All posts by AlexG


The goal for this year was to build a waterfall, create a railway station in front of it, to expand the tracks up to the corner of my backyard and to finish the gardening up to this point.

Well – my wife and I went to a huge gardening shop yesterday, bought some small bushes and flowers and I put them in the place we wanted them to be. This week I also finished the stationary platform in front of the waterfall using concrete and today I put some lights to the station.

So I’m done with my railway working for this year – at least for the work outdoors. 


The railway station was done – well – almost. Some light was missing. I had some brass tubes left from a renovation and some white plastic balls from a defect light chain. The plastic balls fit perfectly into the brass tube and a 5mm LED is fitting into the balls. So the only thing that was missing was a little bit of electronics to connect the LED to the 18VAC rails. Just a 1k resistor and another diode solved it. So just a few cent of investment to build some nice lamps for the railway platform.


The ordinary joint controller is build with a usual electric coil and a permanent magnet, that is turing the rails. It really fast, but not really powerful. Just a little piece of gravel is prohibiting its functionality. The resultis really frustrating. So I decided to change this behaviour.

First idea was to use a servo, but the creation of a PWM signal for its control is simply too complicated. So why not usinga simple electric motor with a micro gearbox? Well – that sounds perfect. DC motors are able to spin in both directions. I found a DC motor in an electronic online shop with an integrated 1:1000 gearbox. Next step is to establish an automatic end switch for both directions. I found a great circuit digram in the net. So with some patience I used to original case and replaced to content.

It is working in perfecting. It is moving very smooth, but also very powerful. It is that strong, that it my push 12 kg (24pds)!!! So there shouldn’t be any issue anymore! Let’s turn joints!


Great weather and time to work. So it is getting time to dosome gardening and set the grass seperator. 4 hours and 240 kg of concrete later I call it the day. After getting some earth out and putting some gravel below als stones are set in concrete.

Next step will be setting the fundamental basement for the tracks. But not today. I feels stoned – need a cold beer.


Prepearation for the last step of track extention for 2017. Goal is to get the tracks in front of the waterfall. So about 5 meters (15 feet) are missing. To keep the grass away from the tracks, a speparation need to be made. First step was to lay down some stones in the way the separation is planed. Second step is to cut off the grass. For getting an idea, how it would look alike, I simply put the tracks temporarly on the earth.


After a long period of time, I had the mood to make something new to my garden railway. I build a railring to my bridge. Before summer vacations I already prepared some wood and put some paint on it. Today I screwed it under the tracks. After that I soldered some blank cupper wired to a railing and sprayed it with silver color.


I have three switch points lately in my garden railway – two PIKO R5 switches and one R7 switch. As I want to switch them remote controlled, I also bought the electrical actuator from PIKO, I am very satisfied with, because it is powerful and has rubber deals in order to get it water proof. To get it all complete, I also bought the switch point lights from PIKO. The lights from PIKO look great and convince by a solid plastic construction and LED lights, supporting the load of the power supply.

I installed the complete combination of switch, actuator and light to the final destination, but I realized real quick, that it is not working as expected. So I investigated a bunch of ours to understand, why it is not working. I mechanically disconnected the lights again and it was working again. I strictly observed, that no gravel or dust may block the mechanism and gook everything with oil. The issue seems to be, that the force is transferred over a plastic elbow angle, that seems to cant the mechanism.

After several disappointments I decided to order a light from LGB and tested it. There are several differences between both products. First difference is, that the LGB device it screwed to the actuator by two screws instead of just one, which is increasing the stability. Second difference is, that LGB is using a light bulb instead of a LED. I see this as a disadvantage, because this is putting additional load on the power supply. Third difference is the light cap. PIKO just glued it on top, which is not really a protection – especially if the tracks are outdoors. The light cap of LGB is mechanically pushed and locked. So snow, wind and heavy rain doesn’t have any impact. The forth and most important difference is the mechanical composition. It doesn’t have an angle and is straight forward. So there is no possibility to cant. In some first experiments, the light was blocked as well, but the reason was clarified pretty soon. The pin, that got clipped to the actuator, is moving very close to the lamp socket. I took a sharp cutter knife and smoothen down the edges of the pin. Now it moving in perfection without any issues.

My recommendation is to use switch point lights from LGB in future. They are more expensive and need a higher current, but from a mechanical perspective LGB work way better.