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Lift Up Access Needed

Howard asks readers:

“I am getting to old (and decrepit????) to continue crawling under my OO table to get to my control panel. I thought of adding a lift-up hinged panel but wondered about movement, track alignment, connections etc. and how to hide the join. I haven’t built it yet, but I’m sure I can if I know what not to get wrong. Advice appreciated!!!”

6 Responses to Lift Up Access Needed

  • Newman Atkinsonsays:

    Hi Howard, Happy New Year!!! I suggest a gate that will allow you to go through as much as you wish. I built a 3 track Pass through gate that I go in and out 20 times a day just to get tools much less run trains. It took 2 months of evenings to build and without any plans. The gate is really about the counter weight that closes the gate more so than the gate But it has worked flawless now for 5 years. There is no two rails cut at the same length which allows the rails of the back side to clear the other rails. The rails are also cut at a 45 degree angle where the cut is not straight across the rail as some modelers do. This allows for a almost continuous rail when closed and you will not hear the wheels trying to cross the gap. Each track also has each rail cut about an inch difference down the track so that both wheels do not cross the gaps at the same time and also allowing if you want to installa guard rail along the good rail to keep the wheel sets aligned. But I only installed 2 guard rails as I have had no problems with this gate. The 45 degree cut allows the rails when closed to form a full rail for the wheels to cross Thereby no clunk-clunk crossing the gap. This allows the wheels to gradually take the weight to the connecting rail making a smooth transition.
    The gate itself is on door hinges with a 1 /4 wood frame with nice paneling sheet on one side for maintaining square, The leg work and support s for the gate and also the side where it latches is 2 X 6 Studs. On the latch side on the support frame I have a shelf like plate covered with aluminum sheet with a beveled angle for the gate’s weight to slide up onto the guide plate so the weight is removed when the gate is closed. It does not actually lift up as it goes onto the plate but takes the weight off the gate. I installed a counter weight with a rope and pulley that pulls the gate slowly to the guide plate so the gate does not just hang in the wind. It will not close completely but all you have to do is push it the rest of the way on the guide plate till it hits the metal bolt head stop. and there you go, in the closed position once it hits the stop it has a cabinet magnetic lock that holds the gate in the closed position. It is also easy for guests to operate just by pushing away from the magnet and there you go they can get through without trying to find a locking pin somewhere. The same goes for closing the gate, Just push it in to the stop and the magnet will hold it well. (just a kitchen cabinet magnetic latch). The biggest thing I find at other model railroads is it is hard to find the pin that locks and unlocks the gate. By this method the gate is easily operated and will close on it’s own to the guide plate to hold the weight. With a final push the gate is closed with no fumbling around to find the pin whole as my friends gate are noted for. Wiring for the gate is easy. Just follow through through a loop of wire to allow for the swing. Each track is insulated about a foot and a half outise both sides of the gate so eventually if someone cracks the gate open it will kill power to the gate and including the foot and a half on each side. The gate is wired to add the micro switches in now but they have not been installed yet My video has close ups of the rails coming together and the difference in the different rail cuts. You will also see the 45 degree angles cut in the rail and how they come together. Although the video at the time was about the counterweight using a large water bottle pulling the gate shut, It show how this gate operate . For mine it will eventually get the micro switches installed that will cut the power but also will operate a red and green light showing the gate is fully closed. But in the mean time the gate has been fully functional with no problems for over 5 years now while I concentrate on the rest of the layout. It took me 2 months to build so don’t panic if it takes longer than you might want. Patients will get you a better gate like this one. By the way my layout is a 2 level layout and I am now coming around with the second level and will be doing the same thing only in a vertical swing gate made of bridges and will look like it is crossing a river. Once the lights are wired for both the red light will come on foe either or both gates cracked open and the green light will stay on for the level that is still in the closed position.. Good Luck, Questions just ask, from Newman Atkinson

    • Newman Atkinsonsays:

      I found one thing that I will be improving on on the gate. When I laid the track I used flex track. And that was fine but to meet up with the rail on the main layout section the rail ends stick out just a bit and I have had a sweatshirt and pants catch the rail ends and the way flex track is mounted in the ties after a while the rail can pop out of the ties. When I built it i used the longer sections for most of the way across the gate and cut shorter sections on the ends so if they got damaged the ends could be refitted and replaced without pulling up the whole track. I have since been building my own switches and have learned how to soldier the rail to PC strip ties. So as these go bad I will be putting in PC ties on the last couple of inches of the track to hold the rails in place if they snag some clothes. Since I also jog the cuts on the opposite rail there is less to hold it in place so the railed extensions will get PC ties. When you get to that point let me know and I can walk you through that. The PC ties will also help mounting the guide rails. My first ones I glued and they just won’t hold in place but on my switches the guide rails hold well by soldering them to the PC strips. I have a lot of learn as I go experience. I used to nail my roadbed down then nail the track but if you are heavy with the hammer as I am the rails raise and lower if I pulled the track down to tight. So when or if I have to ever relay the track I will use APEX Clear caulk. The Caulk will set in about 15 to 20 minutes and really be dry the next day It holds well and if you need to take it up when you redesign a direction of the track then just work a thin putty knife under the track and it comes right up. Doing the same with the cork road bed it is easy to pull up without damaging it to be used later elsewhere. I just tore up some cork roadbed up to shift the track but I had used carpenters glue and that cork I pulled broke and chipped (well much of it is not reusable Go with APEX Caulk it goes on white so you can see what you are doing but dries clear. I am having to lift up a main 4 foot section and have elected to go with hinges. When my furnace people came in and replaced the furnace I had to remove two sections of the layout. When I came back in to see how it was going they had mounted the filter at the table height and the filter needs to come out 25 inches to replace. So the section is now hinged and I will be building the track sections that will fit at the hinged joint and these will be built just as I was telling you mounting them with PC ties and angled rail ends. I was sure not going to dismantle the layout every time the filter needs replaced. I will have some rails fitted here in the next couple of days and I will post the photos of these angled cuts and the PC strip ties Newman Atkinson

  • Newman Atkinsonsays:

    Howard, I have been reworking a 2 foot by 4 foot module that was one of 2 that I had to remove to get my furnace replaced. Unfortunately when they put the new furnace in they put the Air Bear Filter level and right at the table height. Therefore there was no room to change the filter without breaking out these modules. Previously they were put together with 9 inch sectional track across the gap and held together by clamps with wire plugs like they do with a club modular layout they take to shows. Since I did not want to break this down everytime to get a 25 inch filter replaced with only 3 inches from the furnace, I redid the module so that it hinges toward the next module away from the furnace. I installed 2by2 blocks and mounted the hinges on to of those. That way as the module is lifted the rail comes away from the other module momentarily as the rail lifts above the rail on the hard fast module next to it. In my case I just have to lift it up no higher than the cabinets I have above it so I have enough clearance to remove and replace the filter Many people will cut the rail with a small gap at the edge between the modules and therefore the wheels hit a hole like gap to cross it. I on the other hand cut a 45 degree angle down through the rail and as the rail on the lift section comes down it aligns and rests on the other rail with a matching cut and therefore there is no gap at the cut. I just finished the last of three cuts sections and the hinged joint and have ran some test cars across the joints and they are as smooth as silk. I also raised and reset the module almost a dozen times already to make sure the rail joint does not shift. I have video of it going up and down now and will be putting it together. Give me a couple of days to get it edited together and I will get it on there for you to see. Now since that gate swings out the rail cuts were made at a45 degree angle from one side of the rail to the other. There are no gaps in the rail whenit is pulled together and the wheels run across that with no bounce or jumping gaps. It is almost like running across solid rail where the gaps are. So watch for this new work on this module that I should have on there in just a few days. Since my rework is of 2 sections and is on a corner, The one I am working on now goes up and down these tracks make a turn and will cross onto the other section down the mail wall of the garage. In my case the one I am working on now will be lowered into position and this second section will be hinged from the maim module on the other side of it. It will be a swing gate. After the first section is in place the second section will swing in horizontally and slide it to stops and the rails will be cut from side to side at the 45 degree angles so the rails will line up like on my Pass through gate. The module on the swing end will be supported by a roller skate and will slide on a guide plate just as I did on the pass gate. So look for this video this week. and you will see how I made the rail cuts. from Newman

  • Leo Johansensays:

    I built a working lift bridge across the entrance to my layout, eliminating the need for a duck-under.
    I took a picture several years ago of the railway bridge across the Welland Canal at Dain City just west of Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada, and I thought that would be just the the thing to use there some day. The Welland Canal connects Lake Ontario and Lake Erie and incorporates 7 locks to lead ship traffic around the Niagara Falls. When the bridge is up the counter weights are lowered and prevents any accidental drop onto the floor. When to bridge is down it is held down by a draw bolt at each end locking it in place, allowing the stationary rails to make electrical contact with the bridge rails, Google Earth will show the location.

    • Newman Atkinsonsays:

      Leo Very Nice looking bridge. Is it manual powered up and down or other? I seen another one up at Trainfest that raised the same way and raised on 4 corner poles by either Hydraulic or air so club members could get through……
      Newman Atkinson

  • Leo Johansensays:

    I have found over the years that there may be places where motorization may be considered, but bridges are definitely not among them. They always turn out to be a royal pain in the southern part of the anatomy.The bridge is therefore manually operated. It slides op and down on four steel posts and is carried by cables at each corner. They are routed op over pulleys and are connected to the counter weights below. The weights are made from a brass hex bar the I happened to have kicking around in my “junque” box. I cut it in four pieces and spaced them apart with wood dowels. I built a little box in between the bars in which I melted enough lead to counter the weight of the bridge. The cables are actually very strong fine black thread, it had to be to carry about 2 lbs.of lead at each end. Since I thought it to be a good idea to have warning lights under the bridge, the power for them is picked up from the posts at the right end of the bridge, hence the need for the wooden dowels to isolate the posts. I don’t actually care all that much about the visitors heads, you understand, it’s the bridge I’m really concerned about. 🙂 The picture here of the bridge in the lowered position will perhaps better show how it is built.The track power is picked up at the opposite end by means of pads under the rails when the bridge is locked down. Although the prototype is single track I made mine double to fit my track plan.

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