Friday, December 27, 2013

Grab bag

Some miscellaneous videos I ran across and should have posted throughout the year, but didn't. First up, No. 6207 A Study in Steel from 1935.

Next up, Redwood Saga from 1946 - "the first thing is to build a railroad"
And then there is The Proclaimers take on the Roger Miller classic.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year


With Christmas fast approaching this will be the last post until sometime after Boxing Day. I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thanks for dropping by throughout the year. Stay safe. Be well.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ocean Boulevard gets street lights

I've been spending some time adding street lights to Ocean Boulevard. Over the past year I've bought around 2 dozen model power highway lights at various swap meets and re-sale tables. This was a bit of a lucky break and I got these things for around $30 for the lot of them.
The first thing I did was remove all the buildings from the new Ocean Boulevard extension. Once the last one was removed I went over to my workbench to do something and then started to hear a snap, crackle, and pop coming from the direction of the layout. Breakfast was long over, but I didn't have to wait too long to see what was going on: the styrene I 'bonded' to the extension was peeling off right before by eyes!
Well, there it is, all free and loose again! I figure there were a few things I did wrong or didn't account for: I glued it down during the transition to winter weather where the basement humidity was going down to drier winter levels and hadn't yet stabilized; I didn't have any expansion joints (I glued the street down as one long piece of styrene as shown above); I didn't use a good quality glue; and I didn't apply that glue very well.
Here it is in the midst of re-gluing the street. I cut the 0.030 inch sheet styrene into smaller pieces and used super-glue to bond them to the base.
Ok. Here it is all glued back in place.Still needs a little painting.
And here it is after tuning the paint job a bit. I lightened it up a lot with white acrylic paint.
Once the civil engineering problems were straightened away I went on to figuring out where to place the lights. 
I bought this old-fashioned hand drill back in the summer from Lee Valley Tools. I think it's manufactured by a German company and is an excellent tool. It was great for drilling holes in the street for running the wires from the lights because the crank gives you precise control and you don't have to worry about slipping. Use a sharp bit though or else you'll need to push too hard while drilling. Now, some parts of the layout have a wood frame under the 2-inch foam. Once I struck the wood parts, I then got out the electric drill to finish the hole through the wood structure.
Here it is during a break in the action.
So, the holes are still rough even after they are cleaned out post drilling. The fine wires from the light get caught and bunch up during installation. To get around this problem, thread the wires though a styrene tube that itself will go through the street holes. To install the light post, just thread the light's wires through the tube, insert the tube all the way through the street hole, then let the tube fall out and go on to the next one.
Here's what it looks like once all the lights were glued in place. Information found from searches suggest that the little incandescent bulbs in these lights run at 12v to 16v. I decided to run them at 12v DC to extend their life a little. I measured the current draw on one, and my multi-meter said it drew 30 mA DC at 12v DC. There are 11 of these bulbs wired up in parallel running along Ocean Boulevard, so that means the total current draw is around 330 mA. The little discarded electronics charger I’m using to power these things has an output rating of 12v DC and 1.5 A DC, so the total load of the lights seems well within the specs of the power source. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Three things I’ve learned

A few weeks ago I took my other blog, retroDynamics, off-line. I can’t really post to two blogs and do justice to both. Since 30Squares is the more active, I’m keeping it going and retiring retroDynamics. So, from time-to-time they’ll be non-model railroad posts appearing here, but I don’t think they’ll be too thematically different to be overly disruptive. Anyway, with the end of the year approaching, I’ve been getting all philosophical, so here’s one of the more philosophical posts that appeared at retroDynamics a couple of years ago.

I’m not an award winning scale modeller. I just enjoy building. So, you’ve got to view these observations in that light. Since I got back into model building I’ve come to appreciate three attitudes that have made building more enjoyable and, oddly enough, my projects more successful.

1. Don’t be too prissy
Sometimes I get completely fixated on making some little detail turn out just right. Sometimes I’m successful and sometimes I’m not. Sometimes I’m able to figure out when something won’t be perfect, but will be good enough and then go on. I try and recognize when I’m spending lots of time on something I don’t have the skill to pull off, and whose completion won’t make much difference to the end result anyway, and then go on to a more important task that contributes either to the overall plan or a feeling of accomplishment. 

2. There’s no time clock.
James Carse’s book Finite and Infinite Games was something of a revelation. For me, model building is an infinite game. You can enter and leave the field of play at anytime. Projects are not governed by schedules, project plans, work-break-down-structures or deadlines (or even the instructions in the box for that matter). If it takes a year to build something you like, that’s ok. If it takes two weeks that’s ok too. Model building, like anything else, can be a finite game, but it’s not usually that way for me. Projects are much more fun when I don’t fret over my rate of progress.

3. Don’t worry about screw-ups.

I used to worry that I’d mess-up some subassembly so bad that I’d be unable to continue with the rest of a project. I’ve finally learned that just about every ‘mistake’ can be corrected, or some alternative can be pursued that can be even more interesting than the original plan, or if all else fails, a replacement kit can be bought.