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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm in the process of setting up a small business to build operating structures for the larger scales, and would be interested to hear from people with existing layouts, wish lists or just opinions on the subject. (This isn't a marketing pitch! I checked with Doug that picking the brains of our on-line community would be OK) .

The project got under way after hearing from retailers and operators that two items missing from current offerings are a bascule bridge and a turntable that will operate outdoors and survive both summer and winter in fairly demanding climates. I live in southern Ontario, Canada, so my back garden is a good environmental test lab. There are certainly others in the market with good products, so what products and features are missing that people would like to see?

We're starting with '0' scale because there's some demand from that market, and it's a good place to start, but the focus will probably be on '1' and 'G', 'G' being understood to mean 22.5:1 scale narrow gauge.

Because they have to be used in fairly severe conditions and because we're using real rivets, we're designing them as small structures rather than scale models. A limitation is the availability of very small rivets, and the practicability of assembling large numbers of them. We're aiming for small batch production initially, so the prices won't be low, but we hope that the hand riveted style of construction will appeal to people who want something a bit different. Initial feedback suggests that we may have got that right.

The materials are all suitable for outdoor use, and the electrical designer knows that after the functional test, the next test will be to turn a garden hose on his creation, and then it will be left outside for the winter, after which it will operate normally.

What do you think about paint finishes? I'm surprised at the number who like bare metal, but I much prefer red oxide or perhaps a grimy black to look more like grown-up bridges. We'll probably leave this as an option to be chosen by the customer rather than take the Henry Ford approach.

You can have a preview at http://gnomengineers.com/ to see what the pilot batch looks like so far, but it will be a little while before we've sorted out the last of the details and finalised the pricing, and so on. We've concentrated on building the bascule bridge to start with, and with a little luck, a turntable prototype will be on the way in a few months.

(The name comes from a tedious acronym that was really only a working name, but it stuck when my colleagues shot down a boring alternative. We don't actually employ gnomes. Not yet, anyway).

Thanks for any opinions and constructive criticisms.
 

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Andrew, looks very nice, although I model in O it's indoors and therefore would not have room to use one of your structures. I would think though that a model of the overhead yard cranes sometimes used in the UK would be a good addition to your models if you want to try the UK market. They usually spaned two tracks and a roadway with a gantry across on 'A' frame legs each side and a hoist trolley in a wooden 'shed' running on two rails. I do not know of a picture of one, but there were a number around the UK the one I knew was at Eastleigh north yard. They where use for lifting containers of conflats for mainly the removal trade and meat industry.

regards

mike g
 

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You say that "locomotive turntables to follow". I would like a very simple generic turntable that would turn a loco around for a simple there and back layout in the garden.

My track will go over the front retaining wall of a little pond. I don't really need a lifting bridge, but I'd love to find an excuse to put it in
 

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QUOTE You say that "locomotive turntables to follow". I would like a very simple generic turntable that would turn a loco around for a simple there and back layout in the garden.

I would be interested in a gauge 1 version of this with the length to turn an A3 or A4 (Accucraft), but not a Big Boy; I don't have the space for the 20 foot diameter return loop.

David
 

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QUOTE Yep, that sums up the problem

I bet a Garrett doesn't need 20 feet!


David
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the comments - keep them coming!

The travelling crane would make a great model, but doesn't quite match the present product line-up. Later, perhaps. Good to see the interest in turntables, since that was where we started before deciding to complete the bascules and approach spans first. The current plan is for 20", 30" and 40" diameter tables. Picking the right range of sizes is the clever part, as the demand goes all the way from turning a 22 ft Caley pug to a 133 ft UPRR Big Boy. Now that Accucraft has a 1/32 scale Big Boy about 51" long, we may have to take a second look at that. Talking of Garratts, the LNER and LMS types are almost the same lengths, at close to 87 ft and 88 ft respectively (which surprised me - I thought the U1 was longer). One school of thought says that since they are technically tank engines, you don't have to turn them, and I wonder if there was ever a turntable in the UK that could have done that. It might be fun to have a model of one, all the same.

We'll probably offer either the turntable bridge with only its bearing assembly, or the complete turntable assembly with the pit and all the mechanical and electrical details. For the complete turntable, the shipping costs will be high, so the bridge alone may be an attractive proposition. The turntables are based on the same kind of miniature, rather than scale, riveted plate girder construction with wooden decks that you see in the bascule approaches, and the remote controlled versions will have similar drive systems (we're planning to end up with a common digital controller for all products).
 

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QUOTE We'll probably offer either the turntable bridge with only its bearing assembly, or the complete turntable assembly with the pit and all the mechanical and electrical details. For the complete turntable, the shipping costs will be high, so the bridge alone may be an attractive proposition. The turntables are based on the same kind of miniature, rather than scale, riveted plate girder construction with wooden decks that you see in the bascule approaches, and the remote controlled versions will have similar drive systems (we're planning to end up with a common digital controller for all products).

Here are the reasons why I would buy, rather than make my own turntable, they might help (hinder?) your development plans:

1) I do not possess the tools to get the precision dimensions right; I'm thinking here of having the center bearing dead center and so on.

2) I do not have the experience to do the mechanical bits; so sourcing an adequate bearing and then the gear box stuff would be difficult.

3) I do not have the skills to confidence to make a stong enough bridge.

I think I could manage the "decorative" parts, but I wouldn't object to buying the bridge as a complete unit.

I would like the option of a manual control - say via a handwheel at the side somewhere rather than an electric motor. I am a bit nervous of electric motors left outdoors in all weathers - well rain is the worst I guess.

The pit certainly poses a problem especially for shipping. How about this for an idea?

Create a frame which is centered on the main bearing. This will form a hub for a series of spokes which will radiate outwards and perform two purposes:-

1) Position the pit wall

2) Form a support for the pit base

The idea is that the pit is shipped (or not shipped at all) as set of segments. The frame and spokes guarantee that the pit wall is the correct distance from the edge of the bridge. The pit wall may be supplied as part of the kit complete with outer support rail. For those that want to build their own pit, either a set of templates or drawings could be supplied to allow them to build their own.

The nice part about this scheme is that one frame would do for quite a few turntable sizes. I presume that the central support bearing and gear box are also shared.

It would probably also be a good idea to have the spokes incline slightly towards the pit wall. Just remember to include drain holes at the center or there will be an "instant" fish pond after each shower.

Use or abuse these ideas as you wish.

David

PS. My comment on the Garrett related to the minimum turning radius required rather than actually turning them on a turn table. I was also teasing Doug for obvious reasons
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
David - you must have been peeking at our secret plans! A complete-it-yourself option is indeed something we're looking at in several forms, and yes - drainage was one of the first considerations in the pit design, though it's more than just the pit. You need to install it in a settled, fine gravel bed or have it slightly elevated with the shortest possible drain pipes. The turntable motor is inside the bridge, so it's well protected, and the whole bridge can be lifted out for winter storage. Peco's 00 scale turntable pit is a very neat segmented design that might well be scaled up, though I am sure that's their own registered design - always something you have to look out for.

I did pick up on the Garratt comment, but I rather like the idea of spinning one of those on a turntable, anyway. Unnecessary, but fun to do, just like the entire hobby.
 

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QUOTE David - you must have been peeking at our secret plans!

No peeking, honest
, just too many years of modeling trains. The design engineering job may have something to do with it as well, but the trains came first.

I look forward to what develops.


David
 
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