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571  Discussion Boards / On30 / Re: Blue point switch machines on: October 16, 2007, 08:26:54 AM
Hello Bill,
Thanks for the input.
Correct me if I am wrong but I take it that when you power the frog thru the Blue point you are actually powering the switch rails, closure rails and frog with the same polarity ?
You only need to isolate the frog then if you get a short running a large loco thru the points and it shorts out by having wheels of the opposite polarity touching the switch rails, closure rails or frog ?

I've now got my blue points in hand and do not want to do more than I need to get good operation. Hence my cautious approach and lots of confirmations.

Send me an email if you lik and I will reply with a photo of the points I am using just in case there is a difference.

Thanks Chris

Hi Chris,

Yes, that's correct, on my modules, the BluePoints are powering the frog, and the frog feeds the closure rails and the points. The main stock rails are powered by the main feeder wires, not the Bluepoints, and except in the case of the Auto-reverser section, their polarity doesn't change. This does leave the possibility for a wheel's back surface to touch the open point as the wheel passes through, thereby creating a momentary short which, using DCC, would be enough to cause the breaker to shut down, but this hasn't happened yet. The clearance between the open point and the stock rail is pretty generous, so I don't think it's a problem, but as I said, we haven't tested any of the MMI K's which have a long wheelbase that may cause a  problem. Of course, if you gap the closure rails close to the frog, and add jumper wires from each closure rail to the adjacent stock rail, making the points always the same polarity as the stock rails, you would eliminate the possibility of a point to wheel back short altogether. I didn't, because I was working under a deadline to have the module operational for a show, and I figured with small radius curves I probably wouldn't be able to run anything that would cause a problem, anyway. At the time I built the first module, which is an equilateral wye mounted on a hexagonal table less than 36" across,  the biggest locos available were able to traverse an 18" radius. Since space was an important consideration, I used 22" radius for the curved track between the 3 Peco "wye" turnouts (approximately 35 degrees). I was a little concerned when I purchased one of Bachmann's Forneys sometime later, but fortunately, it seems to run OK through the wye module. If I had it all to do over again, I would use at least 24" radius as a minimum, possibly even 26" or 28". I also might use Micro Engineering turnouts since I'm not fond of the look of the stubby Peco ties and the "brassy" color of their code 100 rail, but operationally, however, I'm happy with the Peco turnouts and the BluePoints. I would use the BluePoints again, no matter which brand of turnouts I choose.

Bill Nielsen
Oakland Park, FL
572  Discussion Boards / On30 / Re: Blue point switch machines on: October 15, 2007, 06:17:38 PM
Sorry not to have replied sooner, but I've been out of town.

As far as making the Peco On30/Oe16.5mm turnouts "DCC-Friendly", the only thing I've done so far has been to put insulated railjoiners on both legs of the frog (if it's a stub siding, you only need insulate the mainline side) and power the frog using the contacts on the Bluepoint. This is actually redundant as long as the Peco's contacts work properly (which they seldom do after the turnout is installed, painted and ballasted - hence the need for redundancy). The frog is wired to either one of the center studs, and the power from the two main rails to the other studs on the same side as the one connected to the frog. I used an Ohm meter to be sure I got the right polarity, before turning on the power, since the Amps a DCC system uses could cause things to get pretty hot if there was a short and the breaker didn't kick out. So far, no further mods have been needed, in our module group we've run most all available Bachmann On30 locos, Broadway C-16's, and several various kitbashed units using HO mechanisms with no problems. Not sure about the big K's from Mountain/Precision Scale though, they may require cutting a gap in the closure rails between the points and frog and running a jumper from the stock rails to the closure rails on the point side of that gap. Then again, from what I've heard, the K's are not happy on less than 26" radius curves, my modules use mostly 24" radius, but one module does have a couple of tight spots with some 22" radius. The Peco turnouts use 24" radius on their curved sides and their Wye. I'm told that if the curve is short and doesn't extend beyond the limits of the turnout (roughly 12-13 degrees), the K's can usually squeek thru, but they may have a problem with larger segments of curve. We haven't tried them on my modules, because I'm sure they would be unhappy with those few 22"radius spots!

Hope this helps!

Bill Nielsen
Oakland Park, FL
573  Discussion Boards / On30 / Re: Blue point switch machines on: October 05, 2007, 10:16:05 AM
I have installed six of these units so far on my On30 modules which use Peco Oe 16.5mm turnouts, and I really like them. One of the big pluses is that there is a lot of "trick" hardware out there in the R/C dept of your local hobby shop that will aid in doing custom installations of the pushrod linkages. These things are perfect for modules or shelf type layouts and I highly recommend them. For mine, I used the next larger size of music wire to connect the BluePoints to the turnout, since the Pecos come with their own over-center springing arrangement, and I didn't want to disable that. The only problems I can see, would be if you are using 2" foam for your shelves you may have to devise some way to get the BluePoint closer to the bottom of the turnout to increase the available pressure at the switchpoints (or go to larger spring wire). My road bed and sub-roadbed only totals 1/2' on my modules, so this wasn't a big problem for me. At first, I did have a problem paying over $10 for a MANUAL switch machine, but that can be overcome by shopping around, and also buying them multi-packs instead of single units. For 40 turnouts, I would suggest trying the 10 packs!
Regards, Bill Nielsen - Oakland Park, FL
574  Discussion Boards / On30 / Re: Coupler setup on Bachmann On30 cars completely wrong! on: April 03, 2007, 11:44:03 AM
Most of the standards were set over 30+ years ago. The only new standards are the DCC standards, thank goodness for that work done by those VOLUNTEERS. The fact that the NMRA is a volunteer organization means the On30 standards will probably never come to be.

The On30 Yahoo groups have ridiculed the NMRA unmercifully so I doubt if anyone in the NMRA really will come forth with anything in the future. When I was attending the 2004 National Narrow Gauge Convention in Santa Clara, California there was an NMRA representative asking about standards. I suggested a combo coupler box as a standard, a pad at On30 height and an HO height coupler box to mount to that pad. The mounting pad would only need the Kadee #5 coupler box footprint to mount all the available couplers.

The HO height is probably a defacto standard because the major player in On30, Bachmann, has use it on their equipment.

There are also no decent module standards just a hodgepodge of bad ideas. Seems no on in On30 has ever seen N-trak. Every other scale's module system is based on the N-trak model.

Just a thought

Hi Harold,

Yes the module standards issue is a real "can of worms", however, please don't label them all bad ideas. Many fine modelers consider the N-Trak standards themselves to be the hodge-podge full of bad ideas that you describe. Reasons cited are the 3 mainlines, the too-wide track spacing, the end profile boards, and the lack of provision for more free-formed modules. Some of these issues were addressed by the N-trak offspring such as "oNe-trak". Just because a set of module standards doesn't "rubber-stamp" the N-trak standards doesn't mean they are unworthy of consideration. The biggest problem is the NIH attitude ("not-invented-here" therefore no-good) that is prevalent in most module groups, including N-trak. Fact is, most all of the many On30 modular group standards can be made to interconnect with a little co-operative "fudging".

By the way, I LOVE your website, it is an outstanding service to the entire hobby of model railroading, not just On30. Thanks for sharing it with us all.

Bill Nielsen
Oakland Park, FL
575  Discussion Boards / On30 / Re: Coupler setup on Bachmann On30 cars completely wrong! on: April 03, 2007, 11:27:54 AM
More about standard gauge cars on narrow gauge trucks - the East Broad Top narrow gauge RR had the "Timber Transfer" crane in their Mount Union, PA yard, which was used to lift standard gauge cars received from the PRR while narrow gauge trucks were installed under them so that they could then be moved to delivery points on the narrow gauge line. There were several published photos in magazines like "Trains" of the truck transfer in progress. I have often wondered how or if they kept track of which trucks came from which cars when they put the standard gauge trucks back on, so that the repack data stenciled on the cars would remain accurate.

Bill Nielsen
Oakland Park, FL
576  Discussion Boards / On30 / Re: Coupler setup on Bachmann On30 cars completely wrong! on: April 02, 2007, 10:13:08 AM
Great answer that goes a long way to calming waters.
Can I post your reply in the files section of one of my 0n30 Yahoo groups of which I am a Co-Moderator - I'm willing to accept any caveats you may wish to impose to protect the innocent Wink
David Butler

Sure thing, go right ahead. I'm a member of most of the Yahoo On30 groups myself, but am active on just a few, and am a moderator on the FloridaOn30 yhaoo group. Drop in and visit us if you get a chance (you don't need to be from Florida!).

Bill Nielsen
Oakland Park, FL
Member Florida On30 Renegades
577  Discussion Boards / On30 / Re: On30 Standards on: April 01, 2007, 09:38:53 PM
To the guys discussing why the NMRA hasn't endorsed standards for On30, here's an unofficial reply. First, when posed to many On30 modelers, the standards question frequently evokes the paraphrase from the Humphrey Bogart movie (Treasure of the Sierra Madre), "Standards? We don't need no stinkin' standards!". Great line, bad attitude. The truth is, many of the standards are already there, whether they want to admit it or not. For track and wheel standards, just look up the NMRA HO track & wheel standards, and note that the existing HO NMRA standards gauge works just fine for On30 track & wheels. For track centers and clearance standards, refer to the NMRA's  On3 clearance standards, since most of the currently available On30 items are actually 3' prototypes using On30 trucks. Please remember that prototype narrow gauge line standards varied slightly from each prototype railroad, since they all had different sized equipment. Also, keep in mind that most On30 modelers like to use very sharp radius curves (in some cases sharper than those used in HO - go figure!), so track centers and clearances may need to be adjusted slightly to suit the individual modeler's needs & equipment. Also, remember that two foot gauge cars tended to be as long or longer than a lot of three foot gauge equipment, so there's likley to be more overhang to the inside at center and more swing-out of the ends on curves with scale two foot equipment. As for coupler height and size, since there were so many variations of the prototype, it's impossible to declare a "standard" without nullifying someone's favorite road. The Kadee HO coupler is pretty accurate for those modeling two foot gauge prototypes, or three foot gauge prototypes that used smaller couplers. For those modeling three foot gauge prototypes that interchanged via dual gauged yards with standard gauge, the Kadee On3 or S gauge couplers are popular. Some modelers are using the Sargent S scale couplers on their On30 models, even though it isn't fully automatic, because they feel the HO couplers are too small, the On3 couplers are too large, but the Sargent is just right.

Now, if you really want to start a flame war, try referring to On30 as On2-1/2 as Model Railroader frequently does!

Bill Nielsen
Oakland Park, FL
Member Florida On30 Renegades
NMRA S scale Standards Committee
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