Wednesday 21 April 2010

Temporary Pause in Modeling

I know I haven't posted for a while. I should have because there has been progress. I have made the quartering work on the Webb Coal Tank and I did spend a great day at Narrow Gauge South operating Richard Holder's new exhibition layout - Clydach Railway.

However, the time has finally come. I am going to redecorate the railway room. I have given myself a week to do it but the idea of removing all the tools, kits, books, paints, building materials is actually quite daunting.

My wife reminded me that the curtains in the room were acquired with our first house 25 years ago and we don't know how old they were then. I painted the room not that long after moving in 22 years ago. It's long overdue for some TLC.

Normal operations will resume later.

Sunday 7 March 2010

Progress on quartering

Yesterday was Abingdon Show. I'm not sure how they did. There were plenty of people queuing to get in right at the beginning but it never got to being heaving, which is actually a good thing.

I was pleased with Mospick Halt which ran well all day. One nice lady described as lovely and clean. That just makes me want to make it dirtier :-)

Now the show is over and there are no more exhibition bookings it is time to make some real progress on 3mm locos. As I mentioned before it looked like the quartering was out on the Watford Tank. I broke the superglue holding the wheels on and fiddled until I got it right. I've also made a piece of test track for the rolling road and it works! Just having a flat piece of track for the rolling road to sit on makes a huge difference.

All I have to do now is cure why it waddles like a duck.

Thursday 4 March 2010

Abingdon Show and Mospick Halt

It's March so it must be Abingdon show. It's at the White Horse Leisure Centre and I can see it from my lab at Sophos. I'm taking Mospick Halt and a friend from Oxford Club is coming to help operate. Well actually he will probably operate whilst I wander round trying not to spend money.

I've finished 'Joan'. I need to find some etched nameplates for both locos and then they will be done, though maybe a coat of varnish won't go amiss.

If you come to the show then do come and say hello. I'd tell you the stand number but I seem to have mislaid the paperwork...

Monday 22 February 2010

Chassis Building Part 37465

I was determined that I would build an engine in 3mm. Surely it can't be that hard! I've talked before about building a chassis and I thought I had it cracked when I got to adding the wire pickups. I put in on the stretch of track that is supposed to be a layout and it stuttered along so I thought it would bed in. It didn't.

I decided it was time to invest in a rolling road. Gave the nice people at Finney and Smith some dosh and I have the rolling road (told her indoors it was a Valentines present from her to me....).

The rolling road is great but all it confirmed is that the chassis runs well in one direction but doesn't go at all in the other and if it does go, it uses twice as much current and the motor gets hot.

I think you can see the problem in the picture. The other side of the engine has the cranks perfectly horizontally in line. This side is definitely not 90 degrees, more like 85 degrees or less.

Now I have to break all the superglue that holds it together and see if I can correct it.

BTW I didn't have any track to hand so I held the rolling road together with brass tube and Royal Mail elastic bands - simplicity itself.

Sunday 21 February 2010

Test Track on Chertonwell

Yesterday was Risex 2010 and we were exhibiting Chertonwell. It's a nice show with good mix of layouts, traders and demonstrations. Phil Parker popped in and commented on the test track we have on Chertonwell so I thought I would say how we did it. He has beaten me to an actual blog on the subject here.

On Chertonwell we run a lot of trains. Normally there will be 10 at any one time. Over a day that amounts to some 70 train hours of continuous running. As a result they can get dirty and need a good clean.

We decided that somewhere to clean engines would be good. What I did was take a piece of chipboard which was cut in two and had the corners cut off. I edged it so that items couldn't roll off - didn't stop us losing a spring yesteday which escaped whilst dismantling a loco. The board is hinged down the middle, In the picture you can see the timber in the centre of the board with hinges on top so it folds flat.

I glued settrack to it so I didn't have to fight the springing of flexitrack and the wires go to two banana sockets. Just over on the right you can see the flexible wiring to allow the board to close. The board bolts to the layout when in use by the coach bolt whose wing nut can be seen at the rear. The layout has a separate controller built in, the controls being to the left of the photo.

We literally bolt in on and plug in two banana connectors and it's ready to go. The only addition since first use is a resisitor that allow the current flow to the loco to be measured. Very useful for seeing whether any current is actually flowing.

It's a really useful feature of the layout and we would be lost without it.

Saturday 13 February 2010

Wiring Woes

After the last (and first) outing of Mospick Halt I decided I should put a power LED visible somewhere along with the short LED. The controller has a short LED on it so all I needed to do was unsolder it and run wires up to the control panel area.

The power LED was equally easy, find an LED, use good old Ohms Law to determine a suitable resistor, wire them to the power feed, a quick test and put the layout away.

The completion of the next engine meant a quick run was in order. Unfortunately what I discovered was the power LED flashes when the engine is running in one direction and is completely off when the engine runs in the other direction. Not only does the LED flash but the engine slows down gently instead of suddenly when the controller was turned off. I had done something seriously wrong.

In the end it was quite simple. I had wired one side of the LED to the power bus on the layout but the other side got wired to one of the track output wires. I had used confusing terminology under the layout. All the wires go to tag strips that are labeled but my choice of names was not good!

I took the opportunity to separate out the lights on the layout onto their own switch. Previously they were on all the time but they will be hardly noticed at exhibitions so it made sense to be able to turn them off and save carbon emissions somewhere.

Monday 1 February 2010


The last exhibition showed the need for a good 3rd engine. I had the Chivers Finelines RC17 Welshpool & Llanfair Joan kit sat in a box, so out it came.

The kit was designed to go on a Minitrix chassis but I had bought a couple of the Dapol 2-6-2 tanks when they were cheap on the OO9 Society Second Hand stall so these were an obvious choice for conversion to an 0-6-2.

Removing the body and pony trucks showed that I just needed to lift the coils and capacitors and make a larger hole in the footplate and it would be a perfect fit. I needed to remove a locating lug so I sawed that off and promptly sawed through one of the wires which are ever so tiny and delicate. A repair by my good friend Bob had it running again in no time.

The body was cleaned up and glued with superglue gel. Working with whitemetal is so easy. No fiddling with soldering irons unless you want to and it is easy to file and to fill. The whole kit took only a couple of hours time to put together.

One nice touch was the coupling hook on the rear which I was able to superglue into the NRMA standard socket on the trailing pony truck. It provides the necessary movement on tight bends and was easier to do than expected.

I've made one mistake in not putting the fixing nuts in place early on but I reckon I can still do that. The picture shows the completed body with a few gaps to fill with putty. After that it's a case of clean it up and take it into the garden and spray it.

Hopefully this will all be done in time for Abingdon show in early March.

Sunday 24 January 2010

Working Lights

After a successful outing to the Beds and Bucks 009 Open Day it was time to finish off the lights. I had worked out the best combination of lights and resistor, in this case 2 lights with one 220 ohm resistor should give good life expectancy on the bulbs without too much heat loss dissipation from the resistor. You can manage without a resistor but it does help limit the current should something go wrong one day in the future.

Underneath the layout all wires go to terminal pads. These are simply made from copper clad board that has been sawn into strips and then had grooves added. The pads are flooded with solder whilst on the bench and as many as needed are glued to the underside of the board. To glue the pads I used glue sticks from electric glue guns but melted with the soldering iron - it was out ready.

The wires were all soldered on and then came the moment of truth - power was applied. All worked well for about 5 seconds before pairs of bulbs started flickering. What had I done! Power off quickly. This is where the resistor should have helped to limit the current. After much head scratching I realised that I had used liquid flux when soldering the wires and resistors to the pads. Not all the flux had evaporated so I ended up with liquid lying over the pads and starting to conduct in interesting ways. Dried it all off and it works fine.

In a moment of serendipity Phil Parker has an article this month in Hornby Magazine about soldering. It's a good read and after a brief email exchange I discovered that he would not typically use separate flux in electrical wiring. My belt and braces approach brought it all on myself!

Tuesday 12 January 2010

Slightly late Christmas cake

For a long time I have been keeping up with Carl Arendt's web site devoted to micro layouts. It contains some truly miniature layouts. Having shown some of these to my wife she expressed the desire to see me put a model railway on a Christmas cake.

I put it off for a while but eventually I thought how to do it. My first thought was to go for T gauge. It is so small it was bound to work. Unfortunately, after investing in a set, I realised that there was only settrack available and even the smallest curve meant that the cake would have to be pretty big.

After much cursing I decided to go up a scale and bought a Z gauge loco and a length of flexi track. The method of doing the basics is nothing new:
  • Solder the rails with fishplates so you avoid a wonky joint
  • Solder on the power wires at this stage
  • Glue the track to a thin cake board so it can just rest on the top of the cake
I decided to power it with PP3 battery. Actually I wanted something smaller but this was the best compromise at short notice. The volts needed reducing so I put several resistors in series until the volts were about right. I glued the resistors to the cake board and used them as a frame to hold the battery.

Then it is a case of ballasting the track and adding scenic scatter. This is actually important because despite wanting to cover it with fake snow, the ground will always show through somewhere and it needs to be green rather than cake board silver.

Lastly add fake snow. Short of time I tried a variety of methods, none really good. Before next year I intend to buy some Woodland Scenics snow and do it properly.

Lastly I knocked together a church to go over the battery. It's a little crude but I rather left it to the last minute...

Sunday 10 January 2010

Working Lamps

When I set out to build Mospick Halt I wanted to have working lights in the buildings. I managed to light the engine shed and the church but I ran out of enthusiasm when I got to the pub...

However, I was sure I would have lights on the platforms but they all seemed very expensive for what they were until I came across
Kytes Lights at the Swindon show in 2009. I can't remember the exact price but they seemed good value for money and they had a flexible stem and base so you could make them as tall as you wanted.

I decided to install them and realised that really that base was just too huge. The picture shows the original one on the left. It widens to 6mm at the bottom - 18 inches in real life. To replace it I found some plastic tube that needed drilling out. I put a chamfer on the top and slid it onto the original tube - much better to my eye.

I now had a white base and a black shiny top and let's face it, black shiny plastic looks like black shiny plastic so it needed painting. I decided to prime first using my favourite brush primer - Liquitex Acrylic Gesso. It's white and it seems to stick to everything.

After that it's a couple of coats of whatever colour you fancy, in my case 'Rich Transparent Red Oxide'. The picture shows the before during and after stages of the transformation. Just don't look closely at the paint job, the photo will magnify to far greater than real size and looks rubbish.

Dennis rides again

The other work done was to paint an engine to match the coaches previously done. I'd built the loco, "Dennis" from GEM. Actually I wimped out and didn't bother with the valve gear or some of the detailing but this was my first loco kit for decades so I cut myself some slack.

I kept putting off the painting till really it was too cold. I'm sure I read somewhere that you should not spray paint in the cold and now it's Christmas. I decided I had nothing to lose so I cleaned the body with a glass fibre brush and then scrubbed it with Shiny Sinks. It was left in the airing cupboard overnight to dry and then the moment of truth - what happens when you spray in the cold?

The answer is that you spray paint and it just works. Call me cavalier but I don't have a spray mask or a spray booth so I just go and stand in the middle of the garden and do it, firstly with Humbrol Acrylic primer and then, after a suitable period, with Humbrol midnight blue.

The results speak for themselves. The black and the red were brush painted Humbrol enamels. I'm really pleased with it as normally painting is the one job where I rearely like my handiwork but this suppassed itself.

I put it on the track and hooked up the coaches and .... it dragged the coaches off the track on one bend every time. See the previous post where I went through the back to backs. It took me a while to resolve this one but I had bent the upright tang on the coupling to too steep an angle and the Bemo coach coupling was snagging and dragging the light coackes off the track. A quick straighten with pliers and I now have a presentable loco and coaches.

Coaches finished

Okay, so not a lot of progress since September - lots of the usual reasons. However, I have a show next Sunday -
Mospick Halt is at the Beds and Bucks open day for the 009 Society (details on the society website here).

Over Christmas I managed to do some modelling and as the Kidlington Scoutrail exhibition has been cancelled I have made quite a bit of progress and the coaches are finished. As I said in my previous post, I built them pretty much as instructed. I came across two issues, one expected and one not:

The coaches are very light. They were jumping off in several places on my track. In the end I added as much lead as I could under the underframe. It had a very good effect but still they derailed at a particular point and at a particular curve.

The other problem was the back to back measurements. I've got a back to back gauge and I used it to check the wheels and found two coaches were fine but the one was badly out and this was the one that kept coming off. A quick set of the back to back and hey presto - it still came off over certain points!

Much head scratching and running of the coach over the point convinced me that the coach was riding up on the flange rail. Got the vernier out and there is was. Despite the back to back gauge fitting the wheel set perfectly it still wasn't enough for this point. Made the wheelset wider and I have 3 new coaches that run over all the points!

The only problem is when I pull them with the new loco they still derail on a bend - more on that in another post.


Ever since attending last year's Welshpool Gala and spending an inordinate amount staring at it in the loop, I have been wondering how t...