Sunday, 17 June 2012

NCE Power Cab

Last weekend my partner bought me this to replace my Lenz Compact Digital Plus and ESU Mobile Control. I've had the latter two pieces for maybe eight years? I forget when I got them exactly, but a fair while ago as Jeff of Buffers was still alive.

Anyway, I've had my original set-up and have used it a bit over the years, first with my P4 layout Sands End, and now with my current project. For me the problem with the Lenz was that it is extremely limited in its functions and while the ESU corrected those failings, it suffered from a feature I didn't like. Namely the reverse switch was combined with the rotary dial for speed control. One had to push down on the rotary dial to change direction.

I inevitably would rotate the dial at the same time. I hated it.

So, I have admired the NCE units for a long while, and have coveted one for myself. Given the the current layout will only ever have one locomotive (okay a pair in consist mode will be needed) running at a time, I felt that the Power Cab really met my needs. If this proves not to be the case as and when the elevated line is put into place, then I will be able to upgrade it using their SB3 Smart Booster.

Plan is to install it sometime soon so that I can start running trains, especially now as I have 26 freight cars up and running to switch.

Friday, 15 June 2012

American Freight Cars 4: Yet More Additions

Some more freight cars for my fleet, which represent the final push to get enough cars for operational variety, so I'm not expecting to add many more RTR models from now on; apart from the odd shiny new thing that catches this girl's eye. :-)

First up a brace of Atlas ACF ICC-105 11,000 gallon tank car, which I've just discovered may be too modern for my layouts period?

However, they do look nice, but further research as to their provenance is needed. I quite like tank cars and if truth be told I probably didn't need these, but they were shiny and I couldn't resist their siren call.

I found out that this model from Red Caboose of an SP prototype that was also made by ACF for the C&EI, and as I needed cars from this railroad I bought one.

For pretty much the same set of reasons I saw this Kadee PS-1 50 foot double door box car that I thought looked really shiny, so I snapped it up. I only need one more C&EI car for my roster, which in practical terms means I can stop looking for anymore cars from this railroad.

This another InterMountain AAR 1937 car in a livery that I needed for my representational need to have a typical selection box cars from those railroads whose cars would appear on my layout. Can't just have PS-1s roving the layout like herds of wildebeest on the plains of the Serengeti.

The New York Central System was the first North American railroad that I modelled seriously, for definitions of serious that allow for youthful indiscretions arising from ignorance of the subject matter. I fell in love with NYC Hudsons and the 20th Century Ltd, which captured my imagination from the romantic notion of "Centuries that pass in the night". Anyway, this is a rather nice InterMountain model.

Finally, this time round, an InterMountain Tichy Group hopper. I like the paneling variation of this car, which adds a bit of variety to my hopper fleet.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Thirteen Back Up

Saturday saw us down in Chatham, Kent, which is a 140 mile round journey for us, so not a show we go to often, but well worth the time it took. The Chatham show takes place in the historic dockyards, based in one of the sheds on the quay. Being semi-open to the elements it can be a bit cold, if the weather is inclement, which it was on Saturday. At least one trader was complaining of being cold.

Saw a lot of very nice layouts with a wide selection of scales with a good mix of British, American and European models. The latter often being visitors from abroad, which is quite common to the Chatham show. Bought a building kit, and was bought an NCE Power Cab by my partner, to replace my old Lenz Digital Plus, which was a bit basic for my needs.

Sunday we went to a BBQ, so didn't get much modelling done.

However, I did finally get my back order of wheels from Caboose Hobbies at the weekend. I have been spending sometime sorting out all the axles by length, before mounting them in the trucks of my freight cars that have been so long sans wheels.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

CNS&M 459: Part 5

Well after about an hour and a quarters work I got this part back into shape.

I was recently asked how do I hold all the bits together to stop them falling apart. The simple answer is to use a jig. In this case a very simple jig that uses dress pins stuck into the board I solder on to hold everything in place. To get the coupler plate in the right place I used a coffee stirrer to keep the distance I wanted between the front solebar and the coupler plate.

As you can see here bits have fallen off. Do not panic, bits will fall off. Just take your time and re-solder them back-on later with spot solder joints. Unfortunately, one of the little stanchions that holds the cut lever in place pinged off never to be seen again. Drat. Also broke one of the grab irons, but as that is a simple piece of bent wire, it's not hard to replace.

Meanwhile, I ran the all the rest of the finished parts through the paint shop. Here is the main body painted red, and I will now mask the nose, window frames, and doors and paint her green.

Et voilĂ ...

Of course I've still to finish off the other frame assembly and paint it. So a bit of a half-finished botch up really, but I was on a roll.

So now to fabricating a replacement for the missing stanchion that holds the cut lever assembly on the front of the frame. There are three of these, so I'm going to use one of the remaining two as a template. First I soldered the spare on to a piece of scrap brass that was the right thickness, cleaned it up a bit, and then drilled the hole through.

Next I cut around it to get the rough shape, but leaving enough to hold the work with.

Okay, all I've got to do now is clean off the excess solder, reassemble the cut lever assembly onto the sub-frame and this part of the project is done & dusted.

I have to be honest, and admit that on Monday I had lost my Mojo over this. I spent most of the day distracting myself with other stuff, like going out for a meal and seeing the new Ridley Scot movie Prometheus, which was a welcome change. On Tuesday I was able to get back in the saddle and work on both this locomotive and #452. The point is, that patience and perseverance are what you need when doing something like this, and if you have enough of both then you can achieve whatever you set your mind to.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

L&N 7438 Gondola: Part 1

My Intermountain USRA L&N composite gondola build. Here is the basic gondola as I found it after taking out of storage.

Since then I have managed to complete the undersides by adding the brake rigging as can be seen here.

However, in the process I broke a stirrup step, which I've reinforced with microstrip as the initial repair didn't hold up to being looked at hard. I'm really looking at that over scale width coupler box. I shall have to see if it needs trimming to allow this car to negotiate the ridiculously tight curves I run on my traction layout?

And here is an end view with the first three of the 26 grab irons that have to be applied to finish the model. These are a bit of a fag to do, being the very epitome of tedious repetition. Also, I think that they would be better if they were metal.

Next I have to move on to finishing of applying all of the grab irons...

Monday, 4 June 2012

CNS&M 452: Part 1

I realised that I haven't really posted anything about my one, mostly, stalwart performer on the layout, locomotive #452. I say mostly stalwart because I did have some initial problems with her after putting a chip in. Not that the chip cause any difficulties, but the model just stopped being able to pull cars.

I looked and found that only one power truck was actually working, and the other was just dragging on the whole locomotive. So I took the model apart and found that the universal joint on the gear train was rotating freely on the shaft. Pretty much a definition of not a good thing as you'll ever find in model railroading.

I ended up having to disassemble the whole motor drive train to be able to fix this problem, and noted that the universal joint had been jimmied to fit during assembly at some point prior to me buying the model, which I think was the reason it failed.

However, after re-powering locomotive #454, I thought why not go back and sort out the drive train on #452 the same way, and sort out the ride height at the same time. How hard can it be the second time round?

So here she is all disassembled and showing the old motor with the new replacement Mashima 1424 for size comparison. I stole the flywheels, with their built in universal joints, off #457, which has fast become the locomotive that one steals bits off to get the others running. Very "real world" operating department'ish.

Unlike my other two steeplecabs this model comes from The Car Works, and is wired to pick up with live wheels on one side of each bogie. So I am going to have to insulate the motor from the chassis.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Milwaukee 18590 Box Car Weathered

As per usual I started with an application on Games Workshop washes to grimy up the model.

Once this was done I then used car screen wash, from undiluted out the bottle, to quite diluted, to wash the model clean.

Friday, 1 June 2012

CNS&M 459: Part 4

And the saga continues.

First off remove the cow-catcher and the coupler mounting plate. As you can see I've cut a couple of small brass pieces to act as an extra shim to raise the cow-catcher casting off from the floor.

And here it is all soldered back together after a quick clean in the ultrasonic cleaner and quick brush over with a fiber glass brush. Unfortunately, when I assembled said sub assembly together the mounting post fouled the gear box. So I had to sit and ponder the clearances, which were pretty tight, but I reckoned I could find a good compromise position for the post.

So here are both frames altered and both have been washed and put in the ultrasonic cleaner for good measure. The right hand assembly is still awaiting a for a good go over with the fiber glass brush to sparkle it up. I'm starting to think at this point that I might as well run the whole locomotive through the paint shop while I'm at.