Jump to content

Die Ercallbahn - Fulfilling a childhood dream.


Recommended Posts

22 hours ago, ian said:

 

 

Brilliant! Didn't realise until I saw this that there is a reverse curve on the incline too which makes the performance of most of the engines remarkable! 

  • Like 2
  • Agree 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • RMweb Gold

The most recent MERG (https://www.merg.org.uk) journal contained an article about making an optical detector that fitted inside Hornby Dublo three-rail track. Now as HD track is similar to M-track it didn't take long for the little grey cells to start working. If I could detect where the trains were it would make the handover of trains from manual operation to the automated circuit and back again much easier to judge; a mimic panel hung from the ceiling showing the releavant signals and points plus the trains would also be quite a fun thing to watch. But, given the need to work with electro-mechanical AC devices, how could it be done? AC doesn't play well with computer logic.

 

So, starting with points - you can't fit an extra switch to them so the obvious solution is to detect the pulse that operates them. This could be fed into either an analog-to-digital convertor or a logic level trigger circuit and thence to an Arduino. The signals have two outputs that are designed to power a companion distant signal - this time a constant AC voltage rather than a pulse. The trains could be monitored with optical detectors under the track - if there was one every yard or so that would give a good balance between quantity of detectors and train visibility and a straight logic level signal. Panel indication would be by LEDs.

 

All well and good but it would be nice to stay within the bounds of 1960s/70s technology. LEDs are permissible (they were around but were big, red and expensive) as they are equivalent to a bulb and a diode. So let's make it technologically cruder. Signals first - easy, two wires to a red and a green LED on the mimic panel. Points: Marklin provide a solution for this with their 'Universal Switch' which is basically the same solenoid mechanism that you find in the signals but without the signal itself. LEDs connected to the outputs will then show which way the point is supposed to be set.

 

Train detection is still the biggy. Optical detectors do have a number of drawbacks and one of them is that if a train is stopped with the gap between two vehicles over the detector the train becomes invisible. The work-arounds for this are either to use two detectors a couple of inches apart or to have one detector at the entrance to the block which sets a relay on and one at the exit which sets it off. The universal switch will do that.

 

Of course, there are already track contacts to operate the signals (two - one to set the signal that the train has just passed to red and the second to set the one two blocks back to green). Two more could operate the detection relays and do away with the optical sensors. The trouble is that FOUR contact sections takes up quite a bit of trackage - between 14 and 28 inches depending on which particular tracks you use.

 

Why not combine them all on one contact? Well, if you manually set the signal to red that pulse will also set the other signal to green, cancel one block and mark the other as occupied. Nasty.

 

It took a while before the brain actually got into gear and realised that I didn't need the control pulses to be AC - a DC one will do the job just as well. By putting a diode in each wire going into the contact they will all operate when the sensor is triggered but ignore any other operation on the linked wires. A quick test showed that the reduced power from the diode fitted wires was still sufficient to operate the solenoids and I had a plan. Even better, the revised track contact placing scheme was better and used fewer contact tracks.

 

All this meant that I had to go backwards a bit:

210324-1.jpg

 


to go forwards:

210324-2.jpg

 

  • Like 5
  • Interesting/Thought-provoking 1
  • Craftsmanship/clever 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, ian said:

Optical detectors do have a number of drawbacks and one of them is that if a train is stopped with the gap between two vehicles over the detector the train becomes invisible.

Although I haven't tried it, I know of folk who have mounted the detector at an angle to overcome that problem.

  • Agree 1
  • Interesting/Thought-provoking 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • RMweb Gold

210327-1.jpg

 

With the contact rail locations adjusted the hidden trackage under Maifeld is now all in place and awaiting wiring and final fixing. This will be the furthest point on the main line circuit from the loop at Neustadt.

 

The main line is to the left with two storage loops. The middle track is home to the post train whilst the inner one is for 'fliegende Bückling' - the fish train from the port at Billshaven.

 

The track at the front is an example of how the layout is evolving even as it is being built.


210327-2.jpg

 

That isn't a pencil line just above the train - it is where some extra ply has been added to accommodate the track on which it is standing.

 

There were going to e three industrial tracks at the Rbf crammed in an otherwise empty corner. These ended up as a container crane, a scrapyard and an automotive wheel plant.

 

I realised that I could squeeze a siding into the hidden area which would allow a bit of breathing space for the other two industries, so the wheel plant is now off scene.

  • Like 4
  • Agree 1
  • Round of applause 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Certainly progressing rapidly now Ian. There are a couple of things that amaze me. Firstly how you have managed to source timber that is straight and not warped. My own visitations to the usual diy sheds have revealed a variety of interpretations of straight timber which perhaps might be of better use if you were recreating some form of rollercoaster. Secondly, as is becoming apparent as you talk about the Marklin system, is just how advanced it was at the time and how robust and bullet proof the equipment is. It is one of those things that literally you can hand down from generation to generation and keep going if it does break as it is all repairable. Altogether remarkable! 

  • Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • RMweb Gold
56 minutes ago, Woody C said:

Firstly how you have managed to source timber that is straight and not warped.

Currently Wickes are my shed of choice - far better quality than B&Q.

 

1 hour ago, Woody C said:

Secondly, as is becoming apparent as you talk about the Marklin system, is just how advanced it was at the time and how robust and bullet proof the equipment is. It is one of those things that literally you can hand down from generation to generation and keep going if it does break as it is all repairable. Altogether remarkable! 

 

Hornby Dublo was similar in that respect. I have to say that whilst the modern Marklin products are exquisite models they don't have the same degree of robustness - or supply of spares.

  • Thanks 1
  • Informative/Useful 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, ian said:

Currently Wickes are my shed of choice - far better quality than B&Q

 

Strangely Wickes in this part of the Country appear to be major purveyors of Warps and Knots Specialist Timber. Enquiries with staff in my local store as to the availability of timber that laid flat on the floor without looking like the flight deck of a modern day aircraft carrier revealed that many deliveries of quality timber for the Wickes empire were in fact being redirected to the Telford area where significant increases in demand had taken place. Strange that.......

  • Funny 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 28/03/2021 at 13:40, ian said:

Currently Wickes are my shed of choice - far better quality than B&Q..


Glad I’m up to date with reading this thread - I’m needing new wood for the first time in twenty-plus years, as boards I’ve had in storage have reached the end of their useful life after being chopped about once too often in various false starts last year.  
Our Wickes isn’t as big as our B&Q but both are local and about the same distance away, and what Wickes has does seem better.  There is a clear sign saying it’s OK to open packs for single pieces if needed, though I just picked up and checked over the pack I bought.

Thanks for the pointer.

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • RMweb Gold
Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, Woody C said:

 

Strangely Wickes in this part of the Country appear to be major purveyors of Warps and Knots Specialist Timber. Enquiries with staff in my local store as to the availability of timber that laid flat on the floor without looking like the flight deck of a modern day aircraft carrier...

 

I tend to buy the shrink-wrapped packs of ten - the wood needs to be reasonably straight to fit in the pack and as a unit is more resistant to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune! You always get one or two sub-prime lengths but they are fine for the shorter bits.

Edited by ian
  • Like 1
  • Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 28/03/2021 at 19:32, Woody C said:

 

Strangely Wickes in this part of the Country appear to be major purveyors of Warps and Knots Specialist Timber. Enquiries with staff in my local store as to the availability of timber that laid flat on the floor without looking like the flight deck of a modern day aircraft carrier revealed that many deliveries of quality timber for the Wickes empire were in fact being redirected to the Telford area where significant increases in demand had taken place. Strange that.......

 

B&Q timber and timber products (eg shelf board) consistently gets (very) poor reviews compared to Wickes so I've been using Wickes, and my current layouts are all just 'planks'  on shelves (for storage/compactness reasons) which I put on lightweight pop up tables  

  • Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • RMweb Gold

Caveat: Personal opinion. Your experience may vary.

 

B&Q used to be good - they stocked known brands and usable materials. Then a few years ago their quality fell off a cliff. They started stocking their own 'non-brand' equivalents and cheaper materials.

 

As an example, their plasterboard fixings are a plastic device which are supposed to screw into the plasterboard. If you make a suitable hole in the board the first one will get most of the way in before self-destructing and the second one will actually go home.

 

The equivalent item from Wickes is metal, works first time and - wait for it - is cheaper.

 

2018-Wickes-Missing-Product-650x650

 

https://www.wickes.co.uk/Self-Drill-Metal-Fixers-32mm-Pack-of-50/p/148128?_br_psugg_q=plasterboard+fixings

 

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • RMweb Gold

Sometime during one of the lockdowns, DIY shops were allowed to re-open. Demand was substantial, but precautions were in place, so many shoppers were held outside for a while. Someone rang their local store and asked "How big is the queue?" to be told "Same size as the B!". 

  • Funny 5
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
  • RMweb Gold

210407-1.jpg

 

All the track in the undercroft is laid and wired. In a slight departure from usual practice I have used standard terminal blocks in place of the normal plugs and sockets and Gaugemaster GM500 relays in place of Marklin Universal Switches. Both are functionally the same but easier and cheaper to obtain.


210407-2.jpg

 

The next deck can't be fixed in place until the track has been operationally tested - which will involve having something for the emerging tracks to sit on. In the meantime it will serve admirably as a home for a temporary loop to allow continuous running on the upper stretch of main line track.


210407-3.jpg

 

Even with the power on it is still a bit dark down in the catacombs...


210407-4.jpg

 

...so I fitted a number if LED strips to the supporting timbers that can be illuminated at the flick of a switch. This will be invaluable when sorting out those moments when locos get entwined with the catenary or rolling stock decides it doesn't want to play nicely.


210407-5.jpg

 

International Rescue finally turned up in response to  @Woody C's distress call. Apparently apart from John they are all working from home and have been very busy.
Since the ski jump is no more there was nothing for them to do so they went home again.

  • Like 6
  • Craftsmanship/clever 3
  • Round of applause 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, ian said:

210407-1.jpg

 

210407-5.jpg

 

International Rescue finally turned up in response to  @Woody C's distress call. Apparently apart from John they are all working from home and have been very busy.
Since the ski jump is no more there was nothing for them to do so they went home again.

FAB!!!

 

Unfortunately IR have now call barred me over excessive use of their services. Apparently the final straw was my concern over a missing crate of beer which I believed was possibly the work of The Hood or similar. Oh well! Anyone got the number for SPECTRUM??? 

 

SIG!!!!

 

 

  • Like 1
  • Funny 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • RMweb Gold

210409-1.jpg

 

A temporary chunk of ply has been fixed in place to support the 'deviation' for the temporary return loop.


210409-2.jpg

 

The trouble is that in the meantime the flat surface of the baseboard seems to have got filled.

  • Funny 3
  • Friendly/supportive 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, ian said:

The trouble is that in the meantime the flat surface of the baseboard seems to have got filled.

 Nah! Its not. You can still see some of it!

Spoken by one who knows about "junk".

 

Ian T

  • Thanks 1
  • Funny 1
  • Friendly/supportive 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • RMweb Gold
15 hours ago, ian said:

A temporary chunk of ply has been fixed in place to support the 'deviation' for the temporary return loop.

Deviation is frowned upon in some circles. I am not clear on RMweb policy on this aspect. 

  • Interesting/Thought-provoking 1
  • Funny 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • RMweb Gold
1 hour ago, Oldddudders said:

Deviation is frowned upon in some circles. I am not clear on RMweb policy on this aspect. 

Well, I've done hesitation and I feel that there will be some repetition coming up...

  • Like 2
  • Round of applause 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I do like that! Something very therapeutic about watching a train go round.

 

In addition to hesitation, repetition and deviation it appears that there is a fair amount of resonance also being created. Is this just the camera picking up noise or has Wickes finest quality timber inadvertantly created a rather large sound bin? Never seen the 'Ear defenders should be worn whilst operating model railway' warning on manufactures boxes before but then as I never read instructions until the point that it doesn't work and I have admitted that I cannot put it back together because that is the only way to find out what's wrong, I may well have missed that one. 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.