Monday, September 3, 2012

Traverser 01

Much of the weekend was occupied by building a traverser for what might be the end of the line.  I cleared enough out of the store room to prop it in place for some ergonomic testing. . .

More on the construction in a moment, first, some explanation is in order.  Although the Virgin and Lost Shore began with a dozen scenes, when it comes down to it there are really only a handful that I feel are "must build".  The rest make sense , but I don't know if I want to commit to them.  Thankfully, I am working in modules, and these sorts of expansions and contractions of scope can be easily contended with. 
The plan above will get me where I want to go in a realistic time frame, and, there is nothing stopping me from re-configuring pieces down the road if I so choose.  The fact that I only have two more turnouts to build is an added plus.  The minimal design is both an aesthetic choice and an operational one.  More on that another time.  For now, lets get back to the traverser. . . 

I began with the tightest ball bearing slides I could find.  Bad news, even "tight" drawer slides are way to sloppy, and the initial idea of having a single ball detent in the middle of the table, with an indexed aluminum rack was a failure.  The table simply wagged to much side to side.  It was workable, but not good enough.

The aluminum also brutalized the ball detent, and its movement became progressively coarse.  One nice thing about the design of the detent is that the little gizmo is threaded, and in the installed position, could be easily adjusted for tension.  That was a feature to keep.

Plan "B" replaced the single aluminum rack with two perfectly identical acrylic racks and stereo ball detents, one for each track end. Fortunately, I remembered that I had two more ball detents on hand that I had removed from a client's home. . . so I was still in business.

The acrylic rack worked much more smoothly, and although I originally feared having dueling indexes, this proved to be the best solution for keeping things aligned.  My desire is to have loco parking beyond the traverser, so my locos are not land locked, and so I can keep a smaller stable of ponies.

Over all, it works well--and with the double detent, indexes consistently.  Although well enough to be reliable, I am thinking about making another crack at it--either with plastic guides made from HDPE, or with longer drawer slides (to counter racking)--there is good, but considering how important it is to the entire fun of the layout, I would love for it to work beyond perfectly.  I can always re-use the portions of this module base for another layout section.

I did not spend all my free time on the traverser . . . I managed to rough in some foam scenery base on the left side of the Virgin Railhead.  I have some structures planning to do, but I made some good progress.  The foam is held in place with hot glue, and some screws with fender washers.  As I intend to move the module inside and out for photography, I want to be sure that it won't "pop".  The terraced effect of the foam reflects the leveling of the land for flood irrigation.  I have exaggerated some of the vertical elevation for compositional reasons.  

I also managed to get going on some of my ON30 IMA kits, assembled trucks and couplers, and started work on some laser cut replacement frames.  I am sticking with the stock Bachmann coupler height (HO)--so, I need to do some work to get my cars to ride correctly.  This will be an issue with the passenger cars, but I am fast coming to the conclusion that I will need to scratch build those anyway. . . .

This acrylic piece is going to be the lower half of the frame, the notches hold the draft gear boxes.  I am sizing my work to fit Dave Mason's box car kit as it is already designed, and to use everything in the kit except the bolsters and frame.

All in all, made some progress this weekend.  It feels good to have a few balls in the air--always something to work on.

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