A Little Time Off

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted, but don’t panic I’m still here!  It’s been a busy summer, and as we neared the end of it I expected things to be a little quieter but I’ve been working at show and exhibitions supporting my wife’s business, which I hope will enable me to increase my purchase of trains and train-related travel!

Next week I’ll be back to my normal posts but for this week I just wanted to check in and let you know about a couple of shows which I’ll be at.

On October 20th the Poole Model Railway exhibition will be at the Poole Grammar School in Dorset.  You can find more about that here.

Along with my fellow modellers from the Gosport American Model Railway Group we’ll be taking all of our modular N Scale layout ‘Solent Summit, to the ‘WARLEY NATIONAL 2019′ show on the 23rd-24th November at the NEC in Birmingham.  You can read more about the show here.  The ‘WARLEY NATIONAL 2019′  is one of the largest shows in the country which is why we can take such a big layout.  With five scale miles of scenery, Solent Summit will be 65′ by 30’.

So if you’re coming to either of the shows I’ll see you there.

And as promised next week I’ll be back to my regular posts.

Plugging it all Together With Anderson Powerpoles

In July of 2016 I shared with you how we join our modular layout, ‘Solent Summit’, together electrically using ‘Chock Blocks’.  You can find the post here.  Since then we’ve improved on this system by using Anderson Powerpole plugs.

The ‘Chock Blocks’ worked well for several years but the more we used the layout, and the larger it gets, we started to notice more and more that wires would get pulled out, the pins in the male sections would need spreading to ensure a good contact, and we were chasing electrical problems.

So we looked around for another solution.  There are several out there and they vary in design and price, but in the end we settled on Anderson Powerpole.  These are not the cheapest but the quality and reliability, so far, has been outstanding.  These have also been the standard connector for the NTRAK Modular Railroading Society since 2005.

There were three things that stood out to us, other than the quality of the product.  Firstly, the plugs are universal, which means there is no Male or Female sections, just one plug which connects to any other Powerpole.  Secondly, the plugs can be assembled in any order to make a connector to suit your needs; if you connect a wire to the wrong location you can simply move the Powerpole.  Thirdly, the Powerpole casings are the same size for the three different wire size fittings so you can easily combine different wire sizes.

The only disadvantage to the system, apart from the cost, is you need a special crimp tool, but that’s it.

The basic system looks like this; a crimp tool, plastic connectors and wire crimps.

The connectors come in a variety of colours.

The crimp tool is fairly large but very easy to use, as you’ll see later on.

The crimp connectors come in three sizes; 15 amp, 30 amp & 45 amp.  As we’re working with model railways 15 amp is more than sufficient, but we also have some of the 30 amp crimps simply because they are designed for larger wire.  Below are the 15 and 30 amp crimps.  The circular part is for the wire and the shaped section fits into the plastic connector.

For my new Tehachapi Loop modules I’ll be using the 15 amp crimps.  This orange wire needs to be linked across the two modules.

I strip the wire back by about the same length as the circular section on the crimp using a regular set of wire strippers and twist the ends together.  Twisting the ends ensures there are no stray strands.

The crimp tool has three positions, one for each crimp size.  The tool is ratcheted so it won’t spring open, allowing you to place the crimp in the jaws without it falling out.  The wire can then be placed into the crimp and the tool squeezed.  Once the tool reaches the right amount of compression on the crimp the ratchet releases and the tool opens up.  As I said before, it’s very easy to use.

The end of the wire is now crimped and is very securely fixed.

The plastic housing has a metal plate inside which the shaped section of the crimp pushes over.  Once it’s in it won’t pull back out; the cutaway image below (from Wikipedia) shows how it fits.

The plug can then be added to a plug block which can be assembled in any configuration.  Each plug has grooves on two sides and a raised section which fit into the grooves on the the other two sides.  And as I said before should you get one in the wrong place, one of the greens for example, it’s easy to slide them apart and correct the positioning.

To make unpacking and packing the modules quicker, as well as protecting the wires in transport, we’ve glued a singe Powerpole plug to the underside of the modules so the connector group can be secured.

The Powerpoles push together easily and hold well, but when you want to pull them apart it can be done without a lot of force.

As you can see they’re ideal for modular layouts.  In the main connector I have several small wires and the larger main bus wires, which use the 30amp crimps.

The Anderson Powerpoles are available from lots of places including Amazon and Ebay as is the crimp tool.  We have now converted all of our modules to this system and so far it has proved to be well worth it.

A Review of My OO Gauge Fixed Link Wagon Coupling’s

This week I had hoped to bring you the next post about fitting ESU Loksound decoders to three Alco C-855s but time has been rather short this week and they’re not ready yet.  You can find the first post here.

So this week I’ll simply leave you with a review of my 3D printed ‘OO Gauge Fixed Link Wagon Coupling’s’ by Charlie at Chadwick Model Railway.

Thanks to Charlie for the review, for me it’s back to the work bench, until next week.

A Different Material for Gears

For a few weeks I’ve been experimenting with different materials for small gears and in this week’s post I wanted to share with you one of the materials which doesn’t work.

For a while now I’ve been 3D printing replacement gears for a variety of locomotives in Shapeways’ Smooth Fine Detail material (formally known as FUD).  This material has the advantage of being very accurate to the 3D model size; the detail is crisp, which is ideal for small teeth, it’s hard so it wears well, and several gears can be 3D printed in close proximity to each other without actually touching.

The disadvantage of this material is it hardens, which also makes it brittle.  For larger gears this isn’t a problem as the big surface area also adds strength, but with small and tiny gears the teeth tend to break under shock loads such as a locomotive suddenly stopping.  The tiny teeth have no flexibility and crack when overloaded.  The Smooth Fine Detail material is acrylic, or very close to it, and the properties don’t allow for flexibility.

Recently Shapeways’ introduced a new materiel, Multi Jet Fusion Plastic or PA12.  This is a product which comes from Hewlett-Packard and is a nylon plastic.  This sounds ideal for gears as it’s hard, but with a touch of flexibility, meaning the teeth can take a shock impact.  And it comes in dark grey which is nearly black.  Reading the design specifications for this material the level of detail attainable is not as high as the Smooth Fine Detail but I wanted to see how close it was.  So with a set of gears I’ve recently produced for the 009 Society I 3D printed them in both the Smooth Fine Detail and the PA12.

As you can see the PA12 simply doesn’t have the precision of the Smooth Fine Detail. The teeth have rounded as the material has flowed into itself and the gears are all fused to the spindle.  With the Smooth Fine Detail set the teeth are crisp, the same size as the 3D model, and all spin freely on the spindle.  To be fair these gears are particularly small at only 4.3mm in diameter for the larger and 3.4mm for the smaller.  The PA12 may work with some of my larger gears and I’ll give it a go with a later order.

But for now my primary material for gears is still the Smooth Fine Detail.

Sad News From The Deeping Model Railway Club

This week I have some sad news from the Deeping Model Railway Club.

For the last twelve years they have held the Stamford Show and this year it was to be on the 18th of May 2019 at the Stamford Welland Academy.  As with most of the shows I attend, and the one I organize for the Poole & District Model Railway Society, most of the traders and larger layouts set up the day before.  Unfortunately in the early hours of the morning the premises was broken into and the layouts and trade stands were destroyed.

The secretary for the Market Deeping Model Railway Club has set up a crowd funding page in which he says:

“Market Deeping Model Railway Club needs your help to rebuild. We have held our annual show in Stamford for the last 12 years. Months of planning goes into the show and years of work goes into building the layout. Imagine our horror and grief when we were greeted by this scene of absolute devastation on the morning of 18th May 2019. Some of the models on display are irreplaceable and whilst money cannot possibly replace the hours of painstaking effort that has been so wantonly destroyed, we would ask that you make a donation, no matter how small, to help us get back on our feet. Please accept our thanks in advance.”

The link to the crowd funding site is below.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/market-deeping-mrc

Links to news stories in the press:

Deepings Nub news 

https://deepings.nub.news/n/four-youths-arrested-after-model-railway-exhibition-vandalised

The Rutland and Stamford and Mercury 

https://www.stamfordmercury.co.uk/news/four-arrested-at-welland-academy-after-vandalism-of-model-railway-exhibition-9070661/?fbclid=IwAR2-wuG-vAQHWGIydWjME6eeCfveRsTQenI-uhj2KaesVAe_x9aw_cCnYrg

I hope the The Deeping Model Railway Club can rebuild and recover from this devastating incident.

Price Changes for 2019

This week I had planned on bringing you an update on the new 3D printed gears for the N Scale Bachmann 4-8-4.  However something a little more pressing has come up which requires my attention.

As of today, the 29th April 2019, some of the prices in my Shapeways shop have changed.  This is because Shapeways have had a restructure of their pricing system for their Smooth and Smoothest Fine Detail Plastic materials (formally known as FUD).

This is the main material I use for locomotive shells, detail parts and replacement gears.  Back in May of 2017 a similar change was made which also affected the prices of the parts in my shop.  As with that change some models have come down in price and some have gone up.  I’ll be working through all of my models to ensure the price change is either beneficial or not too excessive.  This will mean a lot of the models may end up on some sort of sprue to reduce the individual part count.  But that’s not a bad thing and as this is 3D printing, not injection moulding, the parts don’t necessarily have to touch the sprue, just like the gears for the Bachmann N scale 4-8-4 below.

It’s going to take a while to go through all the models so if there’s something you’re thinking of ordering and the price seems rather high please get in touch, either via email at jamestrainparts@yahoo.co.uk or via the contact page, and I will make that product a priority.