Signals for Minories

JFS
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Signals for Minories

Postby JFS » Fri Nov 06, 2015 4:53 pm

Dear All,

After a couple of weeks of frantic effort, there are some working signals for Minories and I thought others might be interested to see the outcome.

So far the Platform Starters are just about complete meaning that I am "on my way" to halfway there...

Here are a couple of shorts of the bracket for Platforms 1 and 2 under construction

Starters 2 small.jpg


Starters close up small.jpg


and here is the finished job:-

2 6 Off small.jpg


The arms are coloured using self-adhesive vinyl as used by aeromodellers - it sounds dreadful but actually gives a very nice result. Many thanks to Mick Nicholson for both the idea and for sending me some material.

Starters small.jpg



and here are a couple of close-ups of the dummies

Dummies 2 small.jpg


Dummies 3 small.jpg


I have to say that compared to making these things work, making working point rodding is an absolute doddle...

Since my mistrust of digital electronics approaches my distrust of politicians, (there- that's my emails being bugged for the next 20 years) I am working these mechanically, but even mechanical stuff needs maintenance, so for that reason, all the signals are removeable:-

Unplugged small.jpg


Removing them is just a matter of undoing a screw and lifting them out. Not quite so easy getting them back in...

I will post a few more when the "cosmetic" covering to the platform ramp is complete.

Hope that is of interest - we don't see nearly enough decent signals these days - even (perhaps especially) on P4 layouts!

Best wishes,

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jim s-w
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby jim s-w » Fri Nov 06, 2015 8:02 pm

Looks very smart. What's the source?

Jim

JFS
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby JFS » Fri Nov 06, 2015 9:46 pm

jim s-w wrote:Looks very smart. What's the source?


Many thanks Jim.

It is all scratch-built (with a bit of help from AutoCad and PPD). The only "bought-in" bits are the cast-brass posts for the dummies which are from Douglas Smith (see this thread - viewtopic.php?f=78&t=1669) though in the end I could not get Douglas's etchings to work properly as supplied and did my own thing. I am afraid that when it comes to upper quadrant signals and lattice posts, the stuff from the trade is pretty woeful - not least because it is all etched in brass and soldering up brass to make working pivots etc. is a bit beyond me.

Best wishes,

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iak
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby iak » Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:33 pm

Whoooosh!
Very tasty and a might impressive too 8-)
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it....

Perfection is impossible.
But I may choose to serve perfection....
Robert Fripp


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Armchair Modeller
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby Armchair Modeller » Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:40 pm

They look superb, Howard! :thumb

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TonyMont
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby TonyMont » Sat Nov 07, 2015 10:51 am

HI Howard,

Your signals are absolutely brilliant, from the closeup photographs I could easily believe that they are much bigger than 4mm. :P

Tony.

John Palmer
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby John Palmer » Sat Nov 07, 2015 12:37 pm

“I have a cunning plan, Milord. I will drive the arms on the dolls via the long extensions of the balance levers.” Neat.

I am guessing that you made extensive use of you own custom etchings. I’d be interested to know how difficult it was to get the artwork right for this, particularly in achieving the desired delicacy of the lattice. Is the material nickel silver?

Would also be interested to see more of the drive arrangement below board, where your photograph lacked the depth of field needed (understandably!) for a clear image. It looks as though those lozenge-shaped tails play a significant part in the design.

Lovely work.

Terry Bendall
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby Terry Bendall » Sat Nov 07, 2015 10:36 pm

At the risk of annoying others with superlatives this are quire brilliant, not that I would expect anything else from Howard. Having build a couple of Southern pattern dummies from the MSE kit, these look much better. I did get one to work via the balance lever before painting but it did not want to play afterwards so the lever got by passed. (Didn't get it all right there :( )

The self adhesive vinyl looks very good and if there is a tendency for it to be too shiny it could no doubt be toned down with some matt varnish. In this application the large base plate can be hidden under or perhaps part of the platform ramp. Having to remove one of the aforementioned dummies last week and of course dig up some of the ballast, how will you solve that problem elsewhere Howard where the signal may be planted in the ballast?

Terry Bendall

JFS
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby JFS » Sun Nov 08, 2015 10:06 am

Gents,

Many thanks for the kind words.
John - however you choose to actualy make these things, designing them "well" is a matter (like everything else) of both knowledge of the process and experience of how to exploit it and I have done a fair bit of metal bashing over the past few years. It probably helps that I am a Chartered Mechanical Engineer by profession so I should know a bit about mechanical design! The theory says that most of these components are "impossible" to produce by etching, as many of the holes / metal thicknesses etc. are beyond the repeatability of the process. I am sure that the etchers throw their hands up in horror every time they see a file from me but all credit to them, they always come up with the goods and in this case - apart from a few tiny washers dropping out of the fret, all was well. Of course, for a "commercial kit" none of this frontier stuff would be acceptable as, inevitably, the results will differ from batch to batch because of the limitations of the process - something which can be "knife and forked" for a personal job but which would be unacceptable for paying customers.
But never underestimate the size nor difficulty of such a task - this job was on the drawing board for several weeks getting the design right then turning it into components which could be both etched and built into a workable job. And you need it to come out right first time - the process (for a one-off) is not cheap because of set-up, tooling and postage costs so any failure is a costly disaster.
I never use brass - nickel silver etches more cleanly, it is stiffer for any given hardness and its lower thermal conductivity makes it much easier to solder - especially the small bits - and whilst the nickel content used to make N/S more expensive, the high price of copper now makes the differential much less.

Terry - you are right that this particular operating device is beneath the platform ramp. Its design is complicated by the need to avoid a bearer under the baseboard as these signal are right next to the board joint. I will post a picture in a day or so to show the simpler, direct drive mechanism. How to hide the baseplate in the ballast is something that I am still thinking about - the first step being to rebate the board surface so that the plate sits "in" rather than "on" it. The issue is complicated by the fact that where the signals sit (away from the main lines) I have used Carr's "Ash" and this stuff fades very considerably from its original dark grey to a greeny - faun. So making it match might take a few years...

Best wishes,

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Will L
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby Will L » Sun Nov 08, 2015 11:11 am

JFS wrote:How to hide the baseplate in the ballast is something that I am still thinking about


A trick I have used in the past to hide joints in the basalt, in those days mostly baseboard joints but it should work for the base round signals, was to keep a some loose ballast mix the right colour (tinted with powder paint to match the stuff that was had been stuck down) which is gently scattered on and brushed into the joint. Of course you have to do it each time you set up the layout but it only takes seconds and is well worth the effort.

JFS
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby JFS » Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:23 am

Thanks for that Will - an interesting idea, though the thought of loose ballast falling into point blades etc when the board is up ended on its journey back into the loft is a worry. What did you find happens to the loose stuff each time you set-up and break down - did you do any vacuuming-off before packing-up etc?.

Of course, the signals - once installed - should only need to be removed every Preston Guild so for that a paper "break the seal" type of joint might work.


Best wishes,

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Will L
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby Will L » Tue Nov 10, 2015 3:33 pm

JFS wrote:Thanks for that Will - an interesting idea, though the thought of loose ballast falling into point blades etc when the board is up ended on its journey back into the loft is a worry. What did you find happens to the loose stuff each time you set-up and break down - did you do any vacuuming-off before packing-up etc.,


Other have mentioned that sort of worry, all I know is that we never had a problem (over 15 years) with it getting in the wrong places. I suppose this was baseboard joints mostly, so presumably it just fell on the floor when we broke the joints. As we were using granite chip at the time any that got behind a point blade would have been noticed. At set up time, before putting down the loose stuff we did vacuum round the track. This was to get rid of any track cleaning residues and but presumably it also served to remove wandering lose ballast. We had a fine filter over the nozzle so items, like lose non working ground signals, didn't disappear. But we only did that at at set up time, as there was no time for that sort of nicety at breakdown. We reckoned to be out of the hall within the hour.

JFS
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby JFS » Tue Nov 10, 2015 3:57 pm

Will L wrote:
Other have mentioned that sort of worry, all I know is that we never had a problem (over 15 years) with it getting in the wrong places.


Many thanks for that Will - 15 years experience is a good basis to speak from!

Best wishes,

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Colin Parks
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby Colin Parks » Tue Nov 10, 2015 6:08 pm

Hi Howard,

The signals do look just right. Having tried and failed to assemble working shunt signals in the past, I can but look in wonder at how you have achieved this - and half way up a signal post! The lattice work dolls look very convincing.

All the best,

Colin

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Horsetan
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby Horsetan » Sat Nov 28, 2015 2:36 pm

Stunning piece of work. The lesson, as always, is that if you want something done properly, you end up having to do it yourself.... Which in this case means a thorough knowledge and understanding of CAD.

There is no escape.
That would be an ecumenical matter.

Terry Bendall
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby Terry Bendall » Mon Nov 30, 2015 8:16 am

Horsetan wrote:The lesson, as always, is that if you want something done properly, you end up having to do it yourself....


In my view ideally yes although the alternative is to find someone who will do it for you, either as a favour, or for money. My view, and that of many others doing it yourself is how you learn.

Horsetan wrote:Which in this case means a thorough knowledge and understanding of CAD.


I would disagree with this view. Obviously you need the bits to make the signals, (or anything else) and if no one does them, then you would need to get them made. There are people who will produce etched components from CAD drawings and some of these will do the CAD drawings as well from a sketch or other information. Using a CAD package is a useful skill to have but it is by no means essential for success in railway modelling.

Terry Bendall

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Jol Wilkinson
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby Jol Wilkinson » Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:18 am

Designing etch artwork doesn't need 3D CAD, but can be produced with 2D software such as CorelDraw or Illustrator. In my limited experience, 2D programmes are much easier to learn than 3D.

The important and sometimes difficult bit is getting the prototype information and dimensions. Turning that into a 2D drawing isn't too difficult and requires the same approach as the old days of hand drawn artwork, but using a keyboard and mouse, rather than a pencil and ruler. Using a software drawing package provides greater accuracy and repeatability.

Jol

JFS
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby JFS » Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:53 am

Horsetan wrote:Stunning piece of work. The lesson, as always, is that if you want something done properly, you end up having to do it yourself.... Which in this case means a thorough knowledge and understanding of CAD.


Many thanks for the kind words.

It might be worth mentioning that I learned to use CAD specifically to produce artwork for etching - therefore to that extent it is part of my "scratchbuilder's toolkit" - but my understanding of engineering design and manufacturing comes from my day-job qualification as an engineer, and my knowledge of what will "work" comes from my modelling experience. There is nothing to stop anyone learning to use CAD but it is not a two minute job and I suspect that not many people would want to invest that much modelling time when there are - as Terry mentions - people who will help out with that process. The etchers themselves offer just such a service. It is also no magic solution - I have seen some examples of etched designs on sale recently which I strongly feel are not "buildable" in any reasonable sense - presumably due to a lack of modelling experience on the part of the designer.

I would also not want my approach to be taken in any way as a condemnation of the "commercial" components available as many an excellent signal has been made using them - see the work on show here:- http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index. ... le-mainly/ Components and etchings which are produced to sell have to be suitable for the "average modeller", make a robust product and be cost-effective to design and produce. I am not sure that my etchings would meet any of those criteria!

So I hope that my post will encourage people to make better (or indeed any!) signals - regardless of the route taken to get to to that end!

Best wishes,

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stephenfreeman
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby stephenfreeman » Sat Jan 02, 2016 11:05 am

Hi,
Only just found this thread, very impressive.
1) I like the subterfuge regarding the linkage from the balance weight arm, never thought of that although I have made the pulleys 'work' in the past by adding a crank to them .
2) I found Douglas Adams design to be very useful - I don't get asked for many Southern Ground Signals but find that I can adapt the method to other Companies products.
3) The main problem with the the main commercially available Stevens lattice posts is that they are incorrect in that the sides are asymmetrical in pattern, something I'd like to see corrected but don't have the time to spend on it myself.
Stephen Freeman
Bespoke Finescale Trackwork and Semaphore Signals 7mm to 4mm scales
https://www.tracknsignals.co.uk

JFS
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby JFS » Sat Jan 02, 2016 12:47 pm

stephenfreeman wrote:Hi,

2) I found Douglas Adams design to be very useful

3) The main problem with the the main commercially available Stevens lattice posts is that they are incorrect in that the sides are asymmetrical in pattern, something I'd like to see corrected but don't have the time to spend on it myself.


Hello Stephen,

I presume you mean Douglas Smith? If so, you are correct that he supplied the castings for the dummies. sadly of course, he is no longer with us so a different solution will be needed for future.

Not quite sure what you mean about the commercial offerings being asymmetrical - if (as in the Gibson ones) you have to solder them up from 4 individual pieces, then they need to have 2 "wide" sides and 2 "narrow" sides, otherwise you have somehow to "mitre" the corners. But what I think you might be saying is that, since all four sides are the same, then it is impossible to end up with a symetrical result. Looking at most efforts I see about, many people find these lattice posts difficult - hence me doing my own - but that does not mean they are easier to do, nor any less fragile!

Best wishes,

junctionmad
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby junctionmad » Sat Jan 02, 2016 12:49 pm

Could anyone suggest a company that does custom etches in small volume at a reasonable price ?

Alan Turner
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby Alan Turner » Sat Jan 02, 2016 2:05 pm

junctionmad wrote:Could anyone suggest a company that does custom etches in small volume at a reasonable price ?

Grainge and Hodder Ltd

Regards
Alan

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stephenfreeman
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby stephenfreeman » Sat Jan 02, 2016 3:10 pm

Hi,
Yes I meant Douglas Smith, that's a shame.

What I meant by being asymetrical is that the bracing in the MSE ones is out of phase. It's been known for some time though the bracket base post is correct. It is still a mystery as to why it hasn't been corrected. I think you will find some more info on the http://forum.signalbox.org/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=3953&p=46561&hilit=mse#p46561
Stephen Freeman
Bespoke Finescale Trackwork and Semaphore Signals 7mm to 4mm scales
https://www.tracknsignals.co.uk

JFS
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby JFS » Sat Jan 02, 2016 10:05 pm

stephenfreeman wrote:
What I meant by being asymetrical is that the bracing in the MSE ones is out of phase.


Right - got you now. I confess that I have never really looked at the MSE ones as they look a bit heavy handed to me. On mine there is a scale 7/8" stagger between the "sides" and the "faces" - but that is so small that it is invisible even to me!

MSE is a range that certainly would benefit from an update - many of the signals - ie the wooden GW arms - bear no relationship whatsoever to the real thing sadly. In the GW case, the real deal is available from David Geen, but for other types MSE is the only game in town - warts and all.

Best wishes,

Terry Bendall
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Re: Signals for Minories

Postby Terry Bendall » Sun Jan 03, 2016 9:33 am

junctionmad wrote:Could anyone suggest a company that does custom etches in small volume at a reasonable price ?


You could also ask Mike Edge of Judith Edge Kits.

Terry Bendall


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