Point Motors

I am designing my new layout (large N gauge 4 track loop with junction) and need to consider all of the wiring before I start laying any track.
The layout has over 20 turnouts/slips plus the fiddle yard ones and I wondered what point motors are available. I am under the impression that you can either get double coil types or motor operated (tortoise) motors. Can anyone recommend one or the other? Are either type lots more money than others? Can each type have an auxiliary switch to feedback position to my control PC?
I am happy to tackle a bespoke electronic system (using the I2C interface and a PC) so the control complexity shouldn't be a problem.
Thanks Luke
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On Sat, 31 Dec 2005 14:35:39 -0000, "Luke Briner"

Personally I prefer tortoise but they are substantially more expensive than Peco twin coil motors which will do the job. Tortoise have built in auxiliary switches, for Peco they are extras and the cheaper version is not recommended. You can also adapt ordinary microswitches with a bit of DIY.

You might like to look at what MERG (<http://www.merg.org.uk/ ) have to offer. Kits are available for all the hardware to link to a computer, including appropriate drivers for both types of points, and for an automatic block system very suited to layouts such as you describe. Also a number of software versions already developed. Regards Keith
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Keith wrote:

I've never had any problems with the Peco axiliary switch, other than having the terminals loosening slightly when I've been rough/slow with the soldering iron. The switch doesn't normally switch any current and has a good wiping action. I do find that two switches on the same motor does pressure the reliability a fraction due IMHO to excessive load for some motors.
I put the pointmotor directly on the turnout with a thin card between motor and turnout and I ballast very carefully.
Regards, Greg.P.
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On 31/12/2005 14:35, Luke Briner said,

Tortoise point motors are pretty much the best to use, although they have a price to match. A hint here is that they are a darn sight cheaper in the US, so it is worth checking on eBay (search for "switch machines", not "point motors") These have auxiliary switches fitted, as do the other motor-driven point motors made by Lemaco and Fulgurex.
Double coil types are cheap and cheerful, and give you a very loud clunk which is far from prototypical and completely ruins any atmosphere. They can have auxiliary switches fitted. I'm not going to say any more about these abominations!
A third type is that driven by memory wire. Absolutely silent in operation. Have a look at my web site for my home-made version, but there is also a commercial version, whose name will come to me just after I hit the "send" button :-)
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Luke Briner wrote:

Tortoise motors have a good reputation, though the problem of drawing current all the time. If you have a lot of motors, this is a considerable current which requires a suitably big power supply. They are also quite expensive and fairly bulky.
An alternative motor is the Hoffman motor: http://www.aspenmodel.com/Switchmachines/MAW.htm
This turns its current off at the end of its travel (at least the analogue model does, that is the one I've looked at and had in pieces). Its a very simple design, and fairly cheap at around 10Euros.
There are six connectors to the analogue motor; three for the supply control (left/right and common return) and three for a change-over switch (left, right, common). The motor runs on an AC supply, 16v AC is fine, and needs either a change-over switch, or two push buttons on the control panel to operate. There is a very crude friction device which is used to slow the motor operation if you prefer slower movement. Also, lowering the voltage will slow it to some extent.
There is a UK supply through Finney's http://www.finneys.org.uk/hoffman.htm
The one I've played with seemed fine for 2mm and P4 track systems if the drive were cushioned to control the total movement. For normal Peco track systems in N and OO, I'd expect the drive to just connect directly, the choice of the springiness of the drive wire will determine the distance of travel. I think they would be significantly better than the crude double-coil Peco/Seep solenoids, and considerably cheaper than Tortoise.
- Nigel
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On Sat, 31 Dec 2005 14:35:39 -0000, "Luke Briner"

Stall-motor units like the tortoise are more gentle on turnouts and the wiring is easier if you want to include LEDs in the panel to show the direction they are set to.
Double coil motors thump the blades hard against the stock rail, which I don't like with hand built turnouts like C&L.
There is another kind that can be built at home cheaply that is also slow motion, and uses memory wire. The points are held in the normal position by a spring, and when current is applied to the wire it shrinks, pulling the blades to the other stock rail. When the current is turned off and the wire cools down its original length is restored and the spring retuens the points to the normal position.

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For our N Gauge project our guys have identified these:
http://www1.uk.conrad.com/scripts/wgate/zcop_uk/~flNlc3Npb249UDkwX0NPUF9VSzpDX0FHQVRFMDc6MDAwMC4wMTFiLjAxMzIyZWRhJn5odHRwX2NvbnRlbnRfY2hhcnNldD1pc28tODg1OS0xJn5TdGF0ZT0yNjU5MDAwOTM1==If the link doesn't work go to www.conrad.com, Select UK as your country and search for product number 219998.
Functionality of a Tortoise, cost of a Seep or Peco motor at around 4.20.
Stressed: we haven't tried them in any sort of anger yet but the consensus of the engineers in our number is that they will do the job.
HTH and sorry its a bit late in coming.
Elliott
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Hi Elliott
It's not clear from the information whether these are motor or solenoid operation.
Can you elaborate?
Thanks.
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Bill Campbell

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"Functionality of a Tortoise, price of a Seep."
They are the same basic system as a Tortoise - i.e. slow acting motor drive.
Elliott
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Just ordered 10 for 39.95 including VAT and postage.
Will let you know what they are like after arrival. I am looking to use these at the far end of the layout initially, but if they turn out to be effective may well replace Seeps already purchased.
Eddie

http://www1.uk.conrad.com/scripts/wgate/zcop_uk/~flNlc3Npb249UDkwX0NPUF9VSzpDX0FHQVRFMDc6MDAwMC4wMTFiLjAxMzIyZWRhJn5odHRwX2NvbnRlbnRfY2hhcnNldD1pc28tODg1OS0xJn5TdGF0ZT0yNjU5MDAwOTM1 ====
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On Tue, 03 Jan 2006 00:24:54 GMT, "Elliott Cowton"

These are I think made by Hoffmann in Germany. http://hoffmann-antrieb.de/ I purchased a couple of these from a German supplier, Aspenmodel.com where they are listed at 9.95 euro. My baseboards are fitted in a permanent position so I need to fit point motors from underneath. I found these virtually impossible to fit as the screw head is very close to the body of the motor and the positional adjustment is all one way. When I did get one fitted I found that the supplied wire wasn't strong enough to throw a Peco point even with the point spring removed. I then upgraded the wire but the wire clamp mechanism broke almost immediately so in the bin they went! Be interested to hear if you have better success but I went back to Tortoise!
Nigel
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On Wed, 04 Jan 2006 00:06:00 +0000, Nigel Emery <> wrote:

The Conrad units are a poor man's Hoffman. I believe there was once some sort of licensing arrangement but then they fell out of bed. Hoffman have since modified the design.
For evaluation I bought one directly from Conrad and a Hoffman from thingy and whatsit, the 3mm guys in Corsham.
Both are motor driver gear mechanisms with built in off switch (unlike the Tortoise which simply stalls) and a single pole auxillary changeover contact.
The Conrad struggled with a OO Peco turnout and the braking available from the motor was weak such that it would take two or three goes to hit the limit switch and turn off. I wouldn't trust one with handmade turnouts where there's no hinge as in Peco turnouts, I just don't think it would be strong enough.
The Hoffman looked much better in terms of both design and build quality. Its performance matched it's appearance, crisp and positive confidently reaching the limit of travel and staying there once the motor turned off.
That said for Peco turnouts with the built in centre over action I see little benefit in using these sorts of motors. The blades don't move until the motor provides enough force to overcome the spring and then they snap across. The only perceived advantage is that the motor doesn't slam the tiebar across.
If a the turnout is free and the motor correctly aligned a twin solenoid motor such as the Peco or Seep will easily move the tiebar with a brief pulse of 12V DC. The comments about a harsh action is more down to hitting a single motor with a long burst of 24 or more volts from a CDU designed to power half a dozen or more turnouts at once than from the fact of using twin solenoid motors, a bit like driving in panel pins with a lump hammer.
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Chris White
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Chris White wrote:

It's very easy to disable the over-centre spring in a Peco turnout, something I routinely do when using slow-motion motors. I would be interested in hearing how the Conrad performs with the spring removed or disabled.
Personally I like the continual pressure provided by a stall-type machine like a Toroise or a Switchmaster, but of course leaving the over-centre spring in place negates that benefit.
I have a number of hand-built turnouts with continuous closure rail. The two types of stall-type motor work well with them (sometimes a Tortoise needs a thicker actuating wire). I have found though that every time I power-up for an operating session I need to reverse each of these points as with the power off they relax, the blades can move away from the stock rail, but there's enough tension in the blade to stop the motor from snuggling the blade back. It takes a couple of minutes, walking around the layout and operating each of these turnouts, before my crew arrive for a session...
John Dennis
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Bear in mind that each of these requires 3 wires for operation as distinct from 2 wires for Fulgurex or Lemaco. These are both capable of switching *two* Peco points (eg a crossover) *with* over-centre springs in situ.
If you arrange the power correctly, Fulgurex or Lemaco can be operated with one wire and a common return. This can be quite a consideration when a large number of points are to be operated from a detachable control panel. Additional auxiliary switches can also be fitted - very useful for operating signals to indicate the route set.
--
Bill Campbell

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On Sat, 7 Jan 2006 11:29:00 +0000, Bill Campbell

No they don't, like Lemaco and Furgurex the Hoffmann and Tortoise use DC motors and direction is changed by reversing the direction of the current. All of these use 2 wires, one of which can be common return as you suggest. Keith

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Keith wrote:

Err Keith, not quite. You're right on the Tortoise wiring, but not on the Hoffmann. At least not the Hoffmann I've taken to bits.
The Hoffman I took apart uses AC, supplied over three wires. Those being "left, right, common". One wires the left and right to each side of a change-over switch (or pair of push buttons).
Inside the Hoffman are some diodes. Those take the current from the "left" supply, and drive the motor "left" with half-wave DC which comes from putting the AC through the diode. Ditto the "right", which drives the motor to the "right".
The motor is a cheap DC motor, which drives plastic gears to move the tie-bar actuator.
The travel limit on the Hoffman is a mechanical switch. This also has a diode over it, so that when reversed, the motor operates. If my memory is correct, the same diodes were used for the travel limit switches for the AC-DC conversion, so only 2 diodes are used inside the device (but my memory might have that wrong).
Overall, the Hoffman is an AC device, but uses a DC motor inside it.
The Tortoise is a DC unit, and requires only two wires to operate (reversed by a changeover switch). Or can be done with one wire and single return using either two DC sources in series, or by use of diodes to supply half-wave DC to the tortoise from an AC source.
- Nigel
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wrote:

The diodes convert the AC to DC, you can equally well use a DC supply, the circuit is essentially identical to the Lemaco which also uses diodes and cut off contacts. The recommended 2 wire dc circuit is shown on the Aspenmodels site, visit. <http://www.aspenmodel.com/htmld/HoffmanWiringTip.pdf
Keith
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Keith wrote:

Neat solution. I'll pass it to the wiring person for the scalefour layout to see if he's already got it covered. One wire plus common return reduces the wire clutter.
- Nigel
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wrote:

Note, since the motors will run fine on half wave the supply does not need to be two seperate DC supplies, can just be a simple AC transformer using one end of the secondary as common and taking the other end through a pair of diodes to make the plus and minus supplies. Keith
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Keith wrote:

Yes, got that as well. I've seen a similar wiring diagram for Tortoise before (complete with the indicator LEDs, though using the Tortoise stall resistance as the LED current limiter), but hadn't made the jump to apply it to the Hoffmann units.
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