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Battery power for a USA Rotary Plow

1442 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  San Juan
I checked the archives to see if there was anything on this topic, as I figured there would be. Best I could find was this, but it didn't get very detailed.

What I'd like to do is convert my USA rotary plow to battery power. Since it doesn't appear to be too complicated a conversion I figured I might try it on my own. I also know this rotary can't plow much snow, so this is really more of a display unit, or to be used for special occasions.

Here are 2 options I could go with:

Easy and Cheap

The rotary has sound already, so I could continue to use the existing USA. The simplest conversion would be to cut the track wires (power pickups) and install a battery for power keeping the same old on off switch too. I would have to install some form of a battery charging jack though. So if I turn it on the blade spins, smoke is on, light is on, and sound is on. I might also install an extra on-off switch for the smoke generator since this drains battery power quickly. I did this for both of my professionally converted battery powered LGB moguls.

I'd need to know where to get a battery or batteries for this, and how to wire up a charging jack and where to find the charging jack components?

More Complicated and Expensive
We use Airwire as our main control system. So I suppose I could go all out and install an Airwire decoder, and Phoenix Sound for the rotary. Instead of the usual motor control, this motor control would just spin the blade. Other functions could control sound, lights, and even the smoke unit. This is definitely going to be a lot more expensive though, and may not be worth it since the plow typically just sits next to the roundhouse. Another concern is it is not covered and rain could definitely be an issue for the sensitive Airwire decoder. And I'm not sure if the investment is worth it since the only thing it will do is spin the blade, make sound, light up, and maybe smoke. I would still need a loco or two to move it.

So my question is, has anyone converted a USA rotary plow to work off a battery? And if so, how complicated did you get? Also how powerful (volts, amps) and what type of battery was used?

If anyone has any diagrams, tips, etc... they would be willing to share but don't want to post it here, please feel free to email me at [email protected]
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Matt - Please check my website for some low cost battery power alternatives. The "Simple Critter Control" would simply give you speed control with a knob, probably all you need. Or we have a new RailBoss R/C low cost option too. www.GScaleGraphics.net
If I can help, please contact me offline.
USAT would brake all the blades out with heavy snow.
someplace is my old rotary and a thread on how it was built.
you can see it on U tube also search NTCGRR
The simplest way to wire up a battery pack is with a double pole double throw switch.

The switch toggles the battery pack between its charging plug and any receiver or controller.

I like the Aristo-Craft, 21.5 volt, lithium-ion battery pack because of its small size.

A two-pin connector can be used as a charging plug and as connector for the battery pack. They are available from All Electronics under part number CON-240.

The wires will pass through a 1/8 inch hole and the charging plug can be mounted on a pilot or under a frame for easy access.

I trim the wings of the charging plug off to make them less obvious. This one is hung under the frame on the rear of an FA-1.

BTW: Great railway! The whistle posts are a nice detail.
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Thanks all, good info.

Paul the whistle posts both came from Bridgemasters. The neater brown one isn't made anymore
Wish they were still made, I'd buy more. I also wish there was a place to upload large video clips for free. Our cabride clip is so much better in it's original quality versus what I had to compress it down to fit on Youtube. However the higher detail digital version is 52.7 MB


Looked around and found a place to host the high quality video. For me the video goes in and out (screen turns white) which is weird, but I found scrolling the page up or down slightly brings the image back.

If you're up to it, here's a link:

Cab Ride Video
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