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"Rocky Canyonero"
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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone here use switchbacks on their railroad?
If you look at my railroad diagram you will see lots of reverse loops, horseshoe curves, and helical loops. Most of these are 8ft-10ft diameter curves which are wayyy too sharp for prototypical practice. The layout is now 12 years old...but or the last 2 years I've modeled HO while my largescale saw very minimal use. Now I have a plan of action to rekindle my outdoor effort...smaller locos, smaller trains, and more realistic track.











I'm planning to dismantle all of these super-sharp curves and replace them with switchbacks. This will take away my ability to run the line hands-free, but it will give the line a more realistic look. Although switchbacks are rarely used today, it is not uncommon for shortlines to operate reverse operations. Many railroads use specially designed cabeese on reverse operations to accommodate horns, bells and headlamps.

cab-caboose


I have sold off most of my mainline freight equipment like you see in the above photo. The era/theme will be contemporary shortline using older motive power like my S4, NW2, and my GP9. Headlamp/ditchlight equipped cabooses will be added to trains heading up the switchbacks. The line will serve short trains of logs, lumber, coal, boroxo cleaner, and liquid petroleum.
 

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Switchbacks are not often seen in large scale due I would guess to the mindset commonly held that running the train in a loop is the only way to fly.


In the model form, Ric Golding's Kaskaskia Valley Railway is a well developed larger railroad that features at least 4 switchbacks by my recollection.  They make for interesting albeit rather slow operation but for tight spaces and steep grades, switchbacks are hard to beat.


It is good to see the Rockwall Canyon coming back to life here in the MLS forums - that dramatic scenery has been missed the past couple of years.


Regards ... Doug 
 

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Beautiful setting.

Yes, Golding's Kaskaskia Valley railroad features a number of switchbacks. Much fun for operation.
 

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Posted By s-4 on 03/25/2009 8:28 PM


"I'm planning to dismantle all of these super-sharp curves and replace them with switchbacks. This will take away my ability to run the line hands-free, but it will give the line a more realistic look."


No, you just need to be a little more creative in your electronics.
 

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You might be able to use Del Tarpro's Railbot to get automatic opperation. It has a reversing feature which uses track magnets.
 

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"Rocky Canyonero"
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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the replies!
Its great to see that I'm not the only one who thinks this is a viable option.

As far as automation goes...At this time I'm leaving the technology down in the basement with my HO stuff. There's no electricity on the outdoor RR and I really can't see powering them with batteries, etc...



I am looking into running control lines to reduce all the climbing required to get to the remote turnouts. I would simply spring the turnouts and then run fishing line through the control line to counter the spring when pulled on the other end. Just like a model airplane control line...except I'm the servo.


I also have a little "brakeman in training" (my daughter) to help me out with the big trains! I'm hoping to have some live loads for her to play with. (log bundles, lumber bundles, and maybe even fake rocks)
 

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"Rocky Canyonero"
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Discussion Starter #8
So far this section is my biggest headache, but the part I want changed the most. The line increases elevation by about 3 feet over the distance of 15 feet. The current setup uses a helical trestle to do this at about 4-5% grade. To gain this much height I think I may need two short switchbacks and a maximum 6% grade.

 

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Instead of Cables what about Pneumatics? Still more expensive that cables but jsut as easy to run from a central or mulitple locations?

A thought any way.

Chas
 

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Posted By placitassteam on 03/26/2009 10:05 AM
You might be able to use Del Tarpro's Railbot to get automatic opperation. It has a reversing feature which uses track magnets.

My "Critter Control" or "RailBoss R/C" both feature automated reversing for battery powered locos, which would certainly help, but it wouldn't help with the turnouts.
 

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It can be done with a single reversing unit (that can be made for ~$5-$10), some track diodes to stop the trains at the ends of the switchbacks, some reed switches to trigger the turnouts, some magnets attached to the engines to trigger the reed switches, and the LGB EPL turnout attachments that properly route the turnout voltage depending on if the train is going up or coming down.
 

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What do mean minimal use? How could you stay away from that layout. It is one great looking layout.

I would avoid switch back. I would try and incread the diamater of the curves where every possible.

your layout has all the potential of a Point to point lay out.
 

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"Rocky Canyonero"
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Discussion Starter #13
Chas,
I kind of like the idea of using pneumatics...or even simple hydraulics. I wouldn't even need to use a pump.



Todd,
I have used a reversing unit in the past with positive results....But today my layout is 100% battery power with R/C and never looking back.

John,
Sadly I live 20 minutes away from the layout. I now have my own family, condo, and other responsibilities. Some day I'll have enough land to rebuild my layout in another location. I want to make minimal changes to the RCRR to keep it alive as long as possible!
 

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Posted By s-4 on 03/27/2009 6:46 PM
Chas,
I kind of like the idea of using pneumatics...or even simple hydraulics. I wouldn't even need to use a pump.



Todd,
I have used a reversing unit in the past with positive results....But today my layout is 100% battery power with R/C and never looking back.

John,
Sadly I live 20 minutes away from the layout. I now have my own family, condo, and other responsibilities. Some day I'll have enough land to rebuild my layout in another location. I want to make minimal changes to the RCRR to keep it alive as long as possible!






Even easier..., you don't need the reverser. Just mount a reed swith to each end of your engine that toggles an internal relay that reverses the current to the motor. Then put a magnet on the track in the switchback area to reverse the engine by toggling the internal reed switches. Still use the magnet under the engine to toggle the reeds to throw the turnouts that move the EPLs that route the power for up/down so the turnouts throw in the proper direction.

Like I said earlier, you just need to be a little more creative in your electronics. ;)
 

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Can someone point me at a link where I can get a picture of the physical layout of the switchbacks as shown in AT's link? I'm not concerned about the electronics. ANY pic showing a switchback would do nicely, doesn't have to be that particular one.

Les
 
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