8.3 Gas Station Car Lift √

When I decided to include the Mobil station from the White River & Northern IV that I'd started to rebuild many moons ago, I inherited an animation effect that was 100% complete. The station began with the same Showcase Miniatures N Scale service station kit I'd used for the original version. The only useable parts from this kit were the base and the etched brass walls; everything else I scratchbuilt.

By the time I got around to taking photos, I'd already finished the base and built the car lift mechanism. Unlike the original, where all of the works were under the layout, this one is entirely self-contained: a pager motor with a double-worm reduction slowly turns a cam that lifts the car with a Z-shaped rod. Everything is hidden in the restroom.

The diodes and resistor provide the motor with constant 1.5 volts, regardless of what the supply voltage is. The square copper-colored post to the right of the motor provides power for lighting via contacts mounted on the roof.

The car lift itself is a brass assembly; the hydraulic pole is actually stationary, and fits inside the car when it's lowered. Thus, nothing sticks out the bottom of the structure. I would love to have animated the roll-up door as well, but that was a bit too much to cram into the space. But I do intend to add a rotating illuminated sign, just like the original.

I made a new roof from PC board and sheet styrene. I hand-etched traces on the PC board to power 10 SMD LEDs soldered to the underside for realistic lighting. A pair of metal contacts allow the roof to be removed.

Fast-forward several years to 2020, and when I unpacked the model, I discovered that the motor had burned out at some point. Since I now had the room for larger parts under the building, I replaced the original drive with a healthy-sized gearhead motor. I was really sweating this, as I haven't done this sort of work in years, but thankfully it all came together quite easily—it was almost spooky how smoothly it went, even down to finding the perfect gear that also fit perfectly (with a little help from some thin-walled brass tubing).

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