Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Maintenance of Way

We took the VIA to Toronto last weekend, and as we pulled out of Coburg I caught sight of this MOW equipment in the yard:

My wife managed to snap a pic of the head end as we went by, and you can't see that further back on the string is a big back-hoe thing, and a control cab at the far end. But a little Googling finds the Herzog corporate site, and a page on the Multi-Purpose Machine, including a video of it in operation (and if you linger on the page long enough, an MPM drives by in the top banner). The cars look like modified well cars, and the "back-hoe" can drive up and down the length of the train.

It just so happens that, a few months back, I built this little cast-metal kit from Railway Express Miniatures (paint job courtesy my dear wife):

Sort of an earlier iteration of the same idea. Very cool to see a prototype.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Self-Building Model Railroad!

I so want one:


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How Do Trains Stay On The Track?

In case you didn't know, explained by the late, great Richard Feynman:

However, I don't expect it applies so much to the little kind.


Monday, October 20, 2008

The Rusty Spikes

Last week's OVAR meeting was a little different. Instead of the usual illustrated talk on trains, we had a musical presentation by several members, singing a medley of railroad songs, accompanied by a slide show of train images:
I won't say how great we were because that would be, like, boasting. But I had fun, despite breaking a guitar string half-way through the third song. Kudos to Mike Hamer and Brian Earl for putting the whole thing together!

Here's the whole gang:

L to R: John Stewart, Gerry Berrigan, Bob Hobbs, Mike Hamer, Steve Watson, Brian Earl, Timothy Bowden, Fred Adams, Chris Lyon, John Howard.
Missing: Narrator Don Leger.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Through the Work Zone

Eastbound BNSF freight at Galesburg, IL, August 2007.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Hey, I can do this!

....Build turnouts, that is (even in N-Scale).

I used a Fast Tracks jig, along with their Quick Sticks laser cut ties, and following the procedure in their User Guides. Not bad at all for my first attempt, if I say so myself. A 24' hopper rolls through as smooth as silk!

Things I screwed up or can do better next time:
  1. Foil cuts: I neglected to cut the copper inside the frog angle on the last long tie. Since this turnout is to be used in a static diorama, it doesn't matter -- just something to remember in the future.
  2. Filing the base flange off the stock rail in the point-contact area: It's damned hard to hold the rail still with your fingers while filing it! As a result, the end product isn't very neat and smooth. After I was finished, I experimented with building a jig to help, and came up with this. It's made by running a scrap of hardwood through the table saw, to cut a shallow groove that holds the rail rigid, lying on its side. It works not too badly, though I have already thought of an improved version.
  3. Forming the curved stock rail: Through not reading the UG carefully as I was working, I neglected to kink the rail at the start of the point area. I think that because of this, the curve of this rail isn't quite right -- it doesn't hug the outer edge of the groove in the fixture (again, not critical for a static display).
  4. Curving rails in general: Both the curved stock rail and closure rail seem to have acquired a small twist or vertical curve to them in the course of bending. As a result the rail didn't sit flat in the fixture groove, so I had a little trouble soldering it, and the final turnout doesn't sit quite flat on the bench. Gluing it down well will straighten it out, but it would be better to prevent the problem in the first place. (How? Must ponder upon it....)
  5. Soldering the switchpoints: I managed to solder the throwbar to the stock rails by placing the paper isolator in the wrong place. It goes between the throw bar and the stock rail, not the point and the stock rail!
  6. Gluing to ties: Be very careful not to drip glue on the switchpoints, or the adjacent area of stock rail. It says that in the UG, but it deserves repeating. Oh yeah: did I mention about not getting glue on the switchpoints? Or the adjacent stock rail?
  7. Rail length: Through not using the Quicksticks as a reference when cutting, I wound up with the rails a little short at one end, and hanging out at the other. Nothing that can't be fixed later, of course.
But the end result is very pretty. I estimate that, balancing the cost of the jig and material against buying off-the-shelf, the break-even point is about 17 turnouts (not that cost is the only reason to hand-lay).

Now all I have to do is get started on the big layout and I'll have a reason to build 30 or 40 more....

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Kids who play with BIG trains

In Lodz, Poland, a 14-year-old boy has been charged with endangering public safety after he modified a TV remote to throw track switches on the city's streetcar system. He caused several derailments and some injuries.

At least the Poles don't have rail-vs.-kids problems like the Swedes do:

(The text at the end reveals that this is a commercial encouraging children to consider a career in engineering).

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