Sunday, September 11, 2011

Splines, more steel & radio's

Since my last post I have completed the steel benchwork of the centre peninsula by building a module for the end . I wanted the curve in the track on this end to be 1000mm radius so the module had to be large. So large in fact that I had trouble getting it through the door! It took several attempts to get it in but I got it there in the end.

I have been asked why steel for my benchwork and not wood. I am far more comfortable working in steel than wood and have a full metal-working workshop as part of my working life. Steel also offers engineering advantages over wood. I weld the top of the modules that hold the lights in such a way that they push against the weight of the lights with out extra bracing. It's the same for the brackets that hold the different levels of the layout. The disadvantages are it is harder to make changes and is probably slightly dearer than wood.

The idea of spline roadbed using thin pieces of wood glued together has appealed to me for a long time but I have never tried it until now. I have seen people like Joe Fugate promote it on his website and narrow gauge modeller Jack Walton using it on his layout. I like the idea of flowing trackwork with little waste  At Bunnings I found a Masonite product called packing strips which are ideal. They are 3mm thick, 25mm wide and 1800mm long and cost 75 cents each.

Like trying most things new it is much easier once you have had a go and worked out your own system for building it. My first challenge was placing the risers so I got a smooth curve. The easiest way I could find was to find the centre of the curve and use a steel ruler to mark where everything should be. I started using 40mm x 19mm wood made in to Tee's as risers. I found them not solid enough and so have changed to 70mm x 35mm wood and have found this to be much better. The other advice I can give is have lots of clamps to hold it all together while the glue dries. As you can see the roadbed flows smoothly and there is very little waste.

A couple of weeks ago Tom Barbalet from model rail radio asked me to call in and discus narrow gauge modelling in Australia. I had a very enjoyable time chatting with Tom, Chris Abbott & Gordon Dobson. You can listen to Model rail radio from their website or itunes.