Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Train Time Tuesday - On Sunday (Tool Tips)

So I didn't have a chance to do much during this week's edition of Train Time Tuesday, but fortunately it was a nice, rainy Sunday (hence, no yardwork!) so I got to "pay it forward" on the layout front.  Here's what I did....

The "Dividend Hump" (aka "The Problem")
During my last operating session, the mainline through Dividend inexplicably decided to lift up a few scale feet(!).  I can only guess that the combination of heat in the basement (due to many operators?), too many soldered rail joints (more likely), and insufficient Aileen's Tacky Glue to hold everything down, created an HO scale "frost heave."  Fortunately, there were no derailments, but fixing this certainly became Top Priority.

The Solution
Also fortuantely, I had on-hand a cool "new" toy for my Dremel MotoTool: a 90-degree attachment!  I'd actually got this one Christmas a couple years ago, but since my Dremel is semi-permanently connected to a FlexShaft and mounted to my bench, I'm loathe to disconnect everything.  But the best way to remove the hump in the track is to provide sufficient expansion joints (just like the prototype, go figure).  So, to insure that my cuts would be as perpendicular as possible, I decided to give my new toy a workout.  Heh, it's not really necessary that the cuts be perpendicular, I s'pose, but it did give me a good excuse to try out the attachment.

The Result
I offset the cuts by about 6 inches, but I didn't install railjoiners. Do you think that was a mistake?  It's amazing how quickly and easily everything snugged back down once the rail had someplace to go.


Before I started my Train Time Tuesday Sunday, I went with the Missus to CVS and - as usual - I kept my eye out for model-railroad-adaptable items.  CVS isn't too much of a stretch as a source: I needed a dental mirror to be able to see in some tight spaces, and I figured CVS would be a decent place to check.

Jackpot! Model RR Tools from an unlikely place. Not sure how I can "repurpose" the tongue cleaner though.  Ewww!
Not only did I find the mirror I was looking for, but it came bundled with a couple of metal dental picks as well.  I remember reading someplace a long time ago that those picks are great for scoring styrene, but I had another use in mind - which I'll get to in a minute...

Model RR Tools?  Why, yes!
While I was looking for the mirror, I also discovered these funny looking "toothpicks" that have a bit of a serration(?) on one end.  The bag has, like, a BILLION of these little guys and I plan to try them out as cheap & disposable ACC/glue applicators.  I'll let you know how they work (unless any of you have beat me to this idea and can let ME know how they work out, while I have time to return them.  I don't really need funny looking toothpicks for anything else I can think of).


How you can prepare pre-weathered rail for soldering feeders
So, I have some pre-weathered Micro-Engineering rail and my soldered feeders came off during a recent ops session.  I suspected that the joint wasn't all that great since I didn't really get the weathering off the bottom of the rail.  Ok, I didn't even bother trying.  How do you do that?!  Well, I guess ideally I'd have some sort of tiny brass brush that I could fit under there.  But I discovered another way: Using my handy-dandy new dental mirror to see underneath the rail, I use one of the dental pics to scrape off the weathering.

Voila!  No weathering - and the beginnings of a perfect soldering joint!


Not related to my recent ops sessions, but something I noticed a few weeks back that bugs me no end: My backdrop seams cracked!  Ok, I made the rookie mistake of not TAPING the joints before adding the topping.  But I used "latex vinyl" topping, so I thought I'd be ok.

I wasn't.

Here's how the backdrop looked:

Masonite crack (tape those joints!)
Our previous house had plaster lathe walls, which we didn't discover until after taking down the wallpaper.  THEN we discovered why the paper was there: millions thousands of cracks in the wall!  I was able to cover most of them with putty & paint, but the corners were a different issue.

Figuring the corners were subject to the most stress, I decided to try using paintable latex caulk.  The corners still looked great when we moved.

Sooo...... I'm thinking the same thing may hold true here.  But first you have to create a place for the caulk to live.  Here, I widened the crack with an old can opener (the pointy triangle type):

Crack/joint widened with can opener
Then it was just a matter of shooting the caulk in the (widened) crack and smoothing it with my finger:

Crack/joint filled with paintable latex caulk
This particular caulk is "clear" but it starts out white.  It'll dry clear.  Like I said, I used my (moistened) finger to smooth it out.  That's all fine and dandy and works well - except that the caulk in the crack itself is a little concave.  I think I should have used a flat-edge putty knife.  No problem - I'll just apply another coat of caulk - and this time use a putty knife to smooth it.

Then it's (or should be) just a matter of painting.  The caulk should be stretchy enough to withstand any expansion/contraction.  I'll be sure to let you know how it works out.

So that's it for this edition of Train Time (Tuesday, Sunday, whatever).  I'm finally learning that making some time to do even what you might think are little projects sure does add up.  Some of these things I (hopefully) will never have to do again - and now they're done.  Pretty cool.  Hopefully my experience will inspire you to get to even just a few of those "little" jobs that have been nagging you.  If nothing else, hopefully the tool tips (isn't that dental mirror awesome?!) will have you looking at new and novel ways to use everyday items.  With the dearth of the LHS (local hobby shop), we need to find our tool sources anywhere we can!

No comments:

Post a Comment