Jump to content

Opinions sought on using a leverframe to control my layout


Recommended Posts

I would be interested in opinions on using a lever frame to control points and signals on my layout.
I have sufficient cobalt levers to make up a leverframe to control my layout. The layout is still at the 'bare plywood' stage but I'm considering where to site the leverframe and how large it should be.
I have in mind two different options on how to proceed


One option would be to have the lever frame control all points and signals on the layout, including points in the five road fiddle yard, and also some sidings which I suspect would not be controlled from the signal box if it were real.
This has the advantage that the whole layout can be controlled from one place. ( The layout is single operator only ) All levers would be functional. In  way this seems like the sensible option.

 

The second option would be to try to replicate the arrangement of levers which would exist in the ( fictional ) signal box. If I went down this route I'm sure I would need advice ( lots).
I quite fancy this option since, long term, I would like to use a Raspberry PI computer to simulate the next box down the line, in a similar way to Rev Peter Denny did with his 'Automatic Crispin', so working of the leverframe would be more 'prototypical'.


A disadvantage is that some levers would be used for dummy functions, such as facing point locks, trap points, and likely ground signals, so those levers would be 'cosmetic'. I wonder how quickly I would get lazy and just not bother throwing those levers? Also some other means would be required for controlling points in the fiddle yard, and the minor sidings.


Since the levers are cobalts, no mechanical interlocking is possible, so it's not going to fully replicate how a real signal box works, however I do it. ( As an aside I wonder how often the interlocking in a real box would prevent a lever being pulled? Presumably the signalman would be experienced enough to know which levers to pull, in the correct order, in order to carry out his duties, so is unlikely to try to pull a lever against the interlocking anyway??
 
Some additional controls will be required beyond the lever frame in any case, for things like uncoupling magnets. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

At the cost of those levers , using them for dummy operations is a rather expensive peccadillo. 
 

as a builder of a 72 lever frame , my view is

 

dont bother with dummy levers unless you have a penchant for absolute fidelity and mechanical interlocking , there are tablets you can take that help this condition 

 

include levers to make your layout work as required , a model railway will never be a facsimile of a real railway. 
 

if the frame is large , evaluate the operator workload. ( especially if you add bells and what not. ) 
 

 

Edited by Junctionmad
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Junctionmad said:

At the cost of those levers , using them for dummy operations is a rather expensive peccadillo. 
 

as a builder of a 72 lever frame , my view is

 

dont bother with dummy levers unless you have a penchant for absolute fidelity and mechanical interlocking , there are tablets you can take that help this condition 

 

include levers to make your layout work as required , a model railway will never be a facsimile of a real railway. 
 

if the frame is large , evaluate the operator workload. ( especially if you add bells and what not. ) 
 

 

Thanks for the quick response.   My layout will be quite small, so 19 levers will cover the whole thing, even if use levers to control the fiddle yard.  I think I would get dizzy looking at 72!

 

Good advice on the dummy levers, my layout will be OO, so absolute fidelity is already out of the window, so I agree it's probably crazy to consider using dummy levers.

 

As above the frame will not be large, so I'm not too worried about operator workload. To be honest I'm more worried about operator boredom, which is one of the reasons I was considering spicing things up a bit with a more prototypical lever arrangement, as you say I should probably get some tablets to combat the urge to complicate things..

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • RMweb Gold

I am a big enthusiast for working a model railway in this manner. It is the most realistic/appropriate for the steam/early diesel era. But it's not for everybody. You do end up taking longer to run each train.

 

I take the point about unused levers but, in many ways, it is easier to follow the proper way of doing it, using the facing point lock levers to aid the interlocking.

 

Perhaps the first step should be to put up a drawing of your proposed layout and we can get a better idea of how it might work.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Joseph_Pestell said:

I am a big enthusiast for working a model railway in this manner. It is the most realistic/appropriate for the steam/early diesel era. But it's not for everybody. You do end up taking longer to run each train.

 

I take the point about unused levers but, in many ways, it is easier to follow the proper way of doing it, using the facing point lock levers to aid the interlocking.

 

Perhaps the first step should be to put up a drawing of your proposed layout and we can get a better idea of how it might work.

 

Thanks for the reply.

 

My layout will be steam era and therefore using levers to control points and signals just 'seems right' to me. How far I take that toward it's logical conclusion of replicating how the real thing works is where I'm currently pondering. As above there is no way I can arrange mechanical interlocking with the cobalt levers, so there's a practicable limit on how far i can take it in any case.

 

I don't have a drawing of the layout at present. It's all stored in my head, which is from experience the most dangerous place to keep anything important.  The design is based on Iain Rice's 'Varteg Hill' design from 'Light railway Layout Designs' . I have made a few changes, mainly around assuming that the station is part of the 'big railway', and the colliery is worked by it's own locomotive.

I have added a couple of sidings to exchange wagons between the colliery and the big railway. I have replaced the cassette arrangement that Iain proposed with a conventional fiddle yard, so that longer trains can be handled.

 

Space restrictions mean that some compromises have had to be made, foe example colliery trains will use the station loop line as a head shunt for working the exchange sidings. ( they will be forbidden from using th platform line though ). I'm sure in a real world version it's much more likely that the colliery line would have enough space to work exchange sidings without trespassing onto the big railway, but I just don't have the space to do it that way.

 

 

  

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • RMweb Gold
10 minutes ago, Bucket of Steam said:

 

Thanks for the reply.

 

My layout will be steam era and therefore using levers to control points and signals just 'seems right' to me. How far I take that toward it's logical conclusion of replicating how the real thing works is where I'm currently pondering. As above there is no way I can arrange mechanical interlocking with the cobalt levers, so there's a practicable limit on how far i can take it in any case.

 

I don't have a drawing of the layout at present. It's all stored in my head, which is from experience the most dangerous place to keep anything important.  The design is based on Iain Rice's 'Varteg Hill' design from 'Light railway Layout Designs' . I have made a few changes, mainly around assuming that the station is part of the 'big railway', and the colliery is worked by it's own locomotive.

I have added a couple of sidings to exchange wagons between the colliery and the big railway. I have replaced the cassette arrangement that Iain proposed with a conventional fiddle yard, so that longer trains can be handled.

 

Space restrictions mean that some compromises have had to be made, foe example colliery trains will use the station loop line as a head shunt for working the exchange sidings. ( they will be forbidden from using th platform line though ). I'm sure in a real world version it's much more likely that the colliery line would have enough space to work exchange sidings without trespassing onto the big railway, but I just don't have the space to do it that way.

 

 

  

 

In South Wales, the difficult topography could certainly lead to some slightly odd track layouts.

 

To get an idea of what you might need by way of signalling, levers, etc. a quick sketch is all that is needed.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks,   I'll try to get a sketch drawn out. I really do appreciate any advice I can get on, well, just about anything really ....  but especially on signalling levers, and signals themselves.

 

I would much rather get things right at this stage, rather than tearing things up after i have done them incorrectly. As I mentioned above there are some compromises I will have to accept to get the layout built at all, so i can't promise to follow all the advice offered. 

 

As an example of the mess i can get myself into, I just realised this morning that I have glued a baseboard strengthening block right where i need to put a socket to hold a support leg.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Off topic for signalling and infrastructure, but on the theme of compromises for the layout....   private owner wagons...

 

One of the reasons for choosing to include a colliery is so that I can run some of the private owner wagons that I have bought over the last decade or so...

Now if it were a real colliery I would expect the wagons would either belong to the colliery, or to some of its customers, so there would be a lot of virtually identical wagons, whereas I'm more likely to run a mixture of different wagons even though I know it's technically 'wrong'.

 

If I did run only one private owner livery it would still be 'wrong' as the model is not an accurate model of the real colliery.

 

( i definitely need those tablets hahaha)

Edited by Bucket of Steam
added
Link to post
Share on other sites

Being a cheapskate I use Peco levers/switches rather than Cobalts but the traps and ground signals are designed to work so the levers are there. Likewise FPLs, although they electrically lock the points rather than mechanically locking the lever. In actual fact they are just an on/off switch in the common return to the point lever - you can move the point lever but the points dont move if the FPL is reversed. 

 

Yard points which would have been hand worked on the real thing are grouped separately from the signalbox levers. When I get round to it the fiddle yard will be worked off levers too . 

 

I'm an ex-signalman though ! Its bad enough not having proper locking, I'd get twitchy having dummy traps and discs as well !

 

Edited by Wheatley
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Wheatley said:

Being a cheapskate I use Peco levers/switches rather than Cobalts but the traps and ground signals are designed to work so the levers are there. Likewise FPLs, although they electrically lock the points rather than mechanically locking the lever. In actual fact they are just an on/off switch in the common return to the point lever - you can move the point lever but the points dont move if the FPL is reversed. 

 

Yard points which would have ben hand worked on ghe real thing are grouped separately from the signalbox levers. When I get round to it the fiddle yard will be worked off levers too . 

 

I'm an ex-signalman though ! Its bad enough not having proper locking never mind  dummy traps and discs !

 

Thanks for responding.

 

I had considered some electrical interlocking similar to what you describe, but I think if I did that I would need some sort of mimic panel to highlight the fact that the point hasn't moved because the electrical interlocking prevented it. Alternatively i was thinking maybe an annoying buzzer could sound if I try move a lever that should be locked. 

 

I'm an ex-network engineer myself, so I tend to find complicated ways of achieving apparently simple things.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Bucket of Steam said:

 

I'm an ex-network engineer myself, so I tend to find complicated ways of achieving apparently simple things.

Whereas I leave my imaginary mechanical interlocking for my imaginary locking fitter to worry about :-)

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Bucket of Steam said:

As an aside I wonder how often the interlocking in a real box would prevent a lever being pulled? Presumably the signalman would be experienced enough to know which levers to pull, in the correct order, in order to carry out his duties, so is unlikely to try to pull a lever against the interlocking anyway??
 

 

Interlocking in a real box really does (or should) prevent the levers from being pulled (the tappets are pretty substantial) - otherwise there would be no point in having it!

 

All humans make mistakes, and experienced signalmen start out as inexperienced ones. Interlocking is there to prevent those mistakes.

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Wheatley said:

Whereas I leave my imaginary mechanical interlocking for my imaginary locking fitter to worry about :-)

Many many years ago i used to work with a fitter who was imaginary about 30% of the time. His nickname was 'the ghost' because he was always disappearing.

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, RJS1977 said:

 

Interlocking in a real box really does (or should) prevent the levers from being pulled (the tappets are pretty substantial) - otherwise there would be no point in having it!

 

All humans make mistakes, and experienced signalmen start out as inexperienced ones. Interlocking is there to prevent those mistakes.

Sorry I wasn't implying that interlocking was weak in any way,  more that an experienced signalman wouldn't  try to pull the wrong lever. I take your point about inexperienced signalmen though, and I'm in no doubt that interlocking is an essential safety measure on a real railway. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Bucket of Steam said:

Sorry I wasn't implying that interlocking was weak in any way,  more that an experienced signalman wouldn't  try to pull the wrong lever. I take your point about inexperienced signalmen though, and I'm in no doubt that interlocking is an essential safety measure on a real railway. 

 

Even experienced signalmen can make mistakes - especially when trains start running late/out of sequence. Might not be too much of an issue at a simple passing station, but once junctions with conflicting routes are involved, the consequences of such mistakes become much worse.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • RMweb Gold
2 hours ago, Bucket of Steam said:

I had considered some electrical interlocking similar to what you describe, but I think if I did that I would need some sort of mimic panel to highlight the fact that the point hasn't moved because the electrical interlocking prevented it. Alternatively i was thinking maybe an annoying buzzer could sound if I try move a lever that should be locked. 

 

I use an Arduino for Signal Interlocking complete with FPL, see: - 

https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/150296-moretonhampstead-signalling/

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • RMweb Gold

I've built a modratec interlocked frame to control my layout (though most of it isn't connected up yet), though to simplify things (and so reduce cost!) I've left out the FPLs as they wouldn't do anything on the model anyway. I've also left out the fiddle yard and a couple of points in the goods yard that wouldn't be controlled from the 'box, and will have them seperately on toggle switches.

 

For electronic interlocking, we've got a panel in one of the boxes at the MHR (and soon will have in a second) which uses it - I've not operated said panel yet, but from the simulator it works in a way that could be easily mimicked in a model - there's three indicator lights for each set of points (normal, out-of-correspondance, reverse), so if you flick the switch and nothing happens, you know it's because the interlocking has prevented it - if you switch from normal to reverse and interlocking confirms that the points are free to move, the 'normal' light will go out, the ooc light will flash until the points are detected reverse, then the reverse light will illuminate.

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Bucket of Steam said:

As an aside I wonder how often the interlocking in a real box would prevent a lever being pulled? Presumably the signalman would be experienced enough to know which levers to pull, in the correct order, in order to carry out his duties, so is unlikely to try to pull a lever against the interlocking anyway??

 

Signalling is largely the same set of moves repeated ad nauseum so all the right levers in the right order becomes almost muscle memory rather than competence after a while. When you get something completely off the wall to do (usually involving engineers' trains funnily enough) then being checked by the locking and having to mentally go through the move again becomes more common.

 

Certainly trying to do it with the locking disarranged, or by flag/handsignal/shouting because something is broken feels rather like standing on stage in just your underpants.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You can't beat a good lever-frame for operating a layout.

I wouldn't worry about bells on s small layout though, I've seen layouts where you spend more time ringing the bells than running the trains!

Bell signals come into their own on a big layout with several operators.

Best wishes,

Dave.

  • Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone for the replies. I will take a look at the Moreton Hampstead signalling  thread. I have the greatest respect for anyone able to design and build working interlocking. I know i don't have the skills to do that.  I think my priorities for the layout are, in order of importance :-

 

1 Reliability

2 Operational interest

3 Realistic appearance ( within the constraints of OO and limited space )

4 Finally building and using all those kits and materials I have accumulated over years when I had no space for a layout.

 

 

 

I am working on the track plan as mentioned earlier in the thread.

Edited by Bucket of Steam
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

If you points and signals are electrically operates then , other then having a particular interest , there no advantage in building mechanical interlocking 

 

in our case we have a bicolour led at each lever , red locked , green unlocked , red flashing , lever out of position 

 

simple and easier to understand 

Link to post
Share on other sites

@micknich2003 - that's a lovely interlocking frame. I've always wanted to do something similar, but how the heck do you go about planning something like that?!  I mean, I can get to the point where I have levers that lock/release others written down - but converting it into an actual interlocking mechanism seems a gigantic leap!

  • Friendly/supportive 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Lacathedrale said:

@micknich2003 - that's a lovely interlocking frame. I've always wanted to do something similar, but how the heck do you go about planning something like that?!  I mean, I can get to the point where I have levers that lock/release others written down - but converting it into an actual interlocking mechanism seems a gigantic leap!

Feel free to ask questions.

LOCKING CHART  EPPLEWORTH .jpg

LOCKING TABLE EPLEWORTH.jpg

  • 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.