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

  1. #1246
    Senior Contributor Builder 2010's Avatar
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    Refinery Complete!!! (Part A)

    This is a huge post today with 15 pictures so it will be in three parts.

    Today, I'm officially turning over the keys to the refinery to Sinclair Oil. There are a few minor punch list items that need doing (signage, landscape around fence posts), but for all intents and purposes the refinery is complete.

    I finished drilling the remaining holes for the right end fenceposts and decided to inject Gorilla Glue into the enlarged post holes using a syringe. The glue expands as it cures so it fills up the space securing the fence. I put a board across the far end since it was trying to pop up. Then I decided, before gluing in the left end around the parking lot to check clearances since the fence terminates into the interior of a curve. Boy! Am I glad I did that. My favorite clearance test car is an MTH auto rack. It hit the fence!

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    I was able to stress the next bend and pull the end away on an angle. I then tested this fit with five different locomotives: all of the big steamers and some of the ungainly diesels. The fix cleared okay in all cases, so I was able to glue that end in place.

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    After the fence was sitting well, I connected up the parking lot lights, and added all the missing ballast. It was a challenge to get it on the far side of the loading rack, but I persisted. I used a squeeze bottle to carefully apply "wet water" (Isopropyl Alcohol/water mix) and then dribbled W-S scenic cement directly from the squeeze bottle in comes in. As a reminder, I use roofing granules for ballast. It's just about the perfect scale size to 1:1 ballast on the Norfolk-Southern RR.

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    Here's that piece of 1:1 scale lumber holding down the fence's far end until it cures. In these pictures I've just added the glue which is why the gravel is wet.

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  2. #1247
    Senior Contributor Builder 2010's Avatar
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    Refinery Complete!!! (Part B)

    Looks nice now that the M.O.W guys got their jobs done. This "road to nowhere" should eventually end up at a B.T.S grain elevator. Landscaping back there over the refinery is going to be...let us say... challenging. Like maybe I should have put that road and additional RR crossing in before building the refinery.

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    Last thing I did was add another carefully applied coat of Jungle Green paint to finish up the fascia boards. Sometime in the distant future, I'm going to have curtains made to hid all the rest of the benchwork. That will look very spiffy.

    So... the refinery is done! Here's some iPhone pics I took from various angles and lighting. I'm going to take some beauty shots with the Canon EOS to submit to various places for publication. The project started in April and finished Cath the end of November... an 8-month endeavor, the results of which I think are worth it.

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    There's an Engelhard car in this picture. I worked there for 8 years. They no longer exist being absorbed by BASF. That's a Kaolin car used to haul that ultra white clay that is used in paint and making paper whiter. It would not get product from the refinery. Although Engelhard was a huge producer of zeolite petroleum catalyst used in catalytic reformers, I do not have such an operation in my chemical plant.

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    Grain Elevator will go in that wide between-track space. The RR Crossing has to traverse that long connecting track and it's all right adjacent to the refinery... Ugh! I really think I should invest in a MicroMark topside creeper to reach over the refinery.

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  3. #1248
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    Refinery Complete!!! (Part C)

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    And here's at night...

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    Tomorrow, the Gorilla Glue will be fully cured and will probably need a little trimming/cleanup, plus i'll do some weed placement around the post bases. I also have some chemical plant signage that I want to print out on hi-res photo paper and make some placards to go at strategic spots throughout the plant. I need to get/modify/make some humans to populate this facility. And then it will be truly done.

    So what are the takeaways from this one? First of all thanks to all the supporters who encouraged me and fed me ideas, suggestions and techniques.

    1. While Plastruct kits look cool, they are a bear to complete for several reasons: terrible instructions, difficulty keeping butyrate tubing together with solvent cement, incorrect quantities of materials, lack of details necessary to make an actual working facility, etc.
    2. Breakthrough was when I realized I could flip the design and have the piping on the aisle way so I could pipe the model while on the layou
    3. Found out there was a website that could help you design transition cones of any size... thanks to one of the readers for that one.
    4. Perfected mass-producing utility lighting.
    5. Perfected making and installing chain link fencing in ridiculous lengths.
    6. Designing an ops building to fit a small space.
    7. Further extending the envelop on my scratch-building skills.
    8. Designing and building a free-lance, believable flare tower with air craft warning lights.
    9. Building a cooling tower from a single picture on a website again using SketchUp and Illustrator to create an O'scale drawing set.
    10. Finding out that you can get enough bridal tulle to build a 10 foot model chain link fence for $0.70 at JoAnn Fabrics. The single cheapest hobby purchase I've made in decades.
    11. I actually ran some trains today to move the various locos into position to test the fence clearances. It's been a long time since they were running and some of them showed it, both with some depleted batteries on the engines that don't have BTRs and running on dirty track, but they did run.



    I think the next project will be the Bronx building only because I've got that nifty 3-D details. I'm waiting to hear from Andre Garcia as to when we can schedule the laser cutting. The backlog list is long and we have some years of work left.

    Also, I want to finish that Fairlane GTA...

  4. #1249
    Senior Contributor Builder 2010's Avatar
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    Refinery Signage

    So I just completed making a sheet of signs that would make sense in a Petro/Chemical Plant. I'll print these out tomorrow and mount them in strategic locations. I added the text in the "number of accident free day" sign. There are all readily available in a Google search. I look at IMAGES and click on the one I like to make it larger then make a screen print. I crop the image in a photo reviewer software. I use a Mac so this is pretty easy to do. I use PVA to make the back sticky and put them on thin styrene. I'll print them out on Glossy hi-res photo paper. It easier than making decals out of them.

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  5. #1250
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    Bravo! Been silently following all along. Impressive!

  6. #1251
    Patron bbvet's Avatar
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    B2010,

    WOW!! This looks like the real deal! I esp. like the night shots - very convincing. Will be following this on thru the very final stages!

  7. #1252
    Senior Contributor Builder 2010's Avatar
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    Refinery: Some Punch List Items (Part A)

    Thanks folks!

    Today, I officially finished the model with the addition of the signage and vegetation around the bases of the fence posts.

    The Illustrator signs I made were too big when I printed them out. I went back and reduced them to 60% of the initial size which worked much better. After spraying some final fixative to preserve the ink a bit, I brushed on a thin coat of MicroMark PSA (pressure sensitive adhesive) and then put the sheet on a piece of wax paper. I cut out the signs with a straight edge and sharp #11 blade, and took them to the refinery to hang them. The wax paper peeled cleanly off the back to expose the sticky stuff.

    For the curved vessels, I may have to go back and use some CA since the PSA wants to release and the signs straighten out. I added "No Smoking" and "Confined Spaces" signs at locations all over the facility. I put two "Safety" signs on the ops building, and "Restricted Area" signs on the perimeter fence.

    I then trimmed off the excess Gorilla Glue that foamed out of the holes, painted the damaged areas with earth Behr latex interior wall paint in a dark earth color, and sprinkled a mixture of fine and coarse turf on the wet paint. I a couple of area I used W-S Scenic Cement to glue on large patches of weeds around the bases of all fence posts. With these two steps, all of the refinery work is done other than adding some humans.

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    I took some final beauty shots which show the vegetation. The signage pics above were shot before I did the landscaping.

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  8. #1253
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    Refinery: Some Punch List Items (Part B)

    Notice also that I actually ran some trains today and took some movies. I just uploaded it on Vimeo and YouTube.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PX1_2u8U-A

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    So that wraps it up. Project started in April and ended on December 1. Took my youngest grandson down to the layout room tonight and he was duly impressed on how it came out. I am too... When I opened that box of tubes and pipes from Plastruct, I really didn't know if it was going to amount to anything or not.

    Took another overall layout status shot from the spot that I use for these. I put the tripod on top of a 6 foot step ladder and have marks on the floor to position the ladder in the same spot. Little by little it's all filling in. My wife came down for the grand opening of the refinery and thought the whole deal is looking really good. Once the rest of the town buildings are finished I'll go back and put in the telephone poles and other street details. Right now I don't need anything else in the way when I'm adding more structures. There are at least three more major structures for the town: Bourbon Store House, Nighthawks Cafe and the Bronx Victorian Building.

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    Just for fun, here's what it looked like in October 2012. Building a large model railroad is a big job! I can see why some fellas get hung up on design and can't get started.

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    Here was an old design (before the mountain or the new town location) showing the original thought where the refinery was going to go. As George Peppard of A-Team used to say, "It's great to see a plan come together."

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    It will probably be a little while until the next project kicks off since I don't have it in hand right now. Meanwhile, I'll finish up that Fairlane GTA model. Hard to believe that a muscle car in 1966 with a 390 V8 in a mid-car size body did 0-60 in the 6s, and I have a 2008 Acura TL type-S with a V6 that does 0-60 in the 5s. Imagine that and gets 10 mpg better. In fact and 430 hp Corvette gets 25 mpg on the highway.

  9. #1254
    Rickshaw Professional Senior Contributor Pedicabby's Avatar
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    Well done mate. Very well done.

  10. #1255
    Senior Contributor Builder 2010's Avatar
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    And now for something completely different again

    I changed out a broken grain-of-wheat bulb in an engine with an LED. To do it, I inadvertently blew out the lighting control board, but did get one engine to work. I purchased an new board and installed it yesterday and now both units have working lights. This emboldened me to change out an incandescent bulb in another small MTH Railking switch (cow and calf) engine set. I chose to do the calf first since it has no motors or control boards, simply a couple of pickup rollers and a light holder. The circuit I'm using rectifies, smooths and regulates the variable track power to about 3 volt steady DC to run the LED. Not having a circuit or breadboard, I just wired the components together with lots of shrink tubing.

    I made the LED bracket so the LED was at the height of the headlight lens using some brass stock. I used an LED lamp holder to support the LED, soldered the negative lead to the brass and the positive lead to the circuit coming from the voltage regulator. I didn't have a 270 ohm current limiting resistor so I substituted a 330 ohm. I would maybe dull the LED a bit, but it should work.

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    Here's the original schematic as drawn by Don. All the components listed were purchased at Jameco Electronics. They're well stocked and prices are good.

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    Here's the wiring all completed. All the grounds are tied together and attached to the chassis at the same place the original ground was; under the screw holding the headlight bracket. LED is on the right hand side of the picture. Rectifier is the 4-lead device at the top. I ran out of small gauge black wire so green wires are ground wires. The rectifier is a 2 amp unit. The voltage regulator is the same as the schematic as are the capacitors.

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    Now to the problems:

    The circuit works. The LED lights correctly and doesn't change with increased track voltage.

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    But... the circuit breaker on my MTH Z-750 test transformer kept tripping. The bridge rectifier was getting too hot to touch.

    I took the chassis to the layout and powered it with my Z-4000 which has significantly more current capacity. The lamp lit and the rectifier got hot and it pulled this many amps at mid-throttle.

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    Something's wrong. A 20ma LED shouldn't be drawing over 50 watts. The rectifier got very hot very quickly. It's not shorting out since the LED works and nothing was smoking.

    Any ideas on what's going on? Bad rectifier? If the voltage regulator wasn't working the LED would show it I believe. and one more thing. After putting the body in place, the amount of light from the headlight lens wasn't enough to justify all the work. I may remove the plastic lens and put the LED directly in the hole. That could work better.

  11. #1256
    Senior Contributor Builder 2010's Avatar
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    LED Headlight Completed

    Through the other forum that I post all this stuff, many fellows who know more about electronics than I do gave me terrific input on what I did wrong. Apparently, tying the LED circuit grounds to the common coming from the track power was shorting out part of the rectifier. I had to isolate the ground circuit. I not only got the Calf's LED to work correctly pulling basically no more amps than the tracks do with nothing running (about .9 amps), I also got the LED to work in the COW using the directional LED lighting scheme also drawn by Grabski. This one takes it's input from the DC running to the motors through a diode, the voltage regulator and the LED with resistor.

    I rearranged all the ground wires based on the recommendations and it lit, but then the regulator started smoking. I'm not an electronic maven, but it seems to me that with model trains smoking should be limited to the smoke unit which this simple calf unit does not have. The voltage regulator was getting very hot.

    I had chosen the pin out array by looking it up on the web and thought I had it correctly, but then I noticed that on Grabski's schematic he shows the pin out and I had it reversed. I cut the burned out regulator out of the circuit and replaced it with another, correctly installed, and Voila!, everything works!

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    Notice that I lost the brass bracket. Instead, I drilled out and removed the plastic lens in the loco and drilled out the opening to accept a 3mm LED from inside. The LED is direction and has a lens in front so I figured it would direct a strong beam... and it does! I cleaned up the wiring using some small cable ties and reinstalled the body after pushing the LED into the opening. No glue was needed. Unfortunately, there are no motors or motor drivers in this dummy unit so I was unable to put a directional circuit here. So the calf's light is on all the time.

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    And here's the Calf on the layout. The light is brilliant and being warm white matches the color of a real engine's from that era.

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    For the Cow, I had to determine the polarity of the motor leads when the engine was moving forward (long nose first). I put it on the test track and got the unit moving slowly enough that I could get a volt meter on the motor leads and find out the polarity. After building the circuit I temporarily affixed the leads to the motor terminals and tested it. When it worked, I soldered the leads, used some liquid electrical tape on the one hot lead that was exposed at big capacitor, and then cable-tied it all together. I had already drilled out the headlight housing to accept the LED.

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    I put it on the track, but unfortunately, this light is directional and only turns on when the engine is in forward. This meant I had to try and photograph it while it was moving. This was the best shot I got...a blurry mess...but it shows a very bright and directional head light. The light does not vary from crawl to full speed.

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    I've ordered from Arrow Electronics that LED drivers. These seem to be terrific little devices that negate the need for resistors to limit current AND the need to worry about supply voltage as long as it's 5 or more up to 90 volts. LEDs could then easily be driven from the AC accessory outputs from the transformer, or any type of AC converter without worrying about a collection of matching current limiting resistors (although I have a ton of these and just ordered more). The LED drivers were cheap ($0.34 each) so I bought 20 other for a little more than $6.00.

    Again... thanks all for all the great input.

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