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brucet
Engine Wiper

Posted - 04/13/2018 :  9:26:43 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Dan if it's any consolation I have the exact same loco. Compared to the rest of my Bachmann locos it should be taken outside and shot!!! I have tried everything. Put in a new NCE decoder. That didn't help. But fortunately I got some help from the NCE Facebook folks. They told me to cut the 2 capacitors on the Bachmann circuit board. I held my breath and snipped them. (I only cut one end in case it was an ooops and I needed to solder them back again). Upside is now the loco runs way better. Not perfect but 'good enough' for this want a be engineer. Here's a link that may help.

https://sites.google.com/site/markgurries/home/technical-discussions/decoder-motor-drive/motor-capacitors/bachmann-engines

bruce



Country: Australia | Posts: 391 Go to Top of Page

Dan
Section Hand

Posted - 04/16/2018 :  1:26:46 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Bruce

When it comes to "unlicensed transmissions" aka "radio and TV interference" the U.S. has rather lax standards, usually referred to as "Part 15" of the FCC rules and regulations. In other countries, the standards are far more comprehensive and products manufactured there or imported into those countries must comply. When the electronics industry went truly global in the 1970s, model railroad equipment destined for international sales soon became infested with small interference filters made from discrete components mounted directly to the motor brushes or to small PCBs. As model trains then ran on pure DC, low voltage AC or various forms of pulse power, the filters caused few problems.

However, as many of you have learned when using DCC, keeping these filters intact may cause significant problems whenever competing systems are being interfaced. Usually, just clipping the leads of the capacitors that make up the filters eliminates most of the compatibility issues. However, some of the PCBs also contain components for optional forms of operations as well as for LED and micro-bulb lighting, so it is wise to tread carefully.

As I use the Bachmann Dynamis DCC system, there will be no interface problems with mounting a Tsunami2 in the 4-4-0. However, as I do not make use of available operating options or the loco headlights, my installation method may seem Draconian. Since the wires and the soldering on most of the Chinese made Bachmann On30 products tend to be, to put it kindly, below industry standards, the entire PCB in the tender will be eliminated, with only the motor wires, the power pickup wires and the speaker wires of the Tsunami2 hardwired in. The rest are insulated and coiled up for possible future use.

Why not use the headlights? Perhaps it is time for another lesson in obscure railroad history. Headlight use during daylight hours became mandatory, circa 1955, through an edict of the Interstate Commerce Commission. As this was before many of the present day model railroaders were born, the use of headlights and marker lights and ditch lights on model trains is now universal. However, before the aforesaid edict, although functional headlights were required by the ICC on locomotives owned by common carrier railroads, daylight use was optional.

On the other hand, for railroads operating dawn to dusk that were not common carriers, such as the layout's pre-1950 industrial line, they only had to comply with state and local regulations. This often meant that while headlights needed to be present, they did not need to be functional, unless the train usually ran after dark.

As there was neither mail to haul, nor passengers to accommodate, nor a legally binding interline tariff on file with the ICC, industrial railroads, in areas known for snow accumulations and sub-freezing temperatures that curtailed quarrying and other outdoor operations, simply shut down during the short days of winter. They used up stockpiles of materials that were accumulated during the long days of summer. With operations dictated by the seasonal whims of Mother Nature, it was a very different sort of railroading, one where headlight use was normally not required.




Edited by - Dan on 04/17/2018 08:37:21 AM

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David Clark
Fireman



Posted - 04/17/2018 :  2:57:34 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Dan,
Thanks for that bit of history on the use of lights. As you said, so often we assume that things have always been as they are now.
Cheers,
Dave



Country: Canada | Posts: 1126 Go to Top of Page

Dan
Section Hand

Posted - 05/30/2018 :  5:19:09 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It has been a while since I worked on the layout. A spate of early spring midsummer temperatures jump started the growing season in a big way and I am still catching up with the yard and garden work. Then there was the seasonal plague of multiple medical appointments, each one requiring additional tests and procedures, the results of which can be life altering, if not life threatening. The good news is, I am doing as well as can be expected for a person of my age. The bad news is, I am a person of my age - which is old.

I also hit the trifecta, not on the horses at the track, but with my gaggle of publishers. Out of the blue, three of them wanted articles for their June issues. Normally, I get published about twice a year, but doing three in the same month has proven to be time consuming as well as somewhat of a strain. Nevertheless, as stated in copyright law, since it involves non-profit educational organizations, the effort is for the greater good.

Looking at the calendar, I soon have a train show to attend. Perhaps that will get me back in the mood for modeling.

In the meantime, all the best to everyone.



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quartergauger48
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 05/30/2018 :  10:08:32 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Dan, what publications will your articles be shown in? Ed, and I would like to take a look...


Country: USA | Posts: 5673 Go to Top of Page

Dan
Section Hand

Posted - 05/31/2018 :  09:38:51 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Regrettably, they are not in any mainstream publications, which severely limits public access, plus there are the ever present copyright issues.

However, as the author, I will be glad to snail mail you hard copies when they are published (just don't republish them without the publisher's permission).

They should be out in a couple of weeks.



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Dan
Section Hand

Posted - 06/18/2018 :  08:26:04 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Ted,

I've got the magazines together, if you are interested.

Dan



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Dan
Section Hand

Posted - 06/30/2018 :  8:26:15 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Structures for the Theoretical "Serendipity Central"

As a longtime devotee of the "Undec Railroad" kudos to Bachmann for including this unnamed naming preferance in their On30 line. Nevertheless, a theoretical moniker for the present layout would have to be the "Serendipity Central" as so much of this project has and still continues to come together, seemingly of its own volition. However, in studying this phenomenon, it has come to my attention that my layout building skills are diminishing in proportion to my other faculties.

Therefore, it is time to curtail the codgertating sessions and advance the layout to a state where it could be considered semi-completed. Although it has been up and running, experimentally, for a number of months, the only attention that the layout has recently received is the occasional longing glance as I pass through the room where it is located, on my way to dealing with some more pressing need.

Over the years, so many of the smaller On30 layouts have been flights of fancy built around a loop of track. To achieve the desired level of operation on the current layout, both the track and the scenery have to be plausible and, as far as is practical, prototypical. Operationally, the most important part of the layout is mostly hidden from view.

It is the spur track located behind the factory and this bit of track is tied to the positioning of the main layout structures and vice-versa. For a while, this has been a stumbling block, as moving the track or a scenery feature by a mere fraction of an inch on a layout this small can have a detrimental effect on operations. As the spur is configured to accommodate two separate cuts of cars at the same time and part of it is located on a sharp curve, everything has to be just right. At least a dozen configurations were tried and abandoned, before the present one was adopted as a workable compromise.

There is much more to the layout than just operations. There is also an artistic side, based on sightlines generated from the normal position of operation, hereafter known as the NPO. With the bulk of the civilized world using three letter acronyms, WNM (Why not me?). Then there is the selective use of perspective, either normal or forced, with both being used on the layout. As it is based on Mother Nature, the proposed color palette is the easy part. By shifting slightly to the left or the right of the NPO, minor sightlines will guide the viewer to vignettes. For example, in the case in hand, by peeking around the end of the factory, a scene will come into view that, for me, stimulates fond visual memories of things that are now long gone. When combined with prototype sounds from the locomotives, the overall effect can be soul stirring.

There are four kinds of locomotives running on the layout along with two very different variations of freight cars, plus two bashed passenger cars, so achieving consistent coupling between the products of two manufacturers that are supposedly compatible, has been a challenge. Bachmann couplers are on the locomotives and a mix of Bachmann and Kadee couplers are on the cars. If one were to use the typical bump and run method of coupling, there would be no problem, but prototypical operations are the goal of the layout, so slow and gentle couplings are required.

As all of the switching is done with the rear coupler on the locomotive, the 0-4-2 and the tender of the 4-4-0 will receive suitable Kadee products. For the 2-6-0 and Whitcomb locos, which are too tall, in real life, and too wide, in theory, to venture down the spur track behind the factory, the couplers will remain the original Bachmann ones, as a prototypically indicated spacer car, equipped with Kadee couplers, will be inserted between the locos and the freight and passenger cars, which will also be Kadee equipped.

Accomplishing these coupler conversions will require hours of tedious work and, at my present stage of life, I don't do tedious very well. Nevertheless, operationally, it will be worth enduring a protracted period of exasperation. As a recovering perfectionist, a successful coupling rate of 99.95% on the spur track at the back of the layout seems to be a reasonable goal. However, uncoupling is a different matter, which will often require some manual manipulation. This is true even with Kadees, so the uncoupling magnet will be located within easy reach of the NPO at the front of the layout. To eliminate the finicky adjustments of the coupler pins (the Bachmann ones can be a real pain), a Kadee #308, under the track uncoupler, will be mounted directly to the underside of the mainline track, with a simulated grade crossing covering up the shallow hole that needs to be gouged out of the roadbed.

However, when it comes to creating other forms of scenery, tedious tasks are out of the question. In the case of structures, my brain will not accept anything as a project unless it is shake-the-box or pre-assembled and glue in place. Sorry guys, whatever genes are necessary to build craftsman kits, they are not a part of my DNA. As one should go with one's strengths, give me a traditional razor saw and I am hell on wheels. so to speak. In the past, I have been hell on inexpensive plastic kits, which is actually a good thing in On30. However, at the present time, I would prefer to pare down the usual razor saw mayhem level to that of "heck."

Perhaps due to the current situation, my old tinplate train roots, which normally go dormant during the summer months, have sprouted forth and they are about to flower. I have decided to populate the layout with simple structure kits, performing only modest modifications and then only as needed. For about two thirds the cost of a typical craftsman kit and a fraction of the time needed to put it together, the entire layout can be done. In preparation for doing so, a secondhand Bachmann On30 passenger car was purchased at a train show. As it is too big for normal layout operation (and therefore not worth the prices being asked for new ones), it is the biggest piece of rolling stock that will likely traverse the 15" radius curves of the layout, so it serves admirably as the project's clearance car.

To be continued...



Edited by - Dan on 07/02/2018 04:42:10 AM

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Dan
Section Hand

Posted - 07/01/2018 :  08:00:56 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Structures (continued)

Fortuitously, the major structure selected for the layout, the Atlas O scale kit, Ace Feed & Supply #6913, requires no modification. Formerly a member of the Walthers Cornerstone series, it now comes molded in appropriate colors. As the structure just snaps together, it can be easily dissembled for repainting at some time in the future. It is a fairly big building, 13" long by 7" wide by 10" high, so it visually and physically takes up a chunk of layout space. In positioning this "factory" building, the rear corner that is toward the front of the layout will need to clear the outer end of the spur track alignment. The other rear corner, toward the back of the layout, must clear the curve in the middle of the spur.

Since, in theory, the layout railroad and the quarry, but not the factory, will both shut down during the winter months, a good sized bunker is needed at the factory for storing a supply of ganister rock. The Bachmann 45970, O scale coaling tower kit, which is molded in appropriate colors and also snaps together, will fill the bill after some simple modifications.

Due to the space limitations of the compromise configuration, the bunker will span the mainline track toward the back of the layout. Despite the sharp curvature and the relatively small footprint of the coaling tower kit, 5" wide by 6" deep, the horizontal clearance is sufficient to accommodate the aforesaid Bachmann On30 passenger car. (It's that serendipity thing again.) Visually, the vertical orientation of the bunker fills out the corner of the layout. At 12" high, it is taller than the factory that is in front of it. but shorter than the backdrop directly behind it.

From the very beginning, a compact industrial scene was planned to occupy the right-hand third of the layout and the proper positioning of the track straddling bunker is the key to setting up the rest of the scene. The front of the bunker will determine the location of the factory by way of a short, elevated tramway running between the two of them. This eighteen inch gauge, manpowered tramway will span both the spur track and a paved alleyway that is provided for motor vehicle access. Although the industrial scene will be at an angle to the front of the layout and the NPO, these three structures should meet squarely with each other in the horizontal plane.

The elevated tramway is actually an Atlas N scale, 2546 Warren Truss Bridge. Its serendipitous 5" length provides the needed clearance behind the factory for the convoluted alignment of the spur track. The supporting bents for the bridge are salvaged from an old HO scale, over and under plastic trestle set. The bents were selected to provide vertical clearance for the layout rolling stock that normally uses the spur track. When the tie hugging clips at the top of the HO bents are removed with a razor saw, the tops fit nicely into sockets that are molded into the bottom of the N scale bridge. (Could this be a case of simultaneous, multi-scale serendipity?) The oversize footers at the bottom of the bents will be removed and replaced with more realistic ones made from scraps of styrene.

The bunker front and the factory rear should also meet squarely with the tramway bridge and its bents in the vertical plane. Physically, the tramway rails will dead end at the rear of the factory, in a suitable, serendipitous spot where the model wall has no doors or windows. A simulated sliding access doorway will be made from two HO scale boxcar doors salvaged from an old model. Mounted side-by-side to the rear factory wall, they will give the visual impression that the trackage continues on inside the factory.

The car clearing height of the tramway bridge over the spur track will determine the vertical positioning of the bunker over the mainline track. The tender loading chute that comes with the coaling tower kit is oversize for tramway use, so it will be left off during the conversion, as will the ladders and access platforms along the side of the bunker. However, the remaining chute opening on the front of the bunker is suitable for loading a tramway car. (Something on the order of a Grant Line rotary mine car would be good.)

In order to position the chute opening at the right height, a little above the top of the tramway car, portions of the lower tower legs will need to be removed with the razor saw. In yet another example of layout serendipity (it certainly wasn't planned for things to turn out this way), there will be no problems with vertical clearance on the mainline track after the tower legs are trimmed. In fact, there actually was a Plan B, where the front to back braces under the sides of the bunker would also have to be removed.

Questions and comments are always welcome.




Edited by - Dan on 07/02/2018 04:25:02 AM

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Dan
Section Hand

Posted - 07/17/2018 :  12:25:43 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The best laid schemes...

As the famous saying goes, "The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley." I interpret this saying as being the old timey equivalent (circa 1785) of the modern acronym SNAFU. In designing and building the layout, various types of SNAFU have been anticipated and then provided for, so that things do not reach the level of FUBAR.

For example, in contemplating the installation of the factory scene, based around the compromised spur alignment plan, the HO bents would be glued to the underside of the the N scale bridge to make a one piece assembly out of the tramway structure. All three structures would then become permanently mounted when they are embedded in the scenery.

However, while the track alignment was still in its experimental stage, it was noted that derailments would occur if the following factors were misjudged when doing switching: (a) train speed, (b) train length, (c) distance to bumping post or other impediment, or (d) some or all of the above. As long as (a) was not involved, the three steam locomotives posed no problem. As on prototype railroads, their few driving wheels of relatively large diameters, will slip on the rails whenever their progress is forcibly abridged.

However, the heavy Whitcomb model, with its low drivers and powerful eight wheel drive, will attempt to rip the rails out from underneath the train. As it cannot do this, the train will buckle instead, especially the Bachmann four-wheel, wooden side dump cars, which are the mainstay of layout operations, and several cars will derail and pile up in a prototypical way.

Based on years of railroad experience, both model and prototype, according the Murphy's Law and the Laws of Physics, derailments tend to occur in inaccessible places. One very likely place for the situation described above is in the factory scene, under the short and low, spur spanning tramway bridge, where clearance for human hands is quite limited.

While lift-out bridges for providing track access have been around since day one, this layout situation is a bit different. The tramway bridge is vertically trapped by car loading chute (made from bits of styrene) that extends out from the front of the bunker and the full length, overhanging eave of the factory roof. In addition, a jumble of wrecked cars will, in all likelihood, foul the styrene footers that have been added to the bottoms of the bents, so the one piece bridge assembly cannot be slid out from under the overhead obstructions and lifted from the layout.

Instead, one of the bents is attached to the rear wall of the factory, centered on the added fake access doorway. The other bent is attached to the cut down center leg of the tower structure that supports the front edge of the bunker, under the loading chute. Small bits of double sided adhesive foam tape, hidden from sight on the sides of the added footers, will unobtrusively hold the tramway bents in their intended positions.

Utilizing nothing more than good old fashioned gravity, the shallow sockets molded into the bottom of the bridge, in accepting the tops of the bents, will hold the bridge in place. If I screw things up and send something over height down the spur (such errors do occur), it will knock the bridge off of its bents, but results are not predictable and may be catastrophic. Under more controlled conditions, the tramway bridge can be removed by vertically rotating the bridge, starting at the factory end, with the bunker end as the pivot point. In doing so, the bridge will clear the eave of the factory roof (the result of more serendipity). The bunker end will then slip out from under the projecting loading chute, thus providing hand access for clearing a derailment. The bridge is just as easily replaced by reversing the removal process.

An unintended victim of the compromise spur alignment plan is the Turnout Indicator Doohickey (posted 11/30/2017), for the spot where it was intended to be installed no longer exists. In its place, the factory building office space, toward the front of the layout, will be illuminated. Around the house, somewhere, there are a few sheets of black construction paper, the stuff that kids used to use when the term "cut and paste" described a creative playtime activity. The paper will be used to line the inside of the structure to prevent light leaks. In this way, whenever the layout turnout is set for the spur, the much desired warm glow will only show through the windows. As my mental faculties inexorably move toward the "second childhood" phase of my existence, simple projects such as this are found to be intriguing. This could be due to: (a) very old memories being recalled, (b) an old age progressive form of senility, (c) more serendipity, or (d) some or all of the above. I am hoping that (a) is the correct answer, with just a hint of (c).

As the space between the rear wall of the factory and the edge of the spur track is now a paved alleyway, it is a simple matter to impress a shallow groove in the foam board layout surface underneath the alleyway paving to accommodate the surface running of the indicator lamp wires. For the displaced doohickey, however, all is not lost. It will most likely find a place outside of one of the auxiliary buildings along the right-of-way. Since steel barrels have been around since 1905, it is appropriate for the layout and it may be hooked up to the mainline rails as a convenient "at a glance" power on indicator.



Edited by - Dan on 07/26/2018 01:50:49 AM

Country: | Posts: 88 Go to Top of Page

Dan
Section Hand

Posted - 08/02/2018 :  3:49:56 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Bashing Four Rail Dual Gauge Track

The addition of the non-operating elevated tramway between the bunker and the factory spurred the addition of non-operating tramway track on the ground level. While the elevated factory tramway is meant to be manpowered, the more extensive ground level trackage is intended to be operated with cable hauled cars; the boiler and winch from a Bachmann log skidder doing the honors. The winch can also be used to move 30" gauge cars around the factory yard, hence the adoption of dual gauge trackage.

Prototype and model four rail. dual gauge track is quite rare and the prototype selected to be modeled is a bit peculiar. It is the industrial railway equipment manufactured and promoted by the C. W. Hunt Company of New York. The Hunt System rolling stock was equipped with outside flanges and it ran on track with the somewhat strange gauge of twenty-one and a half inches. Examples of four rail, duel gauge trackage with the inside flange, wider gauge track on the outside and the narrower, outside flange track on the inside, which is the arrangement selected for the layout, are documented in period Hunt System catalogs.

In my younger days, I was familiar with a Hunt installation and having it simulated on the layout brings back memories of things long gone. More and more, visually and audibly as well as operationally, the layout is becoming a time machine. The Hunt story was posted 7/27/17 on the On30 Forum as a separate topic - An Urban Narrow Gauge Railroad.

Speaking of memories, I believe it was back in the late sixties that AHM introduced HOn30 Minitrains that ran on regular N gauge track and, at the time, I bought a set. While the poor running loco bit the dust long age, I hung on to the cars for possible reuse. As the gauge of the Hunt System track is measured across the outsides of the rail heads, the rolling stock is the equivalent of inside flange, N gauge (On18) with the wheels reversed on the axles, so some of the leftover HOn30 cars were "regauged" to On21.5 for the layout tramway. The bodies of the larger four wheel cars come in two types with slightly different dimensions. In O scale, the square body car is 5' 3" long by 3' wide by 2' 3" deep and the tapered body car is 5' 6" long by 3' wide by 2' deep.

Building four rail, dual gauge track has never been easier, as long as one does no mind the use of sectional track. Equivalent lengths of HO gauge code 83 and N gauge code 70 Atlas straight track were bashed together to make the ground level track (see photos below). To adapt the N gauge track, carefully isolate every fourth of fifth tie from the tie strips under the rails using flush cutting nippers. Then cut in half the in between ties and remove them from the track. As the remaining wide spaced ties are quite fragile, carefully adjust them so they mesh with the tie spacing on the HO track. Almost as if it were planned (more serendipity?) the N gauge ties exactly fit the space between the molded tie strips under the HO rails, thereby keeping the N gauge track both centered and in alignment, to the point where no unsightly rail joiners are required. A small dab of Tacky Glue under the ends of the N gauge ties assists in keeping together the bashed four rail, dual gauge track.

Questions and comments are always welcome.








Country: | Posts: 88 Go to Top of Page

David Clark
Fireman



Posted - 08/03/2018 :  1:06:31 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Dan,
An interesting read, as always. The four-rail track has me perplexed. Why go to the expense of an extra rail? Is it because of a centre alignment issue? Neat how the N track fits right in, though.
Cheers,
Dave



Country: Canada | Posts: 1126 Go to Top of Page

Dan
Section Hand

Posted - 08/03/2018 :  3:44:03 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Dave,

In this case the basic incompatibility between inside flange and outside flange technology requires the four rails. The outside flange turnouts are really quite different.

In an effort to cut down on complexity, when Hunt System rails cross regular rails, the Hunt wheels just bumped over the regular rails. As the Hunt System is inherently slow speed and the Hunt undercarriages are designed to be extra flexible, this was not a problem. It was, indeed, a very different technology.

All the best,

Dan



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David Clark
Fireman



Posted - 08/04/2018 :  2:00:47 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks, I did read about the outside flange but it didn't register that it would complicate matters with the turnouts.
Cheers,
Dave



Country: Canada | Posts: 1126 Go to Top of Page

Dan
Section Hand

Posted - 08/15/2018 :  12:08:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Bashing A Spacer Car

A spacer car is needed when switching cars on the layout spur with the Bachmann 2-6-0 as well as the Whitcomb for they are both too tall to clear the tramway bridge. As was mentioned previously, at the present stage of my dotage, a layout project that is easy and harkens back to the good old days of both life and On30, tends to ring my chimes and this turned out to be one of them. Furthermore, serendipity not only played its regular role, it ran rampant throughout this project, or should I say that it galloped.

A pair of large arch bar trucks from a derelict Bachmann On30 caboose was already on hand, so a three pack of car frames was acquired to conduct experiments. One experimental spacer car featured the frameless body of a Bachmann 18' flatcar with the truck bolster/coupler pocket assemblies removed from one of the frames affixed to the underside of the body (the original frame and trucks from the flatcar are now under one of the bashed passenger cars on the layout). Unfortunately, the small body, when combined with the oversized trucks, produced a really ugly car. Utilizing the frame salvaged from the derelict caboose would make an even uglier car, if such a thing were possible. While both were workable, operationally, something that would be visually appealing and, perhaps, unique for use on the layout became the goal of this project.

The best way to make sure that a spacer car would not be usurped for some other purpose was to make it unusable for anything else. Historically, using the same line of thinking, real world deckless flat cars were commercially manufactured during the Edwardian Era and they were marketed for specialized work. In lumbering operations, these cars hauled loads of bolts from the woods to the mill. The 1903 description of just one mill (there were a number of them operating and dozens more were to come), gives some idea of the amount of cars in use and who purchased them, "It owns twenty-five bolt cars built specially for the service..."

The bolts, themselves, were large chunks of heartwood loaded crosswise on the cars. They were the raw material for the manufacturing of shingles and shakes, which were then wildly popular for constructing new homes. The bolts were made from stumps of from felled trees that were left on the ground after old growth forest lands were logged off.

So many model bashes from the early days of On30 resulted in caricatures and this one is no different. This bash actually represents what might have been a real world bash, which started with a prototype car that is itself a caricature. A 1913 catalog referred to the bolt cars as "hip high skeleton flats" that could carry four cords of shingle bolts. There are, in fact, a number of things about these cars that support the idea of using a bashed Bachmann frame to represent a retired three foot gauge, mill owned car, which has been converted into a thirty inch gauge spacer car for an unnamed industrial line.

For example, as bolt cars were never operated in I.C.C. regulated interchange service there are no grab irons or steps or other safety appliances, a condition that is naturally reflected in a model bashed from a bare frame. Furthermore, there were only stake pockets on the end sills, but neither the pockets nor the sills would be needed on a model of a spacer car. As always, some compromises were required, but as long as they make sense in the real world, they are acceptable. Problems with the donor frame required the corners of the spacer car to be cut back. Such trimming would, ostensibly, provide the needed clearance for this new and larger car on the existing sharp curves of the old industrial line.

The dimensions given for a typical bolt car are 24' long by 8' wide. The completed bash represents a hip high skeleton flat that is 21.5' long over the coupler pockets by 7' wide, which is a good compromise for On30. When riding on the large arch bar trucks, it is well proportioned as well as noticeably different from the Bachmann 18' gondola cars already on the layout. Furthermore, the arbitrary length of the bashed frame assembly turned out to be just below the upper limit for consistent coupling on the curving layout spur, but regular Kadee couplers will ride a bit high. As the stock Bachmann couplers that come with the frame will need to be replaced, installing a pair of Kadee #142 overset couplers will make things right. As there is no room for adding weight, the car is so light that it will start to roll before the Kadee couplers can engage. However, as one end of the spacer car is normally coupled to a locomotive, this inherent lack of weight is not a problem when coupling to other cars.

The Bachmann 26' frames consist of two end sections and a shorter center section. The dividing line between them is the two cross frames that hold the queen posts for the truss rods. By employing a lower level of razor saw mayhem, the center section, between the cross frames, was removed. For making square cuts in narrow material, the companion of the razor saw, the Xacto miter box, is normally employed. Fortuitously, the width of the car frame just fits into the bottom of the miter box, thereby combining a number of tedious individual cuts into two easy ones. After removing any fuzz and burrs from the mating parts, several coats of liquid plastic cement were applied to the cut ends of the frame members to soften the plastic and then they were pressed together after carefully aligning then to each other.

For situations such as this, I use a ceramic floor tile from Home Depot or Lowes. However, some stores sell them only by the carton, while others sell them by the each, so it pays to shop around. For model building, the very flay surface of these tiles emulates the granite "surface plates" that are used in industrial design and manufacturing, but the tiles are much smaller in size and weight, plus a great deal cheaper. Unlike metal surface plates, the tile will neither rust nor corrode, nor will it produce protruding burrs if its surface should get dinged. As the tile will tolerate elevated temperatures, it is also used for soldering, heat gun and even open flame torch work. In the case of the spacer car, the tile surface is unaffected by just about any kind of solvent or glue, plus the surface of the tile ensured that the bashed frame assembly started out flat and remained so as the plastic welds cured.

The resulting model bash is visually appealing as well as unique and the supporting, real world scenarios justify its place and use on the layout. In addition, serendipity further deemed that the skeletal spacer car would also be temporarily convertible to a tank car, resulting in a "twofer" for the layout.

My first HO train was an inexpensive Varney CHAMP set, an F3 diesel with a few assorted plastic freight cars. One of them was a tank car from which the tank was saved for On30 work. In O-scale the tank body is about 18' long with a 4' diameter, making the nominal capacity 1,700 gallons of water, which would weigh about seven tons. When the weight of the car is figured in (somewhere around two tons), the length and weight of the tank makes a prototypical load for the narrow gauge spacer car.

With many narrow gauge models and more than few prototypes, the tank is secured to the deck of an ordinary flat car, but the spacer car has no deck. However, as it so happens, on the bottom of the Varney tank there are two square locating nubs that fit into sockets molded into the separate Varney frame. These nubs are just the right size to fit the space between the two parallel longitudinal members that make up the center sill of the Bachmann frame, thereby positioning the tank on the centerline of the car while gravity secures the tank in place. In addition, the cast on crosswise "feet" that would steady the tank on a prototype car also fit just inside the spacing of the two outer frame members. By applying unseen bits of scrap styrene to the underside of the "feet" they will ride on top of the bolsters.

The lack ladders, foot boards and other safety appliances for the tank compliments the stripped down charm of the spacer car (the original HO hand rails are currently still in place as they hold the end caps on the tank). When all is said and done, the uniquely temporary tank car conversion, bashed together without the use of a razor saw - a major modeling breakthrough - works well and looks good (so long as it is being viewed from a distance).

Attached are photos of the operable, partially completed spacer car (it still needs some detail work). Waving guy is included in two of the photos for the usual size reference. Note the Kadee #142 overset couplers.

Questions and comments are always welcome.












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