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Posts Tagged ‘Turntable’

As with many sheds the turntable was a vital part of the set up, engines would usually come on shed be turned, coaled and watered before moving to their allocated shed road prior to their next duty. Depending on the size of shed sometimes physically operating the turntable would have been the responsibility of the loco crew, or as in the case of Salisbury there was a dedicated gang of shed staff allocated to the role.

Fisherton Sarum by Graham Muspratt. Photographed for Model Rail, 13 February 2013

A T14 is turned at Fisherton Sarum. The turners can be seen hard at work on the winding mechanism

I have on Fisherton Sarum modelled the turners operating the turntable,  although these operators are either static or moving so quickly they only appear as a static blur (delete which ever version you don’t actually believe). The turntable itself, is as detailed in my view from line #6 post that can be read here,  made from a Peco LK-55 well and deck with scratchbuilt sides, winding mechanism and turners platform for the turners.

late afternoon sunshine catches the Turners mess hut. The warning signs to drivers on the approach roads can also be seen.

Late afternoon light catches the turners mess hut. The warning signs to drivers on the approach roads can also be seen.

I have also modelled the turners gang mess hut that was provided for them to keep warm, dry and rest between turns. At sheds like Salibury the turntable gang was often formed of staff that had previously been in other roles but ended up in such a gang due to a number of reasons such as medical or eyesight issues. Keeping a job being better than no job. I have made use of a Wills SS50 Platelayers hut kit but with the roof replaced with slate tiles rather than the supplied corrugated iron sheeting to more closely represent the one at Salisbury. Stored outside and around the turners mess hut are barrels of lubricating and steam oil.

Signs on the approach roads to the turntable warn drivers not to pass that point unless given instruction to do so by the turners. These were simply made from a short section of rail with a plasticard board and then suitably painted.

The turntable itself on Fisherton Sarum is very much one of the main focal points of the layout and as stated above it has been described in more detail in my View from the Line #6 post here.

 

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In my controlling interest #1 post I mentioned the change of turntable control system to the Model Railway Electronic Group (MERG) turntable control unit.  Since I first built Fisherton Sarum the turntable was powered via a Frixinghall motor and gearbox that did not have any form of automatic indexing. This meant that the rotational speed of the table was not easy to control and track alignment had to be done by eye (sometimes hitting the mark easier than at othertimes) via a toggle switch.

The turntable on Fisherton Sarum is very much the focal point of the layout.

Friend and regular operator of Fisherton Sarum, fellow High Wycombe and District MRS member and electronics wizard Mark Riddoch has very kindly built for me a MERG turntable control kit which drives a stepper motor and gearbox.
This clever bit of electronics can give up to 63 different positions (I only need 8 i.e. each end of 4 roads, on Fisherton Sarum) to an amazing precision of 0.03 degrees.

The stepper motor and gearbox installed on a new cross member on the underside of the turntable well

The turntable is simply operated from the panel via a rotary switch (a binary hex coded switch, for those that understand such things) to select the desired road and then pressing the start button. The controller then automatically works out the shortest distance to the desired alignment. When turning clockwise the deck is stopped automatically at the correct place or if turning anti-clockwise it over runs slightly before stepping back clockwise to the correct position ensuring any slack in the gearbox is taken up. The controller has a learn mode to allow the desired positions to be accurately set up which it then remembers.

The Meccano shaft locked in position with a brass pin through the boss and shaft. (apologies for the poor image)

The typical bank holiday weekend weather, just passed, encouraged working inside rather than other pursuits so the installation was completed. Installation has required a few slight changes to the control panel: firstly to incorporate the rotary switch,  mounting inside the control panel the controller PCB card and changes to the wiring harness to get the required five wires to the stepper motor and gearbox that is being mounted directly under the turntable itself, replacing the previously installed traditional motor, gearbox and worm and wheel drive.

It is imperative that the link between the gearbox outlet and the table deck is positive and has no possibility of slip. The Peco deck is designed to be an interference fit on to a Meccano shaft so to ensure no unwanted movement is possible I have drilled through the boss and the shaft at 90 degrees and pinned it with a short section of Brass wire.

A close up of the motor, gearbox and drive coupling arrangement.

This shaft matching  the gearbox output shaft has had a flat filed onto it and a brass collar joins to the two with grub screws ensuring a positive connection.

Programming the turntable in learn mode has not gone 100% to plan and I did not yesterday  manage to get it working correctly, so need to some additional advice. Once I have mastered the programming I will upload a video of the turntable under its new control in action, so watch this space.

I am once again indebted to Mark, and offer my my sincere thanks for his time and assistance with this addition to the control of Fisherton Sarum which should, when fully up and running,  improve the operation and visual effect no end.

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