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Everything posted by Spotlc

  1. I have lurked on here for some time now and been very much inspired by many of the super little layouts featured, and I decided to return to model railways after a gap of more than forty years, during which much has changed! So here is New Prospect Lane, a small diorama now nearing completion, which I am building to explore some different methods of control and construction, with the emphasis on light weight and portability. The model is a small industrial scene somewhere in the south west Midlands, sometime in the mid/late 1950‘s, and is built in 1/76 scale. I've tried to recreate a series of little scenes which reflect the mid fifties era, so there is as much emphasis on the surroundings as on the railway itself, although of course the railway is the central reason for the model. As well as railways, I've always had an interest in cars and commercial vehicles, so the diorama is also an opportunity to display some of my models from this era in (hopefully) realistic surroundings. This is as far as i have got to date - no weeds or other greenery as yet, and the background is temporary but can be easily changed, and it also has a black version for night time images, like this: The overall lighting is an LED strip and can be steplessly varied from almost nothing, like here, up to full whack, which is not that bright butsuits the mood of the model. Here's a view from the other end, taken at an earlier time when I had finally fixed the buildings in place. Hope this is of interest, Mike
  2. Spotlc

    Advice needed

    Many thanks for the useful link, I'm certain that it it will save me quite a lot of grief! I am pretty sure that I will go down the 14.2 path, the Atlas models seem to be nearer to 15mm, so clearances should not be too tight, and the outside frames of City of Truro could make things easier, although I'm not under any illusions about the problems involved in any of this! I've printed out a couple of my smaller Scalescenes buildings at 76% and they seem quite do-able, so that's another step in the right direction! Thanks again for the encouragement, Best, M
  3. Spotlc

    Advice needed

    Nigel, ah! some real encouragement here! Thanks for going to the trouble of asking around. I'm reasonably familiar with BPRC, having converted a number of 4mm locos, and built a small diorama completely battery operated and R/C controlled, including lights, points and signals, as well as the motive power, and for slow speed shunting it's magic! I don't have room for anything but diorama type models, so pulling power, starting traction and so on are not a worry, which is why I thought about the Polish gearmotors. They are really for driving model cars, but with a high reduction ratio they might be OK in a loco, and two in series might be even better, although only practical tests would show if there was significant difference in rotational speed between the two. I have always been interested in architectural modelling, and 1/100 is the classic scale, so it seems logical to try to bring the two interests together. Nice models of the Metros - High Level gearboxes? 4F's at Gloucester - like this one on a Bristol-Birmingham stopper in the 1950's? Best, Mike
  4. Spotlc

    Advice needed

    Thank you both for your interesting comments, at least you haven't said it's a totally mad idea! I can see that this would not be quite such a simple thing, but as I said, I've had an AE model of a Chapelon pacific for years, and I gradually came round to the idea that it could be a way into 1/100 scale. Although I live in France, nostalgia leads me towards British outline, so I have bought an AE model of City of Truro on eBay, and it's on it's way now. I have used N20 gearmotors in the past, but I thought they might be too big for 1/100, even with 14.2 track, which is why I looked at the Polish gearmotors - not sure how powerful they would be, but it would only be for a little diorama, slowly shuffling a few wagons around so not like a big layout with full rakes of coaches or wagons. I quite like 4Fs, I was born and grew up in Gloucester, and I am quite at home with LMS, GWR and later BR locos, so it's another open book as to how this little project will evolve! I have started to wade through the awesome amount of info on the 3mm Society pages, as well as 3SMR and Worsely Works, but still a way to go to get up to speed! Best, Mike
  5. Spotlc

    Advice needed

    This might seem like a silly question, but has anyone tried motorising one of the Atlas Editions locos? I ask because I am considering a small 3mm diorama, and I have had one of their Chapelon Nord pacifics for many years, which although not highly detailed, does seem to represent the original quite closely. Now, I was considering the AE model of City of Truro as a possible candidate, either as a motorised loco, or possibly with tender drive. The absence of outside valve gear makes either option a little easier. My previous efforts have centred on radio control/battery powered 4mm models, and a quick look at probable dimensions make me think this would be possible in 3mm also, although finding room for a battery that gave reasonable running time might be a challenge. In a small diorama no great speed or distance are required, nor great pulling power, so I had considered using a pair of KKPMO 6mm gearmotors wired in series, each driving one of the three tender axles as a possible solution. They are available in a wide range of ratios from 18:1 to 324:1 so getting the scale speed right is not a problem. It may be possible to do this driving the loco axles, but space would likely be a problem. I need someone to tell me that this is either completely mad, worth pursuing, or needs more thought! I should say that I'm not a rivet counter - I am more concerned with the overall effect of the scene portrayed than with absolute accuracy of detail, but I would probably go for the 14.2mm option rather than the TT size track, simply because it seems easier on the motorising options. For a shunting type model slow speed control is paramount, and battery R/C gives this in a way unparalled by DC or DCC, as well as allowing control of points, signals and lighting from a single hand held controller unconnected by cable, which is why I like it. If I get an overwhelming "thumbs down" about the Atlas Editions, I might still think about a similar sized tender loco such as a 4F to scratch build in 3mm, because I am drawn to the idea of 3mm, so I look forward to comments either way. Mike
  6. Knocking off for the day! One of the fork lift drivers heads for home on the Matchless 500, passing the now stationary 08 and the 1945 built pannier tank, in the little yard at New Prospect Lane. This is a small diorama model built to explore the possibilities of radio control and battery operation, and as well as the locos, all the points, building, and overall lighting are controlled by radio. Power comes from various lithium polymer and Ni-mh batteries, and the model has an autonomy of about five hours before re-charging the lighting, much longer for the locos. It isn't fine scale or anything, but I've tried to capture the rather run-down, grimey appearance of industrial railways in the 1950's, and the ability to infinitely vary the intensity of both the overall and building lighting makes this easier, although I've only just started playing at this! Mike
  7. Hi Luke, a nice little diorama with an unusual theme, which I've really enjoyed following! Now, about the whisky barrels. Almost all Scotch whisky is stored and aged in old oak barrels, even the current production may be placed in barrels more than twenty years old, often much more. Oak barrels have a long and interesting life - they may start by being made in France and used to store wines before bottling for one to three years, then transported to either Spain, for sherry, or to Portugal, for port wine production. There is also some use of Spanish oak barrels, made initially for storing Rioja wines. They can then sometimes be as long as 20 - 30 years holding sherry or port, though generally less, and after this use they are shipped to Scotland for use by whisky distillers. The large producers of blended whiskys use quite short maturation periods, but almost all single malts will have been matured for at least 5 years, usually 12, and sometimes up to 20 years, in a barrel that is already perhaps 25 years old! So, your barrels should not appear in any way new. You could try to simulate the delicious silvery grey patina that aged oak barrels have, but only the ends of the barrels were painted, (and usually stencil lettered for identification by the Revenue!) In the USA, the opposite methods are used, and Bourbon whiskey is always stored in new oak barrels, I think, by law. Really, none of this will make a lot of difference to your nice model anyway, but I thought you might be interested! Best wishes, Mike
  8. Hi David, I don't have any experience of using Inkscape to output to a machine, but I stumbled across this site whilst looking for something else, and remembered your question: http://www.bigbluesaw.com/saw/big-blue-saw-blog/general-updates/big-blue-saws-dxf-export-for-inkscape.html Looks as if it might do the trick - the link to the download is at the end of the article, Regards, Mike
  9. Not sure where the pictures went!
  10. Not strictly true, you are confusing a ledged and braced door design with a diagonally braced horizontal gate. Although the braces of a vertically hung door do indeed point inwards from the top of the shutting stile to the hanging stile, and are therefore in compression, a crossing gate is a very different thing. Here, the wooden braces are diagonal, and serve only to ensure the dimensional integrity of the gate - the weight of the gate is carried at the hanging stile by massive cast iron hinges, and at the shutting stile by a wrought iron bar which runs from there, back to either the top of the hanging stile, or more often, to the gate post itself, which carries a separate pivot for this support bar, which of course, is in tension: This is a derivative of the traditional wooden five barred gate shown here: and is designed to cope with the enormous weight of crossing gates, especially when only a single leaf is used, as in the first photo. Regards, Mike
  11. Hi John, I've also drawn a blank when sourcing very tiny switches for BPRC, and I've got round this when using a PP3, by making up a battery holder where the battery can be easily removed, becoming, in effect the switch. This also obviates the need for the normal clasp type terminals for these batteries, which are needlessly large. I folded up a simple cradle from 22G sheet steel and fitted a bit of paxolin with two terminals turned up from brass rod, behind which is a 3mm pad of closed cell foam, which acts as an insulator and also provides the slight pressure on the battery, needed to ensure good electrical contact. The wires are led out to one side, which has a Pololu voltage controller mounted in a piece of shellaced foamboard, and thence to the locomotive mounted Deltang Rx63. In the little guards van I chose as the battery vehicle, there was no room for any switch that I could find, and even then I had to fit false doors and end panel to block the verandah at one end, but I think in a 10ft wheelbase van there would be room for a small switch. I realise that this solution is not to everyone's taste, but it works well in practice, and I want to move on to building a small diorama entirely operated by radio - points, signals, dimmable street and building lighting and so on, as well as the locomotives, - so further refinements of the loco systems will have to wait a while ! Mike
  12. An interesting project, not without it's challenges! If I were doing this I think I'd look carefully at the possibility of using the lens advance/focussing mechanism from a small defunct digital camera - something like an old Canon Ixus V2 is very tiny, and all the mechanics have been done for you, although working out how to control it might be interesting! Space might be another problem! There are still a few vestiges of the TC metre gauge line visible in Tulle station, or at least there were when I was last there, a couple of years ago, and further north, the metre gauge Chemin de Fer de Blanc-Argent is alive and well, and the ride from Salbris to Valençay is enchanting! Mike
  13. Surprisingly, Amazon UK have some tiny DPDT latching switches, they are 7x7mm, and about 12mm total height including pins, but it's possible to cut the long push button down by about 3mm, as well as the pins, so you might have room. £1.93 for 55, post free. (They don't have any mounting arrangement, intended for pcb mount). They have lots of options if you search for "micro PB switch". https://www.amazon.co.uk/Push-Button-Switch-Self-locking-Switches/dp/B01G6P1G8W/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1506027268&sr=8-3&keywords=micro+push+button+latching+switch Mike
  14. Corbs, how right you are! (1) I know scale speeds have been endlessly discussed elsewhere, but taking a Gronk as an example, they mostly had a top speed of 15mph, which in 1/76 translates to travelling 24 inches in 7 seconds; at a shunter's brisk walking pace, say 5mph, it would take a 1/76 train 21 seconds to travel 24 inches, and at a coupling speed of 1mph, it needs 8 seconds to travel 2 inches. Compare this to the absurd speeds often seen at exhibitions ! BPRC makes these speeds possible, given a good quality motor and a sensible gear ratio, like nothing else I've found. (2) I don't think you are lazy, your Skarloey conversions are inspirational. (3) I have also found Micron to be extremely helpful and understanding. (4) I've "Thought Pipe" for the best part of sixty years!
  15. John, happy to hear that my plodding efforts have led you to what I'm sure will be more imaginative solutions, and I'm grateful for your links to cheaper sources of voltage steppers - I must not wave the credit card around with such abandon! I thought very carefully about using a separate vehicle for the batteries, and the only practical arguments against were the obvious one of space in a small layout, and my inability to find some really small polarised connectors that were robust enough to stand repeated use. The plus side is that the loco doesn't need too much butchering, and quite powerful batteries can fit in even a small van, giving running times well beyond my attention span (!) As for the "philosophy" of doing this, it's what I meant when I said that R/C could change things significantly. From an observers viewpoint, it doesn't actually matter if the battery is in the loco or not, what is important is that what he or she sees is a convincing display. Taking this a step further, it would be quite possible to run even express trains by installing batteries in say, a Siphon G or a GUV, and indeed, it would be difficult to tell without close inspection if it was a motorised Siphon G that was providing the propelling power, and the battery was in the loco ! I'm not suggesting that this would be a good thing, or even a sensible thing to do , nor that at least some of it would not be possible with track power, but I use it as an example of what could happen if model railways were freed from the dominance of just a few manufacturers, and we became more like other modelling spheres, such as model aircraft or boats, where there is a far greater range of techniques and scales than in model railways, and a much greater range of specialist suppliers. Sorry if that sounds heretical, but I've long thought that mainstream model railways haven't really progressed very far beyond the toy train set, except that they are much better detailed and run better than Hornby Dublo, but it's still the same old one-size-fits-all mentality, everything must be RTR, and we are all supposed to go gaga when some manufacturer releases a model of a loco no one has even heard of, let alone seen, and expected to buy them up like grateful supplicants, as if there was no tomorrow ! Rant over! RMWeb in general, and this forum in particular, are a welcome antidote !! Mike
  16. The hobby seems to have changed from railway modelling to railway buying. Absolutely agree ! Sadly, this is part of a much wider commercialisation of peoples enthusiasms - it also happens in many other fields of interest - photography, sport, even cooking! However, like you, I also take heart in the idea that BPRC is for now anti- establishment, but no doubt the accountants have an eye on things, and I'm sure it will be commercialised at some point. I don't have your knowledge or skills with electronics, so I am happy to shell out for materially functioning devices that I can put together to get a working model, but I do understand that further developments rely on innovators having a restless attitude towards what is possible. As for putting batteries in a goods van, I can see why it would rankle, but apart from taking up a little extra space on a small layout, it also means that the huge benefits of trackless power can be enjoyed even with small locos which are hard to make autonomous, for all but the highly dedicated. All model railways involve some degree of illusion, and provided the vehicles are appropriate to the setting, I'm not sure that it's too much of a problem. I think that scale speed is only an issue for large layouts depicting a main line setting, - for anything like a station or loco depot, shunting puzzle or shelf layout, slow speed and precise control are far more important, and I became hooked by the fact that BPRC provided exactly this in a way that I had never seen before. As I said in an earlier post, I think these early days of R/C trains will come to be seen as the point where model railways changed dramatically from what has gone before. Exciting times !! Mike
  17. Ok, I 've got it now! ;-(
  18. Click "Reply quoting this post" at the bottom of the message you want to reply to. You can edit out the parts of the quote you want to exclude. Or click on the switch in the top left corner of the editor toolbar, and you can edit the code, which is what I did to split it into two quotes. Brilliant! Many thanks. This is the link to the eBay seller of OKCells: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2Pcs-OKcell-9V-800mAh-USB-Rechargeable-Lipo-Battery-For-RC-Helicopter-Microphone/311905487080?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649 The Pololus I use are adjustable output via a tiny potentiometer, up to 9.25V out from anything between 1.5 to 16V in, max current 2A, from this supplier: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/POLOLU-791-Pololu-Adjustable-Boost-Regulator-2-5-9-5V-uk/192163553891?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649 Hope this is useful, Mike
  19. I thought of using a 9v battery, but whatever voltage I use needs to be stepped up or down somewhere. You are much more ambitious than me! I only have a single 00 gauge shunting layout, lamentably incomplete, which started out as DCC, but one of the neighbours kids managed to terminate the controller, and since I was fairly underwhelmed by the whole DCC thing, and the cost of a new controller was prohibitive, it remained untouched for many months, until I stumbled across the DT site. I bought a receiver and transmitter from Micron last year, and haven't looked back since! You might like to have a look at the next photo about battery vehicles ;-) Here is the present version of the battery van, this time with a clever 9V Lithium - poly battery, which has a charging port for a micro USB lead, built in under-voltage and charge protection, LED capacity lights, and best of all, a claimed capacity of 800 mAh, compared to 280mAh of the Ni-mh, although to be honest, I haven't tested the true capacity. All the clutter on the top has gone, and I fitted a little slide switch to isolate the receiver. These are nice batteries if you can live with 9V, not expensive - about £12 for two, delivered from Hong Kong, and they can be safely charged from any 5V USB device - lap top, phone charger, or mains adapter, and I imagine a similar arrangement could be useful in a loco and tender set up. I suppose if 12V (or any other) is essential, a little Pololu voltage stepper is only around £6, and about the size of a postage stamp, and will also eliminate voltage decline with discharge. Also, how do you make these selective quotes from other peoples comments? Cheers, Mike
  20. Look what you've started! After seeing your first post, it suddenly dawned on me that the quickest way to get a few RC locos running, would be to stick the batteries and electronics in a van, and just attach two wires and a connector to each loco, so I can couple the van to whichever loco I want to run. Then I can do the loco conversions gradually. Bravo, John! This is a quick way to get things moving, especially with tank engines where there really isn't enough room for a decent battery pack, drive unit and an Rx. I built this as a test bed for ideas, and it's by no means finished. My knowledge of electronics is pretty primitive, else I would go down the road of real home building, but fortunately the drone/robot world has produced some remarkable devices, and as long as someone tells me where to solder the wires, I'm OK! This is the original set up of the battery van, a cheap 9V Ni-mh battery, with a very crude arrangement for switching and charging - I wasn't sure how well this project was going to work, so didn't spend too much time or money on it, and it has since been refined a bit. I built this as a test bed for ideas, and at the moment it's hard wired, but I plan to fit a tiny polarised plug and socket at the next stage of development Cheers, Mike
  21. Some interesting comments here, - I like otherplanet's pole loco, I hope it is intended to run on "standard gauge" logs ! I think that standards for R/C trains are only important if you hope to be able to buy one RTR out of the box, as I am certain will happen in the future, but I am also certain that the arrival of R/C for miniature railways will come to be seen as the defining moment, when the many annoying compromises needed by track power, either DC or DCC, were finally conquered. Meanwhile, I am happy to play around with ideas, and here are some more pictures of "Romulus and Remus", the fly shunting vans shown in the pic above. (I first thought of calling them "Castor and Pollux", but my wife pointed out that careless pronunciation might lead to some confusion !) This is the power unit, which is driven by the motor and gearbox from an abandoned High Level L&Y Pug conversion kit. It has a 1:108 ratio so is ideal for shunting and precise slow speed operations. The motor/ gearbox is located by the axle, which was turned up from silicon bronze, and is rubber mounted between the aluminium top plate and the cast lead baseplate. The top plate carries the little Deltang Rx 63 receiver, here just stuck down with double sided tape, but this has since been mounted in a proper housing. Initial tests confirmed that despite the massive lead baseplate, it couldn't pull more than a couple of vans without the wheels slipping, so I machined a groove in both drive wheels and fitted rubber traction tyres and it can now pull or push a dozen quite heavy trucks without wheelspin, though it's never going to need to pull that many on a shunting layout.
  22. John, A useful little speed calculator is here: http://www.modelbuildings.org/free-scale-speed-calculator.html This has always been an issue for me - real life train speeds, except on main lines, even now, are often far less than we imagine, and in earlier eras even slower. An un-fitted goods train rarely exceeded 25mph, and even though marked XP, vacuum fitted 10ft vans often became unstable at more than 50mph, and in the 1960's BR introduced a blanket 40mph restriction on them to curtail accidents. In a yard or loco shed environment, often little more than a brisk walking pace, say 5mph, and most Gronks (08's) were governed to 15mph max, although there were a few that had a 25mph top speed. In my view, nothing spoils a well built model railway as much as seeing the trains tearing round impossibly tight curves at speeds approaching Mach I ! Same with starting and stopping, - if there were actually passengers in a lot of model trains, they would be constantly picking themselves up from the floor, due to the violent acceleration and braking ! A great thing about R/C is that it is easy to avoid this sort of thing. Mike
  23. As a fairly new follower of this forum, I hesitate to contribute to what are clearly extremely well informed threads, but it seems to me that the true impact of 2.4gHz radio control for model railways has in some ways been overshadowed by the means of it's implementation. For example, much has been discussed about various types of batteries, integration of sound cards, compatability with DCC, and so on, but not so much about the way in which the absence of the need for power from the track might affect things in the future, and it seems to me that this feature is the most notable departure from present practice, and the one most likely to bring about significant change. At this point I should be honest, and say that I have no interest in large layouts or operating full size timetabling with twelve coach expresses, nor do I feel the need for a large number of varied locomotives and rolling stock - model railways are all things to all men (or boys!), and I understand that my own preference for what may best be described as "scenic shunting puzzles" is not to everyone's taste. However, it's in this area that my admittedly limited experience lies, so what follows is based on that. Of course, the fact that the train is now carrying it's own power quite independently of the track it runs on, brings it enormously closer to the real thing, but it also obviates the need for shiny, conductive rails, insulated wheels with electrical wipers, and the conductive switching of points. Little used branch lines, dockyard sidings, industrial yards etc, can now be portrayed in all their rusted glory . Rails could be made from mild steel extrusions, turned steel wheels running in bronze bearings - or carbon fibre wheels in ceramic bearings, for the speed merchants(!) The possibilities are considerable, once freed from the electric track, and I think that R/C has the potential to completely alter the present technical concepts of a model railway. As for functionality beyond loco control, point and signal operation can be easily handled by R/C, including signal arm bounce, and servo operated level crossings or barriers complete with light signals are as easy, or easier than DCC. Many recievers also have an output from an infra red emitter built in, so position detection within a layout seems to be reasonably straightforward, and following on from this is the possibility of "moving sound" using decent speakers triggered by IR detectors, making authentic sound a possibility at last. Another possible route to more realistic sound might be a second receiver, bound to the same transmitter channel as the loco but mounted externally, driving a separate sound system and responding in exactly the same way as the loco receiver to load and speed. Lastly, it's possible to get a simple system up and running without a huge outlay, and I attach a photo which appears to show a pannier tank pushing a couple of 12 ton vans in the yard, but in fact the loco has no motor or drive train - one van is propelled by a little Mashima motor driving a High Level gearbox, controlled by a Deltang receiver, the other one has a rechargeable 9V Ni-mh PP3 battery and charging circuit. The defunct loco was bought for a song, and as for the motive power, the battery came from Lidl, the motor & gearbox out of the spares box; the unpainted vans were a fiver each, complete with Kadees, and all together cost just a whisker over fifty quid. Not as cheap as some of the pioneering work described elsewhere in this forum, but a lot of fun, no shiny rails to be tamed - and when not coupled to the loco, the motor vans can do a bit of loose shunting as well.
  24. Before I consider contributing to any forums, a quick test of uploading a photo. The pics are of two Dapol ex-LMS 12 ton vans with a difference - they are a radio controlled motor unit in one van, and it's 9V power supply in the other. Built as a bit of fun to provide some loose shunting. As Built, prior to weathering After many years of neglect!
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