I’ve been chipping away at lots of little mundane tasks these past several weeks. The fascia project was held up a few weeks due to inclement weather, however it’s complete now (well, it’s complete to the planned stopping point). It looks good even unpainted. I’ve been taping panel mock-ups on it and I’ve finalized where they will be located. I even installed my first throttle plug-in port though I’ve yet to wire it up.
I turned attention to refurbishing my Tortoise switch machines this past weekend. I’ve quite a few that were used on a layout back in the 80s and early 90s, and an even larger stash of never-used machines that I’ve been squirreling away for years. Due to their age, I thought it would be prudent to open one up for inspection. As expected, there was little trace of lubricant inside. I inspected the machine for wear (virtually none), then applied fresh lubricant (Labelle #102 as recommended by Circuitron) very sparingly to each bearing surface and a bit to each set of gear teeth. A very thin smear across the contacts on the circuit board and it was done. Note that once the label is punctured to remove the center case screw, the warranty is void. However as these date from the 80s, that wasn’t an issue for me. I did however, open up one of the newest machines (purchased in 2010) just as a comparison. I was a bit disappointed to see that the oil had migrated away from the bearings and gear teeth and had settled along the outer case lines. I would assume this wouldn’t happen for machines in regular use, but I feel compelled now to open all 70 of these things for inspection and possible re-lubrication. Yep, I’ll loose the few years of warranty left on the new ones, but I figure a dry set of bearings will undoubtedly result in a shortened working life of the machines. I figure the best way to tackle this will be to do a bunch of them on an assembly line basis, say 20 or so at a time.
Another task for the Tortoise machines is to pre-install the wiring to the contacts. I use eight pole barrier strips at each machine as it makes installation easy and trouble-shooting simpler. I’ll solder leads to each contact and terminate each with a spade lug. Then after the machine is installed, I can just screw the lugs to the barrier strip.
I’m finally near ready to start modifying all of my Shinohara code 70 switches to make them DCC friendly. I’m going to etch all the copper off the PC board switch rods (the throw bars) and then I’ll be ready to start production on them. This project has been a major hold-up for continuation of the trackwork beyond Maynard.
One of my favorite times of year is near…NRHS meets and banquets. I’ve made my plans to attend the Mississippi Great Southern Chapter’s affair in mid February, and the Southeast Louisiana Chapter’s get-together a week or so later. Oh, even earlier than that is the 3rd annual Train Day at the Library in Baton Rouge on January 31st. This is evolving into a pretty nice “show” each year. I’m looking forward to all of these events.
That’s about it for now. I’ll post updates on the Shinohara/Tortoise projects when they’re done, and hopefully I’ll have news about further trackwork progress.