Nelevation issues

Discussion of N gauge model railway specific products and related model railway topics (problems and solutions). (Graham Farish, Dapol, Peco)
fourtytwo
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Re: Nelevation issues

Postby fourtytwo » Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:28 pm

CeeDee1947 wrote:Thanks for your time and suggestions. Yes, one rack of tracks actually works perfectly well. Spent the whole of Sunday morning unloading the Nelevation and packing each train carefully away. Tested the Nelevation without any stock on board and Bingo! both racks now work perfectly every time.....

Of course Ngauge stock varies wildly in weights so maybe yours is particuarly heavy and what they tested the product with was/is particuarly light although that doesnt explain why one half works and the other doesnt! In the early days of mine I used to test with bags of sugar as I happen to be a brewer and had plenty, that allowed me to rapidly change weights and not risk stock in case of misoperation. I really think at this stage as you have tried everything it's time to institute some claim for money back as they refuse to acknowlage you, perhaps your credit card company can help twist there arms :)
Does the pain of N gauge steam ever end!

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Bufferstop
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Re: Nelevation issues

Postby Bufferstop » Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:06 pm

Is the indexing by microswitch(es) or done digitally with a stepper motor and toothed drive belts? I know which I'd prefer. Last time I spoke to him my mate with the order in for an 00 one, said they were on indefinite hold. I absolutely detested working on devices which indexed by analogue methods, they frequently relied on grub screws holding pulleys onto drive shafts. Once the surface had been roughened by the grub screw it was hopeless trying to tighten it up until the pulley had been removed and the shaft cleaned up with emery paper and a lot of elbow grease.
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CeeDee1947
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Re: Nelevation issues

Postby CeeDee1947 » Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:37 pm

Bufferstop wrote:Is the indexing by microswitch(es) or done digitally with a stepper motor and toothed drive belts? I know which I'd prefer. Last time I spoke to him my mate with the order in for an 00 one, said they were on indefinite hold. I absolutely detested working on devices which indexed by analogue methods, they frequently relied on grub screws holding pulleys onto drive shafts. Once the surface had been roughened by the grub screw it was hopeless trying to tighten it up until the pulley had been removed and the shaft cleaned up with emery paper and a lot of elbow grease.


I suspect that you have hit the proverbial nail on the head. A grub screw is what you have to release when manually adjusting the pulley at either end of the drive shaft.

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Mountain
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Re: Nelevation issues

Postby Mountain » Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:17 pm

I am thinking that if I have the chance to build a more permanent layout, I may consider making a device like this, but on a simpler manual principle with some sort of counter balance weight. The item can then act as a display shelf.
Enjoying 7mm narrow gauge.

CeeDee1947
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Re: Nelevation issues

Postby CeeDee1947 » Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:18 pm

Mountain wrote:I am thinking that if I have the chance to build a more permanent layout, I may consider making a device like this, but on a simpler manual principle with some sort of counter balance weight. The item can then act as a display shelf.


Yes, it's a great space saver. However, in N gauge the margin of error is so small that it has to work pretty reliably and accurately. Another wee problem with the Nelevator is when a loco can't overcome the initial inertia when setting off and requires a helping hand. In this case you have to carefully lift off the whole side to get to the offending vehicle.

I have to confess that I have been thinking alone you lines of having a 'manual' system of cassette like those produced by Train-safe in Germany. They seem horrendously expensive but if they work and are reliable, then it might be worth building up a number of their 'Vision' storage tubes over a period of years. Anyone had any experience with these devices?

CeeDee1947
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Re: Nelevation issues

Postby CeeDee1947 » Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:19 pm

CeeDee1947 wrote:
Bufferstop wrote:Is the indexing by microswitch(es) or done digitally with a stepper motor and toothed drive belts? I know which I'd prefer. Last time I spoke to him my mate with the order in for an 00 one, said they were on indefinite hold. I absolutely detested working on devices which indexed by analogue methods, they frequently relied on grub screws holding pulleys onto drive shafts. Once the surface had been roughened by the grub screw it was hopeless trying to tighten it up until the pulley had been removed and the shaft cleaned up with emery paper and a lot of elbow grease.


I suspect that you have hit the proverbial nail on the head. A grub screw is what you have to release then retighten when manually adjusting the pulley at either end of the drive shaft.

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Mountain
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Re: Nelevation issues

Postby Mountain » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:38 pm

Never tried or seen the Train-Safe cassette type systems other then in a magazine. (Unless I have seen one at an exhibition and not notice it as it is easy to miss things at an exhibition).
My ice was to use some sort of wooden shelf system which work via a pair of bearinged drawer runners or similar. Would need a counter balance weight and a draw Bolton system to align the track. Not sure if it would work for N, but it does look possible for a larger scale.
Enjoying 7mm narrow gauge.

Bramshot
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Re: Nelevation issues

Postby Bramshot » Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:52 am

CeeDee1947 wrote:
CeeDee1947 wrote:
CeeDee1947 wrote:

I manually adjusted that end so that Level 5 was correctly aligned. By the time I had driven a Level 1 to Level 10 that end had dropped by a colossal 2cm! One half of my Nelevator is completely unusable the other rack seems to be unaffected and works well.


So are you saying that only one end, the motor end, is losing sync on the ‘bad’ side? If so, this can surely only be caused by the top pulley at that end not being securely clamped to the the shaft. With a slip of 2 cm, you should be able to clearly see where the slippage is occurring if you take the covers off. If the other end, remote from the motor is maintaining sync (apart from the tilt arising from such a severe error at the other end), then the motor drive to the shaft must be ok.

On the other hand, If the whole level was still horizontal and had dropped by 2 cm,(ie at both ends), then I would suspect either the motor coupling to the gearbox, encoder, or gearbox coupling to the shaft, may be slipping, or maybe some teeth stripped from the gearbox. Also possible that maybe the encoder on that side was missing some pulses, or injecting spurious ones, or that whatever is doing the counting is not working properly.

Edit,wrote this without looking at page 2, so somewhat behind the times!

fourtytwo
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Re: Nelevation issues

Postby fourtytwo » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:13 pm

Whilst I am sure the mods would frown upon bashing a particular commercial product from all I have read here and seen it seems to be a good idea gone wrong in that the manufacturers have completely failed to forsee the likely problems in the real world and ensure the design adiquitly adresses them. Having spent a lifetime in product design this is typical output from a bunch of talented uni grads with no experience. Unfortunatly modellers are caught up in there learning loop. So what to do ? I would advise ignoring this product, if you are reasonably able to use a saw and screw things together then many people have produced manually operated equivilents of this for decades using ball roller shelf slides, cords, pulleys and counterweights. If you feel less inclined to that complexity then the casette system has been around for even more decades and works very well. Finally if you also have electronic talents you can make your own version but avoiding the most serious pitfalls in this design, I myself sense the position of every shelf individually both ends and have seperate drive motors for each end hence no stretching or slippage has any effect at all! I hope your situation resolves itself sooner than later :)
Does the pain of N gauge steam ever end!

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Mountain
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Re: Nelevation issues

Postby Mountain » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:57 pm

Credit where its due. They have done well to bring it into production for what is quite a complicated piece of kit. I think though that this is maybe the issue is that it is a complicated piece of kit to answer a problem which can be addressed in a simpler way can lead to issues that simpler alternatives dont have.
The problem is the simpler answer is a manually operated device and many modellers want a little luxury with an electrically drive device which this product is designed to cater for.
Getting something to work right every time isn't easy. My grandad was a designer and when he was given the task to design a machine to top, tail and peel onions for a company who made pickled onions as well as various seafood products, my grandad spent hours shooting onions across the attic using compressed air to test if his ideas could be made into a practical working machine. He made the first machine in the world to do this. He also invented other things we now see today in daily use for various companies he worked for at various times in his life, from electric vehicles for hospitals (Sprogs and trogs) and other electric vehicles for transportation use to electric windows for vehicles (He designed electric windows for large fork lift trucks which had to clock in and out of a factory as the left the works to go to other factories. Just opposite was the Aston Martin factory who copied his design for their cars and became the first British cars to have electric windows).
Back to the subject in question. I'm sure it is more then possible to work on the product so its reliability issues can be solved. It may take some patience, but I'm sure they will get there. Its only a matter of patience and time. :)
Enjoying 7mm narrow gauge.

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Bufferstop
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Re: Nelevation issues

Postby Bufferstop » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:42 pm

If the pulley is seriously slipping on the steel shaft it's a waste of time trying to tighten it- take your pick from combinations of these -
- get a new grub screw
- remove the pulley which is slipping and polish out the marks the grub screw has made on the shaft.
- if there's enough spare length in the shaft, slack the grub screw at the other end and move the shaft sideways so you aren't tightening on the same spot.
Thinking about the Nelevator I saw at Warley I would take a guess that the shaft diameter is too small to rely on a grub screw. If I had to design it I would try a two part pulley, an inner core keyed to a flat filed on the shaft, the outer rim then tightening onto a larger diameter core.

If you want to see a well designed mechanism that relies on shafts and gears (rather than pulleys) go to Bletchley Park and look at Alan Turing's Bombe, not the side with all the wires, round the back where the motor, shafts gears, pulleys etc.are. If you are lucky you might see it find a match, the whole lot of it rotating in sync very fast. When it gets a match a bell rings it does an emergency stop, I think they zap the AC motor with DC, but it still overshoots. It then goes into a low speed reverse until it finds the match again and stops. Who ever did the design of the mechanics new what they were doing. Even down to the pump driven lubrication delivered to the bearings.
Growing old, can't avoid it. Growing up, forget it!
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Bigmet
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Re: Nelevation issues

Postby Bigmet » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:52 am

I was wondering about the equipment performance and its lifetime capability 'in the field' in the earlier thread. viewtopic.php?f=20&t=49041
I would guess this puts a lid on the likelihood of an OO version anytime soon, as the order of magnitude greater moving mass that the larger scale implies will demand a mechanism redesign. I considered this type of device for my own OO application, and it became serious engineering that would need interlocked operator safety provision among other aspects: sufficient for me to realise it was out of scope as a DIY job.

Very impressed with 'fourty-two's' DIY device for his own N gauge layout, worth looking atthe earlier thread for any who have not seen it.

Bufferstop wrote:...If you want to see a well designed mechanism that relies on shafts and gears (rather than pulleys) go to Bletchley Park and look at Alan Turing's Bombe, not the side with all the wires, round the back where the motor, shafts gears, pulleys etc.are. If you are lucky you might see it find a match, the whole lot of it rotating in sync very fast. When it gets a match a bell rings it does an emergency stop, I think they zap the AC motor with DC, but it still overshoots. It then goes into a low speed reverse until it finds the match again and stops. Who ever did the design of the mechanics new what they were doing. Even down to the pump driven lubrication delivered to the bearings.

My late friend Alan was a small part of the Bombe design team, which drew its mechanical switching expertise from the now lost world of analogue telecommunication. They had the accumulated half century of operational knowhow in making mechanical telephone exchanges work reliably day-in, day-out to draw on; and by Alan's description it was pushed to the limit to make the Bombe a working reality.

What really makes the achievement impressive is that the mechanism designers were not allowed to know just what the machine was for, or to see it in anything like its complete operational state. Alan had to wait for the Bletchley operation to be declassified and opened to public view to see what the end result of his work was. As a young GPO engineering employee when WWII started - and classed as reserved occupation and therefore not permitted to join up, much to his frustration - he lived long enough to see the end result. Many of his older colleagues went to their graves with no idea of what their work had enabled.

Bramshot
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Re: Nelevation issues

Postby Bramshot » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:57 am

Well, all I can say is that is that I am happy with mine, now that the teething probs are over, largely due to my own ineptitude. For the record, there are two drive motor / gearboxes, each with an optical encoder, so the control system knows where the shelves are, relative to the zero point that is set manually when the mid shelf is aligned correctly. Non-volatile memory remembers this position when the unit is powered down.
The diameter of the upper shaft/grubscrews may be a weakness, but could be cured with some threadlock ( not the permanently setting kind).
The belts are steel reinforced to minimise stretching.
I am not connected with Nelevation, other than by owning one.

CeeDee1947
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Re: Nelevation issues

Postby CeeDee1947 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:02 pm

fourtytwo wrote:Whilst I am sure the mods would frown upon bashing a particular commercial product from all I have read here and seen it seems to be a good idea gone wrong in that the manufacturers have completely failed to forsee the likely problems in the real world and ensure the design adiquitly adresses them. Having spent a lifetime in product design this is typical output from a bunch of talented uni grads with no experience. Unfortunatly modellers are caught up in there learning loop. So what to do ? I would advise ignoring this product, if you are reasonably able to use a saw and screw things together then many people have produced manually operated equivilents of this for decades using ball roller shelf slides, cords, pulleys and counterweights. If you feel less inclined to that complexity then the casette system has been around for even more decades and works very well. Finally if you also have electronic talents you can make your own version but avoiding the most serious pitfalls in this design, I myself sense the position of every shelf individually both ends and have seperate drive motors for each end hence no stretching or slippage has any effect at all! I hope your situation resolves itself sooner than later :)


Allen Pearson, the designer, is a very experienced designer/engineer and in the Nelevation it shows. It is a remarkable bit of kit, that when it works well, its truly impressive and rewarding. However, in my case, my Nelevation never worked properly from the beginning and like another owner here, I too made those initial errors with bent track ends etc. Allen came down and tried sorting it out on two occasions which appeared to have corrected the faults. Sadly, when fully loaded with 20 full length N gauge trains (total weight just under 6kg) serious slippage began to occur at one end of one rack. He has offered me a refund and will remove the Nelevation this week. It's back to the cassette solution now .... Humanelevator? :)

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Bufferstop
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Re: Nelevation issues

Postby Bufferstop » Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:42 pm

I'm sure it can be made to work, but there are going to be many little quirks, like the diameter of the grub-screw compared to the diameter of the shaft that will cause builders and users many hours of frustration until they are known and understood. The most essential thing that a good designer needs is an experienced force of field maintainers with a hot line back to his office. Excellence in design has to involve ongoing performance feedback. The greatest asset that the Nelevation team have is their users, particularly the ones who are prepared to get stuck in and understand any problem, then tell them all about it, whether they have a formal feedback system or not.
Growing old, can't avoid it. Growing up, forget it!
My Layout, My Workbench Blog and My Opinions


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