Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Seasons Greetings

Another year has come and almost gone, one in which life gave me a couple of nudges. This is my first Christmas on retirement and I must say that I can only recommend it. Yes, I know some have a while to go but I can remember watching a guy at work retire and thinking, wow I have 40 years to go. That time eventually came 47 years after I started work. Anyway, enough of that.

Chris and I would like to wish all those who follow my blog a happy Christmas/holiday period and a great New Year.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pondering line pole wiring on Bylong

I received several comments on my last post which I will reproduce here:

From Jim

"Maybe do them in the winter."

From Ian Millard (liverpoolrange)

"When Andrew and I installed the EZ-Line elastic product for the fence on Bowen Creek, we found that superglue reacted with the line and crinkled it up. We ended up using PVA glue. Yes it took longer to dry, but the effect was better. Your recent tests with the local product have been very interesting, and I'll keep it all in mind when come to do my line poles. I reckon your sag test doesn't look that bad. I think if you get even a small amount of sag, it will look better than being taut. I can understand though the difficulty of getting the sag uniform across all wires."

From Pete Coombes

"Once again apologies for opening this can of worms for you, but I agree with Ian that your test looks much better than the taut, even if there is a little difference in the sag between wires. May I refer you to the September MR article by Pelle Soeborg, who I think you would agree is one of the great finescale modellers currently publishing. The photos show that even his wires have a slightly uneven sag but look fantastic. He uses CA and EZ line however. Not sure if this is helpful or just complicating the discussion."

Here are a few details about line poles on Bylong.

I have 110 spans of wires to do if I proceed, this doesn't include the 9 spans already done which following on from Jim's comment could be in a cool valley so the wires would be tighter but Bylong is set in late 1965 (late Spring - early Summer).

I have 51 of the 110 spans in between the layout edge and the main line. On the real lines the crossarms face Sydney however the line poles may be on either side of the line.

I like this as it looks more realistic, I like having the trains going through the scenery and buildings not having them in front of the scene. I have done this since the first Bylong exhibition layout in 1979. When taking model photos I like the effect of the line poles being in front of the train, it places the train in the scene.

The existing line poles are not glued in place as I have found that if they are knocked they tend to just move instead of having the crossarms break off.

If I go ahead with sagging wires the poles will need to be glued as a movement as little as 1 - 2mm in the test poles causes various wires to either tighten or sag more. This may be less of a problem if I can get a bit more sag into the wires. This effect also means that it is not possible to wire the poles in a long timber jig and then put them on the layout, all poles will need to be wired in place.

I occasionally have operating sessions at Bylong with as many as 10 operators (4 Station Masters/Signalmen and 4 - 5 driving at a time) so the potential for damage is probably medium to high.

The Knitting In Elastic does stretch a long way and is not likely to cause damage in itself when caught on a hand, sleeve, etc. However, if a pole is damaged and the crossarms break and/or come off the pole the repair is likely to be difficult given that the elastic will want to pull the crossarm away from the pole while the glue sets. I think that it may be possible to hold the crossarm(s) in place with something like the small tweezers that Kadee sells for assembling their coupler boxes (N gauge ones I think, I have two).

Before I can wire a lot of the line poles I still have to upgrade about half of the backscenes including new installation and scene painting.

OK, enough of the background detail.

I may try doing some sagging wires in place on the layout using Ian's suggestion of PVA glue, I think that it might be possible to lay the elastic across the insulators of a number of poles, adjust the sag across all the poles then glue using PVA. This might give a little adjustment while the glue is wet in case the application of the glue moves the elastic, remember that I found that as little as 1-2mm can cause an appreciable effect to the sag. Of course the PVA being water based may also pull on the elastic as it shrinks. The PVA may be of real benefit in case of crossarm breakage as it might be possible to wet the glue sufficiently (wet tissue placed around the glue/crossarm(s)) to allow the wires to be removed to replace the crossarm with a new one. Knowing how big Ian's layout is and how many wires follow the main line through Ardglen I feel for him.

Regarding Pete's comment that Pelle Soeborg has achieved a realistic sag, true enough. Pelle does amazing work however his layout is quite small so we go back to the problem of the number of spans to be done on Bylong and the time to do it. It took me one hour to do one span when trying to get a sag on the test board; 110 hours, hmmm?

So the decision is in the hands of the Gods at the moment, I can't see a quick resolution and certainly the line poles won't be done quickly if they do get done.

Everyone will have to make up their own mind as to what they might do on their layout.

As I said in an earlier post, Bylong is an experiment in techniques, some work, some don't. 

I hope this information has been of some help to others.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

NSWGR Line Pole wiring sag test

I made up a test board with two line poles to see if I could consistently achieve a prototypical sag of about six scale inches with the stretchy thread (Knitting In Elastic). I got carried away and added some soil and static grass for effect.

I applied Super Glue to the thread on one insulator, waited for it to set then allowed the thread to lay loosely across the insulator at the other pole. I then placed one handle of a pair of combination pliers into the hole through the bobbin of the thread to act as a brake, placed the bobbin and pliers on the table, slowly moved the pliers which pulled the loose thread upwards until I achieved the required sag and then applied some glue to the insulator. I hooked the thread around the next insulator applied some glue and repeated the process. It took about an hour to do the 12 wires which was about four or five times as long per pair of poles as the way a did the run of poles in my first line pole post with the taut wires.

As can be seen from the photo, the outcome wasn't that good. A small amount of sag can be seen but two wires ended up higher (tighter) then intended. Also the sag ended up less than I wanted so the glue may pull slightly on the thread when it sets. If the thread is given too much sag it tends to start to wrinkle or bunch up a little.

I picked up some grey invisible thread at Lincraft as I had heard that it has some stretch, however the stretch is minimal compared with the Knitting In Elastic, perhaps 40mm over the distance between the poles. Also when allowed to sag it wrinkled up more than the Knitting In Elastic so may need to be stretched taut. This would mean that by the time the twelve or more wires were done the strain on the poles would likely be too much. The grey invisible thread could be used to represent power lines as the power poles don't carry as many wires.

Over all, I don't think that the effort of achieving a sag is worth the outcome given how many poles I would have to do on my layout if I carry on.

Monday, December 2, 2013

How I make NSWGR Line Poles

I thought that since I was talking about wiring line poles with stretchy thread that I should explain how I make the line poles for my layout.

The reason for this is particularly related to the insulators and crossarms as the design of these makes the use of the stretchy thread easy.

I use Rix Products crossarms for two reasons, they have the V supports at approximately the correct place and the insulators are moulded proud of the crossarm supported by the mounting bolt. This gives a way to capture the stretchy thread under the insulator. The crossarms come with ten insulators per crossarm and 12 crossarms per sprue. Each crossarm on the sprue is connected to the base of the V above and in such a way that they can be cut from the sprue as 2, 3, 4, 6 or 12 crossarms. Different numbers of crossarms could be cut from the sprue but then they wouldn't be one piece, still possible though . I trim the ends of the crossarms to give me three insulators on each side and I cut two connected crossarms from the sprue at the bottom of the V support where it meets the next crossarm down. The reason for this is that from observation of photos, I determined that some sections of cross-country lines have two crossarms with six insulators, others of course have many more of each. I always subscribe to doing as little as is necessary to give the right impression so two crossarms of six insulators seemed good to me. The product number of the Rix Products crossarms is 628-31 and I bought mine from the Model Railroad Craftsman at Blacktown NSW.

I use code 70 weathered Micro Engineering rail for the posts. I use the code 70 as it is more robust than code 55 which would be more correct, however the code 70 still looks OK due to the dark weathering. As the prototype also used timber poles, I have used the Rix Products 30' and 40' timber poles (product number 628-30) on the Ardglen station of Ron Cunningham's Werris Creek layout (see this previous post for a photo).

Rix Products also has 40' poles available, product number 628-40. You can download the catalogue from this link. I also obtained the weathered code 70 Micro Engineering rail from the Model Railroad Craftsman (this is not meant to be an advertisement for MRRC, it is just one of several hobby shops that I frequent).

I paint the crossarms with Floquil concrete as it gives a good impression of the weathered wood. Of course given that Testor has decided to no longer make Floquil paint I will have to find something else.

I then paint the insulators white (I know that there are also clear and clear green glass insulators) using the method in the following video.

As can be seen in the video the trick is using the applicator nozzle from a tube of ACC Super Glue with a taper cut across the nozzle. I dip a brass rod in the acrylic white paint and allow a drop of paint to fall into the screw part of the nozzle. Now this paint won't want to run all the way to the hole in the nozzle so I then dip the brass rod with paint on it into some methylated spirits (de-natured alcohol) and then place the rod into the paint in the screw top of the nozzle. This thins the paint sufficiently to allow it to run to the nozzle but not enough so that it flows out. Now this sounds a bit complicated but it isn't really. The paint is then applied as per the method in the video.

I assemble the line poles in a jig that holds the crossarms in the correct position. The paint application nozzle can be seen in the photo as well.

Careful observation of the above photo will show that I glue the crossarms to the base of the rail and not the side as per the plan in a previous post.

If you wish to do it more prototypically, you could cut small pieces of say 2" x 3" Evergreen plastic strip and glue the small block in the correct place against the web on the side of the rail so that the rail post and crossarm have the correct orientation.

If I was doing a small layout I might have considered this but I had too many to make so needed and easy way to produce the line poles.