A Cold Sunday Afternoon

It appears we are experiencing the winter that will never end, here in southern Ontario.  When I woke up at 9am on Sunday, it was -10 Celcius.  We achieved a high of -7 Celcius in the afternoon, though it was very sunny.  I walked the dog in the sun and then sat down to work on the lettering for three models.

IMG_0180I’ll progress from top to bottom.

Penn Central N8 caboose 23298 now has all of its lettering applied. It’s posed with the roof and cupola resting in place.  I’m ready to spray flat finish onto it and weather both porches before I proceed further with the assembly.

Penn Central X58B boxcar 361520 finally received a road number.  I still have to apply the end lettering, but I want everything to settle into place on the sides before I start propping the model up on its end.

Lehigh Valley X58 boxcar 8203 has all but the end lettering applied, for the same reason as the PC boxcar.  Microscale’s Liquid Decal Film worked like a charm to fix up the crumbling decals that came with this Railyard Models kit.  Thanks Ted.  I’ll make a note to buy my own bottle 😉

SW1200RS Project: End of the Wire

Having completed the front handrails on 8152 this evening, all of the handrails on both of my SW1200RS units are now installed.  This marks the end of all the wire bending for this project.

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In my previous post, I mentioned that the step, or riser, on which the front drop step is mounted was not included in the kit.  I had to build those out of bits of styrene.  I started by  measuring the height of the step on the rear walkway with a digital caliper’s depth gauge. I then cut a strip out of a sheet of .010″ styrene that matched the height.  I cut four pieces of styrene HO scale 4″x4″ stock and attached them across the strip with plastic cement. The spacing was determined by the etched piece for the two stanchions that are fastened to the riser.  Here’s what it looked like:

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I chopped the excess 4×4 from the top and bottom of the strip and trued the edges with medium and fine sanding sticks, using a precision square to check my progress.

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Once I had the top and bottom trued, I cut a piece of .010″x.080″ styrene strip the same width as the space between the inside edges of the middle stanchions.  I used the precision square to hold everything together while the cement dried.

IMG_2685Once the cement was dry, I chopped off the extra length of .010″ styrene strip to free the work piece.  The extra styrene made handling such a small piece much easier during the fabrication process.

With the extra plastic trimmed away, I sanded the workpiece on all faces to smooth out the seams.  I scraped away some paint on the front walkway and used CA to attach the piece.

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Once the riser was in place, I was able to proceed with the rest of the handrails, starting with the centre stanchions.

I think I’ll turn my attention to window glazing next.  Stay tuned.

 

SW1200RS Project – Still More Handrails

Wednesday evening is our weekly work night at the WRMRC.  I couldn’t make it out to the club tonight, and I haven’t been there for a few weeks in a row now, because of other commitments.  However, I was able to make more progress on the SW1200RS project this evening.

Predictably, 8152 now has rear handrails.  I also bent the wire parts for the front, but I didn’t get around to installing them.  I’m one step closer to putting these units on the rails.

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SW1200RS Project – 8159 has handrails

I finished the handrails on the front of 8159, which completes all of the handrails on this model.  Here are a couple of photos to show off all the wire bending I’ve done over the past week.

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These locomotives have a step in the middle of the rear walkway upon which the drop set is mounted.  The drop step on the front of the locomotive had to be raised to an equal height in order for them to line up at the same height on m.u.’ed locomotives.  The kit has a part for this step on the rear platform, but the step for the front platform was not included. I scratch built these out of some pretty small pieces of styrene shapes.

There are some very small details that I still need to add, but I think I’ll do the end handrails on 8152 next.

Ore Cars Part 18 – Poorly designed Kato trucks

The members at the club advised me that the Kato Barber S-2 70 ton truck is the preferred option my ore car project.  These particular trucks feature roller bearing faces that actually rotate with the wheels.  A few of the members pooled their resources and bought the 16 pairs of trucks I needed for this project, so I set about readying them for the cars that they would eventually be mounted beneath.

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These are supremely smooth rolling trucks, and the detail is outstanding.  As I went through them to install the roller bearing caps and prep them for paint and weathering, I discovered that they didn’t conform to NMRA standards.  The gauge on all of the wheel sets was uniformly too tight.

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A simple opposing twist of the wheels slides the wheels  outward from each other, but then things got a bit complicated.

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These trucks are not designed with needle ends that fit into conical impressions in the back of the truck frame, like standard old-school plastic trucks.  In order to get the animated affect of the roller bearings, Kato designed the axles with a finely machined race just inboard from the ends of each axle.  The race snaps into the plastic truck sideframe from underneath and the roller bearing caps fit onto the ends of the axles.  Kato gets extremely smooth performance out of this approach.

However, when the wheel sets are pulled into gauge, too much friction is created between the inner edge of the race and the side frame.  The trucks roll very poorly when set to the NMRA standard, and some sets would not roll at all.  This would be great for modelling cars with the hand brakes applied, but otherwise it looked like we might have to return them and find another solution.

Before I completely threw in the towel on these, I found that if I set the wheels to be at the very minimum to meet the NMRA standard, the trucks still roll well. The adjustment had to be very precise, because if I set them even the tiniest bit too wide, they wouldn’t spin when they were mounted.  In the photo above, you might notice that this wheelset is set as tight as it can be and still conform to the standard.  For those of you keeping score, that’s 16 cars or 32 trucks, or 64 wheelsets.

They don’t roll as nicely as they did when they came out of the box, but they still roll well.  Anyone using flextrack and commercial switches on any kind of “normal” layout would probably never have a problem with using these trucks straight out of the box.  But our layout is anything but normal.  The magnitude of what what we’re undertaking pushes everything to the extreme.  We wear out and rebuild model locomotives that would serve the typical hobbyist a lifetime without any kind of failure, so we’re quite disciplined at adhering to standards.

In the end, we decided that we could use the Kato trucks as long as each wheel set was very precisely tuned to be in gauge and still roll reasonably well.  You can see that they are very nice models of the Barber S-2, so I’m pleased that it worked out.

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