Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Tuesday Tips from the DERS-2b

Just a quick post highlighting a few tips I came up with while detailing my Proto1000 RS-2 New Haven Railroad DERS-2b.

First off - need to bend wire at precisely the right length? Get out your handy-dandy dial caliper (you DO have a dial caliper, don't you?) and do it like this:

I needed to make a bend at exactly .040" - so I set the caliper at .040" and used the internal jaws to make my bend, as you see above.

Here's a closer view, shot with the macro lense app on my phone. As you can see, you set the end of the wire at one side of the jaws and use the other jaw to make your bend.

For my next trick tip, I had a detail I wanted to mount - problem was, the bottom of the detail was flat and the surface I wanted to mount it to was curved. I couldn't stand the likelihood of there being a gap at the bottom of the detail - and since the model is factory painted, I couldn't use gap filling CA or putty very easily.

So I decided to sand the bottom of the detail to conform to the curve of the carbody - as you see above. What you may not notice is that there's plastic wrap between the carbody and the sandpaper to protect the model's finish. And it and the sandpaper are held tightly to the curve. Just move the detail back and forth. Takes some care and patience, but it worked well.

One of the big drawbacks of a Proto1000 model is lack of detail. This wouldn't be quite so bad if the model wasn't already factory painted (much easier to add detail to an undec shell) and I didn't want to strip and repaint. Worse, while there were helpful dimples/locators for the grabs (a mixed blessing, as I'll get to in a future build post), for all your other details you're winging it location-wise.

Extra details placed temporarily for location on a pristine short hood top.
So I was confronted with figuring out a way to mark the model so I'd know where to drill all the holes for the extra details. The solution: masking tape.

Took this photo after drilling and removing the cross-tape.
I used the factory-edge as the straightest part of the tape and eyeballed a centerline, as above.

And to get the fore-aft placement, I used crosspieces of tape lined up with features on the sides of the hood (edge of louver door, end of number board). I just marked and drilled along the edges and in the corners.

Trying to add detail to an already-painted/lettered loco can be pretty intimidating, but I found these tips helped a lot to make sure I was mounting the details evenly and consistently. I hope you find them helpful too.


  1. Nice job bending and installing the grab irons shown in your last post.
    I face the same problem with some RS-3's I am building and need to make my own grabs.
    Although using a precision measuring tool as a bending tool is not really good for the instrument, I no longer use mine to make a living and will give your method at try, thanks for the tip!
    When bending material (in this case metal wire) don't forget to subtract a bending allowance for each bend when figuring out where to make the bends. A simple way to find out how much allowance to subtract with the bending tool and wire you are using is to make a test piece. Take a precise length of wire, say 1.000". Mark it at exactly 1/2 in this case .500" and bend it at that mark. Measure it from one end of the wire to the outside of the bend, say it now measures .550" that means that you need to subtract a .050" allowance for each bend. If you are trying to match the centerline of your wire to existing center points marked on the shell for the grabs, you should also subtract half of the diameter of the wire from each bend.
    Regards, Joe

    1. Thanks Joe! High compliment from you as I've always admired your work. And I'm glad I was able to give *you* a tip for a change! But the one you gave me about the bending allowance is especially helpful - I'm going to print this out and tape it to my work area. I *always* have trouble getting those bends right and there's always way too much trial and error. So thanks - I think this is going to save me a lot of trouble in the future. BTW, really enjoying your DEY-2 build!