Friday, March 15, 2019

Beneath the Turntable

The turntable drive with worm and worm gear above. The Mercotac connector and its adapter are below.
After my posting on the new turntable, one the followers of this blog inquired as to what the drive mechanism for the table looked like. It is fairly simple with no indexing other than your eyesight (it lines up every time unless you're crosseyed!). The table itself has a 1/4-inch tube running from the center down through a brass bushing in the center of the pit. Below the benchwork, there is a brass worm gear driven by a steel worm. I use a 30-tooth gear but there is nothing critical about that. It's just what I chose. Both of these parts are from Boston gear. These gears tend to get fairly expensive so I searched ebay until I found some which met my requirements. I was going to use a plastic gear but they were not in stock and I would have to have ordered about 10 of them to meet their minimums.
    The shaft for the worm is just 3/16" steel rod I bought from the local hardware store. It runs through two brass bushings which are installed in 2-inch corner braces. The shaft is held in place by two shaft collars. Both the collars and bushing were obtained from Mcmaster.com. McMaster-
Carr is a great supplier of hardware and other items used by industrial folks. They do sell to individuals and ship the same day. I can order a part on Sunday and have it by Wednesday. I suggest that they be checked out for the odd item which might be needed.
   
The Boston Gear U-joint connecting the drive with the rotating
wheel.
The shaft is connected to a Boston Gear universal joint. I use these just in case my alignment is not dead on. You can change the position of the crank a bit by doing this. The shaft goes through a plastic bushing glued in the fascia and is driven by a crank wheel. My wheel was made on my lathe simply because I did not like the ones I could get commercially. If you are less fussy than I, a suitable handle can be purchased at the hardware store or through McMaster-Carr. I should mention that my hardware store had the brass bushings as well as the plastic ones in their normal stock. They just did not have the quantity I needed (I have two more turntables to build).
   
The complete Mercotac unit at the left with the components
at the right. The top part on the right will have wires soldered
to it for the rails and will press into the adapter in the middle.
Power still has to be routed to the turntable track. I did not use a pit rail because I found a rotating connector made by Mercotac in Carlsbad, California. It is designed for rotating electrical connections and works very well. I used their Model 205 unit. It is a two-pole unit to which you solder two wires. These go up through the central turntable shaft and solder to the rails on the table. At the bottom end, the connector snaps on to the main body of the Mercotac unit and track power can be soldered to its leads. I did have to turn another parts which has a hole to fit the 1/4-inch turntable shaft on one end and another to fit the press-in connector unit on the other. It attaches to the shaft with a set screw.
    I should mention that both the brass worm gear and steel worm had to be tapped for a set screw to hold them to their respective shafts. This was not a big deal as the brass was easy to drill and the steel worm already had a pilot hole which just needed to be slightly enlarged.
 
Turned rotating wheel with nylon crank handle.
  I use a reversing unit to change the track polarity on the table. I have used units made by DCC Specialties and Tam Valley Depot and both work well.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Wagons and Cuspidors

Both wagons are built from the same Glencoe Models  kit.
After working several weeks on the engine terminal project, I felt that I needed a break but still wanted to do some modeling. Going through a box of wagon kits, I found a few inexpensive wagons which I had acquired along the way. They were not in the same class as the Jordan wagons and my first impulse was to throw them out. I reconsidered just to find out what they might look like with a little work. Background models are needed as well as foreground ones and, with Jordan kits pretty scarce, I thought that I should not pass up any substitutes.
   The models are made by Glencoe Models and a box gives you a stagecoach and a covered wagon. I removed the top cover from two of the covered wagons which gave me a couple of freight wagons and then assembled two more wagons with the covers. The stagecoaches I assembled per the instructions minus the horses (they looked more the size of ponies). After painting, I applied some old Art Griffin stagecoach decals and they turned out fairly respectable. They will still be background models, though.
Glencoe Models stagecoach with Art Griffin decals. 
A slightly tipsy gent with his cuspidor. The 
spittoon will ultimately be painted to resemble
brass.
   Another project I have been accumulating parts for is a saloon with a detailed interior. I was able to find a nice bar, back bar, tables and chairs, an upright piano, bottles and even beer mugs. The one vital piece of any bar, though, I could not find, a spittoon (or cuspidor if you are more genteel). SS Ltd. had one but it was not what I had in mind. I wanted a more typical style like the one I have in my crew lounge. The only alternative was to 3D print some. I had doubts that such a small object could be reproduced but gave it a try and ended up with a lifetime supply of spittoons! I still have to figure out how to get the "misses" around the spittoon modeled.
   Now to get back to more serious model railroad stuff.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Engine Terminal is Now Awaiting Scenery

Still roofless, the roundhouse awaits final track testing. The pit for the coaling station is at left center. The short tracks on this side of the turntable are for MOW equipment storage, extra wheelsets, etc.
After the last few weeks, I have been working on the new Oakdale engine terminal. It has been a bit of bear to do that since there is very restricted room to work. To top that off, all the electrical has to be accessed by ducking under the railroad. When I was building the railroad, I left the fascia off until I was finished with wiring which made it an easy job. Now, the fascia is on the work area and it is not practical to remove it so I duck under.
   
Since the locomotives to be stored here will be primarily coal burners, cinders are produced and need to be dropped and carried away, hence the depressed ash pit track. In the background, Crown Flour becomes a new industrial site with probably another one to its right.
The trackwork went down easily enough except for the ashpit area which required the benchwork to be revised to accommodate the depressed track. Similar depressed areas were made for the coaling tower's coal dump.
   
Two curved turnouts allow locomotives into the yard. The box car in the background is sitting on the main line.
The power to each track is controlled by this
panel. This will help prevent overload of the
DCC system with several sound-equipped
engines all drawing current.
One of the side projects has been the complete replacement of light bulbs over the railroad. When I first installed the lighting in 2008-9, the best bulb available was the CFL but I always thought that the light was too yellow. Your eyes adjust to it but it wasn't right. I finally found a relatively low-cast LED 100W-equivalent bulb and unscrewed and rescrewed all 75+ bulbs with these 3000°K units. The railroad looks quite a bit better. My operating crews have not seen it yet but I like it.
      The coaling tower and sand house have both been constructed as has the yard office. Now I just have to get some scenery going so I can get this area finished.

Monday, January 7, 2019

A Roundhouse is Built. . . Almost

The partially finished roundhouse. Its roof pieces lie on the structure at the left side. Tracks from the rest of the railroad will enter in the wide space between the other turntable tracks. 
Since finishing the new turntable at Oakdale, I have been working on an old Model Masterpieces kit of the Colorado Midland roundhouse at Colorado City. It is a kit with sides made from cast dental plaster and looks terrific. Unfortunately, the looks are outweighed by the trouble to put the darned thing together. The window openings are considerably smaller than the nice window castings, the side pieces are of different thicknesses and so on. In short, it takes a lot of fiddling and trimming to get the kit in a reasonable state to be assembled. It finally happened, though, with the original 4-stall kit plus two of the 2-stall add-on kits coming together for the final structure.   
     The track was laid out according to the plans with each track being 10° from its neighbor. A few additional "garden" tracks were also laid for MOW equipment, spare parts and so on. To complete the interior, which will be hard to see, I laid down a layer of cinders. Before putting the roof on, though, I need to wire the tracks and make sure the electrical is all working.
   
The current plan for the electrical switches. As can be seen, there is not a lot of room for the panel. The wheel at the right controls the turntable rotation.
Since there might be in excess of eight locomotives in this area at once, I decided to put individual shutoff switches for the stalls. This, of course, requires a panel of some sort to visually indicate what each switch does. There is limited space on the fascia on the railroad at this point so I am struggling a bit to find a good place to put a panel. I have found a place but I may try to size things down a bit before committing.
   
Two of the switches which will be needed to access the engine terminal area.
Before doing all that, though, I still have to lay track from the existing railroad down to the turntable providing areas for the coaling tipple, sandhouse, ashpit and water spout along the way.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Danger of Estate Sales

Pine from Home Depot and drawer pulls from Amazon combined to create a workaday cabinet.
A couple of years ago, my wife and I were at a local estate sale. The owner of the articles in the sale was obviously a woodworker based on the tools available. In a corner, I found a box of partially built small drawers and pre-cut parts for several more. For $10, I took the box home figuring I could do something with it.
     While it was marinating on the shelf, my collection of Precision Scale and Cal Scale parts kept growing until they overflowed the available space. I had finally found a use for the drawers. Assembling the existing drawers was easy as was cutting a few new parts to make a total of 30 of the little things. Last week, I finally bought some more lumber to build a case for them which I finished today. Some label-holding drawer pulls finished things off. The final project is not what I consider a great example of the woodworker's art but it will hold my parts. Mission accomplished but through more work than I expected when I visited that estate sale. Now back to model railroading stuff.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Another Turntable

With the finished turntable mounted in its pit, filler material still needs to be added in the area between the benchwork and the turntable casting. The prototype turntable was built of cast iron with its distinctive lightening holes.
Like most modelers, I have more locomotives than I really need. My choice, then, is to remove some of them from the railroad so I can operate it without stumbling over the extra motive power OR build some place to put them. My choice is to build a roundhouse in which to store all the engines I don't need but want to have anyway.
     At Oakdale, there is a space which is out of the way but is the perfect size for a small engine terminal. This area has been earmarked for such a terminal since I started building the railroad. It will allow me to have my "overflow" area and, also, to build a Model Masterpieces Colorado Midland roundhouse kit I have had for around 20 years. The first step in all of this was to locate the turntable and go from there.
     My Sellers turntable was built from a Freshwater Models kit which was out in limited edition several years ago. I had provided prototype information to the kit company and they did such a nice job on it, I had to have one. Made with a plaster pit and cast metal base, it went together rather quickly. Installing in the hole I had made was a bit more problematic. It required two people, one on top of the railroad and another beneath the benchwork to put nuts on the support bolts. My darling wife agreed to help and, as a true gentleman would, I offered her the choice of positions. Climbing underneath a built railroad and trying to start nuts with my left hand (I'm right-handed) is a bit of a challenge but, eventually, we secured the turntable and leveled it up. 
   
Lines for tracks in the roundhouse extend from the pit. The turntable is based on a 60-foot prototype which is ample for the locomotives used on the S&C.
The next job will be to assemble the eight-stall roundhouse and try to get it reasonably aligned with where I want the tracks to go. A real engine servicing area requires a coaling station, sand station, water plug and ash track as a minimum so I have to allow room for those and then assemble the appropriate structures. With the company service tracks and a new industry track I discovered, there will be four more car spots in Oakdale which should add more interest.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Fan Away Your Troubles

The benchtop fan takes little space on the workbench and pull vapors through it rather than letting them settle elsewhere in the room.
My modeling bench has a terrific setup. It is located in the corner of my wife's quilting room. It's upstairs so I don't have to go to the basement and work alone and I can visit with my wife when we are working in the same room. There is a downside, however. Some of the processes we use to build our miniature world emit odors. They are generally the pleasant ones associated with soldering, painting and using super glue. Unfortunately, these are also odors which can lodge themselves in fabric and in the sensitive nostrils and lungs of non-modelers. To help mitigate the situation, I recently purchased a benchtop fan specifically designed for benchtop-oriented vapors.
   
The fan in its high-performance position.
It seems that there are a lot of processes (soldering seems the most prevalent) which could use the fan. The one I purchased was a Hako FA-400, available at Amazon. It comes with a carbon filter which should eliminate the troubles. It has a high rating among these fans and has two possible orientations, one for general air circulation and one for a more high-power application.
      Hopefully, this little unit will resolve my particular problem and, perhaps, yours as well.