Let us return to the motorization of the turnouts

Peco motors

I first logically tried the Peco motors, with auxiliary switch to buy extra for frog feeding and feedback. Very noisy, very greedy. As a route control can operate multiple motors at the same time, overall power consumption could have reached up to ten amperes.

If you say “capacitive discharge”, I will answer that this certainly provides an important instantaneous current. But what is this current switched by? Well, by a relay, a transistor or a thyristor: bulky material, necessarily close to the motor (avoiding voltage drops due to too long wires), complication of an electronic board, etc. And it needs a fairly large capacitor (about 10,000 µF) for each motor. Then, after each use, this capacitor must be recharged. This can take several seconds (depending on the load current), the time during which the tunrout is paralyzed. Not convinced? Then think of the flushing of your toilets: it’s exactly the same principle: quick emptying, slow filling!

Fulgurex motors

So, I turn to the slow motor solution. These are usually fitted with suitable auxiliary contacts, but they are much more expensive. Among the least expensive, there are the Fulgurex. When one hears this name, one thinks immediately Swiss Quality… Big mistake, we’ll see it further!

Not too expensive, not too difficult to install. First tests: for the same voltage (DC at first), some motors roar like a Formula 1, some others advance at the speed of a rheumatic turtle, others can’t even start! Another problem is that the springs of the auxiliary switches have an unfortunate tendency to escape. I lost several of them, found miraculously, sometimes a day later. So, think of carefully using the blister as a protection, just to recover a strolling spring. But this blister will also have to be carved, because it is unable to wrap the whole thing up to the point of pivoting of the control rod. Very well designed, isn’t it?

Then let’s have a look to the mechanics: there is a terrible backlash in the worm gear transmission, the wheel of which moves with each change of direction. This sometimes leads to jamming: the motor remains blocked at the end of the course, and it can only be released by hand, by rotating the worm… without turning to the wrong direction, and after having removed the blister, so risking misleading a spring! Finally, the plastic deforms, but is still extremely brittle: don’t try to unclip the motor whose retaining lugs are twisted, they’ll break like glass. The same applies to the secondary screw holding. In short: a big junk, to stay polite!

Tortoise motors

Next time, it will be Tortoise or nothing! OK, but the Tortoises remain under power at the end of the course, and therefore unnecessarily consume power, even if it’s not much…

And why do the Tortoises stay under power at the end of the course? To save a contact? I don’t believe it. In my opinion, their gear transmission is reversible, and the turnout switch could move and take off under vibration if the motor stopped powered. This is the principle of the torque motor (stall motor), capable of applying a force while remaining motionless.

Then what to do?

What to do yeah.
I really don’t know,
I really don’t know what to do
The Rolling Stones - Aftermath - 1966

Almost last minute (January 2014)

Peco releases a complete turnout control system for servo motors, with the possibility to adjust the speed and extreme positions. Operation may be analogue or digital, for a price that seems reasonable to me. To be continued…

Last minute (March 2014)

Peco system is actually that of a probably Chinese manufacturer, ANE Model, to which one can find it cheaper and with more options.

Another manufacturer, Tam Valley Depot, also produces a similar and cheaper system in the USA.

But there’s better! I found a way to easily adapt a servo motor equipped with a reversing switch to feed the frog, in direct replacement of a Fulgurex motor. The control unit will use a special accessory decoder, the ESU Switchpilot Servo, of a moderate price. This is the subject of another article

So, what?

Good day sunshine!
Good day sunshine!

The Beatles - Revolver - 1966

1966, a good year, definitely…