Thursday, June 30, 2016

Uncoupling Ramps

 Well, the time has come to add uncoupling ramps. I have had multiple layouts and this is the first time I have actually had an uncoupling ramp since my earliest days with NMRA couplers! The first thing we have to do is to cut a slot in the track structure to allow placement of the ramp. I use a mix of Weaver and Kadee couplers which open under the influence of a magnet that is polarized towards the each of the running rails. There are now super magnets available on eBay and even at your local hardware store that provide the ability to achieve that type of polarization.
 I used a Dremel motor tool to cut the ties near a turnout where I might drop a cut of cars. I then place a screw for each magnet to act as a base that I can level to a preset depth. I make the screw head 1/4 inch below railtop. This height was determined by Ed Rappe when he started using this approach and it works for me.
  It takes some planning to place the ramps as you have to think about the typical moves you will make to switch cars on the layout. It is amazing how many ramps you will want to handle a small town! A
 These are the super magnets. They are polarized to the top and bottom of each 8MM cylinder. The are N50 in strength and cost about $0.10 each when you buy 100 at a time off eBay. Hard to believe but they come all the way from China at that price! Each ramp will use 8 magnets. Thus, they get absorbed pretty quick if you are dealing with a number of ramps.
 Now the magnets are in place. The top of the magnet has been colored with a Sharpie to show North. All the magnets on one side of the track are north side up, the other side is south side up. The ramps are initially held in place by the magnetic attraction to the screw heads. Then they are ballasted over and the glue holding down the ballast also holds down the ramps. The ramp disappears into the scenery. I have to place an indicator of some sort so the engineer and the conductors know where they are located.
 As we bring a car up to the ramp, the coupler is its normal, closed position. The curved wire is sort of slightly down one side of the of the center line of the car. This curved wire is what opens the face of the coupler when the wire is attracted to the side.
Here the uncoupling ramp has opened the coupler by attracting the wire to the south rail.. The wire does not touch the magnets but their force is sufficient to open the couple face. If it had been connected to another car, the engine could reverse and leave one car on the ramp. As I worked, we installed about 13 ramps in Weigh Scales. That consumed 114 magnets. Thus, they go fast.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Finishing outside aisle fascia

 Okay, we now have to tackle the tough part of finishing the exterior aisle fascia. We have to cover this bump out.
 I had to add a few strips to level the right leg of the bump out as it torqued when I put it in. So I ripped a 1/16th strip and then added it to the top of this side and to the bottom of the inside of this leg I now have a true vertical surface.
 This side was fine so no additions
 You can see the cant of the pine board but the masonite is vertical as it bends out to cover the bump out.
 Looking back, you can see the whole run to the bump out.
 First piece on. The masonite did not like the tight bend of the bump out forward end so it took many brads and clamps.
 Our piece ended here so I needed a clamp to hold it until the glue dries. I find that putting in two pieces is easier than trying to get a perfect cut in such a complex area. I do have to cover the curves with one piece though, to make the joint easier.  You also have to be sure that the two end surfaces are vertical.
 Looking up, curves everywhere.
 Looking down - we are getting close.
 Last piece in and a clamp holding the joint together while the glue sets.
 Bottom view again.
 Now the body putty goes on to smooth the joints. I have to use this material as the masonite is a very glossy and smooth surface, like a car body.
 Top view
 From the end of previously finished fascia.
 Painted today - feels good to have one piece of the project done!
 The whole stretch is done.  Now I have to build the bridge crossing over the aisle. 
Back to finishing up Weigh Scales ballast before I do that, though.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Paxinos Plastering - Paul's Corner

 Well, we have been working for some months on Paxinos. This is Paul's Corner as he has done most of the work, occasionally assisted by Ed. He started by doing the webbing and under-supports. Here he has the plaster cloth in along the track and over to the town base.
 Further down to the west , you can see the abutments have been placed for the bridge. I placed this bridge to act as a view block to the next scene around the curve. The road climbs steeply from the town and goes over the tracks on a simple wood bridge.
Looking back from Shamrock on the finished plaster cloth and you see how the view block works.
 Now Paul is adding the Structolite, covering the cloth, and it changes color and gives it a much more granular appearance. It also adds strength.
 This is the final appearance of the slope of the land along the right of way.
 The abutments are now firmly planted in the soil. I covered them with plastic to protect their color and texture with all that plaster around.
This is the final form that now has to be painted with my ground color. I also have to come up with a backdrop theme for that blue wall.

More Woodworking - fascia

 Well, when Jason comes, he always causes me to try to do more woodworking. So this time we cut the pieces to complete the fascia on the outer aisle. The guys came over last night and helped me by putting up the pieces we cut. So here we start at the Shamokin end with out terminal area.
 Looking back west, you can see the end of the piece which approaches the bump out which will carry the bridge pier.
 Looking east, we put in the other piece that reaches the bump out from that side.
 This is a compound piece that splits with the lower section going parallel to the wall and the upper section turning to cover the bump out.
 Here is a long view to the end by Shamokin. Now I only have to cover the bump out itself.
Jason and I also cut out a compounded piece that surrounds the bridge piers for the branch as it enters Weigh Scales - over by those trees I mentioned. Now I have to paint it to match the balance of the area.

A little help from my friends - aka grandchildren

 Well, the grandkids all want to help grandpa with his trains and I have a lot of freight cars that need to be weathered. So, the project is to put a dark brown wash on boxcars as a base for more weathering colors.
 So, here we have Rose putting the wash on a Pac Limited GN truss rodded car with steel ends. She seemed to enjoy it but got bored by the end. I also get bored with this chore.
 Soon afterwards, our grandsons Dylan and Ian came by for Father's Day.  Dylan is working on an X-31 and doing a good job!
His younger brother Ian, helped by his dad, Jason, are working on an Intermountain reefer. Only 600 more cars to go!

Back to Scenery

 Well, it has been a while since I have posted as it has been a madhouse around here. I am falling behind schedule! In the mean time, I have been talking to people who are excellent scenery makers like Chris Smith, John Sethian and the fellows in our local group who have started scenicing their layouts. I have also become a major investor in Scenic Express, buying lots of supplies for ground cover and tree material. So, here is where I will start to learn how to place trees and ground cover. This is the west end of Weigh Scales which was in a forest in real life. I have painted the backdrop, and now have to add a foreground.
 This is the long view of the area. I painted the plaster with my ground color  - a camel color.
 Now I have added a brown dirt material (which can be seen at the far right of the colored portion), then several colors of green foam with a coarse multi-hued ground foam in the foreground. O put some lichen that I covered with fine ground foam along the seam with the wall. The spot is immediately looking better!
 This gives a lower look showing the rough texture of the area. I added fallen leave material on the ground where I will place the trees.
Another longer view showing the transitions
 Now I have added some Super Trees that I have made from the Scenic Express kits. They really look pretty good as a tree. I am trying to make them look like a random growth of a grove. You can also see how the dead leaves help out. I have to integrate them with the backdrop. Jack Brown suggested I make the rear trees darker to get them to blend more. Good idea!
 Another view looking back. I have to add a lot more trees and have more problems ahead with my vertical scenery. Chris Smith has a great technique for this which I will try next. I do not know why the camera varies the color settings so much!
Final view. I am generally pleased with the result but am concerned about the slow pace! I also have to figure out how to treat the foreground so it will stand up to visitors.