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Friday, January 25, 2008

A Ten Wheeler eBay score!

What a score this was! MEW (Model Engineering Works) H.O. brass 4-6-0s are very rare and hardly ever come up on eBay. And if they do, they auction off for quite the pretty penny (the last one I saw months ago sold for $700!!!).

So when this one came up, I bid my entire budget of $300 thinking I didn't have a snowballs chance of winning the bid. (Whenever I get cash as a Christmas or birthday gift, I stick it in my “mad money” fund for just such of an occasion).

Whats more amazing, I was literally under the knife on the operating table having surgery on my thyroid when I won this bid!!! My surgery lasted from 12:30 to about 4pm, the auction ended at 3:20pm! I was unconscious and victorious!

Isn't she a beauty? I'm in love...

Looking every bit the relative, this is San Diego & Arizona #11, an 1881 vintage Rogers locomotive. The 4-6-0s sure footedness were particularly well suited for southern California's hilly terrain. Often showing up in historical photos, I've been a fan of these ten wheelers since I was a teenager. So this is indeed a happy occasion for me.

Man! Only a few weeks in to 2008 and its already shaped up to be a fantastic year! Yessir! A fantastic year!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Clearstory Frame Assembly

Furniture grade plywood is nice stuff. Costing about twice as much as regular plywood, it has a nice smooth sanded finish to it. Since the layout is residing in our dining room at the moment, it should look really nice. So I sprung for the furniture grade plywood.

After sifting through their entire stack of 4’ x 8’ plywood, selecting their finest piece, I dragged it over to their saw for cutting. Before I even showed up to the lumberyard, I carefully planned out how to cut the 4’ x 8’ sheet most efficiently so that I ended up with two profile boards for the ends and two strips for the clearstory windows. The lumberyard only does rough cuts, the contouring I’ll do at home with my jigsaw.

If you look closely at the top piece of wood (as Thunder dog is doing) you can see how I drew out the final shape of the contour boards. Below it is the contour board cut out.

The kid at the lumberyard did a lousy job cutting the clearstory strips, they went from 3 ½” wide at one end to 4” wide at the other end, a mistake I didn’t catch until I got home. An unfixable mistake. But I can’t return the whole thing ‘cuz I already have the contour boards cut out. But, the plywood does seem a little too flimsy to me for this framing, so I decided instead to construct the clearstory windows from 1 ½” x ¾” “sustainably managed tree-farmed select pine”! This is some strong, beautiful wood. And it’s available at your local do-it-yourself lumberyard.

Hey! Things are shaping up. Look at that, its looking like it’s supposed to. The clearstory widows were attached to the profile boards, and then the profile boards were attached to the outside frame. All that’s left to do is to start nailing on the roof.

But first, I have bevel the outside frame so that the curved roof will conform to it. And then the whole thing needs to be sanded smooth. So... I better get to sanding. Yessir... better get to sanding.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Adventure of Bending Wood

Well this is a first. My blog is falling behind my progress. You would think I was being productive or something! So in an attempt to get caught up...

I bent wood! I am man! Me bend wood. How many guys do you know that have bent wood? I am wood bender.

Okay, I actually found bending wood to be quite stressful. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

First of all, I had to build a jig to bend the wood on. I started by drawing the shape of the rounded roof end onto a piece of plywood.

Then I pounded in big 'ol nails (I forget what size) following that line so that most of the nail was sticking out of the plywood. The plywood is about 3/8ths inches thick, so thats how far I pounded in the nails. A good 2” or so of nail was left sticking out. These are whats going to take the brunt of the force needed to bend the wood.

The nails are going to leave dents in the wood so what I did was, take a length of scrap 1/8th luan and bent that first. This will give the good lumber a smooth surface to be bent on. The luan will take the brunt of the nails. So actually, the very first wood I ever bent was used as a tool and will be scrap after I'm done.

I let the first 1/4” pine steam for about an hour. I sent a whole kettle of water through that steaming rig!

My idea is instead of trying to bend a 3/4” piece, I'm going to laminate 3 pieces of 1/4” together to make a 3/4” end, bending one over the other. And to help make it strong, I'm offsetting the joints so they all don't line up.

The first piece is a tough one since it curves over the left and right corners. So in other words, it requires two bends! The curve on the left side went perfectly, I was stoked! But I don't know if the wood cooled or what because the curve around the right side didn't go as well. It curved all right but the stress caused the wood to begin to splinter as you can see in the last photo.

Sequent bends had degrees of success, from bending just fine to an all out snap! in half. Thats disheartening to steam the wood for an hour just to have it snap. And then its off the lumber yard for a replacement and start all over again.

I think the trick is, take your time and bend the wood slowly, don't muscle it. Become one with the wood. Let the fibers stretch naturally around the curve at its own pace. Yes, thats the ticket. Feel the sensation of the wood giving way, it will let you know if its going too fast. Yes. Ahhh.

To tell you the truth, I'm glad thats over. Yes the wood bent, but it's less than perfect. The laminated pieces don't line up perfectly, but with a little filler in the spaces, I don't think anyone will notice. The front edge visible to everyone is a beautiful curve, and thats what matters, right?

Next, it's off to the lumber yard for some furniture grade plywood. Yessir! Furniture grade plywood!