Friday, 27 April 2018

Fixing things

^6029 drifts into Wagga with a tour train in June 2015.  Apart from it being in Wagga, this picture has nothing to do with this post

In today’s society, when something breaks, then you expected to buy a new replacement.    Apparently this keeps the wheels of commerce alive and well. In short, there is the gathering of raw materials, employs people (or robots) in factories making the product and supplying the boxes, provides work for transport companies, then there is the markup from the retailers.  As a consumer, I end up with a new item.  The old thing and packaging gets thrown away, and this allows the politicians to talk about the perils of landfill, and the benefits of recycling.  In short everyone wins, although I am sure you would rather spend your money on a new train.....
However, those who build model railways often have to be resourceful, and often will come up with work-arounds, and fixes.  This  blog post is all about repairing two of my workshop tools. 

Rotary tool
I have owned the Ryobi rotary for a long time.  It works just like a Dremel, and the flexible power cord, and ergonomics fitted my hand nicely.

2 months ago, the drill bit was stalling, despite the motor still  turning.  The fault was the nylon coupling between the motor shaft, and the drill shaft had started to crumble, allowing a slip between the two sections. 
Opened up - the drill has a massive motor.  My repaired coupling i fits neatly between the end of the motor, and the drill shaft

Closeup of the repaired coupling, and the drill's drive shaft.  The drive shaft has a pair of roller bearings, and is extremely smooth.  Fortunately, there was just enough room to fit a brass ring around the outside of the coupling part.  But the original couplling was pretty ordinary in comparison,, and I suspect, designed obsolecence

My repair is as pictured.  I  wrapped what remained of the coupling in a brass ring, and 2 part epoxy glued on some wooden, and plastic parts to fill in the gaps, and remake the large slot for the drill shaft.  So far, touch wood, my repair on the rotary drill is still working. 

Desk lamp
Whilst I was finishing off the Bomen SM residence, my trusty laboratory desk lamp had a failure of the support arm, and would no longer hold itself above the workspace.  I was able to finish the model using another lamp, it was nowhere as convenient or good as the Laboratory desk lamp.

The break.  The original pivot screw is still holding the plastic base, bu the metal at the end of the tube has parted company with the bolt

I have owned the desk lamp for around 25 years, and have grown rather fond of it during construction of many hundreds of models.  The large magnifying glass,  besides being optically perfect, gives great eye protection.  The lamp cost me around $250 .  Sure the round 22Watt fluorescent does need occasional replacement, but the light is good. 
So, rather than head out to the nearest Jaycar for a new LED desk lamp, I thought I would have a go at a repair.
The part that failed was the hole “bearing” at the end of  the square tube that pivots the whole arm vertically. I suspect  that the hole drilled in the tube failed due to metal fatigue.  There is certainly a fair bit of stress on that joint.  Unfortunately,  this metal tube also contains the power cord for the fluorescent, so it was not easily replaced.    The other option was to add external support, and this is what I did. 

First thing was finding a suitable piece of metal tube, and then modifying it to fit over the failed tube.  Steve up at Harden uses this tube for construction of 7.25” gauge models, and I was able to obtain a small offcut from him.  After around an hour of cutting and  filing, I had a “C” channel part that fitted snuggly.

I then unhooked the metal springs off the support bracket

Note in the previous picture, the small plastic part that has stayed connected to the pivot bolt. I glued this part back into position within the tube.

Plastic part glued back into the square tube..  I had also widened the support brackets to accomodate the soon to be wider repaired section

I then drilled out a series of holes in the metal “C” channel.  The main 3mm diameter one was the new pivot hole, the others (2mm diameter) were to enable a later plug to create a mechanical connection with the lamp’s support tube.  

 I then glued the “C” channel to the metal tube with epoxy glue

After allowing the whole thing to dry overnight, I then carefully drilled out the 2 mm holes through into the metal tube.  The danger was to control the depth of the drill, so as not to drill into the power cord.  Once satisfied, I glued  the worn 2mm drill bits into the hole.  Once dried, then I used the cutoff disk to make neat.
Metal "C" channel fitted over the broken end, and glued.  After drilling through the inner tube, the old worn 2mm drill bits fitted the 2mm holes.  These had been pressed into the inner tube, but not far enough to stop the power cord from moving.   

After glueing, the excess drill bits were cut off with a cut-off disk.  To replace the original bolt, I have used one of the cut off drill bits, although this is not ideal.  Springs have been reattached

Unfortunately, the now larger base of the tube no longer fits inside the support brackets.  Well, the simplest method to increase the gap was to physically bend the support bracket outwards.  Whilst not neat, this worked.  The pivot bolt no longer fitted, but I used the 2mm drill bit as a temporary work around.  Then I reattached the pair of springs to the support bracket.
A final check, and I now have a working lamp. 

My workbench - probably a bit messier than I will like.  The desk lamp extends from the LHS, takes up no extra space, and can be moved easily.  On the workbench is a model that I recovered from my old layout, but will get modified to form part of Kyeamba Creek bridges. 

Another angle - showing how effective the lamp is in lighting the work area.  .

Until next time.  Build a model (or two)

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Bomen Station masters residence Part 2.

At the end of my previous Blog post, the cottage looked like this

Having exhausted all the suitable parts in the kit,  my model of the  SM Cottage was missing a few windows and doors.  Making up replacements is straight forward.
For windows, I take some CD case clear plastic, cut and file a piece to fit the window opening gap.  The mullions, and window surround come next.  I cut out some fine strips of paper to the appropriate size, and then before removing the strips off the paper, paint them the correct colour.  After removal of the strips, run these over some damp PVA glue to moisten the rear of the strip, and then position them onto the “window” glass.   Cut off any excess length
Once the window glass has dried, then glue the glass into the window opening.
Generally simpler than the windows, I used some scribed decking for one, cut to size and painted.  The front panel door though was done in much the same way as the windows. Using paper instead of fine veneer

I cut some strips of paper to the correct width, but left them attached at one end.  Then the door trim colour was painted.  The strips were then moistened on the back with PVA glue, and positioned on the door at the appropriate locoation.  Allowed to dry.  The paper is thin enough to fill the gapss between layers of paper.  Whilst showing a door, quick windows are made the same basic way

The Bomen SM residence has 3 chimneys, the front 2 are rectangular in cross section, the one at the rear is square.   These chimneys are substantial, and dominate the roofline.
Of all the parts supplied in the kit, the chimneys were a disappointment.  As most of our models will be viewed from above, I felt the  chimneys needed to be replaced.

The kits resin chimney vs the styrene replacement one I made. I have made a "cellar" on the chimney to aid its positioning, as well as a convenient handle for painting 

The roof openings in the kit are for 3 rectangular chimneys.  When I was assembling the roof,  I hadn’t noticed that the rear one should have been square, so  unfortunately I didn’t make any alterations to the roofing corrugated iron.    So I have made 3 rectangular replacements from styrene strip, and trust no-one will notice.   The other compromise is the rendering, rather than exposed brick.  
I guesstimated the dimensions from photographs, and used 0.040 styrene for the basic shape,  cut to size.  Detailing the top was done with 0.030 x 0.060 and 0.020 x 0.080 Evergreen Styrene strip.  Joints sanded, and then painted with the Floquil Antique White paint to match the wall colour

Whilst the replacement chimneys are not 100% accurate, they are much  better than the resin castings supplied in the kit.   The chimneys are glued to the roof with white glue
“Lead” flashing is then added to cover the gap between the roof’s corrugated iron and the chimney.  I made this from paper
                {Making the chimneys would have been an ideal project for a 3D printer }

Guttering and downpipes
I make my guttering out of 1.5mm “L” angle styrene strip.  Firstly, one has to paint the styrene, and let dry.
Fitting the guttering is a fiddly task.  Super glue to tack each end of the guttering, and then reinforce the joint with a bead of PVA white glue.    Even so, the guttering is prone to damage, so be careful in handling your model. 
In the future, I might want to add  lighting and wall partitions,  Thus  have left the roof removable.  It is held securely with the kit’s deep positioning tabs.   Two downpipes are attached at this stage.  I have made these from 4" scale brass rod.  The one on the RHS of the cottage is attached to the wall with fine wire, twisted, and inserted into hole drilled in the brickwork.  Note the strange angle this downpipe has - approimating the prototype.

Electrical distribution box to the front porch.    I noticed after I took the model pictures, that I still needed to make  some door knobs, and apply weathering  powders to the roof.    Once I have the model on the baseboard, then extra details, such as paths, clothes line, shrubs, fences, and sheds can be added

Fence around the cottage uses railway line for the intermediate posts
Shed at rear is rather rundown, but a neat detail if space permits

In summary,  another great model kit  from the Stuart Walker range, one that can be modified, and detailed to fit a specific prototype   Don’t be afraid to replace any components that are wrong, and challenge yourself in your modelling

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Bomen SM Residence - Part 1

Bomen SM Residence as it appeared in 2017

I was at Macca’s recently, and he showed me one of the Stuart Walker kits that he was building.  It was the Bungendore Station Masters Cottage, but it bore an uncanny resemblance to the Station Masters residence at Bomen.  Initial glance was it was mirror imaged, but everything looked to be there.

Stuart Walker Models - Bungendore Station Masters Cottage

I have always tried where possible to support small cottage (sorry about the pun)  industries, and having had success with previous models in Stuart’s  range, notably the G2 Goods shed, and A4 station building, I fired an order off to Stuart’s website
 On the “buyer instruction” area of the order, I said that I was planning to mirror image the building, to better fit Bomen.

Well, I was surprised around 30 minutes later with a phone call from Stuart, advising that he had been asked for a mirror image kit previously, and had a mirror image file available.  If I wanted a mirror image kit, then he would burn one specially for me, and get it in the post that day .  That sounded like a winner. 
The kit arrived express post in Junee the following day. 

Laser cut sheets, and a plastic bag with window glass, doors, and 3 resin chimneys. All this for $95, plus post

It was then I had a good look at my pictures of Bomen Station SM residence, and compared it with the kit. 

Note. Large window, with square corners, and hidden by the tree shadow, is a bricked up window

In summary, the differences noted.
1)      The Bomen cottage had been cement rendered over the brickwork.  Unsure when this happened, but I will have to assume it was after 1970. Bad luck if not
2)      There are MORE windows on the long side wall.  And one window (that appeared in Stuart’s kit has been bricked up.   One of the new windows is a larger size, than the others. 
3)      There are NO windows on the shorter side wall – nor any evidence of these being bricked up, so my assumption is that they were never installed
4)      The rear patio is  weatherboard, and not brick.  The current roof extension looks too recent, so I won't be modelling this
5)      There is no door on the far rear wall of the real cottage – the door to this space is approximately where the kit has a window.
6)      The chimney castings are a lot plainer than Bomen, and I will most likely need to fabricate replacements
In addition to the walls, Stuart’s kit has included a lot more windows than is needed.  A nice bonus

The next stage was to cut out new window, and door  openings, and fill in those windows and doors that do not match Bomen.  I was lucky in that the brickwork that I was cutting out of the walls, was about the same size and number as what was needed to fill the other openings.   The process though is at best tedious. 
After marking out the new window openings, and lightly cutting with a SHARP #11 blade, I use a small 0.4mm drill to drill through the thin plywood, to make a mark on the other side.  These marks are the guides for the heavy cutting from behind. 

Rearranging the brickwork on the side walls is non trivial, as the kit's  brick walls iare actually 3 ply plywood, and does not cut easily. Take your time, measure twice, and cut with a sharp blade, from both sides.  Finish off with sandpaper

Once you have taken out the brickwork, trim it to fit the window and door openings you want to fill.  Care is needed.  I use a thin putty to fill the gaps, sand, and paint the walls.  Unless you are more careful than me, you will then need to re-scribe the brickwork.     Another coat of paint, and put these to one side.

Gaps filled in,  painted, and rescribed.  None of the repairs were "perfect", and the worst one, to fill in the fdoor at the rear, will have to be masked with the water heater you can see on the prototype picture

As Bomen SM residence has a weatherboard patio area, I had to do some other changes.  The kit has brickwork for this area, which is not correct for Bomen.   I found some suitable North Eastern clapboard siding in my scratch building supplies, and cut out an opening for an aluminium window and sliding door – which might have existed in 1970

I painted all the brickwork with Floquil Antique White, which is a pale cream, matching the current colour.   I have no idea if this is correct for the 1970 time period.   The brickwork was than attached to the heavy laser cut board  provided in the kit, new openings made in the heavy board where there are new windows, and the walls fitted into the building base.

The window surrounds are  painted a brown colour – rather than the current white colour.  I used Floquil Rail Brown as my paint.  Attach the window surrounds to the walls with white glue.  The mullions, and window framing was painted white, and attached to the laser cut glazing again with white glue.  I have started to fit  these into the wall  openings

The roof support structure  is assembled as per the kit instructions, although mirrored.. 

  Thin corrugated plywood is supplied for the roof, cut to shape with the laser. .  Unfortunately, the roof supplied in my kit was for the normal kit, and not the reversed one, so some more cutting and splicing was needed.  In retrospect, maybe I should have installed the roof, flatside up, and used corrugated aluminium foil for the roof.    Painted in Floquil Old silver.  The roof can be detached from the walls at this stage.

The area of roof painted is a spot where I had to fill in a triangle laser cut part.  The roof was cobbled together using the kits leftover corrugated sectoios, as the original roof was cut for the normal kit, and not the mirror image kit that I needed  The holes in the roof are for the chimneys, not sklights

I added some stained floorboards to the front porch, prior to adding the veranda awning.

New framing for the large square window on the LHS wall.  Some windows have been added, but more are needed.    Roof still needs finishing

Back porch area is a long way from finished

Well, that is where I am up to.  I had hoped to have finished the model by now, it has been on the workbench for 3 weeks.  The next steps will be to finish the roof, scratch build the windows, modify the kit chimneys, and write up the Blog post.  

Happy modelling

Saturday, 3 March 2018

A Water tank for Tumbarumba

The water tank at Tumbarumba follows the standard  NSW  20,000 gallon welded design, with timber stand, concrete supports, and a water filling pipe coming directly from the bottom of the tank.  When I was there in 1980, the tank had been out of use for around 10 years, but still essentially complete.  Unfortunately, I only took one photo, so I am indebted to the pictures taken by others. Thank you Peter ('Of Branching Out NSWGR' blog fame) for supplying me some extra photos from his own collection.

The water tank, and turntable as at December 1980.  Slide photography was fairly expensive, and I took no other useful photos of the water tank.  But the tank water spout, and hose is still there

Other reference sources were the Greg Edwards Data sheet (L1) , and the Water Tank article in Australian Journal of Model Railways (issue 5)  by Graeme Henderson, and Phil Kelly

The welded tank “kit” was bought from Casula Hobbies at a recent exhibition.  This plastic casting has been available for decades, and shows a number of deficiencies.  The welded pattern at the corners is not complete, the casting is very thick,  and there is no interior detail.   Whilst I am sure that these things could be fixed,  I made the decision to cheat save some time in fabrication of parts, as well as some money.  

Each of the 4 sides of the kit were cut down to size.  I have not found a use for the pieces of the tank that I have not used in this project

  The plastic castings is designed for the larger 40,000 gallon  tank, so the top half of the castings were cut off with a fine saw, and sanded flat.  I also removed the 7 undersized plastic joists that were cast into the bottom of the tank casting.  Polystyrene glue then fixed the sides, and base together.  

A very plain interior - with ugly positioning tabs.  But what can one expect for $11.99 now-a-days

I considered making an interior, but as I was already cheating, why not fill it with water?   The tank was brush painted Tamiya German grey, and weathered with my standard rusty coloured powdered pastels
The reflection from the "non painted" surface of the clear plastic is effective.

The “water” would be a sheet of clear styrene, painted Tamiya Olive green on one side.  The olive green looks a bit like stagnant water, and something that will disguise the lack of an interior in the tank.  The styrene is installed ”shiny side up” just below the top of the tank.   I am debating whether I should also use “Gloss Medium”, available from artists supply stores to give the surface a bit more depth.  I did this on the “Yendys” exhibition layout to good effect.

Balsa piers attached to the styrene base.  Getting the piers aligned is a step not to be rushed, but these are a bit rough, even by my standards. 

The tank stand was next.  I cut out a base of styrene sheet, and made up the concrete plinths out of balsa.  These plinths are slightly undersized compared to the data sheet, but I was using what shapes I had.  The razor blade in the chopper cut the balsa square, and consistently.  After marking up the styrene base, the 16 balsa plinths were glued into position.    Floquil concrete paint then applied.  After drying, a dirt covering covered the base.

painted Floquil concrtete, and given a surface of real dirt.  Fortunately, most of the piers are hidden under the tank, so I am not too worried that they are not quite square

The uprights should be 12” scale square timbers (3.5mm).  Well, whilst I had just enough North Eastern strip wood,  I would prefer to use this where one can see the timber, not hidden in the dark underneath the tank..  The alternative was 4mm square balsa, which I bought for $1.49 per 910 mm length (2 lengths were used).   The balsa is 0.5mm too wide, but after distressing with the razor saw to add some wood grain effect, it really isn’t too far off scale.  16  uprights were cut with the chopper tool, and 11 longer lengths for the upper tank joists and beams.  All these were dunked in the staining solution, and then allowed to dry.

All 4 sub-assemblies were allowed to completely dry, before I added the first round of cross bracing.

I made up 4 sub assemblies, with 4 uprights, and a  beam across the top.  Cross bracing was then cut to size, stained, and glued in place across the uprights.  Once the glue had set, all 4 sub assemblies were attached to the stand, and locked in place with 2 joists.   Again, cross bracing was applied between the various uprights.  The remaining joists were last to be added.

Tank stand assembled.  I fitted the remaining cross bracing BEFORE I added the last 5 joists

Nut bolt and washer details (Grandt line) were added only to the outside of the tank stand only.   I am sure the size I used is not correct, but I was using what I had.  As readers may have noticed, this project is low cost.

Adding the tank on top give the feel of the finished stand.

As Tumbarumba’s tank had a water spout connected directly to the tank, this was the next step. I am unaware of any commercial products, so I made up a facsimile out of plastic sprue parts using the data sheet as a guide. 

The water spount  was originally a straight piece of scrap styrene sprue, roughly 9 scale inches in diameter..  To bend it, I carefully rotate the sprue above a candle flame, until it softens, and then bend to shape, and hold until the plastic "refreezes".  I used the data sheet for the positioning of the bends.  This technique is a good one to master.

Water pipe inlet pipe, cistern, and ladder were next  to be added.  The ladder was one from a Ratio brand signal kit ( I bought in London in 1985) , but the rest was made up from scrap sprue.  Whilst lacking the fine detail of the correct plumbing joints, I cannot argue with the price.  And I have made a guess at the positioning of the ladder, and input pipe.  None of the photos that I have shows this detail.  Finally the water spout hose was made up from paper, and painted Tamiya “Buff”. 

Just needing some ducks

I have 3 more water tanks to make – Humla, Borambola, and Wagga .  They are all slightly different, however, they will have to wait as I have started on two more structures -  station master’s accommodation at Bomen, and Ladysmith

Happy modelling

Friday, 9 February 2018

Finding a train room

QBX 004 iat Junee Roundhouse. These locos are a common visitor on the mainline south, and whilst I am not modelling modern image,, I get to see and hear them daily from my house

Building a layout often requires doing things that are outside your comfort zone.  .  Most people will probably shudder at the electrics, whilst others will stall at the benchwork, or the scenery.   In my case, to get my layout progresses requires an excursion into into 1:1 scale, and I am well out of my comfort zone.  Let me explain.

Over the last month, my progress on building HO models has slowed.  Finding time on the workbench during the hottest months of the year has been a struggle.   But I have not been idle
Regular readers of my posts may have gathered that I presently do not have a train layout.    When I bought the house in Junee in 2014, the 9 x 12 metre brick garage presented me with an opportunity, and a problem.  The opportunity was that the garage had within the approved council plans, provision for a small bathroom, and the floor drains were already installed within the garage floor slab.  This bathroom, could become a kitchenette for a granny flat, teenage retreat, man cave, or a train room.  The problems were that these floor drains did not connect anywhere, As I needed the garage for storage, particularly whilst the extensive internal house renovations proceeded, the kitchenette, and granny flat build was academic .

In the meantime, my 2003 design concept for the  Wagga and Tumbarumba branchline layout was modified to fit the new space. My original plan fitted  inside an 6 x 8 metre shed.   The “granny flat”’s  kitchenette eats into the branchline benchwork, and as a result, I now need a helix to gain elevation to the second deck.
3D cardboard concept of the layout, showing the granny flat 'void" in the bottom RHS

Now that the house is basically finished, I have turned my attention to the garage, backyard, storage, and Granny flat. 

Carport framework being installed in front of the garage in 2016.  What is not obvious from this picture, is that the driveway drain under the carport was blocked, and this area flooded after rain.  At least the carport, and the new roller doors helped keep the garage door area dry.

Well, progress on the backyard has now started.   I won’t get into the nit and gritty, but some fences were “relocated”, some ground was levelled, a woodshed moved, water lines, stormwater, and septic trenches were dug, and pipes installed.  Replacement  of the garage’s leaking downpipes, and drain problems fixed.  Paths and retaining walls are in the process of installation, and soon will follow a couple of concrete slabs for a garden shed, and the fore-mentioned woodshed.  For storage, I have identified a suitable location for a container, and this should provide a home for stuff that might one day be needed?    I am hoping these changes will free up the back half of the garage so that building the “granny flat” can commence in as few months   So, whilst the HO modelling is on hold, the goal towards a layout is progressing.

Some in progress pictures to finish.  Stay focused, and you will get there in the end.

The things one finds. The previously mentioned carport drain was exposed, and we discovered a section of pipe removed by the previous owners. Unsure why. Anyway, the plumbers fitted a new drainpipe off the garage, and a pipe junction to fix this issue.  The concrete will get replaced as part of the new paths in this area.
Digging the new septic line.  The future train room has its own doorway.
The septic, and intersected stormwater pipes from the garage share the one trench for a distance,.  The new septic tank will be installed on the other side of  the new fence separating the paddock, from the house backyard.

Digging the posts for a retaining wall behind the "machinery" shed.
Pathway formwork  from the house to the "machinery shed". is still be fitted..   This shed currently has temporary dog run pens installed. Most frustrating, is that this shed has the best view of the main south railway line.  At least being farthest away, the dog noise is reduced slightly