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Canal Street Crossing Relay Box

This project has changed; originally built using a BLMA detail kit, on 22 April 2009 it was moved to a new location across from the station as an accessory for the signal. It was later replaced by a scratchbuilt version that looked more like the classic old relay box shown at right (photographed in Lakewood, NJ), including the battery box.

I had hoped to get by with an N scale relay box from Green Max, although my suspicion that it would be too large was borne out. Still, the search was fruitful, as I found an electrical transformer that would be a good starting point—it had the right proportions, saving me the minor bit of trouble of grinding a piece of raw styrene down to size; plus, as a bonus, it had a cap that would serve as the base flange when turned upside down.

After slicing the ribs off of the sides and rounding all of the edges with a fingernail file, I applied doors made from .010 x .125 strip styrene, with vents cut from .010 x .020 strip styrene (filed on a slight angle after bonding in place), and hinges and latches made from .010 brass wire. Finally, I added a slice of scrap styrene rod to make the raised center cover plate on top.

The battery box was utter simplicity: a length of styrene tubing was capped with a styrene disc from the junk box. Then I installed three N scale lift rings, and threaded some fine solenoid wire through them to serve as chain. Finally, I added a piece of bent .015 brass rod, with a tiny bit of .030 styrene rod for a fitting, to make a wire conduit.

A foundation was made from scraps of sheet styrene, plus a piece of a MakeMyModel Z scale storm drain for the battery box. After spraying it with Testors Light Aircraft Gray, I installed it in the crater on the layout, filled in around it with ballast, bonded everything in place, and hit it with an India ink wash. Then I painted the relay and battery boxes silver, glued them to the foundation, and applied Rustall liberally to tone down the brilliant silver.

By the way, the image below was taken by a resident railfan photographer.

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This relay box, with battery box in the background, is in Lakewood, NJ.

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The relay box started as a Green Max N scale transformer, turned upside down.

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The battery box is simply a piece of tubing capped with a styrene disc.

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A foundation is prepared for the relay and battery boxes.

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The painted relay and battery boxes are installed and weathered.

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Copyright © 2007-2013 by David K. Smith. All Rights Reserved.
BLMA product photo used with permission.