Scratchbuild a Gallows Turntable

Scratchbuild a Gallows Turntable

2010 On30 AnnualBy Russ Watson/photos by the author

My freelance North Cariboo Railway (NCR) was incorporated in 1931 after the owners purchased the complete Bowron Lake Lumber Company railway assets. For the next three years, the NCR upgraded track and bridges, acquired equipment and built facilities including two turntables — one at each end of the line. The second turntable — the subject of this article — was bought second hand and installed at Barkerville, the east end of the line.

After searching through the online Model Train Magazine Index, I found excellent drawings of a Southern Pacific wooden gallows turntable by Al Armitage in the Nov/Dec 1989 and Jan/Feb 1990 issues of the Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette. I decided that I would scratchbuild my turntable based on these drawings.

I shortened the table to 52 feet and narrowed it to better suit On30. The center pivot pin and bearings were also modified for simplicity of construction and model functionality.

The turntable will be located at the front edge of my layout and will be very accessible, so I will manually operate it using the prototype push poles. It will be used only to turn locomotives with one track providing access to it with a short “run-over” track directly opposite. There have been several magazine articles published on turntable power drives and automated indexing, however, I haven’t included any details on those subjects in this article. My electrical contacts will provide automatic polarity switching for DC or DCC systems. The limitation of this design is that it will only work for one-track operation and there will be a short power interruption as the table turns.

This type of turntable with the central tower and supporting cables is called a “gallows” turntable, as in some ways the tall structure represents its gruesome namesake. In the 2010 On30 Annual, Russ Watson described his scratchbuilt gallows turntable. This eight-page article contained complete instructions on how to build this turntable including the wiring method and a full materials list. We also reproduced Russ’ drawings of the turntable, but at a reduced scale to fit within the article. Below are the complete and full-sized drawings for O scale turntable in PDF format.

PDFGallows Fig. 1

Gallows Fig. 2

Gallows Fig. 3

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This article was posted on: March 1, 2010