Construction of a Test Track

Tell us about your layout, where you put it, how you built it, how you operate it.
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Colin Parks
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:28 pm

Apart from heat expansion angst, there have been other things going on.

Having made up quite a few sets of scale coupling with Exactoscale Instanter links and added weight to a few more wagons, the fleet now looks rather more healthy. With 17 various wagons complete and 'behaving' themselves after checking and adjusting some errant B to Bs, the sidings are filling up. Five more wagons are nearly converted, but must stop thinking about wagons for a while...

IMG_8937 (2).JPG


..and of course there is the small matter of the lever frame, which has got to this stage (page 5 in the instructions). This lever frame is my first serious venture into etched kit construction, with the locking frame to assemble in due course. It may as well be an etched loco kit for all the experience I have of such matters.

IMG_8936 (3).JPG


8BA nuts have been added in all positions that could require them. I opted not to rely on tapping the etched holes in the frame and it looked far easier to add a few extra nuts now rather than solder on any lacking nuts later. Lining up the nuts was tricky at first, then I lashed up this rudimentary jig.

IMG_8934 (1).JPG


No HSS drills were harmed in the process.

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Re6/6
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby Re6/6 » Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:22 am

Colin, this heatwave has been a good test for the Balcombe boards. All twenty of them are stored in a garden shed and the temperature within has climbed up to 38°C on some days with no ill effects to the trackwork. All the boards are around 1200mm in length and have fixed soldered tracks at one end and are free to slide in brass chairs at the other.

We came to the conclusion that heat expansion should be taken account of after witnessing heat problems with a couple of fine P4 layouts at past shows.

Another benefit of this lovely high heat in the shed is that the 'Klear' used for ballasting goes off in double quick time! :)
John

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Colin Parks
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:12 am

Hi John,

Good to hear your layout made it (or is making it) through the heatwave. That shed of yours must have been roasting Balcombe for weeks now, so that has been a stiif test of track duarbility! Your boards are the same length as mine, so the information is useful to know.

My track is all held by functional plastic chairs, although I did buy some brass ones, I never used them. I have only two bullhead tracks that cross baseboard joints anyway. Only one of my rails showed signs expansion, which has been discussed at length here, so I got off lightly.

Of course, I shall have to be wary of heat expansion issues when fitting the third rails, which will be happening quite soon.

All the best,

Colin

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Colin Parks
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Tue Jul 24, 2018 7:17 pm

Some more progress on the Mk II lever frame. I followed the instructions and came to the quadrant plate shaping. Using only a bar and an appropriate magazine or two, the plates just would not curve. In the process, I cut both thumbs on the front tabs and bruised the palms of my hands!

Not wishing to be beaten and once the pains subsided, I hit upon using two pieces of rubber webbing under the plate and two pieces of 2 x 1 PSE deal offcuts to press down on. This gave more downward pressure, no hand injuries and the plates rolled up nicely. The photo is ex post facto (after the event), but shows the method used.

IMG_8939.JPG


Once the plates were formed and soldered on, I took a deep breath and tried a length of rod passed through the pivot plates. This rod will not be continuous in the final form, but served to check the alignment of the four units together. My some miracle, the rod fitted with no tight spots!

IMG_8940 (2).JPG


A low-level view of the frame. It does look mightily impressive from here. The front tab nearest the picture is one of those which can cause lacerations. I am thinking of how to make each front end tab safe.

IMG_8942 (2).JPG


IMG_8943 (2).JPG


After that, there was nothing for it but to solder on the quadrant plate rubbing strips. With forty of the strips to fit (exactIy in place), I was not looking forward to this procedure. However, after working out that if the strips were curved to slightly under the quadrant plate radius and with the tabs at either end bent over tightly, the strips snapped into place with a satisfying click. Soldering then became easy, with the strips fitting snugly and staying in position on their own. Here is the first unit with its strips in, not cleaned up as yet. It took about 20 mins. to solder on the strips. My soldering is not the neatest. Also seen here is my preferred flux. It can be used very sparingly and can be removed with a scraper, lightly applied.

IMG_8944 (2).JPG
Last edited by Colin Parks on Tue Jul 24, 2018 9:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

JFS
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby JFS » Tue Jul 24, 2018 8:19 pm

Colin Parks wrote:Apart from heat expansion angst, there have been other things going on.


8BA nuts have been added in all positions that could require them. I opted not to rely on tapping the etched holes in the frame and it looked far easier to add a few extra nuts now rather than solder on any lacking nuts later. Lining up the nuts was tricky at first, then I lashed up this rudimentary jig.



Hello Colin,

I could have perhaps mentioned in the instructions that a cocktail stick is very helpful for this job - you can just thread the nut on and use it to hold the nut square in position whilst the iron does its job. It is the kind of job best suited to those with three hands, but can be accomplished using only 2.

All looking very good so far!

Very Best Wishes,

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Colin Parks
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Tue Jul 24, 2018 9:38 pm

Howard, you did indeed mention cocktail sticks in the instructions.

Soldering nuts has not proven to be that hard: after soldering a few nuts, it was possible to judge by eye if the nut was aligned over the hole using the jig in the picture. The nuts were simply threaded onto the drill bit, so two hands were sufficient for the task.

The frames have gone together well and been bolted without any need for adjustment, so that must say something about the quality of your design. During assembly, I noted that the rear holes on the main frames are tapping size for 8BA, whilst those on the front (i.e. the locking frame fixing points) are clearance for 8BA. The reason for this surely become clear later on in the build.

Hopefully, the remainder of the rubbing strips will be added tomorrow, then it is on with work on the levers - gulp! I have this plan to employ a novel way of cutting the 1.4 mm piano wire drive pins to length...

All the best,

Colin

JFS
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby JFS » Wed Jul 25, 2018 6:27 am

Colin Parks wrote: I noted that the rear holes on the main frames are tapping size for 8BA, whilst those on the front (i.e. the locking frame fixing points) are clearance for 8BA. The reason for this surely become clear later on in the build.


Hello Colin,

I just had a re-read of the instruction and realise that they are less than clear on this. In fact, for attaching the locking, it is easier if the nuts are soldered to the locking rather than the frame so that the screws can be fitted from the frame side rather than the locking side - this is because the holes are behind the tappets which therefore have to be slid out whilst the screws are fitted. That should not be a problem for your frame - though it would be a pain for a much bigger one.

Just also to say that you have been very generous with the provision of fixings - it is only really necessary to use every hole for a five-lever frame. I think the locking for the 70 lever frame for Leeds City Junction is only attached by 8 screws along its whole length as both the locking and the frame are very strong as units.

Again I have made a note to mention this in the instructions. It is sobering that even after writing 14 pages, so much is still needed...

Very Best Wishes,

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby Le Corbusier » Wed Jul 25, 2018 7:37 am

JFS wrote:
Again I have made a note to mention this in the instructions. It is sobering that even after writing 14 pages, so much is still needed...

Very Best Wishes,


Just as a general observation it is interesting how difficult it is to produce fully comprehensive written instructions in isolation .... indeed I am not sure it is possible. When somebody with a wealth of experience builds something (particularly something of their own design), there will always be things that they do which they are not even aware they are doing or assume that they are so basic that they do not need to be mentioned. I suspect that only by observing and overseeing others of differing levels actually building the frames would you be able to cover everything ... or alternatively by producing a detailed video demonstrating the building of a frame yourself, so the novice could observe the process.

Not that I am suggesting this for one minute ... I am sure the current instructions are a good deal better than the majority ... and when in trouble one can always ask.
Tim Lee

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Colin Parks
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Wed Jul 25, 2018 7:49 am

Hello Howard,
So, the nuts to attach the locking frame are in the wrong place! It is easy enough to remove them from where they are now than to have had to put them there later.

Now, if the locking frame is bolted on from behind, does that mean that the lever frame has to be removed from where it is installed in order to gain access to the bolt heads? I had figured that the locking frame would be demountable with the lever frame still in position. Perhaps removing a few tappets would be less trouble than disconnecting the rodding. I can only guess at this stage.

(As for the number of fixings, I have hundreds of those 8BA brass nuts and bolts!)

All the best,

Colin
Last edited by Colin Parks on Wed Jul 25, 2018 7:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Colin Parks
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Wed Jul 25, 2018 7:53 am

Hello Tim.

Re. the instuctions, I think there are places where I have deviated from the process as written in the instructions. Instructions can never be totally idiot-proof! At least Howard is providing online assistance support.

Colin

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby Le Corbusier » Wed Jul 25, 2018 8:41 am

Colin Parks wrote:Hello Tim.

Re. the instuctions, I think there are places where I have deviated from the process as written in the instructions. Instructions can never be totally idiot-proof! At least Howard is providing online assistance support.

Colin


As I said ... in no way either a suggestion or a criticism ... just a general observation based upon Howard's "sobering" (rueful?) comment. If only some writing kit instructions were as diligent as Howard is ;)
Tim Lee

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Will L
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby Will L » Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:04 am

Colin Parks wrote:....I followed the instructions and came to the quadrant plate shaping. Using only a bar and an appropriate magazine or two, the plates just would not curve. In the process, I cut both thumbs on the front tabs and bruised the palms of my hands!

Not wishing to be beaten and once the pains subsided, I hit upon using two pieces of rubber webbing under the plate and two pieces of 2 x 1 PSE deal offcuts to press down on. This gave more downward pressure, no hand injuries and the plates rolled up nicely. .The photo is ex post facto (after the event), but shows the method used.Image


For relatively small pieces of metal like this. I would suggest you think cigars and maidens and role them on your thigh.

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RobM
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby RobM » Wed Jul 25, 2018 4:42 pm

Will L wrote:For relatively small pieces of metal like this. I would suggest you think cigars and maidens and role them on your thigh.


Will, sounds painful!!....I've tried a few methods, annealing and rolling on a telephone directory or whatever and searching high and low in the garage for cylindrical objects on which to bend but work hardening seems to defeat me.......I invested in a set of GW rolling bars, one off pain to the bank balance......have used them now many times, painless, time taken to produce bend minimal and initial cost versus resale value is well worth it.
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kelly
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby kelly » Wed Jul 25, 2018 4:51 pm

When rolling brass sides I've found a wooden dowel and a folded silicone cooking sheet works reasonably well.
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby junctionmad » Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:44 am

I decided not to bend the quadrant strips , but I tack solder one end , while holding the strip , then I press down and tack solder the other end , letting the frame cool , I quickly run solder into the seam

I also used steel m2.5 nickel coated nuts , which solder quite well with the appropriate flux , and my microswitchs are on 2mm bar which I die cut thread into , as I do the 2.5mm bar. , it’s leaves a little slop in the micro switch position , which actually aids my quest for greater lever travel between switching

JFS
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby JFS » Thu Jul 26, 2018 12:30 pm

Colin Parks wrote:Hello Howard,

Now, if the locking frame is bolted on from behind, does that mean that the lever frame has to be removed from where it is installed in order to gain access to the bolt heads?


Hello Colin,

I think it should be not too difficult to fit the locking with the frame in place - I was quite pleased with just how easy it is to fit! But regarding access to the nuts and bolts, that is a more open question. In fact. anyone looking along the length of the 70-lever frame will see that I changed my mind several times...

My suggestion would be to bend up the first five levers worth of locking frame and try it in situ before making any decisions - as I say, with a relatively short frame, it is not too much of a pain to slip a few tappets out to fit the screws from the front and access might well be easier that route. Once you have seen the thing in the flesh, I think the answer will jump out, but just bear in mind that it all looks easy with the empty locking table, but once it is full of tappets and nibs and bridles...

And of course, you don't need a screw in every single hole!

Very Best Wishes,

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Colin Parks
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Thu Jul 26, 2018 6:50 pm

Hello Howard,

I shall reverse the the position of the locking frame nuts. It will not take long.

Junctionmad,

The idea about tacking the rubbing strips down would work better than the way I did it, which took soke time to form the curve. There will be no micro-switches or studding on my frame unless I decide to install some colour light signals instead of semaphores.

Will,

Rolling a quadrant plate on one's thigh whilst roling a maiden (?) does sound problematic!

Rob,

The thought of GW rolling bars had crossed my mind. If I were to be making etched loco kits, rolling bars would be on the shopping list.

Kelly,
Your method sounds good. A wooden dowel would be easier on the hands!

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Will L
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby Will L » Thu Jul 26, 2018 11:25 pm

Colin Parks wrote: Rolling a quadrant plate on one's thigh whilst roling a maiden (?) does sound problematic!

The best Cuban cigars are reputed to be made this way,

I think the key point is when attaching a rolled plate to a former, the roll does not need to be particularly accurate, or as in the case of small pieces like the rubbing strips, not worth doing at all. The whole process being rather easier to achieve than one’s apprehension suggests it will be. One's thigh has about the right amount of give to apply a controlled amount of bend without needing to apply too much force on the roller.

I would suggest that pads of paper or rubber mats are actually rather too hard, increasing the need to lean hard on the roller and damaging your fingers in the process apparently. The fact that your thigh is relatively narrow and curves away at right angles to the direction you are trying to curve the plate doesn’t seem to matter that much. Until that is, you need to apply a consistent curve to something wide like the tumble home in a coach side when other methods are called for.

I would accept that you might need to have had a fair bit of practice before preferring your thigh to rolling bars for the production of boilers.

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Colin Parks
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Fri Jul 27, 2018 6:59 am

Hello Will,

Have you actually tried to roll a half-etched 28 thou. nickel-silver component on your thigh- in particular a Mk II lever frame quadrant plate? I would suggest there is a great dela of difference in the material properties of nickel-silver and cured tobacco leaves!

All the best,

Colin

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Will L
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby Will L » Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:05 pm

Colin Parks wrote:Have you actually tried to roll a half-etched 28 thou. nickel-silver component on your thigh- in particular a Mk II lever frame quadrant plate? I would suggest there is a great dela of difference in the material properties of nickel-silver and cured tobacco leaves!


Not as such and I assume there is little comparison with Tobacco though I'v never rolled that either. I do typically roll brass component in exactly this way when required. I agree the brass is easier to bend than N/S but its not that much harder and I note the quadrant plates are cross etched to make the bend easier as your bending something of only half the nominal thickness. Try it with a bit of scrap etch and see.

One thing I have noted over the years, other people seem to be able the most outlandish methods work. When I was in a Cuban cigar factory, there wasn't actually much (any) evidence of thighs in use. It's just the mental image that appeals.

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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby Julian Roberts » Sun Jul 29, 2018 4:04 pm

This is re the hot weather discussions. I don't know if it is helpful and how much of the issues you discussed were to do with curving track...

Terry Bendall wrote:
Philip Hall wrote:I’m not sure quite what all this is telling me, but probably that I should not worry too much about rail variations and just to use up what I have


It seems to me this is very reasonable and pragmatic way of approaching the matter. If it works, don't try and fix it! :D A gauge of 18.9 does not matter at all. 19.1mm might be a step too far but again if it works and stock stays on, why change it? This may be a heretical statement but I wonder if at times we get too hung up getting things exactly to tolerance?

Terry Bendall


I happened to alight on this Sundry Snippet of Mike Sharman's in SN 147 which rather backs Terry's advice


.....with curved track, use one rail as a ‘master’. Then you can do what you like with the other rail, as long as the trains don’t fall in between the two. I know this sounds awfully wicked, but model track does not flex and give under the vehicles like the prototype does. So, unless you have free movement to slide in the chairs (which rules out soldered/riveted track!), when the sun comes out and shines on the layout (as it does upstairs at Scaleforum), an inner rail on a curved section will try to – and will – go under gauge.


Hopefully things are cooling down somewhat now.

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Colin Parks
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:43 pm

Thanks for the Sharman quote Julian. It makes a lot of sense.

Things have indeed calmed down now, but if predictions are proven correct, we might have similar heatwaves every other year. If that is the case, rail expansion issues will become commonplace. Going back the advice from Mike Sharman, I am not sure how easily the rails do slide in functional plastic chaired track these days, when compared to the time when that quote was printed. It would appear that the chairs nowadays grip just that bit too tightly for such free movement

All the best,

Colin

Philip Hall
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby Philip Hall » Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:51 pm

The fit of the oldish rail I have most stocks of in the FastTrack bases does vary from reasonable to slightly loose, so I guess movement is going to be there. The fit of individual chairs does seem to be tighter than on the track panels. I think this will become apparent, if at all, when the track is painted, as movement of the rail will show up as unpainted spots of rail, next to the chairs. We shall see...

Philip

Terry Bendall
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby Terry Bendall » Mon Jul 30, 2018 4:18 pm

Colin Parks wrote:I am not sure how easily the rails do slide in functional plastic chaired track these days, when compared to the time when that quote was printed. It would appear that the chairs nowadays grip just that bit too tightly for such free movement


Scalefour News 147 is dated May 2006 and I think - but may be wrong, that there was less use of functional chairs then, simply because they were not so commonly available. Regardless of how tight the grip of a functional chair is, I think it is unlikely that the amount of movement will be reduced. Once the rail gets hot it will move.

Terry Bendall

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steve howe
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Re: Construction of a Test Track

Postby steve howe » Tue Jul 31, 2018 3:45 pm

Will L wrote:
Colin Parks wrote: Rolling a quadrant plate on one's thigh whilst rolling a maiden (?) does sound problematic!

The best Cuban cigars are reputed to be made this way, I would accept that you might need to have had a fair bit of practice before preferring your thigh to rolling bars for the production of boilers.


When I was at Pendon this weekend, I was told that Guy Williams used to roll up taper boilers in this way, the seam finished at a perfect joint for soldering. When onloooking tutees gasped in amazement and asked "how did you do that?" his response (as one would expect of a retired Headmaster) was "Oh do pay attention!!" and just rolled off another one.

Steve


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