Saturday, April 8, 2017

End module ideas and roster additions

One significant disadvantage of my current residential situation it that I have quite limited space. However, I would like to explore some options on how I could add a return loop (just for the streetcar trackage, not the elevated) to my modules.

Using the program Templot, I printed out a 2.5 turnout and some 12" radius curves and mocked up a terminal / return loop.

In the above photo, the track has been laid out using paper templates. The section of paper to the right represents the width of my current module and where the track is to be positioned.

This terminal loop would be nicely prototypical as I could model a terminus. However, the "lobe" and required width of the module (imaging the bottom of the photo being the wall ... no space on that side) would be way too wide for my space. It would stick too far out into my limited living space.

As another option, I laid a 12" radius curve over the printouts to see if this would fit better.

As shown in the above photo, I'll still use the same 2.5 turnouts but now the return loop will cross the double track main line. I'll need to add another 2.5 turnout to the other track, But, this configuration is a much more efficient use of the limited space I have. Thus, I've decided to pursue this option.

To begin, I laid some templates out on a piece of plywood:

And I began laying the curved section of track first.

Unfortunately that is as far as I've gotten. Stay tuned for more.

In other news, I've added a few new cars to the roster:

The additions are:

  • Two CA&E 450's, Miller kits, both with Wagner power trucks
  • CNS&M Brill Coach, Clouser body (modified to be a Brill), unpowered
  • CNS&M # 411, scatchbuilt, powered
However, being of limited yard space, I had to get very creative in storage of the new additions. So? On top of the kitchen cabinets for now. Luckily I do not cook much.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Turnout Construction

As mentioned in my previous post, I'm creating my streetcar turnouts using # 3 templates printed from the program Templot. There are quite a few guides on how to construct turnouts already on the web, but I wanted to document my process.

This was my first ever attempt at hand laying a turnout and it went surprisingly well. It was easy to do and quite a lot of fun. 

I prefer to build my track "on the workbench", so to speak. 

First, some of the tools I use. Shown is the FastTracks jig I am using to create straight sections of track.

Using a piece of wood, I tape down the turnout template I printed out.

I lay out the Right-O-Way point castings next. I use short sections of straight track built using the FastTracks jig to set the gauge for the points.

I next add the various rails. All track is pre-bent using a rail bending tool I also acquired from FastTracks. 

Using a jig I mounted on another board, I pre-make the # 3 frogs. The frog is added next.

Since this turnout will be part of a crossover on closely spaced (3.25") parallel tracks, that it why I have the marks on the divergent side of the turnout. I will eventually trim the turnout down to pair up with the other turnout.

Once the frog is added, I add the remaining guard rails. Since this will be street trackage, all rails receive guard rails.

Since some of my equipment has older Wagner drives, it has a bit larger flanges. Thus, I've decided to make guard rails out of vertical code 125 rail placed next to the running rail. On some test sections of code 125 with code 100 rail soldered on edge I had issues with some equipment running on their flanges.

A left hand turnout was also created in the same manner.

All throughout the process I checked the turnout for gauge using an NMRA gauge, my two three point gauges, a pair of trucks, and once completed, I rolled some equipment through them to check for any issues. On my first turnout I did wind up moving the frog slightly as the trailing truck of my equipment was picking the point of the frog. Un-soldering the frog and correcting the problem was an easy fix.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Track Layout

Since I live in downtown Chicago, space for an O scale layout is certainly at a premium. My layout will consist of two modules, 6 feet long by approximately 20 inches wide.

To keep things interesting and simple, so far the plan will be for a combination of streetcar trackage plus elevated overhead. The streetcar track will consist of two parallel tracks with a cross over at each end of each module.

The style of elevated structure has yet to be determined, but I'm now leaning more towards Lake Street elevated as that would give me the most amount of clearance under the tracks. I would build the eastern style that has the columns at curbside.

The layout of the track:

At hen end of each module, as mentioned above, will be a crossover. I'll leave enough room to park a car at each end also after the turnout. 

I've decided to use # 3 turnouts with a track spacing of 3.25 inches. The templates for the # 3's were drawn with the track layout CAD program Templot. This program is certainly challenging to use, but I was able to persevere and get it to at least print a number 3. I certainly think the CSL equipment I have shouldn't have a problem negotiating this crossover.

The # 3 paper templates will also be used to construct the turnouts using Right-O-Way single point switch castings. Details on how I did that will follow in the next post.

Monday, January 23, 2017

New building flats

I've decided to start 2017 with some new building flats. 

These buildings are based off some prototype builds on south Halstead Ave. in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood.

These are just the initial stages of construction. Materials used are N Scale Architect brick sheets and Evergreen styrene strips.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas to All!

Merry Christmas to all!

I haven't abandoned the blog ... life at the end of 2016 just has been very busy indeed. But, I hope to tackle 2017 with a renewed sense of vigor and finally finish some projects I've been working on.

Again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Tight Space Modeling ... or there is no excuse

So I have downsized to a one bedroom condo and demolished by basement layout ... but ... that doesn't mean I've given up on traction modeling.

Traction modeling certainly lends itself to smaller spaces, even in O scale.

However, not having a sprawling basement means that you have to be a little more strategic in tool choices and storage options.

I thought I would share some of my solutions for tight modeling space ...

First off is I do like to paint. So, I bought a fold up spray booth that works quite well and I also bought a fold up table to put the booth on. I run the exhaust out the balcony door and for lighting, I swing my reading lamp over which gives more than enough light.

Also shown in the above photos is my work space which is an Ikea desk. The drawer until is good for small tool storage. I have a sheet of glass on top to provide a smooth, easy to clean surface.

Another requirement for painting is a compressor. Since I also want to do pressure casting, an actual air compressor rather than an air brush only smaller compressor would be required. However, living in an apartment means that noise would be a concern. I ordered a California Air Tools Ultra Quiet compressor which should suit my needs nicely.

The remainder of storage is accomplished via two Ikea drawer units that hold all my scratch building materials and paint. I have a small hobby saw that sits on top. A metal cabinet holds all my chemicals and spray paint cans.

The whole area is 12 feet long by 20" wide. Modest by any measure, it suits my needs and still allows me to model. The layout acts as a nice "objet d'art" in the living room and is always a conversation piece. As long as I keep things tidy, it doesn't distract from the overall living room experience. 

I chose my living space for location over space. The commute to my office is 2,200 feet, or about a 8 minute walk as I have to go down seven floors. But, I didn't want to give up on my hobby so accommodations had to be made and I think I've made the best of them.

Plus, I'm about 50 feet from the Blue line for quick access to anywhere in Chicago ... or rail fanning ... or just awesome city living!

Below is a short photo essay of the 'hood:

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


From the ashes arises new and better things!

So, after a location switch, I've finally gotten established in my new home. The modules are set up, the models unpacked and some buildings are out of long term storage.

I'm doing two straight modules, each 6 feet long and 20" wide, The height is rather high at 56" but that was done intentionally. My last layout was rather high and I really liked the effect at looking at the models. Another reason as to why the modules are so high is so that I can fit lots (all the tools and equipment) underneath. 

In the above photo, you can see (from left to right): worktable - with my sheet of glass of cutting, the pressure pot for casting, the air compressor for air brushing and casting (ultra quiet variety), two Ikea storage cabinets for parts and material storage, a metal cabinet for chemical and paint storage, and finally a bookcase with all my traction magazines nicely stashed away. This all fits in a space 20" wide by 12 feet long.

As for space, I certainly do not have a lot. BUT ... never let space get in the way of your modeling! I've decided that modeling and my hobbies are a priority in my life (for my own mental health!) and the modules fit within my lifestyle. A view of my living room:

As long as I keep it orderly, I'm happy to share my living space with my hobby. By the way, it makes for a great conversation piece and all the ladies love it. It shows creativity!

The plan is to do at least one module as Wells Street in the Loop. I'm going to model the Loop style of elevated along with two street car tracks underneath.

Right now, its just great to have my models unpacked and visible.

Goals (in addition to working on this new layout/modules) are:

  • Additional 3D printed cars
  • Using the 3D prints as masters for casting
  • Making molds and casting for Loop elevated structure
  • Making more realistic store fronts and buildings
  • Learning to hand lay track
And, most importantly, all now is 2 RAIL! No more 3 rail for me!

I only have one small problem, the view and outside distractions of my new neighborhood are mighty indeed!