Thursday, July 19, 2012

Progress Report 41

You will see from Progress Report 39 that there was a list of jobs which needed to be carried out  over the winter months. Many of these have now been completed (see also Progress Report 40)

Maintenance jobs

Repair Hunslet loco and add more weight

After having a power-buffer fitted, the Hunslet has never quite been the same. Some of the lead had to be removed to make room for the buffer and as a consequence the loco lacked adhesion when pulling some trains up the gradients on the line. More lead has been squeezed into the loco by filling as many nooks and crannies as possible. Also, the joints have been reinforced with good quality cyanoacrylate superglue as the rapid epoxy used previously seems to have failed.
Unfortunately, the paintwork has suffered with a few smeary finger-marks and cracking around the failed joints. I'm going to have to try some remedial work, otherwise she will have to return to the paint-shops for a complete respray.


Fix Fowler diesel fly-cranks which have become loose on layshaft 

The whitemetal fly-cranks were originally fixed to the steel axles with superglue and after a while have a tendency to work loose. In an effort to improve the bond between crank and shaft, I removed the cranks, roughened-up the ends of the shaft with a coarse file and fixed them back in place with epoxy. Time will tell if this is effective. If not, my next strategy will be to use larger gauge steel for the shafts, square off the ends and similarly file the holes square in the cranks.

Clean coach wheels and check bogies through pointwork at Beeston Castle

The IP Engineering steel wheels which I use for the coach bogies seem very prone to gathering accumulated gunk if I run them when the track is slightly damp. The gunk hardens to form an irregular layer on the treads of the wheels causing the coaches to limp unevenly along the line and derail over pointwork - particularly that at Beeston Castle which is slightly uneven.

I've tried smoothing out the irregularities in the trackwork so now the vast majority of stock runs through the pointwork without issue, but the coaching stock still occasionally runs into problems. The coach wheels were removed from their bogies and mounted in the chuck of a battery-powered drill which in turn was clamped in a vice. The wheels were then spun in the drill and cleaned of dried gunk using a flat-bladed screwdriver.


Replace IP Engineering cattle truck metal roofs with plastic to reduce weight 

New roofs for the two IP Engineering cattle trucks were constructed from plastic roofing sections (Part No. SG1109) provided by Garden Railway Specialists (GRS).

The moulded roof supports provided with the roof sections were fixed in place on underside of each roof to provide a sung-fit and then the roofs were given a couple of coats of my acrylic roof-colour (black mixed with silver). As above, this reduction in weight has enhanced the locos' ability to pull the wagons up the gradients.


Repair hinges on engine shed doors

You will see from the original engine shed posting (see How I built the engine shed) that the hinges were fashioned from brass sheet and epoxied to the doors. Unfortunately the bond between the brass and the doors was never sufficient to take the strain and so, after several abortive attempts at gluing, the hinges were removed and fixed more permanently in place by drilling holes in the brass and passing dress-making pins through them into the underlying wood of the doors. This approach, together with superglue, will hopefully prove more enduring.


Construction jobs

Complete rail-motors/railbuses

These have now been completed (See How I constructed a Railmotor set) though the motor/gearbox arrangement on the motor-coach has proven to be insufficient to power the two coaches.

The IP Engineering gearbox which was used reduces the drive by only 16:1 which means that even on 12 volts the motor coach is under-powered. I am presently toying with three alternatives to resolve the problem:
  • rebuild the motor/gearbox with a greater speed reduction (eg a two-stage gearbox drive)
  • add a motor to the trailer coach
  • build a powered luggage van to sit between the two coaches, using a power bogie.
The first option would be the cheapest, but may require the motor coach to be dismantled and rebuilt to accommodate a bigger gearbox. The second option would be relatively straightforward  but I am concerned that even then the railbus set will be under-powered. The third option would be less disruptive to the existing construction, but will be the most costly. 


Construct gunpowder van

A kit for a corrugated van was purchased from Swift Sixteen after seeing them on the stand at the annual show for the Association of 16mm Narrow Gauge Modellers. I decided a metal-bodied van would be the most likely candidate for conversion to a gunpowder van. This how now been completed and has joined the rolling stock roster - see How I constructed a corrugated van from a Swift Sixteen kit.


Construct another five open wagons

The Hartland wagon chassis for these have been purchased from Steve Warrington at Back2Bay6 as has the resin needed for the castings which was bought from TOMPS. These are in the course of construction and will be joining the wagon fleet during the summer months (see How I made the third batch of open wagons). In the meantime, two more LGB/GRS open wagon conversions (see Constructing an open wagon and a van from a GRS combi-kit) have been purchased over the internet and are awaiting a trip to the paint-shop.

These came as part of a job-lot with an Atropos Admiralty flat wagon which I am uncertain about using. I think I'll try attaching it to the first passenger train of the day to pick up milk churns.


Construct crane wagon (maybe mount a yard crane on a Hartland chassis)

A rash purchase on eBay resulted in the arrival of an LGB crane wagon.

Looking more closely at this I've decided it does not really represent the sort of wagon which would be seen on a UK narrow gauge railway and as a consequence have constructed my own. See How I constructed a crane wagon.


Finish painting remaining figures

With the exception of a few instances of minor detailing, all the figures which have been purchased for the railway have now been painted and in some cases modified to make them suitable for the railway. In the last update I suggested that there were too few railway staff in evidence. This has now been remedied and so each of the guards' vans now boasts a guard. and each station has a least one station porter-cum-station-master. The locos now have drivers (including the railmotor which has a driver at each end - one of which was formerly a pall-bearer). The coaches have passengers and there are now sufficient members of the public to populate the station platforms. As has been mentioned previously, all standing passengers have brass rods inserted in at least one of their legs to enable them to be positioned upright on the platforms which, in the case of concrete platforms, have mounting holes provided by rawlplugs.

Detailing for stations

I am slowly accumulating general clutter to adorn station platforms. To date this includes a few suitcases, a porter's truck and some seating. However, I need to make or acquire more luggage, boxes and crates and other items such as vending and weighing machines. I may try casting some of these from resin.


Period vehicles

I have purchased three horse drawn vehicles from various sources, I'm constructing a brewer's dray from a kit and have a Hobbies kit of a horse drawn coal wagon awaiting construction. The wagons will  be positioned on station forecourts or on the road crossing the overbridges during operating sessions to provide some wayside interest.

In addition, I purchased a secondhand model of a steam wagon made from a Model Town kit. The paint job on this is a little basic and I'd like to improve this and add some detailing on the model before deploying it.

A local fruit grower (Bellis Brothers) used to transport their produce to the local railway station using steam wagons, so I feel there is a local precedent to justify the use of this type of wagon.


Jobs which were on the 'possible' list

Re-site copper mine further back from the main line and ease the R1 main line curves

I've decided that this will be a job for net winter. Owing to family commitments there was insufficient time for this somewhat major project. In the meantime, I intend to construct some buildings modelled in half-relief to represent various workshops and mine buildings - including that housing the ore crusher and the loading hoppers for the tippler wagons.


Construct a branch to the timber mill between Peckforton and Bulkeley

This will again become a job for the coming winter months as it will require some landscaping and the construction of a bridge over the river. I have some JigStones mouldings which I cast a couple of seasons ago which could form the basis for the mill building and I am considering constructing a leat for the mill wheel - though I want to experiment with mechanisms for enabling the wheel to rotate at a realistic speed - those models which I have seen on other garden railways have mill wheels which seem to spin round at roughly the speed of an aeroplane propeller.


Sell L&B vans and either buy W&L vans or bash more LGB balcony vans 

One of the L&B vans has been sold via the internet and the other is awaiting some remedial work to ensure it gains a reasonable retail price. As can be seen on Progress Report 40, I have bought another LGB van which complements the existing fleet of vans and consequently the line probably has sufficient vans for now.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How I assembled a corrugated van from a Swift Sixteen kit

For a while I had been considering making a van suitable for transporting explosives to the copper mine. Although I had found some suitable prototypes running on 2' narrow gauge railways I had not found anything for a 3 foot narrow gauge railway. And then Swift Sixteen produced their corrugated van kit for both 32mm and 45mm gauges. A kit was purchased at the annual show for the Association of 16mm Narrow Gauge Modellers.

The kit is probably the best resin kit I have encountered - the mouldings are extremely crisp. There are very few component parts to the kit.

The wheels were tapped on to the axles with a small hammer, with the brass bearing tube positioned between the wheels.

The axle mounts were then superglued to the base between the moulded guides..........

...... and the wheel assemblies were superglued to the mountings.

The beautifully moulded axle boxes and w-irons were then superglued to the base.......

...... using the moulded guides to ensure correct positioning.

As I was intending to use LGB hook and loop couplers, I marked-out a 12mm wide slot in the buffer-beams ......

and cut these out with a razor-saw and a craft-knife.

Five 1.5mm thick packing-pieces of plasticard were then glued in place to which the LGB coupling was screwed with a self-tapping screw.

In hindsight, I would not have cut the slot so deep into the buffer beam but I was unsure of the height needed to mount the couplings which I had to determine by trial and error.

A recess was carved out behind each of the dumb buffers to accommodate the LGB coupling ....

........ and these were then superglued into place.

In essence, the model was now complete, apart from a paint-job.

The wheels were masked with tape before the two component parts were spray-painted with Citadel Chaos Black in my patent spray-booth (a cardboard carton on its side).

I decided to depart from my default Halford's grey primer livery as the van would need to be distinctive.

The wagon was then added to the stock roster.

However, I intend to design and apply white lettering to the side of the van ('Explosives') and give the wagon my customary weathering.

UPDATE (15/8/12) - The wheels originally supplied with the kit had the same profile as those provided by IP Engineering which proved incompatible with LGB R1 points. I solved the problem by fixing plasticard washers behind each wheel (see How I made IP Engineering wheels compatible with LGB pointwork). Swift Sixteen kits are now provided with Accucraft wheels which are more compatible with LGB track.

How I constructed a crane wagon


I short while ago, I decided the railway needed a crane wagon. I reasoned that not only would it be useful for permanent way and engineering jobs on the line, it could be hitched to the occasional freight train to assist with loading and unloading heavy or awkward loads in the absence of yard cranes at stations.

Initially, I opted for a second-hand LGB ToyTrain crane wagon, but felt somewhat dissatisfied with it - apart from a few steam-powered cranes, to my mind it didn't resemble any prototypes which I had seen on UK light railways.
LGB ToyTrain crane wagon
After browsing the web and accumulating various images of likely candidates, I homed in on a design which cropped up quite often which seemed to comprise a manually operated yard crane mounted on a flat wagon.


The flat wagon was provided by Hartland - one of their budget wagons with holes suitable plugged with resin. The various slots and holes in the body were covered with masking tape, then the body was inverted and the holes filled with resin from the underside.
The underside of the Hartland wagon body - holes filled with resin
 Once set, the planking was then re-scribed and any excess resin filed off.
Upper side of the wagon body - holes filled and planking re-scribed


I decided the most significant part of the wagon would be the gear mechanism - the gear train needed to mesh and hence this would dictate the size and shape of the underlying wagon structure. The gears which seemed most appropriate in terms of size were found in my plastic bits-drawer (I've outgrown a bits-box). These were bought many years ago as part of a job-lot from Technology Teaching Supplies (TTS) which provide all sorts of interesting bits and pieces for use in primary school design and technology lessons. The design of these plastic gears has changed since I bought them, but I decided they needed modification anyway, to make them more prototypical. Similar gears can be bought from - Techbots
The two larger gears as purchased
The centres filed out into spokes
Additional spokes added
The larger gears in all the photos I had seen of manually operated crane wagons were spoked. To create spokes on my gears, I filed the internal webbing into spokes and added additional spokes from plasticard. As this model was created whilst on holiday, I had a very limited range of tools (a steel rule, craft knife, a couple of miniature files and some sand paper), and as a consequence the shaping was done largely by eye. Although they do not bear close scrutiny, the spoked gear wheels are sufficiently representative to give a feel for the prototype on which they are based.

Mounting plates

Using a couple of the prototype photos as inspiration, two mounting plates for the gears were shaped from 1.5mm thick plasticard. Again, the flowing curves were drawn by eye, roughly cut with a craft knife and then filed to shape.
One side plate cut out roughly
Edging strips were added to the side plates with two 2.5mm wide strips of 1mm thick plasticard. The rural French community in which we were holidaying was unforthcoming in terms of liquid solvent glues suppliers and so initially a bottle of cellulose thinners from the local Supermarch√© was used as a solvent. Although this was OK for bonding flat pieces of plasticard together it adversely affected the flexibility of the plastic when it was put under tension - such as when attempting to wrap the strip around the curves of the side plates. After a few frustrating tries I resorted to a solvent-based cyano-superglue. although this was substantially more expensive than the litre bottle of thinners, it was considerably more effective.
Side plate with edging stripe

Counterbalance weight

In the meantime, I fashioned the 30mm x 27mm x 35mm counterbalance weight from six pieces of 1.5mm thick plasticard as I decided this should determine the width of the crane - ie the space between the two side plates.
The counterbalance weight

Pivot plate

After considering various options for the pivot mounting for the crane, rather than using the top of a plastic milk bottle as a template, I slimmed the bottle-top down and glued this directly on the centre-line of the wagon body, slightly off-set from the absolute middle so it was towards one end of the body - again this was done by eye rather than careful measurement. I've found from experience that there are occasions when positioning things by eye gives a much more pleasing effect than fiddling about with a ruler! As the wagon body was cast in hard plastic and the bottle top in oily plastic I was unsure as to which adhesive to use. In the end I opted for my universal stop-gap - clear Bostik/UHU - which seems to have done the trick!
Milk bottle cap pivot plate

Crane arm

In some of the photos, crane arms are hexagonal in section, in others they are lattice and some are box section. For a while I considered using the barrel of a cheap biro pen as the basis for the arm but they seemed a tad under-scale, so in the end I opted for a box section. Rather than a plain tube, I went for one wit a double taper from the centre. This was made from four pieces of 1.5mm thick plasticard - 160mm long and 10mm wide (tapering down to 6mm on each side piece).
The main component pieces for the crane arm
The pieces assembled
The hinge pivot at the lower end of the arm was made from a 26mm x 10mm box section which was then slightly tapered towards each end with sand paper.
The pivot mount for the crane arm
 The mounting for the pulley wheel at the top end was shaped from a few 10mm wide strips of plasticard - a small bottle-top acting as the template for the rounded section.
The pulley-mount for the crane arm
The pulley-wheel itself was made from two 4mm scale plastic wagon wheels. Firstly they were sanded flat on their outside edges........

.......before being superglued together.

A 2mm hole was drilled in the mounting for the pulley-wheel and a short length of brass rod inserted to hold the pulley wheel in place.

Final construction

As I didn't want the completed model to be crushed in the suitcase on the return flight, the various pieces were packed away for final completion on home-ground.

After drilling 4.5mm holes for the gear shafts in the mounting plates........

....... a 28mm x 72mm piece of 1.5mm plasticard was attached between them as the base for the crane structure, with a 4mm hole drilled in the centre for the pivot.

A further piece of 28mm x 42mm was mounted above this with a 4mm hole drilled A further piece of 28mm wide plasticard were glued as a spacer between the gear mounting plates just beneath the uppermost hole for the gear shaft.

The counterbalance weight was also glued into place. The wheels were cut from some left-over bases of a 4mm station canopy plastic kit........
........ slimmed-down with a razor-saw.

The arm was pivoted between the mounting plates with a length of 2mm brass rod.

Having no suitable brass rod for the bracing ties, I cut some lengths of copper wire from some redundant earthing cable I had knocking around.

To straighten the wire...........

 ........... I rolled each length of wire between a piece of timber and the table.

The wires were then trimmed to length and slotted into holes drilled in the counter-balance support and the vertical mounting-plate..........

..... and the plate and the the end of the jib.

The crane assembly was then test-mounted on the base by glueing a piece of 4mm dowel into the hole in the bottom of the crane ................

.............and inserting this into a 4.5mm hole in the base. 

Finding the main pivot was a bit slack, I cut a short piece of redundant biro tube and glued this to the 4mm dowel, enlarging the hole in the base to make an interference fit.

After scrubbing everything clean in a bowl of warm water and dishwasher fluid, everything was  given a couple of coats of Halfords primer from a rattle can in my hi-tech spray-booth (made from an old cardboard carton) .........
......... and the paint left a couple of days to fully harden.

The gears (suitable blackened with acrylic paint) were push-fitted on to 4mm dia wooden dowels and then mounted in the mounting plates. A drum for the hoisting chain was fashioned from an old ball-point pen barrel and a suitable length of fine chain was glued into place - the hook made from three pieces of 1.5mm thick plasticard and a short piece of copper wire bent to shape.

The Hartland chassis was re-assembled, with metal wheels in place of the plastic ones supplied with the kit and then the superstructure was mounted on to the chassis ............

............ and then the wagon was given a test-run - or two ........
The next job is to lightly weather the crane as it looks a bit too pristine at the moment. I may also make a match-truck for it, maybe with some tool chests and general permanent way clutter.

 Update (10 August 2014)

 A match truck has now been provided for the crane - again constructed from a Hartland flat wagon.
The two loco jacks are whitemetal castings from GRS, as are the tools. The toolbox is a piece of balsa wood, suitably shaped with paper-clip handles. A couple of pieces of stained stripwood plus a coil of garden twine and some chain finish off the detailing. For more details of how I constructed this and other flat wagons see (How I constructed some flat wagons)

In response to a request for drawings of the wagon and also to show how it looks now it has been weathered, I hope the following photos are useful. The dimensions of the Hartland wagon body on which the crane is mounted are 140mm x 86mm. It should be possible to determine the dimensions of the crane from those two measurements. I determined the dimensions of the superstructure from the size of the gears which I was able to purchase. If you are considering making your own model, I would advise you to get the gears first and then adjust the dimensions to accommodate the gears.

In addition, you might find the following photos helpful. They were taken recently on the Isle of Man at what remains of Union Mills Station on the Douglas to Peel line. I wish I had seen this wagon before I had constructed my own. Maybe one day I will construct another model of a mobile crane based more closely on this prototype.

To provide a scale, the red book in the following pictures is 210mm x 143mm
 The centre linkage transferring power from the winding mechanism to the turning mechanism