January 2022 : Operation on the main artery
Thirteen years of museum operation also leave traces of wear on the model, even if it is true to scale. A neuralgic point with a total of 9 points, which is used by every train in both directions in every round, suffered accordingly more from the mechanical influence of the train compositions.
Two weak points crystallised in the process:
The fixing of the switch blades and the wear of the switch hearts, which are made of plastic and not metal. Some repairs could still be carried out on the layout, under the overhead lines, but replacement became unavoidable over time.
To counteract the weak points, other rail manufacturers were sought. Our choice fell on the manufacturer Peco because of the more solid turnout mechanics. However, the centre piece, on which the wear-prone areas are made of plastic, is only offered by the manufacturer Shinohara. So we had to fall back on the same component, but not without modifying it first. The vulnerable areas were cut out in advance and replaced by replaceable inserts. The inserts, in turn, are made of PET by means of 3D filament printing. This solution offers several advantages: wear and tear becomes secondary, as the inserts can be changed quickly and at any time, especially from below the installation, and thus there is no "danger" to the landscape, especially the overhead lines.
The entire area of the nine turnouts was set up and thoroughly tested by our technicians before the actual replacement was carried out. Thanks to this preparation, the conversion went smoothly for the most part, and the first test runs were successful.
Everything is ready to resume regular museum operations and we will see how the system behaves in long-term operation...