Dec 11, 2007

Cork, and that wonderful code 55 rail

I finished laying the last of the cork roadbed on the mainline around Ophir. The only cork roadbed still needed now is Durango and Telluride... and I'm out of cork again! So, I'll continue when I get another order placed.

In other news, I finally decided to attempt - or at least explore - what it would take to join code 55 rail to my existing Peco code 75. I found that the code 75 rail joiners will work for horizontal alignment, but of course the code 55 rail height will be too low. I'm trying now to figure out how to hold the two rails in alignment until I can solder them.

I don't have a solution yet, but have been thinking of using a cutoff tool to remove the upper part of a rail joiner in the middle (so that portion has only the metal plate on the bottom). Then, I'd insert both size rails, and bend the joiner at the point where it's just the bottom part - should bend easily right? Get the height right w/some fiddling and bending, then solder it. Perhaps I'll be able to try that in a few days.

Dec 5, 2007

Once more, with feeling

There's hasn't been much progress on the layout over the last couple of weeks, but what time I had was focused on (again) getting the movable section of benchwork near Ophir to correctly latch.

A short recap - I had created this section to pull out, using drawer slides. The first attempt, when I laid the roadbed, shows that the drawer slides were somewhat sloppy, and also that if you pulled too far, the entire module dropped out (on my wife's foot - thus the requirement to redesign it!).

So - I replaced the slides with heavy-duty extending slides rated for 100 lbs; the module now slides out much further, and won't fall out w/o releasing latches on each slide. Plus, the module pulls out so far that it should (usually) not be necessary to remove the module.

So last week I laid track over one section, cut the rails, and realized a very tight locking mechanism was needed. I installed a couple of sliding dead-bolt type thingies (that's a technical term, you know - thingies). But, even with those there was a little bit of play that caused track alignment problems.

Finally, just last night, I reworked the benchwork and found a way to attach a suitcase latch (the kind where a tab flips up, then a ring of metal loops around a catch, then the tab is pushed back down). With a bit of fiddling, I now have this attached such that the latch actually squeezes the benchwork slightly, and makes a very solid lock, with no movement at all.

Hopefully, this will solve the problem. It's winter here, and the humidity has been dropping and benchwork wood is starting its seasonally drying and shrinking. During the spring, this process reverses, and it's then I'll find out if the wood changes enough to affect this or not.

Now let's see - with that task finished, what should I tackle next?