Switch build 03

First attempt at N scale #6 curved pointAs Kenney Rodgers once said “You gotta know when to hold and when to fold” or words to that effect. But as it’s been some years since I’ve built handlay and that shows with this first attempt. It works in a fashion but it’s no oil painting and I was told some time ago by a friend that it usually takes a couple of goes to get it right and then it’s like falling off a bike. It’s definitely been good to treat this build as a sacrificial and not get too worked up about it being perfect from the start and as would will see I have left flux and a number of joints unsoldered joints knowing that this would not be laid to a baseboard.

So what did I learn from this experience? Firstly get some liquid flux as using the current one is a bit of a pain and liquid flux is much more manageable. I know having the right tools for the job but I also am trying to embrace the just do it mantra and not trying to procrastinate or indulge in analysis paralysis. Second check the rail; not all rail is created equal. Well they are just I didn’t expect there to be different codes mixed up and selecting a slightly smaller rail in crucial places caused major obstructions to the wheel sets. Finally the old adage measure twice cut once.much of the mistakes I made didn’t look right even though they seemed to be gauged right, but the eye is one of the most accurate measuring devices and so with a mixture of eyes and a mirror and trusting to instinct gets results.

But it’s not all bad news as you can see from below excluding the minor mishap. With this info it’s time to move on to the next one.

Until next time..

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Switch build 02

Finally found a moment to burn some metal and get started again on first switch. This being N Scale the question was how was I going to gauge this. Well time to break out the trusty callipers, not the digital ones this time as they have plastic prongs and not good at holding a finger singeing rail to gauge but got old fashioned analogue. I tend to use my 2FS gauges to start off soldering first rail to keep it vertical then move to the callipers.

So I started out working on the frog, yes I know that this is not the prescribed method but I am just messing around with ways to build as it’s been some time since I built handlaid switches, but it’s always good to tryout new even if you get it wrong.

Speaking of getting it wrong I forgot to file out the blade pocket on the stock rail again just rustiness but at this size and gauge it shouldn’t be too much of an issue and I can always take a file to it later if needs be.

Until next time..

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Room with a railway

I have finally got round to starting to sort out my Railway space and it is a bit strange having an empty room like the day I moved into it. In order to be able to carry out some proper modelling I decided that this needed to take over other modelling progress just for the moment as I really like and need a organised space to work in and around. First up was emptying out the room ready for decoration as the above picture illustrates. Colour decided, check, I have to go to the local paint shop tomorrow and get my preferred colour. The very friendly gent who spent some time with me when I first went in explained colours and approach to painting which was very useful as it must decades since I waved a paint brush around in anger and he advised that one tin should to the job and if not a tester pot should finish it off.

There are a couple of things that I need to complete before I can prep and paint but having an empty room is motivation to get things done quickly. Once painted I can then start on building my workbench and desk. This will then separate modelling from computing and at the moment working off a rickety folding table is not good for ergonomics and also not being able have tools etc around you as they compete with monitors and keyboards.

Although again it may not seem like there is much progress in physical modelling much of the preparation work has been carried out to make sure that the bits of the puzzle all fit together. Certainly rebooting my blog has helped me stay focused and actually making something rather than allowing procrastination to be the thief of time and hopefully very soon I’ll have the modelling space I need and want.

Until next time..

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Switch build 01

Work on the first switch for Son of Test Track has started and it’s going to be a 150mm Radius with a 1:7 frog and 9mm track gauge. Why 1:7? It’s mainly because I have the frog nose and crossing jigs in that size. I use to have the whole set but over the years I have lent or misplaced the rest so these are the ones I have to hand at this time.

The process starts with a flat surface, in my case I’m using a lump of 1″ MDF that was a door off the bedroom furniture that came out when I first moved in. The template is spray mounted down to the flat surface and then a quick squirt over the top face to allow the copper clad sleepers from 2FS association to be applied to the template. Using some tweezers to get them to match up as best as possible to match up with the Center line. Now I’m starting to lay the stock rail but before I do I need to file out the pocket for the point blade and here endeth the fifteen minutes.

Until next time..

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Digital dismantle

Laptop dismantle Although not strictly a modelling post it is some what linked. Things have been somewhat hectic at 15minute towers this week and also summer has arrived with a bit of a kick with temps in the high twenties and thirties yesterday which as dampened the enthusiasm to sit at my workbench.

From the picture you can see a dismantled laptop I was given in perfectly good working order as the owner had decided to upgrade to a newer much lighter one. One of their criticisms was also that it is very noisy due to the fans always being on. Looking around YouTube I came across a number of videos of people who had converted laptops into silent desktop machines and thought I’d like to have a go at that.

Why you might ask would I want to go to all that trouble to convert a perfectly good working pc into a pile of bits? Well neither do I want a loud machine and also I prefer the desktop format over the now more common place laptop form factor, in order to be able to manipulate it into a comfortable mode of operation.

So the trick will be to be able to find out how I can run it at a suitable temperature that won’t burn out the processor the minute I turn it on. It’s not at all scientific but slapping a huge lump of extruded aluminium on to the hot bits will hopefully dissipate enough heat to let me get a bit of use out of it. I just need to find a stockist locally of such an item that’s not going to cost more than buying a new one.

And now the tenuous link to modelling. I have a couple of uses for it the main one being to use it for Blender rendering as an additional processor to my rather ageing every day laptop. Although I don’t model huge scenes or models it will be good to cut the time spent waiting for the render to finish. And finally I could run a train sim on it although you may say any spare time should be real world modelling but there will be some times it is a relaxing pass time away from all other worldly distractions.

This is likely going to take me some time to complete so don’t hold your breath for too long as I have way more important projects to be working on!

Until next time..

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Rail height comparisons

fullsizeoutput_73fIn planning the track for the diorama I needed to find out what the height differentials were between the types  I am looking at using. In order for the scenic section to look somewhat realistic I decided on using some Peco Code 55 FS Concrete Sleepered track and then was contemplating a mixture of 2mm Association track in two formats, the Easitrac moulded plastic sleepering for the straight sections of the yard and then just plain old PCB and coiled code 40 rail soldered construction as used in the test track. I was asked by a friend why didn’t I just use the Peco? My reply was that I had all of the stuff there to build after years of stock piling and it’s so much cheaper. Have you seen the price of curved Streamline switches? But the payoff to using one type is you don’t hat to do any elevation on the road bed.

Now how did I go about measuring the gap? With no depth gauge or other suitable instrument I opted for a rather rough and ready feeler gauge alternative using some styrene sheet with combinations of .10/.20/.30 thousand mm to increment the height until I got a match but rubbing finger over the joint. Yes I know its not scientific or an accurate measurement but for my purposes it is good enough. So with this method in place I ascertained that the PCB to Peco needs a .40thou lift and the PCB to Easitrack is just .10thou of a millimetre. This then raises the question of whether the Easitrack is worth it and I am going to ditch it in favour of just straight interval soldered track like the test track though I may actually measure out the gaps and not freestyle it like I did previously.

Lastly the question is what to do with underlay on the scenic section. I have two types of it one with a rubber backing and a standard old fashioned cork I need to get measurements for these to see how much adjustment the different tracks will need to accommodate in order to provide quiet running and a smooth transition between the two track types.


Until next time

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Ding Ding, Test track round Two.


It was in to my mind the other day when I was just finishing up on test track 1.0 that I needed a project to move on forward to. The first one had proved its purpose in not only be able to test the stock I was about to sell but to also act as a test bed for future purchases. I am not ready to start on the big project yet as I need to get a number of things in place before I can do this. So my mind turned to what would be the solution to keeping the fifteen minutes modelling going on a daily basis and then it dawned on me that another test track was the answer, well actually a diorama is closer as I wanted to use it to start testing out new techniques and ideas but in a limited form that wouldn’t take me ages to complete. I then realised it could also be used to photograph stock and cameo pics for my Swiss layout.

fullsizeoutput_719It just so happens that I have some plywood knocking around that was cut for a project long ago that I am going to repurpose. Having a ready made base would speed things up no end, however I’m planning on trying to create a lightweight board with thin strips but braced more frequently for an open board design. As it’s attached to the wall via a cleat most of the weight will be held at that point so every effort to lighten the load is good.

I had tried mocking up the oval of track on the existing board but it didn’t leave me sufficient space at the front for the scenic area that I want to create. Then thinking about alternatives I came to the conclusion that in order to allow for the scenery ideas I had I would need height from ground zero to rail level to get the elevation angles I want for taking pics. Also I have never tried this method of baseboard construction having in the past always used the flat earth approach. Once again I seem to gravitate to that same occurring ideas but at least I am reigning in my natural tendencies to expansionism and so far have kept in focus the goal of just creating something and not getting stuck in the cycle of augmentation through to analysis paralysis.

Next time I will have some real pics of my efforts of keeping to the fifteen minute mantra but for now ill leave you with a bit of a visualisation..


Until next time..

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