Main Station Points Replacement

Having built the first three points for the main station, it was time to remove all the old points and trackwork:

The points in this area had already been rearranged once, so the baseboard had a lot of large holes that needed covering!

These are the three points for the station, mounted on a plasticard base ready to fit on the layout:

The point motors are underneath:

After making even larger holes in the baseboard, the points were installed on the layout:

and then the connecting track:

I’m paying much more attention to getting reliable power to the track. You can just see the wires going down through small holes in the baseboard. This also shows the transition from the plastic sleepers of the track to the copperclad sleepers used for the points. It all looks a bit of a mess at the moment, but once it’s painted and ballasted, it should look fine.

The curve on the right is very tight, and it’s critical to get the track positioned so the longer coaches don’t hit anything!

This photo shows the platform track fitted, though not trimmed or glued down:

Once the track is glued in place, and some buffers fitted, the station can be reassembled and the layout will be operational again. At least until the next section gets upgraded!

Mounting a point motor

To make the job of mounting the new points on the layout easier, I’m experimenting with a method of attaching the point motor directly to the point, allowing the whole assembly to just be dropped into a suitable hole on the layout.

The first stage is to glue some thin plastic to the point sleepers – I used a bit of case from an old 8″ floppy disk (left over from the very early days of computing…):The plastic is wider than the hole will be, so should cover any gaps. There is a small gap in the plastic to allow the control wire to move the tie bar.

On the underside, a 38mm x 50mm piece of 6mm plywood is glued to the plastic, and the point motor (Conrad) screwed to this (1.5mm hole). The screws are too long for the plywood, so the excess are trimmed:
Wires from the point frog and rails are soldered to small pins in the wood. This allows a switch inside the point motor to change the frog polarity:
Two more pins allow a connection to the point motor itself:You can just see a spring steel wire on the right, which connects the moving arm of the point motor to the tie bar on the point.

Finally, wires are attached to the pins; the red ones will go to the point motor driver, the other pair to the track power:

Update 1
I’ve used a different arrangement for the spring steel wire on subsequent points:

This uses a much thinner wire (the thin wire supplied with the motor), constrained by the short copper tube under the motor. This produces enough force to move the point, but no so much that the point could be damaged should a problem occur.

Update 2

More point motors have now been fitted, and this photo shows a neater method for the construction and wiring. This motor is fitted a 6mm plywood base on 1.5mm black plasticard, with the point glued to the other side. This should match the height of the 1/16″ cork overlay, providing a constant top surface on the layout itself. Note that the wires are taken around the opposite side of the motor to the actuator wire.

Note the thin red wires on the right that take the power to the point and frog.

Making a point

Things have been happening “behind the scenes” on the railway…

One of my long term plans was to replace the current track with more realistic looking track. Last year, I was fortunate to acquire a selection of hand made points which had been removed from another layout:
These points are beautifully built (far better than I could do), but there were not enough of the right sort of points for my layout, so after buying a couple of “kits”, embarked on making some myself.

The first stage is to fix the printed template to a bit of board, and cut strips of copper clad board to make the “sleepers”. These are stuck on with double sided tape to hold them in position:
The far right sleeper has been left off as this point needs to be installed very close to another point:
To get the first rail straight (and vertical), I used some aluminium angle as a reference:
The rail is soldered on to the sleepers:
This rail acts as a reference for the other rails. Note the two roller gauges on the left – these are used to get the right distance between the rails.
This picture shows all the fixed rails fitted:
And finally, the point blades are fitted, soldered to a “tie bar” on the right hand side. The tie bar will be moved by a motor, causing the point blades to direct the train in the correct direction.
This looks a bit untidy, but once most of it is hidden under paint and ballast, it’ll be fine!