Thursday 19 November 2009

Fish 'n' strips

Fishplates and crossing-timber strips to be precise...

In a quick ten minutes before a trip out of the country earlier this week, I fired up the soldering iron to add a couple of fishplates to the length of test track that I made. There's only one (fake) rail joint, but I want things to look good.

I'm using Colin Waite etched brass fishplates, and whilst the basic etching is good, the fitting method is a right PITA! The problem, in my hands, is that the two plates for the two sides of the rail are linked by a brass strip to make a H-shape. This means that they don't get lost so easily, and in theory it is possible to attach them by clamping them in place with no solder or glue involve.

The theory is fine, but I found that in practice the springiness in this joining strip actually kept them away from the rail. It also made it difficult to align them properly. I wanted them to stay in place, so soldered them in place, with the iron turned up high and a quick in-and-out so that I didn't melt the plastic chairs. Looking at the photo below, I wasn't that successful with the soldering :-(

The solder paste that I had didn't help. It's Carrs 188 stuff, which is normally excellent. However I hadn't used this stuff for (literally) several years, and it was starting to get very thick, and gave rise to some very blobby application, which shows in the messiness of the end result.

Thankfully, Brian Lewis of C&L (vendors of the Carrs range) runs the Finescale list, and very shortly after posting a question about what could be done to revive the solder paste, he replied with the information that I could use Green Label flux to let it down a bit. And now it's back to as good as new :-)

The strips bit relates to the fact that next to the plain track, I'm building an A4 turnout for testing purposes. From my last stretch of P4 track-building I still had a bag of cut and punched sleepers from various turnouts. Not referenced, of course, that would be too easy.

So in the manner of a jigsaw puzzle, I spread them on the bench next to the template and matched the individual lengths and holes to the relevant places on the plan. Now I've never tried to build an A4 turnout before in my life, so I know that these are all stolen from B6, or B8, or double slips, or whatever. But they fit, and now I have the full set of timbers to start work with.

I know that I've got some blades and vees from other projects that I have in a bag somewhere, so I'll rummage through those as well, although I'm certain that I'll have to make the A4 vee from scratch.

Now out with the double sided sticky-tape!

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