Milan Branch of the Iowa Interstate RR

Category: Trackwork (page 1 of 4)

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

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.

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