Monday, February 15, 2010

The Finer Points of Making Finer Points?

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel the need to use catchy phrases for their blog updates? Anyway ..........

With Sydney's crazy humid weather continuing, doing anything more physically active than blinking leaves one in a lather of sweat, so it seemed a good time to sit back at the modelling desk and build another set of points.
This is the first set I've built using code 55 rail, which in all honesty was not much different to the code 75 rail I've used before. If anything I think the Micro Engineering code 55 rail is made of harder metal than the Peco rail as filing it seemed to be harder by comparison.

Apart from the change in rail, this set was built using slightly different dimensions to the NMRA specs. Terry Flynn has published some dimensions which theoretically (and have been proven) allow your typical RTR RP25/110 wheels to happily run through the points, and also allow the finer RP25/88 wheels to run through without any wheel drop through the frog or crossing V area. Basically the gauge is set to 16.26mm as opposed to the std 16.5mm, and flangeways can be set to 1.0mm, making a visual improvement over the wider dimensions actually used, and actually aids smoother running through the points.

Without the aid of any gauges to aid construction due to the different dimensions added a slight difficulty factor, but apart from some extra time it all went fairly smoothly, and I was very pleased to run a couple of sets of bogies through the points at various stages with excellent results. There's a degree of backwards engineering going on here as well, as I will use this set of points to try to get some roller gauges made to aid in the building of points to these dimensions which so far I'm very impressed with.

Another item of these points which I have had a bit of a tinker with is the tie bar. A lot of hand lai points simply use a pcb sleeper as the tie bar, which is strong, easy, and apart from the visual aspect of a whole sleeper sliding along when the points change route, it's a proven design. However, looking at the real thing, the tie bars are quite thin, and do not project outside the stock rails obviously.

What I've done with this set, it use a pcb sleeper, but cut it to length so it's just long enough to sit underneath the stock rails and only project out a maximum amount equal to the the trow of the swith blades, and I've filed down the centre section as narrow as possible to make it look more like the proper tie bars.

This first one is a little rough and not 100 percent in the right position as the tie bar needs to be centred between the sleepers a bit more, but that's nothing a quick hit with the soldering iron won't fix. Even filed down to this size it's still quite strong, and really looks quite good, or is at least a big improvement over the full sleeper look. There's very little pressure put on the tie bar anyway so I don't foresee any problems with it breaking. It will mean a slightly different method of attaching a wire to move it from side to side but that's nothing too hard.

As you can see I've also put up a pic of three different pieces of rail, Peco Code 100, Peco Code 75 and the Micro Engineering Code 55. In my mind, and logically, I know that code 55 is just over half the height of code 100, but the overall effect is actually more dramatic, with the rail actually looking more like a quarter of the size of code 100, as it's not just the height, but the width that is proportionally smaller as well. For a branch line style layout, the code 55 really does look a treat, IMHO.

Friday, February 12, 2010

New Loco's but Not Much Else!

Not much to really report on for this update, but I thought I'd throw up a couple of shots of some new loco's I've just got back from a mate who has given them a bit of weathering.

4498 is a Trainorama 44 Class, the prototype of which I fondly remember from my school days. I used to travel by train from Allawah to Kogarah which is on the South Coast line, and sometimes found myself at Hurstville on a school sports day.

Anyone who knows Kogarah and Hurstville will know that both stations have the platforms covered by rather large shopping centres, so are to an extent mostly covered in. Kogarah is situated at the top of a rather long grade from the Rockdale end, and with the wind in the right direction I could hear the 44's coming all the way up the grade with a South Coast Express in tow, and they would blast through Kogarah station with their exhaust throbbing, and most normal people would instinctively cover their ears in pain.

Hurstville was a stopping station, so from a stand still the engine would rev up with the slowly increasing throb of the exhaust, then taper off as the train began to roll, and then as the driver notched up the exhaust would again throb as a dirty black mass would be ejected from the top of the loco. In the mid 80's the 44's were usually quite grubby, and so that's the way I wanted my 44 to look. Job done I think. Now I have to decide on a sound decoder that really captures that throbbing exhaust sound.

The 3531 and 3649 are both Austrains models, with the 35 being left reasonably clean, and the 36 has been given a more weather beaten western look, where they typically didn't get cleaned anywhere as much. I'm particularly fond of the look of the 36 weathering, and might at some point dirty up the 35 just a little bit more, once I get some weathering experience under my belt.

Both are factory fitted with DCC, the 35 sound equipped already which is a bonus, ans I particularly like the whistle as it has a really nice taper in and rich reverb giving a rather nice simulation of it echoing as you hear them in "real life". \

The 36 will need a sound decoder and probably have the tender pickup additions done to improve its running qualities, as shown on Marcus Ammann's web site

I've made a little progress in getting some track gauges made to assist in making my track and points. Hopefully within the next couple of weeks I'll have a sample to suit the code 55 rail and slightly different to NMRA spec gauge and flangeway spacings. These dimensions are totally compatible with RP25/110 and RP25/88 wheels which almost all RTR Australian stuff comes with these days. The slightly finer clearances suit the RP25/88 wheels a bit better then the normal NMRA dimensions. Details on these dimensions can be found on Terry Flynn's web site,

I'm hoping to be able to provide these gauges at a reasonable price to other interested people, and if there is some demand and all goes to plan I will try to get some made to suit different rail sizes, and maybe even a small batch for those interested in hand laying true Victorian or South Australian broad gauge track. More on that as I make some progress anyway.

Apart from that, there's not much to report of any real interest!

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Realisation of a Dream ....... Or at least the Beginning of It!

I think I mentioned in a previous post that as a fifteen or sixteen year old in around 1986, I attended a modeling clinic at Revesby where I fortunate enough to see up close sections of James McInerney’s Lambing Flat featuring the Wombat Flour Mill. The thing that blew me away the most (lest face it the whole thing was very high quality) was the track. Very fine rail, highly detailed will all the point rodding and levers, it was truly inspirational and something I thought I’d love to try to replicate one day.

So here I am some twenty four odd years later, and after being a non active modeller for probably twenty of those years, a package arrived today from Brunel Hobbies with seventy one yard lengths of code 55 rail, some flux and track gauges, all ready to finally begin down that path of hand laying track and points in an effort to capture that look I admired all those years ago.

I’ve added a few pics of Lambing Flat that I took on that day all those years ago, and although they don’t show in super fine detail the track, I think they still convey the overall look that inspired me. I just hope my abilities are able to produce a result even vaguely approachig this level of quality!