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Jon Fitness' average 7mm signals workbench.


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Cheers Mick.

Spec colours, always a bit of discussion about that....I use warm white LEDs so I have to use green lenses. I've tried blue but it tends to stay blue! If the light source was yellow then yes.. I'd use blue but yellow LEDs turn the red orange!!

JF

 

Jon,

 

Have you tried the LEDs from Helmsman Model Rail (was Electronics)?

see http://www.helmsmanuk.co.uk/ for contact details.

Worth ringing for a chat.

 

He sells LEDs for "Gas Light" effects which I've used extensively in 4mm scale signals, with the light transmitted via fibre optics.

The colour effect through MSE Red and Blue film is very good to my eye.

 

Steve.

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Jon,

 

Have you tried the LEDs from Helmsman Model Rail (was Electronics)?

see http://www.helmsmanuk.co.uk/ for contact details.

Worth ringing for a chat.

 

He sells LEDs for "Gas Light" effects which I've used extensively in 4mm scale signals, with the light transmitted via fibre optics.

The colour effect through MSE Red and Blue film is very good to my eye.

 

Steve.

 

Cheers Steve, I'll have a look at those LEDs although I won't be going down the fibre optic route.

Ta

JF

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  • 3 months later...

Yard lamps.

Not exactly signals, but I find this particular type seems to have a certain look about it that interests me in the same way as a nice signal does.
These lamps seem to be in almost every picture of a major LM steam shed, especially in my old stamping ground of Bolton/Bury/Burnley etc, and bring back childhood memories of approaching steam shed entrances. Over the fence you saw the coaling tower and the lamps first!
They are basically constructed from scrap rail with a lampshade supported from a hoop.
As there doesn't seem to be a commercially available lamp of this type in 7mm scale I thought I'd build a few myself.
At first I thought they were constructed like SR rail built signal posts with the rails drilled through and long bolts passed through the webs. This would have entailed lots of accurate drilling to ensure correct alignment and accuracy is not one of my strong points!
On closer inspection of photographs in various books (which I wish I could show but for the usual reasons can't) the construction is quite different and much simpler so I thought I'd give it a go.
The 2 rails which form the main stanchion are held apart on one side by plates spaced about 4ft apart and on the other side by (H&S fans look away now!) substantial rungs forming a vertical ladder.
At the top of the ladder is a wider horizontal foot step and a ladder hoop about 4ft above that.
Without any scale drawings to work from, I gathered a few pictures together and took a rough guestimate of the total height to be about twice the height of a loco. From base to the top of the lamp support hoop I reckon about 26ft. Feel free to correct me on this of course!

A basic drawing was sketched out, scanned and copied a few times to use as a template for soldering. The basic guide is the width of the etched ladder you are using. Feel free to use these drawings if you think they are any use!

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Fortunately I was given quite a bit of scrap Peco gauge 0 rail from an old garden railway, and as I tend to hoard all sorts of brass fret offcuts and I always have signal ladder in stock, it looked like I had the raw materials to build a few lamps.

The raw materials for a basic stanchion. Give all the bits a good clean with a fibreglass brush before attempting any soldering and check that the rail pieces are straight.
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Sellotape 2 bits of strip on the template and solder the 2 rails at each end.
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Throughout all the construction I have used a 15w Antex iron, Carrs 188 solder and Carrs green label flux. Be aware that Peco nickel silver rail is quite a heavy material and will suck the heat out of a small iron and conduct it along it's length so burnty finger warnings apply here!

Once you are happy with the alignment, solder smaller bits of the strip at 4ft intervals as marked on your drawing.
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The ladder can then be placed on the stanchion on the other side, noting that the ladder starts at the base and finishes about 4 ft from the top.
Tack solder the ladder top and bottom making sure it still lays flat against the stanchion.
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The assembly can then be removed from the template for ease of handling.
When you are happy with the alignment carefully solder the entire length of the ladder on both sides.
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Make sure you keep the ladder in contact with the stanchion as it will naturally try to pull away as the heat expands it slightly. A small piece of wood is helpful here. I use bits of old firework rocket stick (quite useful for signal posts as well!!).
You should now have a strong basic stanchion assembly.
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Carefully trim the excess strip from each side with a file remembering to file towards the stanchion to avoid pinging the strips off, and have a general cleanup of the assembly.
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More soon
JF

Edited by Jon Fitness
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Cut a small piece of scrap etch about 15mm X 25mm for a base and mark where the rails will pass through it.
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Drill a couple of 2mm holes close together for each side rail and open them out to form a rail shaped hole.
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You can also drill a small hole for the power wire to go through (the rest of the structure forms the other side of the circuit).
Slide both rails through until the base reaches the bottom of the ladder and solder it on, checking its all square and will stand vertical.
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Up to the top of the ladder, noting that it doesn't reach the top of the stanchion (H&S alert again) there is a wider footstep which is formed from some fine N/S strip and a ladder hoop 4ft above on the very top of the stanchion.

This can be bent round a suitably sized rod or handle (think pens paint brush handle or as in this case a wooden spoon handle) and squeezed tight to form a loop.
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Form the rest of the loop as shown and solder in position at the very top of the stanchion.
The support loop for the lamp on my first attempt was formed from some 0.8mm square bar that was lurking on the bench but subsequent ones have been formed from 0.8mm N/S wire.
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A rough guess put it about 15mm across and I made the lamp shade to fit between (accuracy? wossthat then!?)
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To one side of the lamp hoop there is a support for the insulators. Generally, the real thing was fed with power via overhead cables looped from lamp to lamp. The insulators obviously were positioned as necessary on whatever side and in whatever formation that the location needed. Have a look at as many shed photos from the 1950's and 60's to get an idea of how they were.
The lampshade is formed from 30thou plasticard but we'll deal with that next time.
More soon
JF

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To make the lampshade/LED holder I first toyed with the idea of cutting a circle out, taking a slice out of it and constructing a proper cone.
Several attempts later, mathematics gave way to a home made punch and hammer!.
I cut a disc of 30thou plasticard with a suitably sized leather punch.
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To achieve a basic cone shape, I ground the end of an old and fairly large bolt to a shallow point, placed the disc on a block of soft wood and applied the tool to the disc. After a few good belts with a hammer a suitable dish shape was achieved!
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A 4mm hole was drilled in the top and gently opened out to allow a short length of plastic tube (3mm inside diameter) to be glued in. this was then recessed slightly to allow a 3mm warm white LED to sit nicely in the top. The lip of the shade was made from micro-strip pre-formed round a pencil.
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Once the LED was fixed in to the shade, the Negative or shorter contact was soldered to the lamp hoop to hold it in position, making sure the positive contact was clear of the metal structure.
The positive feed for the LED is provided using wrapping wire which is the very fine brown coated stuff usually seen on transformer or solenoid windings. It is fairly robust stuff and can be wound round things and hidden quite well without worrying about it short circuiting the whole thing!
I soldered it to the poz contact and then fed it down through the stanchion, through a hole in the base and terminated it on a small piece of copperclad paxolin underneath. A 470ohm resistor was then fixed to that and a thicker wire provided for a 12Vdc supply to be applied.
Back at the top, I carefully superglued the wire to the lamp hoop and once painted it blended in almost invisibly. post-7179-0-90418300-1326906694.jpg
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I would probably have preferred a bulb rather than an LED so subsequent builds will have a home made cast metal shade to cope with the heat from a bulb.
Cheers.
JF

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Edited by Jon Fitness
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Great tutorial for the yard lamps. Great tips on creating the lampshade.

 

Maybe you should amend average to excellent in the thread title :)

 

I agree totally with Phil, you really should rename this thread. I have the signal building copied, now it looks like I will be copying the yard lamp build for reference.

Alan

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Well thats all the yard lamps done and installed.

post-7179-0-53605000-1327963602.jpgpost-7179-0-76300600-1327963620.jpgpost-7179-0-36055600-1327963628.jpgpost-7179-0-40617700-1327963635.jpg

 

Back to the signals. I'm just about to start fitting signals to Astley Bridge station on the Saltney railway and have been digging out the last of the old signals from the Talacre garden railway. (Re-cycling signals; I hate waste!).

The final 2 salvageable ones are my oldest efforts and both are LMS Welded stem bracket signals. The single doll one had been outside for 3 years, got removed, pulled apart, re-configured and did about a year in the indoor section before the layouts demise.

It's a battered old thing but still works so has now gained a route indicator and will now be the station home 2 signal, controlling access to the platforms and carriage siding. The other one was always an indoor signal and will now be the station home 1 and control access from the main to the goods yard and access from the headshunt to the goods yard.

 

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Both have now been fitted with micro servos and the driver boards set up ready to simply drop in the baseboards. More pics once they are fitted.

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MERG DRIVER BOARDS
The MERG driver board kits I use for working the servo fitted signals on Saltney are cheap, easy to build and reliable. Last year MERGs boards underwent a few modifications and my recent purchase included these.
The modifications include ability to power and operate using the constant feed from DCC, a pull up resistor to stop twitching of the servos on start up and more importantly, a feature to cut the power off to the servos after 2 seconds. All these features can be activated with either permanent soldered links or by application of little link plug thingies (forgot the proper terminology).
Initial tests show the pull up resistor cures the twitching that occasionally occurs with TowerProSG90 micro servos and the power cut off stops any odd residual buzzing from the servos.
Photos show the physical differences between old and new…..

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I'll soon be starting work on a series of 8 gas works railway GW lower quadrant signals so pics to follow..
JF

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Made a start on some GW signals on Wednesday and this is the progress so far. The bracket signal flat etches from MSE are the right shape but as such lack any relief detail. The real things are built and rivetted from angle iron, but rather than go over the top I punched a bit of rivet detail and a flange along the bottom edge just to give a flavour.

 

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The larger etch is for a 3 or 4 doll bracket but snipped in half will do for a couple of simple offset one doll brackets. Next the posts were fitted with bases and the trimmers fastened at the top. The MSE etch has the trimmers but no support brackets or way of fastening the post to the lower edge of the trimmers. The hole for the main post is also slightly out of line with the pattern of bracing on the trimmer.

I filed the holes out to match the etched angle iron pattern and cut some lower plates from scrap etch.

On simple GW bracket signals the support brackets are usually from T section (with the flat face downwards) fastened to the post with a ring shaped fitting. The normally hit the underside of the trimmers midway between the main post and the furthest doll from the post. Solder a strip of scrap etch across the underside of the trimmers at this point. Pinch a piece of thin bar or strip around the main post and solder it about the same distance from the underside of the trimmers.

This should then allow a strip of T section to be fastened between the 2 points at 45 degrees. The pics will probably show it better than my description!

 

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More soon.

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Once the main structure was built I driiled a hole through the post for a crank pivot. This should provide a good support for the axle of the crank hopefully reducing any free movement.

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Before the doll was assembled and fitted, provision was made for the LEDs wire to run down the structure.

Starting at the top, the lamp case (Scale Signal Supply lost wax brass casting) was cleaned out, soldered on with the lens hole in line with the spindle and a "warm white" LED fitted with the negative or shorter tag soldered to the lamp bracket. A suitable length of very fine wire was soldered to the longer tag and a suitable hole (0.7mm) drilled close by so that the wire could be fed inside the doll.

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Below where the doll fits through the trimmers, solder a piece of scrap etch across the lower edge so that the doll has somewhere to "land". I usually cut a slot at the base of the doll for the wire to exit after the doll is soldered to the structure.

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Feed the wire across to the post, through a suitable hole and up out of the top. Once pulled through, the wire can then be fed down the post and out through the base. I will eventually terminate the wire on a piece of copper-clad board and connect it to a 1K ohm resistor to enable 12 volts DC to power it.

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JF

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Next up is the staging. I would normally use brass strip to support proper wooden staging but on this occasion I am using the etches provided in 2 of the 3 signals (rude not to etc.)

First I strengthened the staging by soldering some square bar (0.8mm) on the underside then drilled some 0.6mm holes for the handrail stanchions in line with the strengthening ribs. The square bar also acts as a "stand off" from the trimmers which looks a little better than simply soldering the staging directly on.

 

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Lengths of 0.6mm N/S wire were then soldered in the holes up to about a scale 3ft or so in height. According to my drawings GWR safety rails were 2ft 6 inches above the staging so that should allow for soldering the handrails and trimming back.

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The stanchions were first provided with a 90 degree bend of about 3mm that rested on the underside of the etched staging to allow a stronger soldered joint. The staging can either then be soldered or glued on.

 

The finials I am using are Scale Signal Supply lost wax brass as they are easier to solder to the post tops. No chance of melting these babies!

Clean up the stub that fits in the post, apply flux and a good coating of 145 solder. Hold the finial in position with a little wooden peg or some other non heat conducting tool and apply the soldering iron to the top of the post until the solder flows. Hold steady for a second or so until the solder cools and thats your basic signal done.

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More soon

JF

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For the 3rd signal's staging I prepared 4 strips of 2mm wide brass drilled at each end for the stanchions and soldered them on to the top of the trimmers. A piece of 1.5 x 1.5 brass angle was also soldered on between 2 of the strips for somewhere to solder the top of the ladder to.

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This photo shows a coffee stirrer placed on to the supports. Lengths of these once stained down make quite convincing planks.

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Before fitting the ladders, I have stuck a servo on the base with double sided "trim tape" (as used to stick the smaller fancy bits to car bodywork) and had a play with the linkages to see how it all will work. I needed a 2mm hole through the base for the operating wire to move as there is quite a bit of side to side movement from the swing of the servo horn. I also fitted a small piece of PCB for terminating the positive feed wire and mounting a 1k ohm resistor across a cut in the copper.

 

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All seems to work so ladders next.....

JF

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Heres a couple of shots of one of the methods I use for the angle crank pins.

 

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Drill a 0.8 hole right through the doll (try not to ping the wire inside!) and push a 14 BA steel bolt through. screw up a brass nut on the back and carefully solder it to the doll. The theory is if you are quick enough, the steel bolt will not solder to the nut and can be unscrewed afterwards leaving a correctly placed captive nut with a clean thread. Usually works !! (cough cough)....

 

Once the mechanical work is done the ladder is then affixed to the structure, leaving only the handrails to do. I usually leave the handrails until after the painting and re-assembly as sometimes the linkages are too awkward to set up with them in place.

 

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Meanwhile, a useful and cheap new toy has arrived. A servo tester! It means I can now test the servo's mechanical action without having to set up my MERG board and setting box.

 

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Heres a quick video clip of the test.

 

SERVOTEST1.wmv

 

Now the main work is done, I mask off the lamp lenses and the ends of the handrail stanchions (to make it easier to solder the rails on) and give them a good blast of Halfords finest....

 

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I'll leave that to harden for a couple of days and get on with something else.... (L&Y signal anyone?)

More soon

JF

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Finally got round to installing the re-furbished signal fitted with the route indicator to Astley Bridge station.. The 2 arms are servo operated and the route indicator reads 1/2/3/S depending which way the points are set. I'll start a new thread for the signalling on our layout if anyones interested though!

 

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Back to the 3 GW bracket signals which are now 99% complete and painted. Now the signals are re-assembled, the handrails have now all been formed, fitted and trimmed.

 

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On the distant signal, the staging is made from coffee strirrers, cut, and shaped to fit round the post and dolls.

 

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These were then fixed on with thickish super glue, one or two requiring to be held down wth mini pegs (very useful those mini pegs... amazing what you find in pound shops)

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These signals are now complete except (as you probably noticed) for the finial on the distant as I'm waiting for fresh supplies from Scale Signal Supply.

 

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More soon

JF

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Ex L&Y lower quadrant signal.
Being brought up in Bolton and several years working the local signal boxes gave me a liking for L&Y equipment. I've worked the frames and rung the bells but sadly, by the time I qualified, the last Ex L&Y signal had long gone from Bolton so I had to refer to books for pics of those.
As Astley Bridge station on our layout has a 1950s BR Ex L&Y air about it, I've decided a couple of signals can help reflect that.
One will be purely L&Y with Raynar Wilson arms and the other will be L&Y retrofitted with LMS upper quadrant arms.
The usual copyright rules prevent me from showing prototype pictures from books here but the signalling book from the LYR society and a Foxline book about Southport's railways have provided the inspiration.
The first signal will be on the end of a platform and read to the main and the engine siding.
First job was shaping a recovered firework stick to a taper. This was gently planed whilst in a vice, but I got through several before a satisfactory result was obtained!
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The quality of wood varies immensely and some split during the process.
According to my books the posts tapered from 12 or 14" at the base to 7" at the top so once this shape was obtained and the sides were finished on a sheet of fine sandpaper I was ready to measure up.
About 16ft from platform to the pivot seemed about right so the main post was cut (leaving a stub at the bottom for location) and a rough idea built up from that starting point using odd bits off the bench.
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When building a wooden post signal I like to sink the base of the post into a square tube below the base-plate. . This solidly supports the post once glued in with superglue or epoxy.
A base of 50mm X 30mm brass was cut and a small length of 8mm square tube soldered on where the post will come through.
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A drill just big enough to fit in the tube was run through the base and the resulting hole filed square to match the tube.
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The base of the post was then carefully filed to fit fairly tightly in the tube. Once happy with the fit in the base plate I put it to one side whilst further work is done on the post.
Before starting to build up the main structure a slot was machined for the lamp wires to be sunk into and pivot tubes fitted to the post/doll 1ft from the top. The early L&Y arms were pivoted through the post and photos I have show the pivot for the smaller arm is offset slightly to the right. Also I couldn't resist fitting the cruciform finials!
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I know the slot looks a little ragged but I encountered a hard bit in the middle! It'll all disappear under the filler.... :sungum:
More soon.
JF

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This picture shows the position of the arm pivot bearings in the post/doll.
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Balance weight bearings folded up and 14BA captive nut soldered on the back. The posts will be relieved to allow the bearings to sit flush on the surface. The position of these will be fairly well up the posts as the signal will be positioned on a platform.
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Another pic showing the basic layout of the signal. The work so far should now allow me to build up the signal without any further major surgery to the posts etc. I have also shortened the main arm by 3.5mm (6") to balance the look of the signal.
L&Y arms were traditionally 4ft from spindle to the end of the blade but were chopped back by anything up to 18" to suit function and location.
post-7179-0-89483600-1329867870.jpg
More soon
JF

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Assembly.

2 small pieces of coffee stirrer were cut and the ends rounded off to make the trimmers. These were fastened on with PVA wood glue and clamped up to set.

post-7179-0-18313800-1329937503.jpg

Next up, whilst the glue was drying, I had another look at the arms (MSE) and decided the spectacle plates need a little work. The framework around the edge looked a little heavy so I enlarged the lens apertures slightly. I would have liked to gone a little further but with my luck I would have damaged them or made them too weak. I also rounded off the edges to make the spec. plate look more like a casting rather than a flat plate.

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The arms were then fixed horizontal (with a 14BA nut tightened on the spindle) and the arm stops formed and fitted with a spot of superglue. These were first curved round a drill shank.

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Again I thought these fittings were a little heavy and have subsequently trimmed them back a bit.
A small recess was drilled in each post where the captive nut of the balance weight bearing was going to fit and the bearing plates fitted, again with a dab of superglue.

The wiring for the lamps was next. I considered using wrapping wire for this but decided in the end to use fine insulated wire. Rather than have a join in the wiring, I have run 2 wires from each lamp down the post and as the photos show, this has successfully been crammed into the recess and exits through the base. Once the post is filled and sanded down the wires should all but disappear (he hopes!)
Sorry about the "bleaching out" on the pics. Can't blame it on the flash as I never use it and the sun certainly wasn't shining that brightly :wacko: ...
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More soon.
JF

Edited by Jon Fitness
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