Franksville, Wisconsin is located off of Highway K approximately west and slightly north of Racine, Wisconsin between Chicago and Milwaukee – on the Milwaukee Road line. I’m building a series of Modutrak modules depicting this town and area. In the drawing above, Franksville sits to the right on the diagram above with Caledonia, Wisconsin to the left (or North). This is typical Wisconsin midwest scenery with farmlands and trees in between. There was also a switching tower in the middle of two passing sidings between Franksville and Caledonia. Below is our next installment. You can find an index of all the articles from this series HERE. Thanks for reading and feel free to ask questions in our discussion forum topic dedicated to this project.
So for this installment I’m going to install Tortoise Slow Motion Switch Machines to control the turnouts. Circuitron Electronics produces these and you can find out more information on their products HERE. First the kit comes with a piece of stiff wire, a screw to hold it in place, the switch machine itself, a plasic slider piece that can be used to adjust the fulcrum point and detailed instructions. Here is a photo of the pieces that come with the Tortoise. I already soldiered on wires to the bottom of the tortoise, leaving enough extra wire to be able to make my connections later.
The metal wire is what actually attaches to your turnout and moves back and forth to change the turnout direction. Since the tracks sit on 2″ inches of Masonite spline we need to use longer wire to reach the turnout throw bar. So we found some music wire in the same diameter that came in two foot lengths that we can cut up to use instead. You can use a pair of pliers to bend the wire to the correct shape. You will trim the extra off after you install it. So the first thing I did was bend the wire according to their diagram on the instruction sheet:
The included instruction sheet also has a template you can cut out as a guide to use when drilling the hole necessary to install the unit.
The Tortoise instructions show two ways to mount it, one by very simply screwing in the four screws to attach it, the other involves double sided tape and caulk in addition to the screws to help absorb some of the noise the switch machine makes. I just used a hybrid of putting some double sided foam tape on top and screwing it in. This seems to help with the noise a little bit. I don’t think the noise is that big of a deal, but everyone is different. Here it is mounted in place:
Once mounted you can then fish the stiff wire through the hole and plastic fulcrom piece to the turnout throw . Then you just need to attach the locking screw to hold the wire in place on the machine. The Atlas Code 55 turnouts have a hole in the turnout throw bar already, but I ended up making another hole a little closer to the turnout itself as, to me, it looks a little cleaner and moves the wire closer to the trackbed which makes ballasting around it a little easier in my experience.
So the modutrak modules use a unique turnout control utilizing an RCA jack. When the modules are on display at a show, we have to worry about prying fingers and wouldn’t want someone to throw a random turnout using the typical push button or flip-switch control. The RCA jack allows for a flush interface and a shorted-out RCA plug to control the turnout. We’ll do a full feature on this system at a later date but here is what it looks like when it is complete.
I also installed the facia boards on the sides, painted them and also applied some earth colored paint to most of the pink foam.
The next installment will cover the start of all the structure building. Meanwhile if you have any questions or comments on this story, click on the blue button below to go to our discussion forums.
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