Saturday, February 21, 2015

Two Turntables and a Microphone.. Beck

As promised in my Chinese New Years post, I'm going to be updating the blog on a more regular basis with what's been happening with construction and other various layout projects.

One such project, which is close to completion, is the turntable at York B Yard.  The B Yard in York had a 80' turntable and is a focal point of the yard.  The 3 stall engine house was here and all engines and motor cars were turned on the turntable.  One of the unusual features was how it turned:  The crew would hook up the air hose from the engine to the turntable and would actuate a piston which would press a plunger against cogs to turn the table.  I'm debating whether to add that visual feature to the model.

Not seeing any commercial offerings for a 80' turntable, and not wanting to try and build one from scratch, I looked at what was available commercially and came to the conclusion the Walther's 90' turntable was a close match visually.  The difference in length was a real one inch, but by modifying it, I felt I could come up with a good representation of the York Turntable.

This picture from George Hinton's book on the Ma & Pa was taken by W.R. Wright.  Here you can see one of the unique features of the turntable:  The pit walls dropped down to ground level where there were no tracks to connect with.

I chose this Walther's 90' Turntable to modify to represent the one in York.

After marking where to cut the walls down, I used my Dremel with a cutoff disk to cut down the pit walls.

I figured it would be easier to detail the pit before working on the rest of the turntable.  I painted the pit with cheap craft paint on the bottom and used black sanding grout to cover the bottom.

After the paint and grout dried I dumped off the loose grout.  I then wet down the grout with wet water and sprinkled on fine sand colored grout and some Scenic Express ground cover.  I the added diluted white glue to glue everything in place. 

Some of the areas where the York Turntable differs from the Walther's model is that it does not have an operator's cabin, nor does it have side railings.  I cut off the platform for the operator's cabin and the mounts for the railings.

The deck after surgery.

After all modifications I finished building the turntable according to the instructions. 
Here it is ready to be tested with my trusty old MRC power pack.

Here it is being test fitted back into the hole I cut out for it.  I had to cut a notch in one Gatorfoam cross brace to fit the turntable with the electric motor housing now attached.

I couldn't resist posing a engine on it for a picture. :)

All that's left to do is to fasten the turntable down the to layout and hook up the power supply and fascia control switch.  Once this is done I'll have two operating turntables at each end of the layout.


  1. Hi Ted: Your adaption if the Walthers turntable looks very good. How is the track on the deck powered? Do you have copies of my slides of the Turntable?
    Dick Bradley

  2. Hi Dick,

    Walthers has two brass cams separated by a thick plastic washer. Two long brass strips are attached to a plastic tab with screws and washers. Your feeder wires are connected to the screws.

    I do not have any copies of your slides but I definitely would like to see some more pictures so I can add some details to the turntable. :)


  3. Terrific description of building the York turntable. How do you plan on powering and indexing it? I am finally starting to create my own version of the Ma&Pa northern division (Cardiff to York with a Baltimore staging yard). You have a large head start on me!

  4. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the feedback on what I've done. I think I might make a few more minor modifications to the turntable after obtaining some closeup pictures from my friend Dick Bradley. I'm powering the turntable with the optional Walthers motor. It fits right in the under table housing. We will index by eye: the operator will have to skillfully line it up on his own. ;) Good luck on your version of the Northern Div! I find it's more industrial and gritty nature appeals to me more than the Southern Div, especially the York area.