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Wagon propulsion

Mikkel

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I've been testing the trackplan for “The sidings”, and got a bit carried away...

 

 

Jokes aside, there is a more serious side to this: As previously explained, the layout is inspired by the trackplan at the back of Gloucester Old Yard. This included the very short so-called “biscuit siding” which served a private warehouse through a kick-back arrangement.

 

new_010_embankment_004.jpg

 

In GWRJ No. 45 (p262), shunter Hayden Jones explains how the biscuit siding was operated:

 

Quote

“Wagons were gravitated in and out. When we put a van in, it was pushed right on to the stops and the brakes put hard on. The pilot then stood back while we unlocked the points, released the brake and allowed the wagon to roll into the siding. When it was ready to come out, we collected it with our engine.”

 

Photos of the siding do not show any major gradient, and I'm a bit confused as to how gravitation could be done both "in an out". I wonder if the quote refers to the use of pinch bars? Alternatively, there may have been a light gradient one way, and use of horses and (later) perhaps a powered capstan the other way.

 

In any case, my initial reaction was to disregard these practices on my layout (which is not a direct copy of Gloucester anyway) and simply shunt the siding with a loco. I have made provision for this in the track plan and may still end up with that solution. Still, I couldn’t help toying with the idea of some form of non-loco wagon propulsion in that particular siding.

 

 

IMG_0078ok.jpg

 

The video above demonstrates my most succesful experiment so far. There’s a magnet stuck to the underside of the wagon and another in my hand underneath the baseboard. I thought I’d test it just to give it a try. The magnets are MSE and work quite well through my foamboard baseboard, and yet I have my doubts: The video shows manual operation where starts and stops can be done fairly gently. However, to make it practically feasible some sort of permanent, mechanically sliding magnet would be needed, and in such an arrangement it would be tricky to avoid sudden starts and stops, I think.

 

So what are the alternatives? High Level do a mechanism for powering individual wagons, which looks interesting. It is illustrated in operation on the rather superb Leicester South seen below (from ca 6.17). Does anyone else have any experiences with this or other means of non-loco wagon propulsion?

 

 

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Hi Mikkel,

 

No experience on this issue but how's this for an idea? Use track voltage and some electrical pick ups on the wagon to power an electromagnet thereby making it able to to be turned off and on.

 

Put the fixed magnet on a rod under the track to slide backwards and forwards.

 

There might just be the germ of an idea in there somewhere...

 

All the best,

 

Castle

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Hi Mikkel,

 

If you lay your track in a low gradient it's in my opinion a matter of weight. If a wagon has enough speed after uncoupling and enough weight he will roll down the gradient.

You could try this out this on some test track.

 

Regards,

Job

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Telekinesis indeed!! Have you been visiting the Carlsberg brewery ??

 

Seriously, the magnet idea should work (wire in tube? or a motorised screw? the latter could have options for incremental power increase & reduction for start and stop.) 

As ever, I'm impressed with your appetite for Elephant snacks!

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I've also seen the High Level wagons in operation on the Leicester South layout, and to my eye they worked very well.

 

I wouldn't abandon your idea just yet, though Mikkel, as it has the virtue of simplicity and could be applied to any wagon rather than just a dedicated one with the mechanism in it. If on the other hand you went for a slight gradient, it wouldn't be too hard to arrange a braking device to hold the wagon at the limit of the headshunt until the locomotive has backed off. In one of the American mags I saw an idea for a solenoid which pushed a wire up between the sleepers, trapping the axle and enabling a train to be held on a gradient, but there must be other possibilities.

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Another idea ... purely theoretical, and probably a bit Heath-Robinson (which in my mind adds to the delight) ...

 

Have the under-board magnet fixed to a looped belt that runs around (vertically mounted) pulleys at each end of the extent of the run you wish the wagon to travel.

 

When the belt-mounted magnet reaches one of the end-pulleys, the magnet will travel down and away from the wagon, thus decreasing the magnetiic pull on the wagon. The wagon will then slowly draw to a halt as gravity takes over as the magnetic force diminishes. 

 

This could be operated by a hand crank, or somehow motorised - I don't know. 

 

I hope I explained that ok. I haven't got a clue about these things really - you just fired my imagination.

 

Either way, as always, it's been a pleasure to catch up with goings-on at The Farthings :)

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From Southernboy's idea - Hand cranking would give you more control, if the wagon rolled beyond the magnet, you'd not be able to pull it back out again.

 

Another option is an uneven cranked mechanical arm, where the piece moved by hand is magnified in the movement of the magnet. (Will PM an image of the idea).

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Hello Mikkel, you might get some inspiration by studying a product called Magnorail. Magnorail uses a flexible guide and track system for its HO scale cyclist. For images of this system search Google / Images / Magnorail.  If the track could be kept straight, then you could perhaps model something in styrene.

 

Man on a bike

 

Regards Snitzl

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Hi Mikkel, this looks very interesting and in a similar vein to what I've experimented with on my Oswestry works diorama.  I used rare earth magnets with some success to move the works traverser, powered by a lead screw and stepper motor.  Maybe that's a little overkill for this! But motorising an under-board magnet could be achieved with something like another section of track slung underneath the siding with a cheap 0-4-0T with a corresponding magnet fixed to the roof... another heath robinson suggestion :)

 

I've not had any time for months to progress those ideas with the works sadly, but in the back of my mind I've been thinking I'd have to look at a solution similar to this to move wagons or tenderless locos around the works as it was all done by pinch bars.  No locos in steam entered the works as far as I can gather.  

 

Will be interested to see how you progress with this one :) good luck

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Some very exciting suggestions here, many thanks everyone! Let's see if I can summarize the options so far:

 

1. On-board mechanism

- On-board electro-magnet

- Motorized wagon,

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If the control track in my suggestion's image is also curved, the magnet will follow the required path.

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It does raise some challenges, including how to make the wagons brake realistically.

 

This clearly calls for some testing, I'm off to the basement! :-)

If you use the gradient method, then careful profiling towards a flat section in the biscuit shed should bring wagons to a halt automatically.  Plenty of scope for experiment here.

 

Alternatively, some form of light rubbing strip, perhaps disguised as a check rail, could apply a little friction.

 

Incidentally, your biscuit shed could receive one of those tilt wagons, shown in this photo at Huntley & Palmer's biscuit factory. :)

 

Mike

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If the control track in my suggestion's image is also curved, the magnet will follow the required path.

 

Yes, I can see how that would work.

 

I'm beginning to think that a combination might be the way to go: Unlike the prototype, I have opted for a covered biscuit shed, and I'm not sure gravity shunting would have been allowed all the way into a covered shed (sounds pretty risky!). So maybe a gradient which brings the wagons to a stop just outside the shed, and then a magnet to simulate pinch bars/capstan/horses into and out of the shed. But then again, an onboard motor would do both those things!

 

 

If you use the gradient method, then careful profiling towards a flat section in the biscuit shed should bring wagons to a halt automatically.  Plenty of scope for experiment here.

 

Alternatively, some form of light rubbing strip, perhaps disguised as a check rail, could apply a little friction.

 

Incidentally, your biscuit shed could receive one of those tilt wagons, shown in this photo at Huntley & Palmer's biscuit factory. :)

 

Mike

 

I did a quick test by tilting the baseboard at an angle this afternoon, and running some wagons and vans on temporary track. As might be expected, the weight and running qualities of each individual wagon makes a big difference in how fast and far it rolls, so that's one thing to factor in. A check rail is not a bad idea, and would not be out of place where it would need to be, I think. 

 

Those photos from Huntley & Palmer's keep haunting me. I had not noticed the tilt wagon before. Is that one of the standard gauge ones then? I like the horses too! 

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Hi Mikkel

 

I'm very much enjoying this subject, not intending to add to any of the above, just fascinated by the methods you are experimenting with to achieve an end result. I was especially taken with the bicycle which I think appears on a tram based layout ( sorry forgotten which one, it's on this web somewhere) man with cloth cap pedalling like billyoo being passed by a tram, really makes me smile.

Anyhow..... The tilt wagon would have been a standard gauge in my opinion so would look good on your proposal, a bit more of the harking back to Broad Gauge eh!

 

Very happy modelling and experimenting :)

 

Grahame

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Hello Grahame, yes agree about the Magnorail cyclist!

 

And the system may have some potential for wagons too. Thanks to snitzl, I've found a bunch of videos on their Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/Magnorail

 

They also have a website with manuals here: http://www.magnorail.com/site/manuals/

 

PS: And here is someone who has used it to make stock move!  http://www.magnorail.com/site/en/2014/05/21/auhagen-feldbahn/

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A few additional notes here after some further testing and thinking, in case anyone is interested:

 

I'm still a bit dubious about the magnetic option. The underboard mechanism is probably feasible to do in one way or the other, but I'm finding that the magnets do not work very well with whitemetal wagons, which seem to be too heavy. So either stronger magnets would be needed (and the MSE ones are farily powerful already) or I would have to limit myself to light plastic wagons.

 

Apart from the High Level motorization kit, I had a look at the Bull Ant motor bogie from Hollywood Foundry. They do one with a 9 ft wheelbase, which would be convenient for a pre-grouping van, and they can supply them without wheels, so spoked wagon wheels could be fitted. However you would have to accept a rather un-prototypical frame under the van, and as I like viewing stock close up I don't think that would work for me.

 

A further issue is that on reflection I'm not sure I like the idea of "driving" a van/wagon as you would a loco. I know model railways is one big illusion already, but there is something not quite right about the thought of controlling a wagon, or seeing it move by itself on a flat bit of track. For a mad moment I did consider modifying a a couple of Magnorail cyclist's legs to make a walking shunting horse, but even if that were to work, there remains the issue of making the shunter walk realistically beside it!

 

I think I'll therefore move ahead with the gravity option. This is what happened on the prototype and I like the simplicity of it. I did some more testing of this yesterday and I think I can achieve a reasonably realistic speed (not too slow to stall, not too fast to look odd) with a fairly limited incline. There is a natural retarding action in the curve of the point which helps slow down the wagons, and I can fit some further retarding device inside the biscuit shed (I found this earlier discussion here on RMweb).

 

The latter would mean having to accept that the wagons roll all the way into the shed before coming to a full stop. As mentioned above, I'm not quite sure if that would have been allowed in reality, but on the other hand it could be one of those local idiosyncrasies that was silently accepted and never written down anywhere! :-)

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Hi Mikkel, another interesting project!  In my opinion, (for what it's worth) wagons moving on their own always look a little odd.  To my mind the "gravity option" would look much more believable and would add interest to the scene.  I can't imagine the staff in the biscuit shed being too happy having their shed filled with steam and smoke when the wagon was fetched out again though!  I guess as long as the headshunt's long enough you could have a couple of wagons between the loco and the load to be fetched out of the shed so the loco stays out in the fresh air.  As usual interesting thought provoking stuff, I'm looking forward to seeing your progress.

 

Best wishes

 

Dave

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Hi Dave, I share your sentiments about the gravity shunting. I think the other options are interesting projects in themselves, but in this case the gravity solution will probably work best.

 

Your point about needing a wagon to pick up the vans in the shed is a good one. The headshunt allows for three wagons and a loco, so maybe one of those wagons should be a "shunting wagon" of some sort. Either an actual shunter's wagon (which would be nice), or maybe a battered old wagon from the erstwhile Wiltshire & South Coast Railway, retained for this particular purpose!

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Hi Mikkel,

 

What a tonic that video demo was! The music was, as usual, great.  Love this type of innovative tinkering of yours and it has certainly got a lot of people thinking about the problem.  As all of your blogs usually do.

 

Think Alan Buttler's idea about a track underneath with a magnet on a bullant motor was good, but the gravity option sounds simpler and much more like the real thing.  In reality the gradient would be quite miniscule as the weight of these wagons would make them roll quite easily plus the fact that there would be no where near the amount of friction in their bearings compared to the model 'hole and spike' bearings.  Now that would be a real challenge; an accurate and machined 4mm scale model of a wagon bearing, and you're just the man to do it!

 

Mike

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...the fact that there would be no where near the amount of friction in their bearings compared to the model 'hole and spike' bearings.  Now that would be a real challenge; an accurate and machined 4mm scale model of a wagon bearing, and you're just the man to do it!

 

Unfortunately, we're in the realms of gravity and all those other forces that do no scale. There should be very little friction between a steel pinpoint and a brass cup bearing. If you want a more true-to-prototype form, there's always the Exactoscale parallel 1mm axle and matching bearing, a similar shape to a prototype wagon journal if a little underscale for most. I've not found these to be more free-running that a pinpoint bearing.

 

Nick

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Hi Mikkel,

 

What a tonic that video demo was! The music was, as usual, great.  Love this type of innovative tinkering of yours and it has certainly got a lot of people thinking about the problem.  As all of your blogs usually do.

 

Think Alan Buttler's idea about a track underneath with a magnet on a bullant motor was good, but the gravity option sounds simpler and much more like the real thing.  In reality the gradient would be quite miniscule as the weight of these wagons would make them roll quite easily plus the fact that there would be no where near the amount of friction in their bearings compared to the model 'hole and spike' bearings.  Now that would be a real challenge; an accurate and machined 4mm scale model of a wagon bearing, and you're just the man to do it!

 

Mike

 

Thanks Mike, I have certainly complicated things a bit for myself with this idea, as I had already built the baseboard and now have to "retro-fit" whatever solution I end up with. I also liked Alan Butler's idea but there remains the problem with the use of magnets that starting and stopping becomes rather sudden unless the magnetic force is gradually introduced/removed. In the video this is done by moving the hand slowly "down and away" when stopping ( and v.v. when starting). For that reason I think an automated magnetic solution would require some sort of belt drive that allows such a move, as some have suggested above. A stronger magnet is also required to move white-metal wagons reliably.

 

On the subject of accurate 4mm bearings, a fantastic concept but I think it would require someone with precision machining skills. As it is, I'm just happy to get my foamboard corners square :-) 

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Unfortunately, we're in the realms of gravity and all those other forces that do no scale. There should be very little friction between a steel pinpoint and a brass cup bearing. If you want a more true-to-prototype form, there's always the Exactoscale parallel 1mm axle and matching bearing, a similar shape to a prototype wagon journal if a little underscale for most. I've not found these to be more free-running that a pinpoint bearing.

 

Nick

 

I've done some more experiments with the gravity solution, exposing the rather varying running qualities of my wagons! Apart from bearings, other factors influencing how my wagons run on a gradient include the exact gauging of the wheels, curves/turnouts, and the type of track: Code 100 gives the poorest running on a gradient, code 75 is OK and C+L is best. I suppose this has to do with the rail profiles (?). 

 

The challenge is to avoid too high speeds while still keeping the wagons running, as I want to give the impression of an everyday gravity shunting manouvre, rather than actual hump shunting. 

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Hi Mikkel,

 

A bit behid the times on my reply here - I've been away from RMweb for a bit and am just catching up with your posts. As I read through the comments here an idea formed so thought I'd suggest it. I'm glad you chose the gravity shunt option as this would be my preferred method too and I feel will look far more realistic, certainly in terms of the wagon initially moving off.

 

So here is my idea to implement it: keep the permanent magnet mounted underneath the wagon. At the top of the headshunt install an electromagnet which you can switch on/off. This can be used to hold the wagon whilst the loco backs away. Then it is switched off and the wagon will roll into the siding.

 

To brake the wagon, I first thought of having a series of permanent magnets within the shed but increasing in size towards the bufferstops to progressively retard the wagon as it enters, though all wagons may still stop in the same place. The variations you mention above should provide plenty of different stopping points though. Then I thought of having one or more electromagnets spaced along the length of the siding which you could control the strength of and therefore choose where to bring the wagon to a halt. There would be some skill in the operation of this to get the wagon where you want, but possibly similar to applying the wagon brakes manually in real life?

 

I'd be interested to know how far you got with your experiments since the last posts

 

Best wishes,

Nick

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Hi Nick, welcome back to RMweb and many thanks for these ideas. They are very timely as I'm beginning to turn my attention back to this after having worked on other things for a while.

 

Your point about electromagnets is important, because I'll need to prepare for that in advance. I like the idea, but have never used electromagnets before so am not sure where to start. Must look into that. Holding the wagons back in the headhunt could, I suppose, be done through more low-tech means, but I think your idea may be more practical. 

 

In terms of stopping the wagons inside the biscuit shed, it may not need to be very complicated. Conveniently, the turnout leading into the siding brakes the wagons naturally, and as long as the siding is left flat they will come to a standstill inside the planned biscuit shed. They don't all stop in exactly the same place, but that is not necessarily a problem as long as they get into the shed. So it may be sufficient to have a single "emergency brake" magnet at the end of the biscuit shed siding, in case I get a wagon that rolls markedly better than the others.

 

The biggest challenge seems to be to maintain a steady roll down the incline, with just enough speed to keep going but not too much. I wonder if could use an electromagnet along the way as a retarder of sorts...?

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