Progress on the Rest of the World

Sector plate - with cork.

The Rest of the World – otherwise known as “staging” – is taking shape with the installation of the sector plate.

The sector plate is relatively straightforward. A piece of 3/4″ thick MDF has been cut to create a stationary deck and a moveable plate. I laid out the centrelines for the four tracks, as well as the centreline for the plate. Chris Abbott then drilled a hole at the far end of the plate and deck for a steel dowel pin, which makes a great pivot:

Sector plate - pivot.

Rather than get fancy about supporting the pin, we drilled the first hole about 1/8″ undersize, all the way through both plate and deck. We then used a press-fit drill size to drill down through the same hole, all the way through the plate but only about 3/4 of the way through the deck. This keeps the pin from falling through, but also allows us to push it out from underneath if we need to take apart the sector plate.

We then used the pin, a pencil and a piece of scrap MDF with a couple of holes in it to create a beam compass and mark an arc across the entrance end of the sector plate. We did this about two inches in from the end of the plate, then cut the arc with a jigsaw and sanded both sizes of the cut smooth. The short piece was screwed to the deck, located so the plate would slide past it with the saw’s kerf as a gap:

Sector plate - entrance.

Here’s a tip – screw this end of the plate to the deck before drilling the holes for the dowel pin. The short piece will then go back in place exactly where it needs to be after cutting.

When we were satisfied with the fit of the plate, I added cork roadbed to the plate using No More Nails. I also finished the cork roadbed for the mainline from the north switch at St. Williams to the sector plate. Note how the roadbed fans at the entrance to the sector plate, so that each track lines up with the approach track. Note also how I cut back the cork around the dowel pin to make sure we can remove it if necessary.

The sector plate is now ready for ties and rail – and I am another step closer to driving the Gold Spike.

3 thoughts on “Progress on the Rest of the World

  1. How are you planning on wiring the tracks? I have a similar situation, only I will be using cassettes instead of a sector plate. The last remaining hurdle before I build is the wiring. Any ideas?

    • Hi Galen:

      The short answer is, as soon as I know I’ll let you know!

      I haven’t given the wiring too much thought, other than knowing that it will have to be done. I’m using DCC so that simplifies things greatly – I only need to get two wires to track level and I’m done.

      There’s not much movement of the sector plate near the pivot so it’s likely that both plate and base will have a hole drilled through them to pass a pair of feeder wires – loose enough that they can move in the hole without pinching. I’ll then wire each track to the feeders in the usual way. This can be done on the top of the sector plate since it’s an unscenicked area.

      What I will have to do to do this, though, is cut a channel across the four strips of cork roadbed to pass the wires, once I determine where the hole should be.

    • Hi again Galen:

      As for cassettes, the easiest solution is to have a pair of wires in a cable (for neatness) with alligator clips on the ends. Simply clip them to the rails on the end of the cassette furthest from the approach track. Using colour-coded clips and matching coloured dots next to each rail would ensure that the “+” and “-” feeds don’t get crossed.

      Alternately, cassettes work best if there’s a physical connection to keep the cassette track aligned with the approach track. It may be possible to build an electrical connection into that as well. What you do NOT want for the physical connection is something that requires any force to remove – like a phono plug. Instead, a metal rod that rubs against a contact in the socket would work. It may be possible to create a suitable physical/electrical plug using Anderson Power Poles too – I don’t know. A pair of knife switches might also work, if you split the base and mount half the base on the cassette.

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