Saturday, August 22, 2015

On The Ground Again

I had the opportunity to visit the Fairgrounds Branch again in mid-August 2015 and it was a good thing I did.
The former Safeway Bakery building was in the process of being covered with insulating panels meaning the exterior photos I recently captured will be the last ones anyone can get.
Prior to obtaining these photos, I had been thinking about the kinds of traffic and the car types that would've served this industry.  It isn't big enough to ship anything out, so rail service would've been limited to inbound raw materials.  That could include flour and sugar plus other commodities like boxes and such.  Pneumatic cars seemed out of the question until I spotted the small set of doors to the left of the rollup door and dock (upper right photo above).  This would've been a perfect place to store a hose and make connections to indoor piping.  The same could be said for the two side-by-side former doors in the upper left photo.  Also noticed was the supports for an awning that hung over the dock.

The other remaining item that had been holding me back from building track was the turnout details.  American Switch & Signal makes great turnout kits for Proto:48 (link is to the Protocraft distribution of said parts) but I needed to know for sure which type of frog would've been in use.  I had assumed that the answer would be simple bolted frogs and the following detail photos confirm this:
I also walked this turnout again in the daytime to confirm that it had a frog angle of #8.  One farther down the track that started the spur into Schutte Lumber measured out to be a #7.  I"m realizing now that I forgot to walk off the distance of the switch points; all of the kits I've seen have 16' 6" points.

I'm impressed by this particular switch that almost has a diverging route on the normal alignment.  It is those types of track variances that I hope to recreate (and have the equipment actually operate...).

I also captured a few more shots of the switch throw mechanism in order to be able to compare to some the products available out there:
I'll be in Kansas City again in October 2015, but may not have an opportunity to get to "The Hill" as the primary purpose of the trip is a wedding.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

GBW 7080 - Part #2

This and successive postings of this title will follow the project to convert this 2-rail Atlas Trainman model of a ACF 50' boxcar lettered for the Green Bay & Western into a Proto:48 model.  See Part #1.

The first two items up for change are the couplers and trucks.  Choices for the couplers mentioned in the first post included Type 'E' models in delrin from San Juan Car Company or in brass from Protocraft.  The trucks are easy to modify (narrow) with drop-in bolster replacements designed by Jim Lincoln and produced by Shapeways.

I ordered one of each type of coupler kit offered by San Juan, with the difference being the "scale shank" versus one that fits in a Kadee coupler box.

Unfortunately, that means it doesn't fit an Atlas coupler box.   Plus, they are difficult to assemble to a reliably operating state.  Of the two-and-a-half I've put together so far, the first was a dud because what looked lie flash was mistakenly trimmed off and this rendered the coupler unlockable.  After replacing this part, it now one works OK and holds under a moderate load against another coupler, but the other one doesn't remain locked either (for a different reason).

The "scale shank" ones yielded slightly better results.   Out of the package, they looked more cleanly molded and sharper.  Maybe because I knew more about what to do, they went together more smoothly, but some of the same operating reliability challenges were still there.   Perhaps after a dozen pair of these I could get the hang of it.

The couplers from Protocraft come assembled and work right out of the box.  There are few subtle differences between these and the SJCC version, with the Protocraft ones looking just a bit bigger.   They come with the bottom lift pin mechanism already in place.   I'll post more updates when I get these mounted on a freight car and hopefully operating with the lift bar.

Here's a rather poor comparison photo of all four couplers. From left to right, you have Atlas Original, SJCC "standard", SJCC scale, and Protocraft.

In summary, with the Protocraft couplers starting out reliable and coming with coupler boxes, I'm leaning in that direction for general usage.   They are about three times the price though.

The first 3D-printed parts arrived that I ordered arrived and the use of the "black strong-and-flexible" material seems to be a good choice.  They cut away from the sprues cleanly and the finish somewhat resembles what a rusty metal underframe would look like.  Of course, one does not see much of the bolster itself in a model siting on the tracks, so the point is: they don't distract.

However, I'm again waiting on more parts from Shapeways, as the first two I ordered were for the newer style Atlas trucks, whereas the model I have has the older style trucks.  According to Mr. Lincoln, the difference is the width of the sideframe: Newer ones are 1/8" and older ones are closer to 3/16".

I put the Protocraft wheels in one truck anyway just to see what they'd look like and I am impressed.  There's some slop in them but that is due to the sideframe difference noted earlier.

The inability to immediately assemble the trucks with the narrowed bolster prompted me to think about freight car trucks in general.  The Atlas ones are a rigid frame design and based on some Proto:87 experiences of another modeler I read about, it got me thinking that I should probably seek out a fully sprung truck to hopefully better navigate the track.

Now that's mostly forward thinking because I don't actually have any track yet to run this car on and at the rate things are going it'll be a close race between the cart and the horse -- maybe I'll get a test track section built before winter arrives.  Nor do I consider that one source a doomsday scenario -- but P:48 is the same proportions as P:87, so flange depth and tread width are important concerns -- and I want to model rickety industrial track.  I'll have mass on my side though; O scale equipment is easier to weight down.

The conversation on the sprung trucks comes from the 'p48_modeler' Yahoo group.  An interesting read if you have the time and interest.

The latest Model Railroader magazine contained an article on modeling left over dunnage and generally sprucing up the interior of a box car.   I think I will follow some of those recommendations for this model, since it already comes with movable doors.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

1:48 Vehicles

I've seen laments around the web that vehicles in 1:48 are hard to find.  So it came as a surprise to me that one source could be my local Menards (a Midwest USA home improvement store).

While browsing their collection of "O Gauge Train Stuff", I found what appears to be a decent representation of a Mack Type R (or one of its variants).  The Mack R-series was produced between 1966 and 2005.  I don't know exactly which year this particular model is patterned after, but at a glance it would appear to be of 1970s of 1980s vintage (mainly since there aren't any rounded corners).

Some of the details look a bit chunky, but it says 1:48 scale on it and, heck, for $6.99 USD, it would probably serve as a starting point or at least a stand in.  Schutte Lumber wold need some delivery trucks.

There's also a delivery van and an ambulance, but they seem to be a bit new for my era.  The van is a later Chevy model and the ambulance is a Ford F350.