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Jigs are a great key, thanks. I am now going to back to the beginning of this thread and read its entirety, and see if I can glean your secrets to soldering success. I did skim through prior, but only really read about preparing the wire for soldering. I went up to my local big-box hardware (Lowes) and picked up a small Bernzomatic torch kit and tried it out. After just ten minutes of messing around with it I began to wonder how I ever got along without one!
 

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Discussion Starter · #122 ·
Dear friends.
We exhibited at the Toul Expo Rail 2018 on 12-13 May. The show took place at the Espace Dedon, a historical military complex presently used as conference and exhibition site.
Congrats and praises must go to the organizers, the model railroading club Cercle ferroviaire de Nancy. The organization was flawless, the parking space was just nearby the halls, and copious breakfasts and self-service meals were supplied to the exhibitors. Even, sandwiches and drinks were made available on the evening of dismantling.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
We arrived in the afternoon of Thursday, and started the installation on Friday morning. Here in the foreground, our usual panoply of tools and spare parts.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
Our installation took the usual 8 hours for 2 persons.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
Saturday morning, the latest checks before the arrival of the visitors. Barely visible in the photo; we have added two telescopic vertical poles to the structure that supports the lamps and our photographic backdrop. Four clips on each side, fastened to the poles, keep the backdrop flat.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
The local press also arrived; photos and an article are visible on the website of the "L'Est Republicain" newspaper. They also shot some photos of our contraption (no. 14, 15, and 16 of their series)
https://www.estrepublicain.fr/edition-de-to...pace-dedon#0_13
It was the first time that our new railcar positioner and exit ramp from the rotary dumper was in operation at a fair. The new unit allows the unloading of 6-railcar consists, (it was 4 before) and is more realistic than the older one.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
As before, we can position and move strings of cars in and out of the dumper either with the locomotives, or through the positioner.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
One photographic note: lighting conditions were not-so-good; on Saturday strong diffused light came from the roof skylights (and in the afternoon it came from the backside of the layout; visitors had the sun in their eyes, and the backdrop became semi-transparent).
In these photos, an empty buffer car is coupled to the train. The shuttle of the positioner cannot go inside the dumper, and (as in prototype) the buffer connects the shuttle to the first loaded railcar.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
The dumper and the loading machinery worked fine, and each loading/unloading cycle of a 4-car consist took approx. 10 minutes.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
On Sunday, cold and rain greeted us; no heating was available, and we run the show keeping our anoraks on.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
Despite the poor weather, the turnout of visitors was good also on Sunday.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
In the end, the Toul Expo Rail 2018 was a success; the milieu was very friendly and the organization top-notch.
Now, as usual, our layout will stay hibernated for a while. But, we are already mulling over some modifications.
All the best from Milan
Mad Doc & Nickel Queen
 

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Dear friends.

We did an experiment, loading onto Flickr some video sequences of Consolidated Nickel, taken at the Toul Expo Rail 2018. In some sequences you can also see our new railcar positioner in operation.
Herewith the links. Enjoy the (low-resolution) video.
Note: at least with our PC, the video links work well with Firefox and Microsoft Edge, but not with Google.

All the best from Milan

Mario & Bice

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
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Lighting for Consolidated Nickel:

Dear modeling friends.
After the Toul exhibition, we started the usual maintenance, repairs, and upgrading of our layout. We decided to install some low-power “ambiance” LED lighting of specific areas that need, in our opinion, to be highlighted. Each array of lamps has its LEDs in parallel, and is dimmable with a 20-turn 0.25-Watt trimming resistor.

First area: the spiral staircase that leads to the control room at the top of our headframe.
After having repaired some solder joints in the structure, we installed yellow LEDs, simulating sodium-vapor lamps and their housings, one at each flight of stairs, plus one at the top of the walkway. Before installation, we carefully ground with 600-grit abrasive paper the capsule of the LEDs, so as to obtain a realistic diffused light. We carefully bent and cut to size the cathode leads of the LEDs, in order to directly suspend the LEDs by soldering the leads to the frame of the stairs. The frame becomes the “earth” of the power supply. Two operators, tweezers, and cut-to-size spacers (balsa wood) were necessary to put the pieces together. This is what we call in Italian slang “a rat’s job”, and goes against our construction philosophy of solid mounting templates, everything in place and fixed before soldering.
https://flic.kr/p/42208098284 For energizing the anodes, we carefully installed a 30-AWG wire-wrap insulated wire, keeping it under a slight tensile load and gluing it in position with droplets of cyanoacrylate in some points. We melted away the insulation layer from the wire in correspondence to the anode leads sticking out from the LEDs. One shot with an 8-Watt iron, and gentle scraping of the charred plastics does the job. A second shot with tin solders the leads to the wire. The excess length of the leads is (very carefully) removed with a cutting disk.
https://flic.kr/p/29053983728 After installation and soldering, we carefully applied one drop of 5-minute epoxy resin blended with 20% graphite powder at the top of the LEDs. The resin spontaneously flows into a nice hemispheric shape that simulates well the lamp housings and sockets (it also strengthens the leads of the LEDs). In the end, we did a careful re-weathering of the structure; after that, the wire and leads become visually blended into the steel latticework. Some sprays of black “wash” onto the LEDs, simulated well the dirt of industrial lamps, well visible when the LED is illuminated.
https://flic.kr/p/42877446072 https://flic.kr/p/42877426442 https://flic.kr/p/42208011194
Second area: the structure below and behind our rotary dumper.
Here, there are some interesting parts (e.g. the machinery for the rotation of the barrel), which are not clearly visible from the outside. After long discussions on the color to use, we decided to install three UV LEDs in a recessed position behind the hoppers of the dumper. The diffused violet light nicely enhances the visibility of the latticework and machinery.
https://flic.kr/p/28057373997 To be clear: the color of this lighting is NOT realistic; we will most probably light up the array of LEDs only when required by visitors interested in the details, or we will operate the LEDs full-time but at minimal amperage. We must gauge the final effect in the actual conditions of exhibition halls.
https://flic.kr/p/29054045658 https://flic.kr/p/42208163624 All these photos were shot with the maximum rated amperage of the violet LEDS, relatively strong photographic illumination (white) from outside, and the (existing) white lampposts of the dumper on.
https://flic.kr/p/29053896728
All the best from Milan
Mad Doc & Nickel Queen
 

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Dear modeling friends:

We continued the installation of lights, this time in the railcar positioner module of our layout.

First, the result:
We installed provisionally (in our living room) the two modules of the unloading section: rotary dumper and railcar positioner, and switched the arrays of LEDs on. It works.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
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And how we did it:
We made the structure of our light poles from harmonic steel wires, soldered together with the help of an assembly template. No plastics, no brass, just real-man steel :)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
With a suitable support, we installed the LEDs on the crosshead of our milling machine, and we precision-cut the leads of the LEDs with a cutting disk on the spindle of the machine, leaving a 0.3-mm difference in length between anode and cathode. To be noted, the leads of these LEDs are iron, pretty solid. We soldered the longer lead to the light pole, which is the electrical ground of the circuit; the shorter lead remains with a 0.3-mm separation from the ground. We provisionally installed the poles of the module, and checked alignment.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
We machined the footplates of the poles from 0.6-mm steel sheet.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
With another template, we soldered the footplates to the poles:
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We connected the insulated leads of the LEDs soldering them to a 0.3-mm steel wire, which simulates well a cable stretched between the poles. The insulated leads are fastened to the structure of the pole with a tiny droplet of graphite/epoxy resin; the same resin is applied to the top of the LEDs to simulate the socket and housing of the lamps. On the left-most pole, a wire-wrap leads current to the cable. With an airbrush, we applied a thin layer of matt black varnish to the cable, to simulate the appearance of a rubber-insulated electrical cable. We also applied a thin weathering to the LEDs to simulate the dirt on the glass covers of the lamps. We did first an ultra-light coat of brown wash, then an even minor amount of black, low-dilution varnish and low spray pressure, to obtain speckles of dirt.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/

To be continued.

All the best from Milan
Mad Doc & Nickel Queen
 

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Dear modeling friends.

We did an esthetic add-on to the module of our rotary railcar dumper, installing a pile of metal scrap. Sticking to our “little cost or no cost at all” philosophy, we built it from real metal swarf and offcuts from our construction, plus metal pieces coming from the oldest machinery of our layout, which we substituted and improved over the years. The pieces are arranged into a pile and kept in place with drops of cyanoacrylate.
https://flic.kr/p/29614818848 https://flic.kr/p/28599598537
Our junkyard is in a corner below the entrance track to the rotary dumper.
https://flic.kr/p/41678054730 https://flic.kr/p/28599439157
In prototype, the metal scraps are accumulated, and periodically loaded onto a truck and taken away. A Volvo wheeled loader takes charge of the transportation.
https://flic.kr/p/28599405877 https://flic.kr/p/29614907678 https://flic.kr/p/29614994538
We bought this loader for 8 € at a recent exhibition. Its body and most of the operational parts are die-cast metal, while the ancillary parts are injection-molded plastic. We completely disassembled it, de-burring and weathering all the parts, and installing a figurine as driver. This latest operation was a bit tricky; we took a standing-up “shunter” from Noch (it is made of semi-soft impact-modified polystyrene), and carefully did cutoffs in its back and legs, bending and fixing them in position with droplets of cyano. Carefully heating the “joints” of the limbs with an 8-Watt soldering iron at ca. 2 mm distance, we managed to fit the figurine into position onto the seat and into the cabin of the vehicle.
While the junk pile is permanently glued to the soil, the loader is movable, and can be arranged into position, as desired.

Finally, we placed some other miniature barrel cactuses in the landscape of this section. As described before, these are buds of real cactuses from our terrace.
https://flic.kr/p/42581387695 https://flic.kr/p/28599463497
All the best from Milan
Mad Doc & Nickel Queen
 

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Discussion Starter · #128 ·
Dear model railroading friends.

As foreseen, we have exhibited Consolidated Nickel Mines at the 16th Salon du Train Miniature 2018 in Orléans (France), on 9 an 10 November.
First of all, congratulations must go to the AMFC, the model railroading club that organized the show. Their members, plus other dozens of volunteers, have set up a top-notch event, where everything has worked perfectly.
We arrived at Orléans on Thursday, to install our stand on Friday. Large signs advertised the show all around the town.
https://flic.kr/p/44966534225
As usually, our installation took 9 hours. On a side, we continue to rationalize our installation; on the other side, we continue to add pieces and parts. Again, we must always consider 8 â€" 9 hours.
https://flic.kr/p/44966536335 https://flic.kr/p/30940614317
In the end, the layout was in position, and we did an operational test
https://flic.kr/p/44966531825 https://flic.kr/p/44966536985
We improved our landscape, modifying the structure of high-rise rocks and spires in the backdrop. Now this structure is installed on a flange, for easier installation.
https://flic.kr/p/30940614097
We have placed some new cactuses:
https://flic.kr/p/30940611907 Dry shrubs with their thorny seeds, which simulate well the cholla of the American desert. These plants are 10 â€" 50 mm high
https://flic.kr/p/44966532455 New combinations of shrubs and sages, H0 scale
https://flic.kr/p/44966532915
On Saturday, the doors open up, and the show starts:
https://flic.kr/p/30940613997 https://flic.kr/p/44966535765 https://flic.kr/p/30940613737 https://flic.kr/p/44966535025 https://flic.kr/p/30940613557 https://flic.kr/p/44966534615 https://flic.kr/p/30940613127
Our trains continue to shuttle from the loading station and the rotary dumper. With our latest modifications, we can load a 4-car consist in 15 minutes.
https://flic.kr/p/30940612387 https://flic.kr/p/30940612837 https://flic.kr/p/44966533665
By now, the complete unloading cycle of a 4-railcar train in our rotary dumper takes 3 minutes. At Consolidated nickel, the keyword is « productivity »
https://flic.kr/p/30940614787 https://flic.kr/p/44966537885 https://flic.kr/p/30940614597
Some aerial views:
https://flic.kr/p/45830111512 https://flic.kr/p/44063170020 https://flic.kr/p/44966538895
Our backstage, full of our usual piles of tools and spare parts:
https://flic.kr/p/45830110942
On Saturday and Sunday, a huge crowd visited the show. The official figure, released after closing hour, was ca. 10,000 paying visitors.
https://flic.kr/p/30940611087 https://flic.kr/p/30940611597
On Sunday evening, it took to us 3 hours to disassemble our layout and stand, and load all the pieces in our car. As usual, we were the last ones to leave the halls. We were dead tired, but satisfied. Again, heartfelt thanks must go to the AMFC for having organized such a spectacular event.

Best wishes from Milan

Mad Doc & Nickel Queen
 

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Discussion Starter · #129 ·
CABIN LIGHTING IN OUR LOCOS _ PART 1:
Dear friends.
We have decided to install engineer figurines and onboard cabin lighting in our locos. Problems: 1) our layout is 100% analog, no DCC 2) Our Alco S2/S4 have no space available onboard. This efficient machines have a massive alloy frame, and the cabin is invaded by metal and the gears to the aft bogey. All the extra weight explains the very good adhesion of these little switchers.
Installing the engineers was relatively easy. We took some Noch figurines, cut off part of the legs, heated and arranged the limbs in a more natural position, glued them in line with the windows.
Now, to the issue of lighting; the only soluton is to install on-board batteries. But, where?
In fact, the massive frame has an useful recess in its underside:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
The diameter of the hole is 12.5 mm, and its depth 12.7 mm. A quick check shows that we can (almost) stuff two LR44-AG13 1.5-Volt button cells in the cavity. We ream the hole to 12.7 mm, to allow the cells to fit in it.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
We have available 3-Volt miniature SMD LEDs. These things are really small (ca 2 mm x 1 mm). They draw 60 â€" 80 mA in the range of 2.8 â€" 2.9 Volt. The specified capacity of the cells is 100 mAh; that means at least 10 hours before discharge, enough for one day of exhibition.
We take our tools, including our stereomicroscope:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
We take our wires from an old 40 AWG flat cable out of the carcass of an old PC. Their OD is 0.5 mm, their lead diameter is 0.2 mm. We did not use our 40 AWG wire-wrap, since (at the same wire diameter) has no flexibility. The copper wire of the flat cable is annealed (pliable), while the wire-wrap is a boinging spring.
After some curses, we manage to solder the tiny LEDs to their leads. The following photos come straight from our microscope at 20 X magnification.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
At the bottom of the recess, we install with a piece of thin 2-sided adhesive tape a brass washer, soldered to a lead:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
The 2 button cells (insulated on their sides with transparent adhesive tape) go into position. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
Another washer and another lead collect the current from the other pole of the tiny cells:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
Beforehand, we had machined the covers that keep in position the batteries. The material of the covers is 0.5-mm steel sheet. One small piece of 2-side “foam” adhesive tape acts as spring, to keep everything in position.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
We drill and thread two holes in the metal frame of the loco, and two 1-mm bolts keep the covers in position. We assemble everything. To be noted: our cabin lighting is permanently under tension. The procedure is to install the batteries at the start of a day of exhibition, and take them out in the evening. One set of batteries per day will suffice.

Does it work? See part 2 of this report.

All the best from Milan
Mad Doc & Nickel Queen
 

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Discussion Starter · #130 ·
Dear friends.
Cabin light installed and functioning. Herewith the photos. The effect is rather interesting in subdued ambient light, or in the darkness. We are considering to install a set of dark blue LED lamps in our layout, to have the option of switching from "day" to "night" lighting conditions, as a function of the mood of the day :)
https://flic.kr/p/45252769355 https://flic.kr/p/45368588394 https://flic.kr/p/45181077025 https://flic.kr/p/45252768865 https://flic.kr/p/32293752898 https://flic.kr/p/45252769055 https://flic.kr/p/45252769115 P.S. we will exhibit Consolidated Nickel Mines at the Internationale Lahnsteiner Modellbahntage, on 9 and 10 march 2019, in Lahnstein-Koblenz (Germany). Everybody's invited.
All the best from Milan
Mad Doc & Nickel Queen
 

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Discussion Starter · #131 ·
Dear friends.

After a period of blissful railroading idleness, we began to carry out some serious maintenance to our layout. The list of things to do is rather long.

In our underground landscape, we have the loading unit at the base of the hoist. One long-postponed modification was the actuator of the diverter that switches the load between the right/left ways of the hoist.
The design of our old actuator comprised a hacked nano RC-servo, which moved a swiveling jackscrew through a universal joint (the jackscrew must follow the arc of the lever that moves the diverter).
This drive was rather slow, ca. 20 seconds lock-to-lock between right- and left- ways, and we decided to redesign the drive. After many hours at the drawing table, we started disassembling the unit:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/

We installed a crank on the shaft of the same nano-servo. The design foresees 180 degrees of rotation between the travel limiters for the drive.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/

The a.m. angular displacement yields the correct linear displacement of the diverter, which is connected to the crank with a pushrod.
Obviously, the drive must be radically re-positioned: we machine a new cradle for the drive, and we solder it into posiiton.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/

After careful verifications and some adjustments (and many curses) all the pieces go together.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/

These high-magnification photos show the unit installed and the very tight positioning of the moving pieces in the crammed available space. The many hours spent at the drawing table have finally paid off.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/

The drive, which originally worked at 3 Volt s for ca. 60 RPM, now works at ca. 1 Volt through an adjustable resistive trimmer. This gives ca. 3 - 4 seconds for a full 180 degrees swing, which is more realistic and less boring to see. One advantage of the chosen geometry for the linkage of the system is that the diverter (at a fixed angular speed of the drive) accelerates slowly, reaches its top speed at half of the travel, and decelerates slowly. This is even more pleasant to the eye.

All the best from Milan, will keep you posted

Mad Doc & Nickel Queen
 

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Please, use the correct IMG tags for the photo's.

Check the link in my Signature How To Post Images From Flickr on how to post photo's the easy way so they shew in the thread.

I can't be bothered to go to outside links and try to read a post at the same time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #133 ·
Dear friends.

More light(s) On one side, we added lights in the lower sections of our silos #1 and #2, to improve visibility of the machinery below. On the other side, we modified the wiring and lamp fixtures of the older lights. In parallel, we have now cabin lights in our locos.
The result:
Area below silo#2
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/

Area below silo #1 and hoist tower:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
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https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://flic.kr/p/46182456784
And how we did it:
Silo #2: we removed the entire old wiring. We soldered the 4 cathode leads of the new 2.8-mm white LEDs (below operator level of the silo) to the ground (metal frame of the silo) and to the cathodes of the 4 older LEDs (above operator level of the silo). We soldered together the anodes to fictitious cross-bracings, made of 0.3-mm steel rods. These cross-bracings are electrically insulated from the ground by small pieces of heat-shrink tubing (look at the pictures; it is clearer than any explanation). The system is rock-solid and there are no sagging wires around. The only wire is the one that carries electricity to one cross-bracing, and remains carefully hidden in the latticework on one pillar of the silo.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
On the top floor of the silo, we removed the old wiring, installed new lampposts, and installed new wiring from inside the silo and along the lampposts. The wires come from electronic scrap (30 AWG flat wire)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
We applied drops of our usual black epoxy-graphite on top of the LEDs, to strengthen the lead/LED junction, to simulate lamp fixtures, and to avoid stray light from the top of the LEDs.
Silo #1
In a similar way, we carefully bended and cut the leads of 4 new LEDs to fit into position, then we soldered the cathodes to the metal. We soldered the anodes together with fictitious cross-bracings as described above.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
This was the trickiest part. Installing intricate tiny pieces into the already intricate latticework necessitates 2 operators, 2 pairs of tweezers, operator’s wrists firmly placed on supports, provisional placement of the pieces with drops of cyano, and tons of patience. But if was fun.

Believe, after a good weathering, everything will become (almost) presentable.

And finally, we added some more vegetation:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/

All the best from Milan
Mad Doc & Nickel Queen
 

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Hi Mad Doc and Nickel Queen,
More wonderful work, I love it!
Please ignore the post above by a grumpy one - your work is worthy of a few "clicks" and anyone who cannot see that is not worth bothering with.
Ciao,
John.
 

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Discussion Starter · #135 ·
Dear all.
We had a nasty accident on 8 March, when we were installing our stand at the Internationale Lahnsteiner Modellbahntage 2019. We were halfway through the installation, when Bice got out of the exhibition hall to buy some sandwiches.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
Once on the street, Bice inexplicably tripped and fell.
With the typical German efficiency, two ambulances and an emergency doctor arrived. Somebody alerted me, and I dashed down to the street. Diagnosis: left femur broken, dislocated fracture.
The medics transported Bice and me to the Bruderhaus Klinikum in Koblenz. Again, it was German efficiency at its best. In less than four hours, they X-rayed, did CATs, did blood tests, collected from us the entire medical records, and Bice entered the operating room. The personnel ordered me to leave and come back the morning after. So I did. I took a train back to Lahnstein, went back to the Stadthalle, and began to tackle the logistics. The organizers had already fenced the area of our semi-installed layout. I had to tell them the whole sad story. Everybody wanted to know, and they were sincerely shocked. I began to disassemble the layout, a slow process that I managed to complete on the evening of 9 March, with the exhibition open to the public. In the evening, I sent some mails and canceled all my appointments for the coming weeks.
The support of the organizers and members of the Modelleisenbahn Club Lahnstein has been great. I want especially to thank Mr. Lehmkuhler, President of the Club, Mrs. Doris Weiland of the Weiland Hotel, who generously extended my stay at her hotel for a further two days after the end of the show, and Mr. Bingel, member of the Club, who kept me as guest in one of his holiday apartments in Bad Ems until Bice was released from the hospital (12 days later).
The day after, Saturday 10, I took my train to Koblenz. I met Bice. Now, she had her femur fixed with an intra-medullar titanium nail. Routine operation, post-operatory course normal, the doctors said. Incredibly, one day after these modern operations, they mobilize the patient, allowing his/her to do some steps, of course with crutches and with the help of physiotherapists.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
In the afternoon, I went back to Lahnstein. The show was in full swing, a colossal crowd was around, people were even taking photos of our semi-installed layout, and asking questions. I had to update all the friends about the conditions of Bice. They helped me disassembly the stand and load my car.
In the evening, there was the official buffet of the exhibitors at the Club’s headquarters. I was there. Good thing that everybody tried and distract me from the current problems.
My routine in the following days was commuting with a morning train from Bad Ems to Koblenz, spend my day with Bice, and commute back to Bad Ems in the afternoon.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
Meanwhile, Herr Lehmkuhler and Herr Bingel paid personal visits to Bice at the hospital, depositing large bouquets of flowers (to the greatest envy of the other dames of the hospital room…)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
Meanwhile, from the hospital, we had a wonderful view of the bustling railroad traffic.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
Finally, Bice was released on 20 March, which was an eternity. Apparently, the doctors wanted to be on the extra-safe side, before releasing their esteemed Italian guest. We verified with our insurance about the options to transport Bice back home, but the doctors said that the best option was to drive her back in our own car.
In the afternoon of 20 March, Bice was exhausted, but wanted to do a quick tour. We drove along the Rhine, and then went back home at Manfred Bingel’s place.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
On 21 March we left, and after a stopover in Freiburg, we arrived at base on 22 March afternoon.
Here in Milan, the Nickel Queen underwent another thorough check with an orthopedic surgeon in Milan. She is doing rehabilitation (3 months), and will undergo periodic checks and X-rays. 6 months is the expected convalescence before recovery.
The organizers have stated that we must absolutely take part to the next Internationale Lahnsteiner Modellbahntage Ausstellung 2020. If luck helps us, that will be our utmost pleasure.
Mad Doc
 

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Hello Mad Doc and Bice,
Eeek! Ouch, what a thing to happen, I actually winced when I read your report.
It's good to know how well you were both treated though, the beauty of European co-operation at its best I think*.
Best wishes for a quick and full recovery,
John.

*Although much milder, I had a similar experience in France a few years ago, when my mum tripped and fell - scratches and bruises but no breaks and exceptional local care, wonderful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #137 ·
Dear friends.

Six months passed by, after the nasty accident and operation. The Queen underwent a rigorous rehabilitation program, and we had no time to touch our trains. In the end, her conditions improved greatly (surprisingly). We managed to spend our summer holidays in the Austrian Alps. The Queen began doing short hikes. She had minor pains, but nothing serious. Progressively, she increased her pace, and at the end of the holiday, she could hike 3 or 4 hours to peaks at altitudes of 8000 - 9000 feet , with altitude gains larger than 3000 feet. Sometimes, the Queen preferred to take a rest, and alone I did some climbs (bad sensation, not to have her with me).

Now, back to trains. We will exhibit Consolidated Nickel Mines at the following shows:
1) Faszination Modellbau Friedrichshafen (Germany) on 1, 2, and 3 November
https://www.faszination-modellbau.de/medien...der-video-logo/
Scroll down to “Modelbahn-Anlagen”and go to slides 14-15)

2) Expo Trains Luxembourg, on 9 and 10 November, in Walferdange/Luxembourg.
http://www.amfl.net/page/exhibitors

In the contiguous days of that 2-week period I will also be on business trips in Germany and France. We will be hopping around the Old Continent for a while.

All the best from Milan

Mad Doc
 

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Dear friends.

We are preparing our layout for the coming exhibitions. And, for the first time after the accident, we started building something. This is a simple add-on to our landscape, two twin stationary tanks.

We retrieved from our junk pile a couple of empty WD40 cans, and cut out their concave bottoms
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/

From other cans, we retrieved the steel sheet for the sides of the tanks
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/

We machined the pieces with the help of cutting disks on the spndle of our milling machine, and soldered the pieces together
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/

On the right-hand side is one tank before machining the welding seams and on the left one tank after machining.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/

We machined the base from flat 0.6-mm steel sheet, and soldered the tanks into position
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/

The reinforcement plates at the base of the tanks are tiny offcuts of 0.2-mm steel sheet. Milling away the excess solder from such minuscule parts took some time and effort.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/

And here the first phase of the construction is complete.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/

We will complete the structure with inspection manholes at the top of the tanks, access ladder and walkway, vents and piping.

All the best from Milan
Mad Doc & Nickel Queen
 

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Update:
We have installed the inspection hatches at the top of the two tanks. First, we soldered into position the flanges, and fabricated the hatches. Soldering into position the hinges required specific assembly templates; the hinges (before soldering) were integral parts of much larger pieces, in order to be able to manipulate and install them with the required tolerances.
https://flic.kr/p/48843625832 After soldering, we trimmed away the excess metal form the hinges:
https://flic.kr/p/48843625727 The hinges are operational; the hatches open and close
https://flic.kr/p/48843440351 We will complete the finishing of the parts, and then install the ladders and railings. As reference, the tanks have a diameter of 48 mm (1 + 7/8 inches)
https://flic.kr/p/48843440326 https://flic.kr/p/48843625522 To be continued
Mad Doc & Nickel Queen
 

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Update:
See photos, with the tanks provisionally installed in the terminal (right-hand side) section of our layout.
We installed the safety railings:
https://flic.kr/p/48866646556 https://flic.kr/p/48866128783 Then we installed the ladders and safety cages.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
We mass-produced the rings of the safety cages from a thin-walled steel tube.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
We soldered one thin-walled steel tube section onto 2 pieces of 0.2-mm steel sheet, kept at the correct distance (equal to the width of the ladder) by one pieces of hardwood machined to the correct size. We put the piece into the vise of our milling machine, and cut series of 0.8-mm sections (the rings) and then separate the rings from their matrix with a transversal cut (and this is the time when the tiny pieces of metal tend to fly away as soon as they separate from the matrix.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
Doing so, we can obtain rings of very precise dimensional tolerances. But, these rings have a cross-section of 0.7 x 0.2 mm. We had to operate with minimal tool advance speed, spraying cutting fluid, so as not to destroy our fragile piece of metal
We assembled the pieces together, with the help of specific templates/assembly frames.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
During trimming of the soldered joints, we supported the ultra-fragile safety cages with one steel rod of the exact diameter.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/...eposted-public/
Finally, we matched and soldered the sub-assemblies (ladders and safety cages) to the main structure. Final trimming, de-burring, and finishing must still be done.
No plastic, no resin, no brass, no photo-etching, no 3D modeling. At Consolidated Nickel, it’s just real men’s (and women's) high-grade steel :)

To be continued

Mad Doc & Nickel Queen
 
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