Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Trackmaking XXIX

A session out in the Man-sion at the weekend saw the point actuators for board 1 progressed a bit more. I had thought about how I was going to mount the switches, and after wondering about how I was going to cut and drill aluminium sheet, finally decided on my old fall back, bits of plywood. the switches were mounted in place with wood screws, and the cabling was held in place with computer cable tidier naily thingummies. This seems to be ridged enough but I will add some glue to hold everything in place as well.

'Dead sexy that is....'

Compared to my normal work its almost tidy. It also seems to work OK.

I'm going to have to sit down and make a list of the jobs that I need to do. Things occur in a bit haphazard order at the moment and that has to change at some point if I want to get the whole thing running by the end of the year. The overall target is the convention at Easter next year, and that's going to take a bit of doing, without mentioning the locomotive roster.....

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Boxfile II; progress

With all my modeling stuff being relegated to the back of beyond behind the garage, modeling in the evenings has become a bit harder compared to Nelson. In the old days I could model while watching TV from the spare room and being on call to top up the lady of the houses wine glass when required. This now requires a phone call (no, I'm not joking :v). To cap it all off, its rather chilly out there. However, there are some jobs which can be achieved indoors in the warm and in earshot/dispensing. Today's job is a good example.

Having sorted out the baseboards for the boxfile layout, it was time to start sorting the track out. This involved the now time honoured method of laying out the sleepers on double sided tape. Instead of doing this on the workbench, I'm going to attempt to do it all in situ. After a couple of hours this was all sorted.

Here's how it looks all laid out at the moment. As you can see, its almost 4' long.
(W wagons added for visual interest).

Despite this it all still fits into the box.

The more astute of you will have noticed that one of the crossovers straddles 2 baseboards. this was unfortunately a necessary evil. Its either going to work or not.

While sticking the sleepers down, I was also thinking about the points themselves. As this is all going to be infilled with concrete style stuff (and I'm not sure what yet, but I'm trying to avoid cardboard) I'm wondering if I can go with a tramway style point with only one switchblade and get that to work, as its very common on infilled trackwork like this..
I'm also going to use code 55 rail. Code 40 would be nice, but its only going to get buried so there is not much point in wasting it. Plus code 55 is much easier to work with.

And I'm not yet ready to reveal how the base boards will be joined together, or how I'm going to actuate the points. you will just have to wait...

So, how are everyone else's layouts coming along?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Co-opted in

Last weekend, At the invitation of another modeler, I took a bit of a road trip. After passing through 3 of the longest speed bumps in the country (namely Masterton, Carterton and Greytown), I arrived at my destination, Featherston and more accurately the Fell museum. I've been co-opted to help with completing the N gauge model of Summit by B 0-4-4-0 of this parish. He has put quite a bit of effort into the scenery and another local modeler has built some nice houses for the railway settlement. My job is to sort out the rolling stock (apart from the locos). I've been presented with a large amount of old rolling stock that ,while domiciled in a box labeled NZ120, is actually built to a scale of 3mm to the foot. This is the 'British' TT scale. Why, I've got no idea. Unfortunately, so is the model. We 'proved' this by placing some of the 3mm rolling stock on the layout, and then some of my 2.5mm rolling stock. The smaller scale stuff just looked completely wrong, and was lost in the yard.

So, squirreling the boxes of stuff home, and inspecting it in the cold light of day.
First up, Its all made of balsawood and card, and its very well made.

4 Vr refrigerated wagons. Impressively well made ladders and nicely detailed ice hatches.

A collection of Uc wagons. Wood tanks with paper and card details.

4 S sheep wagons. these are very impressive, even down to the wires. The roof walks are a bit bendy, but I'll replace those with strip wood

T callte wagons, a Ua gas holder wagon and Zp vans.

A 47' car-van.The detailing is especially fine around the windows, and its all square as well.

47' van.

This demonstrates how much larger these models are than Nz120 models. End on view of 2 47' vans.

There are also some locos.

Dg's, again all card and balsa wood. The bogies are from old Lima models which are best used for stationary models.

A De sans bogies. I'm torn as to which loco to use as the De gives a 3 year time window, where the Dg's are only really 6 months in 1955.

There are also some Lc-2's, a few 4 wheel vans and some other bogie wagons.

B 0-4-4-0 has also been busy, working on the Fell vans. He has made a master and gone a bit nuts casting them.

I think this is the total number of Fell vans ever built. For a first attempt at casting its very good.

So, what I have to do is tidy the wagons up and sort out the running gear. Fortunately its to be a static display so nothing needs to work.

Monday, May 23, 2011

out and about

On my way to work each morning I have noticed that I cross an old level crossing. This is part of the old Wellington and Manawatu alignment, and was replaced in the 1960's with a new bridge about 200m further downstream. Today the old mainline is a cow path.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Trackmaking XXVIII

(Back again with today's roman numeral lesson. As an aside, I was looking at some acronyms at work last week and on picking up one sample I just translated it as 'Oh, that's 1950'. That got me odd looks from my workmates).

I managed to get some time out in the shed today, and made some more progress on the wire in tube system. Magikan was on the money this morning and a visit to Jaycars scored me the requisite DPDT micro switches. I also picked up some piano wire on the way home.

The main problem is that I had foolishly set the track down in a few places in order to hold everything together for the shift This bit will be edited out if its ever a journal article). This then had to be undone and carefully lifted to allow me to cut into the foam to lay the curtain rail into it.

The more perceptive of you will be wondering why I didn't lay the curtain rail under the ply baseboard. My main concern against this is that the acting wire coming up through the baseboard would have too much flex to throw the points properly. This is something I've observed with using tortoise switch machines to throw stiff points (which these hand made points can be afflicted with). When everything goes back together it looks like this.

I had to cut the outside plastic layer off to get the tubes under the rails. I've covered the exposed coils with sellotape as my gut feeling is that these are going to leak glue when its ballasting time.

Next time the switches.

(As a final note, I must do something about the height of the layout. It's killing my lower back)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Trackmaking XXVII: in control

So far I've made a lot of track work, but have made no real decisions about how everything will operate. This last weekend I've made some steps towards this.

In complete contrast to some of the other cutting edge techniques and ideas that have graced the pages of this blog, I'm making a great leap backwards. While I could throw a heap of money at the problem (the tortoise) or gamble on unproven technology (memory wire or servos) I've gone back to something that we used in Otago all those many years ago.

Yes, I'm talking about piano wire in a tube.

OK, so its low tech, but it does work. It also has the plus that it is exceedingly cheap. The curtain wire was purchased in spotlight.

I'd like to buy some curtain wire"
"How much would you like?"
"How much is it?"
" A dollar a metre"
"Oh, make it 2 metres then".

I cut some groves into the track base and laid the tube in. flexing the tube means that you can get all the point throws into one place on the module.

There are 2 options for placing the tube; above or below the trackbed. I've gone with above. The pros for this are that there is less flex possible in the actuating wire. The right angle bend is only 2-3mm below the point throwbar. If it was under the plywood trackbase it would be 10mm. This could lead to the point not throwing completely due to flexing and friction.

The other end of the wire ends with a microswitch (SP/DPDT) to switch the polarity to the frog. All very simple and quite cheap as well.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Found again.

I've often wondered what happened to my models from my 1990's era. They went west in 1997 I think. A couple of weeks ago I was pointed at this website which among other things, a collection of my old models.

So, have a look at a blast from the past, and compare with the photos here. Its all about the big picture, and making sure that the scene is greater than the sum of the parts.

This should at least cheer you all up about your own modeling, and show that there's no reason not to show yours on the forum.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Not guilty

Just to let you all know that the missing comments to post in the last couple of days appear to have been 'eaten' by Blogger. they may be back, they may not.

I have not taken offense with Woodsworks discussion of track laying gauges in other words.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


A couple of clips from a large Freemo setup in Germany featuring US N scale models.

Its almost enough to give a man ideas.......

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Boxfiles again

Following up from my last boxfile post, I've made some more progress on my layout in a boxfile.

After drawing out the track plan onto paper I then glued it to some hard 6mm foam that I had scored from somewhere. The only problem was that it proceed to warp the thin board. All was not completely lost. I nipped out and picked up some 12mm square pine which solved the problem nicely.

I've also got some code 40 rail ready to go for the track which will be a bit of a challenge, but hey, that's what we are here for.

Monday, May 09, 2011

The end of the beginning?

Yesterday afternoon at about 5 PM I hit somewhat of a milestone. I now have 12' of mainline laid and with minimal work I should be able to run a loco from one end to the other.

This was also a bit of an experiment as I finally got to use the Woods track roller gauge in its intended environment, and it was a joy to use. There's just a couple of alterations I would suggest making to it which are all pretty minor.

Oh, and based on my latest order I've revised the cost of hand laying track down to about $6 a meter (give or take a bit).

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Weekend rambling

Saturday morning, and the lady of the house decides a trip into the wilds of the Wairarapa is in order. I had only envisaged a trip to Masterton, so her desire to go as far as Martinborough was a surprise. Of course its only a short detour to....

'Last of the breed'

'They wern't that colour in service'

I think that this is still the best small museum in the country. Its well presented, well lit and clean. There are plenty of pictures and other bits of history. Also of interest is this.

Its a model of Summit yard on N gauge track. it was started many moons ago by the late Maurie Duston, and is moving towards completion thanks to another NZ120 modeler.

I think I could be spending a bit more time here.

Comment time

I've been following a thread on the NZ railchat group that has developed in the last couple of days from an initial bomb throwing thread by a man unhappy that the journal arrives irregularly, and that you seem to have to know people to get things done (oh, and on 4 1/2 hrs sleep a night and 14 hour work days. I'd be seriously considering changing careers at that point). It slowly developed to the suggestion that people should write a potted history of their railway modeling so that beginners can see how 'master' modelers of today got started. while I applaud their ideas, keenness and drive, I fear that they will run hard up against the brick wall which is print media. Just what am I talking about? lets say I was to write today and article on my modeling history and assemble some scanned pictures of old models, and posted it off to the features editor tomorrow. The process would then go; pictures not hi res enough and need to be rescanned making the size about a gazillion megabytes. The article would come back with editors 'alterations' to bring the article more in line with the rest of the content and losing all its individuality. (As an aside here, I've just re-read one of my series on NZ120 history articles that was modified and that at the time I couldn't be bothered arguing with alterations to. there are several bits that, if I had written them in my PhD thesis, would have been liberally doused in the markers red ink).

OK, assuming that your article is accepted for publication next week, it might surface in the September addition of the Journal, if you are lucky. That's nearly 6 months time lag. meanwhile everyone has forgotten this and moved onto the next big idea.

I think that the Guild missed a golden opportunity with its new website to add a forum area for people to talk about their modeling. The current website is more of a version 1.2 rather than a version 2.0 that it could have been given a bit more thought. Why they didn't take that extra step, given that a subset of NZR modelers managed to, is completely beyond me.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Another package from the old country

Yesterday I arrived home to a small plain brown package from the old country. Inside more goodies from the gnomes at the 2mm association. And frankly, I'm blown away again.

Just to provide some perspective, the wheels are 7.5mm diameter, the crankpins at the lower left are 0.5mm diameter and the tiny washers are 1mm in diameter.

the wheels in closeup with a crankpin inserted into the hole. The method employed by the 2mm guys is to make sure the rods work, then solder a holder on the outside and cut the excess material off the crankpin.

I must admit to be very daunted by the incredible miniature engineering on display. On the other hand its very insiping to look at which is the largest hurdle on any project.

I've also recieved some more rail in the mail so it will be soldering irons to melt in the not too distant future and hopefully get the final module done.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Foreign Correspondent

Am_Fet Reports from the wilds:

The Fettler Family Roadshow has now rolled into Taupo after stella performances at Napier (hence the State of Emergency being declared). And Tuesday afternoons outing took us to the Taupo Museum...

Now, usually provincial museums I can take or leave....there's only so many displays of 19th century butter churns you can look at and still retain consciousness. So I was pleasantly surprised to find it....interesting. And even more surprising was the fact that Bob Stotts tramway layout has found a home within:

The photo (taken from my 0.3 megapixel blackberry) shows the sympathetic setting, namely an old logger hut with implements on the wall and a monitor playing Memory Lines "Rails in the Wilderness" DVD. Zac was definitely smitten, and it was a pity nothing was moving....but the modelling is still top top notch and stands up well against more recent layouts. And as a teaching tool it was superb.

Now, the really awesome thing about this layout was...the backdrop! The layout was mounted just above waist height, but the backdrop ended about (my) eye level and was nothing but pictures of trees. The backdrop itself did not connect in any way to what was in immediately in front of it, it was just generic forest....but what a difference! The layout looked so much brighter and greener, and it was until you took the time to look really closely at the models did you notice the faded colours and dust. When you look carefully, you can pick where the scenery ends and the backdrop begins:

So thats the take home nugget from todays lesson....simple backdrops can make a difference, even to old and tired layouts.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Not trackmaking

I was going to continue talking about making more points today, but then I though, 'I've done this before'. Maybe its just getting boring. so after an hour in the man-sion I'm back inside, and after last weekends tours I'm looking at Rail car plans for some odd reason. I have the mech for the Standard,and could probably knock up a mech for the Tin hare....

So, are there any questions the you readers have on hand making track? Or any other questions for that matter

Monday, May 02, 2011

Backdrop idea

While hunting large lumps of Asian scrap iron last night, I took this picture, and something about it clicked.
currently there are piles of containers stored 3 high in the middle of palmy yard, and I assume that similar stacks can be seen in other places. these might make an interesting backdrop for a narrow shunting layout.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Big Game hunting

Well, after yesterdays part fiasco, today promised more with a Kiwirail open day. A detour into a garden cleanup (must investigate the cost of concreting) at least provided a way out. A visit to the refuse transfer station which just happens to be next to the Palmerston North station (the architect should be shot for crimes against humanity).

As I drove up, I spotted a full width cab. A moment of excitement until I realised that it was only a class 30. However...

There it was in all its clean paint glory.

Apparently it was towed down in the middle of last week and has since been the target of local railfans (with the response for photos being a phrase that starts with a word that rhymes with 'duck'). The only problem was that without a Hi-Vis vest there was no way I was getting only the other side of the tracks to get some other photos.

'I'd translate but I was away from school that day...'

Also present was a Silver Fern running trips to Feilding and back. From the demand they could have run a carriage train as well. I heard it was standing room only.
'Hi-Vis yellow is ugly isn't it'

I also had a chance to catch up with some other railfans on the platform (one who greeted my with the welcoming 'P*ss off, this is my patch'), which made me rather late home.....

Now minus a few brownie points for being away so long, I got to head back out to pick up some shopping for tea. This also allowed me to cruise down to the loco depot viewing spot, where I assumed that the rake of stock would have been moved. I had discovered that the locos were being moved after 3 O'clock, but again was too late. And to cap it all off they were down the other end of the depot.

'Its the one behind 30203, honest'

OK, so lets try a cruise to the other side of the line into Milson. A drive down some back streets (filled with railway houses, I must go back) gave me a bit better spot, but not by much, and to cap it all off, they were moving away from me, so must have come from a much better position.
Bugger again.

You can sort of make out the larger size compared to the DFT next to it though.

I also caught the Fern returning from Fielding.

So, not a bad day, just could have been better. A distinct lack of historical prototypes, and the diesels just don't really do it for me I'm sorry.

From The display side of things I heard that A few of the Kiwirail 'Big Cheeses' were present to see how it went, with a look towards doing more of them round the country. I think that there should be more trips put on for teh family groups. It seems that despite the change in power up the front, kids still think its fun to ride trains.