A few days ago Bruce asked what we were working on during our sheltering in place, so I will share my current project via several pictures. I may have to send them in multiple posts due to file size limits.
While perusing the Barrett Hill Shops website I found they are now offering a Direct Power Base for Tortoise Switch Machines whereby you can control several turnouts with one Touch Toggle and all the power comes directly from the track bus with no extra wiring. I decided to try it out with the Kato Double Crossover on a new module for my home layout. Because space is tight under the module, especially for 4 Tortoise machines I centered the crossover on the module.
The next step was to cut all the access holes for the wiring and throwbars. Then comes the scary part: taking all the guts out of the crossover retaining only the 4 spring rods and 4 stripped-down circuit boards. I use a small piece of the L-shaped end of the spring rods to make a points retainer so the loose end of the points don't ride up during operation. To install it I remove the points, being careful not to loose the tiny screws which think they have wings and can fly, and super glue the L's through the hole in the points extension. Note that the points have one side with a very slight curve so they are "handed" and need to be reattached with the curved side aligned with the curved side of the turnout.
With the points off the opening on the turnout can be enlarged enough to provide adequate clearance for the throwbars. A hole needs to be drilled through the metal web between the points also.
Once all the Kato mechanics for routing power through the turnout are removed, all those short pieces of rail are electrically isolated and need to be re-connected to the stock rails. That's where those circuit boards come in handy to provide soldering pads for the hard-wiring of the isolated sections. A continuity tester is a must for this step. Because I intend to power the frogs I added the green wires to the screw that holds the frog in place and replaced the points.
Next I added some mounting pads to the under side of the module using 2 thicknesses of my 5mm (1/4-inch) sanded plywood to allow space for the Tortoise mechanism to work. Even with my 3.5 inch tall modules there isn't enough height to mount the Tortoises in the vertical way they are designed, so I make mounting plates out of 80 mil Plastruct and mount the machines horizontally. The Tortoise cases are styrene plastic and the mounting plates can be attached with any styrene compatible glue, I used Testor's Liquid Cement for Plastic Models. I have mounted Tortoises using this method for years and never had a mounting plate fail to hold.
With everything prepped it was time for a test-fit. My modules are 19.25 inches long so the fit was very tight, but workable. Then it was a matter of running all the wires to the Barrett Hill components. As I mentioned before I am using one Direct Power Base to control three additional slave units using Barrett Hill's regular Tortoise adapters. It was trial and error to get all four machines working in unison without creating short circuits, made espcially difficult because I had to remove the whole machine every time I made a change due to the tight fit at the module ends.
An finally a look at the double crossover in action: https://youtu.be/AzpCKCiuQxs
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