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

Thursday, February 27, 2014

John Marton 1941 - 2014

John Marton of Des Plaines, IL passed away on February 21, 2014. He was an excellent trolley modeler in O scale. At the time of his death John was a Vice-President of the Central Electric Railfans' Association (CERA) after serving for 5 years as the Publications Director.

John was responsible for the publication of The Lake Line (B-144), Transit in the Triangle v1 (B-145), and Trolley Sparks Special #1. John's work was very successful, well received, and appreciated by CERA members.

John's health problems stated early in 2013. The health problems have caused delay in the  publication of next CERA Bulletin The Illini Trail, about the Chicago, Ottawa & Peoria. When the Bulletin is published, CERA will dedicate the book in John's memory.

John scratch-built many of his O scale trolley models. His models were always interesting. These are photos of John’s Evanston Ry. car. The model has a full interior. The boy on the back platform has a golf bag with himself.  Coal is included for the old stove to heat the car. This is the only model of an Evanston Ry. car I have ever seem!

John would often come to a trolley meet with a number of models to be able to make up a train. This is John's Indiana Railroad 3-car train of lightweight cars.

John was a teacher in the Chicago Public School system for many years. In his final years  he was assigned to a high school on the far west side of the city. John used his interest and skills in building trolley models to teach model building to his students. He demonstrated to the students how they could succeed using their own talents and skills. Many of the students learned new skills which could lead to a job.

The students' grades were based upon how well the individual student could read plans, select material to be used, build the model, and then finish the model. At the end of the school term the students were free to take their models home or leave them at school.

Sometimes a student would give the model to John to have as his own. This is one such model.

John was a great friend to all of us traction fans no matter if you were a modeler or not. His volunteer work with the CERA is appreciated by all of us. Seeing his models was always a joy. You could talk with him about almost anything. He would show you how he had built his models. We all are going to miss him.

John, may the signals ahead always be green!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Models of Open Bench Cars with Some Fixes

Models of open bench cars are a great change of topic. Even though it's February with the cold, uncomfortable weather; we won't let the weather get us down. Spring is around the corner. Now is the time to get your open bench car(s) ready for warmer weather running and the crowds the cars can carry!

The purpose of this post is to show a way to fix 2 potential problems with open bench cars. The glass in the bulkheads and the use on maximum traction trucks can be problems.

There has been lots of material written with regards to open bench cars. Almost every early trolley line had them on their roster.

We'll narrow down our discussion to O scale models of them. To my knowledge the only available models were imported by Ken Kidder and MTS. All the models were made from brass. Brass is probably the best material to be used. Other materials are not as durable and suitable. Open bench cars have curves plus other unique architectural and structural features.

If I recall correctly there have been articles in print on how to scratch-build an open bench car. The brass models mentioned below show up on EBay and at some O scale meets.

Starting in 1955 through 1965 Ken Kidder had built in Japan and imported the following models of open bench cars. All of the models were brass bodies only -
17/64" and 1/4" scale14-bench models from "Model Craftsman" plans,
1/4" scale 9-bench model built from 1895 Cincinnati Car Company plans,
1/4" scale 10-bench models,
1/4" scale Boston 12-bench models, and
1/4" scale Manchester 15-bench models.
The 14-bench models were based on New York City plans while the 10-bench models were patterned after New Haven plans. 

About a decade or more ago MTS imported a brass powered double truck 14-bench open car. The model seemed more refined than the Kidder models. The cars can powered - the modeler didn't have to purchase and install trucks. Also, the MTS models were wired ready to run.

One of the unique features of an open car were the bulkheads between the operator's area and the passenger section of the car. Often the bulkhead had windows with glazing. To replicate this feature in the Ken Kidder bodies, a piece of real glass was fitted between 2 pieces of brass which constituted the bulkhead. 

In the 1970's I acquired Kidder's 14-bench and 10-bench open cars. Painting the cars was not the easiest project. Since this was done many years ago, I think the bodies were sprayed yellow and then the red, brown, and black were hand brushed on. The removable seat backs were sprayed red. How I picked the yellow, red, brown, and black paint scheme is unknown. Maybe the Connecticut Company cars has some influence on me.

The following photo is of my 10-bench open car. Why some of the roof details are painted a wood color is unknown. The model came with the controller and brake handle at each end.

If you look through the car to the opposite side you will notice a bar at about the height of the seat backs. This bar is painted red and can be seen on this side of the car a the top of the post. It was a trick to paint this bar and at the same time not paint it in place. The bars on both sides can be raised and lowered just like on the prototype cars. About the only details added are working headlights and marker holders. The red striping is a very thin decal.
This model of an open bench car with a single trolley pole has a longer than usual trolley pole.
The marker holders are short pieces of brass tubing carefully soldered to the end post. The marker holder can be seen just above the brake handle. At the time my models were painted and finished a vendor had single lens markers with a short piece of bent wire on the rear of the marker for hanging.

Some open bench cars were used on extended street or interurban trackage to go to the local street railway owned amusement park. Hence the need for markers on cars.

My 14-bench open car looks much like the 10-bench car with 2 exceptions - the 14-bench car has a interurban headlight and the trucks. The 14-bench has maximum traction trucks.

A few years ago I noticed a crack in one of the small pieces of glass in one bulkhead of the 14-bench model. One thing I failed to mention is, it is easy to run the wire from the trolley poles down through the side of the space into which the piece of glass slides. It just takes a little time while to fish the wire into place. Be careful not to cut into the wire's insulation or you might have a short in the car's electrical system.

The broken pieces of glass were taken to a local glass outlet near my home for replacement. In an hour or less the new piece of glass with a rounded top was ready. When I picked it up I was told the piece of original glass in the model was thinner than glass available now.

Upon getting home the new piece of glass was tried. It didn't fit!  The new glass was too thick! The model with the pieces of glass sat on my workbench for about 2 years until the idea of obtaining clear, colorless polycarbonate. was logged onto and 0.060" polycarbonate looked-up. There is a vendor with different thicknesses of polycarbonate in 12" X 12" sheets. It was ordered and arrived in 2 days.

The next day (Our mail usually arrives after 6:00 pm or later daily.), the sheet was cut and the new piece inserted. It is impossible to tell the difference between the glass and the polycarbonate.
Why polycarbonate and not another clear plastic? Polycarbonate is the same material used to make CD's, DVD's, more importantly the lenses in eyeglasses. Polycarbonate is strong but can be scratched.
Unfortunately, there are no good photos of the piece of polycarbonate after installation in the model. If there was, you would find it hard to be able to tell the difference between a piece of glass and the polycarbonate.
Just like the prototype maximum traction trucks, my model maximum traction trucks did not power the model very well. The maximum traction trucks were more like minimum traction trucks. Two power trucks were tried and still didn't work very well.
With the small diameter wheels powered, the truck tended to lift off these wheels and ride on the larger diameter wheels only. In talking to other modelers, they complained of the same problem.
What was need was a way to keep the small wheels on the track. In my pile of brass shapes was a 1/4" (I think that is the size. It may be slightly smaller.) square bar. A piece was cut off and soldered to the piece of brass used to covers the truck's gears.
This has 2 effects on the truck. The piece of brass was heavy enough to change the weight distribution onto the axel of the smaller wheels. The other effect was to fill the area between the truck and the body of the car. The small wheels did not have as much space into which they could lift.
My other idea had been to install spring(s) on top of the gear area of the truck. But by the time a way to keep the spring in place and controlled along with installing the spring and its "mechanism"; it was easier to solder the piece of square brass on!
With a little bit of lubrication and a good cleaning and dusting, the 2 open cars of the Chicago & Utopia are ready for summer. Maybe some day, lighting will be installed inside the roof of the cars.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

North Shore Line 409 - Part 16 Final Assembly

The conductor or trainman was left out of the last post. I get conductor looking figures already painted. Some have their arms extended like they are holding onto a seat while others are looking at a watch or items in their hands. If the arms are extended like holding onto a seat place "glue" on the feet and hands. Use the hands to stabilize the figure.

Other trainmen can be "glued" in place standing against a wall, seat, or free standing in the aisle or vestibule. Seeing a conductor standing in the vestibule is interesting. Yes, sometimes train personnel can be found standing in the vestibule! One more reason for having a light in the vestibule!

The balance of the work needed to finish the model are a patch quilt of items. Before anything else is done the underbody, steps, and coupler area may need painting and/or touch up.

On my model older Wagner trailer trucks are to be used. Some of the brass making up the steps had to be cut back. In doing this small holes appeared in the steps, If the hole was small, Squadron body putty was used to fill the hole.

For larger holes a piece of index card was ACC'ed in place. After the ACC cured, cuticle scissors were used to cut off the excess index card. The card was made from paper and it quickly absorbed the ACC. After the ACC cured the paper was stiff and hard.
Originally Squadron Green body putty was used to try to fill the hole. The hole was too large. A small piece of index card was ACC'ed over the hole and them trimmed in place.
Both the body putty and index card materials were sanded with a finger nail emery board. All the areas of the steps were painted the same as the underbody. 

The installation of the trucks is next. Two wires stick out from the underbody near the trucks. This floor has a number of holes already drilled into it by the manufacturer. These 2 wires are the ground wires to be attached to the trucks. I prefer to make my own connectors out of 0.005" brass. Two brass tabs with a larger hole for the truck screw plus a small hole for the ground wire were made.

Install the tabs on the model without the trucks. Place the ground wire into the small hole. Solder the wires to the tabs. If required cut off any the excess wire.
Keep the 0.005" brass flat. Bends and wrinkles will artificially increase the thickness of the connector.

The trucks can now be installed on the model. The drawing below shows how a spring is included over the 3-48 screw. Using the spring usually prevents the model from wobbling as it goes down the track. If installed properly the trucks should continue to rotate as they would without the spring. The tucks should have been painted prior to installation.

If there is a problem with electrical conductivity or truck swing due to friction, apply Neolub to the truck and body bolsters, electrical ground tab/washer/connector, and truck spring.

The re-installation of the couplers is next. A prior post, dated December 12, 2013, "NSL 409 Part 2 Couplers and Trucks", covered the installation of the couplers. Again, if any touch-up is required now is the time.

After the couplers are installed, the pilots need to be installed. Be careful not the strip the small metric screws. If you do apply a drop of canopy glue on the top and bottom of the screw as it is held in place. Paint or re-paint the pilots.

Penultimate, the marker lamp brass exteriors can be installed. The red lens is facing back with the 2 green lens facing to the side. The DAP bath tub caulk or canopy glue can be used.
Lenses with canopy glue and the marker lamp housings. The canopy glue was applied to the marker housings with a tooth pick.

The lenses for the markers were made from 0.005" styrene using a leather punch. A leather punch with a revolving punch wheel is handy for making various size lenses. Lenses are applied to the marker housings before attaching the marker housings to the model. The lenses were colored red and green after the "glue" used to attach the marker housings to the model has cured. Red and green permanent dry markers were used to color the lenses.

Last, the trolley poles are attached. The model can be placed on a test track and the power turned on. The interior and vestibule lights should be on plus any exterior lights.

As with any model work I do there are other individuals who have helped ma along the way. Terrell Colson and Eric Bronsky provided photos of the 409. Bernie Rossbach provided the MR O scale plan of the 409. John Giove in an off-the-wall manner provided the vents for the roof. Charlie Pitts provided a method to attach the couplers. There may be more who contributed. To all of you, thank you!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

North Shore Line 409 - Part 15 Interior with Seats, Passengers, and Lavatory

The model came with a false interior floor - a sheet of brass mounted a couple of millimeters above the floor upon which the trucks are mounted. The area between the 2 sheets of brass was where the model's wiring to the trucks was located.

Depending upon if the false floor is retained or not may alter how the interior is installed. There are probably as many ways to install an interior as there are modelers. Since the roof is fixed on the model of the 409, the interior has to be installed from the bottom of the model.

A glitch or pain in the butt are the small tabs onto which the floor is secured with screws. If the interior is built-up on the floor something has to be done to accommodate the tabs.

A way around the "tab" glitch is to install the seats either directly to the sides of the model and/or on a thin floor strip. If the seats are installed on a thin strip of brass or styrene, the seat "units" can be "glued" against the side above where the tabs and floor are located.

The lavatory is located at the #1 end exactly where the "lav" was in the original 409 set-up as a dining car. The walls of the "lav" can be built-up of styrene and attached directly to the bulkhead. The open ceiling of the "lav" is to be used to direct wiring from the roof to the floor to the trucks. Some lighting from the coach part of the model will spill over into the "lav".
The drawing is looking down at the floor. The dimensions of the lavatory are in inches.

The "lav" can be assembled, painted the same color as the bulkhead then glued to it. 

Depending upon your preference, the glazing in the "lav" section of the model can be frosted before or after the "lav" is installed. Some modelers have started to used the flat part of a plastic milk or similar container or jug. This plastic comes frosted. All one needs to do is to cut up the plastic to the desired size and attach it with canopy glue to the interior of the car's glazing.

I made my own frosted glazing by using an emery board on a piece of clear, colorless 0.010" styrene.

Don't forget to thread the wiring from the ceiling (light stick) through the lavatory.

The seats installed in the 409 were not "top-of-the-line" seats as installed in the other Silverliners.  The seats were medium grade seats available in the late 1940's and 50's. One feature of the seats which shows up in photos of the 409 is the chrome color metal tubing which went along the side and over the back of the seat. The seats were easily reversed by swinging the seats around on the base of the seat. The color of the seat and back was a "medium-dark red" color.

Once a supply of seats has been obtained, there's a couple of ways to proceed depending upon your preferences and how much you desire your model to reflect the prototype. The goal is to get the floor a dark color, the seats "medium-dark red", and the chrome tubing to show.

In preparing the seats for painting, since the chrome tubing over and around the seats shows up so much in photos of the 409, a piece of 0.020" wire was ACC'ed to all the seats. After the seats were painted a "red" the wire was painted a silver color. Even if the seat castings have a chrome tubing included, the addition of the wire makes the tubing just that much more prominent.

As with other NSL cars, the single seat by the window in the bulkhead (the railfan's seat) was fixed (did not rotate or move). The double seat immediately in back of the motorman's cab was also fixed. With the "lav" located in back of a motorman's cab, the seat adjacent to the "lav" was fixed. These double seats were often shorter so the door in the bulkhead could be fully opened.

The reason the above seats are mention is, they can be painted and attached to the sides and/or bulkheads separate from the other seats. I used clear DAP bathtub caulk - the type which comes out of the tube white and dries clear. If one of these seats is located above one of the tabs to which the floor is secured, the area of the seat above the screw location has to be filed or grounded out to clear the screw.

It's time to talk passengers. From whatever source of passengers you use, a number of passengers should be placed on the seats. Every modeler has different thoughts on passengers and the number to use. I try to place 1 passenger on about 55% of the seats in a model. Some are near the outer side. A few are placed on the inside away from the side. Children, if any, are placed on the seat facing the parent or adult. The conductor will be mentioned later.

DAP bathtub caulk was used to attach the passengers to a seat. I like the DAP product because it dried clear and colorless. Passengers can be removed from a seat without damaging the paint on either the seat or the passenger. Finally it's easy to clean-up by pulling the dried caulk off.
The seats with passengers have been ACC'ed to strips of 0.010" styrene. Notice the random pattern to the passenger placement.

For my model only the exterior floor was to be used. The interior floor was placed in the parts bin. Originally I tried to attach the seats to the sides using DAP bathtub caulk. It was hard to keep them square to the sides. Before the caulk completely dried, the seats were pulled out.

The best way to keep the seats square is to attach them to a thin piece of styrene or brass. I used a piece of 0.010" of styrene. The seats were attached with ACC. Allow the ACC to cure overnight before spraying everything the seat color. Paint the floor at the base of the seats a medium to dark brown or similar color and shade using a brush.
Install the light stick before installing any seats. The amount of space for tools and fingers is limited once the seats have been installed. 
Allow the "glue" to completely cure prior to turning the model over to install the other set of seats!
How well the passengers look with regards to height in the car can be seen. 
The other set of seats have to be installed.

The above photos shows the wiring from the light stick in place. Finishing-up the model is the topic for the next post so don't let the attached coupler cause you worry. You haven't missed anything.

The original brass floor with the holes for a speaker was used. Just so this item is not overlooked, remove the center air tank casting from under the floor which blocks the swing of one of the trucks. The bottom of the floor was painted matte "Grimy Black" and the top, the interior floor a matte dark brown.

This is the only photo of the floor prior to painting and installation. The thin strips of styrene (I forgot the dimensions.) along the sides of the floor are required to move the seats up a little bit to compensate for the metal "L" shape located at the bottom of the car sides. Note the styrene strips are pushed back from the edge of the floor side.

The piece of styrene tubing secures the ground wire as it passes from one truck to the other thereby guaranteeing a good ground for the car's wiring. More about the final wiring in the next post.
All the white styrene was painted a matte dark brown.
The floor can be secured to the bottom of the model. This will prevent any damage to the interior of the model during final assembly and touch-up.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Post #100 - Thank You for Viewing the Blog

This the 100th Post published. Google collects a number of stats related to a blog which can be viewed by the owner. One of the sets of stats collected tells me the country in which viewers of the blog are. This blog has had viewers from all over the globe.

You may be surprised to find out the "All Time" page views after the United States, in order of number of page views, are Russia, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Japan, France, Ukraine, and Sweden. After Sweden, Google does not provide information.

How do I know other countries are represented? Google breaks down the stats by "All Time", "Month", "Week", "Day", and "Now". By clicking on the various time frames, the names of other countries have shown up. There are so many other countries, a list of the United Nations would be required to list them all. If your country is not listed in the "All Time" group, do not worry as I know you are there.

At the same time the number of page views (Listed as "Total Passengers" in the right hand column of the blog page.)  is approaching 30,000. This represents many individuals who have looked at the posts in this blog. Some have viewed the blog once while others have viewed the blog multiple times. Whether you have intentionally or unintentionally looked at this blog - THANK YOU!

Since the blog was started in late 2011, numerous positive comments regarding my blog have been received from viewers.

My intention in writing a blog has been to get the viewer interested in O scale trolley modeling and to do some model building in any scale. Some where a writer in a modeling magazine noted if a modeler were to work on his or her hobby for 30 minutes per day, in a year's time this would be approximately 183 hours. One year is 183 hours! Need more be said?

Again, THANK YOU for viewing this blog and now back to model building.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

North Shore Line 409 - Part 14 Electrical Diagram and To Power or Not to Power is the Question!

Shortly after the last post was published, I realized an important topic had been overlooked! What was not included in the prior post and/or never covered is the potential electrical diagram of the model 409.

Taken for granted was the idea the model would be a non-powered model of a powered prototype car.

The model of the 409 can be made as a powered car - true to the prototype. If this is to be done, a post covering the powering Sunsets Silverliner models in this blog should be read. This post was published January 21, 2012 "Sunset NSL Silverliners #2 - Parts & Trucks".

The primary brass floor supplied with the Sunset 415 is the same as the floors in the powered coaches.

Given the chance, I'd power my model of the 409. Unfortunately, there is not a suitable power truck in my parts bin. How to match-up the operational speed of power trucks is beyond the scope of this post. My 409 is to be operated with a model having a Wagner DC-60 for its power truck. It is best, from an operational/mechanical standpoint, for all the power trucks in a train of model cars to run at the same speed. I do not desire to install a DC-60 power truck in the 409.

I've been known to alter existing Wagner, Q-Car and other manufacturers' power trucks. I've also made my own power trucks in the past. I have no inclination to do any of this now!

However, another modeler may desire to power his model of the 409. When the electrical needs and diagram of a model is drawn, the possibility of powering a model in the future should be taken into consideration. By doing this, the potential for installing and wiring-up a power truck is easy.

If the power connection to source of power (trolley pole or pantograph) is not already built into the model, additional wiring has to be done. This is the same as in your home. 

Getting back to my 409 - the electrical diagram for the 409 is -

I like using the Miniatronics 2-pin or 4-pin connectors. A friend of mine buys micro connectors and makes his own miniature connectors like the Miniatronics products.

Miniatronics has a warning on the connector packages saying their connectors should not be used for power connections. Can motors use little electrical current. I've found the 2-pin connector can be used in this type of application.

For older motors 4-pin connectors are used. Two of the 4 wires are used for one polarity while the other 2 wires are used for the other polarity. Which ever connector is used, the black wire with the white stripe is trolley (red wire) current.

Now back to finishing the interior of the model in the next post.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

North Shore Line 409 - Part 13 Interior and Marker Lighting

The interior lighting which came installed in the model as the 415 was reinstalled in the model. When power was turned on, the constant lighting with the use of LED's was disappointing. Only where an LED is on the strip is where the interior of the car is bright enough to see the interior of the model. There were noticeable light and dark spots through out the interior. A new light strip will have to be made. 

I've installed and used both 1.5 v constant lighting and the older 16 v lighting "systems" in models. My model of the 409 is scheduled to be operated with older NSL models in my roster. These models have 16 v lighting so I decided my 409 will have a 16 v installation.

Prior post "Sunset NSL Silverliner #3 Lighting Thoughts" dated May 12, 2012 will give you some ideas regarding interior car lighting. In making the 16 v lighting stick for the 409 some hints will be given.
If the bulkheads have been re-installed, they have to be removed. There are a few things to be done to the interior prior to the installation of any lighting.

The motorman's compartments can be removed and If desired the controller and air brake stand can be painted black or completely reworked. The motorman's compartment must be removed at one end to thread the wires from the marker lights inside the dash and up into the roof of the vestibule.

Ideas concerning the installation of the marker wires are nearly the same for the installation of headlight wires. The 2 wires for each marker bulb need to be threaded along the end post of the model. The wires are held in place using bathtub caulking.

The 16 v bulbs in each marker are too bright if wired alone, therefore they are to be wired in series. The wires attached to the bulbs are fragile for this and other reasons too involved to mention here always check the bulbs with a 12-16 v power source after the initial installation and after every soldering, wiring, etc. It's easier to replace a bulb when a problem is 1st discovered than later when more work will be required.

After the bulbs are wired in series the connected wires should be affixed to the ceiling of the vestibule with a piece of tape. When the light stick is finally attached to the ceiling, the wires for the markers will be soldered on to it.

The light stick was made from 1/16" x 1/2" basswood. From experience I've discovered bulbs placed 1.25' to 1.3" apart work out best. to assist in making the light stick a diagram is always made. It helps me to visualize the location of the bulbs plus required landmarks. Any pertinent notes are written on the drawing also. A copy of the diagram can be cut-out and placed in the model to check locations, etc.

This is the entire sheet including notes. The numbers may seem strange without an explanation. Trying to do math in inches plus marking measurements which may be in the 64th's of an inch is not easy. Therefore, the measurements were done in millimeters (mm). If you can't do the appropriate metric conversions and/or measurements in metric, it is about time to learn!

The making of a light stick could be the subject of a post by itself - some other time. In preparation of installing the light stick, the wiring for the trolley pole pick-up has to be done. Brass tabs made out  of 0.005" sheet brass were made. Here is one of them installed in the end where the markers are located. Never solder a wire directly to a screw head. You may need to remove a screw some time in the future.

After the soldering is done, the area where the trolley pole screws are located are secured with ACC and then covered with a small piece of tape.

Notice the small stud to the left of the trolley pole base screw in the picture above. The one at the other end of the car was "filed" off. To properly position and secure the light stick, a piece of styrene was attached to the interior of the roof. This was done by drilling a hole in the styrene 1st and then secure the styrene to the light stick with a screw.

With the stud (above in photo) still in working condition, the light stick was installed using one of the original screws and this stud. ACC was applied on one side of the new styrene stud where it touches the interior ceiling. Allow the ACC to cure over night.

While one picture is worth a 1000 words, a brief explanation is warranted. The light bulb is the light for the vestibule. Remember the vestibules of cars were lighted so passengers and crew could move about, load and unload safely. The vestibule in the motorman's area was not lighted. The rear vestibule was lighted even though passengers were not allowed to use it on multiple car trains under normal conditions. Other wires show since the model has been wired-up for operation. The wires for both the vestibule light and the markers have been soldered to the top of the light stick.
The 2 screws securing the light stick to the interior look and are different. One is an original screw which held the LED stick. The other screw is a #2 x 1/4" self taping screw.
The light stick and the bulkheads have been installed. What needs to be done next is to paint the light stick and the interior ceiling an aged or off white color. This will hide the wooden light stick with the pieces of copper foil, the brass metal where the lighting stud was "filed" off, and pieces of tape, and the wires.
Next is the seating plus the lavatory section of the interior.