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

  1. #1141
    Global Moderator Defense Professional JAD_333's Avatar
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    I hope you post the article when it comes out. Loved the story about your experience with cash only at an Ikea.
    To be Truly ignorant, Man requires an Education - Plato

  2. #1142
    Senior Contributor Builder 2010's Avatar
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    Little Bit more Cooling Tower Work

    Glad you enjoyed it. It happened exactly as I described it and was one of the those, "So that's what it's like to LIVE in Europe." You never really understand another's culture until you actually live there for an extended period of time. Tourism doesn't provide this level of understanding.

    When I was getting the plywood cut for my layout I was building there, I assumed (incorrectly) that German plywood would be some metric number like their dimensional lumber which is all nominal quantities in metric, not English equivalents in metric unit. I thought a sheet would be 1 meter X 2 meters. I laid out all the parts to be cut on that size sheet. When I went to OBI (their big box builder's supply store) the sales person kept saying "Falsch, flash!" (Wrong, wrong). It seems that German plywood is simply a 4 X 8 sheet noted in metric numbers. It turns out to 1. something meters by 2. something meters. All my drawings were wrong. I had to redraw everything and then wait until the next week since they were only open one evening per week. Live and learn.

    Today was a car repair/haircut day so I had only minutes in the shop, but I got the concrete base put together.

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    I cleaned up the stacks before CAing them to the Masonite. As you can see, I exchanged the warped ply for some flat Masonite.

    I just dropped the housing on the base for this picture. The height will work. It will look so much better when painted.

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    During my errands I stopped at Jo-Ann Fabrics to look for Bridal tulle for the chain link fencing AND the screening in front of the cooling tower. This was the single, least expensive purchase I have ever made for my railroad. $0.70. Yes! That right! 70 cents! I'm going to layer the black tulle to make the cooling tower screening a bit more opaque. I was able to find the same size gauze as Brennen used in the original chain link fence kit. The lady could sell me as small a strip as 1" as long as it was the width of the fabric roll (54")

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    Tomorrow work will continue on this project and I'll have to order some vertical ladders or... perhaps I can build them as I did for the substation. It's not that hard. A bit painstaking, but it's a straight forward construction job. I will have to scale it carefully so it will fit the Plastruct ladder cage.

  3. #1143
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    Cooling Tower Upper Works

    This is a busy post and will take two to get it done.

    Got a lot done today and really got into the heart of the beast. I added the bottom cold outlet since I wanted to be sure it would go in with the footing heights that I chose. It works. I then built the roof, the fan opening, the support ring, the venturi and got most of the fan drive built. It's really coming together and is a nice, not-so-long project which is refreshing.

    To install the outlet, I doubled the floor thickness so there'd be some more stock to hold onto the pipe fitting.

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    I used 0.020" styrene for the roof. It's quite thin and overly flexible so it needed some structural support and doublings to firm it up. I use ABA to do the doubling.

    To cut the hole (which BTW: is not centered, since I made a mental math error when I divided the length in half) using my special dividers that have a point on one leg and the other sharpened to a chisel edge so it can scribe the styrene. After scribing the diameter, I open up the center with the skinny razor saw and scribed radial lines to facilitate breaking out the inside piece. You have to pay attention when using these modified dividers. The chisel edge can wander inwards. I find it best to hold the dividers still and rotate the workpiece under it.

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    I cut a similar hole in the ABS that I was using underneath. I then added some Evergreen I-Beam stock for further stiffening.

    On top, goes a thicker ring which supports the venturi and adds rigidity to the fan housing. I scribed this onto the 1/8" ABS included in the kit and roughed it out with a coping saw and then worked closer to the line with a jewelers saw.

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    After sawing I final shaped it with the Dremel and sanding drum for the i.d. and the belt sander for the o.d. I made a little sawing booboo and got over the i.d. line in one spot. I thought about redoing it, but decided it would really not be noticed and it was a lot of work to get it this far.

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    I used spray glue to adhere the venturi template to some 0.020" styrene and cut it out with a scissors. I left a bunch of stock off the end since I wanted to final fit it on the model. I used a piece of the same stock to form the joint reinforcement, and glued it similarly as I did with the transition piece of the Flare. I got it to fit perfectly and it exceeded my expectations since I was worried about this particular step.

    While the venturi was setting up, I built the fan support structure out of two pieces of 1/8" X 1/4" styrene stock that I did a cross-lap joint. It's a lot easier to make a cross-lap in wood than styrene. First it's laid out, then using the thin razor saw to start the cuts, finished up in the miter box to half the depth. Then make a bunch of in-between cuts to make it easier to chisel out the waste.

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  4. #1144
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    Cooling Tower Upper Works (Part 2)

    After gluing them in position, I added brass pins since this is a pretty critical part and if it were to break loose, it would be really hard to fix. You can also see all the extra reinforcement added to strengthen the roof.

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    I used the hermaphrodite calipers to re-locate the center of the opening onto the fan frame since I didn't measure their location accurately when gluing. I then drilled a pilot and a #31 drilled hole to pass the 1/8" Plastruct #4 tubing which I'm going to use as the fan axle.

    With this stuff all glued in, I test fit the now-dry venturi.

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    I have some Plastruct motors, but no fan pulleys, so I had to machine some. The piece of aluminum stock I used for the large fan pulley was a bit long to just hold in the chuck and it kept trying to pull out and do some major injury to me. So I hack sawed the part I was machining off the larger chunk and re-chucked it so I was cutting closer to the chuck and created a very passable 3-belt pulley.

    I used some smaller stock for the motor pulley and it was much easier to machine without as much drama.

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    I made a little block mount to hold the motor to the support structure and again, used brass to pin it in place. This was a test fitting. I'm going to paint everything before adding the pulleys and the E-Z Line belting.

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    The roof doubling will also serve as a secure base for the hot water inlet which comes in from above through the roof. Next up will be to create the fan. I'm noodling whether to build it from styrene, brass, or a combination. With brass I could solder it together so it would be very secure and I would be easier to bend an airfoil shape for the blades, but it's much more difficult to work. It's not going to rotate and no-one can touch it, so styrene would work okay too. I still have to plan for the lighting on top. The prototype shows two lights on each module, and I'll need to built reinforcement for this as I go forward. The roof won't go on until everything is painted and ready to go since I need to install the black screening AFTER painting and the roof needs to be off to do this. I'm also working on how to best install the screening. I'll let my subconscious work on this for a little while and see what it comes up with. I don't know if it's unique to me, or people like me, but I will actually build what I'm doing in my mind in many different ways until I arrive at a reasonable solution. I pre-visualize a build kind of like Jack Nicklaus would pre-visualize playing a specific golf course.

    As a refresher, here's the prototype. Notice the switchgear and electric wiring which could be nice to add. I don't know what that array of tubes do that are going up the side.

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  5. #1145
    Patron bbvet's Avatar
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    B2010,

    That's a Marley 5 unit cooling tower - Monday at work I'll ask my HVAC compadre' (also a USN VET - USS CORAL SEA/EPPERSON , MM2) - what the piping is that is visible in the photo. It appears to be insulated and my guess is some form of glycol refrigerant piping, but he'll know for sure!

    And...your modeling is coming along nicely. No zero clearance bottom valve on this project??

    Hank
    Last edited by bbvet; 15 Jul 17, at 04:06. Reason: additional comment

  6. #1146
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    Cooling Tower Fan (Part A)

    Thanks Hank! Look forward to what you find out.

    Today covered lots of details and therefore lots of pics. So again, it's a two-part post. This is the only site I post at that has this 5-picture rule. It makes my works harder.

    Well... today was fruitful. I've got a lot of images to share so bear with me.

    I printed out the drawing I made of the fan and decided on a mixed-media approach with a brass hub and connectors and styrene blades. I had thought about making the hub thicker using a piece of the 5/8" pipe that I used for the flare, but I none of it left. I was going to drill the arm holes around the perimeter. Instead, I laid out a brass hub with 8 equally spaced lines where the arms will go. I drilled the #31 hole before cutting out the disc.

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    Cut it out with a jewelers saw and slightly missed on one line, but it doesn't matter in this instance. Dressed up the edges with the belt sander and then needle file.

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    I soldered the 8 arms onto the disk with the RSU. Again, this soldering job would have been ridiculous with a standard iron, but was a piece of cake with the RSU. I had to use heat sinks to keep other pieces from de-soldering since they were so close together and the disk had a lot of mass.

    I soldered opposite sides so the heating wouldn't be too bad. At the start I used hemostats, but went to using heavy steel angle and v-blocks. I added some liquid rosin flux to help it along. I realize now that I could have used different temp solders which also reduces de-soldering, but this worked okay. Here's a pic showing the RSU's tweezers in the act.

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    After cleaning up the excess flux with alcohol I trimmed all the arms to a specific length. Later I trimmed them even shorter.

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    I applied a thin layer of spray glue onto my fan drawing and stuck it to a piece of styrene. I cut out all 8 blades from 0.020" sheet. After cutting I soaked the blades in Goo Gone to remove the patterns and then in alcohol to remove the Goo Gone. The blades were too thin to drill the holes for arm attachment, so I needed to add some stock to their backs. After this dried I shaped it a bit some it's not visible when looking down at the fan.

    I used the small carbide drill to put in a starter hole and then opened it with a #53 drill to match the fan arms. This is the back side.

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  7. #1147
    Senior Contributor Builder 2010's Avatar
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    Cooling Tower Fan (Part B)

    After installing all the blades and adjusting their pitch I added a drop of thin CA to the joint and they were done.

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    I added a NBW casting on the hub to dress that up.

    While the fan blade blocking was drying I added some Evergreen 1/2 round stock to the top edge of the venturi. This note only finished the edge, but also helped stiffen this thin plastic part. When it dried, I sanded the top edge some the thin stock coincided with the beading.

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    The last piece the fan needed was the trash screen. Ideally, it would be a circular screen that would have to be photo etched. Since I can't do that (yet) I decided to use the Bridal tulle I bought last week. I used the larger gauge (chain link fence) held in place with two ABS rings. In this case, I used the MicroMark pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) to hold the tulle to the rings. I made the lower ring a smaller size than the upper.

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    I trimmed the excess with a fresh, sharp #11 blade. After test fitting into the space, I realized it needed some stops to hold it in position. It took a couple of tries to get the height just right.

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    Here's the screen test fit in place. Starting to look pretty spiffy. I didn't glue it in since the fan needs to be painted. This will keep workers from being maimed if they fall into the fan housing. Safety first!

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    I cut the lower portion fan shaft to a length for the lower pulley. I cut it too short since the motor extends a little farther into the unit. I'm therefore thinking of changing from a belt drive to an angle drive (as Marley uses on the prototype). This should be an easy piece to cobble together.

    Tomorrow I'm going to get the railings into place, and put the bracing on the box's outside. And then I'll build the water baffles which aren't vertical. They slope forward and are not flush with the front at their bottoms. These are going to be black so it's another reason why the roof will not be glued until after assembly and painting is finished.

    My roll of 22 gauge red/black zip cord came today to make wiring up all these LEDs easier. I bought a 100 ft. roll. I also received the flashing white and red LEDs that I can use for aircraft warning lights on the flare tower (and others), and I got the K-S 3 foot lengths of brass tubing for the light poles and making the chain link fencing. Instead of using steel rod as Brennen included, I'm using small brass tubing. It will be easier to shape the cross-lap joints and much, much easier to solder securely. It all has to be painted anyway so whether it's brass or steel, it doesn't matter.

  8. #1148
    Senior Contributor Builder 2010's Avatar
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    Cooling Tower Housing Work

    Even if I've heard it before, I don't mind hearing it again. Thanks guys! You make all this writing stuff worthwhile.

    Exercise day limits my work shop time to around two hours. That being said, I did accomplish something.

    I did change out the belt drive for a cobbled together angle gear drive. I loved those pulleys, but this was a simpler installation since it's almost out of sight anyway. I thought about putting a ring of bolts around the housing's top, but quickly disabused myself of that idea since it's facing downward into a completely closed space. AMS* is a bad disease and we must not give into it. I still may hook up some faux wiring to that motor though.

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    *AMS = Advanced Modeler's Syndrome.

    Got back to work on the housing by building the frames which will hold the tulle representing the water baffles. I thought of this while waking this morning and realized that using structural shapes would give this assembly some needed depth. I had some small sized Plastruct ABS I-beam stock which worked well for this. It took a bit of massaging to get them to seat properly in the housing. I used the same PSA to adhere the tulle to the front and backs of these frames. I used solvent cement and CA to secure the frames and little corner braces.

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    I am going to fit these frames on the angle as in the prototype.

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    Next I added the cross-bracing, center brace and corner brackets to the housing openings. I used 0.030" Evergreen round styrene rod for the braces held with CA. I didn't trust using solvent cement here since the rod surface area was so small. I added little triangular brackets for the corners and added the center braces that are shown in the prototype.

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    Next up: railings, outside bracings strips, tulle installation, and lighting. When I do the lighting for this unit, I'm also going to be designing it for all the rest. I still have to build a number of pipe racks and the loading platform. When I get into these scratch-builds, I really don't know at the start how it's going to turn out or exactly how I'm going to do it, but I've reached the point where if I can draw it in SketchUp, I can probably build it the real world. I usually build stuff in my head several different ways until I come up with one that I think will work. Then all I have to do is duplicate what I thought about. Simple! Eh?

  9. #1149
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    Cooling Tower: Fill, Railing, etc. (Part A)

    I just had a third of a post finished, stopped for dinner, showed some other picks to my younger grandson, and lost the whole deal and am starting over. Oh well...

    Found some good graphics for the Marley and SPX logos (SPX is Marley's parent company) and was able to first photo edit them and then bring them into Illustrator to make masters for future decals. I printed them out in several sizes to try them on the cooling tower. First I attempted to re-draw that arrow-shaped logo, but then found an excellent one on another part of Marley's website.

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    Since I'm using faux corrugated siding on the housing, decaling would be troublesome so I made some graphics panels and glued them on top of the siding. I will print the logos out on decal paper and put them on the model. These panels will be aluminum colored along with the rest of the model.

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    While on the housing I did several things. I made and installed the access door. Prepared the ladder and installed the ladder standoffs, and repaired/modified several details in preparation for the railings. I added a piece of round stock to simulate the piano hinge. Behind the door are strips that prevent it from falling through and I put a piece of thick stock in the area where the door handle is going so it will properly supported.

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    There were gap areas in the front corners that needed filling. I glued some styrene filler pieces and when dry cut and trimmed them flush. After priming I may go back and add some Tamiya filler to further dress it up.

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    I also added a doubler under the roof and installed the water inlet elbow. I added a disk underneath the elbow to dress it up a bit.

    Again I chose to make my own railings since the Plastruct spacing didn't work for this structure. I had to make sure that there's not centrally located stanchion on the end since it would interfere with the water inlet. I also had to clear the ladder opening which further eliminated the Plastruct railings.

  10. #1150
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    Cooling Tower: Fill, Railing, etc. (Part B)

    To get a good place to anchor the rails, I couldn't do it on the corrugated siding. The Marley pictures clearly show that the stanchions fasten to the outside edge. Therefore; I added a 0.040" X .188" strip all around the top. It dressed off the top edge and give as square and broad surface to glue the stanchions.

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    I made the stanchions as before with the sphere tank platform, but this time, I'm using corner posts. In order to fasten the stanchions in such a way that the holes faced in the right direction, I had to add corner blocks that were flush with one side to stand the corner posts off the corner in line with the side stanchions. It's easier to see than to write about.

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    The last thing I did today was apply the "Fill" which is the term for the water baffling system that expands the surface area exposed to the air flow. This is an induced counter-flow cooling tower. The fan creates negative pressure on outside of the fill panels. Meanwhile, the water fills a tray on top that has many opening where the water cascades down through the fill while the air passes through it. Cooling towers work by cooling created by evaporation. They're much more technical than one would think, but then almost everything is. They're affected by ambient temperature, barometric pressure, wind velocity and direction, and relative humidity. We all know that water doesn't evaporate well in high humidity. There are different designs for areas that experience this.

    I used the black tulle for the front faces. In real life, the front face can take the form of a honeycomb that steers the air flow into the fill. The fill consists of many tiers of baffles that let the water cascade down exposing the most area. The first layer was held to the frame with the PSA, but the second layer didn't respond well to this. I needed at least two layers to give it more visual density. I resorted to medium CA. It was messy and not fun, but I got it stuck. I then PSA'd the back and adhered black construction paper to opaque the whole affair. In real life, you cannot see through the fill, so blacking it all out works. I tried it in to see what it looked like.

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    Works! I also fitted the ladder. I put it in place where you can see the SPX logo.

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    The last work to complete is the lighting. Then it will be ready for painting. I'm thinking that I'll prime everything with the Tamiya grey primer, then gloss black for anything that's going to get the metallic surface. Apparently, silver paint shows up better over black. I should try this on a test piece before screwing anything up. It's getting near the end on this sub-unit.

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    Still to do: all those pipe racks and the loading rack. The loading rack is probably going to get the Plastruct railings since there's so much of it. And let's not forget about all the lighting. But we're still getting pretty close. I want the refinery on the layout before August 12. Lots of family is coming to L'ville for my younger grandson's Bar Mitzvah and I want something cool to show them.
    Last edited by Builder 2010; 20 Jul 17, at 04:06.

  11. #1151
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    Cooling Tower: Mechanically Compete, Start the Load Rack (Part A)

    I got some more stuff done today. Boy! Being retired is sure great for model railroading. I'm literally in heaven having the opportunity to work on my favorite things each day. I enjoyed my professional life. It was interesting, enriching, had impact, and I made a decent living, but this is so much more enjoyable.

    Got the railing on the cooling tower and built the two light poles for this particular unit. The carbide drill I'm using for the rail holes in the stanchions is 0.0315", not quite 0.032" of the wire, so it's a tight fit. Since I don't want to stress the stanchions while threading the rod, I used a actual 0.032" drill to relieve the holes a bit. This rod slid through nicely without breaking any stanchions. I like using the carbide drill for this size rod in normal circumstances since it offers a very snug fit when using brass pins for mechanical assembly.

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    I used my existing silicone mold to cast another light head and refined my building process a bit. I'm using new wire that I just got from Bulk Wire .com. It's 22 gauge red/black zip cord. While the conductors inside are 22 AWG, the insulation's a bit thick and I was afraid that it would pass down the 1/8" brass tubing I'm using for the poles. It just makes it, but I was worried about insulating the + lead. I was able to use a small piece shrink tubing to protect the little bit of exposed lead to not let it touch the pole which is serving as the negative pole.

    I put the u-bend into the LED so it snugs up into the fixture housing. I carefully hold the leads at the LED end when bending them so they PUT NO BENDING LOAD inside the LED. They will be ruined if you overstress the leads. The red lead is pulled back down inside the pole, the LED negative lead is cut a bit shorter and then soldered to the outside of the pole. I used a combination of regular Weller iron and the American Beauty RSU.

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    Here're the two poles before painting. Right now I'm planning on running them down the outside of the unit to the base instead of mounting them on the roof and running the wires down inside. I may change my mind on this. A bit of masking tape on the LED lens is all that's needed before painting. The resin heads are held to the poles with med CA.

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    That's about all the Cooling Tower stuff I can do without painting so I got started on the loading rack. The plans call for using Plastruct I-beams, but I had none of this left. But I had the same size I-beam in brass. Working with brass is kind of fun. The micro saw cuts brass almost as easily as ABS... really! I had to cope notch the brass cross pieces.

    I measured the plans vis a vis how the Plastruct railing material fits and adjusted the length a tad shorter so the stanchions come out evenly at the ends. On the inside they already come out evenly.

    I tried soldering this with the RSU, but my unit seems a little too low wattage to handle the mass, so I turned to my mini-butane. This is one of the pencil-shaped ones that I found very useful, but it does require re-filling frequently. I applied so excess rosin flux, but it probably would have been a quicker job if I used acid-based flux and solder, instead of rosin-core.

    I marked the locations of the cross pieces and then clamped them together using a combination of quick clamps and twisted black iron wire.

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    Last edited by Builder 2010; 21 Jul 17, at 01:36.

  12. #1152
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    Cooling Tower: Mechanically Compete, Start the Load Rack (Part B)

    There are little extensions of the frame that support the outrigger platforms. These needed soldering too. In this case I used t-pins on the ceramic soldering pad.

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    To get the exact platform height to a tank car, I took the Masonite base and a combination square onto the layout and aligned it with the loading platform of the tank car. I then took this measurement and made space blocks to use in erecting the platform.

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    I tried these blocks out back on the railroad and it came out too high.

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    It was because I forgot to subtract the thickness of the brass frame and the walkway material. So I trimmed the blocks by this much on the chop saw and retested the height.

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    The height is now correct and I can continue building the four upright supports. These will be ABS columns that will have bearing pads under the brass cross members. All of this will be epoxied together since it's a multi-media assembly. There's a short pipe rack that runs along the bottom that carries the liquid and gaseous feeds to the rack. There will be 3 light poles on the rack. I can count about 2 more on the distillation tower, 2 for the HP spheres, maybe one on the big liquids tank, 1 at the heater, and some others lighting the ground areas. So I'm probably going to have to make about 10 more lights. I also have to build some environmental dams around some of the units. Details, details...

  13. #1153
    Patron bbvet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Builder 2010 View Post
    I also have to build some environmental dams around some of the units. Details, details...
    Yes, Yes!!! Can't forget the containment dikes - EPA and OSHA would shut this little project down in a heartbeat!

    You are really doing an amazing job on all this - blows my mind!!

    Hank

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    Senior Contributor Builder 2010's Avatar
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    Cooling Tower: Load Rack work

    Thanks Hank! As I said before, impressing you makes me very happy.

    Moving right along. Exercise day, but had an earlier start so I was down in the shop by 1:30.

    Got a lot done on the load rack with the platform surface and the four posts built and glued. Cast another lamp post head and wired one up.

    I measured the platform shape off the print. The length required two pieces with a seam so I made sure the seam would split one of the brass cross-members to ensure glue surface on the edge. ABS to brass means epoxy. I'm using the 5 minute Gorilla epoxy which has nice holding power and sets up reasonably fast. It does not really cure for a good 24 hours, but you can de-clamp in a short while as long as you don't disturb it.

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    I used the measuring blocks to set the leg height. I wanted to put a concrete pad at the bottom, used Plastruct H-beam to transition the leg post to the brass structure and added a thin "steel" pad with some NBWs. I stacked them up and marked the post height, set up a fixture on my bench miter box and cut four legs. I squared up the ends with the Precision Sander.

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    I also used the sander to ensure that the H-beam faces were true and flat. They look okay, but when you use the sander you can quickly see that they weren't flat.

    Since I'm gluing ABS to ABS I used solvent cement to joint the head to the post. The base plates are very thin and weren't in the equation when I measured the post height. I also used solvent cement for these plates and used CA for the NBWs.

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    I also took a larger file to the bottom of the brass frame to true the gluing surface and match the flatness of the H-beams. Again, ABS to brass = Epoxy. I used some square edges to hold things square if they showed any out of square behavior.

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    And here's the glued up rack. As I noted, it's not cured until tomorrow, but they'll be strong.

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    Next up will be attaching the railings and stairways. The plans don't show any form of loading apparatus so I'll have to do some research.

    While this was curing, I poured another lamp head. This time, instead of clamping the mold in my Panavise, I clamped it between some boards held with rubber bands. The Panavise was not applying equal pressure and the mold kept leaking resin. This new way didn't leak a drop. When I tried tightening the mold in the vise, it would start distorting, but it was still leaking.

    I made another light assembly. This one sized for the HP Sphere platform. As I was afraid, the new cable doesn't fit easily into the thicker walled K-S tubing, so I used the finer 24 AWG wire which I spliced to the heavier wire at the other end. The thicker wall bends without kinking in the spring wire tube bending tool.

    It's a weekend, so no work until Monday.

    Y'all have a nice COOL weekend.

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