Thursday, March 22, 2012
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Monday, March 5, 2012
Early last December I bought one of Bachmann’s Birney trolleys, and it got its first run at the 2011 Christmas Rusty Spike party. It was a bit of a disappointment because it didn’t run well, and considering what it cost, I was expecting at least the basic function of running around the track without constantly stopping to work just fine. I had cleaned the track, and my other locos were running ok, so the signs pointed to the Birney.
[These are the wheels after I had done an initial stripping in December and run the Birney for many loops on the layout. I was a little too enthusiastic with the gear oil, so they got a bit gloppy and picked up gunk during the course of operating. So, this is what the wheels looked like prior to another round of cleaning last weekend.]
Yeap, the store where I bought it did run it up and down its test track, but I should have paid more attention that it had to be given a little nudge to get it going.
Long story short, it was only picking up power from one pair of wheels, and it looked like all the wheels had been completely coated with paint in the factory: fronts, which is ok; backs, where the pickups touch the wheels to draw power; and treads, the wheel surfaces that contact the rails. Basically, not much power was getting to the motor because paint was insulating the flow. After the Rusty Spike event I lightly sanded the wheel backs and treads, and oiled the gears a bit. This fixed things somewhat. I also found that the instructions recommended - on a back page - running the model for several loops at moderate speed to break it in, which I did. Frankly, although it was much better, it still seemed to run rather erratically compared to my other locos.
[The Birney also had a couple of minor aesthetic issues. One was the cords to the overhead pickups. You can see there is untrimmed thread which looks a little unsightly. Also, the opening picture shows the thread to be so stiff that it twists in such away to not obey the laws of gravity. Actually I should replace both the stock threads with something that droops properly - that's for next time, this go round I just trimmed off the excess at each end.]
Erratically enough that I didn’t feel it warranted - even after what I feel was unusual maintenance work on a brand-new loco - lifting my C grade on it. You know, I’ve had lots of good experiences with Bachmann locos. The two CN diesels, that I still own, that were given to me as presents 40 years ago, still run fairly well, and my current 70 ton and 45 ton HO Bachmann diesels run very well (I rank those two as solid Bs, not because they have any problems, but simply because they are solid performers and have an average level of detail, no flaws per se, simply that they don’t have something special to push them to an A grade). I was rather disappointed. For comparison, the Con-Car PCC TTC streetcar I bought last spring is an A. Clean and precise detail, combined with excellent operational performance. Debra listened a lot to my whining about its cost, but at least it’s an excellent product.
[As well, those slat panels running along the lower half of the windows were warped on both ends, and they wouldn't snap into the corresponding window holes. I carefully used small dabs of glue to flatten them out and hold them in place.]
I finally decided to remove the Birney’s wheels again, soak them in SuperClean over night to try and strip more paint from them, and sand them a little more, because I was still bothered that it didn’t run properly. I also fiddled with the power pickups a little to make sure they all contacted the wheel backs. All this seemed to have done the trick. After re-assembling the power truck, and applying a dab of oil to the gears, the Birney ran smoothly and picked up power from both wheel sets. Now I’d give it a B.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
[I temporarily tilted up the ‘glass’ walls for this shot to see how things looked. One wall was a little too tall and had to be cut down to size.]I started assembling the Design Preservation corner building kit several years ago, but lost interest midway during construction and went on to other projects. It’s sat in a forlorn, semi-finished state in various locations in the workshop ever since. I eventually realized the problem I had was with the second story. I didn’t like it. It seemed too old, but the ground floor was quite interesting. I’ve been thinking for a long time about cutting the second floor off, and adding a more modern glass-and-steel upper level as a replacement to create a hybrid old and slightly newer building. I finally decided to give it a try. These days I’ve got a lot of ideas for various projects kicking around in my mind – good thing they’re not wearing cowboy boots! – and I figured that if I took my usual plodding approach to building one project after another in serial fashion, I’d barely see any of them realized. So, I thought I’d just make a start on any project that was interesting whenever the mood struck me, and I’d work on any project on the bench that seemed fun to do. This might be wasteful because something(s) is (are) likely never to get finished, but maybe that’s better than never starting them at all and wondering how they might have turned out. Anyway, I thought I’d collect up some pictures of progress I’ve made on this one over the last few weeks.
[After: The second story was cut off using both a disk cutter in my dremel and a razor saw. After it was free, I leveled the top of the first floor walls with the dremel drum sander and sanding sticks.]
[The upper story walls cut from 1/16 inch clear acrylic sheet. This is tough stuff to cut. Basically, you need to score it with a special knife made for the job, and then snap it along the score. Easy to write, harder to do well and safely. I usually break or mangle the piece I’m trying to cut, but I vowed not to do that this time. The mistake I made in the past was to try and hold the piece steady with one hand and use the other to score it. Bad idea on both the accuracy and safety fronts. This time I clamped the piece onto my WorkMate with an aluminum straight edge running along the line to be scored. This makes scoring a deep, uniform line easy, and you can keep your other hand free and clear without running the risk of getting a nasty gash in the process.]
[Once the piece is scored, you can snap it by laying the scored section over a piece of ABS pipe and then smartly pushing down on either side of the line. Presto! A clean break! After I got the hang of the whole process, I was able to easily separate the pieces and get a clean edge at the break simply by snapping the piece with my hands.]
I think one great thing about a streetcar layout is that it allows for many sorts of buildings and locales since the route should service all kinds of places people might go to: homes, libraries, businesses, restaurants, factories, schools, stores, hotels, clubs, parks, ski hills, beaches and so on and so on. For the model builder I think it offers lots of opportunity to try building all sorts of stuff; both replicas and new things. With Stella’s, the first floor will be the used record store, and there will be 2 glass and steel floors above that one: one for the yoga studio, the other’s use is still to be determined.
[The inside surface of the first floor walls have many small indentations – I guess they are from the molding process. I filled them in so I’d get a clean surface to work with.]
[This is where Stella's might finally reside.]
That’s it for now. Here’s a little of the Bill Evans’ Trio to finish off the evening: