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Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 5:12 pm
by Fishplate
Hi Folks
I have been away for a bit (about 25 years, maybe a bit more) and the method on building track seems to have improved no end. I remember some talk about introducing some white metal chairs just before I left the hobby. Now I find myself years later with lots of Brook Smith sleepers and rivets but no chairs. Can someone help? Have I missed it somewhere in my trawl through all the new suppliers? Or am I too late :(

Ralph ;)

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:21 pm
by John Bateson
You might want to re-think the rivets bit.
Plastic chairs are available from C&L and Exactoscale. You can still use the wooden sleepers, some of us think they look better than the plastic ones, just use something like MekPak to stick them down.
Buy lots of track gauges as well and don't forget the widening on curves...
John

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:57 pm
by Tim V
Hi Ralph

Track making has moved on a long way in 25 years. Whitemetal chairs were dropped a long time ago. Rivetted track still has its uses. All the advantages of rivetted track are still with us, these days we use plastic chairs cosmetically from C&L or P4 track company glued with Butatone (they are made from ABS). You can also use the plastic chairs functionally, saving a pile of work :!: Why not peruse the track building demonstrations at Scaleforum, or speak to the manufacturers.

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:08 pm
by Fishplate
Thanks guys,

Looks like I have a bit of catching up to do...

Ralph ;)

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 7:39 am
by grovenor-2685
I thought I had replied to this last night but must have failed to click the send button. Never mind John and Tim have covered most of what I said.
If you already have the ply and rivets in stock then I would suggest you use them. When you need more then is maybe the time to think of using the plastic chairs functionally. I don't know what sort of budget you have but the price of rivets might come as a shock :)
Otherwise the chairs are the most expensive part of the excercise as well as the most tedious when used cosmetically.
You can divide the layout up into areas. eg Foreground where you may want to take close up pics, here use the best available chairs applied with tlc. Background where you really just need an impression of chairs, C&L often sell packs of 'seconds' at shows which are not up to the job functionally but are ideal for cosmetic use in these background areas.
Then there are the hidden areas where you can leave them off altogether. Another option if you have a shelf layout only seen from one side is to fit chair halves only on the visible side of the rail, heresy maybe but saves half the work and looks just the same.
Also don't overlook the fact that for plain line you can get ready chaired sleeper bases from C&L or Exactoscale that save an immense amount of work.
Regards

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 9:11 am
by Fishplate
Hi Keith,

Thank you for reposting. I awe several thousand rivets and lots of sleepers I also have several points already made but with no chairs as they were made using rivets 25+ years ago. Having never been used I an sure they will still function they just need to look like 2009 models!

One thing that bothers me, how does liquid solvent stick plastic to wood or did I get that wrong? I remember seeing a point made a few years ago at a show but I though that was using plastic sleepers??

Ralph :?

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 12:35 pm
by Russ Elliott
Ralph - the 'stick' of plastic chairs to wood with solvent depends on what is in the wood. Our timbers are prestained (normal wood stain), and for cosmetic chair application, we've found no problem in solvent adhesion. For functional chairing with prestained timbers, a polypipe (slightly diluted*) application on top of the timber provides a good grab.

* ISTR one of the area groups (South Hants??) doing tests on this a few years back, but I don't believe they ever went into print on the subject.

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 2:55 pm
by Rod Cameron
I've not had any problems using solvent cement (butanone) for attaching functional plastic chairs to ply sleepers, stained or not. Polypipe was recommended by Bernard Weller as a 'primer' a few years ago when Exactoscale introduced their 'new' track making system but it seems to work without.

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 7:13 pm
by Mark Tatlow
Welcome Ralph,

I remain in the ply and rivet camp, simply because I do not trust myself to get everything just right to begin with! I need to be able to fettle afterwards............

The use of C&L or the P4 Track Co's chairs cosmetically is easy, but you do generally have to file out a slightly bigger rebate for the rivet (especially if it happens to be a bit off centre). However, this is a doddle (if a bit time consuming when you are looking at thousands of chairs) and because between the firms you can get most of the types of chairs you need, it does make track that looks wonderful.

If you do not already have it, "An Approach to Finescale Trackwork" by Ian Rice is a worthwhile buy. He (and I) do one riveted sleeper and then 3 or so with the plastic chairs as it speads things up but retains the utilitiy of the soldered joint of ply/rivet. Some hold their hands up in horrer to this, but it works for me.

There are several threads on RMWeb too (these generally deal with "all plastic" construction).

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 7:24 pm
by grovenor-2685
The use of C&L or the P4 Track Co's chairs cosmetically is easy, but you do generally have to file out a slightly bigger rebate for the rivet (especially if it happens to be a bit off centre). However, this is a doddle (if a bit time consuming when you are looking at thousands of chairs) and because between the firms you can get most of the types of chairs you need, it does make track that looks wonderful.

I have found it quicker to remove the surplus rivet from the off centre ones using a dremel and cutting wheel, rather than trying to increase the hollow under the chairs, you can clean up an evenings worth of chairing space in a few minutes.
Regards
Keith

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 7:34 pm
by Mark Tatlow
Thats worth knowing - thanks Keith!

Mind you, I need to have another layout before I can do that...................I don't think I will get permission for two!

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:24 am
by jsherratt
I picked up on this thread with interest as I've been (very generously) given some baseboards and I'm hoping to at last make a start on my layout over the winter. I plan on using ply and rivet, partly because it's what I know and partly because I have lots of the stuff in stock. I've bought some of the new Hi Ni rail from C and L in readiness.

So, my question following on from this but still on the subject of using ply sleepers, is what are the favoured brews for staining ply sleepers? I've been re-reading the Iain Rice book, but wonder if anyone else has any ideas on the subject?

Thanks in anticipation, John

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:40 am
by Rod Cameron
John

ISTR that Iain's recipe was for Indian and sepia inks dissolved in IPA or something? Tried that once, OK but needed a lot more ink than he said.

I always use Colron wood stain (light oak I think, but you can vary it). For plain line sleepers you can just pack them into a 35mm film canister, top up with dye, put lid on, shake for a minute or so, decant the residual dye back into the can and lay out the sleepers on kitchen roll to dry.

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 9:19 am
by David Bigcheeseplant
I use Suede not leather dye dark brown or black, it comes out very well.

David

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:29 pm
by Mark Tatlow
I'm a wood stain guy, like Rod. Dark oak, but..........

I do not make my track in situ and give it a good scrub once in soapy water once it has been made. This has the affect of taking off some of the stain I find. It takes more or less off depending on how hard/long you scrub, the consistancy of the timber on the chairs and how heavilly it was soaked with stain in the first place. I quite like the pattina you get from this.

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 6:42 am
by jsherratt
Thanks for the thoughts here, I think I'll give the Colron Wood Stains a look next time I'm going past B and Q and see how I get on with that.

All I have to do now is to get on with the layout...... :D

Mark, I'm interested to read that you give your ply track a good scrub, as you put it - I would have avoided that thinking that it would have a "bad" effect on the play sleepers, warping and so on, I take it that this is not so ?

John

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 9:11 am
by Rod Cameron
Mark, I was also a bit curious about combining ply sleepers with water! But I presume you are just scrubbing them out of the water rather than immersing the whole lot?

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 4:49 pm
by grovenor-2685
Washing the track after completion was recommended back in the original P4 Manual. Primarily to remove flux residue as the solder paint recommended is corrosive. If you solder in situ you need to use the much more expensive non-corrosive solder cream. I have not immersed in water, what I do is to get an old toothbrush and some scouring powder (VIM) , run a bit of water into the sink then give the assembled track a good scrub with toothbrush and VIM on the draining board. Then I rinse it under the hot tap and put in some convenient warm place to dry off. (Sometimes the scrubbing reveals a bad joint or two and has to be repeated after remedial action). This process has never harmed the track whether pre-stained or not. Usually I pre-stain plain sleepers but leave point timbers to be stained after construction. In the old days I used Rustins wood dye which was spirit based and soaked in very quickly, you just had to stand the bundle of 100 sleepers still in its rubber band, on end in a quarter inch of dye for a few seconds, change ends and the whole bundle was done. Recently, however, I have failed to find the spirit dye and used the Colron stain, this does not flow into the wood in the same way so you either need to use the film canister method suggested above or paint it on afterwards which I do for the points.
If you want newer looking sleepers mix an appropriate amount of ebony in to get that fresh creosote effect.
Regards

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 10:34 pm
by Mark Tatlow
My technique is pretty similar to Keith's and is also primarilly about removing the flux residue. Partly for corrosion reasons and partly so that the paint does not flake off at some point!

I do scrub them liberally with water (and scouring powder like VIM) but I do not actually leave them immersed in the water for any length of time, then I give them a good rinse under the hot tap. They then go on a warm surface to dry. Although I do not deliberately leave them soaking, I suspect that the timber does get pretty saturated. I have not had any problems with warping whatsoever. I would not expect to though - this is pretty good birch ply we are talking about and the stresses ought to be relatively close to balanced when they get wet? However, as they do not stay wet for that long, I suspect that this has not really been ever tested!

As Keith says, it does show up a few loose joints and some sleepers that have been weakened by a bit too much heat when they are soldered disintegrate - better to find these early on than later.

Ralph, we have rather got off the theme of your original thread. As you are a very freshly rejoined, I suspect that at the time of your first posting you will not have read the last two Scalefour News. Ashley Pollard is part way through a series of articles about her experiences of coming into track building - there is plenty of good advice in these.

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 6:52 pm
by Tim V
I use ordinary cored solder for track construction. Using steel rail, make sure the rail is clean, by wiping with a rag soaked in lighter fluid. Then rub with a fibre glass brush. The rivets can be rubbed with the same brush.

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 11:05 am
by Rod Cameron
Although I do not deliberately leave them soaking, I suspect that the timber does get pretty saturated. I have not had any problems with warping whatsoever. I would not expect to though - this is pretty good birch ply we are talking about and the stresses ought to be relatively close to balanced when they get wet? However, as they do not stay wet for that long, I suspect that this has not really been ever tested!


So would anyone soak a ply and rivet point that had been constructed on a paper template to soak the PVA and paper off?

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 3:43 pm
by grovenor-2685
No, but then if you are sticking your timbers to a template you don't use PVA :)
Even the early learning centre washable type PVA is going to stick much better than you want if you intend removing your template and not ballasting over it ala Rice.
After quite a few years trial and error with different ways to do this my method now is, stich the template down to your construction board with double sided tape, don't use to much tape and keep the tape largely away from under the timbers.
Stick the timbers down with some more double sided tape, one strip along the centre of each track is usually enough.
When the point is built and ready for washing, cut the template round the timber ends with a scalpel, lift out the point, turn it over and carefully peel off the paper, repair any loose rivets you find, this reduces the chances of finding the loose rivets when washing.
(If you use double sided tape to stick the template down directly under the timber positions, as per original P$ Manual instructions it can be quite difficult to seperate them again, in this scenario use a kitchen knife and gradually lift the sleepers off the paper working from one end, take care not to bend the rail beyond its elastic limit, it ccan be done, I did a lot like this before the penny dropped).
Regards

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Sun Sep 27, 2009 11:30 am
by David Thorpe
Like Ralph, I've been away from active modelmaking for quite some time. My old layout, which I intend to refurbish, uses ply and rivet track, and I'd like to upgrade it with cosmetic chairs. I've never actually seen these chairs, however, and just can't get it into my head how they actually work. When I built my track, I used to ensure that the chair was represented by a small (and, if I may say so myself) very neat blob of solder - when painted with track colour, this wasn't too obviously false and looked much better than nothing at all. So just how do you fit these cosmetic chairs onto ready made track that is in situ? I'm assuming they must come in two halves, one to go on each side of the rail, but am also beginning to fear that I'm going to have to get rid of all my neat solder blobs before I can fit the chair. In that event it may well be a lot easier just to rip up my existing trackwork and start again - a pity, because I've got some quite complicated point configurations (I like building points), and I don't really fancy the extra expense.

David

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Sun Sep 27, 2009 1:12 pm
by Russ Elliott
David

Cosmetic chairs are merely functional (single-piece) ones cut, with a scalpel, in two halves. (You might find the resulting two 'legs' of the plastic chair might also need to be trimmed slightly to fit easily round the rivet head.)

There should be a minimum of solder between the rivet and the rail, so your carefully sculpted neat blobs need to be removed. In particular, to ensure a snug fit of the chair, there should be no solder in the web of the rail. On Green Street, I made a chisel ground and sharpened from an old needle file, to remove any surplus solder from the web and around the top of the rivet. The length of the chisel face was about 1mm.

Rivets are not always exactly centred under rails, for example typically on turnouts, and prior to cosmetic chair application, I went over Green Street's track removing the top edges of many rivets with a grinding disc. This does not affect their integrity.

ground-rivet.gif
ground-rivet.gif (3.6 KiB) Viewed 6965 times


The above preparation work is a bit tedious, but doesn't take all that long if approached methodically.

Re: Cosmetic chairs for Brook Smith track construction

Posted: Sun Sep 27, 2009 1:39 pm
by David Thorpe
Thanks, Russ. Very helpful, even if rather as I feared!

David.