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Burns Electronics no. 241 train detector

RELATED TOPICS: TRACK
CTT PUBLISHED A pair of crossing track wiring diagrams in the March and July 1999 issues. Since then our office has received a minor deluge of calls about wiring diagrams to prevent trains from colliding at crossings.

If you've always wanted a protected crossing on your layout but are intimidated by wiring and electrical relays, Burns Manufacturing has an answer for you. Burns offers the no. 241 Train Detector device, which, when used in a pair, provides collision-free operation of mainlines crossing each other.

With just six wire connections, four insulated track pins for the center rails, and a slightly modified crossing track section, I created a figure eight layout that could operate two trains automatically with no collisions. The whole project, following a diagram included with the no. 241 detectors, took me 15 minutes to set up, and that included modifying the underside of the crossing section to electrically separate the two tracks.

The no. 241s can be used to protect two trains on the same electrical circuit, or they can be used where two independently powered lines cross on your layout. Rather than using an outside insulated rail to turn power on and off to prevent collisions, the no. 241s sense a locomotive running across an electrically blocked-out section of center rail and shut off power to the center rail on the intersecting track. With no power, there's no chance of a "T-Bone" collision.

Once a locomotive passes through the crossing and clears the far end of the blocked-out section of center rail, power is restored to the intersecting track. Each blocked-out section of center rail, in effect, acts as both a track trip and a stopping block.

You must thoughtfully decide where to place insulated pins to block out the center rail, or a locomotive on the north-south track could power up before the caboose on the east-west track clears the crossing. Also, if the insulated pins are placed inappropriately, a locomotive can coast into the crossing even though power is cut.

Depending on the length of the center-rail blocks, you can protect trains only in one direction or in every combination of directions.

The crossing protection package comes with a pair of optional LEDs that you can connect to the white wires of the no. 241s and use on your control panel to indicate that a track block is occupied. As an added benefit, the LEDs flicker when the track or train wheels are dirty.

The Burns Manufacturing no. 241 detector can be used in a variety of other layout applications, from running two or more trains on the same track to activating accessories just as trains start to pass.

For crossing protection on your layout, it's hard to beat the installation simplicity and versatility of the no. 241s.

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