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there must be an easier way than this!

3209 Views 21 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  alastairq
I have spent the afternoon sitting under my baseboards trying to mount peco point motors. After four hours I have only managed to get one to work efficiently. How is it done? The hole is 10mm in diameter. A CDU is being wired in. The trick seems to be to get the solenoid to be exactly 90degrees to the rail and set so the switch throws the tie bar. But its a devil of a job, working blind, against gravity with screws falling out and then finding it won't throw. I'm using attached microswitches to switch the live frog. I must have adjusted and readjusted the motor a dozen times. I'm running out of expletives so if anyone has a reasonable sucessful method I would be very interested to hear it as I do not really want above board mountings. Hornby magazine made it sound so easy!
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Once you get the hang of it, it is really easy. I use a straight edge on top of the board to mark a line directly through the tie bar, across the point and extended out by about 10mm either side. I also hold the tie bar in the centre of it's throw, drill through the hole in the tie bar with a drill small enough to go through, and drill through the board to make a mark underneath, do the same near the end of these lines and then find them underneath. With the same straight edge, I mark out underneath where the tie bar is, using these holes as my mark. Then remove the point and drill a 8 or 10mm hole through the centre mark (drill hole). Using a pair of pliers, bend over the tabs on the solenoids (the ones that are meant to go through the holes in the point) so that they face outwards at right angles, replace the point when the hole is cleaned up, put the pin up through the hole in the tiebar and line up the centre of the solenoid with the lines you've drawn. Move the solenoid left and right until you've found the position where it moves the point fully and easily, then screw it up by trapping the bent over tabs underneath self drilling button head screws.
Believe me when I say that I can fit a point motor quicker than I typed this.
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I found that the eisiest way to mount the point motors was to clip them to the points. Because I use cork sheets as an underlay, I cut the cork out around the point, glue it to the point and then add the motor (with holes in the cork, wires soldered on etc.)

Then, before I glue the cork and point down I add the ballast. In this way you can view the point from all angles and remove those pesky little bits that stop the point from working smoothly. The whole assembly can be tested on the bench before you lay it.

The only down side for this method is that you need a big square hole in the base board. It remains a pain to drill loads of little holes so the bit in the middle falls out !

Hope this helps you to stop teaching those within earshot any new words. telling me? I have mounted 21 of'em and now have a sore back.

The point is bad planning. Believe me I have learned a lot on my layout, and it was all the hard way.
I have found out you have to plan everything, and I mean everything, beforehand. The to do firsts,seconds,thirds,.....etc all should be planned. Doing things simply by relying on your intuition works to a certain degree but leaves you with a sore back like mine.

Actually this subject would be a valuable thread on its own such that; when starting a layout, in what order should one proceed.

Anyway, if I could've start all over again I would mount all my points at the specified places on the baseboard (marked beforehand), do all the wiring etc , than mount the baseboard to the supports saving me the trouble to work under the layout .

Baykal with a very sore back
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There is some very valuable advice here and so I really must thank you. Plan, plan and plan!. I have stumbled from one aspect of the layout to another and I thought I had a plan when all I really had was a track layout drawn on pieces of paper plus a few buldings and a bit of scenic work.

The straight edge idea is very good, thankyou. I will have to improvise a bit on that because, of course, all my track is in place with all points pinned down. although I had drilled the 10mm holes beforehand.
Wiring proceeds with, as you say, a sore back and and a pain in the neck because I had not worked out the feeds etc.

You are absolutley right about how to go about getting a layout up and running but no one actually sets down the procedures by which they construct their layouts. I read all the articles in the magazines but so many of the basics are skipped over. "The baseboards are 9mm what not and the electical work was all done et al"

Well anyway thanks for the guidence all contributions welcome this is may first major layout and I seem to have spent most of the time underneath the layout in the dark! Literally and metaphorically and still with nothing running on deck. It's a wonderful hobby!
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I have a long sequence of points to motorise and the thought of doing it upside down does not appeal. I'm going to try to create the points as a complete unit on their own track bed and do the work "offline" as it were on a worktop where the points are upside down and I'm the right way up!

Although my layout isn't portable I can remove any baseboard reasonably easily and tip it up on its side, resting on the same supports that hold it when flat. I made the baseboard-to-baseboard wires long enough that they can still be plugged in in this position so I can install and test point motors and other wiring without forever putting the board down and lifting it again. The baseboard joints are a bit of a pain but it really helps with the wiring!
What I do is fix the point blades in mid-position with something like Blue-Tak, and then install the point motor below - again ensuring the operating pin in mid-position. This gets the motor mounted centrally. With the blades held firm above, the motor won't easily slip as you try to fix the screws. I've got 64 motors now fitted this way and once I'd mastered the technique it only took me about 5 minutes per motor.

I also use one of those plastic terminal blocks for the 6 wires so that all the attachments to the motor are done on the workbench. This means connecting up afterwards is just to the screw terminals away from the motor itself.
When fixing the point motor in a mount under the board rather than fitting it directly to the point motor I first balance the motor correctly aligned in its mount on top of the point and then drill through baseboard using a couple of the fixing points as a guide. Then fit in place using bolts.
Edwin has the right idea.

Check out Iain Rice's book on building Finescale trackwork?

I have gone off the idea of building a baseboard, THEN laying complicated trackwork....I know it seems nice and easy to firstly build the table, then plonk down the trackwork..but.....if you firstly assemble your complicated pointwork on a track SUB-BASE.....for example, a thin piece of plywood.....complete with motors, etc...all done on your favourite workbench, in comfort...painted and ballasted too if you like...then assemble the track sub-base onto your baseboard framework?..[open frame baseboards???].....its a bit like building your own jigsaw puzzle....

Of course, if your board is a nice, cheap, B&Q interior door, the sub-baseboard motors are a these have to be positoned ABOVE the surface..which introduces the problem of disguising the motors.... an excuse for looking for a mechanical means of point blade operation?

I never liked the idea of cutting gert big 'oles under points.........messes up future changes.....Edwi's suggestion of tipping boards up seems best???
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This is the method I've used to set up Peco and SEEP motors for years, though nowadays I prefer to use Lemaco or similar slow motion motors.

First [as others have said] you need to mark out the positions of the tie bars before laying the track and cut the hole for the operating pin. Rather than drill a large hole I chain drill a series of 3mm holes and combine them into a slot, its much neater. (A Dremel or similar with a burr is very handy for this and can, with care, be used to modify the slots from below after the track is down.),
Once the point is laid get two small pieces of plasticard with a thickness about half the blade throw and placing one between each blade and its adjacent stock rail, lock the point at half throw. (RFS's idea of blu tac is probably just as good, though it could lead to contact problems if you don't get it all out).
Cut a piece of card of a width that pushes tightly between the inner coil ends of the motor and make a slot in it that fits the point operating pin so the motor is also locked at half throw.
Offer up the motor to the baseboard and line it up with the tie bar, then trying not to force it in any direction mark and start the screw holes. If using a slot rather than a round hole move the motor each way at right angles to the tie bar until you hit the edge of the slot and mark the position, then set between the marks, this should ensure the pin doesn't foul in the slot. Finally install the motor and serve

Where possible I mount the motors with the baseboard upside down so gravity helps.
Finally if using Peco's bases to mount the motor don't have an over-centre spring in both the point and the motor base.

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"The straight edge idea is very good, thankyou. I will have to improvise a bit on that because, of course, all my track is in place with all points pinned down. although I had drilled the 10mm holes beforehand."
As long as you haven't ballasted, you can use a sharp knife, such as a Stanley and cut back the sleepers on the plain track that adjoins the toe end of the point, then slide the joiners back, unpin the point and hey presto, it's out. As long as the holes you've drilled already are in the right place, you won't have to do this, but it may come in handy some other time.
Hello all,

I have just installed (sucessfully) 8 SEEP PM1's today. I used a similar system to the one Jerry described accept that i use a piece of cork to centre the drive pin between the two solenoid motors and to centre the throwing arms of the peco point. I also temporarily remove the latch spring(I find pushing the spring together to release some of its tension helps overall operation anyway). I pilot drill through the centred mechanism and then drill a 10mm hole drilling from above. I then from the underside use a hot glue gun to temporarily fix the units in place. This allows a little time to ensure the motor is square with the point above. I then test that it operates correctly before piloting the fixing screws. If after gluing the motor is not operating perfectly it can be pulled off with very little force and so far in my experience, no damage to the ply board or motor. Any remaining glue just peels off. Then re-glue and try again. Must say that the other half of my board i will do as David suggests - with board upside down as it will be even easier on the neck!!

Regards Dave
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It may seem obvious but I dont see it mentioned here. Throw away the slotted peco screws that come with the motor and get crosshead in Europe and Robertson in Canada (and US?). If you are good at balancing then the screw will stay in place on the screwdriver, if not use a little bluetak.
A lot of expertise out there. Thankyou. I have read Iain Rice's opus, 'Finescale trackwork in 4mm',as mentioned by alastairq. I wondered whether anybody had used his idea of making up sections of pointwork off the baseboard with all attendant wiring and then screwing it into the required postion. I was sceptical of it working but it seems that alastairq has made it work. But what happens if something goes wrong and do you handle all the straight sections the same way? Armed with all this advice I feel more confident about spending some more time under the baseboard but I think next time I might take on board some of the other suggestions mentioned. Once again thanks to all.
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Hi All

The comments so far are all good and centre around ligning up the point motor with the point etc.
One thing that I found that made this job easier, was to use the Peco point motor with the extended pin. This aleviates the frustration of the short pin coming out of the point tie bar and wishing you had three arms.
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Maybe not much help, but finally frustrated beyond belief with my attempts to get Peco point motors to work I threw them out and went with Tortoise. Read Iain Rice's book too and wasn't convinced to be honest on the ability to move slabs of trackwork stuck to paper and end up with a smooth running track. But then again, I haven't tried yet and who am I to questian IR anyway!
QUOTE (Lancashire Fusilier @ 3 Feb 2009, 04:41) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Maybe not much help, but finally frustrated beyond belief with my attempts to get Peco point motors to work I threw them out and went with Tortoise. Read Iain Rice's book too and wasn't convinced to be honest on the ability to move slabs of trackwork stuck to paper and end up with a smooth running track. But then again, I haven't tried yet and who am I to questian IR anyway!

I've never had much luck with them (Peco) either - the Peco points on SL are operated by Fulgarex/Lemarco & those in the automated storage yards are Fleischmann Profi electrically operated - engineering wise decades away.
Having seen the flieshmann points up close and working on Brian's fiddle yard I can attest to their brilliance!
Ps Sorry for the spelling mistake!
QUOTE But then again, I haven't tried yet and who am I to questian IR anyway

you're YOU, lancashire fusilier....and IR does need questioning...he simply puts forward HIS view....doesn't really set out to create tablets of stone....

What i was suggesting was to create the pointwork, on the bench, on a sub-base of some sort [ply, thin, is fine......] which is then secured to the baseboard framework.....assembling the assemblies like a jigsaw.

scenery doesn't require such support.....

BUt Monsewer Rice isn't teh ONLY one to go that route.....

I've found this which perhaps goes some way towards explaining things?

The ply track bases...[note, 9mm ply isn't an 'absolute'...just what was to hand].....although screwed down here...with the templates stuck on top, complete with sleepering.....could just as easily have the P&C work, and plain track, assembled AT THE BENCH...then screwed into place......obviously creating the sub-bases first, and assembling them onto the boards, once their shape has been decided upon [by experimentation with a full-size template??}..then removing them to one's comfort zone, building the pointwork, and 'linking' plain track, then re-assembling onto the base framework...............................if careful with the screw locations, each sub-base could be removed for maintenance, no more difficult than separating a whole base board of a trans-portable layout [as for exhibitions?}???

BTW, this baseboard illustrated was made up in a furniture workshop.....spare time 'n all that....hence the posh tools and marvellous workmanship?
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