Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Swan View Buildings

I volunteered to take on the task of making some replica structures for Swan View that could be screwed down and used on the layout between exhibitions. This meant the buildings would need a floor and a removable roof.
I decided to start with the smaller buildings and made the first one on Sunday. During the week i thought i would take it one further and make a mould and late last night i poured the first casting.
I hadn't used my resin in over a year and had some concerns about what the result would be. With no vacuum chamber there were a few bubbles on the first attempt but i was pleased to remove my first cast structure thismorning.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Trackwork recommences at Pemberton

After finding out my position had been abolished I was faced with a move to Perth and the loss of a dedicated train room. Understandably disappointed, it seemed my Pemberton layout would be facing storage for some time. However having no where for my rolling stock to sit I decided i could find room for the centre section of the Pemberton yard.
After retrieving it from storage today i set up on a temporary table as the middle section had no legs being supported by the two sections eitherside and set about laying the first rails.
I have delayed laying rails for some time as i was unsure as to whether i would glue or spike or a combination. I had been leaning towards spiking, but my initial trials with hand spiking had been less than satisfactory. I debated obtaining a kadee spiker, but the price of obtaining a new one, the rare appearance of second hand ones online and the lack of information on whether it would be worth it caused further delay. (If you do have one or experience with one please get in contact with me). Anyhow decided it had waited long enough and with only spikes and a pair of pliers available i decided to give hand spiking another try and with some patience i managed a safisfactory result and the first rails where finally laid.
How i went about it
I had previously laid the sleepers based on measurements I took on variety of sleeper spacings in the Manjimup yard. And have made a variety of spacers to help guide me while laying sleepers. Whilst I originally planned to lay down cork first, for ease as i wanted the top of the sleepers be flush with the surface i had created a trench and glued them directly onto mdf.
I used several brass rail gauges i brought from DCC Concepts to set the gauge during the operation. They fit snuggly on the rail and their weight helped hold it in place.
With the sleepers laid directly onto mdf, it made it difficult to push the spikes in and i ended up with my share of bent ones, so i did just enough to pin the track. I then went back and predrilled the rest which whilst tedious, made spiking easier.
I should mention i had brought some spiking pliers from an australian hobby firm but i dont recommend them and wish i had got the micro mark ones. Im sure they would be fine with a large spike but were too sloppy for the small ones.
The spikes i used were the small ones from micromark but they had a very large head. I found that if I cut the head off (yes thats right i cut the head off each individual spike) leaving just a small lip, they looked more realistic. 
For the time being I have settled for spiking every 4th sleeper

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

3D-Printed Sn3½ Flexible Track

As an experiment, I recently tried 3D printing some sleepers for correct-scale Sn3½ track, using a similar principle to commercial flexible track.  I used the Makerbot Replicator printer which we currently have at home on loan, using a chocolate brown filament so the basic colour is about right.

It seems to work fairly well, although it would be a bit time-consuming printing sleepers for a basement-size layout.  For a modest layout, though, it appears to be a feasible proposition.  

The photos show the track with Code 70 rail (weathered, from MicroEngineering) but code 83 would fit too as the dimensions of the base of the rail are the same.  The tops of the sleepers have a textured finished from the printing process rather than the fake woodgrain on commercial track.

3D printed track with handlaid track in the background.
Note: I don't recommend use of unsupported MDF as trackbed
as it will inevitably sag - this is just a temporary arrangement.
The longest length which will fit in the printer is 18 sleepers @ 12 mm spacing which equates to 216 mm of track, so about 4 lengths would be required for a yard of track.  Printing each length takes just under one hour.  It may well be possible to print several lengths at one time side-by-side which wouldn't save much time but would save on trips back and forth to the printer.
Computer rendering of the sleepers.
As for cost, the cost of the plastic material works out to about $6 per yard, plus the cost of the rail of course (not including any costs for the 3D printer itself).  As a comparison, the NorthEastern scale lumber which I have used in the past for handlaid track costs about the same.

I also 3D-printed a jig to make it easier to insert the rail by keeping the sleepers parallel to each other so the rail slides in relatively easily.  So far, I have made about 1.5 metres of track.  

The 3D design could be changed to print straight track or fixed curves of any desired radius rather than having "flexible" track.  For example, if laying parallel tracks in a yard it could be easier to lay lengths of straight track to avoid the inevitable "wobbles" with flexible track.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Two Products of interest to WA Sn Modellers

Two products I have used recently which may be of interest to members of our S scale group are locomotive number plates from Narrow Planet and hand-rail posts for hooded diesel locomotives from A-Line in the USA.

Narrow Planet is a company in England that makes kits and bits for the narrow gauge enthusiast.
I recently ordered and received some number plates for two of my steam locos and for three Y class diesel locos. Steve at Narrow Planet is very helpful. You can order up to two sets of 3 number plates for 4 pounds sterling delivered to an address in Australia which is a very good deal. These are etched brass oval number plates, as appeared on all WAGR steam locomotives and on the B, M, MA, Y and Z class diesels.

Steve at Narrow Planet makes them to order for you. They are exquisite and very reasonably priced. They come in a standard envelope through the post once your order is finalised to your satisfaction. Payment is by B-Pay. They are listed on the Narrow Planet Website with the other 4mm scale number plates under the heading Western Australian railways. Steve originally did the artwork for an order from Andrew May who recomended them on this very blog. They are however made to S scale, not 4mm scale. You just need to remember to order 3 plates for steam locomotives (two for the loco and one for the rear of the tender) and two for the diesels which had oval number plates. This needs to be done with the order in the section where you can write in your special request which goes as an email. Steve answers all emails and orders fairly promptly. the plates arrived in about 3 weeks. The three sets of Y class loco number plates can be seen below. They cost 9 Pounds or about A$25 delivered.

Y class number plates. Artwork is sent to the customer prior to final order being made up.

The second product, metal handrail posts, were first brought to our attention by Richard at the December 2014 meeting of the S scale group. These are made by A-line but are best ordered from Walthers on-line store. A-line do not deliver overseas. I recently ordered 2 packets of the medium handrail posts for my two A class locos, my C class DE loco and my MA DH loco. Richard was the first to use them on his D class loco. You get 35 posts in each packet so I calculated that I needed two packets. I ordered the medium or 5/8" ones which worked out well. I used 0.5mm brass rod for the actual handrails which thread through the eye of the posts quite easily. the smallest dab of super-glue keeps them rigid once you have fitted them.  These are also delivered in a small padded envelope by normal overseas mail. They say to allow up to 6 weeks but I think they arrived in half that time.

Happy Modelling.