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Alternatives to Cobalts ?


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I am considering using Analogue Cobalts for the storage loops on my layout, but trawling the internet it appears that they have had their issues early on. Seaching this forum alone brings up 52 pages of threads with Cobalts mentioned. Not having the time to trawl through that lot & the fact that a lot of these posts will refer to earlier versions of the motors I thiought I'd pose the questions ;

1) Does experience show that these earlier issues are now historical & that the current issue ones are trouble free once installed correctly ?

2) What are the alternatives - in a similar price range.

 

The motors selected will need to remain in the last set position during power off/power on.

I have used the Lemarco/Fulgerex ones in the past & found them trouble free, albeit a bit noisy (not quite so bad on 8v).

Also, I need 2 x SPDT switches for aux' switching.

 

Thanks in advance, Sam.

Edited by SamThomas
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Tortoise? .. Tortoise link

 

Personally have moved away from solinoid and slow motion motors as per above and have used Servos on my latest layout all controlled by MERG servo controllers in self build kits and MERG servo mounts and packs of micro switches.  Of course ready built servo controllers are also available from suppliers like for example  Megapoints, Heathcote Electronics or even Peco  My MERG ones cost around £4.90 per point end  - (eBay) SG9 servo motor, (MERG) Servo mount, 2 x micro switches and a quarter of a Servo 4 controller.  Great slow motion operation and fully controllable for speed and position of drive.

Edited by Brian
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Tortoise are still around, made motors well before the Cobalt's first appeared.   Tortoise are pretty much unchanged over several decades.   Generally reliable, though I've known the contact switches fail on extensively used examples.   

 

I think the Cobalt issues are largely fixed, but I don't have enough direct personal experience to vouch for them.  A friend who builds layouts to-order for clients uses a lot of them, usually in their "digital/DCC" versions.  In part because its a single item to fit/install with minimal setup hassles.     

 

Servos have their uses, but they usually come with installation/setup hassles - there are numerous designs of mounting brackets to reduce this hassle, but its still there.  

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I have Tortoise on my 0 gauge layout.  These go back more than 20 years when they were used on an earlier 00 layout.  Despite their issues, I see no need to replace.

 

I have the feeling that DCC Concepts took a good look at Tortoise when designing Cobalt and designed out the worst aspects of Tortoise:

 

- having to solder wires to the connectors, this can lead to shorts.  A D connector is the answer but requires shimming.  Cobalts have a non solder interface.

- a very wimbly 0.020" steel wire is supplied with Tortoise and is useless IMO.  Replace with 0.032" steel wire.  Cobalts have 0.032" wire as standard and it is pre shaped.

 

If I were starting today, knowing what I know now, I would go with Cobalt.

 

John

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I bought a dozen Cobalt motors when they first came out - 2009 or 2010. They are still running on Danemouth though a couple are a bit noisy. In that time the layout has been through several incarnations and I've replaced the actuator wires with piano wire as it's cheaper than the spares in the accessory packs.

 

Cobalts are controlled by Cobalt Accessory Decoders.

 

I have no hesitation in recommending them,

 

Dsve

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DCC Concepts will readily exchange any faulty Cobalt motors, with a new replacement.

They’ve made several modifications and improvements over the years, since the original model came out.

Some of the problems were down to a few faulty batches, the cause of which were said to be identified and rectified.

Cobalts have been in such high demand, that DCC Concepts couldn’t supply enough to dealers and stocks ran out.

With such popularity, we haven’t had many recent reports of faulty items over the last few years.

 

MTB- Model.com produce 4 versions of their point motor.

MP1

MP5

MP6

MP7

Only the MP1 & MP5 are available in the UK at the moment.

 

 

.

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Thanks for the help & suggestions guys.

 

I'm going to trial a current issue Cobalt & an MTB MP5 - I'm leaning towards the MP5 at the moment as it looks quite small & i like the plug/socket arrangement.

 

AFAIK the Tortoise returns to a default position on power off, it's also a tad on the large side.

 

Once again thanks, I suspect my time here may be limited......

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AFAIK the Tortoise returns to a default position on power off, it's also a tad on the large side.

 

 

No, the Tortoise stops when you remove power.  It doesn't move again unless you apply power to it.    You can mechanically push it to a new position, but it takes a considerably shove to do it, and not recommended.  

 

Yes, it is larger than the Cobalt, though not by much.  

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IIRC, under analogue/DC power (12V), the Tortoise will stall out when it gets to full travel in either direction, but the motor remains powered (unless some sort of device is used to de-power).

 

With a stationary decoder (I am using Wabbit) the decoder applies power for a few seconds and then stops.  A momentary push button is a good way to actuate.

 

The latter method is much better IMO.

 

Yes, you can manually move the Tortoise actuator but the gears can slip out of engagement if you do.

 

John

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 27/07/2021 at 16:30, Ron Ron Ron said:

DCC Concepts will readily exchange any faulty Cobalt motors, with a new replacement.

They’ve made several modifications and improvements over the years, since the original model came out.

Some of the problems were down to a few faulty batches, the cause of which were said to be identified and rectified.

Cobalts have been in such high demand, that DCC Concepts couldn’t supply enough to dealers and stocks ran out.

With such popularity, we haven’t had many recent reports of faulty items over the last few years.

 

.

 

Provided that the owner is the original purchaser and that they have been subjected to "fair and proper" use.

i.e. drilling a 10mm hole in the case and asking for warranty was not viewed favourably.

 

Indeed - demand did outstrip supply for awhile, but we have decent stock for now.

 

Whilst there was a couple of faulty batches due to manufacturing issues, there is always an ongoing program to maintain and improve the product.

 

Best Regards

The DCCconcepts Team

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On 28/07/2021 at 18:27, Nigelcliffe said:

 

No, the Tortoise stops when you remove power.  It doesn't move again unless you apply power to it.    You can mechanically push it to a new position, but it takes a considerably shove to do it, and not recommended.  

 

Yes, it is larger than the Cobalt, though not by much.  

 

The Tortoise is generally 20% larger than a Cobalt in all dimensions.

The Cobalt motor cannot be moved by hand without damaging the gears.

 

Best Regards,

The DCCconcepts Team

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On 27/07/2021 at 16:30, Ron Ron Ron said:

DCC Concepts will readily exchange any faulty Cobalt motors, with a new replacement.

 

Not necessarily. They would not replace some from our club layout that they said were damaged by our power supply.

 

I had to replace a dozen surface mount 5V regulators to get them working again. They were cheap to repair, and it was not rocket science. The club is moving to servo point operation now.

 

I believe Brimal used to do some plug on adapters for Tortoise points to avoid having to solder wires to them. They are now showing as out of stock or discontinued though.

 

https://www.bclstore.co.uk/product-page/tortoise-8-way-junction-board

 

 

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The Tortoise pre-dates the Colbalt by some years. The Tortoise, I my opinion, remains the superior product.

 

There are no fancy electronic components in a Tortoise - there is simply a well made stall motor.

 

As has been said the Tortoise can be moved by hand, which can be a benefit in a number of circumstances when setting up.

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