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Chicago Fork : O scale you can actually live with?

 
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Prof Klyzlr



Joined: 22 Jan 2008
Posts: 27
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 1:31 pm    Post subject: Chicago Fork : O scale you can actually live with? Reply with quote

Dear MTI team,

Just a quick post covering some questions about "Chicago Fork",
a O scale SG micro layout covered recently in Carl A's "Small Layout Scrapbook".

http://www.carendt.com/scrapbook/page97a/index.html#chicago

http://www.carendt.com/scrapbook/page98a/index.html#ho-chicago

The trackwork is exclusively constructed using the cheapest HO code 100 flextrack to donate the rail. This actually works great in both $$$ and "scale modelling" terms. Idea Using Code 100 looks noticably "in keeping" with a US Secondary Main than the more commonly available (in Aust) Code 125 or 143 PECO O gauge trackage.



The rail was cut into 39' lengths, and laid with Grandt Line cosmetic jointbars to simulate older sectional rail.



Sleepers were ripped from Artmil (cheap airplane) balsa,

http://www.artmil.com.au/home.html

into scale 7" x 9" x 8' 6" dimensions, as per Union Pacific Industrial Track construction specs.

http://www.uprr.com/aboutup/operations/specs/track/index.shtml

On both the Mainline and Passing Spur, Wiseman Models code 100 tieplates were used.

http://www.locopainter.com/

and all "spikes" were PECO N scale SL14 fine trackpins. 4 per sleeper, 2 per rail.

http://www.kato-unitrack.co.uk/peco-sl-14-fine-track-pins-3795-0.html



Contrary to the UP specs, the turnout on Chicago Fork was a #4. put simply, the "micro" size required it. It seemed like a waste to buy a FastTracks Frog and Point forming pair of jigs for only 1 turnout. (if you are building a whole yard throat worth, it may be a different story!).

However, FastTracks also post free printable templates for most common scales and configurations Very Happy

http://www.handlaidtrack.com/Fast-Tracks-Printable-Track-Templates-s/11.htm

It was a simple matter of
- downloading and printing the appropriate template
- gluing it directly to the 5mm Foamcore roadbed with PVA
- gluing the balsawood sleepers directly over the template
(they had to be specially cut to length as per the template, seperate to the batches of 8' 6" sleepers cut for the regular straight and curved track).
- placing lengths of Code 100 rail in the straight and curved stock rail positions
- marking where the base had to be filed away to allow the switch rail to snug up as required
- then spike in place



The frog was formed by
- taking a length of rail
- bending it into a shallow V shape at the appropriate #4 angle
- and filing the "point" off the V, until the web was almost filed thru at the "point position".
- the resulting assembly was then folded back on itself, so that the filed surfaces were pressed up against each other, thus forming a nice accurate #4 "sharp V" frog.
(it was then filled with regular 60/40 solder)





The switch and closure rails were
- cut slightly over-length,
- the guardrail section formed so it sat correctly against the frog as per the template
- the switchrail was then filed to the appropriate shaped point, and trimmed to length.

Once both closure and switchrail dimensions were confirmed correct, the pivot point was established, and the 1-piece cut into seperate "closure rail" and "Switch rail" segment. The switchrail pivot was formed with a 1/2 of a PECO Code 100 joiner.



Guardrails were formed from scrap pieces of rail, and spiked in place with more PECO SL14 spikes. At first, the CLW brass GP35 loco clomped thru the turnout successfully while the Atlas-truck-equipped cars would not. A check of the NMRA S-3.2 track specs

http://www.nmra.org/standards/sandrp/pdf/S-3.2%202010.02.24.pdf

showed that contrary to first thoughts, a single SL14 spike head was not adquate to act as a spacer between the running rail and the guard rail. Armed with the 0.000" spacing from the NMRA specs, and a cheap digital caliper, the guardrails were relocated, respiked, and have given bulletproof operation with all equipment ever since (including some visiting "foreign" locos and rollingstock which has paid had "running rights"...)



The throwbar is a basic HO PCB sleeper. An SL14 spike was inserted thru the PCB sleeper, and soldered to each switchrail. This gives a nice solid throwbar <> switchrail connection, while providing a pivot to avoid excess stress and strain.

The actual throw action is provided by a Caboose Hobbies groundthrow, connected to the turnout throwbar via basic brass wire-in-tube attachment. This allows the groundthrow to be located at the edge of the benchwork, making hands-on manual operations very intuitive.

The frog is powered via a microswitch, which is mechanically activated by the groundthrow.

Ballast is locally-sourced "Chucks" HO ballast, sequred with the time-honoured "wet water surface-tension breaker + 50/50 PVA/water" technique.

http://www.chucksballast.com.au/index.html

Now, I need to stress that all of Chicago's trackwork was basically built with
- an X-acto knife
- a Xuron rail cutter
- a small metal file
- a pair of needle-nosed pliers
- and a metal ruler

- The digital calipers (AUD$10 from a local "cheap tools" store) were helpful for 0.001" accuracy when positioning the guardrails,
but styrene shims could have performed the same task.

- ripping the balsa sleepers was easy with a Great Planes airscrew stipping tool, but it's not mandatory by any stretch

If there was any more significant ammount of trackage to build, and NMRA gauge would have been a wise investment. However, a quick gauge jig built from styrene ensured that the gauge of all "plain trackage" was kept at 32mm.

No funky track filing jigs. or exotic tools which cost $$$$ were used, or required. One of the aims of CF was to prove that _any_ modeller has the minimum tools needed to achieve a comparable or better result.

The rest is just patience, and the time to make sure each part of the construction procedure is completed correctly.

I hope this answers some questions. Happy to cover any others if asked...

Happy Modelling,
Aim to Improve,
Prof Klyzlr
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Last edited by Prof Klyzlr on Sun Aug 22, 2010 4:01 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jordan



Joined: 27 Oct 2006
Posts: 1389

PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 10:36 pm    Post subject: Re: Chicago Fork : O scale you can actually live with? Reply with quote

Prof Klyzlr wrote:

I hope this answers some questions...

...More than you could possibly have known, Professor, Sir...!!!

I'm starting work over the winter on a new US-outline O-scale Micro, and was contemplating making the track by hand. I have already successfully used Code 100 as fiddleyard track for O scale (soldered to PCB sleepers) so that was going to be used for the sidings, with Code 148 for a seperate mainline. I think I shall be returning to this thread often... Very Happy Wink
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Prof Klyzlr



Joined: 22 Jan 2008
Posts: 27
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 1:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Jordan,

Some more pics that may help...

Both "Scenic" and "sectorplate" modules, sitting outside during construction. The Sectorplate itself is leaning up against the RH end.
(remember, this is 8' long X 1' deep overall, relatively tiny in O scale SG US-outline terms Exclamation )



The sectorplate pivot. Given that the CLW GP35 brass loco weighed 2kilos, a sectorplate construction that simply _could_not_ flex irrespective of where that load was relative to the pivot poiint seemed mandatory.



Back inside, and with a coat of black paint, here's how the sectorplate and "apron" line up. The ends were anchored/aligned using traditional PCB sleeper technique





However, look closely at the "sleepers" just ahead of the tankcar,
(either side of the tankcar coupler), on the sectorplate proper.

Why strip the plastic sleepers, lay PCB, and solder,
when simply cutting the flextrack sleepers down the centreline,
and spike/laying the individual "single rails + 1/2 sleepers" at appropriate gauge, just as you would if you were laying regular flextrack,
works just as well?
(AND gives better weight distribution along the rail,
AND ensures little/no gauge flexing...)



Jordan, any chance of a trackplan of your new project? I'd love to hear more about it. Have you thought about what equipment you'll be running?
(CF was started primarily after I somehow ended up with the GP35 at "a price I couldn't refuse" Twisted Evil However, at it's debut show, a friend bought along a Sound-equipped SW1200, which are some of my fave locos. If I was "doing it again", I'd be gunning to start with a 1200 or similar Wink )

Happy Modelling,
Aim to Improve,
Prof Klyzlr
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Aim to Improve,
Prof Klyzlr


Last edited by Prof Klyzlr on Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:49 am; edited 1 time in total
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alastairq



Joined: 31 Aug 2008
Posts: 391
Location: the land that time forgot

PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

excellent stuff.....nicely inspirational.

cannot find Wiseman tie plates, however....

I suppose I could use the plastic [code 100] sleeper strip, sliced down, to make tie plates with spike heads as well....although that method seems somewhat tedious...

The old Lima O gauge [set] track used code100 rail too.....I still have some of that..from way back in the neolithic age...

I also have discovered, one or two of my 2nd hand Rivarossi fridge wagons..with their metal ladders/brakemans' catwalks...have actually managed to weather themselves....forgot to shut the window, and they were on the window sill, and got sprayed with rain....so the metalwork rusted....very realistically....problem is, how to now preserve the rust streaks?
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Prof Klyzlr



Joined: 22 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Alistair,

Agreed, if it had been down to slicing the existing tieplates and spikes off HO sleepers, (which would have ended up underscale anyway), then I wouldn't have bothered. Indeed, I deliberately _didn't_ put tieplates on the industry track, to emphasise it's "privately built" nature, along with the "light industry sleeper spacing" as set out by the UP track specs.

Suggest you contact Keith Wiseman via his website
http://www.locopainter.com/
and inquire about

" O/On3 WISEMAN CODE 100 TIE PLATES "

Alternatively, you _could_ go hunting for Grandt Line tie plates, but the Wiseman option is cheaper (and are easily available in quantity!).

Maybe a sealer coat of dullcote or similar will protect/arrest the "real rust" effects on your boxcars?

Happy Modelling,
Aim to Improve,
Prof Klyzlr

PS the "split HO flextrack in 1/2" technique was the quickest way to get track down on the Sectorplate, and I would use the same technique again for "out of regular sight" staging trackage.

However, onstage trackage is as much a model as the equipment which runs on it, (indeed more so in the "up close and personal" larger scales),
and thus whatever effort you feel comfy with applying to improve it's appearance is well repaid in resulting presentation, IMHO...
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Jordan



Joined: 27 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Prof Klyzlr wrote:

Jordan, any chance of a trackplan of your new project? I'd love to hear more about it. Have you thought about what equipment you'll be running?

You will have a PM, Prof. Cool Wink
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Blackcloud Railways



Joined: 25 Oct 2006
Posts: 2137
Location: Sandbach UK

PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Prof Klyzlr wrote:
Why strip the plastic sleepers, lay PCB, and solder,
when simply cutting the flextrack sleepers down the centreline,
and spike/laying the individual "single rails + 1/2 sleepers" at appropriate gauge, just as you would if you were laying regular flextrack,
works just as well?


I used a similar technique on Green End Quarry, Peco O gauge track was sliced down the middle and relaid to G gauge. The missing middles of the sleepers being disguised by deep ballasting.

I've been in contact with Carl Arendt about another layout, he commented that it was almost an HO scale version of Chicago Fork. I'd not noticed the similarity until he mentioned it because I have used traversers off stage instead of the sector plate, but the two layouts both use a single turnout and are of a similar car capacity. I can assure anyone who doubts the operational scope of such small layouts that they can be absorbing and time consuming to switch... Jordan has operated the layout in question and I think he'll agree. Smile
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Jordan



Joined: 27 Oct 2006
Posts: 1389

PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 2:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blackcloud wrote:
I can assure anyone who doubts the operational scope of such small layouts that they can be absorbing and time consuming to switch... Jordan has operated the layout in question and I think he'll agree. Smile


Yes, absolutely..!!!! Razz Laughing Wink Cool
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pdbrooksburke



Joined: 05 Apr 2009
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Location: Manchester

PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 12:24 pm    Post subject: O gauge track Reply with quote

Hats off to the Prof here for the info and the masses of inspiration!
Reading all of the above was almost like a full issue woth of MTI;

One benefit of using code 100 (or old Lima stuff) is that it looks better than Peco for use with US outline stock.
Peco track, good as it is, looks very British with its clunky chairs- well the bullhead stuff is; the FB rail is very expensive, when you can get it
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codger



Joined: 28 Jun 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 9:21 pm    Post subject: Re: Chicago Fork Reply with quote

Talking about minimal 0 gauge SG layouts, somebody (I think it was Paul Towers) used to show v. small British SG 0 gauge layouts here in the UK some years ago. I saw one at the Gauge 0 Guild show at Telford back in the 90's. It was called Lowry after the artist as it featured a repro of one of his urban landscapes through a yard gateway by way of a backdrop. The layout was about 4' x 2' and consisted of a small industrial yard with a couple of sidings and a v. small run round loop (a bit like a John Allen Timesaver) with one of the sidings going into a building which acted as a fiddle yard. Paul gave out a small leaflet, called "4ft Friends", describing his methods (which, naturally, I have subsequently lost). He used Atlas coarse (hi rail) points (switches) and track due to their v. small radius and disguised them by building up the surrounding landscape to rail top, finishing it off as cobbles or paving. The locos were small British industrial 0-4-0s and the wagons were the usual small 4 wheel types. If you thought you couldn't have an 0 gauge layout before, you knew you could after seeing this!
WRT Chicago Fork: looks awesome and it's given me something to think about. However,I'm not sure the spikes will hold for long in something as soft as balsa, especially with a brass loco trundling back and fwd over them. Also, wouldn't it have been as cheap (cheaper?) just to use rail rather than buying HO track and trashing it?
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Prof Klyzlr



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 18, 2010 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Patrick,

Quote:
I'm not sure the spikes will hold for long in something as soft as balsa


Rest assured that I've got track laid this way
(Balsa sleepers PVA glued to Foamcore,
rails spiked directly on the balsa sleepers),

in HOn30, HO, On30, and in O SG which is still going strong, easily held it's gauge, and survived non-to-delicate treatment/storage/transportation, for over 10 years now.

(4" radii curves in HOn30, using code 80 N gauge "donor" flextrack,
over 7 years old, balsa sleepers on single-thickness 5mm foamcore...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Lbdod_dXJU )

NB that I use PECO SL14 spikes for all tracklaying missions, which due to their length and material, are infinitely more suitable for this type of work than the oft-touted ME "scale spikes" and similar.

Please remember that spiking is a _Team_Sport_. Skimping on the # of spikes and their locations becomes it's own self-forfilling prophecy RE track failures/gauging/rail-lifting.

- spikes every 4 sleepers = basic starting point
(I use this to test track arrangements and geometry)

- spikes every 2nd sleeper = better

- spikes every sleeper = Best, and proto too!
(Check the pics above of the trackage on CF)

Oh, and no-one's mentioned (maybe they're being polite?) that the spike heads on CF are circles, not "shaped". If the kind of scrutiny I expect from fellow modellers doesn't find such a deviation from prototype practise an issue, then I guess I'm fine with that Laughing Wink

Quote:
Also, wouldn't it have been as cheap (cheaper?) just to use rail rather than buying HO track and trashing it?


Let's think about that for a moment...

ME Code 100 "weathered rail" 3' length= AUD$4.20 + postage
(per rail, need 2 to make a 3' length of straight track,
Unweathered rail = AUD$3.90 + postage)

PECO Code 100 SL100 "streamline" flextrack = AUD$5.50/length + postage
(or around AUD$6.50-7.50 per length bought at LHS)

However, at the same LHS,
"GT" Nickel-Silver Code 100 flextrack = AUD$3.00/length

It's cheap, it's available, and while I wouldn't reccomend it for a newcomer or for an experienced modeller who _wasn't_ hand-relaying,
(If I'm asked what track to buy for HO work, I instinctively respond "PECO"),

if you're going to relay it, particularly at a different gauge, why not?
(Check the pics of the sector-plate, it wasn't _Totally_Trashed_ Wink )

Hope this Helps...

Happy Modelling,
Aim to Improve,
Prof Klyzlr
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Jordan



Joined: 27 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 18, 2010 9:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Chicago Fork Reply with quote

codger wrote:
... wouldn't it have been as cheap (cheaper?) just to use rail rather than buying HO track and trashing it?

When I needed some Code 100 rail recently, I bought several lengths of Hornby flex-track that was going cheap in my local model shop because the rail had come off the sleepers in places, especially at each end. That was much cheaper than either rails or new flex-track..!! Laughing Wink
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