Modelling what might have been in southeast BC and northwest Wasington

Installing switch machines in staging

I have been working on the layout while we are self-isolating at home. The staging track yard ladder switches are made by Peco and have an internal over-centre spring to keep the points aligned. When I installed all of them way back when, I decided to just go with the intrinsic power routing that the switches provide, and that has worked well. However, I didn’t provide enough separate feeders to sections of the yard ladders which resulted in one needing to align switches way beyond were you are in order to get power. This has proven to be a continuing problem, especially for guest operators. 

I decided after VanRail to fix this problem, and after considering the overall situation where the power routing is dependant on the points, I decided to retrofit the switches with my usual powered frog solution using microswitches for reliability. This meant that all of the track switches would have to be lifted in order to drill the necessary holes for the point throw wires and to reconfigure their electrical connections, but in the end they will all be fully powered and operate exactly the same as the others around the layout. Brian helped lift the track a while back, but I never got around to installing anything until this week.

The first step was to prepare the toggle switches for the main throw mechanism, and then install them under the staging plywood.

Here are some of the switches after modification:

I now have all of the upper staging track switches back in place, and all but two of the switch machines installed under the plywood. My back will only let me do a few each day because there is very little room between the upper and lower staging decks. Working slow and steady, with constant checking has proven to get them installed and working correctly. They still need all of the microswitches for frog power routing, but that will come.

The switch machines for the lower staging yard are easier to install because I can get underneath the layout, but re-installing the track switches was a pain. With only 10” of separation between the levels, there is barely enough room for my head to be able to see to reconnect the rails and replace the track nails. What fun!