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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
One of my New Year's resolutions is to build a locomotive chassis kit, and this isn't it. Since I haven't soldered anything apart from small pieces of wire, I thought I would learn on something static. A couple of years ago I bought a London Road Models LNWR signal box kit (link) which seems like a good place to start.

So I've read the instructions several times; identified all the bits and pieces on the frets; I'm just about ready to start and can't decide how to separate the parts from the fret without causing any damage.

Do I use a really sharp knife or do I need a good quality side cutter of some kind?


I don't know - HELP!


David
(Once my camera batteries are charged, I'll post some step by step photos)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the pointer Shep. I'll order a pair this evening. I'm a great believer in having the right tools for the job.

I promise pictures will follow!

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Here's the etch just before I get started on it with my newly acquired Xuron cutters



This is the progress after two hours. Most of this time was spent filing whilst listening to Radio 5 Live. Glad I'm not a Baggies fan




I don't think I've done any damage yet


David
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
This is the state of play at the end of session 3


Having the front windows in makes quite a difference and my left thumb has almost recovered from the soldering iron burn .....

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So far all the bends have been 90 degrees and I have started them with a pair of angled pliers which were part of a set of five from a "bargain" bin at B&Q. All the bends have been along a half etched line which I imagine makes the process easier. I have judged the 90 degrees by eye.

The parts with bends are:-
Two on each side of the base
Along the top edge of the barge boards. One part of the bend is very small and I did the right hand one the wrong way

Each corner post apart from the one at the left rear. It does not have a face for the short side because it will be obscured by the toilet.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I've just been doing some "tab" filing in preparation for the next stage and noticed that the etching for the planking of the veranda/platform is not completely through in all places. Is it wise to have a go at cleaning this up with a scalpel blade or should I leave well alone?

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thank you very much for the soldering lesson Richard. I have never been taught soldering and that which I have done has all been electrical where liquid flux is the devil's own ..... well you know what I mean.

As it happens, my tool box contains fibre glass brushes (how do you avoid the shards?), some Carr's Green flux and some wet & dry from a car project years ago.

Here's the result. I'm not sure if you can see my "new" soldering but I used flux every time - honest. I think I just need some practice.



The windows and hand rails are now all present.
The platform is secured and the toilet is complete but not yet secured to the main building. That fold down each side of the end frame was a nightmare!

All that's left in the kit are the steps and the cantilever brackets for the platform that runs under the windows. I've to make the base myself.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I have now completed the steps. I'm rather pleased with how they have turned out.



If you look closely at the platform brackets just under the end window you will see that I haven't mastered the art of attaching small objects to large chunks of metal. There are still great big blobs of solder and I haven't worked out how to get the solder to flow like paint on the big mass of metal. As I hope the step assembly shows, I'm fine with the small stuff.

Can someone give me some clues? Is this a case where the shape of the tip is important? I'm using quite a pointy tip at the moment.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Thank you Peter and Richard for the pointers on soldering. I will have another go over the weekend.

Re: Patience
The steps took a while but there is a half etched slot for each step in the side runner. So my technique was tin on runner on the under side of the slot. Tin each end of the underside of the step and insert. The instructions tell you to do the top and bottom step first, which is excellent advice. The posts at the top and bottom have pieces on each side, that's 8 in total, to thicken them up. I seem to remember having problems with one of them but apart from that it was fairly straight forward. I think the steps took about 4 hours in total, so I won't be taking commissions


QUOTE Looks like it will be the Dickens to paint when done though. Do you leave the roof off? Put in an interior?

I plan to spray all over with primer and then we'll see.

I do plan to add a Wills interior and some lights and a fire effect in the stove. I was thinking of using a loco decoder for the flicker....

Thanks for the encouragement.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
I like the way that Wills interior looks
and thanks for finding those TCS decoders.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
That's an interesting piece of kit Expat.

Thanks
David
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
After a couple of hours rework, the end of the signal box now looks like this:-



I need to get my hands on some desoldering braid to make the job easier

David
 

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All the major soldering work has been completed. I found the easiest way for me to attach the brackets was to add the rear part first and then attach the bracket part. This is a close up of how one of them turned out:



It is time to make a start on the base. This is not included in the kit but you do get drawings to indicate where the windows and door should go. I've decided to make an inner skeleton of 1.5mm card which I purchased some time ago to build a Scalescenes retaining wall. I was considering using Scalescenes dark brown brick for the completed surface but having seen what Jim can achieve with plastic card on his New Street layout, I've decided to try some too.

Having build the base skeleton, I just had to do a trial run to see what it looks like. The roofing material is Wills and comes in the kit. It is held up under the eaves with a spot of blue tack.



You will notice that the building extends down below ground level. This is because I want the building to appear to rise up out of the earth rather than just sit on it.

David
 

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I ordered a Logan 2000 push style mat (mount) cutter on Thursday evening and it turned up this morning. As I felt a bit under the weather, we decided not to go out today so I tried to take my mind off my ills by seeing whether I could make anything of it. As readers of Jim-sw's layout thread will know, it is Jim's idea to use a mount cutter for creating bevelled edges in Plasticard so that you get better looking corners. He also commented on "wobbly" cuts which is definitely a bit of a problem when starting out. Whether or not it would be easier with one of the fancier cutters which come complete with parallel edge, I don't know and am unlikely too at £150 plus.

I did have several failures - both end walls started out as back walls but the second bevelled cut was a miserable failure, so I cut again to the shorter width. I've still got a couple of offcuts which are almost but not quite the same width as the back


I must have spent between 5 and 6 hours getting from the last photo to these. The problem with doing things in small stages is that you can't see the overall change. Each little change doesn't seem to do very much and constantly looking at the detail under a 4x magnifier does make the corners look really dodgy indeed.

About the only tip of my own to pass on from this episode is that I found it a great help to sellotape (and it was Sellotape) the plasticard to the steel rule to ensure that it wouldn't move when I was cutting it. I must have got through yards of the stuff.

Enough of the blather, here are some photos and though I say it myself I think the box is starting to look like one now. In fact it's so much like the real thing, I've taken three photos for your viewing pleasure.







I made some other purchases on Thursday night which are still in transit - some Ratio brick arch edging, a Wills interior kit, an aerosol of etch primer and some Railmatch dark brick paint.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
The problem with building a signal box with a brick base is that you need arches over the windows. Carved holes in the plain brick work just don't look right. I didn't fancy creating my own and thought that the brick arches made by Ratio might be suitable. These duly arrived in the post during the week but they were far too big so it was time for plan B.

I bought various thicknesses of plain plasticard and found that 20 thou matched the thickness of the brick card I have used. Before I started this project I thought I might be able to clad the base with Scale Scenes brick paper and arches. Although I haven't used the brick paper, I have been using the arches as templates; first for cutting out the shapes and now as a template for creating the arches themselves. I cut out an arch of the size required and glued it to the plain plasticard with PVA. Then I cut around the arch to get the required shape. The PVA holds just long enough to get the shape about right. I then created some V shaped indentations to give the impression of brick courses but it's no more than an impression. It's not perfect but to do any better, I'd need a computer controlled router as I'm working at the limit of my dexterity.

The final stage of this process was to cut away the plain brick using the newly created arch as a template and glue the arch in the gap. Although the first one took some time, the others were somewhat quicker.

Whilst carving away at the brickwork for the arches, I felt that the sides of the window openings should also have some brick cladding. I cut some very thin strips brick, widened the openings in the card skeleton and glued the edgings in place.

Although this has taken a few hours to do, visual progress is very little so I've mocked up a surrounding base with some offset cuts of board and dropped the signal box into the gap. This allows the steps to be rested against one end. The planking around the top windows is some Evergreen styrene strip which I bought at the same time as the plasticard. I didn't fancy my chances at cutting some suitably thin strips myself.

Here's the result:


The next step is painting; something I've been trying to avoid. I need to find a large box to act as a spray booth.....

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
One large box, a can of etch primer, a set of acrylics, some Phoenix and Railmatch enamels, three teeny weeny brushes, a head mounted binocular magnifier and rather a lot of time has produced this:-





I'm still looking for something to mix a grey in for the mortar wash on the brick work. I've not managed to find a palette yet and I'm not sure when my next Dolmio day is, but I'll use the lid if I can grab it before it is discarded. I still haven't tracked down a slate grey either. I could have had any number of rail company related greys but not for slate. I know Humbrol do a couple so maybe a trip to Squires might do the trick.

There's no windows in yet either. The rather curious effect you see in the photos is the white acrylic I've rough brushed over the grey primer on the interior walls. You may just be able to make the start of the interior. There are a couple of block instruments on the shelf but the lever frame has not yet been assembled.

The colours were chosen based on the St. Albans Box photos that John Webb has published.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
QUOTE That really has turned out superbly
Thanks. I am pleased with it and as the evenings have gone on - one coat of something a night - I've been noticing how out of date the last gallery photo was.

QUOTE Almost seems a shame to weather it !!!
I will do the base but I'm very reluctant to do the super structure....

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
QUOTE You could always pretend the original burnt down

What's more likely to happen is that I will try to scratch build an all wooden ex GNR box based on one of the boxes at Leeds Central and this LNWR one will be redundant. I think I can get away with shiny A3s and A4s appearing because they are on "running in" turns after a major overhaul at Doncaster works, but shiny freshly painted signal boxes in the '50s especially on a doomed line is probably pushing it a bit too far


Or maybe once I start fitting the details like gutters and drain pipes it may become easier.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #46 ·
QUOTE but possibly the brickwork could do with dirtying.

I bought a palette at the weekend so that I can mix some white and black acrylic which should do the trick if I get it right

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #49 ·
Thanks for the tip about using the mount cutter Tom, I'll remember that one for the next time. The soldering advice given in the thread was really useful, so if you run into any problems have another look at it.

I am still working on the box, so there will be one or two more photos to come. I came up with a track plan for the box to control and did a signalling diagram for it. Then I put together the lever frame with levers painted in the appropriate colours and positions. There's still more bits and pieces of painting to be done and more detail to add. It's a lot of small tasks which either need drying time between them or delivery time whilst small parts get delivered.

David
 
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