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LF's First 4mm Scale Semaphore Kit

13078 Views 33 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Lancashire Fusilier
Right, MSE's LMS 4mm scale tubular post upper quadrant semaphore signal kit. (What a mouthful!)

Complete set of parts as delivered showing fret, ladder, wires, tubes, white metal castings, lens glazing and a base plate.

Following perusal of instructions I strated on the arm by burnishing both sides of the fret parts with the fibre glass burnisher (NOTE: the fibres are dangerous and will end up in your skin like splinters and are incredibly difficult to see or remove. Parts can be burnished under running water or I found food preparation gloves made from PVC not latex gave excellent protection without loss of dexterity as most actions involve the use of tweezers, pliars or soldering iron anyway)

You can see the two parts that were removed from the fret. Before removal I brushed a little flux onto the back of the arm and the front of the spectacle plate and applied a toush of the solder to the clean iron tip. Then touched the tip to the spec plat and this instantly put a thin veneer of solder in the triangular pice of the spec plate. Position the blade ontop and apply the soldering iron tip to the front and it melts the solder between the two bits making a hot solder sandwich and ruslts in a finished and complete blade and spec plate as shown.

Before moving the spec plate from the fret I drilled out the spindle hole to 0.8mm with a pin vice and appropriate size drill. If people are interested I am happy to show the tools that I used too. The other hole to drill out is the very scary 0.4mm hole that the operating wire connects to up in the far right corner of the spec plate. This I did in three steps using a 0.3, 0.35 and finally an 0.4mm drill to open this out without breaking the fret.

Once opened out you can solder in a spindle from some supplied 0.8mm wire. I drilled an 0.8mm hole in the pice of timber you see and stuck the wire in it. Then threaded on the spec plate and made the soldered connection from behind. Snipped off the spindle protruding through the front and filed with an emery board (wife's nail file type).

After that I cut the post and butt to size from the 2mm and 2.5mm brass tube respectively. I have chosen to model a 16' Starter and a table of sizes and scale lengths is included in the kit which I used to size the lengths. I cut the tube with my Xuron track cutters as I don't have a minidrill or Dremel type of tool, nor a razor saw for that matter! Will get there later I guess, maybe fathers' day perhaps. The track cutter worked well, very slight ovalation of the cut which was easily rectified by using the correct sized drill that match both tubes internal bore and thus reamed out the tubes ever so slightly.
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I am not sure however Richard sold it to me and he mentions in a different thread.

Richard, perhaps you can re-iteate the wire type here?
QUOTE (Lancashire Fusilier @ 18 May 2008, 21:51) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I am not sure however Richard sold it to me and he mentions in a different thread.

Richard, perhaps you can re-iteate the wire type here?

*** Hi John/Paul

its an ultra-fine Kynar coated wire - solid core and silver plated for easy soldering. Very very thin insulation so the overall wire diameter is far finer than decoder wire but it contains equivalent copper.

Superb for tight DCC installation work as well as such things as Pauls signals - its big advantage is that while actually very easy to use it stays where U put it without flopping verywhere like decoder wire - especially vauable where space or layout/position within the loco or model is important.

The kynar insulation loves superglue too, so its easily tacked in place. I often use it for simulating power, conduit or lubrication lines on loco models as well as other things. The insulation likes permanent marker pen ink too so if a visible wire is not black and should be it can soon be coloured that way :)

It can be expensive to buy by the reel but I sell it in a pack of several colours for $A6

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Thanks, Richard. I have used some fine enamelled wire (around 40SWG) from an old inductor I'd made while working in my first job designing and making such devices at Plessy's in Ilford, Essex, about 40years ago. This is not quite human hair size but looks quite reasonable on the signal I've nearly made. And it stays in place as well.

Well here are the photos of the signal after a primer spray coat of Tamia grey primer. I left the arm in so that paint didn't get into the spindle bearing or on the spindle. I was a little concerned initially that the lever weight arm would get a little gunked up but this didn't happen and as soon as the paint was applied I used a small screw driver to pivot the balance weight a few times which prevented it sticking solid. All worked well I think and tonight I will tackle the painting of the rest of the signal. I will use white and black Humbrol enamel, brush applied and then weather it down to make it look well used.

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I bought a Veissman signal solenoid from MSE while at the Railex 2008 exhibition at Aylesbury this weekend. My signal is not yet complete, so I could not try it out but the motion of the armature of the solenoid should provide movement akin to the electric signal motors particularly favoured by the GWR for distants, no bounce on placing to danger, of course.

I asked Andrew at MSE if he ever looked at this forum, and explained that someone was posting pictures of their construction of one of his signals. He commented he understood someone had done this already on the RM website. (They actually had a small stand at the show, by the way.)

John Webb
The Veissman comes recommended indeed and I look forward to seeing how you get on with it. At the 10-12 GBP mark I found them uneconomic for 40 or so signals and am currently exploring memory wire from a Carrs kit supplied by Richard Johnson which should work out at about AU$5 per signal so will continue this post with the developments there. Andrew at MSE did ask that if I did a post that I let hom know on RMWeb which was nice to see his comments and suggestions too.
I look forward to your comments John on the revised signalling plan aswel. Saw your EM layout in a book I borrowed from the local library yesterday!!
QUOTE (Lancashire Fusilier @ 27 May 2008, 11:30) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>The Veissman comes recommended indeed and I look forward to seeing how you get on with it.
I'll let you know how I get on once I get back to the modelling!

QUOTE ....Saw your EM layout in a book I borrowed from the local library yesterday!!
Now that's interesting, since I've never modelled in EM gauge, let alone had it published in a book! Must be another John Webb. My layout was in an article in Railway Modeller in June last year, although it was mainly about the way I could run the Hornby Live steam on the same tracks as the ordinary 12v locos.

I intend to sit down tomorrow and look at your signal plans, but at a quick glance they look OK to me.

Ell then, there you go! I was surprised myself but couldn't imagine there was two John Webbs doing quality work! Anyway, I won't tell me wife that it isn't you as it has added weight to your expert opinions.
QUOTE (Lancashire Fusilier @ 28 May 2008, 12:04) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>....Anyway, I won't tell me wife that it isn't you as it has added weight to your expert opinions.
Thanks for the compliment. Which book was the EM layout in, by the way?

I've added my comments to the layout signal plan thread.

The book is called "Adventurous Model Railway Plans" by Alan Postlethwaite, ISBN 1 85260 613 4. Thanks for the additional comments. I will ammend the diagrams shortly to capture the changes.
Thanks for the info - whose's the publisher, by the way?

QUOTE (John Webb @ 29 May 2008, 11:36) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Thanks for the info - whose's the publisher, by the way?


Carrying on with the signal construction here are a couple more shots showing the painted and weathered signal in need of its operating linkages.

I then made up a tiny circuit to run the LED with a 1k Ohm resistor in series with a 10k trimpot that allows me to adjust the voltage applied to the LED and ths the brightness. This cost cents to make and minutes to put together and will be usful for adjusting the brightness of the LEDs across the layout depending on where they are sighted and where operators of the layout are situated, that way I can customise the lighting brightness for each signal. I would need terminals anyway for the connection of the wires so this is not really a big deal extra. I could measure the resistance across the trimpot if happy with the brightness and install a fixed value resistor if I wanted to aswell.

I have also started experimenting with control devices to drive these signals. As I need around 40 or so of them I was keen to come up with a low cost, realistic movement, repeatable installation method and am experimenting with a number of solutions. The first is memory wire shown in the following photo with the fine wire contracting when current applied and the spring returning the crank back to original position. You get about 3mm of movement per 100mm length of memory wire making this almost right for the movement required to activate a 4mm scale signal.

I have built a Mark II version too which is much better and will take a pictuyre of it over the weekend. It is off to see Richard Johnson today!
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I attended the Perth (WA) model railway show last weekend and picked up this neat little gearbox kit which I thought may offer an alternate solution for signal control.

Here is the pack on the right along with some other goodies I picked up too!

The parts are laid out here.

I then assembled the frames of the gearbox and inserted the motor.

One additional point to make is that I pre-tinned and soldered the motor drive wiring before assembly to avaoid theneed for having a hot soldering iron near the plastic framework.

The rods slide in and then you pick as many of the gears as you want to add depending on the reduction ratio your require. Each gear to pinion is a 4:1 ratio so two gears gives 16:1 and so on. Using all the gears as I have here has brought the final gear speed down to 2-3 RPM which is very slow and may well be close to the speed I need to drive signals. The company also offers a rack and pinion accessory that may well be ideal for converting the circular gear movement to linear drive.

The whole kit cost me a tenner (5GBP) which is great value however I feel that they may be a little noisy even when running of 1.5Volts as I did for this experiment (I used a AA battery). I will perservere with it though if for no other reason than to rule it out as being too noisy - the only issue I see as it is cheap and repeatable in it construction.

The company is based in the UK and is called MFA / Como Drills. I would be pleased to hear from anyone who has used there rack and pinion set with a gear box or has another solution that may work. I am thinking about chopping some of the excess length of the main shaft and inserting it in one of the 4 aux holes shown in the gears as this would provide the linear movement possibly.
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