Sunday, November 21, 2010

Railroad Signal Lamps

To say the least, my daytime job is often "a bit different" from what most people experience in their lifetimes. Here's one reason why:

My company makes electronic signal equipment for the railroad industry. Quite a number of years ago my bosses decided to shoehorn some of our equipment into a Garden "G" Gauge model train so that they could demonstrate its operation on a moving (albeit small) train at trade shows. Over the years the train display has grown in size and complexity. The latest iteration measures 10 feet by 30 feet and has a bit more than 80 feet of track in sort of a "flattened dog bone" shape. The rear edge alone has 2 mainlines and 2 sidings, each more than 15 feet long!

Over the past few weeks it has actually been my job, if you can call it that, to spend my time cutting and fastening the track with foam rubber track bed on the new display. Yeah, I know. It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it!

The display is pretty much devoid of any scenery except for a couple pieces of wayside equipment, e.g., the signal lamps. The longer I worked on the track and the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that the signal lamps that we have used for years just didn't quite measure up to the standards of the new display, so I decided to make some replacements. The picture shows one of the four new signal lamps that I built.

I am sure that there are those who would slavishly conform to the required scale to ensure authenticity in all model train projects. I realized early on that, although all 4 of our trains are all considered "G" gauge trains, none of them were built to exactly the same scale. So, no matter what scale I chose, it wouldn't be quite right. Instead, I just sort of "eyeballed" the scale and made the signal lamps about 7 inches tall or about even with the average cab roof.

Originally, I had planned to blather on here with a blow by blow description of how I put it together on the off chance that someone might want to actually duplicate them. After a sobering evening's reflection I realized that anyone who was that interested could just look at my annotated photo and glean everything they need to know to duplicate what I did. If you want more info than that, just drop me an e-mail. I can probably tell you much more that you will want to listen to.:-)

The display will debut in September in Minneapolis (?) and then be disassembled and rushed to another show in New Orleans (?) just a week or two later. Now, on to the wiring...

One from the Bench:

Don't let your victories go to your head, or your failures go to your heart.

'Til next time...Keep makin' chips!

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