Inside the coffee table in my basement den is an O-Gauge trolley car that loops around through four different seasons of the year. You can see the table in Picture 1. At one time, this table did not have the legs attached as shown. Instead, it sat low on the floor just like a regular coffee table covered with newspapers, magazines and kids’ toys.
Even though the top is thick glass, so many kids and adults liked to look inside that I added the legs to lift it to a small child’s side view at eye level. My granddaughter, Haven, just a bit over two years of age, watches the trolley table display almost every time she visits. For her, it is just the right height.
The DC trolley which runs on Atlas two rail can traverse a very tight circle considering that the table is only 30 inches wide and 60 inches long, This plastic trolley used to be a coin bank, but I converted it to running condition several years ago. You can see how I accomplished this at this same web sight in “Model Railroading: Adding a Motor and Passengers to a Plastic Trolley Car.”
One of the seasons in this unique coffee table is Fall. Although the trolley isn’t present in Picture 2, you can see its tracks. You will also see a white Volkswagen Beetle partway down a hill. It is actually reversing from its garage at the very top of the hill (Picture 3).
When I throw the switch on the side of this table, a hidden motor starts this tiny automobile moving. When it reaches the driveway bottom, it closes a small contact that reverses the DC current. When it reaches the top, it opens a small contact and the cycle begins again.
In Picture 4 you can see a cut-away side view of how it all works. Under the layout board there is a small Tamiya motor with a tiny gearbox attached (See parts below). This in turn is connected to an ordinary tin can. The can winds or unwinds the cord leading to the Beetle.
In Picture 5 you can see the motor and can. Instead of upholstery thread, which is extremely strong, I used very thin 2-wire so that the tail lights (Leds) actually light up. There is a rubber grommet inside the hole in the can to make sure sharp edges could never cut the thin wire’s insulation. Picture 5 shows the can and motor winding up the wire.
The hill you see in the picture is made of white pine and is relatively steep. Even so, I had to add a few weights to the Beetle to get it to run smoothly down hill. Although this is not a must, the driveway in the pictures has a tiny groove in it which keep the wire hidden, with the added advantage that it keeps the VW in the center of the driveway.
I’m sure this could be just as easily accomplished by adding two small, slightly raised tracks to center the car. As you can see, the garage is oversized because the automobile is not exactly O-scale.
If you are interested in such animation, you might be interested in an upcoming article, “Model Railroading – A Simple Reversing Circuit for DC Motors Using a Relay.” It will explain in detail and with diagrams how to create two small contacts and then use them in a simple circuit to reverse the motor for the Beetle going up and down the driveway. The circuit can be used for other imaginative animations you create.
Here are some adaptive possibilities:
1. A huge tractor trailor that stalls before reaching the summit of a steep grade
2. A single car incline which travels between an upper and lower station
3. An automobile that cannot climb a roadway because of heavy snow conditions
4. An ore car that carries minerals up to the top of a steel mill furnace
5. An outside elevator that carries supplies to a building under construction
If you collect the items below, you will be ready for the next article explaining the wiring diagram:
(“Model Railroading – A Simple Reversing Circuit for DC Motors Using a Relay”
1. One – Tamiya Motor and Gearbox – You might find this at a regular hobby store
2. Two – Dpdt relays – Radio Shack – one 3pole dt relay would be sufficient but Radio Shack does not carry this item. It’s just as easy to wire two relays.
3. One – 12 volt DC transformer from Radio Shack
4. One – on/off switch
5. Wires of different colors to make wiring easier