Sunday 28 June 2020

Borambola Water Tank - pt 1

Borambola Water Tank - construction finally begins

Like most people I know, we often get distracted, and modelling seems to get delayed - often by a lot longer than we had hoped.

An I.K.Whinney photo scanned (with permission) from the small booklet "The Wagga Wagga to Tumbarumba Railway", produced by Tumba Rail and Wagga Wagga Rail Heritage.  It shows a 1965 tour train with C30Ts 3142, and 3020 stopping at Borambola's water tank

Such is the case with the Borambola Water Tank.  I purchased an elevated water tank model from the Mechanical Branch Models stand at the Rosehill exhibition.  It was the last kit that they had in stock at the exhibition, so I rather pleased that I had secured my future Borambola Water tank.

A great construction article of this model appears in the December 2018 Australian Model Railway Magazine (author Cliff Barratt), so I won't bore you by recycling Cliff's article.  I will however concentrate on other  areas.

The kit comes in a solid cardboard box.  I didn't need the alkalinity plant and tank kit that MBM also offers, but I also didn't notice the box marked tension ring, or clamped plate had not been ticked. 

Construction started over a year ago, after I printed off the instructions and placed into an A4 display book.  I built one column, but was not happy with the time it took - as my soldering needed a fair bit of cleanup before the "H" column would slide free of the jig.

One of the jigs provided for making the "H" column girders from the fret

The girder fret contains enough brass for 4 "H" columns

Jig holding the "H" column in position for soldering

It was then I discovered that my kit had too many "H" column girder frets of one size, and not enough "H" column frets of the correct size.  An email to James Dalton of Mechanical Branch explaining the problem, resulted in the missing frets being posted to me within the week.  This is excellent service, and I commend James for his quick action.   (As an aside, this is a timely reminder to check the contents of all your kits, just in case the manufacturer goes out of business prior to building the model)

It was at this point, that I was given the task of rebuilding Bethungra layout - so the water tank was put on the backburner.

And a year passes.....

In the meantime, I thought about the assembly jig issue, and came up with an alternate method, that works for me.

After removing the brass shape from the frets with a sharp knife, I polish off the "burr" with a dremel cut-off disk.  I tried to do that with a file earlier, and it caused distortions.

Then I modified the jig - by using a pair of the "H" profiles, rather than all 5 on the jig. I could hold the girder etches in position with a peg (the spring has been selected for delicate - any stronger crushes the brass), whilst I solder.  That way, I would not have to worry about any solder webs preventing the jigs from being repositioned for the next solder operation - and I was able to slowly work my way from the center of the "H" column to the next location.

Modified jig, and peg

4 completed "H" columns.  The majority of solder is on one side of the girder only, and should clean up fairly well
I have got the time down to roughly 15 minutes per girder.  There are around 30 girders, so I have a bit more time to spend.  Disappointingly, my A4 display book of instructions has managed to get lost, so I might have to reprint it again from the supplied CD unless it turns up in the next week or so.

Another distraction

Yesterday (June 28th 2020), at 4:30am, there was a derailment in Junee of a container train being shunted into the holding sidings.  By the time I got down there at 11am, the big crane from Wagga had arrived, but the wagons were still where they stopped at 4:30am.  Cause of the derailment is under investigation.

How often does this happen on your model layout?  At least you can now say we have a prototype example/  (Picture taken from the level crossing with permission from the railway employees)

The middle platform in Junee has been out of use for decades, but still manages to capture a wagon before it does any more damage to needed infrastructure

May all your trains stay on track.  Until next time

Monday 8 June 2020

Slide scanner, and brass loco repairs

Slide Scanner

I am pleased to report, that I have finally purchased a new slide to digital scanner.  After some advice, I purchased a Plustek 8100 from TEDs camera store website on April 13th, and after 7 weeks, it arrived last week.
It took me a further 2 hrs to install the software, rapidly read through the manual, and then came the big test – results on the below picture.
LVR 5367 taking water in October 1997. The original watering facilities at Wagga were out of use by this date, hence the local fire brigade did the honours
Ready to depart

Of course, I will need to do more experimentation. It is nowhere near as fast as my cheap and cheerful scanner, but if the first scans with the Plustek 8100 are anything to go by, the quality exceeds my earlier Epson scanner, purchased in 2004, and still attached to the 2004 Dell desktop running Windows XP. 

The plustek scanner

Enough of computers.  Back to some modelling.

Brass loco repairs

Last weekend, a number of model train exhibitions, and the NMRA convention had been cancelled due to the COVID19 situation.  So, instead of spending the whole weekend up in Sydney, I thought I would use the time to restore a few brass engines I had in a sorry state. 

Bergs C30T
An ebay purchase, at a discount as the seller said it had some issues.  First of all, it didn’t run.  And second, was that the body did not sit correctly on the chassis.
Brass steam engines are generally easy to take apart, and the Bergs 30T is no exception.

The inside of the Bergs 30T.  The openframe motor uses plunger carbon brushes, and the insulation on the back of the frame is visible

The first thing that I noticed was that there was a lot of insulation for the drawbar pivot wire going to the motor. This was interfering with the body mounting, and so the second problem was an easy one.  The motor not running fault, is normally caused by a broken wire, but this was not the case.  I unscrewed the motor, and disconnected the Delrin driveshaft coupling.  Applying power directly to the motor terminals did not fix it.  I was contemplating a can motor upgrade, but I thought I would check the carbon brushes (plungers).  Well, one was worn down past the point of useful.  I fitted a replacement, and success.  Re-assembled, it looks, and runs OK.  Sure, the motor is on borrowed time, and a can motor upgrade, along with DCC is in its future 

Bergs 30T model was made by Kumata (japan) around 1980. 

The loco would look better with a bogie tender, and this is where acquisition 2 comes in.

Bergs C32

I swapped a surplus new DJH C32 kit for this one, sight unseen from a mate, who said apart from the lack of box, it was a good model.  My thinking was that an assembled model would be a quick way to get a tender, and the Bergs C30T tender could be matched with the C32, and sold on.  There were a number of C32s with 6 wheel tenders stabled at Broadmeadow in the 1950s, to allow them to turn on Maitland’s 50 foot turntable.  Well, that was my thinking.
Unfortunately, my assessment of the C32 was nowhere as positive as my mate’s.  But a deal is a deal, and brass models generally can be fixed
The model actually ran sweetly, which was nice.  But the tender buffer beam had a warp, caused by someone’s earlier attempt to resolder a buffer that must have come loose.   The ladder also was misshapen, although it was rebent back with pliers.  The loco though had more issues.  The missing cabside step, the unsoldered clack valve pipes, and the broken & missing brake hangers were cosmetic, although the front bufferbeam butchery to accommodate a #5 kadee coupler was ugly.
The buchery on the front buffer beam to accomodate the Kadee coupler was nasty

Tender rear showing a minor buckle in the LHS buffer beam

To repair the brass bodywork, the loco was disassembled.  This is when I found another fault.  The chassis frame spacer soldering had split apart in one area – which explains in part, why there was a plastic block glued to the underside of the body – “to stop the frame from flexing”.  Struth.  
The frame sitting on the "plastic block" which was glued to the underside of the body. It looks soldered in this view, but that is an illusion. The split in the spacer for the chassis frame is also just visible 

Anyway, to cut a long story short, a new section of brass plate was whittled down to fit the bufferbeam “hole” and soldered in place.  The plastic block removed, the chassis frame resoldered, and a rear cab step made from scratch and soldered. 

I cleaned up the hole as much as possible.  And cleaned off the gold paint, back to raw, untarnished brass
From underside, the scratching of the brass was more ugly.  The gold paint  is extremely heavy
A new section of brass fitted, soldered, and cleaned up.  I haven't attached the "coupling hook" that was originally there, as I may fit a kadee myself later  

I also fabricated a replacement cabside step from brass sheet, using the other one as a pattern.  My replacement does not have the bolt detail of the original lost wax casting, but that was a detail I could live without.
Shows the missing cabside step

My replacement step.  I used two different solders for this.  The steps were attached with high temp 60/40 resin core, but the step was attached to the body with low temp 144 degrees.  

Preparations for painting include stripping back the gold paint, and pickling in vinegar prior to painting with self-etch black.  
After paint stripping, the tarnish of the tender really was evident, more than the loco itself.  The models are in the small container that I used for the vinegar picking solution

Not the best picture, but you get the idea.  The tender has not yet been  reassembled - it just looked better with the parts roughly placed in the right spot

Monday’s winter weather here was quite nice, and I did get the main painting done in the relative warmth of the afternoon sun. 

Dockyard VR R class.
What am I doing with a Victorian steam engine?  Why indeed?  Well, I spied this model at a Trains Planes and Automobile auction a year ago, listed as a “japanese brass loco”.  Well, I knew what it was from the shape, but one always has to factor in some leeway.  For instance, I only got a single picture, TPA offer no guarantees, and I was not able to physically attend the auction in person.  So I placed a modest bid, and was successful.

The TPA auction catalogue picture of the R class.  note the clever way the tender is hiding the running gear

A week later, the loco was delivered to me in a mess.  It had been victim of the  foam monster (the one picture on the TPA website showed the tender in front of the loco running gear, so the extent of the foam issue was hidden).  More disturbingly, it had been posted without adequate packing inside the box.  The damage was extensive.  The worst was that the tender had acted as a hammer, and noticeably depressed the smoke box cover on top of the boiler.

How not to post a loco.   If it was an ebay purchase, I could have demanded compensation, or sent the model back. It wasn't an option with TPA
Note the depression on top of the smokebox. 
More evidence of the foam damage
The loco body in the homemade cradle
The chassis was also heavily foam affected
After cleanup with no more than a toothbrush, the chassis was looking much better

Fixing the depression was an exercise in luck.  I first needed to create a hole at the bottom of the boiler (out of sight from normal viewing, so I could punch the brass back into shape.  I modified the head of a large nail to act as a panel beating tool, and slowly tapped away onto a block of wood. 
New hole made in the boiler, and the modified nail I used as the panel beating punch

Whilst not perfect, after adding some filling solder, filing, and wet-n-dry,  I hope it will be difficult to tell the repair after painting.  And yes, it will have to be R766 – the R class being standard gauged.
The smokebox depression is mostly gone after the punchwork
Boiler after some solder filling, and further clean
I hope that you all were able to spend some quality time working on your models.
Until next time