Heavy Metal!

When Trevor told me that he was acquiring a Sherline lathe, I promptly suggested that roller gauges would be an excellent starter project and that Proto:48 would be an excellent choice of gauge. Being the excellent friend that he is, Trevor suggested that I get my own lathe and make my gauges myself. There I sat until I overheard another friend discussing the sale of a lathe in the pub after a show. Being a bit late to the fair, I ended up on the waiting list in case the potential buyer decided to pass.

Here is my newest modelling tool: a Myford ML7 only a year older than I am sitting in the back of the modeller transportation unit.ml7woot

This is looking at the back with the motor detached and the tailstock removed to minimize the weight. I am fortunate to have the opportunity and means to take this machine into my keeping for a time. And also to have a couple of teenagers to help me get it into the basement. Getting things put back together will be an education.


Traverser Manual Mode

We returned home earlier than expected thanks to an early start and great weather encouraging the cottage mob to stay late. I used my extra time to build character by installing the traverser slides. I did not have a failure of orientation error but I think I committed just about every other one except setting things on fire. I will summarize by stating that there is more than one set of holes in the table slide mounts and leave it at that. I may have indulged in an expletive or two as well.

I pressed on and made reworked things until I have something that seems like it will do, at least in manual mode. My plan to drive the table from a single screw in the middle may not work due to the tendency for the table to rack as the various stages of the slides are reached. The two slides cannot be counted on to behave exactly the same so I may have to resort to either two stepper/screw pairs or some sort of single motor pushing on both ends drive system. I have some ideas. I may just try it with the single screw and see how it goes since I have the one motor and motor driver already in hand.

Table at right extent puts the traverser center track in alignment with the runaround track.traverserright

Getting that reach required me to employ a trick I learned somewhere. I bent down the stopper tabs on the slides so that the slides run both ways. In this particular case the dual direction capability wasn’t necessary except for one of those previously mentioned errors. I located the baseboard slide supports based on bad assumptions about the travel of the slides relative to their footprint and ended up a half inch short on the right extent. Folding down the tabs fixed that with minimal fuss. Here is an underside shot of a bent down tab.traversernotab

Left extent puts the center traverser track on the back track and extends the table beyond the back of the layout. I have yet to decide if this will be useful for fiddling cars on and off the layout or not.


The big question is how well does it fit. The gap I ended up with is quite narrow, perhaps too narrow. If it turns out to be too close, I can shave things off the layout side.traversergap

Looking at the level of the two meeting edges shows the work left to do. The table is level but the matching roadbed is floating unsupported and is not level. The final step will be to attach a support to the end of the subroadbed and torque things into alignment.traverserlevel


Traverser In Progress

The last major bit of construction required to allow eventual completion of track laying on Comstock Road is the traverser. I have spent a fair bit of time considering alternative designs (aka dithering) since this is something that I have no prior experience in and that is critical to the successful functioning of the layout. Perfectionist paralysis notwithstanding, no traverser at all is not a better solution so I used the non-travelling part of this Victoria Day long weekend to make a start.

I am pleased with the results so far. I have constructed the table and installed the boards on the layout that will support the slides. What remains is the corresponding slide mounting boards on the table and the slides themselves.traverserip

The correct functioning of drawer slides requires various components to be square and parallel and level. Just the sort of think that I tend to worry about cocking up. I may have done so but as far as I can tell everything is still aligned within the resolution of the measuring instruments employed. Here are most of the aforementioned instruments. I have yet to decide if my anxiousness about the process is reflected more by the variety of tools employed or by the fact that I own them all in the first place. ūüôā


Weekend Reading: Layouts to Inspire compiled by Mike Merritt

inspireI spent a long weekend traveling to watch migrating birds so no active modelling happened. On the other hand, the evenings do provide some quiet time to do some reading. One of my finds at the¬†Great British Train Show 2018¬†was¬†Layouts to Inspire¬†compiled by Mike Merritt for the¬†Gauge O Guild. The Gauge O Guild is the UK based association of 7mm (and the other “O”‘s including 1:48) modellers so naturally the layouts featured are all of some flavour of “O” scale.

An entire book of layout features is just the sort of thing I like. The layouts in the book were selected by the members of the guild and cover everything from indoor/outdoor garden layouts to micro layouts. O Scale Magazine contributor Neville Rossiter’s Bay Ridge Harbor Rail Road makes an appearance but otherwise it was all new to me. The photography is excellent and the articles are generally in the layout creator’s words which gives insights into how they go about the hobby.

The only downside for an inveterate layout planner like myself is that not all the articles include a track plan. This is a foible of British model railway journalism as far as I can tell since I have noted the same lack in some articles in UK periodicals as well.

Inspire was published in 2016 but does not appear to be still available. I acquired mine from a vendor at GBTS 2018 so presumably one has to get lucky at a show.

Braced Baseboards

My initial intent for ensuring sufficient rigidity in Comstock Road’s baseboards was to achieve the equivalent of a solid top with a combination of subroadbed and sheet foam. As time has passed, I have observed that the subroadbed does little to prevent twisting and that there isn’t that much area for the foamboard to go. I am reluctant to commit the alignment of the trackwork to wishful thinking so I decided to make the diagonal bracing overt.

An added advantage (assuming it does the job) is that my traverser won’t need a bottom. This will simplify the design and make the mechanism easier to install and access.

Here is the traverser section waiting for the glue to set. I am using some 1/4″ fir ply strips I cut up for a prototype since it will get them off the wood rack. I don’t really like the stuff since it is one big splinter dispenser but it does mean I don’t have to cut any more plywood. Note also that advantage of portable baseboard sections: the ability to tip the thing on its side for working on the bottom. Wiring without dripping solder on yourself is to be recommended.braced

Water Mixable Oils

watermixableoilsI had been considering taking the plunge and trying out artist oil paints for weathering and painting structures as described by David Wright in his book. I like the texturing capability and the long drying times. More time to fiddle with things is a plus in my book. However, I have been hesitating for a couple of reasons.

Traditional oil paints use mineral spirits, turpentine and similar nasty stuff for thinners. I really was not keen on having to deal with the smell, disposal or what a flux spiller such as myself might accomplish with turpentine around models.

Oil paints seem expensive. Itty bitty tube of paint is how much?!? On the other hand, in the quantities required for dry brushing and washes a 37ml tube will likely last for years. It would last even longer if the whole idea is a bust.

I am no artist. Maybe I won’t be able to achieve decent results. There is that perfectionist paralysis threatening again. I clubbed that over the head and stuffed it into the trunk. I may not manage it but I certainly won’t if I don’t have a go.

The solution to the thinner issue is something I discovered as I was researching (aka Google) the subject, water mixable oils. These are oil paints in which the oil has been chemically altered to make it mixable, not soluble with water. You can thin and clean with water, use regular oil mediums (no idea what those are for yet) and get the long drying time, colour stability and imperviousness to water when dry of traditional oils. Or so I am led to understand.

On the cost front, water mixable oils are even more expensive than regular ones by, at lest locally, about 30%. On the other hand, they are readily available at art supply stores as well as my local arts and crafts chain behemoth so I can acquire them incrementally.

I picked a few tubes up today along with a couple of brushes and a remarkably inexpensive plastic pallet (27 cents!) and dove right in with a test. I had previously prepared a short length of ties on Homasote and sprayed them with Rustoleum camouflage brown. The basic strategy is to paint the track structure and weather from there. The initial brown is definitely too dark and even for my little industrial spur.

Initial results are not too discouraging. I mucked about with a couple of dabs of raw umber, titanium white and yellow ochre. I definitely need more practice with mixing proportions, diluting, and so on but I can believe in the possibility. Note to self, less white next time.firsttryoils

Great British Train Show 2018

I spent a couple of enjoyable hours at the Great British Train Show in Brampton, Ontario this past Saturday. There was lots of excellent UK themed modelling on show as well as a wide assortment of vendors, er, traders present. I picked up a few attractively priced books you might be reading about in the future.

I also did better on the photography compared to the Ontario Narrow Gauge Show if only because I was just a punter. In amongst a number of enjoyable chats with friends and strangers unable to dodge fast enough, I did get some shots of things that caught my eye along with the expedient of an accompanying shot of the layout name sign or description if present.

Of special note where two layouts designed to be operated by the public and set at a height to encourage the short public to have a go. There were a number of children queued up to run Thomas and James around as well as operate the Witzend inglenook sidings switching puzzle. If your show doesn’t have this sort of thing, I highly recommend getting some.

Edit: WordPress scrambled my photo order.