Special thanks to: Daan, Huub, Martin and Rob
That could of course be a very good question, which we would like to help answer as best and honestly as possible. In this article we therefore look at the advantages of the Markenburg traverser bridge, but also what knowledge, skills and materials are required to achieve success.
We will divide what is required into technical disciplines including: Digital skills, electrical engineering, fine mechanics, woodworking and cardboard construction.
The control software for the traverser bridge was developed by Markenburg and provides all the necessary equipment to control the traverser bridge manually or possibly with a DCC signal. In that respect, knowledge of software is only required if the builder chooses to control the traverser bridge with a software program via the DCC signal. The builder, for example, needs knowledge of iTrain or Koploper or a similar program.
The manual control of the traverser bridge using the Markenburg controller does not require any software knowledge, but very basic digital skills. The user manual describes step by step how the entire operation works, which can generally be considered versatile and yet very simple. If desired, the user manual can always be downloaded and read in advance, to get the best possible impression in advance.
Some basic knowledge and skills are required in this area. Because although the rails of the traverser bridge are supplied with axle holders and axles, a piece of track of your choice must be placed on the traverser bridge. In almost all cases this will involve a piece of track that is of the same type as that used on the rest of the model railway. The same principle also applies to the wiring. Soldering of wiring to the axle holders under the traverser bridge (brass parts) is required. A soldering iron with a fairly fine tip therefore also. But the printed circuit boards are supplied fully assembled and tested, including plugs with screw terminals. Wiring is also supplied where reasonably possible. If desired, refer to the manual for building the traverser bridge pit for more details.
In summary, we can say that anyone who has the knowledge to make good electrical choices on the model railway can also apply the same choices to the traverser bridge. Those who would like to read in advance can always download the manual for the construction of the traverser bridge and traverser bridge pit free of charge from the product pages. If, when reading the electrical diagram in the manual for the traverser bridge pit, no lights come on at all, don't worry. Although perhaps the best conclusion is that the electrical engineering level is too high for success.
Here is an example of why the electrical diagram must be followed carefully: If you do not connect the limit switches or connect them incorrectly, you can cause damage during the first test. The leadsrew axle, leadscrew and traverser bridge holder are robust, as is the wooden traverser bridge pit construction. But if the wrong signal or no signal at all comes in when approaching the end, the movement is not automatically stopped.
With a bit of luck, only the stepper motor will skip, which can be corrected with a restart and a properly installed limitswitch on at least the motor side. but during the accident physical force was incorrectly applied to various parts. Avoiding such inconveniences is of course preferable.
A traverser bridge naturally works with a preferably smoothly running piece of fine mechanics. We try to explain in the manuals what smooth running means and what exactly needs to be paid attention to. However, a little sense of fine mechanics is very useful to go through the adjustment process smoothly and successfully. In the traverser bridge pit we find mechanics that are quite robust, but due to small tolerances in an initial test it may get damaged somewhere. Tightening or loosening a screw a little can offer a solution.
Take the bearings that hold the leadsrew axle, also called the threaded rod. These bearings are factory-pressed into the casing. They are rarely 100% perfectly aligned, but for this purpose relatively large screw holes have been made in the casing. By not tightening the screws completely, the bearing and casing can still settle, so that the leadsrew axle/threaded rod can rotate neatly and smoothly.
Of course, in such a case it helps if the builder has a touch of patience and possibly some analytical skills to further supplement the technical insight where necessary.
… A bit of “fingerspitzengefühl”, that's how we could summarize it.
The traverser bridge pit construction and the housing of the controller consist of wooden parts. These are laser cut and are therefore all neatly tailored. Even the screw locations are already laser cut. Sawing, milling or (pre)drilling is therefore not necessary at all. Partly thanks to the special screws supplied. The screws supplied are preferably screwed in with simple hand tools, for the best control over the screwing process, so that they can be screwed in neatly flush with the surface of the wooden part.
The wooden parts may be painted or sprayed, which can mainly help the controller to keep the wood nice and clean even after frequent use. But painting or spraying the wooden parts is certainly not necessary to improve the functioning of the traverser bridge. When it comes to woodworking, little is needed except a hand screwdriver.
The traverser bridge itself, and where desired also the traverser bridge pit design/paving, are, as you would expect from Markenburg, made (almost) entirely from our well-known hard-pressed and thoroughly colored cardboard. The traverser bridge and traverser bridge pit design could therefore also be seen as regular Markenburg construction packages. In that respect, the traverser bridge pit paving and such is usually of the easy-to-assemble type. The traverser bridge itself and any additional details are not the most difficult, but they are more complicated than traverser bridge crane pit design. After all, the point about the traverser bridge is that it ultimately forms a moving element for which only very small tolerances can be accepted to ensure that it functions flawlessly.
As experts, we would dare to say that anyone who can neatly assemble an average Markenburg bus shelter can also successfully build the traverser bridge. They're definitely not exactly the same, but in terms of required finesse they are very close to each other.
Something that does not occur with a bus shelter, but does occur with the traverser bridge, is that brass axle holders must be installed. These are etched in layers during production and have minimal tolerances. Although that is still a fraction more than with the cardboard parts. An axle holder that is too narrow can move in the cardboard traverser bridge frame, so they are delivered exactly to size or otherwise slightly too high due to the minimum tolerances. It is then up to the builder to see how it fits exactly and where, if necessary, to file down the etching edge a fraction for the perfect fit in the traverser bridge frame.
The manual can also be downloaded in advance for the traverser bridge in order to best estimate what is involved and what is not. What is not stated in the manuals, because it does not always provide a solution (but sometimes it does), is that we can also supply spare parts where necessary.
In short, the construction of an traverser bridge involves various disciplines that require at least some basic knowledge or simple tools. We can say that a broader range of skills is required than when building a regular Markenburg construction kit, but much of the required knowledge and skills are also expected to be needed in the construction of the rest of the model, diorama or model railway. In addition, we assume that if you want to use the traverser bridge as a moving and functioning object, it is useful if an eye for detail contributes during the construction process. If the construction phase has been completed neatly, like wise functioning can also be expected.
Only a fraction of that is for the traverser bridge.
If building a Markenburg traverser bridge is no easier than with a “plug and play traverser bridge”, why would you choose it? Good question! - The scale can be a consideration, as traverser bridges are not made in all scales. We support the scales H0/1:87, N/1:160 and Z/1:220.
- The track type used may be a consideration. If a traverser bridge is already available in the correct scale, it is usually equipped with pieces of rails on the edge of the pit. It is then expected that construction will continue with exactly those rails or that the builder will tinker with adapters. That's not ideal. The Markenburg traverser bridge, on the other hand, can be used with virtually any type of rails. There are no pre-planned pieces of rail at the edge of the pit and a complete range of rail types can also be laid on the traverser bridge. Even narrow gauge if desired.
- The pit size can influence the choice. Almost every traverser bridge ever made comes with fixed pit sizes. So a fixed traverser bridge length and a fixed traverser bridge pit width. At Markenburg you can choose from several lengths in both directions. So even if a long traverser bridge in a short pit or the other way around is desired, we at Markenburg provide you with the freedom of choice.
- Realism and detail. Traverser bridges are not often known for their excellent level of detail and realistic appearance. We like to do things differently at Markenburg! No pits meters deep and massive sometimes painfully visible mechanics, but an incredibly high level of detail as realistic as possible. And also a robust and very precise drivetrain, which is virtually invisible. And, for example, a neat mass simulation with acceleration and deceleration delays. And then there are numerous options to further embellish the traverser bridge according to your own insights and wishes. Think of control cabins and panels for the model railway figures, various options for a road traffic-suitable traverser bridges, various color options and numerous other details. Not everything can be at the top of a list and that is perhaps noticeable in the instant plug and play aspect of the construction of the Markenburg traverser bridges. Nevertheless, we are proud to offer the choice to create a much nicer, more realistic, more detailed and more versatile traverser bridge with just a little more effort.
- Unprecedented design freedom guaranteed! Because the Markenburg traverser bridge can easily store up to 32 completely arbitrary positions with literally 0.1mm positioning accuracy. This means that a maximum of 64 tracks can be connected if the tracks are laid directly in line of each other. But what is more important is that the tracks can be laid at literally all possible centre-to-centre distances from each other and, if desired, also with different sizes apart and through each other on the long sides of the traverser bridge pit. All rail geometries can therefore be connected to the Markenburg traverser bridge and with flexrail the creative possibilities are completely limitless. (Re)constructing a special situation, no problem!
Hopefully, reading this explanation and the manuals will help you determine whether the Markenburg traverser bridge is also something for you. If you still have an open question, please feel free to ask us.
If you are looking for a reference to reality, feel free to take a look in this article on the Markenburg website