Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Brass Signal Update

I have almost finished the brass 23 foot lower quadrant timber post and 23 foot lower quadrant steel post signals, only requiring the 'glass' spectacles to be added with Krystal Klear and Tamiya clear tinted paints. If ordering these brass signals a White Strong and Flexible (WSF) base mechanism and a ladder need to be ordered to complete them. The platform safety rails are to be made from 0.015 inch phosphor bronze or brass wire.

Current total prices including the extra parts are about AU$80 for the timber post signal and AU$74 for the steel post signal. Prices of taller, shorter and bracket signals will vary due to the amount of brass involved. These two signals are currently available from my Shapeways Signals Branch shop.

While writing this post I received two emails from Shapeways announcing pricing changes for Frosted Ultra Detail and Raw Brass 3D printing. The changes come into being on 22 May for the Raw Brass and 25 May for the FUD. Apparently smaller brass items will go down in price and larger will go up, of course signals are large!

Of course any FUD items on my shop will change in price as well, which way up or down, I don't know at the moment, the FUD formula is difficult as it involves a calculation on the amount of support material used for each different item and some other factors. I will be informed of the actual price changes for my items on 22 May 2017 for Raw Brass and 25 May 2017 for FUD. Apparently Shapeways will adjust the prices automatically and then I will have to review and adjust prices accordingly,

I have used the supplied formula to calculate the new Raw Brass prices and they are:

23 ft LQ Timber Post Signal - Approx. AU$87
23 ft LQ Steel Post Signal - Approx. AU$80

Be aware that the prices on the shop are in US dollars.

So if you want to save a bit of money then buy the brass signals now before 22 May 2017.

Annoying!

Werris Creek UP Platforms Bracket Starter Signal

Also just needing the 'glass' added is the Werris Creek UP platforms bracket starter signal, this one was a real challenge! I had previously had it printed in Frosted Ultra Detail (FUD) acrylic material but I felt that it could easily have been broken by a clumsy arm reaching across the layout. The problem was that the upper bracket area is supported on the thinnest part of the tapering post. I then had to re-draw it for brass as the minimum design limits are slightly finer for the FUD material.

This pilot model of a steel bracket signal has the detail parts and signal arms on the dolly posts done in FUD with the posts being 1 mm Albion Alloys brass tubing, 1 mm rod would work equally well. I will be looking at how to print the two dolly posts in brass but the advantage of using the FUD parts and the tubing or rod is that you can decide what those dolly posts are like. Further thought required.

Given the just announced pricing changes from Shapeways, I have not been able to calculate an approximate price as yet because the FUD formula is difficult. The likely price before these changes using the FUD parts but not including the brass rod/tubing was going to be about AU$112.

If you are going to the Modelling the Railways of NSW Convention at Loftus this coming Saturday 20 May 2017 you can see these signals and others as I will be doing a clinic on building my signals.

Anyway, here are the signals, price changes aside I am very happy with them.

23 ft Lower Quadrant Timber Post Signal - Brass

23 ft Lower Quadrant Steel Post Signal - Brass

Werris Creek UP Platforms Bracket Signal - Brass




Sunday, April 30, 2017

Brass Signal Assembly Instructions

I have put a link on my Signals Branch blog for the assembly instructions for the new range of brass NSWGR signals.

The instructions can be found in the Links section on the right hand side of the web page and here.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Latest Effort - Werris Creek Platform Starter Bracket Signal

In line with my recent work on brass signals (last post) I have redesigned the Werris Creek platform starter bracket signal and had it printed in brass. This 3D printed signal was received a couple of weeks ago, prior to my last post.

Here are a few photos of the model as it stands today.




I have painted one signal dolly post for the photos in this blog post but I will be stripping the paint off and spraying the whole signal with some self etch black which will prime the brass and be suitable for the black parts. Of course painting white over the black will be interesting as it will have to be done by brush, carefully.

The prototype signal does not have bellcranks to transmit the signal box lever movement via wire to the signal arm and uses wheels instead. I designed the signal to have working wheels (drilled with holes to be a bellcrank) to get the operating rods up to the signal arms however they are just too small and fiddly to fit. In future the wheels will be cast in place (non-turning) and the operating rods will be bent to run behind the wheels.

To get the operating rod movement I used one piece of 0.015: phosphor bronze wire from the below baseboard mechanism to the counterweight lever. I bent it to replicate the operating wire of the real signal and threaded it through the wheel brackets behind the wheels. Check the photos to see what I mean. A loop of 0.010" wire was bent into a U shape and soldered to the post to retain the two operating rods and minimise flexing of the wire.

The brass post is glued to a boss on the top of the White Strong and Flexible, the square base of the post being hollow.

The two round steel dolly posts are 1mm diameter brass tube from Albion Alloys which can be purchased from Hobbyco, Bergs Hobbies, Brunel Hobbies and Frontline Hobbies. The detail parts on the dolly posts are Frosted Ultra Detail parts that slide onto the posts. The dolly posts fit into holes printed in the signal that need to be cleaned out with a 1mm drill.

Some holes need to be drilled with a 0.4mm drill, some cast OK and some don't. A supply of 0.4mm drills would be useful as I find that some drill well and others don't. I think it is how well the point has been ground.

The drills can be found on ebay or a pack of 10 drills can be had for $10 from McJing Tools in Yagoona NSW.

I will be investigating how to do these dolly posts with details attached in printed brass. I have to keep the height below the 100mm maximum build box of the 3D printer, so some more 'hidden' sprues.

This signal is a trial for the steel post bracket signals to go with the round steel post signal now available on my Signals Branch Shop.

Once this signal is done I will return to the Werris Creek station building, at last - again!

If anyone is interested in how my signals go together I will be having a clinic at the Modelling the Railways of NSW Convention at Loftus on 20 May 2017.



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Brass Signal Update

Since my last post about brass signals I have added the rest of the signal parts to the post and the 23 ft timber post signal and a new 23 ft round steel post signal with parts have passed the technical review by Shapeways and are being printed.
These two signals are now on my Signals Branch shop.
Update: Signals printed and on the way as of today 25 April 2017 and Shapeways Sale information removed from this post as it was over.
Brass 23 ft Round Steel Post Signal with Detail Parts

Brass 23 ft Timber Post Signal with Detail Parts
I have also added NSWR C32 Sand boxes in brass, Frosted Ultra Detail and Frosted Extreme Detail acrylic material. These larger 1907 sand boxes have been designed to replace the smaller sand boxes of the Ixion C32 as outlined in an article by James McInerney in April 2017 Issue 323 of the Australian Model Railway Magazine.
Brass C32 Sandboxes for Ixion C32 - Also available in FUD and FXD
I will expand the range of brass signals as soon as I can.
Of course the appropriate WSF mechanism and a ladder are required for each signal.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Couple of Things I have been Battling Against

OK, the title is just to catch your eye, no life dramas.

Firstly, I have been working with a Shapeways Service Team member over the brass signal situation and after about a dozen or so emails back and forth and a few more designs it looks like I have made a breakthrough. There is a trial brass signal currently on its way from New York. There are actually four of the same design coming, three for a friend who helped out as I wanted to test the print success rate and one for me.

The breakthrough came when I removed the rectangular base from the brass signal design. I finally worked out that the Shapeways production team for brass don't really like the designer to have sprues as a badly placed sprue to a part can cause the process to fail.

So the signal will comprise a brass post with platform, lamp, signal arm pivot, counterweight lever pivot and a counterweight lever attached by a very short sprue to a small square flange near the base of the post. This flange retains the post when it is pushed into the White Strong and Flexible mechanism that just happens to also have a rectangular base for mounting.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to include the signal arm, cast iron ladder base, lamp top and signal arm rear blind.The good thing is that the counterweight lever is brass so it will be stronger than the Frosted Ultra Detail (FUD) acrylic version although

These extra detail parts will have to be ordered in FUD from the existing range of FUD parts. One advantage of this is that the appropriate signal arm can be chosen whereas if it is in brass I would have to decide which arm to include on the brass signal.

A ladder will be needed and I have a sprue of two (without cast iron ladder bases) or a sprue of ten ladders with the cast iron bases. Of course an etched brass ladder can be used instead.

So the brass signal got cheaper without the rectangular base but the addition of the FUD parts took the price back up to about the same price as an all brass signal post and parts.

Here are some computer renders of the various items:

HO Scale 23 Foot Brass Signal Post
WSF Brass Base and Signal Mechanism
HO FUD 2 x 36 inch Signal Arms and Detail Parts
HO FUD 2 x Ladders (No Cast Iron Base)
HO FUD 10 x Ladders with Cast Iron Bases

The signal and others will be available once I make the coming signal, I will announce this at the appropriate time.

I will be doing a demo/clinic about making my signals, etc. at the coming Modelling the Railways of NSW Convention at Loftus on Saturday 20 May 2017.


Short Circuit!

The second thing I have been struggling with is a short circuit in my layout that seemed to start at the time of the 40 degree Centigrade days here in Sydney a month or so ago.

I did all the usual things such as looking for rails that had closed up around points, etc. to no avail. I then began disconnecting the DCC track bus wiring to various parts of the layout, still no luck.

Part of the problem was that I was supposed to have two track power districts but didn't! I had a sneak path between the districts that was confusing things. After a few weeks I eventually found the sneak path which was up behind the fascia at Coxs Gap at the dividing point of the two 'districts', it was some original wiring that went from one end of Coxs Gap loop to the other.

After many discussions with Marcus Ammann I tracked the problem down to one section but the short had degraded to a power drain and has now become intermittent.

I now have three power districts with NCE EB1 circuit breakers on each district and the problem is restricted to one of the districts.

The layout was turned on for most of today without any issues.

Now I wait and see if it will raise its ugly head again.




Thursday, March 9, 2017

Brass Signal Range Withdrawn

Well, I ordered another brass signal and had it rejected because it appears that Shapeways doesn't allow sprues on their 'Precious Metals'. The sprues on my signals attach the various detail parts (signal arm, counterweight lever, lamp top, etc.) to the base of the signal the same as the Frosted Ultra Detail versions.

It appears that my first signal managed to slip past the person doing the design check.

I can only conclude that these metals are aimed at jewellry and they are limiting someone making jewellery to only one item, although they do allow a pair of ear rings and cuff links - go figure, it doesn't make any sense!

I have just withdrawn 12 brass signals from my Signals Branch shop.

The brass signals were expensive and I didn't think I would sell too many but it is still very disappointing particularly when you have a nice example of what could be made.

I am very sorry and apologise to anyone who was contemplating these brass signals.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

New Brass Signals added to my Signals Branch range.

I have just uploaded eleven new brass signals to my Signals Branch Shapeways shop. These signals are lost wax brass castings from 3D printed waxes. The brass signals are nicely detailed even showing the bolts that go through the post for the various signal parts.

If you click on an item in the shop you will see a larger picture of the item with a 3D icon. Clicking this icon will give a rotatable view that can be zoomed. Please note that the zoom will pixelate eventually but this doesn't represent the model.

3D printed 27 ft Signal - Front

3D printed 27 ft Signal - Rear
The tallest signals (27 foot posts) have a separate finial (pinnacle is the correct term) cast on the signal base with the other detail parts. This will need to be soldered or glued into the hole in the top of the post. The reason for this is that the tall signals with finials exceed the 3D printer maximum bounding box (print volume). Shorter posts have the finial cast in place on the post.

A jig has been designed into the signal base to bend up the critical operating rod from the counterweight lever to the signal arm.

The detail parts on the bass can be removed using a pair of transistor nippers but a cutting disc in a hobby tool could be used with care.

There are a number of holes to be drilled with a 0.4 mm drill bit for handrails and operating wires. The positions are marked by small starter holes, some of which may have cast as holes as this is on the limit of the process. If there are cast holes then these will still need to be drilled with the correct size drill bit.

The pivot hole for the signal arm is undersize because of the wall thickness design minimum for printing and needs to be reamed out with progressively larger drill bits starting with 0.7 mm and then 0.8 mm, 0.9 mm and 1.0 mm. The pivot shaft on the signal arm will need to be very lightly filed to clean it up as it may be slightly out of round. The pivot hole and shaft need to be carefully fitted for a smooth rotating fit. It might be necessary to use a 1.1mm drill bit but don't make it a sloppy fit. Being a brass on brass bearing, once the signal is painted a small drop of light oil is a good idea.

To complete this signal a White Strong and Flexible mechanism needs to be ordered and glued underneath the signal.

A ladder for the signal is also needed and a sprue of two 21 foot ladders printed in Frosted Ultra Detail acrylic material can be ordered from this Signals Branch Shapeways Shop. A sprue of 10 ladders with cast iron bases is also available. These ladders are relatively flexible so will withstand a knock.

If you wish you could instead purchase an HO etched brass ladder.

A suitable etched brass ladder and a ladder forming jig are available from Keiran Ryan Models:    http://www.krmodels.com.au/

Or from Peter Boormans Workshop:    http://peterboormansworkshop.com.au/

Also required are:

0.015" phosphor bronze wire for operating rods, handrails, etc. (Tichy Train Group have the wire - #1102 0.015" 12 straight 200mm lengths).

1 x #4 6mm screws

1 x 3mm I.D. washer

2 x 2-56 12mm screws - 4 for bracket signals (either Kadee #1709 1/2" stainless screws- preferred or #256 1/2" nylon plastic screws - come in KD5 coupler packets)

Completed Signal
These brass signals are more expensive than the HO Fine Detail Signals (Frosted Ultra Detail) but may appeal to those modellers who like brass.

I have also recently added some brass counterweight levers and brass bracket signal bellcranks at the request of a modeller who kept breaking these when bending the operating rods around the ends of the levers/bellcranks to retain them when operating. I haven't broken any when doing this however these brass versions will eliminate the issue for those who wish to use them.

Brass Bracket Signal Bellcranks

Brass Counterweight Levers
As I add more HO Fine Detail signals to the range I will also add the equivalent brass versions.

I hope you find this post of interest.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I have a Theory .......

For several years I have noticed that various NSWGR diesels from Trainorama and Austrains have become intermittent in their operation. This is really annoying and over the last few years I have tried several ways to improve the issue. Here is a video of my first NSWGR 44 Class running on Bylong in October 2010, no hesitation can be seen.


I first tried removing the wheel sets and cleaning the metal internal diesel bogie side plate bearing surfaces as these are coated in something black (either chemically blackened or painted). This seemed to improve matters for a couple of years but then the problem returned.

Here is an example video of the issue, the Trainorama NSWGR 44 Class has clean wheels and the track is also clean.



After the issue returned I tried graphite powder and electrically conductive grease on the square bearing blocks and internal metal bogie side plate bearing surfaces with little change, due I think to not cleaning the bearing surfaces again..

So what is my theory?

I believe that due to the sloppy contact between the axle bearing blocks and the internal metal bogie side plate bearing surface, and also running under DCC, there has been sparking due to the higher current availability of DCC that has built up a layer of oxidised material that causes the conductivity to breakdown.

I have noticed this with diesel locomotives on other DCC layouts that get a fair bit of running as well.

I think that I have found a solution but time will tell of course.

Simply put, I have installed 0.0125" phosphor bronze pickup wires that rub on the axles, this takes the sloppy fitting bearings out of the equation.

The 0.0125" phosphor bronze wire is made by Tichy Train Group and is Product No. 1106. I bought mine from the Model Railroad Craftsman at Blacktown NSW.

The following process was done on a Trainorama NSWGR 44 Class but I have also done a Trainorama NSWGR 49 Class that is easier to remove the bogie side frames.

Removing the 44 Class bogie side frames is tricky but can be done. I used a pair of long nose pliers that have smooth jaws. I had previously used long nose pliers with serrations but they don't work. The smooth faces allow the small clips on the bogie to release where as the serrated jaws hold the clips so that they can't release. Place the locomotive upside down on a soft surface. There are four sets of small clips in the bogie side frame keeper plate in small cut outs. Place the ends of the pliers jaws into the cutouts on either side and squeeze. At the same time place a small screwdriver under the end of the keeper plate and lever against the chassis coupler mounting. With luck you will get the first clips to release and then work along the clips to the other end. Once you have done it the first time it is easier to do the next bogie. Yes, this is a three handed job.

The pick up wires are made by bending an angle of about 45 degrees on the end of the 0.0125" phosphor bronze wire and trim to no more than 4 mm. Make another similar bend in the same plane 52 mm along the wire and trim again to approximately 4 mm.

Bogie and Pick Up Wire Ready to be Installed
These pick up wires then have a fine insulated wire (black decoder wire) soldered to them between the axles and the other end of the insulated wire is soldered onto the internal metal bogie side plates. The area to be soldered to on the side plate is cleaned of any blackening with a fine file to produce a nice shiny metal surface. Flux is then applied and the wire soldered on.

Fine Black Decoder Wire soldered to the Pick Up Wire and the Bogie Side Plate
Now is the time to replace any split axle gears if you have them. The split starts on the shorter side of the gear muff and can extend right through which expands the gap between the teeth where the split is and this causes the click noise when running the model.

The pick up wire is placed between the rear of the wheel and the bearing block on the axle. then it is first hooked over one of the outer end axles then under the middle axle and then over the other end axle. This over, under, over placement holds the pick up wire in place.

Pick Up Wires In Place on the Bogie
Now carefully clip the bogie side frames in place.

And here is the result, note that this is a different 44 Class that had the pick ups fitted than 4434 in the first video, it is next for the treatment.



EDIT: Please note that neither of these two locomotives are fitted with a Keep Alive. I doubt that a Keep Alive would resolve the issue as it would  become discharged with the intermittent pickup.


I have recently found some Rosin Soldering Flux at JayCar Electronics which has very little corrosive qualities so clean up is not really necessary. I have always used rosin fluxes for all my model soldering due to the lack of corrosion. Some fluxes need to be cleaned off thoroughly otherwise corrosion will set in over the years and destroy the solder joint. I find that soldering wires needs no cleanup but if I am soldering an etched brass kit then I will use some Methylated Spirits on a pipe cleaner to remove any trace of flux.

Rosin Soldering Flux



Sunday, January 22, 2017

I ordered a 'Cheap' Signal Box for my layout and also as an example for showing modellers when I have the opportunity.

This signal box was printed in Frosted Ultra Detail to see how the finish would look. As the box is made up of parallel boards and has corrugated iron on the roof at a slope I think that this gave the printers a challenge as there are fine print lines inside the box and on the rear wall at about 45 degrees. I suspect if the box was printed as it stands in the landscape then there may be print lines visible in the corrugated iron but this is not the case due I guess to the 45 degree print orientation.

I found that unusually the Frosted Ultra Detail had a slightly rough surface which I think was due to the waxy support material that is used in the printing process to support the 45 degree angle when printed. I cleaned the box in acetone then painted it without any attempt to remove the roughness to see what it would look like. It didn't look too good so I then scrapped the surface with the flat edge of a jewellers screw driver which reduced the roughness. I think that a bit of judicious smoothing with some fine wet and dry paper would also be beneficial.

Here are a couple of photos that show the roughness prior to the scraping.

Signal Box painted 'as is' showing roughness - Photo sharpened

Rear of Signal Box showing print lines - Photo sharpened
Here are a couple of photos of the box sitting on the Bylong platform just next to the dock. It does fit very nicely there but I don't think that it would be big enough to handle the signalling that I have planned for Bylong.

Signal Box after scraping with screwdriver blade


Rear of Signal Box after scraping with screwdriver blade
The signal box will be placed at the junction to the colliery at the top of the grade up to Wollar. As the box is a platform level one I will have to make a closed in supporting structure for it as it will sit on a small embankment. As most similar boxes seemed to have corrugated iron around the supports this is what I will do.

Approximate position of the 'Cheap' Signal Box at the Colliery Junction
And here is the Standard Signal Box (in White Strong and Flexible material) temporarily in place on Bylong platform (checking for fit).

Bylong Signal Box
Now I can see that I will have to get back to drawing up the various bell cranks and compensating links to go with my point rodding A Frames on my Shapeways Signals Branch shop.