Monday, April 24, 2017

Catenary Tower Experiments

5mm magnets countersunk into 3D-printed
catenary tower bases. I found a set of 50
magnets and a drill bit for less than $20
on Amazon.
An unexpected slot of free time emerged this past weekend, which gave me the opportunity to work on Old Line Corridor catenary towers. As reported in my last post, Ed Kapuszinski showed me how he mounted his abandoned catenary towers with rare earth magnets on his Conrail layout. When I first walked in to see his layout, I noticed one his towers leaning at a 45-degree angle; when I glanced at it again a few minutes later it was plumb-straight. He showed me how magnets embedded in the tower bases were stuck to small countersunk screws driven into the road bed. The towers could withstand an errant wrist and be removed for rerailing and track cleaning. I was sold on the idea immediately; here's how I started implementing it on the Old Line Corridor.
A drill stop collar ensured uniform mounting holes for the magnets. The 3D printed towers ain't cheap, and I didn't want to ruin any of them by drilling too deep into the tower bases.  

Remember when I put in HO catenary bridges and made all kinds of jigs? Here's a jig in progress on my workbench. I made this jig to ensure uniform placement of mounting nails into the roadbed.

Mounting nails placed into the roadbed. This is the experiment part: I can't decide which to use. The top is a roofing nail; bottom is a carpet tack. Both have a thin, flat head. The roofing nail  is bright silver, has a fat shank and uniformly flat, square heads. The carpet tack is more svelte, finished  in black and has a skinny shank but but the heads are frequently flawed and not square. Thinking of trying thumbtacks next. Fortunately, all are easy insert and remove from the cork roadbed and foam subroadbed. 
A glimpse of the future: catenary towers magnetically installed on the Old Line Corridor main line. The towers form a visual picket, a compositional rhythm, that transforms the look of the layout. and sets the place: the Northeast Corridor. Some world famous model railroader recently told me he thought catenary was ugly--I respectfully disagree, and I'm excited to have this visually compelling feature on my layout! 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Purloining Good Ideas on the Old Line Corridor

Just now, while I was writing this caption, I decided this will be called 'Old Line Highway'. This is an overhead shot of the in-progress Old Line Highway at the front of the layout. I cut it from a very large sheet of .030" styrene so as to minimize joints. After spray painting it a warm lightish gray, I stenciled in dividing lines with cheap yellow craft paint and added weathering tracks in each lane with dark gray pan pastels. I stole this idea from a Lance Mindheim blog post gave me this idea, and I think an article in either Model Railroader or Model Railroad Hobbyist gave me the idea for the stenciled yellow lines.  

Another view of Old Line Highway from the wilderness end of the layout. The styrene roadway is glued directly to a failed road experiment in which I tried Woodland Scenics Smooth-It. I suspect the Smooth-It might work best in HO or larger scales and on a relatively flat surface; most of Old Line Highway is on a grade and curved. Next steps will include building up a gravel shoulder and inking in some expansion lines and patches.

I stole this idea from Conrail Modeler extraordinaire Ed Kapuscinski, who stole it himself from another Baltimore area modeler. It's a 5mm rare earth magnet disc countersunk and cemented into the base of a 3D printed catenary tower. Hopefully it will be the basis for a strong mount that 'fails beautifully' when these catenary towers are inevitably bumped and jostled for track cleaning, rerailing, and scenery maintenance.

The magnets are strong! Here's one of the towers stuck to a stainless steel ruler. If this were a GIF or video, you could see it withstand a lot of movement and jiggling. My tentative plan is press wide-headed short roofing nails or carpet tacks into the roadbed, which the magnetic tower bases will then grip.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Sound + Vision on Trevor's Port Rowan

This is a treat to watch and listen. Bravo, Trevor--now I'm thinking about how to incorporate sound for heavy electric--singing wires and what not.