Grade Crossing Signals
I recently installed an operating grade crossing signal with gates on my layout. You can see the crossing signal in operation in my June 2018 Layout Update video in the Videos section on this website.
For this project I selected the H-863 Crossing Signals with Gates from Tomar Industries. This style of crossing gate closely resembles the one found on my prototype. The kit from Tomar includes two crossing signals with gates, a Circuitron Tortoist switch machine, a Circuitron Remote Signal Activator (Item#800-8100) and Cable and Actuator (Item#800-8101) kits to operate the gates. I also chose a Logic Rail Technologies Grade Crossing Pro #GCP for the flasher circuit and detection system for the crossing signals. Finally, I selected an ITT Products GL Sound Module and speaker available from Logic Rail Technologies for the bell.
Getting the gates to operate correctly was the most difficult part of this project. After several adjustments and hours of testing I was finally able to get them to operate. After determining the correct location for the photocells, installation of the Grade Crossing Pro detector was relatively easy following the instructions. The photocells must be placed to activate approximately 10 seconds before the train reaches the crossing when traveling at maximum track speed.
The final step involved installing the bell module. Unfortunately, the instructions I had showed an incorrect way to wire the bell module. Once I contacted Logic Rail Technologies and they referred me to their website, which included several diagrams for different bell modules, I was able to wire the bell module to operate correctly. The bell module has a volume adjustment so that the bell sound is not overwhelming.
Having an operating grade crossing signal replicates an important safety feature on the prototype. It is so cool to see the lights flash, hear the bell ring, and see the gates come down as the train approaches the grade crossing. One other benefit of the operating grade crossing signal is that operating crews have to work around unnecessarily activating the crossing signal and not blocking the crossing for an extended period of time when switching the industries located nearby, just like crews on the prototype have to do.