Milan Branch of the Iowa Interstate RR

Final solution for the switch stands

In a flash of inspiration, I came up with my own design for switching my turnout points using components all available at my local Menards with the exception of an RC cable kit. I decided I needed a spring in order to get enough tension on the stock rails. The attached photos will give you a good idea of my approach. It works! I’m sure it cost more than if I would have gone a more traditional (ie: easy) route, but at this point, I don’t care. 🙂 Spend the cash and get the darn things done!

Normal position. You can see the RC cable with yellow sheath.
Diverging route position. Once I have everything working properly I cut off the screw extensions and paint the connection rusty brown.
Here are the components for the switch mechanism. The spring provides tension on the far side of each turnout point to keep the point snug against the stock rail.
One thing I discovered is I needed to solder another piece of music wire to the existing wire to add more stiffness. This provided needed rigidity to throw the points and hold them in position.
Here is the final setup. I made some additional modifications from what you see here by assembling each throw on a piece of pine for ease of handling, and I enlarged the access hole to the points to give the throw wire more space to move.
Note that the brass RC pin holder screws onto a threaded brass rod (obscured by the buss wires) to allow for adjusting the tension. This made it easy to get the best throw distance between the switch stand and the mechanism.

Folding brackets for staging

We just had a brand new Menards open in my town so I promptly went shopping for materials for my three staging extensions. I picked up some aluminum L-channel and 1/2 in. birch plywood to make each extension, but I also needed some sort of swinging or retractable bracket to support the extensions. I was apprehensive about the brackets because I thought I would need to design and fabricate them and I wasn’t looking forward to that work.

But, in the shelving department I ran across an inexpensive product that made my day. It’s a retractable 12 in. bracket that works fantastic and was only $4.50! Very good quality. See pictures below.

For two of the extensions I plan to add a wood cross piece so that the bracket will reach out far enough to hold it up, but the third bracket will be attached directly to the fascia for the Eagle Sub. extension.

If anyone’s looking for a well-made but low-cost folding bracket, check these out at Menards. Made by Storage Shop, #225-2254

3D printing to the rescue

3D printing is a godsend when one needs a custom design produced. 

Recently, I needed a faceplate to mount an Arduino module for my reversing unit as I’m getting very close to completing all track work on the layout. I asked my friend, Michael P., if he would print me a faceplate that I designed in Tinkercad and he obliged. Thanks, Michael! Below is a photo of the finished plate sitting on top of the module along with another 3D printed IR sensor holder from Iowa Scaled Engineering. Both components will work perfectly for installing the reversing system. Since I don’t have a continuous run, it’s going to be fun to work on the layout as a train moves back and forth.

Michael also sent me several different sizes of drainage pipes. Perfect timing as I start to work on my river scene. 🙂 Below is a photo with an HO figure for scale.

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