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Willow Creek Traction
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Postby Willow Creek Traction » Tue Aug 12, 2008 6:04 am

Hey Y'all;

For larger card why not look in art supplies at picture matting board, which is pretty much thick cardstock in various colors and thicknesses.

Today at Hobby Lobby I got a sheet something like 38 inches by 42 inches of definitely not fancy plain grey cardboard that's somewhere in the 1/16 inch or 2mm thick range.
$6.99 and they had a 50% off art supplies sale :D

Seal that baby with a couple coats of thinned varnish and it might as well be plywood!

Let's see, what will Google pull up?
http://www.crescentcardboard.com/
http://www.dickblick.com/categories/matboard/
http://www.savagepaper.com/matboard.htm
http://www.cheapjoes.com/art-supplies/4562_matboard-and-foamcore.asp

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or since it's 1:04 AM, should it be earlier?
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later, Forrest Today's scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality. -- Nikola Tesla, July, 1934

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Postby tstone » Tue Aug 12, 2008 8:58 am

Thank you Steve for starting this micro-layout guide. Time-permitting I'm going to attempt to follow along.

I didn't have any foam around the house, but I did have some foam-core and black matteboard from my time at the university that's been sitting around for months. I used these a substitute. My ply is as follows:

Matte Board
Foam Core
Matte Board
Foam Core
Matte Board

I added an extra middle matte board to compensate. I'm sure if the layout were any larger this substitution wouldn't be good, but since the layout is so small I'm hoping I can get away with it.

As I'm just getting started in modelling and scratch building, I'm still rather limited on the tools at hand. I again used what I had available for assembling: No metal yard stick but I did find a spare strip of aluminum which worked as a straight edge. I used this along with an Xacto knife on top of an old bulletin board to do the cutting as a make shift cutting mat. I did most of the work on the floor (a further thing I didn't have -- an open clear space).



Here's the foam-core I'm using...

Image


...and the cutting process

Image

several hours later, here's the dried ply (notice the bent corner on the foam-core that I need to figure out a way to fix)

Image
Last edited by tstone on Tue Aug 12, 2008 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby DCRfan » Tue Aug 12, 2008 9:24 am

Here's the foam-core I'm using...

Image


Yeah - someone for the US who uses real measurements :lol: :wink:
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Postby Steve Bennett » Tue Aug 12, 2008 10:55 am

Willow Creek Traction wrote:Today at Hobby Lobby I got a sheet something like 38 inches by 42 inches of definitely not fancy plain grey cardboard that's somewhere in the 1/16 inch or 2mm thick range.
$6.99 and they had a 50% off art supplies sale :D


That sounds like the same stuff that I use Forrest, useful for all sorts of construction work. It also takes well to shaping with files and sandpaper, without too much fuzz. Pretty sure it is made from recycled paper, so environmentally good aswell :) .
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Postby Steve Bennett » Tue Aug 12, 2008 11:33 am

tstone wrote:Thank you Steve for starting this micro-layout guide. Time-permitting I'm going to attempt to follow along.


Welcome to the the forum and good to see you are having a go. It may not be a huge layout, but more of a learning tool (for me aswell). Having a few following along makes it all worthwhile and I'm sure others will pick up the odd tip or technique alomg the way.

Your layered construction should be fine for something like this, it doesnt need any strength in the base really, just needs to be stable and stay flat, thats the main thing.
Seeing you using the floor to do the cutting made me smile, thats where I cut most of the pieces for this aswell, oh and a flat board laid on the bed has come in useful too.

Hopefully, your lack of tools wont be too much of a headache, I have tried to keep what I use to a minimum and improvise where I can. With that in mind, here is one way of getting a right angle that is so simple. Take a sheet of paper out of your printer and use that as a guide for lining up your straight edge for cutting, it is surprising how often I use this, rather than a proper square.

Image
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Postby Gerry Bullock » Tue Aug 12, 2008 11:47 am

Hey Steve - do I see an Old Money Ruler in use :?: :roll: :lol: :lol:
So little time, so many ideas!!!!! GerryB.
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Postby Steve Bennett » Tue Aug 12, 2008 11:59 am

Gerry Bullock wrote:Hey Steve - do I see an Old Money Ruler in use :?: :roll: :lol: :lol:


:lol: :lol: :lol:
It is dual purpose, the other side is metric :) . It probably dates from when we were changing over, it must be 30 years old or probably even more.
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Postby Willow Creek Traction » Tue Aug 12, 2008 2:55 pm

Steve Bennett wrote:...it must be 30 years old or probably even more.


There's this temptation to make some kind of comment about it being just like the members, but I won't give in to it.
later, Forrest Today's scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality. -- Nikola Tesla, July, 1934

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Postby gfadvance » Tue Aug 12, 2008 3:05 pm

Well never found the foam - so as usual behind but will catch up.

You didn't mention it, but I guess from previous comments you have made that you would suggest using waterproof PVA, at least to seal the cardboard before further ground work is done on it ?
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Postby Steve Bennett » Tue Aug 12, 2008 3:21 pm

gfadvance wrote:You didn't mention it, but I guess from previous comments you have made that you would suggest using waterproof PVA, at least to seal the cardboard before further ground work is done on it ?


Good point, yes, I would recommend the waterproof or exterior grade PVA's for any baseboard work, easpecially where diluted glues are going to be used for ballasting or other scenic work. It shouldnt matter too much on this project as there wont be a lot of water as it is such a small area, but it is better to play safe when you can. Another option for sealing the card was mentioned earlier, by Forrest I think and that is using a dilute varnish to do it.
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Part 2 - The Cassette

Postby Steve Bennett » Tue Aug 12, 2008 4:25 pm

THE CASSETTE

Before moving onto the track laying, I had better do a brief piece on the cassette used to move the train from one track to the other, as obviously, it will need track on it :) . This is just about the construction of the base at this stage, the track part will be covered in more detail later.

The construction is exactly the same and using the same materials as the layout base, just smaller. By using the same materials, it should work out to the same height, which is a big help for track alignment. The size will depend on the size of your loco's and wagons. I would suggest having it long enough for a loco and 2 wagons and wide enough for you to hold it either side, without touching your stock. For this example, I have gone for 9"/230mm long by 2"/50mm wide.

Image

You will note that at this time, the sides have been left open with the polystyrene core still exposed. The sides could also be covered at this stage, but I want to try an experiment with this one later.

Image

And here it is with a loco and wagons to check the size.

Image

Because this is a seperate piece to the layout, dont worry too much if after making the first cassette, you find it isnt long enough for a longer loco or stock, it is very quick and easy to make another, in fact it can be useful having several to plug in different trains.

Thats as far as we go in this part, now I need to start on the track proper, back later.
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Postby tstone » Tue Aug 12, 2008 4:29 pm

DCRfan wrote:Yeah - someone for the US who uses real measurements :lol: :wink:

That's the advantage to reading the forums for a while before posting. I know your weak spots. 8)


Steve Bennett wrote:Your layered construction should be fine for something like this, it doesnt need any strength in the base really, just needs to be stable and stay flat, thats the main thing.


I'm surprised at how very strong it is. I didn't expect that much out of otherwise flexible components.
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Part 3 - Tracklaying and Wiring

Postby Steve Bennett » Tue Aug 12, 2008 8:47 pm

TRACKWORK

Now at last, time to start some work on the railway :) , or what there is of it anyway.

I guess the first thing is to start with the two lengths for the main board. If like me you start with a new length of track (Peco 0-16.5/On30 here), so much the better. I would suggest using the two ends of the track at the join with the cassette, the factory cut ends should require no work to make them perfect for mating up to the cassette. For this project, my tracks are shorter than the layout length by about ¾"/19mm to allow a bit of space for a brick wall or fence at the end. I'm sure we all have our own preferred method of cutting rail, so I wont go into that, but would recommend that whichever method you use, a fine file is used to clean up the cut end and remove any burrs or swarf from the cutting.

Now you have the track for the main board, put them to one side for the moment, as we turn our attention to the cassette and the method of connecting the two together. From the remainder of the track left over, cut a length approximately the same length as the cassette base and clean up the ends. I am going to describe 2 methods of connection, the first easy to do, the second a little more complex, but I feel is better to use.

METHOD 1
The simple way is to use conventional railjoiners, but as I'm sure most are aware, these are normally a tight fit and wouldnt be ideal for joining and seperating track on a regular basis. Thankfully, that is easy to cure. First off slide the railjoiners onto the length of track for the cassette, so the rail comes to the halfway point. If they are a tight fit, so much the better, if not once in position, gently squeeze them onto the foot of the rail with a pair of pliers. Now you will need a small screwdriver to slide into the open end to ease them open slightly, hopefully the photo will show what I mean.

Image

What we are aiming for is to open them out enough for the incoming rail to slide into them easily. The one without the screwdriver in the photo has already been eased open. If you dont have a screwdiver small enough, a small nail pushed in could work, or some very thin nosed pliers should do the job. Use one of the lengths of rail prepared for the layout to check how smoothly they slide in and out.

Image

METHOD 2
Slightly more involved and does require soldering, but in operation, this is easier to use. This method consists of short lengths of brass rod soldered to the outside web of the rails. A couple of pics to show it will I hope help to understand how it works.

Image

Image

The shaping is fairly simple once the rods are soldered onto the rails, I hope the overhead shot shows how from the end of the rail, the rod bends in slightly, so that it firmly bears against the rail it is pushed upto, then flares out again which is to aid getting it into location.

For speed of construction, the rail joiner method is quicker, but it does take more care to get the the cassette to locate against the track on the layout. There is no reason not to have two cassettes to try each method to see which you prefer operationally.

LAYING THE TRACK
Once the method of joining is sorted, the track can now be fixed down on both the layout and cassette. There is not too much in the way of tips that I can think of to pass on here. The track is simply pinned to the board, using track pins through pre-drilled holes in a few sleepers/ties. I used 4 pins for each length, one at each end and two equally spaced along the length. Similar on the cassette, though an extra pin on the second sleeper/tie at the joining end, may be an idea. Although only going into card, the pins do hold very well. Track pins are preferable, though ordinary household pins may work, be careful that they are not too long for the base material, it is pretty borderline on the thickness I have used.

As for track spacing, this will depend on stock sizes, I have based mine on a maximum width of 40mm stock and the track centres are at 55mm or just over 2 inches, to give plenty of space between. Where they are positioned on the layout will depend on what you plan scenically. Mine are pretty much centred on the board, which will work with the way I plan to scenic it.

I guess the one thing that is worth setting correctly at this stage, is to have the ends of the rails level with the edge of the board where it meets the cassette, though with the rails being able to slide, it isnt critical at this stage and can be finetuned at a later stage. Now time to move onto the electrics.

WIRING
Now I know this sends shivers of panic through some people, but it doesnt come any simpler than this project. Again I will describe 2 alternative methods, one quick and easy, the second a little more involved and probably the better way of doing it. So here goes, this should get rid of any fears for this project anyway.

METHOD 1
OK, for those in a rush or have a fear of anything electric, this is for you and you should be running trains in a few minutes. All that is required is a screw block electrical connector. Probably has different names in different places, but I'm sure all will recognise them from the pic.

Image

The most difficult part is removing them from the plastic holder. You may find some that are small enough to use complete with the plastic casing, but these were too big. To extract the centre, the part holding the screws need to be cut off, then the core slid out. The screws can then be removed and put back into the connector. Feed the connector onto the rails on the cassette, so the rail comes half way along the length and tighten the screw down onto the top of the rail. Then insert the output wires from your controller into the other end and thats it. Feeding through the cassette, means that whichever track on the layout the cassette is plugged into will be live, the other will obviously not have power to it. One of the advantages to this method, is that you can have 2 loco's on the layout at the same time, one with power, the other on the opposite track isolated. Time to play, though you might want to check method 2 to see if that is better suited to your needs :wink: .

METHOD 2
This second way of wiring is a little more involved and powers through the layout, rather than the cassette. Both tracks will be powered at all times, so only one loco can be used on the layout, but it does mean you can have several cassettes in use with different trains on them.

I have kept attaching the wires as simple as possible and it is just one way of doing it. Lets start with a pic.

Image

I know I said that I wanted to avoid using solder, but couldnt resist :) , plus I want to take this to shows, so reliability was a factor. Rather than solder directly to the rails though, the wires are soldered into cut down railjoiners, which are then put onto the end of the rails. For those that dont solder or dont have the facility, the same can be done by threading wires into the railjoiners, then squeezing them shut to trap the wires, a fair compromise I think :wink:

The wires are then taken along the surface and down to the connector inderneath, all ready for the controller to be connected to the other side. Note the staples to hold the wires down, I said this was back to basics :) .

Image

One last thing before the end of this instalment, which happened to me. While connecting the railjoiners to the end of the rails, I found that the rails had slid forward from the pressure of putting them on, so it will be worth checking the opposite end to make sure they are still level with the end of the layout. A ruler pushed up against the end will ensure everything is in place, like so

Image

I'm hoping that one of these two options will be suitable for everybody. Of course those that have some experience will have their own ideas on how they want to wire things up and may even be able to offer better advise, if so please add your ideas to the thread. Now it's time to play for a while to make sure it all works properly :) . The next step will be painting the track, that should be fun :roll: .
Last edited by Steve Bennett on Sun Aug 17, 2008 11:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby dr5euss » Tue Aug 12, 2008 8:50 pm

The choc block idea's great :D

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Postby Colin Peake » Tue Aug 12, 2008 9:40 pm

Some great ideas in there Steve, especially the chocolate blocks stripped down... :D

Personally I would be for playing safe and wiring the layout - those tabs on the cassette should work, they do on Shifting Sands, but whether I would reply on power to the scenic portion of the layout with them is another matter! On Ambasador Works I have gone belt and braces and everything is wired up with a wire between scenic section and cassette (or it will be when I connect it up!), although I am using a different method for track alignment that doesn't carry power.

A tip with track pins, I have always been brought up to:

1) Use Peco Streamline ones, not the chunky Hornby style ones;
2) Pre-drill sleepers with a 0.5mm drill to ease passage through them;
3) Pin at either end of the sleeper rather than the middle, where too hard an application can narrow the gauge.

Hope that helps!

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Postby gfadvance » Tue Aug 12, 2008 10:14 pm

As always some really useful information here - am about 1 lap down on you at the moment but when that glue dries ........... :lol:

I'll have a layout yet - even if its only :wink: a micro
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Postby Steve Bennett » Tue Aug 12, 2008 10:36 pm

Colin Peake wrote:A tip with track pins, I have always been brought up to:

1) Use Peco Streamline ones, not the chunky Hornby style ones;
2) Pre-drill sleepers with a 0.5mm drill to ease passage through them;
3) Pin at either end of the sleeper rather than the middle, where too hard an application can narrow the gauge.


Thanks for the input Colin. Have to confess, I dont usually pin the track and never heard of them narrowing the gauge, but can see how it could happen. I doubt the card base would offer enough grip on the pins to cause a problem on this project, but will remember that for the future.
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Postby Steve Bennett » Tue Aug 12, 2008 10:47 pm

gfadvance wrote:- am about 1 lap down on you at the moment but when that glue dries ........... :lol:


:lol: a bit more than 1 lap down, my track is painted :lol:

Before you ask, I used 3 aerosols, red oxide primer, grey primer and matt black. I had these already and it is a good way to get weathered track, BUT, it is pricey to buy them for a small project like this, the cost would be more than the rest of the layout altogether, so although I will show how it is done, it probably wont be suitable for others.
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Postby Prof Klyzlr » Wed Aug 13, 2008 2:33 am

Dear TStone,

Yep, laminate foamcore correctly, as Steve has shown,
(thin constant layer of PVA glue, ensuring total surface bond between the layers),
and you can get some amazing strength of out foamcore :wink:

In previous testing, I've supported 2 actual kilos over a 400mm span with 0 (ZERO) deflection laser-alignment tested, :!: :shock:

with only 3 layers of 5mm foamcore laminated together :shock:
(I was given this span/weight challenge by some 7mm SG modellers with HEAVY brass locos, that didn't believe an all-foamcore modulecould support their trains.... :evil: :wink: )

More info available off-thread if you're interested....
(Steve's got a good thread going here,
don't want to hi-jack it.... :wink: )
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Postby Colin Peake » Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:23 am

Steve Bennett wrote:Have to confess, I dont usually pin the track and never heard of them narrowing the gauge, but can see how it could happen. I doubt the card base would offer enough grip on the pins to cause a problem on this project, but will remember that for the future.


I think it is largely a problem with the larger Hornby pins and a great deal of over-enthusiasm, but it is something a beginner might do so quite pertinent... :wink:

Now, that track spraying idea sounds good... :lol:

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Postby gfadvance » Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:40 am

Steve Bennett wrote:
:lol: a bit more than 1 lap down, my track is painted :lol:



:lol: :lol: OK 2 laps down and falling behind but still looking forward to the next episode
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Postby Steve Bennett » Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:29 am

Colin Peake wrote:[I think it is largely a problem with the larger Hornby pins and a great deal of over-enthusiasm, but it is something a beginner might do so quite pertinent... :wink:


Good point, a slightly heavy hand could easily deform the track.


Now, that track spraying idea sounds good... :lol:


:lol: Yes, I think it is the same, or very similar to the method you used on your Ambassadors Micro.

I was torn between using the 3 cans of paint, or just Matt Black, then drybrushing the sleepers/ties. The speedy method won the day :)
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Part 4 - Track Painting

Postby Steve Bennett » Wed Aug 13, 2008 5:32 pm

TRACK PAINTING

I had better start this section by saying, that this is just one way to do it. There are many different ways to paint track and I'm sure if you asked 10 different modellers how they like to do it, you would get 10 different answers, some dont even bother :) .
In addition, unless you have the paints suitable for this already, it is probably not the best option and will work out expensive. Having said that, it is very quick and easy, plus gives good results, even for somebody who hasnt tried it before (like me). Yes, this is the first time I have tried this and I will definately be using it again.

The method uses 3 different aerosol cans of paint, Red Oxide Primer, Grey Primer and Matt Black. These are the type available from car accessory dealers and these days, most are acrylic based.

Before starting to paint, because of the way this layout works, I took the precaution of masking the ends of the rails that meet with the plug in cassette, at least for the rail joiner connection method. This was very simple, insulted rail joiners were put onto the end of the rails, like so:-

Image

It probably doesnt need saying, but the painting is best not done in the house, outside (weather permitting) or a well ventilated garage/shed is a much better idea :) .

Firstly, a coat of Red Oxide Primer is applied over all the track, just spray away to cover it.

Image

Then stand the layout upright, or near enough and spray light coats of the Matt Black, you want to keep the spray at a right angle to the track. Dont worry about the red being dry before you spray on the black, this works better if it is still wet, it does look wetter in the photo than it is due to the flash from the camera. You will also note that I took the opportunity to cover the surface of the board at the same time.

Image

Now while the black is still wet, quickly do the same with the Grey Primer, the idea is to get the all the paints to mix and blend together, you do need to work quite fast.

Image

Looks pretty horrible when viewed like that, but when you lay the layout back down and view from a more normal angle, you should be greeted with a much better look.

Image

As the head of the rail is wider than the web, when sprayed from directly above, the black and grey, dont really touch the sides of the rail, leaving the red showing through to give a slightly rusty look. This isnt as good as it can be, stopping between each stage to take photos, gave the paint too long to dry, so they didnt blend together as well as they could, but still pretty acceptable.

Now I'm never too sure how long to leave the paint to harden before cleaning the tops of the rails. Doing it before it has fully hardened, can drag off more paint than desired, but leaving it to fully harden, can result in it flaking off. In this case, I left it about an hour, it was touch dry on the surface, but still soft underneath and it worked pretty well.

Image

Yes, I used the same old credit card as I used for spreading glue earlier :) . Dont be tempted to use an abrasive paper or track rubber to clean the paint off, this will scratch the rail surface, a smooth card like this will just push the paint off, without damaging the rail. Once the paint is gone from the surface, give it a wipe with a soft cloth, if there are still a few traces of paint, a drop of WD-40 or alcohol on the cloth will remove these. Finish up by going over the rail surface with a graphite pencil and you should be ready to run trains.

Oh, nearly ready, if you havent removed them previously, take off the insulated railjoiners from the end of the rails :roll: .

Image

For those that have chosen the brass rod type connectors for the cassette, you will need to scrape off a little paint from the web of the rail to allow electrical contact to be made. Now you can play trains :wink:

Well that concludes this instalment. Just one way of painting the track, I'm sure it wont be suitable for everyone, but hopefully of use to some.
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Demi-Millegniumer
Posts: 533
Joined: Thu May 17, 2007 2:38 pm
Location: Manchester, UK
Interests: Models of all sorts boats, planes and now G15

Postby gfadvance » Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:21 pm

Steve, just tried your technique on track on the cassette - brilliant :D

When I got interested in Gn15 I made a few display bases and painted the track with "track color" - which I was never happy with,never mind that I then had to paint the sleepers, and I never got that right!

OK back to the track and wiring on the main base
Gordon F

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Jon Randall
Demi-Millegniumer
Demi-Millegniumer
Posts: 993
Joined: Sat Jun 02, 2007 11:18 pm
Location: NW Leics, England
Interests: Narrow gauge railways, modelling

Postby Jon Randall » Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:33 pm

I am following this thread with interest during my temporary exile from modelling due to fitting the new kitchen.
I'm glad that you more or less paint your track the same as I do.
How do you cut your rail :?: The only thing I have to cut rail is a mini hacksaw and I struggle to stop the rail pulling out of the chairs, any advice will be welcome.
On the plus side, look what the kitchen fairy brought me,
Image
I've leaned my 2 foot long spirit level up against it to give a sense of scale :D
That lot should keep me going for a week or two :D
Jon Randall

Needs to stop procrastinating and start modelling


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