A partially completed On30 module. Currently missing the inside radius fascia and matching foam contours at the back hill area. This module is partly experimental, as I hadn't previously used expanding foam for anything other than sealing gaps in walls. The foam did not prove to be a cost effective way of forming organic contours (~$10 CAD for one can of foam).
This non-90 degree curve will only contain a Hunterline king's post bridge spanning a small creek, and some coniferous trees just below the ridge crests. Rail will be code 83 Micro Engineering spiked to Mt. Albert ties on top of Midwest 3/16"x4" cork sheeting cut into strips.
Once the other fascia is applied, pine cross pieces will be fitted on the underside to tie the structure together. The contours of the terrain will be cut out of the top edges of the fascia pieces using a coping saw with a medium blade.
The ends are 3/4" thick G2S birch plywood. They are cut to two specific profiles adopted by our local On30 modelling group. One is a flat with a 1:12 slope away from the track (and ditch profiles). The other is a fairly steep hillside.
Moffett Models custom made this great Sn42 kit for the local Newfoundland modellers group. It represents a 25T ore car from the Buchans Railway (later ASARCo.) used to carry lead and zinc concentrates. The cars were known as "wiggly jigglies" as they were unstable at higher speeds.
An unfortunate mishap rendered the masters unusable for future moulds, and we wore out the initial RTV moulds making nearly 60 of these little cars. They are amazingly accurate, having been made from the original erection drawings. The kit included sprung (working!) Andrews trucks. The short wheelbase does make the cars act like the prototype; they do wiggle back and forth on the track.
The wonky looking grab irons on this example were my attempt to duplicate the look of the original's oddly shaped fittings. My remaining units will be assembled slightly differently. Certainly none of the in-service units had metalwork that was this "pristine" and flat. I shall have to find a reliable way to "beat up and dent" the resin castings without rendering them unusable.
Trillium Railway #110 (ex CN S-13 1000hp) switching Interlake Paper on the Port Colbourne Harbour Railway in St. Catharine's, ON, March 2005. Accessing this customer requires street running up the tracks visible on the right. From the general reaction of the motorists on the roadway, this was not an everyday occurrence.
Two of us chased the short train (loco, 2 boxes, and a bright yellow caboose!) from road crossing to road crossing as it wound its way up the escarpment grades. My companion had just finished telling me that he'd never seen a train on this particular track section when it came into view. We didn't want to pass up the opportunity to take a few shots.
Of course, I didn't take any pictures of the other side of the loco. "Buck fever", I suppose.
- A few Wrightlines/ABS 60cm gauge WWI kits in 7mm, including a protected Simplex and a type D wagon.
- Sn42 outside braced boxcar; a set of master patterns for RTV moulds.
- On30 2-6-2 Backwoods Miniatures select-a-kit on a Bachmann HO 0-6-0 chassis.
- Add motion to a static, whitemetal O scale stationary steam engine kit.
- On30 4-wheel logging caboose.
- Complete a long overdue S-scale Ridgehill Models dynamite shed.
Ambroid Pro-Weld solvent for the styrene; Weld-Bond PVA for the wood. Pacer's "Zap-A-Gap" CA for other combinations of this-to-that. 63/37 solder and various 2-56 through 0-80 fasteners for the brass hold everything together.
For the most part, paints are Polly Scale acrylic. The odd Badger ModelFlex bottle is used when specific colour is needed. Weathering is done with Bragdon Enterprises powders and dry-brushed white paint. A couple of Floquil's wondrous, now discontinued (and terribly toxic) Flo-Stain bottles are hidden away for a rainy day. Paint is applied by sable hair brush or shot through an old Badger XF-150 double-action airbrush.
Dana Nield used to have a webpage called "the Tamiya Model RR Paint Project". It talked about using armour-modeller style underpainting and washes on railroad subjects. If anyone has that content archived, please let me know.
Ex Corris Railway 0-4-2 locomotive "Sir Haydn" on the 2'-3"gauge Talyllyn Railway (Nant Gwernol station), Wales, May 2004. The rake of coaches behind includes 1st and 2nd class cars and a baggage wagon. The TR is the oldest preserved railway in the world. I managed to convince my travelling companion that a side trip to Wales was only a short jaunt from Shrewsbury in Shropshire. Thus I was able to see this living relic first-hand.
On the way up to the peak, we disembarked at the Dolgoch station and hiked up to the very picturesque Dolgoch Falls. Given that time was short we (sadly) stopped for only a while before walking back to the station along a path that passed under the ancient stone railway viaduct, 50 or 60 feet overhead.
At Nant Gwernol, the engine ran around the train and re-coupled to the downhill end. The jovial conductor sat in our open compartment and spoke of the local history in a wonderfully thick, Welsh accent (possibly only put on for the benefit of foreign visitors). We made it back to Tywyn Wharf (which is not on a body of water - a "wharf" in this case was the old standard gauge interchange platform) on the final train of the day.
Due to our late return, we just missed the Honeyed Ice-Cream factory visit in Tywyn. This did not sit well with my travelling companion, who had been looking forward to (and had been promised) the treat. I, however, was somehow looked upon with great favour and was gifted a shard of the slate roof of the original station circa 1865 by one of the historical society members. This was made possible due to the construction of the new museum building that will adjoin the old station, where some material had been dislodged in the process. I was (and still am) really pleased with this unforeseen present.
O-16.5 Talyllyn 0-4-2 chassis (Branchlines). The trailing bogie and the rear axle share some compensation via a 3-point pivot arm. In practice, however, the range of motion appears somewhat limited. A can motor drives the rear axle through a worm reduction. Pulling power is enhanced by the weight of a whitemetal superstructure.
This was quite a "trial by fire" for me as I had not undertaken assembly of a British kit before. The manufacturers do expect you to have a certain level of knowledge of their local prototypes; a fact emphasised by their omission of "obvious" information that would assist the neophyte.
At this stage the siderods and main rods had not been fitted. The unit had to be disassembled to install the motor and gearbox. The gearbox rides with the driven axle, so the worm stays in mesh at all times.
The kit is simplfied due to the prototype having "inside" valve motion which is hidden from view and therfore not included in the fretwork or castings that need to be assembled.
S scale, C-16 cab from Echo Mountain Models. Inner window frames are tacked in place until I decide on a method of making them slide. Roof was re-made using thinner sheet than was provided in the kit. Visible pinkish patina is heat discolouration from the soldering tips.
I've been researching different soldering techniques and materials. After all, resin core solder is typically designed for electronics applications rather than assembly of thin brass sections. It seems that the best UK practice is to use a mid-range (145-150 degree C), non-flux cored solder and liquid acid flux (i.e. phophoric) for this type of material. I will have to see where I can locate these items locally.
Picked up a resistance soldering unit (American Beauty 100W) on the weekend. Tried it out on some scraps of brass, then set forth assembling an Echo Mountain Models S-scale, round roof C-16 cab that I purchased (on spec) some time ago.
I noticed a major improvement in the ease of assembly and finished quality of the kit compared to my efforts with the Meridian Models quarry wagon. From brief examination of old photos, the cab appears to be appropriate for RGS #9. If I can locate the proper plans for this locomotive I may attempt to construct an Sn3 engine. Given the amount of information available for the Colorado roads, this shouldn't be too much of a chore. I just have about a hundred other projects to tackle first.
Scratchbuilt, 4-wheeled On30 car on a handlaid 9" radius turnout following Geren Mortensen's (The On30 Guy) industrial trackage templates. Rail is code 70 Micro-Engineering. The car is built upon a modified heavy-duty, MDC HO passenger truck frame. See Jack Hess' articles in Light Iron Digest Volume 4 Issues #3 & #4 for construction suggestions.
The truck would not pass through the diverging route unimpeded without the addition of a guard rail adjacent to the curved stock rail. The point rails are curved through the frog to make this tight turnout possible. Definitely the place for slow speeds and reasonably weighted cars.
...is a joy forever. A selection of largely scratchbuilt models in 1:64 (S) scale of Newfoundland 42" gauge prototypes. ASARCo., Buchans, GFCR, and CN/NR railways are represented in this display at the Maple Leaf 2003 NMRA convention, Toronto, Canada.
A very, very rare sight. Two WWI vintage protected Simplex locomotives in operational condition. Powered by 7 litre, 4-cylinder petrol engines yielding 40hp. Leighton-Buzzard Light Railway "Twin Turtles Day", May 2004. I was fortunate to obtain ticket #001 for the event. #3090 was fully restored by the "Salvage Squad" TV programme crew in the UK.
7mm scale, 16.5mm gauge, Branchlines 0-4-2 Talyllyn chassis under a Peco whitemetal body. Covered with automotive primer and ready for finishing. The unit will traverse < 15" radius curves. The nickel-silver chassis was assembled using a standard 30W pencil soldering iron; a process I will avoid in future projects. The whitemetal body was assembled using 5 minute epoxy.
HO scale, self-powered rail car. Major portions came from a Bachmann PCC streetcar and a Bachmann "old-time" combine. Grabs and railings were re-done in brass. The streetcar motor runs surprisingly well and the unit can pull several cars.
Working replica of Trevithick's Coalbrookedale locomotive. Ironbridge Gorge Museum, UK, May 2004. Note the use of "L" cross-sectioned rails. Travels about 1/4 mile in distance and 200 years back in time. I was priviledged to ride on the footplate for a few precious moments.
Scratchbuilt double-sheathed boxcar in styrene and stripwood. Scale/gauge is Sn2. Trucks are Tichy HO archbar with a narrowed bolster. Wheelsets are from MDC HOn3 passenger trucks. Couplers are Kadee #714. Ties are Mt. Albert 5"x5"x5' sugar pine. Rail is code 55 Micro-Engineering pre-weathered.
In order to make use of commercially available mechanisms and wheelsets, Sn2 appropriates HOn3 components (in North America, at least). This makes the measured gauge between railheads 26.45" instead of Maine's actual 24". The difference of .038" in width is ignored in the interest of expediency. Some modellers add an extra few inches to the length of the 5'-0" ties in order to preserve the visual proportions.
In response to some (persistent) prodding, I am including a complete re-write of the unpublished article from 2007. I ended up painting the car for a fictional line I was going to call "Cumberland & York"...
As a crew member for an On2 layout construction project, I've recently been exposed to an incredible wealth of two-foot gauge prototype photos as well as some wonderfully detailed models of rolling stock, motive power, and structures. I found the low-slung wooden cars very pleasing in size and proportion and began to get that unmistakable feeling of wanting one (or more) to call my own. My own area of interest centres around S-scale standard and 42" gauge in the mid 1950 timeframe, so I thought it would be interesting (and probably more appropriate for me) to build a car in Sn2 to demonstrate the relative differences in size of equipment.
The Sn2 Homepage (http://www.narrowtracks.com/Sn2/index.htm) and the Sn2_Trains discussion group at "Yahoo!" (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sn2_Trains/) gave me a good start with plenty of scale-specific information. I knew I would need to obtain at least trucks and couplers from commercial sources and it turns out that the Tichy HO archbar (#3002) and Kadee HOn3 couplers (#714) are the current components of choice for freight cars. Luckily my local hobby shop had both of these items in stock when I paid them a visit the next day. The HO archbar sideframes just happen to work out to a 4'-0" wheelbase in S-scale.
I dug through my boxes of "previously enjoyed" magazines looking for plans of the Maine 2' equipment. Fortunately, Jim Dunlop has made a significant contribution of drawings in 1/4" scale to The NG&SL Gazette over the years. Many railroads started out with only a small fleet of box and flat cars to carry their goods, so I thought it only fitting to choose a Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes boxcar in the #121-145 series as my first attempt (pg. 59, Sept/Oct 1990 Gazette). A quick trip to the photocopier (set at 75%) gave me enough reference sheets to begin work.
In order to pass the time at local train shows, I've been taking along a small project and an assortment of tools to get some modelling work done while I sit at one of the tables in our group's display area. Show attendees and fellow exhibitors always take the time to ask what I'm up to, and offer their ideas and advice. This time I took the boxcar drawings (reduced to 3/16"=1'-0") and enough Evergreen Styrene sheets and strip stock to make a start on the underframe and car sides.
Styrene is the material that I am most comfortable working with, even though I have enjoyed some success using brass and wood for a few projects. As I get better at building models, I'll probably try to make more items from robust metal and realistic wooden raw materials. Styrene just doesn't seem to lend itself well to locomotive frames or spindly wooden trestles. The proper tools and techniques for working with styrene are documented in many publications (including Evergreen's own comprehensive book), so I'll only mention how I've done something if I'm fairly certain that it's an obscure approach.
From the drawing I calculated the vertical siding width at 3" but the only scribed sheet stock I had represented a 3.2" width (Evergreen Styrene #2050, .050" spacing, .020" thick). I did not have access to a prototype car to actually count the number of boards and, realistically, there would have been variations in different batches of boards from the finishing mills at the time. Knowing that it would be unlikely for the average viewer to count the number of boards on the model, I quickly relented and made use of the on-hand material to make the most of the time I had set aside for this project.
By the end of the day I had the underframe, sides, and ends of the car formed and assembled to my liking. I decided to model the car with the doors closed, so the car sides are solid sheets with the doors applied on top, rather than having cut-outs for the door openings. This gave more gluing surface for the relatively thin (.020") stock I was using. The interior walls were also braced with longitudinal strips of styrene (about .080"x.080") to stiffen them and help keep everything square. The high-roofed, well ventilated hall we were in made applying the styrene solvent (Ambroid Pro Weld) much more bearable than my somewhat cramped and stuffy work area at home. During the show I also took time to answer questions from the attendees, scanned the various vendor tables looking for bargains, and found a quiet corner to enjoy some food and drink with acquaintances who are also involved in the hobby.
After returning home I undertook the job of narrowing the Tichy trucks. Here I ran into a bit of a snag as I miscalculated the amount I needed to cut off the first truck bolster's ends. I did manage to properly cut the second bolster and assemble the truck. In the case of the incorrect bolster I simply used a suitable section of square styrene for the bolster component. Wheelsets were taken from an MDC # 02929 passenger car package. The finished trucks are reasonably free rolling and well aligned, but there is some doubt in my mind as to their ability to stay together under long-term use with only CA (Zap-a-Gap) as an adhesive. It remains to be seen if these modified trucks will require installation of some mechanical fasteners for greater durability.
#3002 HO heavy duty Arch Bar truck (Tichy)
stock axle length .995" long (this would be end-to-end on the supplied Tichy HO axle)
stock truck bolster .960" long
#02929 HOn3 passenger truck (MDC)
HOn3 axle length .722" long
New (cut down) truck bolster length:
.995 - .722 = .273" total material to be removed from truck bolster
.960 - .273 = .687" new overall length of truck bolster
.273 divided by 2 = .1365" to be removed from each end of truck bolster
.687 + .1365 = .824" for setting your caliper (see below)
Set and lock the jaws of a vernier caliper at .824" (you do have a vernier caliper, right?). Using one end of the stock bolster as a guide, lightly scribe the other end of the bolster with the caliper jaw tip. Flip the bolster around and repeat the process on its other end . Cut the excess off one end with a razor saw and file up to the scribed line, ensuring that you are square both vertically and horizontally. Check that the overall length of the truck bolster is now .824". Cut the excess off the other end with a razor saw and file up to the scribed line, again keeping it nice and square. Set and lock the calipers at .687" and check the overall length. For sanity's sake, check the distance from the edge of the kingpin hole to each end of the truck bolster and see that they are equal to each other (in this case it was ~.297") otherwise the wheelsets will not be centred under the car. Press the nylon bearings into the Tichy journal boxes. Carefully hold the wheelsets in place and, using your other two hands, glue the side-frames to the modified truck bolster. Please note that if you are using different wheelsets than those supplied with the MDC truck (such as NWSL or Kadee HOn3) you must substitute their axle length for that of the MDC (.722" in this case) in the calculations above.
|FIGURE 1: Scribing the bolsters|
Checking back on the Sn2 Homepage I noted the car underbody needed to be a scale 18" (9/32") from the railhead. The body bolsters were cut and adjusted several times before I was happy with how the car was sitting on the trucks. Not having any track laid at this point, I simply added 1/32" to the height I measured from the flat work surface to account for the depth of the wheel flanges. The body bolsters were drilled and tapped for #00-80 machine screws. Some interference occurred between the floor beams and sideframes during truck rotation, so the two small bolt-head castings at the top of each of the Tichy truck sideframes were filed off to eliminate this problem (these small details cannot be seen in any event).
|What happens when you mess up the first bolster...|
|FIGURE 2: Adding the coupler box|
|FIGURE 3: "Tin" squares made from heavy paper|
|FIGURE 4: The bevelled stripwood and its chopped wedges|
|FIGURE 5: The basic roof assembly|
Grandt Line #5040 HO scale brake rigging was recommended to complete the underframe details, but I must respectfully disagree with this option. It would be far better to make up the few necessary pieces from scratch, as there are no components in this package that compare favourably to the photographic evidence I currently have access to. One brake compromise I had to make (for the moment) was the use of a Tichy #3003 HO brake wheel; I simply could not find a suitable 5-spoke, S-scale wheel in any of the catalogues I was able to refer to. From a typical viewing angle, none of the undercarriage brake rigging is visible to the operator; you need to have the model much nearer to eye-level to see it. As this was never intended to be a contest-quality model, I limited myself to a modified cylinder/reservoir from the Grandt package to enhance the silhouette for the time being.
|FIGURE 6: Roofwalk and brakewheel added|
The car sides, ends, and trucks were brush painted Badger Model Flex Light Tuscan Oxide Red (#16-14). One of my assumptions is that an early 1900s, somewhat marginal 2' gauge operation would be unlikely to possess a full shop with spray painting facilities. Therefore my Sn2 models would be painted using a regular brush, rather than with an airbrush. Over this red I applied several thin washes of Polly Scale Engine Black (#414290). The bright silver MDC wheelsets were treated to a dunking or two in Blacken-It; the wheel treads were then lightly polished with fine steel wool (wheelsets with a narrower tread width would definitely improve the overall appearance of the model). The underframe, roof, and trucks were covered in a thicker wash of Engine Black. The roof looks as if some rough patches and sharp edges of the tin sheeting are showing through the black paint. The roofwalk boards were left unpainted to reduce their slipperiness in wet weather conditions. Woodlands Scenics MG702 letters and MG708 numbers dry-transfers were applied, and Bragdon Enterprises "Ash" powder was brushed on to dull the finish [SEE FIGURE 7].
|FIGURE 7: Cumberland & York #124|
Why did I choose to scratchbuild a car that is one of the few examples for which a kit is already available? Well, I learned more about real railroad car construction, tried out some new methods of assembly and painting, and got to know many new people in the hobby. In the end, I am fairly pleased with how the finished piece turned out. If you don't want to build everything from scratch, Train & Trooper sell appropriate Maine narrow gauge equipment in S-scale and have gone to the immense trouble and expense of importing several beautiful brass Forneys to supplement their range of structure and rolling stock kits (EDIT 2015: sadly, T&T are no longer operating).
What would I do differently on future Sn2 projects? Aside from more planning and careful study of each prototype, I'll have to collect and/or create a dedicated set of detail parts specific to 2' applications. The door details (hangers, brackets, latches) are particularly annoying, as scavenging bits from several casting packages (in O, S, and HO scales) leaves you with a bunch of incomplete part sets for your other models, and raises the per-Sn2-car price considerably. I now have several packages of Grandt Line #4001 car hardware and #6 door hangers that are missing bits; a very wasteful approach. Were I to desire a fleet of these cars I would certainly make "master" subassemblies, such as the doors complete with all details, and cast several dozen of each in resin. I would also plan to install a piece of brass bar stock or steel key stock in the centre sill area to add some weight to the assembly. Styrene by itself is simply too light to guarantee good tracking when switching cars during an operating session.
Once I get on with hand-laying any significant amount of track, there will be a need for some roller gauges and jigs for turnout frogs. Fortunately, these will be simple to fabricate from either brass or aluminium. I will also take the time to create a jig to allow me to accurately mill off the extra bits of the Tichy bolsters to get the right width of trucks "first time - every time". In the meantime, a couple of short lengths of code 55 rail laid with Micro Engineering "micro" spikes on 5"x5"x5' ties will do for display purposes. Sn2 track standards reflect HOn3 specifications; this results in 2' gauge in S being nearer to 26". There has been some discussion online of adding 2" to the tie length to compensate for any visual difference.
While I have been fortunate enough to obtain one of the T&T inside-frame 2-4-4 Forneys, I do intend to construct at least one other locomotive. My aim will not be to duplicate any particular Maine 2-foot unit, but rather to capture the general look and feel as closely as possible. I prefer the appearance of the Forney type, so another 2-4-4 or a 0-4-4 might be just the ticket. A recently located HOn3 Forney should provide a decent frame and boiler to attach a larger cab and details, if I can get a new motor fitted without major surgery. However, a 2-6-2 may be more straightforward to construct given the ready availability of MDC HOn3 Consolidation chassis and running gear. Resin domes and stacks, along with laser-cut cab components are available from Jerry Wilson (see the Manufacturers link at the Sn2 homepage) to compliment the MDC conversions.
My thanks go out to John Hitzeman, Trevor Marshall, and many, many others for their time and assistance with this project.
Styrene and stripwood scratchbuilt representation of a Newfoundland Railway outside braced boxcar in Sn42. Magor Car Co. prototype. Trucks are 4'-10" wheelbase Andrews in resin (sprung).
Boxcars and flatcars represented the vast majority of NR equipment. This car was intended to be the first of my own small "fleet" of outside braced units. I learned very quickly that it is not efficient to build more than one or two cars if you are going to make them one-at-a-time.
Experience on this project prompted me to learn more about resin casting, mould making, and how the design and integration of master patterns differs from making just another part of a single model.
A miniscule Meridian Models O-14 (7mm/ft) Llechwedd slate quarry rubble wagon. A very nice little kit, but it generated a lot of burnt fingertips using a standard Weller TCP soldering iron.
I managed to pick up three small quarry wagon kits at a Meridian display table while in the UK visiting a preserved railway. They make terrific little kits in several scales. Their WWI equipment in 4mm scale was incredibly tempting. I'm actually sorry I didn't buy at least the Baldwin while I was there, despite not having any other 4mm models in my collection.
Hindsight is 20-20.