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Monday, January 30, 2012

Niles Project ~ Trolley Poles

Give a man a fish and you have fed him for a day. But give a man a pole, he's a trolley fan for life!
Identifying, preparing and adding trolley poles to #107

 Looking at historical photos reveal that the Niles cars were equipped with Form 1 trolley poles that were common with 1895 - 1920 era streetcars. They have that "folded back" look to them.

The HT-P3b poles by Miniatures by Eric fit that bill just fine. I bought mine through Custom Traxx. That 32 bucks per pair price tag knocked me for a loop. But they are precision instruments and Eric does an outstanding job with these. I'm building my cars to perform and I can rely on these poles to do just that. For #105 though, I will be rebuilding the Suydam poles, which makes for a less expensive alternative. So stay tuned for that post later.
Trolley poles are constantly flexing so paint doesn't do too well with that. The best solution for that is Blacken-It. Blacken-It is a metal oxidizer. The blackened brass will still conduct electricity and won't flake off. But...

... Remove the steel springs first! The Blacken-It corroded my springs clear through! But it did a mighty fine job of blackening the rest of the pole assembly. So remove the springs, soak the poles in Blacken-It, and then replace the springs.Then you'll have a fine looking and fine working trolley pole.
That is the beauty of these blogs- you can learn from my mistakes, Yes sir! Learn from my mistakes!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Module Spotlight ~ Trolley Crossing Guard Jct.

Getting fancy with the 1' x 4' module. SCTCs Module 972. The Trolley Crossing Guard Junction Module.
The Southern California Traction Clubs module 972. Built in 1997 it was the 2nd module built that year.

There was a need to transition from the center street running of module 971 to a private right-of-way. So this module does just that with a highway intersection as well as a steam road crossing.

The divided highway matches up with module 971. It terminates at the highway that crosses the module at an angle. The tracks of a steam road also cross here and a small elevated interlocker helps guard the junction. The diverted highway freed up some space on the rest of the module for some scenery. In this case a siding and a substation.
With the junction being a prominent feature on this module, the SCTC members decided to have some fun with it.
 Remember those old movies where if a car breaks down, inevitably it stops on railroad tracks? Then there would be the sound of a train whistle~  Its happened to the best of them...

Harold Lloyd...

Buster Keaton...

... and of course, the Keystone Kops. 
And we know the outcome. Their vehicles were no match for the locomotives that rendered them to a state of less than Blue Book value.
Now in the real world, if a streetcar was to stall because of dewiring, the last place you would want it to come to a stop is across some steam road tracks. A streetcar wouldn't fare much better than the Keystone Kops Kruzer against a speeding locomotive. This was a very real danger to some traction companies. So they devised Trolley Crossing Guards.

Here is a traction line junction with a steam road in Toronto with trolley crossing guards in the overhead. Should the streetcars pole dewire at this spot, the shoe would catch in that wire mesh covering the contact wire. That wire mesh is energized and would power the car far enough to clear the crossing and out of danger.

So the builders of this module thought that that would be a pretty nifty feature to model. And it does get noticed by the public who often ask about it.

Pete DeBeers Mt. Lowe car speeds through the junction without fear of being smashed to smithereens should it dewire under that trolley crossing guard.

A fully detailed and lit substation rounds out a fun 4 square feet of model railroading. Yes sir! A fun 4 square feet of model railroading!


Monday, January 09, 2012

Niles Project ~ Window Shades

Super Detailing Continued. Adding Window Shades to #107

 Styrene? Brass? Nah, just simple card stock. Index card in this case. The windows are in groups of twos and threes, so that's how I grouped the shades. Cut them size and painted them Floquil Freight Car Brown for its nice reddish brown color.

Glued 'em in place with good 'ol Micro Kristal Kleer and we got it made-in-the-shade. Yes sir! Made-in-the-shade!


Sunday, January 01, 2012

2012 State of the Layout Address

Happy New Year Folks! 2012 is going to be a gang busters year I just know it! Yes sir! A gang busters year! I have some new projects ready to start as well as finishing up old projects, as I resolve this year to be my most productive year yet! So bring it on!

State of the Layout:
This is how things stand at this moment, January 1st 2012:

SD&SE Ry #107 Niles Car. During this holiday season I added the finishing details. This car is 98% DONE!  I'll post more about that in the coming weeks.

SDERy Birney #103 has been making regular runs on the Southern California Traction Clubs layout. The car with its BullAnt mechanism performs beautifully even through rough, intricate trackage. The car was declared 100% finished until Fred Gurzeler presented me with some beautiful, delicately built fenders for the underbody that I have yet to install. This car will be an important representative of 4 wheeled equipment when I start fine tuning the track and stringing overhead on my layout, hopefully soon this year. Yes sir! Hopefully soon this year!

SD&SE Ry #105 Niles Car is listing to one side! That's not good. Leaning like that causes the trolley pole to be off center and so has to reach over to the overhead. Which means the shoe is contacting the overhead at an angle. Which means dewirements are frequent.  I can't figure out why its listing but I do know how to fix it thanks again the invaluable Fred Gurzeler. He gave me some hardware that replaces the tiny Hollywood foundry screws that attach the trucks to the body. The listing isn't the fault of the Hollywood Foundry equipment but this swapping of hardware will probably fix the problem. When that's done, the car is ready for super-detailing.

Point Loma RR #109 / #402: I've been referring to this car as #109, but the prototype was later repainted and renumbered to #402. The paint scheme of #402 is the one I'm modeling so this car will be referred to as #402 from here on out. Progress has stalled on this car because this car requires some custom printed decals since the lettering and striping include silver. I don't have the funds for that right now and so concentrated funds on getting #105 and #107 done. They will represent big interurbans when I'm fine tuning the track and stringing overhead on my layout.

The Layout is in a state all right. A state of chaos!  The layout has suffered. From the destruction of its overhead by rambunctious kittens, to dust, to over a decade of storage, and the trial and errors of learning how to build a traction layout. So it was stripped down to just the track and streets and is ready to be rebuilt stronger, better. A canopy (what I was originally been referring to in this blog as a valence) designed to look like a streetcar deck roof, has been built to keep dust off the layout and to house the layouts lighting. It features faux stained glass clerestory windows and a brass conductors bell. I recently covered the wooden roof with a waterproof paper mache to simulate canvas covering. Sides will be installed to insulate the layout from the inhospitable world of dirt and varmints and anything else that could cause damage and grief! 

Then and only then can I start stringing the overhead again. This time tailored to a sample of each type of rolling stock that's going to be running on this layout. Which brings me to my next project...

San Diego Electric Railway Class 5, 400 series car. This project will be built from a 1970s brass import by Pacific Traction and feature the new Diablo mechanism from Hollywood Foundry.

Dandy Blog. As you can see, this blog is sporting a new 1920s look to it and features an art deco portrait of the man himself, ol' Sparky along with one of the 400 series cars. The new "Module Spotlight" feature has been met with happy comments and so will continue. Bloggin' along. Yes sir! Bloggin' along.

So that's where it all stands. As you can see I got my work cut out for me. One more car to go and then I can concentrate on getting the layout running. Yes sir! Concentrate on getting the layout running!