Saturday 23 October 2010

Rail preparation

Here's a thought - prior to building ply and rivet track, do you actually clean the foot of the rail?

The reason for asking is that I've just done that, and wondered why I'd never done it before.  I'm making up some lengths of 36" curved track for my demo board.  I plucked a length of nickel silver rail from the tube where it's kept, and did as I always do - burnish both sides of the rail with a glass fibre brush to get rid of the crud so that it is clean for soldering.

And then I looked at the foot of the rail...  The flat surface, that I'm actually hoping the solder paint will bond to, was just as tarnished as the sides.  So I whizzed the brush along that as well, and now all is bright and shiny.  

Hopefully it improved the strength of the track rather than just having to rely on solder joints to the web of the rail.  I thought that I'd mention it, as I can't recall anyone mentioning it specifically before.  Of course, you'll now better and point me to a dozen references :-)

Monday 18 October 2010

Satisfyingly quick

Sometimes you just need to pick up a soldering iron...

Part of the demo board that I'm building has copperclad track in it, just to show how you don't need to go for the full P4TrackCo stuff (excellent as it is) when you're "behind the scenes".  So five minutes with a strip of copperclad, a length of nickel silver rail, and voila!


Sunday 10 October 2010

Forming some thoughts...

Having decided that I'm doing a quick small layout, inspired by Horsley Bank at Scaleforum, I am putting some ideas together.  Following the "Beer & Buckjumpers" theme, then it will be of part of a maltings/brewery complex.  I've yet to draw up the full trackplan on Templot, but a list of desirable features to include (in no particular order) is:

- wagon turntable into a building, a la Snape Maltings
- GER branch line on embankment in background as part of backdrop
- wharf, with interlaced track for loading
- engine shed triangle, as at Bass Brewery, Burton
- possible Spitalfields style coaling stage
- coal unloading area for brewery
- bay window over a loading bay (I have a particular picture in mind)
- models of my former neighbour's house which was a maltster's house, and my old house (part of a maltings) if there is space.

And I need to fit all of that in 4' by 2'...

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Oh, [expletive deleted] Templot!

Top tip...

When you have tried *several* times to insert a bitmap (.bmp) image into a Templot background, and you still get a blank square labelled "* Empty Picture", when you reload the file, don't despair...

It's because although Templot allows you to navigate to where the .bmp source file is, it doesn't remember that location or actually import the image.  It just (AIUI) imports the name of the file.

You need to copy the .bmp file into the Templot\shape-files folder for it to find it again.

This little undocumented (AFAIK) "feature" has cost me an hour in wasted time this evening.  It was only thanks to the good advice of Morgan Gilbert at Scaleforum that I remembered where I might be going wrong.  I've searched, and I can't find anything on the Templot site that explains this...

Anyway, the end result is this:

Onwards and upwards!

Monday 4 October 2010

Read the instructions...

Or, in this case, read Norman Solomon's series of track-building articles in Model Railway Journal.  That would have been very helpful with my recent track-laying experience.  

Before going away racing at the weekend, I decided to lay some of the track that I've been building for my demo board.  Having seen Norman's demonstration at the Missenden modelling weekend earlier this year, I thought that I would try his technique of fixing the track using PVA and ballasting it at the same time.  This would be laid on a bed of Carrs foam, which is just the right thickness and firmness to give a resilient but yielding foundation.

I also used the technique of laying granite ballast immediately on top of the wet glue, in the areas where I wanted to show finished track.  So I did this, after spreading the glue reasonably well, up to and over the edges of the masking tape that I'd use to define the formation, and placing the track carefully on the wet PVA.  Then I applied a few weights just to hold the track in position and left it for the weekend.  When I came back to it, this is what it looked like:

Good points:

- the track had stuck well, and hadn't tried to lift or twist

- the glue was flexible, and the foam trackbed still worked as a firm foundation

- the ballast had generally taken well, sticking to the glue without going rock solid.  It had also stayed reasonable clear of the sleepers, so I don't have a huge amount of clearing up to do. 
Less good points:

- the steel rail has rusted!  Having been very careful to keep it unblemished prior to laying it, there are now patches of fresh rust all over the sides and head of both plain track and pointwork.  This is going to have to be cleaned off.  I suspect that it is something nasty given off as the PVA dried, and as it is much more pronounced on the sections where the weights were placed, I believe that it was trapped from evaporating away.

- there is glue and ballast that has crept behind a couple of the switch blades.  This is going to need some careful digging out and cleaning.

- the PVA stuck the masking tape too well to the edge of the track to separate easily.  I'm having to carefully cut it off the underlay.  In future, I think that I need to lift the masking tape when the PVA is still wet, and chance the glue and ballast creeping further.

So all in all, a mixed result.  I'm confident that it doesn't need scrapping and rebuilding, but it does need a bit of TLC to get it back to a usable state.  Live and learn!

Friday 1 October 2010

Today's Top Tip

...if you have spray painted a length of flexible track off the baseboard, don't try and subsequently adjust the curve of it.

For although it is relatively easy to break the bond on a single painted chair, or even Pandrol clip in this case, a track panel worth's of them isn't going to move easily :-(

Oh well, it's nice to be doing some modelling again.  I am just wondering how long it will take the PVA that I laid last night to dry.  It seems to have hardly dried at all by this morning.  It's also very successfully turned the sides and head of the steel rail rusty.  That was unforeseen.  I think that my track laying technique is going to need some refinement in the future...