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  • Topic: Portable Switching Puzzle / John Allen "TimeSaver"

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    • August 12, 2019 2:06 PM EDT
      • Be Nice
         
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      Portable Switching Puzzle / John Allen "TimeSaver"

      Going to document the design and construction of a "TimeSaver", made famous by John Allen.

       

      Most of this is documented on the http://sdgrs.com web site.

       

      History / what is the Timesaver?

      This page is about the classic switching puzzle invented by John Allen, the famous model railroad pioneer.

      The trackplan is simple, but has been enjoyed by many people since it's introduction by John in 1972. The lengths of track and arrangement of switches have been designed to make you have to think about how you move the cars.

      Here's original plan from an article in Model Railroader in 1976:

       

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    • August 12, 2019 4:36 PM EDT
      • Highland, Maryland
         
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      Thanks Greg, sounds like you or your club are going to construct one?

       

      I like how JA described his lengths in car-units, making it scalable for anyone's use. 

       

      Lou Luczu brought his version to York last March, and he and Hollywood put it together. Here's the track:

       

       

      Here's a link to that thread, showing more photos of its detailed deployment. 

       

      Anyway, it was the first time I've tried my hand at solving one of these. And it was impressively difficult! And a heck of a lot of fun. Quite the puzzle.

       

      Cliff

       

       

      This post was edited by Cliff Jennings at August 12, 2019 5:00 PM EDT
    • August 12, 2019 4:56 PM EDT
      • South Devon, England
         
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      I built one, Cliff, in my garage a couple of winters ago.

        It was based on the Inglenook design it is very similar and as hard as you want to make due to the amount of cars you employ.  It tided my interest over for a couple of the colder, windier and wet, post Christmas months.  It had to be dismantled in Spring but it was, as far as I was concerned, better to have a railroad of some description to operate, rather than none at all.   The experience and fun I got did keep my spirits up and was a catalyst for me to alter my outdoor line to enable more switching than previously.

      ____________________________________

      regards, Alan

       Nothing is so strong as gentleness. Nothing so gentle as real strength.  Saint Francis de Sales  French saint & bishop of Geneva (1567 - 1622) 

      https://www.dartmouthrailriver.co.uk

      https://www.buckfast.org.uk/

       

    • August 12, 2019 8:36 PM EDT
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      Yeah, I worked hard to try to get the siding lengths constrained to just the right number of cars.

       

      Also worked hard to get the rail gaps to line up with the folding segments of the table, which is very lightweight, 20 pounds for an 8' table.

      Picture of one of the 2 that JA actually made: (it's in our model railroad museum in San Diego)

      From the article in MR from 1976 (not using wye switches)

      Below is my incarnation, with careful attention to siding lengths, made entirely of stock LGB components.

       

      This table folds to 2' x 2' x 9 inches... SMALL! the center 2 sections will have the track permanently affixed, the other pieces will be slid on except the switch in the 3rd segment, that has to be added when set up.

       

      Greg

      This post was edited by Greg Elmassian at August 24, 2019 2:28 PM EDT
      ____________________________________

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    • August 12, 2019 9:01 PM EDT
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      A big challenge was to keep it simple, so the design allows the center 2 sections to have the track permanently affixed, and easily slip on the pieces for the outer 2 sections.

       

      Took some jiggery pokery to do it, but I think I have it:

      ____________________________________

      Be sure­ to visit ­my site, l­ots of tec­hnical tip­s and modi­fications,­ and you c­an search ­for topics­ and key w­ords.


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    • August 12, 2019 9:07 PM EDT
      • Highland, Maryland
         
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      Yeah, perfect table! 

      You going to scenic it, or add buildings?

       

      This post was edited by Cliff Jennings at August 12, 2019 9:08 PM EDT
    • August 12, 2019 9:15 PM EDT
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      Nope, it folds up, the outside 2 sections fold under, and then it folds in the middle, with the track facing out.

       

      The entire idea is to be ultra compact and transportable, so any of our club members can borrow it, carry it and set it up easily.

       

      A normal folding table is about 5 pounds, this one is 20.

       

      I've heard so many stories of modules that are 4 feet long, too big for a car, too heavy, etc. Many people have responded here and other forums and in our club that while the idea of modules is great, they quickly become too much to just "pick up and go".

       

      But 4 of these tables and a simple double track loop could be made pretty easily. Not fancy, but the idea is to have fun, especially for people who don't have layouts.

       

      Greg

      ____________________________________

      Be sure­ to visit ­my site, l­ots of tec­hnical tip­s and modi­fications,­ and you c­an search ­for topics­ and key w­ords.


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    • August 13, 2019 8:31 AM EDT
      • Southern Illinois
         
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      This looks great!  "Timesavers" are always challenging.

    • August 14, 2019 4:13 PM EDT
      • Highland, Maryland
         
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      You could maybe travel with that table as checked luggage even. Where'd you get it?

    • August 14, 2019 5:24 PM EDT
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      Actually you can find them anywhere once you learn that these are called "beer pong table".... very light weight, not super strong, but when it's 1/2 the weight of a normal table and folds much smaller, it is ideal in these circumstances...

       

      I could use suggestions on easy to install rail clamps, you can see that the very middle will require rail clamps, split jaws are too tough for people to install, figuring on something like the Train Li:

      (they look identical to massoth)

      Any suggestions?

       

      Criteria:

      • easy to install from top
      • not using special tool a plus
      • rugged

       

      Thanks, Greg

       

      ____________________________________

      Be sure­ to visit ­my site, l­ots of tec­hnical tip­s and modi­fications,­ and you c­an search ­for topics­ and key w­ords.


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    • August 14, 2019 8:24 PM EDT
      • Denver, Colorado
         
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         I always thought the puzzle ended up with two parts to it? No?

       

         (Edit: I know it can be operated as one part; I learned reading a while back.)

       

        

       

       

       

      This post was edited by John Passaro at August 14, 2019 8:27 PM EDT
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    • August 14, 2019 10:25 PM EDT
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      Yep, the 2 modules were identical, and in normal operation a car was set out on the track between them, as you see in the original picture.

       

      Notice that in the article, he does say he made one first with no "connecting" turnout, and then later he made the ones with the connection.

       

      It's funny, since early in the article he talks about operating with 2 layouts.

       

      In practice, most people operated a singlet. Thanks for publishing his original article!

       

      Greg

       

       

      This post was edited by Greg Elmassian at August 24, 2019 2:29 PM EDT
      ____________________________________

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    • August 15, 2019 4:35 PM EDT
      • Highland, Maryland
         
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      Greg Elmassian said:

      Actually you can find them anywhere once you learn that these are called "beer pong table".... very light weight, not super strong, but when it's 1/2 the weight of a normal table and folds much smaller, it is ideal in these circumstances...

       

      I'd never heard of a beer pong table, I guess I was always a late bloomer.  But yeah, perfect for this. Plenty of them on Amazon and elsewhere.

       

      At eclsts last year, waiting for the table was another setup complication. So one of these would solve that -- even if the track was only laid in place.

      This post was edited by Cliff Jennings at August 15, 2019 4:36 PM EDT
    • August 15, 2019 5:26 PM EDT
      • East Brunswick, N J RRR#22
         
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      I had made mine on an old door, but the door was too long to fit in my truck.

      This is food for thought, especially if I am expected to bring mine to next year's ECLSTS.

      ____________________________________

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    • August 15, 2019 6:24 PM EDT
      • Highland, Maryland
         
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      Lou Luczu said:

      I had made mine on an old door, but the door was too long to fit in my truck.

      This is food for thought, especially if I am expected to bring mine to next year's ECLSTS.

       

      That's exactly what I was thinking, Lou. If you need a contribution, let me know.

       

    • August 18, 2019 11:26 AM EDT
      • Peoria, NW of Phoenix, Arizona
         
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      going to bring up building one at next club meeting. I think kids would love a simple puzzle they can operate, either counting moves or timing  a set number of moves and keep a scoreboard with their times. I think it would be great at places where we take our module setups!I like your small reduced one Greg

      ____________________________________

       

      Butt Modeler #2

       

       

    • August 19, 2019 7:10 PM EDT
      • Post Falls, Idaho
         
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      Our club president made a portable timesaver to take to shows. We let the show goers operate it and once a year we have a switch off competition for our club.

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    • August 19, 2019 7:12 PM EDT
      • Post Falls, Idaho
         
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      Pete Lassen said:

      going to bring up building one at next club meeting. I think kids would love a simple puzzle they can operate, either counting moves or timing  a set number of moves and keep a scoreboard with their times. I think it would be great at places where we take our module setups!I like your small reduced one Greg

      We use the lil big hauler stuff on our clubs but running Thomas and the cars in those sets would add interest for kids.

      ____________________________________
    • August 19, 2019 8:18 PM EDT
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      Yep, the LGB loco pictured was donated to the club, but I definitely prefer something with skates for this kind of situation.

       

      I screwed the track down at the edges of the sections with 4mm truss head screws, so it will be tough for someone to tear the track off.

       

      All I need now is some wheel stops on the end tracks (TOC uses Ozark ones, epoxied in place) and some way to stow the slide off pieces inside, and some kind of top speed limiter, 7 smph, and a toggle switch built into the top.

       

      Greg

      ____________________________________

      Be sure­ to visit ­my site, l­ots of tec­hnical tip­s and modi­fications,­ and you c­an search ­for topics­ and key w­ords.


      ­Click HERE for Greg­'s web sit­e
      PLEASE NOT­E: Please do NOT use private messaging, i­f you have­ a questio­n, feel fr­ee to emai­l me priva­tely, u­se regular­ email onl­y: greg@el­massian.co­m

    • August 20, 2019 10:15 AM EDT
      • East Brunswick, N J RRR#22
         
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      Well. Greg, I ended up with hunks of styrofoam at the track ends along with wheel stops. That paid off the first time a kid cranked the throttle full before I could react. The styrofoam bumper was held down with double faced tape, and did its job!

       

      [foto to be inserted here]

      ____________________________________

      "If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with." - L. Frank Baum

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