Movable Curtain Keeps the Bugs Out!

What do you do when you have a railroad next to an unheated and semi-open staging yard? Well, Dave Houseman solved the problem when he wanted to run trains from the regular layout room into an adjacent utility space that was sort of open to the elements, including bugs. Here at the Newport scene on the Chicago, Denver & Pacific the solution at first was not quite so obvious.

But as it turns out the solution involved a paint brush that moves. The bristles of the brush seal the track to the staging yard from temperature changes and crawly varmints.

A signal was needed to let the operator know when the brush curtain was up or down. That meant that it was safe to enter or exit the hidden staging yard. Red means the brush is down, and green means the brush is up.

Here is the 6-track staging yard located directly behind the Newport scene on the other side of the wall in the unheated utility room.

A regular turnout motor moves the brush and the hinged wooden frame that it is attached to.

Dave wanted to make the work of the motor easier, so he added a pulley system and some lead weights below the benchwork.

A toggle switch located in the fascia at Newport controls the movement of the brush. Dave also added a closed-circuit camera that focuses on the tracks.

The two micro switches control the movements of the motor, so it doesn’t keep moving the brush curtain. The top switch is closed when the door blocks the track. The bottom switch is open when the track is clear and unobstructed.

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11 Responses to “Movable Curtain Keeps the Bugs Out!”

  1. Chris

    I’m guessing the brush is to coddle the tracks otherwise, I’d say why not just keep the board going straight across and skip the brush.


      My guess is that if the wood just goes across the rail tops small bugs can get in thru the gap, so the paint brush makes the depth adjustable. You could notch a piece of wood for the tracks, but then you’d have to worry about alignment.

  2. JOHN

    Cool stuff! My layout is in the garage and includes a lot of 8 legged citizens. Got a solution for that?

    • Customer Service

      Hello John,

      Here’s what the experts had to say about your question:

      Yikes. I’d say seal up your basement as much as possible. Do you have a finished ceiling?
      And, keep the humidity at a reasonable level.
      Finally, how about bug traps?

      Please let us know if you have any further questions

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  3. DAVE

    That’s a clever idea, and I’m sure you probably made it with materials you had on hand. Thanks for sharing your idea with us!!!!

  4. Raymond Boettner

    WOW, is it supposed to survive a nuclear holocaust?? So much overkill but the door is pulled with a piece of string. A piece of nice, braided, picture hanging wire comes to mind.

  5. george brackett

    I like new ideas would like to ponder this with you to make it better but still a very good idea

  6. John

    Clever; but complex- lots of adjustments, fiddly parts. Why not eliminate motor and a switch, – use 1 switch (to confirm OPEN) and just pull/cord system (manually operated). Could use lighter weight materials with counterweight to ensure failsafe close.

  7. Kevin McArdle

    Why not smaller dimensional (lighter) lumber, for the door, would seem easier to control?

    • Richard Brion

      Way to go Dave! This is just another of your ingenious devices. Been to your layout and seen many of your others.