Timothy J. Horton


I decided to use miniature servos for powering and controlling my turnouts. My benchwork has a fairly thin profile and the servos would not be seen below the fascia, whereas the more traditional machines would.

The servos require a power supply of 12 volts so it was necessary to run an auxiliary power bus around the layout for turnout control. I ssembled an auxiliary power panel comprising a power bar, three 12 volt power supplies, three DCC booster boards and a barrier strip for connection to the layout.

This photograph shows a test with power into the DCC booster board, a connection to the Singlet Servo decoder, and a further connection to the servo at left.

I have also connected a miniature toggle switch to the Singlet servo decoder as I wish to control the turnouts from the fascia with the toggles. The booster boards, Singlet servo decoders and servos were sourced from Tam Valley Depot.

There are eight turnouts on the mainline including Septimus, Sundance and Tremblay.

This photograph shows the eight Singlet servo decoders which were assembled from kits. The kits are an effective way to keep the unit price down and require only basic soldering skills to attach the push buttons and bi-colour LEDs. I mounted the buttons and LEDs on the same side so that the Singlets could be attached to brackets under the layout.

The miniature toggle switches were sourced from a local electronics store. Lead wires were attached to them for the runs from the Singlet servos to the fascia control panels.

I encountered some issues with these miniature toggles which may have resulted from the soldering process. The use of heat sinks during soldering seemed to eliminate the damage to the toggles from the soldering process.

After years of operating on other people's layouts, I wanted a system of turnout control which was simple and intuitive. I opted for small panels directly in line with the turnouts which would accommodate the toggles, and larger schematic panels for the middle of the sidings. All of the panels were rendered in Adobe Illustrator and then produced on lamicoid.

Pictured at left is the auxiliary power panel in place underneath the layout. I chose a location underneath Chetwynd Yard as the majority of turnouts will be in the two yards situated above. It is also located near an available wall outlet.

I decided to create three separate bus runs for the turnouts: one for the turnouts in Chetwynd yard, one for the mainline turnouts, and one for the turnouts in Dawson Creek yard.

This photograph shows the complete installation in place for the west switch at Tremblay. The servo is located on a bracket directly below the turnout. The frog juicer is attached to the other side of the bracket and connects to the track bus wires and the frog. The servo is connected to the Singlet servo decoder which is mounted to the right on a separate bracket. The Singlet servo decoder is connected to the auxiliary bus run which supplies the 12 volt power. We can also see the control panel on the fascia with the toggle switch.

Here we see the fascia control panel for the west switch at Sundance, with the panel for the south switches at Septimus to the right. The panels are located directly in front of the turnouts, and they identify the main track and sidings.

I have noticed on other people's layouts that operators frequently have to step back or bend down to read the lower deck panels. I decided to mount the lower deck panels on angled blocks for ease of viewing.

The centre panels are schematics for the entire location and are patterned on the railway's actual Condensed Track Profiles. They identify tracks and industries, and indicate direction of travel with an arrow (ie. south and north, or west and east).

The panel for Septimus is on the left, and the panel for Sundance is on the right. These are also mounted on angled blocks attached to the fascia. This arrangement has proven to be very successful.

This photograph shows the control panel for the east switch at Sundance on the left, and the control panel for the north switches at Septimus on the right.

Note that both panels are located directly in line with their associated turnouts.

The panels with toggle switches are screwed to the angled blocks and the lead wires for the toggle switches pass through a hole in the angled block and fascia.

This is the centre schematic panel for Tremblay on the upper deck. All of the panels for the upper deck are attached directly to the fascia as the typical viewing angle does not require them to be angled.

In addition to indicating track names and direction of travel, the panels identify industries. The schematic panel at Tremblay identifies the Alberta Wheat Pool elevator which was located there.

Here we see the control panel for the west switch at Tremblay which is also mounted on the upper deck fascia. There were wires yet to be attached at the time this photograph was taken.

This photograph shows how the entire servo installation is low enough in profile so as to be concealed by hte fascia, which extends only two inches below the underside of the benchwork.

This view shows the underneath of the upper deck for Dawson Creek in the vicinity of the east ladder tracks, where there is a large concentration of turnouts.

For each turnout there is a servo mounted on a bracket with a frog juicer attached to the rear of the bracket. A second bracket accommodates the Singlet servo driver.

The frog juicers are connected to the track bus for power, and the Singlets are connected to the auxiliary power bus located toward the rear of the benchwork.

For Dawson Creek Yard there is a central schematic panel which identifies the tracks and locates the various industries. The schematic is based on the one for Dawson Creek in the railway's Condensed Track Profiles. This panel is tilted 30 degrees for optimum viewing by a standing operator.

Turnouts which are located by themselves are controlled by a small panel mounted directly on the fascia. The toggle is directly in line with the turnout.

In this photograph we can see the turnout control panel for the East Ladder, which contains the toggle switches for a large concentration of turnouts at the east end of the yard. A similar panel controls the West Ladder. The ladder panels are tilted 30 degrees.

On either side of the East Ladder panel are smaller panels for individual isolated turnouts. The one on the left is for the BC Hydro spur, and the one on the right is for the Elevator Track. A total of eight panels serves the yard at Dawson Creek.

This view from the west end of Dawson Creek Yard illustrates the tilted panels. Nearest the camera is the turnout control panel for the West Ladder, then the individual panel for the Peace River Lime spur, the central schematic panel, and the East Ladder panel.

The angled mounts for the central schematic and ladder panels were fashioned from wood by my friend Anthony Craig. They have holes drilled out for the toggle switches. The control panels were rendered in Adobe Illustrator and engraved in textured lamicoid.