Saturday, March 20, 2010

#018 04 Tybee Pier - The Nuts & Bolts of Nuts & Bolts

Here, live in the Dixie Central Blog, two modeling geniuses explain the fine art of NBW castings...which I've got to mount hundreds of very soon.

From the legendary Jack Burgess, MMR

Regarding nut, bolt & washer castings

Plastic ones are much better than metal for most applications (metal castings are much more expensive and more difficult to bond in place.) I generally use Grandt Line N-B-W casting since they have such a large selection of sizes and washer types. (Note that wood trestles generally use
those with large washers.) However, Grandt's dies are getting worn out for some sizes and the resulting parts are sometimes mismatched. Some of the smallest HO N-B-W castings should work for N scale size a 1" nut in HO would represent a 2" nut in N scale.

Some of my tips for using them on wood trestles:

Stain the wood and assemble all of the bents first and then drill the holes.

It is much faster to use a drill press to drill the holes...while I have a precision drill press, Micro-Mark and Dremel ones should work since you are drilling into wood.

Drill all of the way through the wood; you need to represent the bolt head and washer on one side and the nut and washer on the other.

Of course, paint the castings while still on the sprue. The prototype bolts and hardware I've seen start out a dark brown/black and eventually start picking up rust. Air brush a couple packages of castings a brown/black color and then go back and add a very light dusting of rust to some of the sprues.

Measure the sprue shaft diameter and use a drill one size larger. This will
make it easier to insert the casting into the hole.

Cut the sprue on the casting so that the sprue is just short of 1/2 the thickness of the wood you are inserting them into. You can cut all of the castings off of the sprue at the same time if you are careful and don't let them shatter. This makes the work go much faster.

Put a spot of regular white glue on a scrap of paper/wood/styrene, pick up a casting with tweezers by the shaft, dap the end of the casting into the white glue, and insert the shaft in the hole. Once started, push the casting the rest of the way into the hole with the side of the tweezers. The white glue doesn't actually stick to the styrene but fills the hole enough so that the casting won't come out accidentally.


One the modelers in my club scratched a 30 inch long trestle on a 33" dia curve Double track. He claimed the only pieces of wood all the same length were the ties. 1500 pieces or so. He told me later that putting the NBW's in it weakened the structure. All redwood.

If the timber sizes were prototype and he wasn't drilling oversize holes, there shouldn't have been any weakening of the structure...the prototype timbers had holes drilled in them! Assuming he was using prototypically-sized timbers, I suspect that the problem was actually the choice of wood since redwood is not a strong wood but really a softwood. The prototype (in the West) tended to use Douglas Fir which, although not classified as a hardwood, is a very strong wood, good for house building, freight cars, etc.

Note that not all bridges used bolts and nuts for every joint. Many bridges, especially driven pile bridges, used spikes (not railroad spikes but extremely large-diameter "nails") rather than bolts and nuts for attaching the sway bracing. So, the lack of N-B-W castings should not automatically result in lost points for the Prototype score. However, you those cases, you should represent the head of the spikes. The problem is that, except for very large wood trestles, there isn't a lot of places to gain points for Detail. But there are also other details that can typically be added. For
example, most bridges use multiple stringers in pairs and those stringers should have an air gap between them. These stringers would therefore be bolted together with special large washers between the stringers to provide that air gap. The washers I have from YV bridges are in an "hourglass" shape and are 4" in diameter on the ends, 1.5" in diameter in the middle, and 4" "thick". Larger trestles also need fire protection items such as drums of sand to extinguish fires. If running coal, the tops of the bents might need to be protected from dropped cinders with tin sheets.

Jack Burgess, MMR
AP Chairman, Pacific Coast Region

And from Martin Pequod…

Pretty much the same way that I apply nbw's although a few variations and additonal tips.

When you're cutting the "bolt" free from the sprue, cut at an angle to put a bevel on the
tip -- makes them a little easier to insert into the hole.

Tichy makes a decent selction of nbw's and rivets, in a rust-brown which looks pretty decent in many uses with just some stain on them. Been buying them as much as Grandt line now for that very reason.

I prefer ACC over white glue for just about all materials; having some nbw's magically some back out at the most inconvenient time can be truly irritating.

Plastic vs. metal; plastic is far cheaper, but sometimes the brass parts are better particualrly if soldering things together, and sometimes I've used brass ones for their strength.

Small variable speed drill press is a tool worth investing in and beats a day with a pin vise for this and lots of other chores.


#006 02 Four Way Cotton Gin - Rust Bucket

How to Use Archer Etchant by Alaska's Wisest Man

I am about to build the cotton gin, and Darryl Huffman's post on using Archer Etchant is brilliant...

I started using this stuff decades ago and love it.

I keep one of my small plastic drawers in my parts cabinet labelled ETCHANT
and I use it for nothing else.

When I am done with the etchant, I wash the drawer out and put it back in
it's place.

I know you should use gloves and glasses with this stuff but I never have.

But I do spread out newspaper under the little tray as this stuff platters

I have one tip for newcomers.

Pour some of the etching into a plastic tray so that it is about 1/4 inch to
3/8 inch deep.

If you are using Campbell's Corrugated Siding, cut the siding into the right
sizes and put one piece into your tray containing the etchant and go away
for 15 minutes.

When you get back the piece of siding will be completely dissolved.

But, by doing this, you speed up the action of the etchant.

And, as you continue using it, it works faster and faster.

In addition to just sticking the sheets of siding into the etchant, you
should also try spraying one side of the siding with gray primer first.

Let it dry and then put the siding into the etchant.

With just a little bit of practice, you will be able to turn out great
looking, weathered siding in no time at all.

After removing the siding from the etchant, I just drop it into a bowl of

So people recommend adding some baking soda to the water first but I have
never found a need to do that.

I let all the pieces sit in the water for about 30 minutes and then spread
them out on a paper towel to dry.

The stuff I did 30 years ago still looks great.

I demonstrate my methods on my Easy Weathering DVD:

Darryl Huffman
12020 Old Seward Highway
Anchorage, AK 99515

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

#002 The Great Turnout Project - Details, Details

I got some good coaching from Frank Koch, HLM and Executive Assistant Manager of the NMRA AP Program...


Some members of the chat group may give you grief for two reasons - requirements say operational as defined by powered locomotive able to negotiate all routes while under power with an assumption you will use an NMRA gauge to establish clearances, but some will say you need to build to all the track standards (not the requirement).  Second, some may ask where your plates, tie rods, point braces, NBW, and all the other minor elements are - they are details that add to your score.  Lastly, paint and weather the rail and ties, and add the little details that are around a turnout (switch stand, control boxes, etc.  Talk to your local AP manager and ask how they judge trackwork.  Then build and include their comments.  Good luck.

Frank Koch

I had not planned to highly detail the track items, but may change my mind.  First, I'll do as Frank recommends and will reach out to our Division AP Manager Bob McIntire to see what they look for.  Since the items must go on my layout, they have to operate flawlessly so that is the priority.  Detailing is second.

I've bought Proto 87 parts before for turnouts and will probably do so again.  They are readily available at in a variety of different types.  The site also has printable diagrams:

Number 6 Turnout RH diagram

Ok, well maybe we won't be added store bought details.  I added up what I needed at the Proto 87 store and it came up to $81.  Forget that.  I'll make my own details like I usually do.

Being an MMR cost a lot of money, that's for sure.  It is probably something you should take into account.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Scott Perry’s Blogs

A guide to hints, tips, techniques and products related to the hobby

A portable sectional layout designed for benchwork, scenery and trackwork skill development

Exciting coverage of the On30 Okefenokee Swamp Railroad, a model train layout constructed in On30. This unusual layout is based on the prototype Hebard Cypress Company and the Waycross & Southern Railroad that occupied this large Georgia swamp in the 1920's.

The NCIOG is a Model Train Building and Operating Club Located in the North East Atlanta Suburbs. This is a Round Robin Club with Limited Membership.

My Better Beginner's Layout that features operations and simple construction to help new modelers get the most out of their layout!

Follow Along With Me as I Designs Model Train Layouts!

Descriptions, Ratings and Demonstrations of Modeling Tools

Watch as I design I. D. Jackson's version of the Georgia Northeastern, a modern 3rd class railroad that runs in north east Georgia.

Layout Design Event Featuring the B&O's Cumberland and Mountain Divisions

Join us as I test techniques, tools and products while building water scenes.

Look at Dan Berman’s Layout, Designed by Me Just For Dan

Welcome to Scott Perry's next On30 adventure! A small layout in On30 based on Alaska's White Pass & Yukon Railroad.

This is a small mining layout based on a real 30" railroad. Follow along as we design the layout.

#001 The Great Turnout Project - Civil Engineering

My coach and mentor Larry Smith, MMR says that I need to work on my NMRA Achievement Program Civil Engineering Certification next.  For Civil one key element is the construction of three types of track elements and have them judged.

I've outlined the three elements that I want to build (see Trackwork)  and they are:

Turnout RH #5
Turnout Building Guide

Three Way Turnout
Building a 3-Way Turnout Guide

Crossing 30 degree

Assembly help:

Fast Track Turnout Assembly Video

Fast Tracks Assembly Videos

    My first step is to start gathering materials.  Luckily at the train show this weekend I was able to buy an HO 3-way turnout by Shinohara (Walthers) to use as a model.  For $20 I'll take that!  The next thing was to purchase some HO pc board tie strips.  There were none at the show so I had to order them.

    The first place I tried was Fastracks as they have really nice punched pc board ties that don't twist.  However the cost to ship them was as much as the ties themselves!  Ouch!  They are based in Canada which probably has something to do with it.  So I went back to my old stand by The Clover House and bought them.  They are hard to buy from as they are internet averse, but I was able to get $20 worth shipped to me for $5.00.  They will get here quicker, as well.  I did ping my buddies in the NCI Group to see if they had a few to loan me in order to get me started, but as it looks it will be about two weeks before I can start laying the track.

    I have unweathered code 83 rail available, which is what I prefer when soldering to pc board ties.  Next I'll dig out some cross ties (I have tons of them as I used to have a company that sold crossties) and will start staining them this week.  Micro Spikes from Micro Engineering are here, and I'll need some stock basswood for the longer ties.

    One thing I'm not sure of is what kind of roadbed I want to use.  Since there isn't a low profile cork roadbed for sidings and yards, I'll probably just use cork sheet, and I think I have some of that.

    To me the crossing is the hardest of the two to build as I've built a dual gauge crossing before.  The wiring of the Three Way turnout might kill me.

    We'll start with the plain Jane turnout first!

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010

    NMRA Achievement Program Yahoo Group

    NMRA Achievement Program Yahoo Group is a new way to find information, guidance and the sometime necessary kick-in-the-pants to help you earn your Achievement Program Certificates and become a MASTER MODEL RAILROADER.

    If you are an NMRA member and would like to join, just go here…

    I’m Scott Perry, long time Yahoo Group host and found of several groups such as…


    And others!

    So come join the fun, make new friends and make a plan to Achieve!

    Scott Perry