As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, back in November of 2011 my friend Dick Otto shared a lovely memory about the Port Rowan turntable being “awash in Queen Anne’s Lace and other meadow flora”.
The description really stuck with me, and today I was in the mood to do some planting, so I enhanced the area around the turntable with more weeds. This took about a half-hour to do, and used up four more packages of “Baby’s Breath” from miniNatur:
Thanks again, Dick, for sharing the wonderful memories!
I’ve written quite a bit about the turntable I built for Port Rowan, and I’m still really happy with the kit I used as a starting point – an HO turntable from Custom Model Railroads.
But I did notice that electrical pick-up from the pit rail has not been 100% reliable. It’s been about 85% – which is great, except that with sound-equipped locomotives the 15% of the time that power is not going to the decoder is really noticeable.
The problem – a problem, by the way, that CMR acknowledges – is that the bearings used as wheels on the turntable bridge do not reliably conduct electricity. If I recall, CMR suggested adding wipers to the wheels. I did this when I built the bridge but the wipers have proven to be reliable only most of the time – not all of the time.
So, today I soldered together a pair of sliding pick-up shoes using phosphor bronze wire and some flat brass stock. The work took less than an hour, including adjusting the pressure of the shoes so they would not drag excessively on the pit rail and brush-painting the new shoe assemblies black so they’d disappear in the shadows under the bridge. Sharp eyes will spot a slider on the pit rail between the two wheels/bearings in this photo:
There’s another slider at the other end of the bridge, too. Now, power for each bridge rail is collected from two wheels plus a slider.
I’ve tested the turntable a half-dozen times now – rotating in both directions – and power is now being delivered to the bridge rails (and therefore the locomotive) 100% of the time.
While it’s never fun having a problem with a layout, it’s always satisfying to solve it.
“Fencelet”: A partial fence.
Photos of the turntable at Port Rowan show a curious feature – a short section of wooden fence to one side of the turntable approach track. It appears to be there to protect crew members from falling into the pit – but what makes this curious is that there’s no corresponding section on the other side of the approach track. (Presumably, crew members could fall in there just as easily, right?)
My second guess is that it’s a section of snow fence, which would make sense if drifting snow routinely filled in part – but only part – of the turntable area. But that’s just a guess – I don’t know.
Regardless of the purpose of this fencelet, three pieces of dowel and three lengths of scale 1″x10″ produced a suitable replica… and a conversation piece:
If anybody knows what this is, feel free to share your theories in the comments section for this post.