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Old 12-16-2019, 01:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Funicular Modeling

This is a rare two rail G-Scale Model Funicular with the ingenious and revolutionary ABT Passing switch. (the only railroad switch without moving parts!) It took seven months to design and build.

See video of the first full system test here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jlcarmichael/49105795553/in/datetaken/
And Here:


I moved it to my garden railway for permanent installation where I'll build a mountain around it. My funicular features automated station stops, delay, and reverse- all programmable. Speed is adjustable with a throttle. It also has an automatic warning bell just like the real ones, and extensive cabin and structural lighting. Controls are conveniently located outside of the rear of the Gear Room. Everything is weather resistant for outdoor use. The track slopes upwards at 30 degrees and is 72 inches long. I created the track and passing switch using LGB brass Flex track. I believe this is the first G-Scale fully functional garden funicular railway in the United States with the ABT Passing Switch.

See ABT Switch Info: https://www.giessbach.ch/en/abt-switch.html
And see this VERY interesting article: Giessbach Funicular.pdf (2.1 MiB)

To make a fully functional G-Scale model I had to teach myself everything about it since there is almost no information on modeling a funicular on the internet or in railroad magazines. Everything, including the crazy tracks, had to be designed by just using old photographs of real funiculars. It is the biggest railroading challenge I have ever undertaken. Precision in all parts of the design and construction was imperative. The split-level cars had to stop exactly in line with the boarding platforms. The cars had to travel at 3 inches/sec. so I had to teach myself all about gears and gear ratios and how to do the calculations knowing the motor's RPM. Difficult but lots of fun!

I’m making the full design drawings, electrical diagrams and construction photos available to everybody hoping that more will be built. This way, future modelers won’t suffer the learning pains and design errors I had to solve teaching myself how to make it.

See here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jlcarmichael/albums/72157711889718966

My Funicular was inspired in part by a G-Scale demonstration model of the Horseshoe Curve funicular that was made in Barcelona Spain. I don’t know the maker’s name. Although his model is a little “rough around the edges”, it proved to me that an ABT Passing Switch was possible on a G-Scale track. I took his idea and made several improvements. See:

My thanks go out to the man in Barcelona and to Mr. Steve Worack, the person who designed and sold me the Circuitron AR-2 auto reverse & delay controller. His helpful connection advice was critical to the success of the project. It works perfectly. Thank you Steve.

If anybody has any questions, just ask.

Good luck with your funiculars,

John Carmichael
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Last edited by John Carmichael; 12-16-2019 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 12-16-2019, 11:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm not sure I understand how the switch works. Are the outside wheels flanged on both sides and no flanges on the inside wheels? It doesn't look like the inside wheels could work on the cross-over track if they have flanges.
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Old 12-17-2019, 12:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I believe you answered your own question. If you doubt your conclusion, go back and watch the videos again and see all my construction photos and design plans. Or read the two articles I linked to describing the ABT switch in detail I purposely posted all this to answer questions about the switch and wheels.
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Old 12-17-2019, 12:39 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Hello John, First class work what a wonderful project. I have one on my to-do list but looking at everything else I need to get done it might be awhile. Whenever we travel if there's a funicular in town I'm on it I just love these contraptions. Yours is a wonderful representation well done, I'm sure you'll get many supportive comments.
Love it, love it.
Cheers.
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Old 12-17-2019, 01:10 AM   #5 (permalink)
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G-Scale Funicular Parts Suppliers
This is a partial list of the most important parts used in the construction of the G-Scale Funicular by John Carmichael. I recommend using these parts for ANY type of G-Scale funicular. J.C.

Mean Well LPV-35-12 Power Supply / LED Driver 90-264 VAC Input 35W 3A 12V Output - $15.56 waterproof! Powers the entire system.https://www.amazon.com/LPV-35-12-Sup...ateway&sr=8-16

Circuitron 5401 AR-2 Auto Reverse Circuit with Adjustable Delay- $49.99 requires a 12-18 volt AC or DC power supply. Will work with a reed switch for detection rather than IR detector. The perfect controller for the motor.
https://www.traintekllc.com/circuitr...ustable-delay/
http://www.circuitron.com/index_file...00-5401ins.pdf

uniquegoods 6V 12V 24V 28V 3A 80W DC Motor Speed Controller (PWM) Speed Adjustable Reversible Switch 1203BB Nice compact little throttle with reverse switch. Very good! Item size: 1.3 x 2 x 0.4 inches; Net Weight: 1.13 ounces
Duty Cycle adjustable: 5%-100%, potentiometer with switch function. maximum output power: 80W, maximum continuous output current: 3Ahttps://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

ITT GL sound module version 2018- $39.95 Requires two reed switches- one on the tracks at each station. A GL sound module is a 1.50" X 2.40" X 0.75" circuit board that consists of a voltage regulator, a pre-programmed sound module trolley bells, a volume control, and a 6 pin terminal strip. (Requires any size 8 ohm speakers.) These modules have a maximum play time of 2 minutes depending on the scenario programmed into them, and can be played one time, or continuous looping until turned off. https://www.ittproducts.com/GL.html

Nextrox Mini 12V DC 60 RPM High Torque Gear Box Electric Motor- $11.99 60 RPM |Torque: 30 N*cm |Diameter: 37mm |Shaft length: 21mm |Total length: 68mm. All Metal Construction. 100% metal gears, designed with high temperature-resistance, high abrasion resistance, more sturdy and durable. Integral gears make Gear Box design smaller and simpler.
Diameter: 37mm
Length [excluding shaft]: 47mm
Shaft length: 21mm
Total length: 68mm
Shaft diameter: 6mm
Weight: 138g
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

uxcell GA/GB 37mm diameter DC Geared Motor Mounting Bracket Holder- $7.80 + 6mm Hex Coupling. A necessary part for mounting the motor to the Gear Box floor. https://www.amazon.com/uxcell-diamet...HY318RMT45ZTQ3

1/4 inch to 6mm Stainless Steel Set Screw Shaft Coupler - $4.99 303 Stainless Steel. Use to connect motor shaft to a Meccano axle with the small 12 tooth bevel gear. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Meccano Standard Axle Rods: Standard Stainless Steel and Zinc Coated Steel Axles Axle Rod 16" (405mm). 8 SWG (4.06mm) diameter. Stainless Steel. Reproduction and Pre-Owned Original Meccano. Shorter sizes available. https://www.meccanospares.com/13c-ST-N.html

Meccano 30m Bevel Gear 12 Teeth- L7.80- Solid Brass Bevel Gear. 12 Teeth. " (13mm) Diameter. " (13mm) Long. Brass. Requires 1 Grub Screw (69a). Only meshes with 30n to give 3:1 ratio and 90 degree drive angle. Cable should move at 2.88 inches/second with this gear ratio and throttle at 9 volts.
https://www.meccanospares.com/30m-BR-N.html

Meccano 30n Bevel Gear 36 Teeth- L20.50- Bevel Gear 36 Teeth. 13/16" (30mm) Diameter. 7/16" (11mm) Long. Brass. Requires 1 Grub Screw (69a). Only meshes with 30m to give 3:1 ratio and 90 degree drive angle. Cable should move at 2.88 inches/second with this gear ratio and throttle at 9 volts.
https://www.meccanospares.com/30n-BR-N.html

Marine Grade T316 Stainless Steel Wire Rope Cable, 1/32", 7x7 with 25 PCS Sleeves,100 ft: $24.99. For cable hooks on car. Add eye loops at both ends either by braiding or with included cable crimps.
Minimum Pulley Diameter is 1.25”. Wire Thickness: 1/32” = .03125”= .79375mm.
https://www.amazon.com/Marine-Grade-...gateway&sr=8-3

Meccano Blue Pulley 19b 3" Diameter Original - Used Condition- Ebay- $5.26 all metal. Use for Cable Driver pulley with Meccano Axle.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Meccano-Blu...8AAOSw~SNbTLof

Bearing Steel V Grooved Wire Pulley Bearing Wheels Roller 5x22x5mm, 5 Pcs- $15.11For pincher and redirection pulleys. Hole: 5mm=.1969”, Diameter: 22mm=.8661”, Thickness: 5mm=.1969”, V-groove width: 3mm= .1181”, V-groove deepness: 1.5mm= .0591”
https://www.amazon.com/Bearing-Grove...13-spons&psc=1

Hard-to-Find Fastener 014973180973 Fender Washers, 1/4 x 1-1/2, Piece-10- $8.89 Use to modify standard wheel by adding another flange.https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Permatex 84109 PermaPoxy 4 Minute Multi-Metal Epoxy, 0.84 oz. - $3.17 Use to attach steel fender washer to steel wheel. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Make & Take Mini Flat Car Kit 2pcs. HLW15000- Reindeer Pass- $11.50 from Hartland locomotive works. Use for making the cars. Perfect size for small passing switches like mine. Great little kit!
http://www.reindeerpass.com/MAKE-TAK...T-CAR-KIT.aspx

K&S Percision Metals 16408 Brass Sheet Metal Rack, 0.040" Thickness x 6" Width x 12" Length, 18 Gauge, 3 pcs. $21.99 Use to make the Gear Box. Cut with Demel cut-off disk. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

K&S Round Rod 1/16" D X 12" L Stainless Steel - 304 Carded- $5.20 Use this strong thin rod to make cable hooks for cars. Don’t use thicker rod because it might hung up in the ABT switch cable gap. Don’t use brass rods which might bend under load. Cut with Demel cut-off disk. Bend with needle nose pliers and hammer. Insert stem of hook into an attachment bracket (I used ” acrylic sheet) at the bottom of the front of each car, slightly off-center on the same side as the double flanged wheels. The hook should be as small as possible and be slightly below the top of the rails so it passes through the gaps in the switch. https://www.amazon.com/Round-Rod-16-...s%2C210&sr=8-2

K & J Magnets, Inc. Neodymium Mounting Magnet MM-D-10 $1.78 The MM-D style is a flat mounting magnet with a female threaded shaft permanently attached. Screw a short piece of threaded rod into the hole under the flat car that was meant to attach a coupler. Screw the small threaded flat magnet in the other end of the rod. The screw allows you to easily adjust the height of the magnet. This is the perfect magnet for a funicular.https://www.kjmagnetics.com/proddetail.asp?prod=MM-D-10
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Last edited by John Carmichael; 12-20-2019 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 12-17-2019, 03:36 PM   #6 (permalink)
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G-Scale Funicular Modeling Tips
Updated 1/17/20

Here are a few things that are important to know when designing a functional model funicular that’s driven by a motor. See separate list of Parts Suppliers. Consult design drawings to see where the parts go.

Power Source Selection: Use a 12V DC constant power source made for outdoor use. Waterproof power sources are available. 12V is more than adequate for the slow moving cable system, controller, sound module, and lights. It stresses the light bulbs less than a 24V source. I used a waterproof 35 watt power source protected in an outdoor electrical box purchased separately.

Motor Selection: Use a small high torque 12V DC motor with integral gears. 60 rpm works great. If motor has integral gears you will be able to use fewer reduction gears for a simpler system. Only use motors that can be securely attached to a motor mount of the correct size. Protect motor in a water-proof Gear Room.

Gear Selection & Calculation: To reduce friction, jamming, excess noise, over-complication, gear box size and headaches, use the fewest number of gears that will give you your desired gear ratio. With my system, only two gears are needed! Beveled gears are the best for loads and even wearing. They are better than sprocket gears and much better than worm gears. Use only metal gears, not cheap plastic. Solid Brass Meccano Gears are the BEST! Keep gears greased and oiled. My bevel gear arrangement has a 3:1 gear ratio (36 teeth/12 teeth). So if the motor is 60 rpm, the main drive pulley will rotate at 60/3 = 20rpm. If the Drive pulley has a 9” circumference, then in theory it will move the cable 9” x 20rpm =180”/minute = 3”/sec at full power. Actual measured speed was slightly higher, but the throttle knob fixes that. At nine volts, the cable moves at 3"/sec. A throttle will give you the exact speed you want.

Pulley Selection and Uses: There are two main types of uses for funicular pulleys:
1) The big Drive Pulley (also called “drive wheel”) moves the cable. You want to maximize friction between the cable and Drive Pulley so that the cable won’t slip which causes jerky movement or no movement at all. It should have a “V” groove and be as large as possible (3” diameter is good). The cable should be in contact with the pulley along as much of its circumference as possible to maximize friction. To do this use two directional pulleys close together and close to the drive pulley. I call these two “pincher pulleys”. Use the Meccano 19b pulley for the Drive Pully. Don’t use plastic pulley.
2) Directional Pulleys change the direction of the cable. You want to minimize the friction of the cable against directional pulleys. To do this, avoid large angle changes to the cable when you design your system. Also minimize the number of pulleys in your design. Pulleys with ball bearings have less friction on the pulley axle. Don’t try to minimize cable friction by using light weight cars! Model funiculars work much better with heavy cars of equal weight because they add friction between the cable and the Drive Pulley. Don’t use plastic pulleys. I used 7/8” steel pulleys with ball bearings. Real funiculars will also use smaller directional pulleys or rollers between the rails along the entire length of the track to hold up the heavy cable which would sag and rub the ties without them. They also use tilted small pulleys to direct the cable around the curves in the passing switch. I found that these directional pulleys along the track were unneeded in my G-scale model since the cable tension provided by my heavy cars prevents the tiny cable from sagging onto the rails. This really simplifies cable management!

Cable Guard Importance and Location: At the top of the track there is a small “U” shaped cable guard made from a bent 1/16” thick brass rod with two pieces of brass tube around the two pins of the guard. It is located close to and below the top set of directional pulleys. After the cables leave the pulleys they pass between the two pins of the guard. Its purpose is to maintain the two cables in exact alignment with the nearby two directional pulleys as the cars move along the upper straight section of track. Since the directional pulleys are in the center of the track and the cable hooks on the cars are off-center, the hooks would move the cable towards the outside rails as the cars ascend. Without the cable guard, the cables would not align with the pulleys and might cause the cables to jump off the pulleys.

Cable Selection and Modification: Carpenters’ string was great for some of the initial testing, but don’t use it on your final model or any string or rope that will stretch over time. DO NOT USE: fishing line, cotton, hemp or nylon string! Stretching will cause the cars to stop and pass incorrectly! Avoid the use of ball chain too.Only use flexible stranded stainless steel cable of the thinnest diameter possible. Thin cable is more flexible than thick cable and will bend around the pulleys better. Also, it is more prototypical. The 1/32” marine cable I used is perfect. To determine cable length, place both cars exactly opposite each other in the exact middle of the ABT passing switch. Keep cars in place using clamps placed on rails. Cut a piece of cable slightly longer than you’ll need (about 8 ft.). Make an eye loop on one end of the cable using the included cable crimps, then thread the rest of the cable through all the pulleys, cable guard, and rail gaps. Connect the eye loop to the hook of one car, then loop the other end through the cable hook of the other car. Pull the cable so it becomes taught, then make another eye. A hemostat works great for holding a cable loop together until you crimp it. Cut off excess cable then test.

Cable Hooks for Cars: Use 1/16” strong thin steel rod to make cable hooks for cars. Don’t use thicker rod because it might hang up in the ABT switch cable gap. Don’t use brass rods which might bend under load. Cut rod with Demel cut-off disk. Bend with needle nose pliers and hammer. Insert and glue stem of hook into an attachment bracket (I used a small triangular piece of ” acrylic sheet) at the bottom of the front of each car, slightly off-center on the same side as the double flanged wheels. The hook should be as small as possible and be slightly below the top of the rails so it passes through the gaps in the switch. If set too low, the hook will hit the rail spikes. If set too high, the cable won’t pass through the rail gap. The correct hook height requires great precision and must be determined by testing!. Test the hook before you glue it to the attachment bracket!

Magnet for Car: Only one car has a small neodymium magnet underneath which activates both the Circuitron AR-2 controller and the sound module by tripping two reed switches located between the rails at each station. Use the smallest magnet possible and locate it 1/8” above the top of the rails. A small magnet is more precise because it will let you stop the cars at exactly the right spot. The large magnetic field of a large magnet is less precise. Do not put magnets on both cars! The MM-D-10 style magnet I used is flat mounting with a female threaded shaft permanently attached. Screw a short piece of threaded rod into the hole under the flat car that was meant to attach a coupler. Screw the small threaded flat magnet in the other end of the rod. The screw allows you to easily adjust the height of the magnet. This is the perfect magnet for a funicular!

Car Wheel Selection and Modification: Use the biggest and heaviest steel wheelsets you can find. Remember, heavy cars are a good thing! Don’t use plastic. This helps keep a low center of gravity in the cars. Modifying the wheels is easy and fast. Grind off the flange on one wheel of each set by putting the axle in an electric drill and grinding it off against a disk sander. Epoxy a 1” steel fender washer to the other wheel of each set to create a double flanged wheel.

Car Lighting: Don’t electrify the rails! You’ll have a big electrical short between the inner rails in the ABT passing switch. If you want car lighting, you must use onboard 9V batteries. Since these batteries have steel casings, you can save space by attaching to a thin magnetic disc glued underneath the flat bed. You can use electrified rails in a four rail funicular however. Obviously, there would also be a short in a three rail funicular.

Adding and Removing Cars: Before connecting the cables to the cars, make sure that the ends of the cable are next to each other near the middle of the track. After connecting one car, be sure to hold it firmly until you connect the other car. Don’t accidentally let go of it or it will fall down the track and crash! Likewise, before you remove a car, make sure you stop the cars next to each other in the center of the passing switch. (I put two compression contact springs from D-cell flashlights on the wood bumper at the bottom to protect the car in case there is a runaway someday!)

I'll add to this list as I think of other things.

Last edited by John Carmichael; Yesterday at 08:44 AM. Reason: additions
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Old 12-18-2019, 12:29 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Very nice job John.
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:58 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Mike,

I just saw that you are the same Mike who works at Reindeer Pass. I love your service and the things I buy from you. Did you notice that the Hartland Locomotive mini flatcars kits used in the funicular were purchased from Reindeer Pass? I couldn't find them anywhere else. Thanks!

by the way, I have updated the Parts Suppliers and Tips lists because these lists are works in progress.
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Old 12-20-2019, 01:55 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Glad we could help.
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Old 12-27-2019, 12:26 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I've added important information to the Funicular Modeling Tips page on cable management (track pulleys, cable guards and hooks), magnet for control car, adding and removing cars, and car lighting. (see above)
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