-turn from them using the return loop next to the the new line ramp.
As shown in the diagram, to allow routing to the upper line (depicted in blue) and the insertion to the upper return loop on the left from the 2nd,3rd and 4th tracks of the station (depicted in light blue) we just need to create a riser from the curve leaving the station towards the ramp.
Below the riser is depicted in red.
The area to be modified is in the image below We need to create a link between the main line, at the bottom of the photo, and the secondary line. The bend radii are not relevant and the modification should be easy, at least on paper.
We are going to use Tillig curved turnouts whose radius seems to be right for our purpose. And even if it’s not quite correct, we can take advantage of their rail flexibility.
Using a flexible track we can place everything to test if the geometries match. We will find a correspondence between the current bend radius and the Tillig turnouts radius; few adjustments are needed.
The chosen turnouts come with blades connected to the frog by means of copper strips to ensure its correct power polarisation. We do not like this approach and we have never liked it. Having both blades with the same polarity can lead to unwanted short circuits, because of their proximity to the rails of opposite polarity. We then separate the frog from the blades by cutting the strips and connecting them to their respective rails. The frogs will be polarized directly by the point motor.
Cutting and removing rails after years gives us a small concern, but the job needs to be done. As we say here in Italy, fifty measures and one single cut…
The measurements prove to be correct. We fix the turnouts and risersa and restore and check the electrical connections on isolated rails. The work seems to have been done in a workmanlike manner.
The kit designed by us for AKA Models will drive our turnouts. The AKA Quad Point Motor package includes everything needed for 4 turnouts. The controller works in both analog and digital. We are going to use the DCC mode and the connections to be made are very few: two power cables and two from the DCC booster. The point motors, contained in plastic boxes, are connected to the controller by means of cables (supplied) with 6-pole RJ11 plugs. The same point motors provide a connector for the frog polarization cable.
The job seemed to be easy, but unfortunately the turnout stretchers are located just above the railbed support… There is actually no room for a sub-board assembly, but never mind; we just need to remove the point motors drive pins (from the servo glyph), place the boxes sideways (turnouts will not be visible) and connect the stretcher to the servo by means of a steel rod.
We then install the second point motor and connect the frog polarization cables to the terminal boards.
We have finally to replace the Peco solenoid point motor of the turnout connecting the riser to the upper new line ramp and the one on the return loop. The AKA package provides a special adapter to be screwed to the box. We just remove the Peco motor and install the AKA one.
The replacement is easy; we just need to insert the pins of the adapter into the turnout slots, slightly bend the pins and the motor is fixed to the turnout.
We finally connect all the point motors to the controller by means of the supplied cables; a clean, simple and quick job.
What’s left to do is to set the primary address for DCC operation. The AKA controller provides three different setting modes; we choose the traditional one and set the first address to let be the other three be sequential. Accessing the settings mode is done by pressing the programming key, for the primary address twice; the LED blinks, then a two second press activates the function setting and the LED starts flashing. We set the address on the DCC command station as per NMRA rules and the LED turns off. The controller is now programmed. The blade operation speed is quite fast by default but we prefer to leave it as it is, the turnouts are not visible and the fast speed assures higher safety for the Traincontroller routes. We have to work a little on blades overall swing, which is too wide. We can then choose which point motor to program by pressing key 1 ( motor selection). The control LED flashes from 1 to 4 times, depending on the selected motor, then we go to function 8 and activate it by holding the button down for two seconds. Each press on the button decreases the swing. The controller provides three settings, the intermediate one is perfect for our installation. The work is done and we can now create new routes for our trains.
We shot a short video showing the engines operating and the success of the work … the trains continue to run without derailments!!
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