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Thread: Builder's Railroad Project: in the Beginning...

  1. #61
    Senior Contributor Builder 2010's Avatar
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    Good advice, and I do hope I will be looking at it for years so it should be as interesting as possible. There are companies that make molded retaining walls in different stone configurations including those used by the Pennsylvania RR (of which I have lots of engines), but it's expensive when you consider almost 30 feet of the stuff. It may get me to mold my own...You're going to be viewing it from 10 or more feet away, so an artistic rendition might work. The elevation will be five inches which is high enough to allow roads to pass beneath. No matter what method I choose, the materials will cost $$$. It's one of the hidden disadvantages from building a big layout.

  2. #62
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    Rear Girders Complete

    Finished putting up the three girders that line the back of the layout. It was a very productive day. On the right end of the third girder it's sticking out into space so it needed an auxiliary leg. I thought about how I wanted to extend the wall bracket another 24" to capture the leg and came up with a simple approach that was facilitated by have the double horizontal pieces. I simply inserted a 2 X 2 in between the horizontals with 5 inches captivated and five extending outwards. This was clamped with two carriage bolts. I then added the two 24" extension horizontals and bolted them the same way. This made it easy to capture the vertical 2 X 2 which was going to be the leg.

    Before cutting the leg, I wanted to have a leveling foot. Unfortunately, I used up the last T-nut on the wall brackets, but on the last two wall brackets, the ends weren't even resting on the floor so the T-nuts were superfluous. "Ah..." I thought. All I have to do is get it out now that it's epoxied in. With some prying with a screwdriver and sheer determination, I got it out and glued it into the end of the new leg. In this case I used Gorilla Glue instead of epoxy.

    Here's the detail shot of the extender in place. No comments about the clean shop please... I just vacuumed the entire place. My wife hates the shop vac. I actually tossed the one I had at the old house because it screamed so much. I bought a new Craftsman that was supposedly quieter. It is, but now it's only 100db instead of 120.

    Attachment 29720

    To brace the leg in the width direction I added another 2 X 2 angle brace that was also sandwiched in the now-added horizontals with a single carriage bolt just like I did with the wall bracket diagonals. For the other end I used the gusset method. I needed to cut more gussets and I knocked them out with the circular saw this time, which was more consistent than the saber saw for this purpose.

    Attachment 29721

    Even more critical with legs than the wall brackets, the legs need another brace in the longitudinal direction. Here I used the same process as in all the other legs previously built; a gusset at the leg end with 6 screws and three screws at the top end directly into the L-girder.

    Here's the detail of the upper end.

    Attachment 29722

    And here's the detail of the connectors on the other end of this assembly where I had to make up for that 5" drop as explained earlier. Two carriage bolts in each direction make this structure solid as a rock. (Sorry about the focus on this one)

    Attachment 29723

    So here's the entire rear array. I've decided to go with the elevated rear track to keep the railroad less boring. Next step will be to start designing the joists and risers to support the sub-roadbed planks on the backside of the layout.

    Attachment 29725

    I hope you can start to see the elegance of L-girder construction. It looks frail, but it's quite strong. Most people using 2 X 4s in an egg-crate arrangement way overbuild model railroads. They often have horizontal members bracing the bottoms of the legs which makes it impossible to easily pass under the layout with a creeper to do wiring. It's also more expensive, heavier, and unnecessary. As I noted earlier, it's more like building an aircraft than building a barn.

    I'm not going show any more joinery details since they're all going to be slight variations on what's been shown already. I'll only highlight them if there's something unique going on... and there will be some of those.
    Last edited by Builder 2010; 06 Aug 12, at 00:57.

  3. #63
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    By appearances, yesterday's work session didn't accomplish anything resembling Saturday's marathon session, but looks can be deceiving. I unpacked all of the old L-girders that will comprise the rest of the framework. They were all duct-taped in bundles from when we moved. I have most of the girder lengths noted on the master print and if they're missing I get them from the computer drawings. My original plan had the new girders and old all mixed up since I was attempting to use the old girders in their actual length. I was going to use new girders to fill in the missing pieces. But as Clauswitz said, "Strategy ends when the first shot is fired". Once I started building the wall supports I decided to build all the new girders for the back wall and use the existing ones to build the rest. As it stands now, I probably have enough old ones to complete the layout. I have materials for three more 8 footers if needed.

    Tomorrow my grandson's coming over to finish up his Super Hornet. He and his family just got back from London where they watched the Olympics. It was quite a trip and the kids should have a lot to tell their class when they answer the perennial question, "So what did you do with your Summer?" While he's working on the plane, I'm going to work on the railroad.

    Attachment 29736

    I then started laying out all the girders based on length in their respective locations. After that I'll set them up at their correct separation distance and compare that to the leg sets that are already constructed. To save labor, I'd like to use as many intact sets as possible. If I have to adjust their separation distance, I'll reset the cross-braces to the needed width.

    Attachment 29735

    I have to keep reminding myself that the work table in the middle of the room is actually part of the new layout. As I mentioned before, I cobbled it together as a work table to build the wings of the 1:16 scale RC B-17 that I built in 2010. Right now I need that table for plans, tools and screws.

    The goal is to get OSB onto the back girders ASAP so that it can be enlisted as the new work surface. Then I'll dismantle the existing table and incorporate it into the layout.

  4. #64
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    Leg Set Reconstruction

    I finished laying out all of the girders on the floor, and went back to the computer to determine some reference points as the erection process begins. I measured from the back walls to the extremes of the front girder and marked that distance on the floor. I also measured off where the leg sets would go (5 of them) at 8 ft. intervals. Eight feet seems like a reasonable span for the girders. When all braced up, there's no downward deflection at that spacing.

    The front main girder set has a girder face to girder face distance of 40". My old legs sets are somewhere about 24" apart, so they needed to be reconstructed to work in the new design. Here's the "before" girder picture. I wanted to use the old legs since they already have the elevating screws and t-nuts installed so why reinvent them.

    Attachment 29738

    I removed the X-bracing, saving the 5-50 Spax metric screws (these go back to when the layout was originally constructed in Germany), and the lumber which will be put to good use making joists that lie across the girders. I then cut a 48" piece of 1 X 3 that served as a spacing beam. The legs were made of German metric-sized lumber. Their 2 X 2 is 44mm square, and is more substantial than our 1.5" dimensional lumber (38.1mm). I fasten one screw on one corner of the spacing beam, and square that corner up. When square I drive another screw to lock the geometry. I again used #8 X 2" Deck Mate screws with star drive. I can remove them and re-drive them over and over without destroying the star drive socket. When the first side is tight and square I did the same with the other leg.

    Attachment 29739

    When I first starting doing this task, I was doing it on the concrete floor with my rubber knee pads. My back was letting me know that this was not the best approach, so I got a piece of OSB, threw it on the back installed girders over a few 1 X 3s and did the work standing up. Much better!

    I cut the X-braces from fresh 1 X 3s since they're pretty long. There is no worry about losing square since the two screws on the spacing beam were tight so it was just the repetitive task of lining up the X-brace, clamping the near end so I could position the far end, screw far end tight and go back to the near end, put it one screw, remove the clamp and then put in the other screw. Turn the entire assembly over and put on the opposite X-brace the same way. The ends are beveled and I'm careful to not let it extend past the leg as shown here. The reason for this is to not foul the gusset plate that's going to be installed at the bottom for the longitudinal braces, and to not interfere with installing the girders on the top of the legs.

    Attachment 29740

    Here's the two braces installed.

    Attachment 29741

    Once the X-braces are in place the spacing beam is removed since the legs can no longer change geometry. I used the spacing beam for the next set of legs ensuring that all the leg sets for this part of the layout would have the same spacing. All five sets took a couple of hours to reconstruct. Here's four of the completed legs.

    Attachment 29742

    When I finished the legs sets I turned my attention back to the girders. I used the wooden splice blocks from the old RR to tie together the separate pieces of girders making up the system. I re-used the 5X50mm screws on these plates, but they are a tad long leaving a nasty sharp point sticking out the back side. I don't like sharp pointy things sticking out of the wood so I again brought the Dremel out with its cut-off wheel and ground them flush with the surrounding wood.

    With the legs for the front part of the layout complete, I started messing around with setting it up. Using clamps you can actually put this together with one person. You lift a girder and clamp it to one side of the leg. While keeping the leg from collapsing, grab the other girder and clamp it to the other side. Go to the other end, and do the same thing with the second leg set. If all goes well so far, you have a very rickety structure that's just barely hanging together. From that point, you have to set the girder height and then temporarily clamp a longitudinal diagonal brace to start squaring it up. I was all set to make new diagonals and then I remembered that all the previous diagonals were sitting in the other part of the basement with the gusset plates still attached. I was careful when taking this apart for the move so much can be re-installed.

    It was getting late and I was getting worn out. I was attempting to run a level from the newly installed rear girder to these old girders to set their height. My foot bumped one of the legs and the whole shebang came crashing down. That was a sign! Quite while you're ahead and I stopped work for the day and went up for dinner. Next time, I'll use the big C-clamps since they have more grip than the quick clamps I was using.

    This part of the work goes very fast. It will slow down again when I start installing all those joists and their risers.

  5. #65
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    2nd Module Underway

    With a little help of the grandkids to keep the first part of the 2nd module from collapsing before I get real fasteners in place, I got the far end of the 2nd (main) module started. As I was looking at it, it didn't seem right. It was too wide! It was supposed to be 40" from inside girder to inside girder and it was 48". 48" inches is not good! It puts the ends of the joists right on the girders if I want to get two joists out of every 8 ft. 1 X 3. But supporting a beam right at the ends is the weakest method of supporting it and will promote sagging in the center. It wasn't too late to fix this problem. Only two out of five legs sets were incorporated in this part. Since I had put the longitudinal diagonal braces in place, the legs were stable, so I removed the X bracing, took my original spacing beam and marked a 40" line, and with the help of grandson #1 clamped the legs at the new distance. I put the X-Brace in place and marked off the new (shorter) angles and cut them down to size. It worked well and I then restarted the production line to modify the other three leg sets with the correct distance.

    With that out of way, work progressed quickly. This main module makes a modest 23" offset about a 1/3 of the way along as the railroad widens towards the left end to compensate for the 24" step out in the back wall. In my previous design the main girder also had a similar bend so I had Simpson Strong-tie splice plates that already had a bend in them.

    I was now working alone so I need to develop a nice way to erect the rest of the module without yesterday's collapse. I screwed the splice place to the end of one girder and using a nice c-clamp to temporarily fasten the mating girder to it with the other end of the mating girder laying on the floor. Then I moved about halfway down the girder (this was a long segment) and using a hefty c-clamp, tied a leg set to the girder at an approximate level with the leg close to vertical.

    I left this leg alone for a while since it was not in its true position, but it was just adding stability. I then went to the true location and attached another leg set with quick clamps. The leg sets are spaced about 8 ft. apart. At this point I did fine leveling of the girder and cross-leveled with the opposite girder. If a hit with the soft-headed hammer was sufficient, that was good, but often I had to release the clamp and hold it all together with the level lying on the girder and try to get it close.

    I then put it one carriage bolt and tightened it to enable me to get the quick clamp out of the way. I put the level on the leg's side and plumbed the leg and then drilled the second hole for the other carriage bolt. With both tight, the leg was reasonably stable and didn't need further clamping until the longitudinal braces are installed.

    Speaking of longitudinal braces, here's a pile of them ready to unpacked and re-used. It's neat that a lot of this layout was first created 13 years ago in Germany. Many of the pieces still have the German bar code stickers on them. All of the carriage bolts I'm using for these leg sets are 6mm sets from the original layout. Each rebuild is incorporating pieces of the old and besides being a nostalgia trip, it's saving me a bunch of moo-la.

    Attachment 29758

    After the legs are tied in and every thing is ship shape, I went back and added fasteners to the splice plates and removed the small c-clamps. There will be a second splice plate on the backside of each girder which will make the splice complete. Here's the splice plates in use.

    Attachment 29759

    I repeated the above steps for the left hand part of the main module. I then un-clamped the leg in the temporary position and moved it further left into its final location. It was going to lie in the left hand bend, which wasn't there at the time I used the leg to support the mid-section. That leg will be fastened tomorrow. I did a lot of stooping, and bending today and my back let me know that I did enough today.

    Notice on these pictures the wooden splice plates I originally used to join girders. They were clunky and used a lot of screws, but they were strong. Using the metal plates is entirely sufficient.

    Here's several views of this module. It's big! The final amount of offset will be determined by the connecting it to various cross girders that tie both sides of the layout together. After I get the final deviation, I'll install the second layer of splice plates which will help lock in the angles.

    Attachment 29760

    Attachment 29761

    Attachment 29762

    When all the legs are complete, I'm going back with the saber saw and trimming off the tops of the diagonal braces so they won't be in the way. I seem to be mounting the gusset a little higher up on the leg this time resulting in all the diagonals sticking up about the girder. This layout's been assembled and disassembled three times so there's markings on the girders from its previous incarnations.

    Tomorrow I'll finish that one leg and start working on the end modules. Once all the girders are in place, I'll start laying out where all the joists will go based on what they're supporting. And I have to order the foam roadbed, lots extra track, plus about 500 feet of wire.

  6. #66
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    On a Roll...

    You can tell I'm on a roll, I've posted for three straight days. Having this being the 3rd rebuild (and enlargement), I'm getting very good at it. I don't have to think a whole lot about how to joint part A to part B, or what's the best way to join girders meeting at 90º, I just do it.

    I remeasured and reset the positioning on the 2nd (main) module on the floor using the back wall as a datum and double-checking against a chalk line (without the chalk). The offset was supposed to be about 23" and it's within the margin of error for that. Once I got the offset where I wanted, I went back and added the 2nd set of splice plates to lock those bends in that position. While doing this, I got the saber saw and sliced off the offending diagonal braces that were sticking up above the girders.

    I then set up the longitudinal positioning by taking a reference point from the left end of the wall girder and the end point of the main module's left end. The main module is to extend past the wall girder by 2'-6". I used a 1 X 3 with line at that distance clamped to the wall girder and the inner girder of the end unit (3rd module). Again used the chalk line to get the distance right. The layout is still light enough so with a good tug I could pull the entire main module towards the left without assistance.

    Now it was time to build the 3rd module which comprises the layout's left end. I needed two leg sets that had a 2'-6" separation distance (it's a coincidence that it's the same dimensional as the left end offset), so I took another set of legs from the previous layout and adjusted them. Since this distance wasn't so much larger than the previous version, I was able to simply remove screws from the diagonal braces—2 from one side and 1 from the other—swing the diagonal to a new position to meet the other leg, and then screw them down in the new position. I still use a spacing brace to hold the position as before.

    The inner girder was already clamped into position on the end of the main module, so it was a snap to position the outer (and shorter) girder on the legs sets that I just built. The outer girder was to extend rearward from the inner girder by 3". I measured and marked this off on the outer girder and clamped the leg on that spot.

    Here's the clamping scheme.

    Attachment 29777

    While I could have fastened the inner girder to the ends of the main module's girders by screwing into the end of these girders' 1X4, I don't like putting screws into end-grain unless I absolutely have to. It's just not as secure. Instead, I like to install a mounting block which is screwed into cross-grain and then use carriages bolts for added strength.

    Attachment 29778

    This was the outer edge. The inner girder connection is done the same way.

    So here's the end module completed. I'm now working on the corners. The front left corner is going to have two small L-girders that will be interconnected on the bias. The rear left corner is much more complicated. It will have the girders drop down about 10". This will be the location of the layout's main bridges and the deep channel will be where the waterway will be. Of course I'll document this is agonizing detail.

    Here's the whole deal as it appears so far.

    Attachment 29779

    Today was also a good day for my grandson, Alex. He officially finished his F-18E Super Hornet. It was an eight month project and it wasn't easy. It was completed over a lot of interruptions including school, camp and family vacations, but he didn't give up. He asked for help and got it when he needed it, but did almost all the assembly himself. He relied on me to manage the airbrush and to scratchbuild two missing parts. He was very proud of the accomplishment.

    Attachment 29780

  7. #67
    Rickshaw Professional Senior Contributor Pedicabby's Avatar
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    Good work. Both of you!

  8. #68
    Senior Contributor Builder 2010's Avatar
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    Thanks!

  9. #69
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    Weekend Work

    To keep the momentum going I actually got some RR work on both weekend days. These session included finishing the left-end module, fitting up and completing an auxiliary module, and getting started on sorting out all the joists and beginning the process of attaching the sub-roadbed panels.

    Here's the auxiliary module all clamped together to get the geometry right. I clamped a false leg in the corner to set the height, and clamped a 1 X 3 across the top from the existing girder to set the width. I notched the flanges on the girders so they nested together and then clamped the ends, and then was able to get the leg fashioned. On the original layout, I didn't want to keep building girders so I made a really long joist and then made it into a simple truss with a diagonal that ran back to the bottom of the girder. It worked, but it was touchy. With additional width I have now I was able to fit a respectable girder into the space to better support the inside circle.

    Attachment 29801

    And here it is fully fastened in. Again, I made good use of the Simpson Splice Plates for the non-square corners. For the square corner at the end, I again use the separate block screwed to one member and carriage bolts in the other direction.

    Attachment 29802

    Then there was how to fasten the leg to the odd-angled member. I made a block that brought the angle back to square. The first time I did this, I didn't spend the time to drill pilot holes and the screws promptly split the block in two. My second attempt was much better and the pilot holes prevented splitting.

    Attachment 29803

    Here's the block:

    Attachment 29804

    And here's what it looked like after I blew it up.

    Attachment 29805

    In addition to the railroad work, my grandson and I started another model in the inventory: a beautiful Hasegawa 1:48, F-22 Raptor. The model is spectacular with beautiful cockpit, tailpipe and weapons bay details. It also has add-on photoetched for the weapons bay doors and the titanium sides of the variable exhaust nozzles. Alex did a real nice job on the pilot and the photoetched seat belts. His skills and patience keep improving. I'm reliving my childhood through him (again...my son was a pretty neat kid too, and a wonderful eye surgeon now).
    Last edited by Builder 2010; 13 Aug 12, at 03:06.

  10. #70
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    Weekend Work Part 2

    Something else comical happened. You'll notice that block at the right-angle corner, well... I put it on, quickly, and was tightening down the carriage bolts but noticed the girder was still floppy. Then I saw it. I had put both sets of screws into the same beam instead of being 90º from each other. In other words, the girder wasn't connected yet. After smacking myself in the head for rushing. I disassembled the mistake, drilled clearance holes on the correct face for the 9 X 2-1/5 Deck Screws and then reattached it correctly. Now the girder was solid.

    Attachment 29806

    In the picture you can see the wrong holes too.

    I also build some other auxiliary girders to fill the corners. Again, in the original version I used elongated joist cantilevered out into the curve. Since I've gotten so good at making girders, and have the extra material to do so, I just knocked a few out. Here they are:

    Attachment 29807

    Attachment 29808

    When I disassemble the back table and incorporate it into the layout, I'll make some more small girders to fill in the back right corner.

    And then finally I started working on joist placement, and figuring out how best to use the old joists. After reviewing their status, I'm going to have to redo the placement of the risers and how their fastened. In the 2nd iteration I resorted to using furring strips for the 1 X 3 joists, but they're not milled and the edges are not square so they don't make such terrific joists. Furthermore, I used a Simpson wide-head, phillips screw that was quite long enough. This resulted in a sub-par assembly. I'm going to redo all of them. The riser shoe top should be 42-1/2" off the floor. I'm going to set them up using a water-level so they'll be at the same height over the entire room. It takes time, but it's not particularly hard...mostly production line stuff.

    Attachment 29809

  11. #71
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    Diversions

    Over the last several days, two things took place; I redesigned the trackwork a bit to give me a longer straight section at the upper left corner to permit using commercial bridges by Mike's Train House, and rearranged the yard track to make it a "through yard" instead of a stub yard. Through yards are more prototypical and more flexible. It has less tracks than the one it replaces, but there's room for expansion. Here's a snippet of the new versus old arrangement. I also realigned some switches to give smoother tracking. unfortunately, this upped the price of the conversion about $200.

    Attachment 29847

    It's easy to see that trains can enter one end of the through yard and leave by the other. It's easier to store engines. There's plenty of room for additional yard tracks which I'll add in the out-years since the budget is busting for this year.

    And I started a side project to engage the younger grandson which turned into a more major project which had me working for four days. This project is a 1940s gas station kit by Berkshire Valley. It's primarily a cast polyurethane resin kit with pewter and resin accessories. I've had it in the model inventory since 2005. It's the Sinclair Oil version with the added interior kit and a miniature florescent light for it. I had to mix the green to get close to the Sinclair green. Mobil oil would have been easier since it's red. The kit has gobs of details in 1:48 scale including welding set, air compressor, oil cans, tire testing tank, etc., etc.

    While the entire structure is only 8 pieces (base, roof, front back, 2-sides and 2 interior walls), it was anything but easy, and instead of being a kit my 8-year-old grandson could tackle, it became a major project that got me off of layout building. Walls had to be cut, roof had to be cut. The painting was complicated and I spent 4 hours today masking and painting. The kids started school today, so they'll be spending less time in the workshop with me.

    Attachment 29848

    The resin window frames were warped and too large for their openings. As I was trying to sand them to size they broke which meant I had to scratch-build two window frames. I had styrene strip of the right size in the inventory, so it just took time. The checkered tile floor is a computer drawing I made for the Saulena's Tavern model. In that instance, it was a black and white pattern. For this one I picked colors more appropriate to a gas station. I printed it on photo paper at hi-res.

    Attachment 29849

    The detail painting and decals are not done yet, but these pictures give and idea of how nice this station will look on the layout with my 1950s collection of die-cast cars.

    Here's a couple interior shots. The stuff is just thrown in for the pictures. Making the work bench out of wood was fun. And the acetylene outfit consisted of a main pewter casting with the tanks and base. The wheels were CA'd on a brass axle where holes needed to be drilled, as did the regulators on top. Then you drill holes for the handle and CA it to the rest. It needs more paint, but you get the idea.

    Attachment 29854

    There's a belt and pulley casting that goes on the compressor, plus a old-fashioned bench grinder with a separate motor and grinder stand to be mounted on the work bench. I'll have to miniaturize a racy calender for the wall. I put a train calendar on the wall of the signal tower I made. It's amazing what you can do with a computer. I need to find a 50s vintage Playboy picture. They weren't as risque as they are now.

    I could have just put this back in the box and worked on it later, but I have trouble not finishing something I've started.

    I also have a very elaborate Victorian station that's 3/4ths finished, that's going to wait until the trains are running. It's a beauty that I scaled up from HO-scale drawings and have scratch-built entirely out of styrene. There's many hours in creating the English Tudor look.

    Attachment 29855

    Fitting the roofs has been a significant challenge that's not quite finished yet. There's also large awnings on both sides that will be a standing-seam room. I have Evergreen Scale Models standing seam roofing that looks very authentic. It consists of a slotted piece of flat styrene, with 0.010" X 0.030" styrene slats that get glued into the slots. It's very tedious, but very cool.

  12. #72
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    Gas Station Details

    Still working on the gas station. Here's the acetylene set, the workbench and bench grinder, and the air compressor which I finished today. I also decided to make the roof removable using the tiny 1/4" rare-earth magnets that I used in holding the B-17s access hatch on. I thought of this when waking this morning. I used the two magnets stacked together to get the proper spacing of the roof when closed. I made little triangular braces out of styrene and epoxied the whole thing together. After gluing the magnets to the building I realized I hadn't paid attention to the "north-south" configuration, and of course 4 out of 5 magnets were in the wrong polarity. I had to pry them off the roof and install them so they attracted instead of repelled. This time I used CA to speed up the process. Later when I tried the roof out, two of the magnets held each other more strongly than to the surface they were mounted, and they pulled off. I re-glue them next session.

    That took some time, but the most time was spend doing all the little details. For example, (and you can't really see it in this picture), I used the stretchy rigging material to make a belt from the motor to the grinding wheels mounted on the workbench. "Crazy!", you say? Yes! It is crazy, but it was fun to do it.

    Attachment 29867

    I'm fix'n to make the track, roadbed, ballast and wire orders. I'm going to spread it out over a couple of months since it comes to about 2 grand and I don't want to break the bank. I'm not surprised and my wife is okay with it too since it was a path that was determined the minute that I decided to scrap the old layout's plywood and roadbed, and decided to enlarge the layout 50% to fit the new basement.

    I'm getting near the end of the gas station project and will soon be back to building macro assemblies instead of all this micro-stuff.

  13. #73
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    Gas Station Roof

    I mentioned in yesterday's post that I installed small, rare-earth magnets to hold the roof and make it removable. Here's some pictures of the finished product. I reinstalled the two magnets that pulled loose this morning using Gorilla Glue. Since it's polyurethane glue that dries with some flexibility, I figured the magnets would not break loose as quickly as they did with the epoxy. I let it cure all day and tested it tonight and the glue is holding.

    I used N-scale ballast for the gravel on the roof (a built-up roof so I'm told). I spread acrylic matte medium around and sprinkled the gravel on the wet material. Next I'll wet it down with Isopropyl alcohol and impregnate it with dilute matte medium to firmly lock it in place. Once that's fully cured, I'm going to airbrush it with weathered black. That should make it look roof-like. Here's the roof on.

    Attachment 29875

    And here's the roof off.

    Attachment 29876

    The center wall's just sitting there. I'll epoxy that in after I do some weathering on the base plate. Now it's just pristine concrete.

    The corner magnet location was harder than it looks. I thought the angle brackets would align nicely with the roof support rails. But when I loaded the magnet onto the roof—while the building was upside down—the angular support came out just at the very bottom of the rail giving very little gluing surface for the CA to hold on to. I was going to epoxy everything anyway, but it was so tenuous that I didn't think they'd stay put long enough even to get the epoxy on. But it did hold and with the epoxy completely filling the underneath areas, they're not going anywhere.

    Attachment 29877

    Lastly, here's the center wall's magnet. This location worked out more easily.

    Attachment 29878

    With the magnets in place, I finish up some more details. One tricky little one is fastening the gas hose to the nozzle for the gas pumps. The nozzle casting is a thing of beauty having all the details of a real one in 1/48th. It has a little lug on the back end that's supposed to insert into a piece of what looks like 20 or 22 gauge wire. Only problem is that the stranded conductor is still in the wire and you can get the lug into the vinyl tubing. Now I have to figure a way of removing some of the conductor to make room for the nozzle. Little things always made big challenges. I'm going t slice the vinyl, clip out the conductor and then glue the vinyl (now with a slice down the side) onto the nozzle and hope that the CA keeps it all together.

  14. #74
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    More Gas Station

    Continued working on the finer details of the gas station. Since the Missouri, every model I build compels me to be a masterpiece. And it's a bit annoying.

    I've been doing more weathering on the garage floor and all the apparatus. It's got to be a bit more grungy since it's a gas station, not a beauty salon. I glazed all the windows using the acetate provided and RC-56 canopy cement. It's water-based, dries clear, doesn't craze and remains flexible. I didn't glue the frames in yet. I'll do that after our labor day break.

    I also took the kit lamppost that was a two-part pewter casting and modified it with a real lamp. I cut of the 3/32nd post at the base, drilled the base out 3/32 (which also consumed the bottom lug) and then replaced it with a piece of aluminum tube of the same diameter. I then CA'd a grain of rice bulb on top running both wires down the tube. For the lamp top, I milled some slots in the boss that held the old post to let more light out and then CA's the top directly on the top of the light bulb. It's looks the same as before except now it lights when you apply 12 volts. This is convenient since it's the same voltage as the florescent tube that's going inside (the florescent is 12v DC). I'm targeting my layout to the early to mid-1950s so having florescent lighting inside and incandescent outside would be perfectly natural.

    Attachment 29907

    I took another staged shot to show progress. Nothing's glued down. The tool box, battery charger, shop vac etc. are all part of a set of garage accessories. It's all "Snap On" and was very shiny. I just dunked them all in the India Ink/alcohol mixture and let it do its work. I made them look well worn and beat up. Perfect!. I do realize that the shop vac probably wasn't around in the mid-50s.

    Attachment 29908

    The weathering isn't done yet, but it's getting closer. The oil spills is the India Ink mixture over-layed with Tamiya gloss clear. Looks effective. Notice there's a Coke bottle on the workbench... I want to add the valve assembly for the lift that will be fastened to the back wall. I also built and mounted a wood shelf for various cans and things on the back wall. I also am going to put the vent pipes that go up the back outside wall. I took some pictures of these today at a local gas station. In the 50s, there would only be two tanks; regular and hi-test, so only two vents.

  15. #75
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    Gas Station Finishing Part 1

    Still going ahead on finishing this engaging and at times, tedious little project. I installed all the windows after preparing the side windows. I made the inner-panel of the rear-most window in an open position. This required installing a brass rod to act as a hinge pin and provide something to glue the inner piece to. I then sprayed the garage door and the side windows with flat spray since these windows in a gas station are not usually clean and are more to let light in than to view the interior from the outside. I left the office windows and door clean since these would be more "public" facing.

    Attachment 29999

    Attachment 30000

    I used "Formula 560" a PVA-based canopy cement, to hold all the glazing acetate and windows. It holds well and doesn't craze the "glass" like CA or styrene cements can.

    As you can also see in the first pic, I've been busy putting on the decals. And of course, I ran out of the green stripping decals from Microscale. I was sure there would be enough, but there wasn't. I not sure what I'm going to do at this point. I could mask and paint, but my color match isn't so hot. I'll see how I feel.

    Here's the front of the station showing the decals in the office windows.

    Attachment 30001

    Then I spent some time building the main street sign. It was a challenging little affair involving drilling a 0.032" hole 6.5" from the bottom, inserting and then gluing a brass cross-bar, and finally gluing those little fillagreed brackets into the joints. There's also a little round pewter ball glued into the top of the staff. The sign is a piece of styrene that came with the kit, shaped by a template that was part of the instructions. I cut some saw kerfs into the sheet to mount the stems of some eyebolts. These came from my ship building supplies since the ones included in the kit were way too large. I sanded the CA flat and then used some decal setting solution to snuggle the decals down over the grooves left by the gluing operation.

    Attachment 30002

    Next up, complete the foam core base and start mounting everything all together. Should be done in a couple more sessions and then it's back to the railroad. I'm fix'n to order all the track in the next couple of days along with the foam roadbed. I'm also ordering a couple of truss bridge kits that I found in Plastruct's catalog. They're the least expensive way to go for a scale-looking bridge, but I'll have to build them. Oh well... more blogging.

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