Milan Branch of the Iowa Interstate RR

Category: Prototype (page 1 of 3)

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.

The great bridge saga continues…

Today I received an update from my friend, Clark C., who is helping construct the two Rock River lattice truss bridges for the branch.

Clark is a true craftsman. And in the tradition of craftsmanship, he is testing the design approach to the bridges. Below are two images that show a “test bed” span. He is testing such things as lattice thicknesses, materials approach and heating the acrylic to help form it for alignment, etc. All this attention to detail is greatly appreciated and it will make for a spectacular presentation once completed.


Also: this last weekend I was at Trainfest in Milwaukee promoting the ProtoThrottle with Michael Petersen and Nathan Holmes. It was my first time at Trainfest and although it was rather grueling standing for almost eight hours both days, we all had a great time.

Nathan had graciously agreed to 3D print both bridge abutments and the one pier I needed. I plan to “skin” the three components with plaster and then distress, chip, and weather them to fit within the scene. Below is a rough setup showing the girder spans in approximate placement.

Rock River bridge girder spans

I just received my two Rock River girder spans from my friend, Clark C. They came in a very well designed protective wood enclosure because of all the delicate parts. The spans look fantastic and I’m excited to get to work on prepping them for placement.

Both spans need to be reinforced with metals strips along each inside length to make them more rigid to support the weight of the trains. After that, I will prime and paint them in a dark rusty brown color, add the ties and rail and then move on to scenery construction for the piers and river scene.

Clark provided the spans so that I can get the track work up and running across the river. The lattice trusses will come later and will be attached via the side beams. Both spans measure roughly 16 inches in length.

Here is an overall view of the two spans.

This closeup shows some of the detail. There are rivets lasered into the acrylic, but it is hard to see in the photo.

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