The Saint Remy & Atkarton Railroad Co.

Incorporated January 2006 

Using A Tortoise in a tight space

When one has several dozen turnouts in a layout, at least one will inevitably fall directly over a bench support girder or other obstruction.
I had one just off center over a 2x4 beam that joined two pieces of plywood. While there are various clever ways to remote mount the motor, including one sold specifically for the tortoise, most, if not all, of them would have required some cutting of the beam.

I decided that since I had the cutting tools out anyway, I should find a way to extend the throw wire horizontally away from the machine itself. This would allow me to mount the machine next to the beam and not use any additional linkages. Here is my simple solution.

  Throw wire shaping
  Drilling of the beam
Tortoise in place
A)    I always substitute a length of 0.039" piano wire for the supplied throw wire (which is too short and too weak to use through plywood plus extruded foam sheets).  The extra offset is clearly visable and can be a lot larger if necessary, but keep it as small as practical for the situation at hand.

B)    I have begun to rout out the beam with a small foerstner bit to half of its  depth.. The piano wire locates the throwbar of the turnout above. After this step, I squared off the hole with a sharp wood chisel. I only needed enough room for the wire, pivot and fulcrum to fit inside of the beam. Sorry, I forgot to photograph that step.

C)    This is the tortoise in place almost touching the beam.
Caution! Connect wires and adjust the fulcrum before installing the mounting screws. It's easy to slip the fulcrum out of the groves if you cannot see what you are doing. I used double stick tape as a temporary mount.

D)    The entire mechanism has worked fine from the start.
This location was too close to the wall and also had a support directly under the turnout.

Two small l brackets, a couple of #6 nuts and bolts and Voila!

A hill with a small removable panel under a log cabin covers this one.  The curved turnout sits on a slope with the left hand track down to the helix and the right hand track level.  It was a bit tricky to make work from all three approaches. The tortoise was the easy part.

Below left - beginnings of the well. The ground will be filled in around the wall.

Below right - checking for fit with a temporary structure. (While we build a nice one).

Sideways Tortoise
Temporary Cover for fit

Copyright © 2006-2011 Karl Wick
Begun 30 May 2006