Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Track Planning for Beginners Part 1

Track Planning for Beginners Part 1

This is how I am carrying out my track planning.

1.  Prepare the available space.  At a minimum clean the area where the bench work will go.

2.  Measure the space available and use a piece of graph paper to make a map of the area.

3.  I used handy panels which are 2'x4' and I made the bench work follow the wall.  Going wider than 2 feet around a wall makes maintenance and operations more difficult.

4.  Make a list next to your map of the possible configurations - even some you know you don't want or are impractical.  Consider using a 4'x8' sheet that you can walk around both long sides.

5.  Start the Design Process.

I.  Visualize what you want out of your model railroad.  Imagine the things you really like and how the look and feel of the layout will make you happy.  Imagine showing your layout to your friends.  Imagine how things will look at sunrise, sunset and night.

II.  Describe your vision by making a list of the coolest things you could think of - the look, the feel and how you would explain it to a friend viewing it for the first time.

III.  Start drawing your best guess on your map.

6.  Armchair modeling is when you make track plans on paper and imagine how they will function.  This is a hobby all to itself - you can make track plans on paper just because it's fun.  I like to keep these things in a Composition Book Quad Rule.  You can find these in many stores and even the dollar store.  Try laying out a simple industry with 1 track and a run around track.  Then bend that configuration in many different ways and see if you can imagine dropping off and picking up cars.

7.  Assuming you decided on a tentative plan and have prepare the space then build the primary bench work.  I personally do not use foam tops because I nail my track in place.  I do this on purpose because I like to lay down track and test it, redo it and retest it.  I like cork bulletin boards squares on top of particle board.  That doesn't mean you should do that.  Particle board can be very tricky stuff to work with because of the numerous scenery techniques that involve putting a liquid down for scenery which will be soaked up by the board causing it to swell.  I've been using it for a very long time and know its properties and how it reacts to water and temperature changes.  The cork squares just so happen to be 1'x1' making it very easy to draw accurate maps.  It also makes it easy to put some track on it and see if it actually lines up the way you think it will.

8.  Start putting track and your favorite cars on the benchwork to see how they look.  You can nail down some track, test it and go back to your map.  Keep refining your plan using the new information from your tests.  Also start small - get little parts to work and build on them, i.e., don't lay down a huge yard first.  If you have an industry or a single track somewhere put that one down first and start building out from there.  Many people like to lay down the mainline first and make everything fit after that.  I like to lay down simple pieces and build out which then creates a mainline which only has to be completed.

9.  Test and Retest.  Rebuild and test again.

Useful tools

2B pencils
2H pencils
plastic eraser
metal pencil sharpener
small ruler
graph paper

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Athearn Blue Box DD40 rebuild

Working on the old MP40
The right combination of parts was found with the MP15 cab and base plus an Atlas Trainmaster H24-66 frame and finally the correct height to get the cab to see over the body was achieved.

The dual motors will be upgraded to 2 24 volt rare earth magnet motors which should give a super smooth movement like the high torque 24 volt rare earth magnet motor used in the single motor Athearn Blue Box DD40 that we did on YouTube. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Tenshodo Brass SD24 rebuild

Tenshodo SD24 Total Rebuild and Repower

I've been working on this old brass Tenshodo SD24 for a couple of years on and off.  My goal is to make it a decent running locomotive.

I selected a high torque rare earth magnet motor with a 2mm shaft.  This motor runs around $6 each.  These types of motors are far superior to anything else out there.  They are very good on the low end, but at 24v, you never reach the top end so the locomotive may seem a bit slow.  If you run trains at low speeds, this is the type of motor you want.  The torque is very high, much more than you are probably used to.

I made the motor mount on the 3D printer just the right height so the motor shaft is aligned with the drive shaft on the gear tower.

Here's where the problem is located:  these locomotives used a 2mm rubber hose to connect their 2.3mm shafts to the old open frame motor.  I could save this hose and with a drop of glue make it work probably ok.  The hose takes away just a bit of freedom of sideways movement, and that little bit almost certainly adds up to frequent derailments on most track, unless you have huge radius and large turnouts.

Let's table the hose for now and move to more serious problems.

The motor shaft connects to a hose that connects to a drive shaft that connects to a bakelite gear on a gear tower that connects to another bakelite gear that connects to another bakelite gear that connects to a worm gear on a shaft connected to another worm gear connected to another drive shaft that connects to 2 more worms.  Each worm connects to an axle.  That's 3 bakelites, 4 worms, 5 total shafts.

The trouble starts with mating a bakelite gear to a metal worm.  Once worn a little, lots of binding will happen.

No I'm going to replace anything with another drive system.  In this shop, things get fixed, so let's figure out how to solve the problem.

Getting new hose is easy, but perhaps we can make couplings.  Gears are riveted on, but not impossible to replace and we have plenty of those around.

Fabricating a new gear tower is totally possible using aluminum and may be the way to go, plus I really want to make something like that anyways.....

Dual Motor Tyco C630 or SD24 total build and DCC prep

Dual Motor Tyco C630 or SD24 total build and DCC prep

Preparing Tyco Power Torque Locomotives to use 2 motors

Quite a while back I scored a Dual Motor Golden Eagle Super 630 from ebay.

Today I'm going to rebuild it and get it ready to accept a DCC controller.

Some of the considerations are:

1. Total rewiring and adding a small PC board where the DCC decoder will go.
2.  Making sure the motors are not fighting each and travel in the correct direction.
3.  All new interior wires.

Power Torques are very easy to rebuild.  They are far more robust and powerful than most people give credit to them.  They are often derided as being terrible motors, but the reality is quite different.

Wiring is quite simple, so this project was a total success.  It turns out that 2 motors on a Tyco are way better than just one.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Wheel weathering jig for locomotives

Make a simple wheel painting jig

 Take a piece of cardboard and poke a wheel into it trace it with a pencil and cut it out with your knife. Leave strip down the center open.

 Under the center you will place a leg to hold it up.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wire Model Railroad Buildings with LED lighting

Wire Model Railroad Buildings with LED lighting

Part 1
Planning with pencil and paper

Step 1  State your Objective (your intent)

"My Intent is to have a cool lighting effect inside my building with LED lighting."

Step 2  List Specific Requirements

"LED Lighting"

Step 3  List the elements that are implied by the requirements

"a bridge rectifier and 1k resistor are necessary to LED lighting"
"an additional feature is that this method can use either AC or DC power"
"flexible wire of a gauge 26-30 AWG would be best for this porject"
"hot glue would be best for securing wires in place"

Step 4  Draw a simple diagram to show the plan

"a simple drawing on graph paper, not to any scale, but showing the approximate locations and directions of the elements"

Step 5  Gather the materials to include tools and support tools (tape, glue, rags)

Step 6  Prepare materials (such as tinning the wires and components)

Step 7  Do the construction

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Make a locomotive fuel tank out of bondo

Make a locomotive fuel tank out of bondo

Sometimes you need a larger fuel tank, or in the case of the Athearn C44-9W I got for parts, there was no fuel tank at all so I had to build it from scratch.

Bondo is a product that is easier to use than you would expect.  Take a piece of card board from an old box and put some of the gray bondo in a glob with a plastic knife.  Then put about a cap full of the red hardener next to it and mix the 2 together.  It will turn pink.

You now have 3-5 minutes to glob it where you need it.  I use tape barriers most of the time, but be warned that too much barrier and you can't get the bondo to go where you want it.

As soon as it starts to get a bit sandy looking when you mix it up on you card board that means time is up for spreading it.

Now you have 5-10 minutes where you can take a flat blade x-acto knife and trim it.  You sculpt it as best you can carefully shaving it down.

At about 30 minutes in you can go to the disc sander and shape it like wood.  Sometimes you wait a bit longer, but rarely do you need to wait an hour.

You can get it very smooth if you want using finer and finer grades of sand paper.  Once you're done, you can paint it.  I don't always use primer, but primer can be used to make the surface even smoother.