Friday, September 30, 2011

Looking to the Future ...

Well, per a request from Mike Rose, I ballasted a little bit of track, using Future Floor Wax, of course! It worked well as usual, here is a photo of the finished product ... well, sort of, I am still waiting for the Future to dry so I can paint the rail ...


I took this video with my iPhone of the Future application and how easy it is. Unfortunately the microphone on my iPhone is not working, so there is no sound ... not that there was a lot of sound involved in this ...
You will be able to see the Woodland Scenics ballast crater, and then level out and then the Future flow through the ballast, without a wetting agent! And if you listen to the September Scotty Mason show, you will be able to hear Jimmy Simmons talk about some of the other things that Future can do.


video

Once again, progress... Okay, not much ...

Well, I spent alot of the day today working on the layout. Why, well, because I got displaced off of my regular job onto the extra board again ... ah well. Anyway, I have done some work on the layout.

First off, I sanded and painted the rest of the roadbed on the section that I have up ...




 Well, the second project was to create a splice plate so that I can hold the splines on the next section of layout. Here is the piece I built using a scrap piece of aspen, cutting 1/2" deep notches for the spines with a table saw.


This is the splicer plate installed on the new section. I also installed that tie that you see that hasn't been stained ... That is actually on the second section.



For reference, this is the tie spacing jig that I made out of masonite pieces last year. The width of the masonite strips is such that it allows for a little variation in the tie spacing, just like on the prototype.


I installed a couple tie strips and held them down into the yellow gluw with these pieces of 1/2" plywood and clamps ...


 In this case, it was a good thing that I am impatient, because when I looked at the ties under the block on the left, they had shifted WAY out of position. Fortunately, the glue had not set completely, so I was able to move and reglue them. They are now being held in place three at a time with the clamps.


Oooo, I love it when I get parts in the mail ... I just got these today ... Rail anchors! The last piece of the puzzle as far as the track detailing here goes, but dear lord, I am going to go broke using these things as much as I need to ... They come from the Irish Tracklayer, but I think y'all could figure that out.


And this is what they look like installed .... I really think that they make the track pop ...


And here is a shot of a little more of the track with them installed ...


But wait ... there's more ...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Converting a Corn Syrup Car to P48 ...

Well, this wasn't much a "project" really, but I thought you might be interested in the photos nonetheless. I swapped the trucks off of an Atlas O Corn Syrup tank car with the other set of P48 Roller Bearing trucks from Protocraft. Here are a couple photos of the differences between the Atlas Trucks that I have talked about and the Protocraft, correct size trucks. You all might find it interesting ... The Protocraft truck is on the right ...


Now here is what I thought was a clever contraption, using the trucks I had just taken off of the car to use as a cradle.


And here is the homemade coupler height gauge I made using the Protocraft coupler and some code 125 rails that I laid on a pine 1x4.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What to do when you make a mistake ...

Well, what does one do when one has a problem with his track that is staring him in the face? That even those who are not as obsessed as me would say ... "Dude! What's up with that?" You figure out a way to fix it and if you are fortunate, it actually does!

The problem: A dip in on of the rails due to rushing through the laying of the ties and the roadbed, just so that he could see something get done. The first photo shows the problem, I think, but the second really does, here goes:

Well, it is not ferociously obvious here, because by the time I took this photo, I had already pulled up the spikes in this dip, in preparation of doing the repair.



In this photo, I have loosened all of the spikes in the area, and used an X-Acto knife with a chisel blade to lift up underneath one of the ties to show how much of a dip there was in the rail.

 If you look carefully under the tie in the center, you can see the scrap tieplate that I wedged in under the tie as a shim. I then proceeded to do essentially the same with the rest of the offending ties.
As the work proceeded, I only had two scrap tie plates, so I only needed to shim the ties up and hold them in place. Since this was going to be held in place with carpenters glue, I decided to use spikes as shims instead of tieplates. In this photo I am shoving the spike in under the tie.

I then flowed in some yellow carpenters glue to fix the ties in place. Everything is respiked and looks quite good. It isn't perfect, but as close as I can reasonably get it, so I am satisfied.



Monday, September 26, 2011

A little more of the same ...

I continue along with the track laying, a little at a time. I have added a little bit of weathering to the ties to give them a sun-bleached look. That is simply done with a white pastel pencil, as per a suggestion from Laurie Green when he was here in the US for CSS 2010. Here are the photos:






Any questions Gordon?

A question of spikes ...

Gordon Dobson once again brings up a question, well actually he brought it up on Model Rail Radio and just reminded me that I had promised pictures. The issue was about what spikes I was using. I said Micro Engineering, but that I had to cut the head of the spikes to use them, which was taking a lot of time. Here are a couple photos demonstrating why it is necessary.

 

















In the left photo, you can see an unmodified spike on the left and the cut spike on the left. The unmodified spike head is 1/8 of an inch, or 6" in O scale. Even better, it's 1 foot in HO. The cut head is about 1/16, still too big, but better, at least.

On the right, the modified spike is on top and the unmods are below. The width is also adjusted to look better.

I have a supply of these spikes, and thus I am using them. Many times, I have been using relatively unmodified spikes on the back of the rail, since it can't be seen. (Yes, even I will do the "good enough" thing if it really is feasible.)

Technically, the best spikes are the ones from Proto 87 stores, but they are pricey and take a while to get. They also can be a bit of a pain to work with, but the pliers I am using do help in that regard. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Self Guarded Frog ...

This is something that I would really like to have, but is not available in P48 (or anywhere else for that matter) is the cast manganese self guarded frog. Here's the photo for Jason on the Sept 24, 2011 Model Rail Radio ...

Yes, I am crazy ...

But I don't think there was any a question about that ... Here of some photos of the new trackwork I have been doing the last couple of days. I have put in two actual joints with the scale 39' rail sections, and I think it looks great, so far anyway ... Here is a bunch of photos, without a lot of explanation ...

 
 Well, as you can see on the left, that is a side view of the first joint, with the lengthwise view on the right. I think it is looking pretty good so far.

The photo below is the joint on the other side in progress and how it looks before the joint bar is installed.

 In the above photo, I hope you can see how the Sweepstick is helping this process.

Well, the photo on the left you can see the track shaping up and in the right photo, I wanted to show how I was tearing up the track on this section. I was not pleased with the fact that the rails were leaning to one side. With the modified Sweepstick, I now had the tool to correct the issue. So up the rail came!
Now on the right we can see some of the distressing on the ties as I have been going. Unfortunately, I don't have access to A&I, because my supply had dried up, so I have been staining these with MinWax ebony stain. You will be able to see some more in later photos ...

These are just a few more photos of the distressing and staining work ...

 

 Here is just a photo of me using the small stainless steel wire brush. It takes a bit of elbow grease to get a good level of grain, but as the photo below brings out, I really think the effect is excellent. The grain appears to be pretty close to prototypical as for relatively new ties.

These are still going to recieved a lot more weathering before they are going to be dubbed "done." I will hit it with another color of stain, as this is really meant to just pop into the grain to push it to the fore ...



Friday, September 23, 2011

A Little Explanation ....

Well, Gordon sent me a good question. What I might think is self evident, obviously isn't. In regard to my using a "modified" FastTracks Sweepstick: Technically speaking, a sweepstick is really only billed as being a means for curving flextrack to a specific radius. When I talked to Tim Warris, he did say that they can be used as a track gauge, but that people would jump down his throat if he billed the wooden sweepsticks as a track gauge. Well, in my experience thus far, they work just fine for that purpose. However, they are not without their issues when used in that way ... First of all, here is the unaltered sweepstick that I am using for the 60" radius.




The main issue is that they will drop down within the web of the rail, where they will settle in and cause the track gauge to be too narrow. Hopefully this photo will help ...



I modified the one of the two sweepsticks by placing O scale ties along the centerline, like so ...




The ties do two things, first of all, they keep the sweepsticks from dropping down into the web of the rail, thus permitting them to be used as a track gauge. The second thing is that since they are centered, they allow me to lay the rail in the right spots on the ties. I have always had a tendency when handlaying track to "lean" a little to one side. While for most people this is not ferociously noticeable, I am not most people and when viewed from the right angle, the lop-sidedness becomes pretty apparent. This was something that I picked up on when reading Mike Cougill's book on hand laying track. He uses a three point gauge that is the width of the ties. It is a ferociously simple solution, that, to be honest, I probably wouldn't be able to apply in my case without using it on the sweepsticks. Of course, with the milling machine, I would be able to mill out a gauge of this type, well, were I to do that ... I would have to make a different gauge for each rail size if they are to be done correctly, since the rail head of each code of rail is a different size. Thus, if you want to make sure that the gauge remains correct, you need to have a gauge sized to each rail code. P48 3-point gauges are ferociously expensive and I already have a set of two for code 125, which I don't like to use. The sweepsticks, on the other hand, allow you to maintain a nice flow to the rail without that "wavey" look which is very unprototypical.

So, now, here is a photo of this little section of rail/track that I have put in the tieplates into ... now if only I could find my joint bars ....



The only problem is that the rest of the curve that has been laid already, has that lean ... grrrr. I really do need to get after distressing the other ties, though.

Thanks for the question Gordon! Sorry for not being more explicit.

Trackwork ...

Here are a few photos of the trackwork. It is going slowly partly because of the spikes that I am using and partly because I am trying to be extra careful since this is going to be on the end of the "module." Since I am going for radio control with batteries, I am not concerned with having individual 39' lengths of rail. One of which is half that because of being at the joint, of course.

Adding a little bit of coloring ...

Using the modified FastTracks Sweepstick as a track gauge

Spiking is coming along, but there is a small problem ...I forgot to distress the ties!

After distressing the ties, I moved the rails back into position. The ditressed ties are the discolored ones past the end of the short length of rail ...
And that's where things stand at the moment. I don't have to wake up at 4am tomorrow, so a little more time can be spent working on this tonight ... maybe.

For those of you who listen ...

I have, on more than one occasion, mentioned my dogs, Titus and Harrison. My mother has been bringing them with her when she comes to pick me up at the train station when I come home on my release. This is who waits for me when I come home:



They certainly brighten my day!

Conversely, they also wait in the window and watch me leave when I go back to work, which is a killer ...

Little by little ... and some photos!

Well, I have been tryinh to get a little bit done every night, but it is extremely slow going as I am using spikes that need trimming before use. What with 4 spikes per tie minimum, this is taking some time.

First off, here are a couple photos of the slide cover glass that I got in the mail the other day:

 

It is amazingly thin! I am looking forward to starting up the GP9u project again and this was one the items that was holding me back. They are just large enough to work as the windows in the locomotive.