Signal Control Enclosure For Landscaped Areas

This forum is dedicated to Riding Scale Railroading with propulsion using other than steam (Hydraulics, diesel engines, gas engines, electric motors, hybrid etc.)

Moderators: Harold_V, WJH

Post Reply
User avatar
ChuckHackett-844
Posts: 124
Joined: Wed May 03, 2017 3:54 pm
Location: Tampa, Florida

Signal Control Enclosure For Landscaped Areas

Post by ChuckHackett-844 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:48 pm

I have been looking for boxes to house railroad signal system components. In the past I have used (also shown in attachments):

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Eaton-Type-BR- ... er/1114649

I take out the metal cover panel and the breaker mounts and keep the ground bus bar.

This is the cheapest workable solution I have found for club railroads and informal private tracks. It is very convenient when mounted on a 4x4 post. I have also made a great item to help when working on the signals (hold laptop, tools, etc.). No clamps to hold it, just lift, put it around the post and lower it to grip the post (see attachments).

The requirements:
  • Water resistant (watertight better but not required)
  • Door hinged on the side (screw covers are too inconvenient, screws strip out, get lost, etc.)
  • Desirable to be lockable
  • Not a "surplus" item that will go out of stock (i.e.: want to be able to purchase them year after year)
  • Size: many sizes will work but about 4" thick is good and various sizes can be used for different configurations from about 10"H x 6"W to 18"H x 12"W
PVC with a gasket-ed door would be nice but I have not found any that were even close to the $25 for the box shown.

If you know of boxes that might be worth looking at, please let me know.

Now to the question at hand. I have need for an enclosure that will be unobtrusive in formal landscaped areas.

My thought is that such enclosures must exist for irrigation and/or landscape lighting.

Without being extravagant, theses can be somewhat higher cost to go with the surroundings.

Anyone have any ideas that might fill the bill?
Attachments
20180825_133237a.jpg
20180825_133244a.jpg
20180825_133435a.jpg
Regards,

Chuck Hackett, UP Northern 844, Mich-Cal Shay #2
Owner, MiniRail Solutions, RR Signal Systems (http://www.MiniRailSolutions.com)
"By the work, One knows the workman"

rkcarguy
Posts: 1367
Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:33 am
Location: Wa State

Re: Signal Control Enclosure For Landscaped Areas

Post by rkcarguy » Wed Jan 16, 2019 12:32 pm

Chuck, have a look at "NEMA enclosures" via a google image search and see if there is anything you like. These are used by communication and cable companies for mounting junctions and electronics on the outside of buildings and on poles. Typically plastic with gasket doors/covers, with options for vents, fans, temperature control, heaters, etc. Start at $10 on up to whatever you want to spend/need.
We don't high speed internet available where I am building, so I have been looking at all the equipment to put up a pole to grab wireless internet and remembered seeing this post so maybe one of those enclosures will work for you.

User avatar
ChuckHackett-844
Posts: 124
Joined: Wed May 03, 2017 3:54 pm
Location: Tampa, Florida

Re: Signal Control Enclosure For Landscaped Areas

Post by ChuckHackett-844 » Thu Jan 17, 2019 5:01 pm

rkcarguy wrote:
Wed Jan 16, 2019 12:32 pm
Chuck, have a look at "NEMA enclosures" via a google image search and see if there is anything you like. .... Start at $10 on up to whatever you want to spend/need. ....
Did find some possibilities. Most are more expensive for the same space as in the outdoor breaker box.

The outdoor breaker box is "water resistant" (i.e.: it 'sheds' water but it is not moisture proof). It allows air circulation which prevents the buildup of condensation caused by temperature cycling (at least here in Florida's humid air). So I wonder about using a 'sealed' box because you can never totally seal them and prevent temperature cycling from drawing in moist air through connector gaps, conduit, etc.
Regards,

Chuck Hackett, UP Northern 844, Mich-Cal Shay #2
Owner, MiniRail Solutions, RR Signal Systems (http://www.MiniRailSolutions.com)
"By the work, One knows the workman"

Soot n' Cinders
Posts: 815
Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:24 pm
Location: Marietta, Georgia

Re: Signal Control Enclosure For Landscaped Areas

Post by Soot n' Cinders » Thu Jan 17, 2019 5:33 pm

I think sealed is a bad idea. To me its easier to put in low point drains in the conduit and adding some vents to allow the enclosure to breath rather than trying to hermetically seal things
-Tristan

Projects
-2.5" scale Class A 20 Ton Shay

User avatar
BigDumbDinosaur
Posts: 862
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:19 pm
Location: Midwestern United States

Re: Signal Control Enclosure For Landscaped Areas

Post by BigDumbDinosaur » Fri Jan 18, 2019 2:12 am

At the ILS, we use NEMA enclosures that are basically sealed PVC boxes. However, all are ventilated and have fans to keep air moving, especially on hot days.
—————————————————————————————————
I'm an old guy. What's your excuse? ☻

User avatar
ChuckHackett-844
Posts: 124
Joined: Wed May 03, 2017 3:54 pm
Location: Tampa, Florida

Re: Signal Control Enclosure For Landscaped Areas

Post by ChuckHackett-844 » Fri Jan 18, 2019 9:50 am

Soot n' Cinders wrote:
Thu Jan 17, 2019 5:33 pm
I think sealed is a bad idea. To me its easier to put in low point drains in the conduit and adding some vents to allow the enclosure to breath rather than trying to hermetically seal things
BigDumbDinosaur wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 2:12 am
At the ILS, we use NEMA enclosures that are basically sealed PVC boxes. However, all are ventilated and have fans to keep air moving, especially on hot days.
That's the nice thing about the outdoor breaker boxes. They 'shed' water but allow air circulation by convection. Each site consumes less than 100 ma so internal heat generation is not an issue.

Early on we mounted the controllers in 4" PVC pipe posts about 3' high with a PVC cap on top which were cheap and worked ok but a bit harder to access stuff (mounted to a 1"x4" attached to the cap). Enclosures with hinged doors are much more convenient.

To keep down condensation we drilled a 3/8" hole at the top and bottom of the post to allow air circulation. This all worked fine until someone decided to paint one of the posts flat black. Took awhile to find out why the signals controlled by that controller went out of service late in the afternoon ... turned out that the on-board regulator was going into thermal shutdown due to it being so hot inside due to the Florida sunshine! ... live and learn :D
Regards,

Chuck Hackett, UP Northern 844, Mich-Cal Shay #2
Owner, MiniRail Solutions, RR Signal Systems (http://www.MiniRailSolutions.com)
"By the work, One knows the workman"

rkcarguy
Posts: 1367
Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:33 am
Location: Wa State

Re: Signal Control Enclosure For Landscaped Areas

Post by rkcarguy » Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:31 am

NEMA boxes are typically more money, but you do get a much larger selection if you are looking for a certain size or appearance instead of the breaker box. I actually did find some smaller ones like what the cable man will attach to the side of a home that start around $10. I agree that I prefer vented enclosures to keep condensation away and prevent heat build up. Adding a vent hole is easily solved with a step bit in a cordless drill. What I've done in the past was to grab some little U bend vacuum lines from a junkyard car, and then screw in a small barbed pipe fitting and put the U-bend on top of it. This allows heat to rise out the vacuum hose, but doesn't let rain into the top of the box. A couple of holes in the bottom ~3/16" (sub-wasp entry size) allow plenty of air in and allow condensation a way out. Some car headlights are designed the same way. 3/8" holes would invite more wasp nests, during the summer here those things nest in ANYTHING they can find access into or under.

User avatar
ChuckHackett-844
Posts: 124
Joined: Wed May 03, 2017 3:54 pm
Location: Tampa, Florida

Re: Signal Control Enclosure For Landscaped Areas

Post by ChuckHackett-844 » Fri Jan 18, 2019 8:14 pm

rkcarguy wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:31 am
.... A couple of holes in the bottom ~3/16" (sub-wasp entry size) allow plenty of air in and allow condensation a way out. .... 3/8" holes would invite more wasp nests, during the summer here those things nest in ANYTHING they can find access into or under.
Yup - Found that out! I removed one of the caps once and wasps flew out. Took me a minute to figure out where they came from - the nest was on the bottom side of the cap.

After that we put a piece of screen in the hole :-)
Regards,

Chuck Hackett, UP Northern 844, Mich-Cal Shay #2
Owner, MiniRail Solutions, RR Signal Systems (http://www.MiniRailSolutions.com)
"By the work, One knows the workman"

Post Reply