Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 28 of 180 Days of A/P Cars - #1 Flat Car- New Tilt Arbor Table Saw Part 2

Before I can cut, I need to mount the saw to a firm base.  The saw only weighs a few pounds and is in a plastic shell.  It slides VERY easily, so it must be locked down.  The instructions recommend mounting it to a base so we'll do that.

 I used a pine board that was just the right size width wise.

 The board was cut on a table saw and checked for fit.  Looks good!

 The instructions provide a drilling diagram and recommend using flat head machine screws #10 32 1 1/4".  I decided to countersink the screws so I used 3/4" screws.

WARNING:  The drilling diagram is not accurate!  Please make your own template by putting a piece of paper over the bottom of the saw and marking the holes.

 I taped the defective template to the wood, and was in such a hurry to get my saw going that I didn't bother to see if the template was correct.   Needless to say I drilled the holes incorrectly.
 After drilling the board with 7/32" drills and countersinking with a 3/8" bit, I discovered that the template was considerably incorrect.  I made my own template with the same paper and redrilled the holes.  They fit much better.

 The saw is now mounted on the pine board.

 Using two heavy duty clamps I secured the saw to the table and grabbed a power cord and safety glasses.  Time to make some sawdust!

 I installed the fence to the left of the blade as I usually cut left handed (I'm ambidextrous) and checked it for being parallel to the blade.  Spot on!

 I turned the saw off to take this picture.  Several boards were ripped from this larger plank.  After checking the measurement of the cuts down the length of the board I found them to be very accurate.  I can see now that I'm going to need some special push sticks and featherboards for very fine board cutting.  The sawdust is a really fine powder and gets all over everything.  Dust mask and vacuum are essential.
Here you can see the 60 tooth blade cutting the basswood.  I was amazed at how quiet the saw is and how precise the cut was.  I love this saw!  But it will take some time to master.  Everyone says its just like a big saw, but I beg to differ.

I believe I can cut with it well enough that I can make the boards I need for the cars.

My friend Mark Evans said he finished his cars for A/P Cars in six month.  Oh crap....180 days may not be near enough.  I saw his models!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 16-27 of 180 Days of A/P Cars - #1 Flat Car- New Tilt Arbor Table Saw

Yeah!  Back to work on the hobby!  Sorry I've been out for a week.  I had to travel and the family has been sick.  My new Micro Mark Mini Tilt Arbor Table Saw arrived several days ago and I've not even been able to take it out of the box!  How sad.  Today...we play!

The saw came by way of Fed Ex.  It took about eight days from the time I ordered it to the day it arrived, which isn't bad.

 I was surprised to find out the saw was a little bigger and heavier than expected.  For some reason I didn't pay too much attention to the dimensions.

 The saw is well packaged.  Its a box within a box, and lots of padding.

 The instructions came in a plastic bag.  These are very important and I stopped unpacking to read them first.

The other objects I ordered were packed in the side.

I paid $349.9 for the saw.  To put it in perspective, I paid $350 for my full sized DeWalt table saw.  This is a LOT of money for a tool, and had it not been for my wife's encouragement I probably wouldn't have bought it.  Still, it will pay itself back in time.

The set up gauges allow you to precisely and quickly set up the width of the cut.  They weren't cheap either, being just pieces of brass.

Here are the blank inserts which allow for cutting smaller pieces of weed.

As per the instructions, I'll save the packaging material in case there is an issue or I decide to return the saw in 30 days.  That is a GREAT guarantee!
Now to the saw box.  The box is packed tightly and is in good condition.  Wait...there is a warning!

Both the instructions and the STOP! warning say to be sure to unpack the inner packing before using or moving the saw blade.

Nice corner edge padding protects the saw.  It is made in Japan.

This appears to be a sawdust vacuum adapter or spare drive belt.  I'll have to check the parts list to make sure.

There she is!  Except for a light coating of corrugate dust, she is in good shape. 

In the packaging there is a small access area where the extra pieces are packaged.

Inside are the blade safety, the fence and the miter.

Here is a top view.  The metal insert will eventually be replaced with plastic ones where the blade will be forced through so the gap is no longer there.  The aluminum finish is a bit rough.

On the front we have a power control knob, an on off switch protected by a plastic dust shield and the arbor tilt and raise lever.

On the right hand side is the access to the blade and the vacuum port.  There is also a storage area for blades and Allen wrenches.

On the back side of the saw is the sawdust vacuum port.

The power cord and the table extension is on the left side.

The instructions say to remove the inner packaging first, so we'll do that.  First we have to remove the access hatch using a flat head screwdriver.

Yup.  Lots of packaging cardboard.  The device you see in the middle is the motor that drives the blade.

Wow...lots of carboard!  I take it out very gently so as not to disturb the blade.  The carboard is very think and hard, so it could do some damage.

Wow!  Even more cardboard!  I had to get a pair of pliers to get this out.  It locks the arbor and motor into place.  Take your time getting this packaging out. 

I'll save this in case I need to send the saw back.

As I move the arbor, you can see the motor move...

There is ample room for movement, but I can see that I'll have to hook up a sawdust vacuum for any time that I use the saw because the dust will go right back into the motor housing.

I lock the arbor back into position.

Here is what the bottom of the saw looks like.  There are four mounting holes there...which is what we'll work on next!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day 14 of 180 Days of A/P Cars - #1 Flat Car- Shopping Trip

I was shipped out to Chicago to work at a factory, which was a good thing.  For me its a chance to go shopping at what used to be my favorite model train store Des Plaines Hobbies. 

Stopping by there allowed me to pick up $72 worth of detail parts.  I bought queen posts, brake wheels and tons of other items for the cars I'm building.  They were out of turnbuckles, so I'll order them direct.

I've decided that you must be socially ignorant to work in a hobby shop.  I'm so tired of going in to these stores and either being ignored or overlooked.  The young guy behind the counter didn't even speak to me when I walked in.  He just kept working on the computer.  I looked around a while and then had to go poke him with a stick to get him to help me.  After getting a dose of attitude I did finally get him to find the parts I needed.  You couldn't find them on your own because they were dumped in boxes all over the place, not hanging nicely on the wall.

There was another guy there who was no help at all.  As a traveler I got into hobby shops all over the place and get the same thing.  You would think that if you walk in dressed nicely and say you are into the hobby and need to buy stuff that they would want to help you.  I guess they hire these people because they know trains, but really I need someone to sell stuff to me.  Someone with a personality.

Hobby shops, in my opinion, are quickly becoming a thing of the past.  While there may be a few out there doing it right, the vast majority are just a waste of time and energy.  I'm going to start mail ordering even more.

Got a thought?  Post a comment below!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 13 of 180 Days of A/P Cars - #4 Gondola - Loaded Question

So went I build Gondola #4, which is exactly like Gondola #3 and similar to flats #1 and #2, what will I put in it?  We probably should have one maintenance of way car, or maybe coal?  Or just dirt.

I've always like wooden barrels and can cast tons of them in resin.  Maybe a barrel supply car?  Will have to ponder this a bit.  Like I said in previous posts you can't just guess at these things.  Everything has to come together for points.

The brake rigging under these cars is very odd.  I'm going to have to find a source to tell me about it.  In the past I've tried to find info on break rigging and haven't had a lot of luck.  To this day I'm not sure if I really understand how it works.

Mass producing coupler pockets will be another consideration.  The good think is that when I get the master and mold built, I can populate four cars with parts.  Same as with the brake wheel.  While I can mass produce the frames and sides, I want to build those board by board.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 12 of 180 Days of A/P Cars - #3 Gondola - Slab Car

Slabs are the cut off round sides of the log as well as bits and pieces that can't be sold as lumber.  These are used as fuel for the mill and sometimes as fuel for the locomotives.  The Argent Lumber Company had many slab cars, but they were just for one purpose.  The Hebard Cypress Company would have had a car that could haul slabs back to the woods from the mill, but could haul something back from the woods as well.  A gondola is a good car for that purpose.  Needless to say this car is freelanced.

Here is a picture of a OR&W gondola from Ed Cass's book Hidden Treasures: The Story of the Ohio River and Western Railway.  There are a few more in the book that I will include in my files.  The car rides on the very same frame as the flat car with the exception of the thickness of the ends and the notched end.  So we'll probably make a jig and fashion them all from the jig.

This drawing by Ed Cass shows the details of the car.  Car #3 will be reproduced exactly as here, except it will have a load of slabs included.  I've also thought about making this a MOW rail car to feed the track gang.  Build it with the ends dropped down.  Rail sections are 39 feet, so that probably won't work.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 11 of 180 Days of A/P Cars - #2 Flat Car - Loads of Fun

Flat Car #2 will have the same build as flat car #1.  We'll just change the load.  Picking out the load is a big issue.  If you do it right it can add points.  If you do it wrong it can really lose points.  NMRA AP purist will tell you that losing points is not the case.  Well, to me "not earning them" and "losing them" comes to the same conclusion. 

The Hebard Cypress Company cuts down cypress trees in the swamp and then takes them to the mill to be cut into timber.  I'm thinking that cars #1 and #2 should reflect that.  So I think I'll have car #1 with a large cypress log and car #2 with a load of lumber. 

The log car will be beaten to a pulp.  Chains will hold the log in place.  You have to block a load very carefully or you'll not win points.  I'll need some photos of a logging flat car.  The log will be hollow at the base like many cypress trees and will be constructed out of polymer clay.

Car #2 will have a load of lumber.  Cypress wood looks very different so I'll probably cut the load on the new saw from real cypress wood just for good measure.  In fact the flat cars would have been built from kits at the logging site, so they will be made out of real cypress wood as well.

Both #1 and #2 will be the same color, a faded dark green.  I also thought about dark brown.  Maybe that will change.  

Sorry if I ramble a bit tonight.  I'm tired...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 10 of 180 Days of A/P Cars - #1 Flat Car - New Tools

The lumber that I'm going to need is not standard.  So after many years of wanting one I discuss the matter of purchasing a mini table saw with my wife.  She said she was fine with it as we have money coming back from the IRS and that I should go buy one.  YEAH!  I love my wife!  We're talking $400 for a saw and parts.

The saw I chose is Micro Mark's MicroLux Mini Tilt Arbor Table Saw for Benchtop Hobby Use.
This is a popular saw and the same as the Proxxon version.  While I could have bought others I like the fact that Micro Mark gives me a 30 day guarantee so that I can return it if I don't like it.  The guys on the Traintools egroup give it pretty good review.  

I also bought these items....

This is a set of ripping gauges that help you set up the cut.  Since they are in common sizes good for O scale I went ahead and got them.

These blank plates allow you to make precise cuts of small lumber without the wood slipping into the gap.

Here is what it cost:


Order Submitted: 03/13/11 06:53PM
Shipping Method: FEDEX
Payment Method: VISA
Item# Item Description Qty Unit Price Ext. Price
70224RIPPING GAUGE SET 1$18.95
84904MLX BLANK BLADE PLATES (4) 1$23.50
SANDY, UT 84093
SANDY, UT 84093
Sub Total $392.40
Shipping & Handling $21.95
Tax $0.00
Total $414.35

I've been wanting one of these for a long time.  After I bought the wood for my O scale bridge (over $200!) I thought that this would pay itself back in two years or less.  I'm so glad to be getting one!

This may delay the start of building the flat car a few days, so I may jump ahead to the gondola and proceed to start setting it up for production.

Home made scale timber, here I com!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 9 of 180 Days of A/P Cars - #1 Flat Car - Assembly Drawings

Mr. Edmund Collins III was kind enough to publish the plans for the 30,000 lb capacity flat car in the book Hidden Treasures: The Story of the Ohio River & Western Railway by Ed Cass which was published by TimberTimes.  I highly encourage subscribing to their magazine if you like logging.  It is quite excellent! 

With these plans we can build the car.  But I like to have assembly drawings for construction.  The difference is that Collins' plan is not to scale.  I want to build an O scale (1/4" to the foot or 1:48th) model and will need to know what length to cut the wood.  Construction drawing are not as detailed and are based on building sub assemblies. 

First we'll need the frame.  It consists of two end cabs made of wood, and six beams.  There are two needle beams as well.  For the NMRA AP Judging you don't have to use a CAD system.  I just use it because it is faster.

I use 3rd Plan It CAD because I think it is easy to use.  Not really cheap and usually has some bugs, but I've done thousands of drawings in 3PI and it is too late to change.  I start by setting up the grid at 12" per square. 

Next I label the drawing with its pertinent information.

To start the drawing I'll start with my best know timber dimension which is the end cap.  Right away I spot a mistake in the Collins drawing.  The top drawing has a square timber cap but the frame drawing below has a not that it is a 6 x 8 cap.  Problemo!!!   The photos are very hard to make a call from.  Other wood flats that I've seen appear to have something closer to a 6"x8" cap than an 8" x 8" cap so we'll go with a 6"x8" cap.

30' less two 6" beams yields 29'.  That is the length of the beams.  The drawing says they are 5 x 12 inch on the outside beams.  5 x 8 on the four inside beams.  Normally they would be interlocked with the cap in some fashion, usually with the beam with a notch that the cap fits in, but that doesn't seem to be how this car is built per the photo showing the straight on shot of the end cap.  Maybe it was notched in the end cap in a mortise type arrangement.

Let's start building our grocery list for lumber.  To convert the standard dimension to O scale dimensions we'll use my grid located here:  You can also use this site:  We'll start with the 6" x 8" cap timbers.  6" / 48 = 0.125, which converts to an actual 1/8".  8" / 48 = 0.1667, which converts to approximately 3/16".  I'm not going to buy scale lumber for this model but I might have something close.  So I'll sand or saw the wood to the precise measurement.

There!  We have an O scale drawing that we can print and build on, as well as a shopping list.  But we need more.  Next we'll draw another drawing that will indicate where the other components go.