Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Discuss the prototype and how to model it.
Barry Davis
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Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby Barry Davis » Tue Apr 11, 2017 6:37 am

Its been many years since the society produced the CRS conductor rail supports kit for LT and SR modelers.

But as I modeler of the SR 3 rail system , I can only use half of the insulators supplied in the kit, as the LT 4th rail insulators are of no use to me what so ever. By throwing away half the insulators in the kit and just keeping the SR ones, makes this a very expensive kit for me.

With advances in 3D printing it should be possible to replace the current kit which requires 3 parts for each insulator, with a re-designed kit containing insulators which incorporating the base, insulator, and cradle as one part only.

Does the society any plans to replace the current three part insulator kit with simplified one part 3D printed insulator kit. One insulator kit for SR modelers and a separate kit for LT modelers ?

Barry

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Russ Elliott
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby Russ Elliott » Tue Apr 11, 2017 10:45 am

Hi Barry

Technology has advanced, and a 3D SR support seems possible, but I'm not convinced it would work out all that much cheaper than the current Society offering.

Btw, a point to note is that the etched ear holds the edges of the foot of the conductor rail, thus providing a reasonable measure of vertical security whilst allowing longitudinal temperature expansion. I doubt the avenue of a 3D print could provide this important combination of functionality.

conductor-rail-cradle.png
conductor-rail-cradle.png (1.4 KiB) Viewed 6031 times

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby Guy Rixon » Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:52 pm

How many supports are in a packet priced at £4.50? I'd guess that I could set up a sprue of 20 supports for FUD printing on Shapeways for about £8 at current exchange; possibly slightly less, depending on the exact volume if the parts. That assumes that the supports are printed as one component each with no mark-up above Shapeways' printing charges.' It would be trivial to do the 3rd-rail and 4th-rail types separately, so that buyers could buy only the bits they needed.

Supports printed in FUD could probably hold the rail as the brass fitting does, but it would be much weaker, and not so easy to adjust if the width of the rail foot varied between batches.

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Russ Elliott
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby Russ Elliott » Tue Apr 11, 2017 7:16 pm

Guy - a Society CRS pack has 5 mouldings plus one etch, and will give 30 SR supports, so they are priced at 15p each. (The actual cost is about half that amount, but let's not re-open that old wound.)

Barry Davis
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby Barry Davis » Wed Apr 12, 2017 4:40 am

It was not my intention to open a can of worms, it was just a general inquiry into the possibility of the society offering 3D printed simplified SR conductor rail chairs.

As I require at least 900 SR conductor rail chairs to complete the illusion of a SR model railway layout, I can not justify the cost of purchasing 30 packets of the societies CRS assorted conductor rail chairs at a cost of 135.00 pounds then throwing away the 900 LT chairs that are of no use to me. Not to mention the many, many hours it would take for me to assemble the 2,700 separate bits to complete all the 900 conductor rail chairs that I require.

I know that the Peco IL 120 conductor rail chairs are not a detailed as the society ones, but I can see there are two advantages of of using them instead of the societies ones. First, each Peco conductor rail chair is mounding incorporating the base, insulator, and cradle of the conductor rail chair as one part, not the three parts required for each one of the societies chairs. And second is the cost, as there are 100 SR chairs in each packet, the cost works out as only .045p each compared to the societies cost of .15p for each SR conductor rail chair that I can use.

As I said, this was only an inquiry, so now I will look into possibility of having the SR conductor rail chairs 3D printed over here for me.

Thank you all for your replies.

Regards
Barry

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Rod Cameron
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby Rod Cameron » Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:31 am

Thanks for raising this issue Barry - we are having similar internal discussions about Society vs Peco, time, money regarding Balcombe and the viaduct.
Rod

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grovenor-2685
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby grovenor-2685 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 11:51 am

Perhaps a discussion with Modelu is called for?
I see no reason why these cannot be 3D printed and retain the clip for the rail as part of the print, however, 3D printing is not notable for low prices. Getting down to the Peco price level would seem unlikely.
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Guy Rixon
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby Guy Rixon » Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:28 pm

I've just uploaded a mock-up of conductor-rail supports to Shapeways to get a price estimate. 100 elements sprued together, to spread the handling charges. The model is about right for volume, based on dimensions for a LT 3rd-rail support in Russ' treatise, but has no detail. £11 in FUD and about £10 in HDA, so about 11p/10p per pot; plus the special charge to have it flown to the UK on pig-back, of course. This is starting to sound plausible.

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Russ Elliott
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby Russ Elliott » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:02 pm

For info, here is a comparison drawing of the positive supports for LT using heavy conductor rail and an SR support using lighter 100lb/yard section. (The Society does not do the lighter rail section, and the SR pots in the CRS pack are for the heavier rail section.)

3rd-rail-comparisons-LT-SR.png
3rd-rail-comparisons-LT-SR.png (5.65 KiB) Viewed 5855 times


I did have some dimensions of the Peco support somewhere. I seem to remember it being too high, even with its intended Peco IL-1 [previously known as 'FB-3X'] rail, which is code 60 (1.5mm) high. IL-1's foot is 1.24mm, and 0.75mm headwidth, so doesn't really look like any 4mm conductor rail section. The Peco support could therefore not be used with any 4mm conductor rail, which have 1.83mm foot widths.

JFS
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby JFS » Thu Apr 13, 2017 4:23 pm

Guy Rixon wrote:I've just uploaded a mock-up of conductor-rail supports to Shapeways to get a price estimate. 100 elements sprued together, to spread the handling charges.


Barry / Guy,

Have you thought about the strength needed in the rail retainers? Before jumping too far into the idea that 3D printing is a solution, I would suggest a trial of this aspect - the reality is that 4mm scale conductor rail is a lot stronger than the real thing and needs a lot of holding in place. I have had issues with the Society product coming un-glued for this reason. One solution I have used is to include at least one C&L cast-brass pot in each rail length and solder to that by way of an anchor.

If it is found necessary to "beef up" the rail retainers, you end up with something looking much like the PECO one.

If your layout is like mine Barry, half of the juice rail needs to be boarded so I am using PECO ones here!!! (don't tell anyone though)

Equally, I don't throw any of the LU pots away - they get used on bit of track which are more than 18" away - no one notices... again, keep it too yourself...

Best wishes,

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Rod Cameron
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby Rod Cameron » Thu Apr 13, 2017 5:05 pm

JFS wrote:If your layout is like mine Barry, half of the juice rail needs to be boarded so I am using PECO ones here!!! (don't tell anyone though)


Yep, I've heard about that dodge elsewhere! (But bearing in mind Russ's comments about rail size, how well do they fit the Society conductor rail?).
Rod

Terry Bendall
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby Terry Bendall » Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:54 am

Russ Elliott wrote:The Peco support could therefore not be used with any 4mm conductor rail, which have 1.83mm foot widths.


This\ is an important point. I have used the Society CRS on Elcot Road. After installation I found they were almost exactly right for use with the Bachmann 2EPB model which is the only item of third rail stock on the layouts so far, but there are three of them in use. I say almost because it was necessary to file the underside of the pick up shoe on the models to give some clearance but apart from that they are fine.

I would also question the use of a printed holder for the rail. I have not found the etched support easy to use and on occasions have resorted to adhesive to hold the rail which does of course defeat the object of allowing for expansion. No problems so far but the conductor rail is in fairly short lengths. Allowing for expansion is important as is a secure fixing.

Terry Bendall

JFS
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby JFS » Fri Apr 14, 2017 8:14 am

Rod Cameron wrote:... bearing in mind Russ's comments about rail size, how well do they fit the Society conductor rail?


Hello Rod,

They don't fit at all - more confessions - I am using PECO rail here also. In truth, behind boards you can only see the head of the rail and the body of the pots, so murder can be got away with. Although I have not put a mike on them, the heads of the two rail types do not look so vastly different.

In my case, more than 75% of the rail is boarded so sort-cuts are needed, but I do face a dilemma with the sidings which are right at the front of the baseboard - they are fully boarded, but right under the noses of the punters... I am putting off a decision...

For the platform roads, so far, progress is limited to some trial lengths to test options for the SP boards themselves - which, when you are talking about long lengths, present their own challenges. But I had better get my digit out as I have an exhibition date in September...

Just to comment on the point about long rail lengths, I limit all rails to no more than about 18" before a joint. I have etched some two-bolt fishplates which are soldered to one of the rails allowing the adjacent one to "breathe". In truth, (sorry Russ) I don't think the idea that the society chairs allow for expansion is borne out in reality - the rail must exert some kind of force on the clips and the reversal of stress which this causes on the glued joint must lead to failure eventually. In my case, this resulted in one length of rail coming loose which led to a derailment due to contact with a shoe - it is since then, that I have adopted the idea of using C&L pots as soldered anchors.

Best wishes,

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Russ Elliott
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby Russ Elliott » Fri Apr 14, 2017 8:37 am

JFS wrote:the rail must exert some kind of force on the clips and the reversal of stress which this causes on the glued joint must lead to failure eventually.

Yes, I accept that there will be friction between the rail and the ear, depending on how tightly the ear is nipped up over the rail foot - the bond between the ear and the top shell is unfortunately very weak. I too invested in some C+L brass supports, which are probably essential where conductor rail crosses baseboard joints.

The 3D printed prices are looking promising, and I think that technology is the way to go for the future.

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby Guy Rixon » Fri Apr 14, 2017 8:59 am

One could print the baseplate and insulator and keep the etched clip for the rail. This would make it more expensive overall: the price of the print would not change significantly and the etch must cost something; but perhaps not too much of an increase.

Since the clips are only a U section, one could bend them up from plain strip, avoiding the etch.

If the supports were printed with a central hole, then the rail could be drilled and pinned to the baseboard at intervals. This would serve the same purpose as the cast supports.

I'll need quite a few LT-style supports myself at some point. I'd be interested in trading spare parts with those who need the SR kind.

Finally, Russ treatise on conductor-rail system has not been linked so far in this thread; see http://www.clag.org.uk/3rd-4th.html. It's really rather good.

JFS
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby JFS » Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:45 am

Russ Elliott wrote:Yes, I accept that there will be friction between the rail and the ear, depending on how tightly the ear is nipped up over the rail foot - the bond between the ear and the top shell is unfortunately very weak.


But not to worry - they look fabulous and the occasional cast brass one is hard to spot! I certainly would not want to put anyone off buying these, any more than I would support the notion that they are wasteful because you can't use every moulding on the sprue. I will certainly be buying further supplies.

I will not be holding my breath for the 3D printed ones until I can be convinced that they can be made as strong even as the glued joint in the society version.

For my next batch of Society ones I have to do, I am going to try out a reinforced variety of cyano instead of the 435 I used last time, though I suspect the real problem is the difficulty of creating an anaerobic joint due to the geometry, so perhaps a spot of epoxy might be the answer.

Best wishes,

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Russ Elliott
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby Russ Elliott » Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:09 am

Guy Rixon wrote:the price of the print would not change significantly and the etch must cost something

I think we got 77 (an 11 x 7 array) of ear etch frames on a single sheet of 10 thou nickel. Each frame was sufficient for a CRS support pack. (Not quite sure exactly how many ears we got on each frame - I don't have a dxf reader at the moment.)

But say 4k ears on each sheet. Ballpark 0.5p per ear.


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Colin Parks
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby Colin Parks » Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:46 pm

Re. the fixing of Scalefour Stores CRSs: perhaps an adhesive such as UHU would be a way of fixing the rail to the assemblies whilst allowing some degree of expansion.

Though Peco CRS fixings are disliked by some, the are robust, durable, and cheap! Like JFS, Peco fixings are the type I shall use where side protection boards are to be fitted. (Though when that will be, who knows? The C&L etches are out of stock.)

It now seems clear that the Stores' rail and CRS fittings are not strictly suitable for third rail installations on secondary lines, where the lighter 100lb rail was /is used - or am I misunderstanding something?

Colin

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Russ Elliott
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby Russ Elliott » Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:40 pm

I'm not sure one can draw a distinction between mainlines and secondary lines as far as conductor rail is concerned, and I've never been able to determine a rationale on what gets used and where. There's still plenty of 100lb/yard conductor rail on mainlines. Conductor rail doesn't wear much, but a bit more packing does the trick if it needs to be raised. I suspect a lot of the conductor rail on the Southern is ancient.

Terry Bendall
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby Terry Bendall » Sat Apr 15, 2017 7:43 am

JFS wrote:In my case, more than 75% of the rail is boarded so sort-cuts are needed, but I do face a dilemma with the sidings which are right at the front of the baseboard - they are fully boarded, but right under the noses of the punters... I am putting off a decision...


When we were building Elcot Road my son managed to obtain a copy of the Network Rail information on standards for fixing of conductor rail and protective boarding, The following is a summary of some key points:

"Conductor rail is positioned with its centre line 405mm from the running rail gauge face at a height 75 mm above it.

Insulators one sleeper clear of conductor rail fishplate joints and clear of fish plate joints on running rails

Insulators evenly spaced. Maximum spacing not to exceed 4.6 metres – every six sleepers except where the curvature of the track is less than 400 metres (20 chains) where maximum distance should not exceed 3.8 metres, every fourth sleeper.

Ramp ends supported not less than 305mm and not more than 750mm from the end of the conductor rail.

Protective boarding supports spaced between 1.6 metres and 2.4 metres apart and inside edge of boarding is 100mm from the conductor rail centre line and boards should extend between 12mm and 25mm above top of the conductor rail.

Supports not on the same sleeper as conductor rail supports. Boards extend 150mm beyond end of rail on plain track, and at tips of rail on points.

Single protective boarding provided between conductor rail and running rail where the running rail is used for a single rail track circuit and not used for traction negative return.

On the outside of the conductor rail where it is within 1 metre of an authorized walking route.

On the outside of conductor rail located in the cess where the distance between the nearest running line and the adjacent shunting line is less than 3 metres

On the outside of CR at equipment locations within 3 metres of the electrified line or where there is entry or exit from line side buildings within 1 metre. Where this happens boarding should extend for a minimum of 1 metre on each side of the equipment and be a minimum of 2.5 metes in length.

Between the conductor rail and adjacent point rodding or signal wires where these are les than 1 metre from the gauge face

Double protective boarding provided as follows:

On the approach side of signal post telephones for a minimum of 8 metres where the CR is on the same side of the track as the phone;

For a minimum of 2 metres at the ramp ends of CR which terminates less than 3 metres from the edge of any road or crossing

At stations and raised walkways where the CR is adjacent to the platform

At locations where regular coupling or uncoupling takes place

For a mimimum length of 2 metres at the ramp end of the CR adjacent to any authorized walkway

Boards nominally 8 inches wide x I inch thick. Brackets are 2 ½ inches x ½ inch. Pockets are screwed to boards to fit over brackets. Modern style is jiggled bracket. Board supports not on same sleeper as CRS except at point timbering. Board length between 15 feet and 21 feet. Supports on sleepers each side of joint in board and on first sleeper after end of ramp.

Distance from CL of CR to inside edge of boards is 100mm Top of board pockets is 240mm above top of sleeper. CR on each side of track has overlap of 12 timber bays (Sleepers?)

Ramps - two bend type 1 in 48 slope for 32 mm and I in 24 for 8mm End is 1mm below top of rail.
Single bend type 1 in 48 end is 0.84 mm below top of rail "

I am sure that in practice individual situations meant that the standards needed to be tweaked and it was certainly true on the model. For the protective boarding I used the nearest size of brass strip that I could find and the support brackets were also made of brass or nickel silver again to the nearest size. For single sided boarding the brackets were soldered to the strips and then glued to the top of the sleepers. For double sided boarding a U shaped bracket was made up which was soldered to the inside piece of boarding. The brackets were fed under the CR and glued in place. When the glue was set the outside boarding was soldered to the brackets.

Send me a PM if you want to know more.

Terry Bendall

JFS
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby JFS » Sat Apr 15, 2017 2:17 pm

Terry,

Many thanks for this which is very interesting and the first time I have seen an "official" standard. That said, it would appear to differ from historic SR practice in some spects - for example the bit about single boarding the CR adjacent to the running rail where it is the T/C return. Come to that, I don't recall seeing a lot of plain line single boarding on the current network - but that might be because it is now all jointless T/Cs.

Of course, the catch-all is the requirement to double board where coupling and uncoupling takes place - in my case that is much of the platforms and sidings - hence the 75%. Especially given that the rest of my layout is pointwork and that means much more "gap" than "rail".

Best Wishes,

Barry Davis
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby Barry Davis » Sun Apr 16, 2017 5:24 am

Colin Parks wrote:Re. the fixing of Scalefour Stores CRSs: perhaps an adhesive such as UHU would be a way of fixing the rail to the assemblies whilst allowing some degree of expansion.

Though Peco CRS fixings are disliked by some, the are robust, durable, and cheap! Like JFS, Peco fixings are the type I shall use where side protection boards are to be fitted. (Though when that will be, who knows? The C&L etches are out of stock.)

It now seems clear that the Stores' rail and CRS fittings are not strictly suitable for third rail installations on secondary lines, where the lighter 100lb rail was /is used - or am I misunderstanding something?

Colin


Hi Colin

I am beginning to believe also that the the Stores rail Conductor Rail Supports are not strictly suitable for SR third rail installations. According to the clag.org.uk website 150lb/yd rail was used on LT surface lines and on some SR third-rail systems. And that the base of 150lb, 100lb, and 106lb conductor rails are all the same width at 5.5".

I have a copy of a letter from Joe Brook Smith and a copy of his information sheet 14 dated 13.11.1996 for a proposed outline for a 4mm scale conductor rail which stated that the 150lb /yd No. 74 conductor rail rail is the standard section for LUL and BR rail. Therefore not strictly suitable for SR third rail installations.

I purchased a packet of the societies Conductor Rail Supports some time ago and attempted to assemble some of them. After half a dozen attempts the air went blue and my wife suggested that I give up as she could not see me assembling 900 of them!!!

I am going to look into the possibility of getting a Conductor Rail Support cast over here (New Zealand) in bronze by a manufacturing jeweler.

Regards

Barry

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Colin Parks
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby Colin Parks » Sun Apr 16, 2017 1:18 pm

Hi Barry,

Like you, I am coming to the conclusion that SR conductor rail was seldom of the heavier type (cf. Russ Elliot's reply, 14 April) and from the pictures I have taken in the last decade, the lighter weight of rail is very much still in use (photo taken at Newhaven Harbour 11 Decemeber 2011):

982 - Copy.JPG


Getting your own CR supports cast sounds like a good idea and you can then match the castings to the rail section of your choice.

If you are intending to instal 900 of these supports, you must be building a layout on an epic scale.

Colin

JFS
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Re: Conductor Rail Supports Kit

Postby JFS » Sun Apr 16, 2017 9:04 pm

Colin Parks wrote:Hi Barry,
Getting your own CR supports cast sounds like a good idea and you can then match the castings to the rail section of your choice.


.. of course, getting the correct rail section drawn will be a doddle... I am looking forward to seeing the result!

Best Wishes,


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