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jamie92208

Modifying a Modratec Lever Frame or what I did when RMWeb was down.

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I'm not sure that this is the right forum but I'm sure that someone will tell me if it isn't.

 

For the last 4 years of it's life, my old layout, Long Preston, was controlled using a Modratec, mechanically interlocked lever frame. For those who don't know these, they are an Australian product. They come as kits with comprehensive instructions, after you build your signalling diagram in some special software called Sig Scribe. After a few exchanges of emails mine arrived and I got the frame built. It was then installed in the main control panel and electrically linked to all the various points and signals, via the built in switches. The frame was a 24 lever frame with 6 main locking bars and 5 sets of partial locks.

 

When Long Preston was dismantled I was reluctant to dispose of the frame and worked out that a 24 lever frame could also control the station area of Lancaster Green Ayre. I emailed Harold in Brisbane and after a few attempts we achieved a workable solution that fitted into the existing frame. All it needed was new tappets and locking bars but the basic frame, levers, switchgear etc could all be reused.

 

Harold supplied the kit a few months ago but it sat in the drawer waiting fo me to make a start. RM Web being down over Christmas provided a golden opportunity so I set to work. I have taken a few photos of the work in progress and will post them in due course when the site has settled down. I even got 9 new tappets filed and notched on Christmas Day when all the outlaws had departed.

 

More to follow tomorrow.

 

Jamie

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As there are still problems with image uploads there are no pictures as yet but yesterday I got the frame and interlocking put back together for testing. A few tappets needed easing slightly but it all seems to work. The locking pins have all been pressed into the locking bars and I've made a start on the signal box diagram. This is again a modification of the one I did for Long Preston, so I don't have to recreate it all again. I've now renamed the levers of the diagram and started to work on the track plan. On the frame I've put a first coat of paint on the levers. Some of them are staying the same colour but others aren't. Covering black with red takes at least two coats so the second coat is todays job.

The other task which will take longer is to learn to use the frame. Getting to remember which sequences the levers have to be pulled in to set up a route. All good fun.

Jamie

Edited by jamie92208

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Looking forward to seeing the pics when they can be uploaded. I have often considered getting one of the modratec kits.

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On the frame I've put a first coat of paint on the levers. Some of them are staying the same colout but others aren't. Covering black with red takes at least two coats so the second coat is toadys job.

Jamie

Different railway I know Jamie but the Western trick when facing that sort of problem repainting levers was to put on a white undercoat.

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Different railway I know Jamie but the Western trick when facing that sort of problem repainting levers was to put on a white undercoat.

 

Thanks Mike, I might try that. One of the most difficult jobs in assembling the frame is fitting the levers as they have a spring loaded ball bearing inside them that needs retaining. At least one went awol when I assembled it originally and Harold very helpfully posted a few spares to me. As a result I can't go down the easy route of taking the levers out and stripping them and starting from scratch. However I might well start again on one or two of them. The red ones that have become black cover well, it;s the black that have gone to red that need a second coat. Thanks for the advice.

 

Jamie

Edited by jamie92208

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Still got image update problems so no pictures but I'll post some as soon as the issues are resolved.

 

Jamie

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At last the images are going in so here are some pictures.

The fist task was to remove the electrical swichgear from under the frame.
post-6824-0-46059800-1325593788.jpg

The next job was to remove the existing locking bars and tappets. Here the bars have gone but the last of the bottom row of tappets are still in place.
post-6824-0-67059500-1325594301.jpg
This leaves the bare frame.
post-6824-0-80522600-1325594315.jpg
The the new tappet blanks are placed in.
post-6824-0-18673100-1325594328.jpg
the the new locking bars which were pre drilled. These had been trimmed to length and the intermediate bars had been cut into sections.
post-6824-0-78169100-1325594344.jpg
The lower tappets were then marked by putting a pen thorugh the holes in the locking ars and moving the appropriate lever. The felt tip then puts marks on the tappets at the appropriate places.
This took about a day.

Jamie

Edited by jamie92208

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The upper tappets were then put on and marked then they were all taken out for filing the various slots and notches. 3 different shapes and 4 potential orientations.
post-6824-0-77547800-1325609390.jpg
post-6824-0-31616200-1325609402.jpg
The lower tappets were replaced then the locking bars checked and the locking pins presed in.
post-6824-0-95184600-1325609412.jpg

That's all for now more to come in due course.

Jamie

Edited by jamie92208
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No I haven't gone to sleep but the reconstruction is still ongoing. There is a slight hiatus at the moment as I was waiting for the new switchgear to arrive. However Harold has rechecked the interlocking and discovered a problem with levers 17 and 19 so wants to rework that area. I've also been busy building control panels and have done some work on how the fiddle Yard and Main panel will communicate with each other and hand over trains. The upshot of this is that the main panel will need to control a point that gives access to the cassette storage area for the trip freights that emerge "wrong line" onto the Up Main. Harold and I have agreed to use the spare lever 11 for this to avoid having to relock that end of the frame. I'm now waiting for 2 new locking bars to sort out the 17/19 issue before construction proceeds. In the meantime the control, panels are coming on and should feature in the Lancaster Green Ayre thread in due course.

Jamie

Edited by jamie92208

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Things have been busy with other parts of Green Ayre but over the last month I have started work on the main control panel that the lever frame sits in. Today I started making up the switches that the levers operate. These come on PCB's that are operated by groups of 6 levers. The first job is to cut slots in the PCB to create flexible 'fingers' that carry the switches.
post-6824-0-54924800-1357056512_thumb.jpg

Here the first couple have been done.
Once all four boards had been sawn the connectors and switches are soldered to them. The Connectors go on one side and the switches underneath on the copper side so that when they are mounted the switches are underneath the ends of the levers.
post-6824-0-56236600-1357056523_thumb.jpg
The little switch units are mounted at an angle so that they are hit correctly by the lever ends.
The switches are just simple make or break ones which are fine for signal operation using MERG Servo4 boards but my Tortoise Point motors need a polarity reversing DPDT switch. To this end I have made up a board of small relays that will operate both the point motors and the LED's on the diagram.
post-6824-0-73412200-1357056498_thumb.jpg
This is the result of many hours of fun before the party on New Years Eve. Things are progressing.

Edited by jamie92208
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Pride comes before a fall.

 

Having done all the work on the relay board and installed it I started connecting the power up.  I then discovered that I had forgotten to include Point 11 which controls access to the cassette storage from the Up main.   As a result I'm going to have to buy another relay and put it onto the board which will make all mya ttemptd at neatness come to nought.

 

Jamie

Edited by jamie92208

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