Friday, July 29, 2011

Transfer Caboose, Pt.4

The project continues. Next up was the walkway over the roof. I debated this for a while, as I really liked the smooth, clean roof-line, but the walkway won out. I started by slicing off the bottom of the cupola. (This is why you never throw anything away.)

It took some gentle sanding to get this fragile part, but the curve perfectly matched the roof while the top was flat.

I cut, trimmed, and re-glued it into these 'J'-shaped
pieces. They are connected by two strips of .060 square styrene, while a third goes down the center line.

The same .020 'V'-groove styrene with .060 spacing used for the deck was used here.

Now I needed two identical handrails, and took the time to make a jig to accomplish that. The first attempt was too long, so I altered the jig to shorten it. Getting nice, crisp 90° bends also proved difficult. After a half hour I said "forget it" and grabbed a  pair of loop-making pliers. A couple of minutes eye-balling it, and the first one was done.

 Here it is installed.

Another minute with the pliers, and the second railing appeared. And if you check out these two shots, I think you'll agree they are pretty close.

Three uprights on each railing finish them off.

Next came the end railing. This styrene strip spaced the bottom rail. The cutouts allow space for the Zap-a-Gap.  BTW, the brass wire used here and on the roof  is .022" in diameter.

The finished railing.........

..........and installed.

The brake housing I so carefully undercut in Pt.1 snapped off during construction, and since I thought it looked rather bulky anyway, replaced it with this. I also replaced the kit's brake wheel with a more delicate one.

Now came the side railings. At first I tried to glue in a lower rail like on the ends, but I couldn't keep them attached. A centered upright was much sturdier, and to me looked better anyway. Sitting here now, two days later, maybe my super glue was too old to maintain an unsupported bond. (That's why I only buy the ½ oz size. I'm about two-thirds of the way through this bottle, and the humidity has compromised its strength. I used to throw out mostly-full 2 oz bottles.) In any case, I won't change these railings, and will probably solder any future ones.

Two 'metal' ladders from Central Valley's Stairs and Ladders package allow access to the roof.

Another salvaged channel and a loop of chain adds some interest to this side of the caboose. Looking at this picture, I'm just not satisfied with the brake wheel housing. May have to do something about it.

Two smokestacks added to the roof. They are made of Evergreen tubing, further drilled out to give a very thin sidewall.

Everything in its place. I think it's getting close to painting time. I'm leaning towards a greenish-yellow for the main components. Now, will a gray primer work best under that, or white?

In the home stretch, and I'm looking forward to getting this caboose done. I've really enjoyed doing it and have learned a lot in the process. I hope you've enjoyed it too. As always, questions and comments welcome. Don

Monday, July 25, 2011

Transfer Caboose, Pt.3

I slept all day into the early evening, so I didn't make it to the Workbench until 9pm. OK, I thought, some small, quick project. How about a tool/supply box? Shouldn't take long....................................uh.

I'm pretty sure I've stated on this very blog that 'It's the little details that take the most time.' In fact I'm certain I've said it before. Now guess what reared its ugly head this evening? Let's just say I didn't make it back upstairs until 2am.

I wanted to make the box out of smaller boards than is represented by the .060 spaced V-groove I used for the deck. Unfortunately, I didn't have any more-closely spaced sheet. (Already in my Walthers' shopping cart.) So I took some spaced .080 apart and scribed a line down the middle of each board. I followed by drawing a razor saw down each scribe, then sanding. I did this several times till it looked right. If you look closely, you can see how this process curved the sheet. This caused no end of problems. If I ever do this project again, I will glue this sheet to a thicker, plain sheet before cutting and construction.

I cut off two of the lids from the kit's toolboxes, as well as four of the channels.

As I've said, this project got out of hand a little, so let me just show you pictures of the (nearly) finished box. (After the glue dries completely, I need to do some sanding.)

Once it's sanded and painted, I'll be the only one who will know of the aggravation. Thanks for looking. Don

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Transfer Caboose, Pt.2

Adding that styrene sheet to the bottom of the deck to support the plugs meant I couldn't use the kit's metal weight. It was time to grab the lead sheet. First I measured the pocket with the dividers.

Transfer that measurement to the lead in two places along a straight edge.

Connect the dots with a scriber, then follow up with the knife. (I scribe first to keep the blade from wandering off the cut line.) Yeah, the blade dulls quickly, but it's worth it.

The weights super-glued in place. The one in the middle needed to be thinner than the thickness it comes in, so I cut a piece under-sized for the space, then hammered it thinner. You can see the hammer marks in the picture.

Now back to the cabin. I did a pretty good job of smoothing the top out. One more round of putty and sanding, and it would be perfect.

However, the more I looked at it and thought about it made me want to eliminate the cupola. I wanted a simpler, cleaner outline.

So, I needed  a plug. Well, the roof of the cupola was almost a perfect fit, so off it came.

The hole had to be enlarged to allow a rough fit.

A little putty and some sanding and the roof was nice and smooth. You may have noticed in these last two pictures a change in color. Up to this point I had hoped to salvage some of the kit's original paint scheme. A fool's hope I finally realized, and stripped it all off.

I pre-curved a sheet of .020 styrene and glued it to the top. It over-hung the ends by 1/16th" and the sides by 1/32nd".

Time for couplers. These are Kadee #158 scale-size Whisker couplers. I like not having to mess with the separate metal centering-spring of the old #5s.

For the coupler to fit forward enough meant the kit's coupler pocket had to be altered.

A little work with the razor saw and file left this.

The molded-on coupler box also had to be removed.

I like to make my couplers removable by screwing them on, and usually you can tighten them enough to get a nice fit. The problem I faced here was I was screwing into lead---too tight and you'll strip the threads. Too loose and the coupler box will swing out of position in use.

The solution was these two styrene strips. They keep the coupler box secure with just enough torque on the screw to snug it up.

The couplers were installed, but would they couple properly? Time to grab the Height Gauge. Wow, this end was way off. (I had to do some pretty aggressive filing on the bottom of the bolsters to get them to fit with the new weights. Maybe a little too aggressive.)

The other end was a better story, but still not perfect.

If you are new to coupler installation, one thing you absolutely need are these paper washers from Kadee. The red ones are .015" thick and the gray are .010" thick. You can also spend $15 for an actual 'Trip Pin Pliers,' or about $5 for this 'Jewelry Making Plier' available at Michael's Arts and Crafts.

This was the end that was way off. Let's try two red washers first.

Better but not perfect. It took the addition of a gray washer, plus some finagling with the pliers to make this end perfect.

 Just one red washer on this end and it was good to go.

Moving on, I added these pre-formed brass stirrups. The dividers are useful here too, allowing me to accurately position and space the center-points for drilling. A little Zap-a-gap and these guys aren't going anywhere.

The final step of the night was adding these pre-formed brass steps.

Well, it seems this project is going to have at least three parts. Next up, grab irons and railings. See you then. Don

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Transfer Caboose, Pt.1

Yesterday I received an old Athearn blue box Work Caboose I'd won on eBay. So I figured this would be a  good time to take a day or two away from the ovens. A big portion of future operations will entail moving special purpose cars within the steel mill complex, between the Coke Oven, the Blast Furnace, and the Open Hearth. For this I will need a transfer caboose, and I felt this Athearn kit was a good place to start. There were some glue runs, a few broken/missing parts, and  the couplers didn't center, but overall I was very pleased with its condition.

The first order of business was to completely disassemble the kit. Here it is after the chop shop was through with it.

I started with the deck.There are seven large holes in it to accept tabs from the cabin and tool boxes. I was moving the cabin to the center, and was not planning on using the boxes, at least not as-is. Covering it seemed the best solution. 150-grit sandpaper and some elbow grease removed the paint from the kit's deck. I cut a .020 thick scribed styrene sheet to exactly fit over the existing deck. The spacing on the scribed lines was .060.

Rather than notching the new deck, I undercut the molded-on brake wheel housing. It makes a cleaner fit.

A tedious chore, but it adds a lot. I'm taking a knife and slicing through the last 1/16th" of the scribed lines. This will make the sheet look like individual boards when viewed on-edge.

Real railroading is a rough business, and to represent the wear and tear on the wooden boards, I used a small knife to make random cuts on the ends of the boards.

Even though I was covering the old deck, I still needed to fill in the big holes. The new deck is thin, only .020, and the glue could soften it enough to produce sink-holes , which I hate with a passion. To back up the plugs, I glued a styrene sheet to the bottom of the car.

Next a .100 x .250" strip was sanded to fit the holes.........

........then cut to the proper depth. Then glued and sanded flush.............

..........and the new deck was glued on. A perfect fit.

Next I removed the cupola from the cabin...........

.........and removed the overhang from both ends. There wasn't much of an overhang on the left side. Here you can also see some of the molded on grab-irons. These needed to go, as the cabin was being moved to the center of the car, and the grabs were out of place. Besides, I am replacing plastic grabs with brass wire as much as possible.

This tool from Micro-Mark takes a little practice to master, but absolutely is the right tool for this job. It removed the plastic grabs without gouging the surrounding wood planking. OK, a few small gouges that sanded out easily.

Sanding, then using a razor saw to clear the plastic where the grab had been, then more sanding, more of the saw, and a final sanding, and I was ready to sand it again. I think once it's primed and painted, you'll never know it was there at all.

The next step was to fill the holes in the roof with styrene rod.

The rods were trimmed down, then sanded, puttied, sanded some more, and finally sanded again. At first I was going to cover the roof with a thin (.010) sheet of styrene, but decided to try and save a step or two and do this instead. When I prime the roof later today I'll know if this was successful.

I think this will look OK.

Coming up in Part 2, adding the underframe, weights, new couplers, new wheelsets, grab irons, and final details. I'll see you there. Don