Paint Booth Repair and Set-up

We established some goals for unpacking our belongings and finishing three improvements to the house when we moved in back in September.  I also set some personal timelines for having my hobby space set up.  We got unpacked pretty quick, and we’re only a few weeks behind with the home improvements.  The good news is that today I finished setting up my workspace, and I’m about five weeks ahead of schedule.

I’m pleased that some of my projects have been moved forward as a result of having my workbench in place, but over the past weeks my paint booth has been quietly nagging at me as it sat with junk piled in its gaping maw.  With all the necessary parts in place, it was time to get it running again.

The first order of business was getting a dryer vent installed into the side of the house.  Actually, I had that done by the guy who installed the central air, three days after we moved in, so step one was as easy as writing a cheque.  The rest of the repair and setup was much more time consuming, mostly because it involved actually doing the work, rather than paying someone else.

Due to a burned out blower and a lack of space, my paint booth had been idle for years.  A few trips to the local industrial supply wholesaler netted a 105 CFM blower that seemed up to the task of exhausting the fumes from the booth.


After I scratched my head and consulted some friends, I was able to devise a way to attach 4″ dryer vent to the rectangular exhaust duct on the blower.  I cut a rectangular hole in a 4″ duct cap, bent back the edges and taped it in with proper metal duct tape.  Then I made a paper template and cut a piece of 3/4″ plywood to serve as a baffle board, and to move the blower far enough away from the back of the paint booth to clear the flange on the exhaust duct.  I attached the fan to the plywood with countersunk machine screws.


Here’s the back of the paint booth without a blower attached:


I used bolts to hold the baffle board to the back of the paint booth, and then got out the tin snips to fit some 4″ duct between the blower and the dryer vent.  Here’s a spooky pic of the paint booth hooked up and running:


Here’s a shot of my whole workspace (ignore the mess on the workbench):

IMG_2763What you can’t see is the compressed air supply line.  I ran a metal pipe through the wall between the garage and the utility room.  On the basement side of the pipe, I attached a flexible air line that I ran along the ceiling to the paint booth.  I’ll attach my filter, moisture trap, and regulator on this end.  On the garage side of the wall, I put a quick-connect to attach the compressor.

I’m about ready to start painting again!

SW1200RS Project – Handrails, Air Lines, Lift Bars

I spent a couple of hours at my new workbench, and the SW1200RS project continues to inch forward.  Today I installed train line air hoses and coupler lift bars on both ends of both units.  I wanted to start working on the rear steps and handrails, so I installed the drop step on the rear of both units. Once that was finished, I got to work bending handrails.

Some time in the 1960s, these units were refitted with handrails along the walkways and safer handrails at the steps.  The kit provides a template for bending these, and it turns out  it’s bang-on.   I’ve only finished the inboard handrails at the rear of 8152.  Here’s how it looks so far.

IMG_2661I took the time to paint the handrails because they didn’t show up very well when they were unpainted.  The lift bar and air hoses are still unpainted.  I’ll leave those for now.You can see that I took the shells off of the drive again.  I had them together while the models were packed for the move.  I’ll keep them disassembled now, until they’re ready to roll down the tracks.

Bending hardrails is one of those jobs that I dread until I get into it, and then I usually discover that my anxieties were unwarranted.  There’s probably an easier way to do this, but I’ll describe the approach I used with a few really basic tools.

IMG_2659I started these handrails by bending the semicircle with enough of a tail so that I could trim them back later.  I used that set of pliers with the red handles in the photo for the circular part.  I’d like to collect a variety small dowels or pieces of metal tubing for this purpose, because finding the exact spot to bend on the conical pliers is a bit more tricky than simply having a piece of tube to wrap the wire around.  But that mean I’d have to figure out what size tubing I need and then chase it down at a hobby store.  I’ve not had much luck purchasing scratch-building stock; it seems the only thing out of stock is the piece I need. Anyway, once I’ve bent the semicircle with the tapered-jaw pliers, I move outward with various bends until I reach both ends, then I cut off the extra bits.

For straight bends, I use a very nice pair of Xuron pliers.  I don’t use these pliers for anything other than bending wire and etchings, so they’re still sharp with true edges.  It’s hard to see in the photo, but the jaws of that pair of pliers are not serrated.

I bought a grab iron bending jig from Micromark last year, and it was very handy for bending the dozens of custom grab iron I needed for the 16 resin ore cars I built.  However, this jig is not the right tool for doing handrails.  Without overstating the obvious, the only other tools I’m using for this job include a variety of precision tweezers to handle the pieces as I’m building and test-fitting them, a drafting divider to measure distances between bends, and a small wire cutter.

I bent each piece according to the template in the kit instructions.  I had to throw out the first one, but the second and third attempts are now glued onto 8152.  So that’s the handrail bending “method” that I made up.  If you know of other techniques or tools  that will make this job go more smoothly, please let me know.

SW1200RS Project Continues – MU Hoses

It’s been just over four weeks since I moved into my new house, and at long last, I’ve managed to get my work space functional.  The tools are unpacked, and I got a bit of work accomplished.



After some drilling, glueing, and painting, both units now have MU hoses on both ends.



I used the metal variety of hoses, instead of the vinyl ones.  I like the way the metal hoses bend.  The only problem is that they don’t fit into the slots on the pilot.



If you look closely, you can see that the coupler pockets are different on each model.  The pockets provided by the kit didn’t fit into the openings in the pilots, and even if they’re modified to fit, they would result in coupler height that is about a half a coupler too high.  I ended up using the coupler pockets from the P2K model from which the drive was taken. They had to be pretty extensively modified as well, but they worked.  Apparently, LifeLike changed the mould for the coupler pockets part way through their production because the two models had slightly different pockets.  Something as insignificant as this can really slow down progress, to the extent that extra hours are eaten up trying to come up with a solution.  It all worked out in the end.

I still have to install the air hoses.  I’ll get to that next time.

A Place to Work

About ten days ago, we moved in to our new (to us) house, complete with an entirely unfinished basement.  In the past ten days, we managed to set up our furniture, unpack about a third of the boxes, sort out the kitchen, and get our clothes out of boxes and into dressers and closets.  There is very little order to any of this, but at least we’re getting to the point that when we look for something, there’s a decent chance that we won’t have to open a box to find it.  We can function from day-to-day.

Now that the living spaces (and my office) are more-or-less set up, I can start writing again.    As of yesterday, I was able to unpack my tools, and now I have something relevant to write about.  On Saturday morning, I took a trip to the local big-box DIY store and bought an armful of 2x4s, some wood screws, and a sheet of MDF.  Working from an idea I found online, I set about cutting and screwing together the various bits to create a place to work on trains.

It’s not finished, but I’ve managed to build the basic frame for my new workbench.  The work surface is 30″ x 72″ and it stands about 6″ above my wrist, which I’m lead to believe is the optimal height for doing fine assembly work.  I’ve experimented with a number of different pieces of household furniture over the past year, and I’ve confirmed that I like working at this height.  One of the benefits is that I can alternate between sitting on a stool and standing, which seems to work well for my back.  Here’s what it looks like so far…

IMG_2633Later this week, I’m hoping to finish it off.  The work surface only has about half of the necessary screws holding it down, so I plan to finish that tomorrow night.  I’ve also purchased enough wood to build an overhead shelf that will support a light fixture that stays attached to the workbench.  There is very little lighting in my basement, and with the light fixture attached to the bench, I’ll be free to move it around the room and the lighting will move with it.  The frame holding up the light fixture will be robust enough to serve as a shelf.

You can expect to read more about my work space over the coming week.