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Simple Operating Semaphore Signals - Signals - Getting You Started. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Thu Nov 22nd, 2007 02:57 pm
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Bob K
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Having reliable electric operating semaphore signals has been an interest of mine for some time. As far as I am aware none exist ready made commercially. Last week I visited the Royston MRC exhibition and whilst there I saw a layout with operating signals. I asked the owner how they worked and he showed me an arrangment whereby a point motor was fixed to the base of the signal.

I thought that this might be an inexpensive and simple way of solving this problem and would investigate. I found a cheap source of reasonable looking signals that are robust enough to cope with the fitting of a point motor. For this experiment I used Hornby Dublo OO scale manual signals. Hornby Dublo did produce an electric version but these go for 15-20 and they have a huge unsightly base. The manual types can be picked up in near mint condition from swap meets and ebay for a couple of pounds. They are of all metal construction and are quite delicate to look at. Here is a distant signal, as bought:



To make the signal operate, I replaced the operating wire with a thinner steel wire. I then drilled a hole through the metal base using a mini drill. Next I attached a second shorter wire which I linked to the first at the balance weight linkage, passed this through the hole I had drilled for attachment to the point motor.

The next stage is to fit a point motor onto the base of the signal. I removed one of the metal mounting clips from the motor and trimmed down some of the circuit board material to make it fit more easily. I then adusted the length of the second wire to match the signal movement to point motor throw. The wire is attached by simply bending a loop and hooking it over the motor extension rod. Tension from the linkage and the hole keep it in place. Once happy I glued the motor in place with epoxy resin:



I then wired the point motor up as per the instructions and tested it. It works:



Although these signals are no where near exact replicas, I reckon with a bit of painting and detailing such as adding ladders etc this will be a very acceptable little item. Total price: signal 2, motor 4, switch 3 making 7 overall.

Bob(K)

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 Posted: Thu Nov 22nd, 2007 03:41 pm
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rector
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Nice, Bob - and I like the simplicity of it all :D (There is something about those older signals :wink: Maybe I shouldn't be modelling a modern U.S. era after all :!: )



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 Posted: Thu Nov 22nd, 2007 04:28 pm
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Bob K
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Some examples of the raw material for conversion. Here are 3 model railway signals to give an idea of size/scale. On the left is the Hornby Dublo model, the best option in my view. In the centre is a 1960's model by Crescent (long out of production) and finally on the right is a modern Hornby offering in plastic, with metal arm and operating system.



I picked up a job lot of various signals at a swapmeet for a few pounds. Here are 2 Crescent GWR (I think) gantry signals. On the left is one straight from the junk box and on the right is one that I have repainted, rewired and detailed. I haven't yet worked out how to make this one operational :!:





I think there is potential in some of these old models, particularly if point motors and switches are also bought second hand

Bob(K)

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 Posted: Thu Nov 22nd, 2007 05:40 pm
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owen69
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that is food for thought Bobk,i have a few of those myself
always wanted to make them work. :roll: :lol: :lol: :lol: 8)

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 Posted: Thu Nov 22nd, 2007 06:57 pm
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Robert
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Nice one that Novice. Thanks for taking the trouble.



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 Posted: Thu Nov 22nd, 2007 10:08 pm
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Bob K
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With some detail added, the paintwork completed, a hole is cut in the baseboard and the signal unit is popped in. All that is required is for scenic detail to be added to disguise the base plate. This will be done as ballast is added to this area of track. This signal is installed as the starter signal at Deepdale station on my layout:





Bob(K)

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 Posted: Thu Nov 22nd, 2007 11:24 pm
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Gwent Rail
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I like this one Bob(K) :!:

I've always admired layouts with good signalling, but avoided them for one simple reason, they don't work :!: That means that signals must always be "off" or traffic must pass them whilst "on". Not very realistic :!:
Here's a good way to alter that without employing comlicated (and unreliable) manual linkage.
There's also potential to wire up these motors to a PL13 switch, so that they move as the points are changed. Does anyone know if my PL13s, which currently control the LEDs on my control panel, could also be used for this purpose (ie one PL13 doing both jobs) :?:

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 Posted: Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 12:11 pm
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Les
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On previous thread, Bob said most layouts don't have semaphor signals at all

In a way I'm glad to hear that Bob because I was beginning to think it was me. Every time I've looked at a steam era layouts the paucity of signals has been alarming. Many modellers blow my mind with the realism they create in scenic details but then seem to ignore the most basic element of railway operation i.e.signals.

Any information on this is truly welcome and as you say it seems to be a neglected part of the market. :?

Les



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 Posted: Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 12:19 pm
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MikeC
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Very interesting, Bob. They look very good too. Thanks for showing this.

Mike

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 Posted: Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 05:28 pm
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Perry
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Gwent Rail wrote:................There's also potential to wire up these motors to a PL13 switch, so that they move as the points are changed. Does anyone know if my PL13s, which currently control the LEDs on my control panel, could also be used for this purpose (ie one PL13 doing both jobs) :?:

I don't see why not, Jeff. After all, the PL-13 is only a sliding contact switch. It should be able to switch considerably more than an LED or two; some people use them to change frog polarities, so they would be then be carrying track current. LED's draw very little indeed. It should cope admirably with the signals.

Perry



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 Posted: Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 05:51 pm
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mikenencini
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Gwent Rail wrote:
There's also potential to wire up these motors to a PL13 switch, so that they move as the points are changed. Does anyone know if my PL13s, which currently control the LEDs on my control panel, could also be used for this purpose (ie one PL13 doing both jobs) :?:


Jeff - the PL13 is rated at 1.5 amps. Peco say 2 amps is required to switch the motor but I have never measured it so not sure what the momentary current surge is when switching a point motor especially if there was a cdu in the circuit - I'd want to check it first. If you were only switching the signals in conjunction with the points changing wouldn't you just parallel up the two motors like you might with the two points on a crossover? - that way if you were using a cdu both motors would get the benefit of a strong switching action and you wouldn't have to worry about the current carrying capacity of the PL-13.

Just a thought :idea:



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 Posted: Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 06:21 pm
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Matt
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how about a PL10 point motor on its end under the signal. this can be wired to the point motor PL10. a rod can be joined to the signal arm from the PL10 rod, so when the point switched the signal does aswell :shock:

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 Posted: Sun Nov 25th, 2007 06:13 pm
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Perry
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You might want to check this out too:

http://www.scenicmodelrailways.com/modellingtips.html

The November 2007 tip is worth a look on this subject.

Perry



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 Posted: Wed Mar 26th, 2008 06:19 am
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Sol
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Novice( Bob) ,just got around to reading this topic- yes operating semaphores are the way.

Question - how do these signals as adapted , stand up to the thump from the solenoid motors?

I would think Ratio units would be better with slow action like Tortoise.

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 Posted: Wed Mar 26th, 2008 08:09 am
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Bob K
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Sol wrote:Novice( Bob) ,just got around to reading this topic- yes operating semaphores are the way.

Question - how do these signals as adapted , stand up to the thump from the solenoid motors?

I would think Ratio units would be better with slow action like Tortoise.


Ron

So far so good, however, as my layout is still under construction the signals have not been fully tested over a long period of time, although there is not much that can go wrong in the mechanism. I think they should be OK, although a slow action motor would give a more realistic operation and would probably put less strain on the mechanism. I got this idea from a modeller at an exhibition and he said he had had no real problems with his set up.

Bob(K)

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