To paraphrase Vane Jones, "Knowledge is of little value until shared with others."

Monday, March 20, 2017

2017 March Chicago O Scale Meet

The annual 2017 March Chicago O Scale Meet is over. The venders are on their way home. Many O scale models and parts have exchanged hands. This event is probably the biggest and most intense O Scale Meet in the States. Over the years more O scale traction has appeared at this meet. The other item to note is I counted the models of at least 5 estates for sale. Two of the estates were traction modelers.

This year's O Scale Meet gave me a chance to meet the new owner of Lou Cross's Right-O-Way (R-O-W) products - Jay Criswell. Talking to Jay was like talking to Lou. Lou did a great job in picking Jay to carry on his work with R-O-W.

Some comments with regard to today's R-O-W products. Jay has a new web site for R-O-W  Do not use the "O Scale Directory" web page link to Lou Cross's R-O-W products.

Jay has started to review and upgrade some of the R-O-W products. An important  item to mention is Jay will be selling both "standard" (5" track gauge) O scale products plus Proto48 items. In the past Lou had spun off the Proto48 track components to Protocraft.

Protocraft will no longer carry Proto48 track components. This means the Proto48 street point and mate mentioned in a prior Post in this Blog will be available from Jay's R-O-W. Obviously this means when you order track components from R-O-W be sure to state "standard O scale" or "Proto48" as part of your order.

Jay has a small number of the points and cover plates castings. If the point and/or cover plate from you point and mate castings is damaged, contact Jay for replacements. I might add - be sure to have your invoice handy to prove the source of your point and mate castings.

I mentioned to Jay the need for a #4 frog casting for code 100 and code 125 rail. Most modelers who have mainline railroad layouts may not need this frog. It's the street/elevated (traction) modelers and modelers with switching layouts who can best benefit from having a #4 frog. If you can use #4 frogs contact Jay to express your need and desire to purchase them.

On a different tack, from comments made to me with regard to using (installing) the point and mate castings, I plan to go into greater detail on installing these castings. As soon as I can future Posts in the Blog will cover the various installations.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Working on the Street Track End Loop Module - Part 4C Turnouts - Location, Location, Location

Where is the Point/Mate/street ties soldered assembly to be located? This is the part of the work on the street trackage which should have been done 1st. You may have seem in some of the photos in prior Posts, the pencil drawing on top of the module.

This should have done this as soon as the wood work for the module was completed. OR, drawn on the piece of plywood to be used as the top of the module was cut prior to installation.

(For my modules when the 2 plain pieces of plywood for the tops of the modules for the 90 degree turns in the track were cut, almost immediately the center point of the ¼ turns of track were cut-off. More about this later!)

You should have besides the center point of the track drawn:
·         the location of the rails,
·         the beginning and ending points of curves, and
·         a line from the center point of the curve (circle) to the end of the curved rail.

Most important are the center line of the straight track plus the center line of the curve for locating the Point/Mate/street ties soldered assembly.

I used a photocopy of the #3 frog turnout.
The ties are the squiggles. Note the frog point is NOT on a tie. If the turnout is to be in open track, an additional tie has to be added under the frog point. The small red lines are the locations of the ends of the points plus where the stock rails are to be filed away.

The center lines of the straight and curved track of the turnout drawn on the module matched those on the photocopy! I noticed when the photocopy was in position, the end of the movable point was at the line drawn from the center point of the curve (circle) to the end of the curved rail. 

Although the photocopy can be glued to the module top, I did not do this. Just locating the end of the movable point of the Point/Mate assembly was enough of a guide for me.

Blue Arrow = the line to locate where the end of the circle
Maroon Arrow = where the center of the circle and straight track meet
Green arrows = center lines of the circle and straight track
Red Arrows = where rail lines and the center of the rail in casting meet
White Arrow = 1/4" hole to control point

In the above photo, note where the end of the point in the casting is located. To help in locating the 2 castings, short sections of rail had been attached to the Point/Mate assembly. They had been removed before the photo was taken. BTW - I discovered the other set of pencil lines were not drawn in the correct location.

[My method of making a street turnout will give you a curved frog. If you desire a street turnout with a straight tangent of track between the movable point and the frog like in Chicago and other cities you will need to have a drawing of your street turnout. Use photocopies of the street turnout glued to the module to locate and make the turnout. The center points of the straight and curved track are still used to locate the photocopy.]

Next, no matter how you decide to “power” your street turnout, 2 holes have to be drilled into the plywood top of the module. One hole is to be located where the brass tube is attached to the point protrudes from the bottom of the soldered assembly. This tube may be eventually attached to a switch machine or a spring.

The other hole is to be located where the prototype point would be attached to a real life switch machine or pull chain mechanism. You’ll notice a small hole in the lever attached to the point. The wire finger from a model switch machine can be placed into this hole to move the switch point. A ¼” twist drill was chosen to make for both holes. If the holes are too large and method to fix this will be shown later.

The turnout will be finished in the next Post.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year to All!

The very best to all in the coming year!

It's time to get this Blog and Posts back on time. A number of "things" have happened to us in the past 6-8 weeks. Besides our usual end of the year activities we replaced the wall to wall carpeting in our town house with hard wood flooring. The flooring replacement was delayed due to unusual circumstances. Neither we nor the installers were responsible for the delay.

Then there were other things that happened which consumed our time. Needless to say we were doing things which consumed our time and left little time to work on a layout and write this Blog.

You will see in coming Posts why some material/information was altered and/or changed. The Post are written in real time, as best as can be done. This allows you to follow me in my trip to make an O scale layout based in modules. The last comment is important because if the layout were a permanent layout things would be different.

With all that's going on in the World we did something unusual. This is the 7 foot flashing artificial palm tree on our patio.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Working on the Street Track End Loop Module - Part 4B Turnout – Soldering Point/Mate Castings to Street Ties & Tools to Help

Assembling the Point and Mate castings and 2 copper clad ties together was done on a flat wooden or other soldering surface. I am calling the copper clad ties "street ties". The Point/Mate castings with soldered street ties assembly will be mounted on the layout later.

A square was used to position the 2 Point and Mate castings on the 2 street ties. Then to hold the 2 castings on the 2 street ties, a weight was placed on top of the castings to prevent any movement. Carefully check the gauge during this process. Remember I’m using the Right-O-Way castings.

After some careful checking, the 2 castings were found to be square with one another. This means the ends of the base of the castings are the same length and have matching details in the correct corresponding locations. It also means the ends of the pieces of rail extending from the castings are the same length. Now the parts are soldered together at the corners.
The red arrows point to the soldering locations. This photo was one of the "engineering" photos I took. I forgot to take any assembly/soldering photos.  The rail and brass ties on the right are explained below.

BTW - If the pieces of rail extending from the castings are NOT the same length, stop to find out why. If needed replace the "bad" casting or repair it.

While working on the Point/Mate castings an idea of a tool to hold the castings in gauge came to mind. This Post will cover 2 different tools to help with the building and installation of track on my modules.

The 1st of the two are a tool made from pieces of brass for the ties and code 125 rail. The brass pieces are the same dimensions as the “ties” being used for the street trackage. The length of the rail doesn’t matter as long as the rail can be squarely soldered to the pieces of brass and in gauge!

These gauge tools can be used to hold the Point/Mate castings in gauge while you are making the castings and street “ties” square. Even though you have used a tool like this, still check the assembly for gauge using an NMRA track gauge!!

The red circle is around the gauge tools mentioned above. The blue circle is talked about below.

The other tool is to help with the track at the end of the module. The track at the end of a module must be able to connect with the track of another module. Check the EPTC module standards if you have any questions about this. My "end of module track tool" is made up of code 125 rail and brass pieces found in my left over brass bin.
This is the end of module track tool in action. The long piece of brass is made from a 3/16” “H” section about 8-1/4” long. It can be made from any brass shape just as long as it will not bend!

What you may be unable to tell is, the above track tool is attached on the center of track line. Two brass tabs were added to the "H" section so the tool can be screwed in place on the layout. As can be seen in the photo the lines drawn in as to where the rail is to be located were not accurately drawn. Always use NMRA track gauges and measure everything 2 to 3 times.

The object of the tool is to have the rails at each end of the module in exactly the same location! With this tool the rails will end in exactly the same location, square with one another.

In the next Post the Point/Mate castings will be installed on the layout.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Working on the Street Track End Loop Module - Part 4A Turnout in Street (Pavement)

Turnout in Street (Pavement)

If you remember, the Posts for the end Loop module containing the street trackage are out of sequence. A Post on drawing the track plan for this module on top of should have been 1st.

In the prior Post a photo of the desk lamp used by me was taken just before the Post was published. The track work for the loop of track for this end module was completed as shown in the photo.

As you'll discover, the turnouts must be located before any other track work is done. Also, I just as excited and nervous as you are to see what happens.
This is not nearly as difficult as you may think it is. Take a deep breath and start to work!

In the US for O scale there’s 2 sources of the Point/Mate part of the turnout. The 1st source is Right-O-Way (ROW) products which was originally owned by Lou Cross. Upon Lou’s death Jay Criswell, 2286 Hampton Way, Clovis CA 93611-6047, has taken over the product line.

I’ve talked to Jay and found out besides being the new owner of ROW, he is one of the executors of Lou’s estate. He has lots of work to do with both the estate and ROW. He is selling ROW products if you contact him.

The ROW Point /Mate for street trackage works with almost all O scale wheel sets from the old original 0172” down to the 0.135”flange. The 0.115 flange of fine scale may be a problem. This set of points is designed for a 15” radius curve if my memory serves correctly. It will accommodate both smaller and wider curves.

This is the Right-O-Way Point/Mate for street track. This is an older product received from Lou Cross several years ago. The price is not up to date. The instructions on the left tell how to install the point.

The Point/Mate available from ProtoCraft, 18498 Half Moon Street, Unit 203, Somona CA 95476-4835 is intended for fine scale applications. The point and mate will match the profile of Clouser rail. The flangeway is not deep enough for most O scale application outside of fine scale.

ProtoCraft has a number of unique items. Be sure to look as his decal section. From what I can tell he’s a one man operation. He’s away from the shop during O scale meets both fine scale and regular.

The ProtoCraft Point/Mate for street track were ordered as a pair. The price on the package insert/instructions is for one Point/Mate. The instructions are very complete.

Outside of the USA, Greg King in Australia has a Point/Mate for street trackage. He has a slightly different way to operate the point. His price seems to be slightly lower than here in the States. If anyone wants to contact him feel free to contact me via email.

This is how the Point/Mate arrived from Greg King. The 2 castings are soldered to the ties. The additional brass in the center are attached to the point. Moving the brass lever will move the point.

Back to the Point/Mate castings available here. Before starting to install the point and mate castings, the pieces of rail which stick out from the castings and are intended for ease of installation need to be inspected. They may be out of alignment, left to right or up and down. A good sturdy pair of pliers and/or a small vise may be necessary to straight out the rail. This inspection and correction is important to be done now since it may be impossible to do later!

Next carefully follow the instructions which come with the castings regarding the installation of the switch point. There’s 3 ways to deal with the operation of the single point:
1.    Power the point with a switch motor, cable or lever of your choice under the layout,
2.    Spring power the point with a “weak” spring under the layout, and
3.    Finger nail power the point.

If a street turnout is located in a remote or hard to get to location, the point will have to e operated by either an electric switch motor, some type of cable or lever system, or a spring. Almost any available switch motor can be hooked up. For a cable and/or lever systems you'll have to read about them in older hobby magazines.

The “weak” spring only needs to be able to snap the point back into place. If a stronger spring is used light models going wrong way through the switch may derail. Be sure to institute the rule of not stopping and reversing direction over a spring switch!

The “finger nail” operated point is interesting. It mimics the prototype operation of the operator of the streetcar using a switch iron to manually move the point to the desired route.

On to the installation – the 2 castings must be soldered onto suitable ties. Clover House, PO Box 215, Veradale WA 99037-0215 has copper clad (both sides) of electrical board cut into 2 sizes (plus a small sheet) suitable for in-the-street track.

The above photo shows the ROW Point/Mate casting ready to be installed on the layout. The rod to move the point has been installed. The 2 copper-clad street ties have been installed. To help gauge the rail on the castings, 2 "tools" made from code 125 rail and brass strips can be seen on the left and right of the castings.

[The addresses for ROW, ProtoCraft, and Clovis House were included in this post. Each has their own web site and often a phone number is listed. You can look these up yourselves.]
We'll look more into the installation of the Point/Mate in the next Post.

Working on the Street Track End Loop Module - Part 3 Curved Track

Curved Track

Just as a reminder, the reader should be reading or at least looking at how to lay track on YouTube. Also, there are excellent articles on street trackage written by Bill Clouser and John T. Derr in the booklet "Traction Guidebook for Model Railroaders" published by Kalmbach Books in 1974.

Three more comments before getting into the curved track. I like a lot of light on the things being worked on. To produce more light on the area being worked on a small desk lamp is used. These come either with an Edison base for an average size screw in bulb or a fluorescent bulb. Chose the one you like best.
My desk lamp on top of the layout.

When using the wooden clothespins to hold work (rails) being soldered, there’s always a chance the wood will start to char. The charring may leave undesirable substances on your work. Always clean this off! It can interfere with glues, paint, etc. If the jaws of a wooden clothespin become too charred toss the clothespin out.

Next, when soldering rail or whatever to the copper clad board being used for street ties be careful not to heat these too much. The copper will come off the board! The gauge of the track may be in question.

Street railways used a different girder rail for curves. This girder rail had a higher back flange for the back of the wheel to rub against. The back flange was higher than the paving and often stuck out of the top of the street. Driving an auto or truck over this rail was difficult but not impossible. I do not know if Clouser had an O scale girder rail for curves. 

To mimic the higher back lip of curved girder rail many modelers have used a 0.125” “L” shaped piece of brass soldered to the back of both of the rails involved in the curve. The “L” shape can be hard to bend so the base of the “L” had to be cut or ground out about every 1/8”

I have a surplus supply of 45 year old code 125 rail having a wider head than currently supplied code 125 rail. Therefore, this rail was used on my layout as the running rail in curves. New code 125 rail with a narrower head was used as the interior lip of the flange.

To properly gauge the new code 125 rail being used as the lip or guard rail the code 70 spikes from my track building supplies were 1st inserted on the inside of the running rail. Because the track in mounted on plywood, holes had to be drilled for the insertion of the spikes. The drill was just a few thousands of an inch smaller than the diameter of the spikes. Insertion of the spikes required a pair of pliers. The spikes were spaced about an inch apart.
The red arrow points to a rail joiner. These were installed only in the running rail, never the guard rail. The black heads of the code 70 spikes can be seen. The weight holds down all the rails flat. Solder can be seen on both sides of the running and guard rails.

Using code 125 rail with the 2 different size heads can be seen in the photo above. It looks different, perhaps not like girder rail for curved track but non-the-less not like the girder rail for straight track used in other parts of the layout!

Even with using the code 70 spikes to provide the proper side flangeway, still use an MNRA track gauge to both gauge the running rail but also the size of the flangeway.

Before going further allow me to introduce you to the Precision Scale (PSC) 3-point code 125, O scale track gauge. Currently these are $4.00 each. These were 1st supplied by Kemtron 50-60 years ago. These are a lost wax casting. For this reason, as with any casting, there may be manufacturing irregularities. When 1st removed from the package check the track gauge!
Do not cut off the small sprue on the single rail end of the gauge until you have completed all work on the gauge. This way you'll know you have completed the gauge!

PSC includes a metric screw. I have nothing against metric screws but I decided to drill and tap the mount for the coupler for a 1-72 screw.

If you have 2 of the PSC gauges it’s easy to lay both straight and curves track. For the straight track the gauges are placed on the rails with one gauge facing one direction while the other is placed on the rails facing the other direction. For curved track both gauges should face with the 2 areas to hold the rail on the outside of the curve. This will expand the rail a little for the curve.

Since the gauge is made of brass it's easy to modify the gauge for other size rail. If you do modify the gauge be sure to adequately make it!


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Working on the Street Track End Loop Module - Part 2 Straight Track

Straight Track

EDITOR'S NOTE - The laying of track for the in the street and paved area for the loop module will be treated as different topics for each Post. They are not in the order in which the actual track was laid. Instead they in the order in which questions have been asked. To date this comes to:
Part 2 Straight Track,
Part 3 Curved (Loop) Track,
Part 4 The 2 Turnouts, and
Part 5 The Curved Crossing.
There may be more as the individual Post are written. Here's Part 2.

Street railways used a girder rail intended for straight track. Many years ago Bill Clouser had prototype O scale rail produced for straight track. The problem is this rail is hard to find today. Plus this O scale girder rail was too much like the porotype in dimensions. The flangeway was too shallow for most O scale trolley models having deeper flanges. Some fellows have ground the flangeway deeper.

Clouser girder rail is best left for Proto 48 (Fine Scale) usage. If you are interested in finding O scale girder rail you might try Protocraft . Although they do not currently show it in their online catalogue.

Code 125 nickel silver rail was used for my layout’s street trackage. Instead of the Clouser girder rail, after the 2 turnouts plus the curved crossing were built and tested, I soldered a piece of code 100 nickel silver rail on its side to the inside of the code 125 rail.

The head of the code 100 rail was tinned 1st. Then the code 100 rail was soldered in place using small amounts of flux and solder. Clamps made from wooden clothes pins work out well. Before the clamping is done 1st reverse the blades of the clamps as per the photos.

From experience I’ve discovered the wooden clothes pins come in 2 sizes. Either size works well. The position of the spring in your new wooden clamps will give you either a light or heavy clamping. You might find it advisable to have both light and heavy clamping available for your work.

These are the  2 sizes of clothes pins I was able to purchase over the years. Either size works out well. Note that the longer clothes pin will allow you to grip the object further from the edge.

This photo shows the before (left), during (center) and final form of the pin after the blades are reversed.
Green = the gripping area away from edge of blade
Red = the 2 clothes pin blades
Blue = gripping area after blades reversed
Pink = location of spring for moderate pressure on tips of blades
Orange = location of spring for tighter pressure on tips of blades

After soldering check to see if the soldering worked. Try to move the code 100 rail to the side. Re-solder any areas where the original work didn’t solder.

A small section of the straight girder rail track being soldered. A small piece of code 100 rail is about to be soldered in place. Part of a wooden clamp can be seen on the left.

The code 125 rail was soldered on copper clad electrical board strips from Clover House. A short  #2 round head screw holds the copper clad strips in place.

To clean-up the flangeway a hacksaw blade with a wide knerf was used. Move the hacksaw blade back and forth until the solder is removed. A file will be needed only for areas where other rail needs to be cleared out of the flangeway.