Thursday, December 12, 2013

Layout Construction - #17

Denton Gets a Better Train Order Signal
For a long time I have wanted an operating train order signals for the Denton and Geraldine stations. Although there really isn’t much need for train order signals during the era I’m modeling, they were still present. Below is a photo of the Denton station taken during the late 70’s or early 80’s. I would love to credit the photographer, but unfortunately I don’t remember the site where I found this photo. Thanks to whoever you are. Most of the time you see train order signals located on the station or next to the operator’s bay. These signals can be easily set from inside the station. I’m not sure about the story for the Denton station. Perhaps the station was of a much larger design in the past. It may have burned down and a smaller station was constructed farther away while the old station was being demolished. A mystery yet to be solved.

Denton, MT Depot and semaphorePhotographer Unknown

I found an inexpensive alternative from J.L. Innovative Designs (photo on the left). While this made a nice stand-in for an operating signal, I really wanted something better. A trip to Warren’s Train Shop in Ogden over a year ago, I noticed they had reduced the price of a Tomar Upper Quadrant Train Order Signal which made it irresistible (photo on the right). Now that I had the signal I always wanted, how to go about getting it to operate. Looking at various sites on the internet did not produce results that made me feel comfortable with my current skill level.


The March 2012 and October 2013 issues of Model Railroad Hobbyist eZine had some great ideas for operating the train order signal using servos from Tam Valley Depot. A nice step by step article was what I needed to give me the confidence to finish this project. The servos for the semaphore arms can be controlled from either the panel switches on the fascia or by DCC remote from my NCE PowerCab. In the first photo below, you can see the control panel for the two servos mounted on the fascia board. There are controls for each semaphore, one west bound and one for east bound. The black button above each LED controls the movement. I programed the LED’s to indicate green (no orders) or red (stop for orders). The small switch to the left turns the signal light on and off. I will label everything once the fascia gets painted.


The photo on the right gives an overall view of the controls in relation to the signal position on the layout. If I had to do it over again, I would move the throttle panel over to the left more. It doesn’t bother me enough to replace the entire fascia board on this side. The photo on the right gives you a view of the servos and power for the signal LED. I used a plastic tube through the foam board and layout base to make it easier to fit the small wires for the signal. I decided to use a battery holder with two AAA batteries to power the signal LED. The light will only be on during operating sessions and I could also avoid soldering a resistor to the fine magnetic wire. If my information is correct, these signals were only lit when a train was approaching the station. Yes, I know the wiring looks like a mess. There are still some adjustments that need to be made and then I will tidy up the wires.