Wednesday 24 July 2019

Signal Box construction - adding details

Signal Box construction - adding details

Hot on the heals of Pete Neve's staff exchange picture (last blog), Bob Taaffe sent me an internal image of the Wagga Signal Box.

Bob Taaffe photo of Wagga Signal Box in 1975.  All levers are shown, along with the signal diagram, block shelf, and some additional details on the rear wall.  If this is the standard of the photos in Bob's forthcoming books on NSW signal boxes, we are in for a treat.  (Picture used with permission)

Previously, I have struggled with fabricating downpipes - trying to bend metal to shape was always a hit-n-miss operation - and often the gluing of them left a lot be be desired.  However, I have come up with an alternate method, which I am sure has been used by modellers  previously, but I have never seen it written about

Start with a 0.040 styrene rod.  This size is slightly smaller than 4" diameter, and not a bad compromise with prototype fidelity, and structural strength in HO scale.  
Cut the rod at approximately 45 degrees, and position (as shown), prior to glueing with MEK.  I use a glass plate over the "cutting mat", which is not affected by the glue.  This keeps the downpipe "flat" whilst the glue dries
Add the pipe to the model - I used MEK glue to attach the pipe, as I hadn't painted the walls.  Note, this pipe should extend lower to ground level, but this would have been impractical at this stage.  The omission will be addressed once I have completed the base.
Bomen box also got its downpipe.  Rather spoils the clean lines, but it was on the prototype
Some hand painting done on the base, again to match the colour of the prototype.  Will need to be redone.  Some green/grey door trim also added.   The entire box (less the windows) was then dull coated.  This kills off the shine of the styrene, as well as giving it a painted feel - a bit of a fudge to save time - only possible as Wagga's box was white.   Note that the roof of the signal box now has guttering, and fascias.

The stove pipe on the roof (and pigeon poop, and weathering) is about the only thing remaining to be added to the roof

The dull uninteresting side?  Without any prototype pictures, I really do not know what details I am missing.  Maybe telegraph lines, vents.   As it is also the side that won't be seen on the layout, I won't stress.

Signal box levers
As I mentioned before, the Uneek levers from Anton's trains were modified, and a new signal lever baseplate made, as the Uneek ones has inadequate spacing.  Wagga had a 56 lever frame, but only 41 active levers, and 2 unused ones by 1970

Using Bob Taaffe's picture, I have attached all the levers to my frame matching the lever positions shown.  
Painting took a long time, and very fiddly.  Yes, the lever colours are correct.  In retrospect, I should have painted each lever separately, and repositioned the painted lever to the frame one by one.  After all, I had attached a pin to the base of the lever, and drilled holes, which would have made things a lot easier.  Keen viewers will also sight the block shelf, and a block instrument  
A rear view shows that I have 6 instruments installed.  The block instrument in my collection has a dimension approx 5"x5"x10".  I have matched that with a 0.060 thou square styrene strip, painted gloss red, and after drying, cut to 3mm in height.  A extra detail was carving out the dial out of the red with a slightly dull exacto knife.  Not hard, just fiddly.  There possibly needs to be a few more block instruments added to the shelf on the Albury side 
More space in the signal box means more detailing.  I have a pot-belly stove, but the desk, chair, staff instruments, cabinets are all awaiting to be fabricated.  How are these are positioned in the box?  I am hoping that the pictures in Bob Taaffe's new book will give me an answer

Detailing to this degree may not be for everyone, but is ultimately quite satisfying.
A late note:
I am planning to head to the Malkara exhibition on the 4th August 2019 (sunday), and assisting Al Harris run his American switching layout.  If you happen to attend, please drop by and say hello.


Monday 8 July 2019

Signal Box Construction - Part 2

Signal Box Construction - pt 2

One of the continuing side benefits of writing these blog posts, is the contacts, and great photos that come to light.  Pete Neve recently sent me his photo of a staff exchange at the Wagga Wagga signal box, a picture from 1972.  I had previously sighted this picture in an old Australian Model Railway Magazine, but the image that Pete sent to me has much detail, and worth studying in depth

Photo by Pete Neve, shows 42210, 4463, & 4502 on 452 express goods in 1972.  And 3 Railmotors.  Might have been a tour?  Studying the photo, the details abound.  The exchange of staffs, the person sitting next to the window in the signal box, the lamps on the platform, the light above the stairway landing.  And comparing this image with the ones I took in 1983 (Previous blog post), the trees were prominent earlier, and the signalbox stovepipe is in a different place and style.  More annoyingly, the windows of the signalbox are white, and not the green gray that I have modeled based on my 1983 pictures.   

Progress on the Wagga and Bomen signal boxes has been steady.

To support the signal box, I made up a plinth  out of 40 thou styrene.  The height of the platform was determined by refering to the Greg Edward's S3 data sheet.  I used a nibbling tool to cut out the openings for the point rodding , and signal wires.  Unfortunately, the openings were too wide, so I added a piece of styrene in the gaps.

The right way up.  The openings approximate those seen in the pictures, although unlikely to be 100% accurate.  The imperfections will be mostly hidden by weeds when the box is planted on the layout.  The other thing I added was the stairway platform - and this piece of styrene is lap joined to the signalbox floor for strength (see previous picture too)

Roof added to the sides of the box.  I have also attached some small "feet" to the signalbox corners, as this sub assembly will need to sit on the signalbox floor until the interior is completed

The two main sub assemblies together

The set of steps was an exercise in frustration.  The prototype railing uprights should be sections of railway line, but mine are 40 thou square styrene to ease glueing.  The steps are a selection of 20 thou strip, cut to size, and glued.  Adjustments of the tread to make them horizontal was a challenge (I should have made a jig).  The handrail is a sandwich of square 40 thou strip, and a 0.020 x 0.040 strip - the latter attached to the outside of the post.  This is a bit of a fudge, but mechanically works, and doesn't look too bad.  Some levers have also been added to the lever frame.  I drilled a 0.6mm hole and slid in the brass pin.  The technique does work, although my accuracy in my home built lever frame base, and variation in the brass pin fitment to the bottom of the whitemetal lever combines to throw out consistency.  

Adding some paint to the roof, and the windows previously constructed gives a hint on how the box will look when completed.  Note the guttering and roof edging is not there (yet)

The view from the western side.  The plinth styrene joins will need to be smoothed out before painting.  Most of the real signal box pictures that I have seen were taken from the station overbridge walkway, as the view from the western side is dull. 

Adding some colour to the Bomen Signal box really brings out the details.  The levers inside are visible.  The downpipe is next to be added to this end.  

Another view of Bomen showing the levers.  I have not yet built the door, and of course, the interior is still to be completed

Scratch building is getting easier.  Every project is improving my skills.  And my big challenge (Wagga Wagga station building) is getting closer.

May all your modelling projects be enjoyable.