• Bascule Bridge Problems

  • Discussion related to everything about model railroading, from layout design and planning, to reviews of related model tools and equipment. Discussion includes O, S, HO, N and Z, as well as narrow gauge topics. Also includes discussion of traditional "toy train" and "collector" topics such as Lionel, American Flyer, Marx, and others. Also includes discussion of outdoor garden railways and live steamers.
Discussion related to everything about model railroading, from layout design and planning, to reviews of related model tools and equipment. Discussion includes O, S, HO, N and Z, as well as narrow gauge topics. Also includes discussion of traditional "toy train" and "collector" topics such as Lionel, American Flyer, Marx, and others. Also includes discussion of outdoor garden railways and live steamers.

Moderators: 3rdrail, Otto Vondrak, stilson4283

  by NJTRailfan
Hey guys,

Last week I bought the Bascule Bridge. The span itself along with the tower were easier to put together alogn with other truss assembleis that goes with the bridge.

But however. I've been having trouble puting the motor, wires and the grears together that came with the kit. Not to mention where and how I'm supposed to hide the wire along the span to the abutment end of the bridge and then back.

I went to the RR Club in Carlstadt NJ for their open house and I found out their Bascuel is not perminantly locked in the closed psotions because according to the guy in charge "The parts were the worst and that the grears and motor aren't powerful enough." On top of that hes todl me abotu the memebers who wrote scathign letter to Walthers about how many problems they're havign with the bridge and for a product that costs $70-80 dollars they expected a better motor and stell gears that interlock and work for more then a few times.

According to the man incharge of the RR Club After 4 guys and 5 tries their patience ran out and now it's part of the layout but they didn't make the cut in the tracks or put any of the motor, wiring,gears,etc in the cab because it was also hard to fit al lthat stuff into that smal lcab let alone to open up to maintain. so they only thing there are the walls to the cab and the copper rods that came with the bridge.

so does anyone know how I can solve my problems with the electrical work of the Bascule and make it work with better parts plsu what to buy? If no solution is found then I'll do wehat thsoe guys in that club did and perminantly anchor it flat and have a Walthers Bridge Track run across it and the approach aprons without a cut in the rail. My patience is also running out with it as well. I would think atleast Walthers would include steel rather then plastic gears and other parts and more simpler details of how to put it together alogn with a more powerful motor.

  by jwb1323
I'm in the process of assembling mine. I would say that the kit requires care, and in particular you have to follow the order of the instructions in assembling the motor and the land-based frame. But the MR review, as well as an article on assembling the bridge in Mainline Modeler indicate that the bridge will in fact work. I haven't gotten to the counterweight yet, but I'm seriously considering weighting it to the same value as the bascule section with track -- at that point, as on the prototype, it should not require a lot of power to raise or lower the bascule.

As of now, I have in fact assembled the motor, gears, and motor house on the land-based frame. While it's a little tricky, it goes together accourding to the instructions, and the motor and gears mesh correctly and work. Patience is a key element, as well as following the instructions EXACTLY in order. There is, in fact, a slot in one of the supports for the wires to the motor -- again, you have to do this EXACTLY in the order in the instructions.

I have also finished the bascule span and find it seems to be strong and rigid enough to withstand operation.

I haven't finished the project -- my biggest gripe is that there is no provision for mounting the land-based section on the layout. You need a recess about 3/4 inches below the track bed to mount it -- but this doesn't get you to what was on the prototype (if it's any help, there's a photo of the prototype in the RMC article part I on Chicago moveable bridges). The prototype had very heavy concrete piers here, apparently resting in the river. Nothing is provided for this on the model, nor any suggestions.

My second biggest gripe is there's no provision for powering the track -- will just have to have some flexible wires running from the baseboard to the hinge end of the bascule section when complete.

But so far, maybe 60 percent through, I have more confidence than I did when I started that this will work. I am using it to bridge an aisle (there will be a feature on my layout and track plan that will give an idea of where it is to go on this site when Otto gets it ready). My fallback plan will be to have it manually lifted if the motorizing feature doesn't work, but so far, I think it will.

I'm glad to see a post on a question like this on a forum. I get so sick of the usual "what color T shirt do you wear when you run your layout?" kind of discussion.

  by NJTRailfan
Tell me about it.

I'm also sick of the questions of that degree.

I'm glad to hear that the housing went well for you. Maybe when you finally get it to run it'll be worth the patience. But I'm not having too much faith considering that 5 guys from a very large railroad club (which has been around for 78 years) couldn't get this thing operating.

If worst comes to worse I'll just use the rods and move the bridge by hand or just leave it still and run a straight track through with no breaks like what the club did.

At one point I was thinking about how was I going to run the wires along the span without showing and hide the wires along the girders but the club wasn't too helpful in that considering that they only used the rods and no wires or anything else. So I guess if they ever wanted it to go up or down they can manually move it but that's it.

I was also hearign that if you ever had to service the motor or anything else in the cab it would be a pain to deal with it while it was mounted between the girders on the bridge. One of the biggest reasons why the club members didn't want to motorize it.

There were alot of scathing e-mails to Walthers the day the members gave up on that thing. Atleast bigger metal gears should've been used rather then smaller plastic ones. I also wish soemone could put this thing together for me.

Keep me posted on the results.

Thank you.

  by Otto Vondrak
Can I tell you how disappointed I am in most of Walther's kits? They really appear kinda cheap sometimes- especially when we pay upwards of $75 for them.

I want to get Jessy and Tom on here to explain how we (at ritmrc) totally tore apart and rebuilt the Walther's turntable with much more reliable gearing and motor. The original system they supplied was a JOKE.


  by NJTRailfan
It's quite apparent that they don't field test at all or not to often their operating kits. This is the last time I ever buy a Walthers kit with movable parts and sections. I think I'll just stick to the standard structures like the 2 bay Firehouse and the buildings with the store fronts. But man even those are going up past $50!

Even the double and single track truss bridges which isn't as long as the moving Bascule span is getting too costly.

I believe you about the turn table. I take it it's doing quite well now? Maybe you guys should try your luck with a Bascule Bridge if you feel like spending the cash or helping out the Model Railroad club in Carlstadt, NJ on Hoboken Rd with theirs. Their last try was using a higher voltage motor and bigger metal gears that actually came together on rotation. But still, No dice.

I'm ready to call it quits and just do what the club has done.

  by jwb1323
I agree that the Walthers kits are getting expensive. But prompted by the post, I went back to work on my bascule bridge. I would say that this is an advanced project. I've been working on it on and off for the better part of a year. Consider that I had to calculate exactly where it was going to go in relation to the benchwork and the aisle, which was something I was determined to get right. Then it is simply not a minor project to assemble, whether you plan to motorize it or not. I wanted to have a good paint-over-rust weathering effect like you often see on drawbridges, and that's taken time.

I can understand that people would get frustrated with an advanced project. I am wondering if Walthers should put some kind of warning about this on the kit. But based on what I hear about the old turntable kit, this is not something where parts are warped or just don't fit.

I still assert that the gears mesh. I have brought the whole thing to the point where all subassemblies are complete (steps 1-4), and the motor, gears, shafts, etc., are assembled in the motor housing, with the A frame fully assembled. I caused myself some minor problems by not following all steps in order at the start, but learned my lesson by the time I assembled the motor and gears.

So I'm not far from the proof of the pudding -- I installed the Walthers bridge track, painted and weathered, on the painted and weathered bascule span this week, and it really looks good. This weekend I will add weights (8 ox) to the counterweight and begin putting the pieces together (step 5) and installing on the layout.

One thing that I think Walthers might have considered was that this is a pretty small prototype. A longer prototype would have been more suitable for an aisle, which is certainly a logical use for the model. On the other hand, I'm puzzled Overland hasn't had a similar thought and brought out a $2000 or whatever version for the same purpose. If Overland had come out with something like that, I would have scrounged the money SOMEHOW.

I certainly don't buy the Walthers kits that are $20 for a simple storefront. There is such a thing as intelligent shopping. Also, when you consider that Downtown Deco and the lamented Ed Fulasz kits cost about the same as a Walthers kit, there's an incentive to spend some time, care, and craftsmanship and come up with something unique, rather than think you've got to get a Walthers kit.

But on the other hand, you can get $10-20 off Walthers kits buying at discount. Again, you have to shop intelligently. There are some good items in their range.

  by NJTRailfan
Thats a grea looking layout you have there. I see you specialize in small line freights, locals and switching ops. Good looking scenry too.

I hope that Bascule works out for you. I would hate for you to do all that work and have to take it appart to replace the motor with a more powerful one and bigger metal gears like what our Site Administrator and his friends had to do with the turntable just to get it working.

The railroad club did it twice maybe three times with the Bascule til they threw in the towel.

  by jwb1323
Thanks for the good words. I grew up partly in Chatham, just down the M&E from Dover, by the way, and the part of my layout now under construction is to be inspired by New Jersey (but Jersey Central, Lehigh Valley, PRR, NY&LB as well as DL&W/EL). Thus the bascule bridge. My fallback will be to lift it manually, for which I think all I'll need to do will be to remove the gears that interface with the racks.

Passenger service is in the future, through freights already run on my layout. It's a question of the time and energy to photograph other parts of it and other trains. Otto will have a feature up on my layout here soon, he says.

  by NJTRailfan
I hope it's psoted soo nbecause I would love to see more pictures of your layout. So when yo uhave passenger service will you use the modern commuter cars, metroliners and superliners like what Amtrak NJT and MN has or the heavy weights like what passenger railroads had back then?

Will you have long distance trains? With Carlstadt they don't like to restrict themselves to one era and they'll run anything.

  by jwb1323
I'll run what I like. But for example, I already have some painted NWSL Erie Stilwells and a pair of Atlas Erie RS-3s. A fair amount of Amtrak in all eras. A fair amount of PRR. A complete Soho brass SP Sunset Limited. And so forth. I may lean toward early Amtrak, simply because it's possible to make up authentic trains from a wide variety of equipment.
  by Komachi
Hey guys,

Just a general question here... is there anybody in the house with a Mechanical Engineering degree (or at least competent with mechanical bits and a CAD program)? If there are so many problems with Walther's mechanized kits, maybe they can come up with a better solution. Is there any such qualified individual (individuals?) who would be willing to donate their time, energies and tallents to such a cause? Just thought I'd ask.

I'm planning on eventually building a one-off version of the Winona Bridge Co./Green Bay & Western swing span over the Mississippi River at Winona, MN for "the Big one" (the big layout, yet to be built)... I can imagine all the "fun" I'll be having fabricating that thing (and I DO plan on it being an operating structure).

  by jwb1323
Actually, my opinion of the motor-gear assembly inside the motor house of the Walthers bascule is that it HAD to have been done with a CAD program. I suspect that any problems are due to changes in dimensions of the styrene as it cools -- in other words, the design is great, the manufacturing process may not be quite up to the design. This is why I say the aseembly requires some care and patience and making sure everything seats correctly.

  by Otto Vondrak
Article on John Bruce's layout is coming soon to Rairoad.net.

I think the problem with Walthers, is if they designed a more robust motor system for the bascule, for the turntable, etc, the kit price would be $250 instead of $95.

In this hobby- you get what you pay for!


  by jwb1323
I really appreciate NJT's opening this topic, as it challenged me and got my enthusiasm going to finish this project! As of 0900 PST, 1200 EST, the Intracoastal Aisleway has been closed for the duration as final assembly of the bascule span is taking place! I hope to have final results sometime tomorrow or Monday.

One thing I've noted in final assembly of the various subassemblies is that you need to drill out the holes for the pins -- I used #42 on the inside holes, #50 on the outside holes. Getting everything lined up is pretty tricky and required a fair amount of profanity. My wife couldn't tell if the cussing was coming from outside or in the basement.

Next step: final assembly of the counterweight, with 8 ounces of the self-adhesive type of car weights inside, helped with silicone glue.

One area where you need care, I've seen so far, is to make sure all bearing areas move smoothly. I particularly had to lubricate the motor and gear shafts to get them working properly (LaBelle 108 or whatever it is, the plastic compatible stuff).

  by JDFX
An Idea...

Ok folks, I have never built one of these bridges, but here is an idea, and after drawing it out on paper, it should mechanically work...

Ditch the stupid motor and gears, and all that garbage.

first trick is to balance the bridge as best as possible. In fact, if you can have it balanced so that it goes up wards easier than downwards, all the better. (not by much however...)

What is involved here is a Tortoise Switch machine, mounted beneath the main concrete abutment, mounted underneath, horizontally, (as apposed to vertical when used with a switch machine). You want the throw of the machine to go "up and down" as apposed to conventional "left and right"...

The throwbar of the machine, goes to a Bell Crank (Rix Products I believe) which also is mounted sideways, producing and "up and down" motion...

If set right, that should give your final piece of piano wire a good 1" of "up and down" travel, which should deffinately be enough to make the bridge go up and down.

This final vertical piece of piano wire should come up through the concrete abutment, as close to the "water's edge" as possible, giving you the best leverage, yet still being mostly hidden (any visible wire could be painted black) and still being mechanically free of hang ups.

Granted, this method will be somewhat involved however I seen a similar design used to motorize an old IHC? Bascule bridge, and it worked flawlessly once the linkages were worked out.

as for the balancing, its easier for the Tortoise to "pull down" the bridge, rather than to have to work to "push it up"...

And the best thing, if the Tortoise craps out, they are available everywhere. No special or out of stock parts needed.

Its not as difficult to do as it sounds, bellcranks and tortoises are easy to adapt to many mechanical problems.