Sunday, December 30, 2012

Back to the Train

     Even though it's been the holiday season, I've still be able to squeeze in a few hours on my train.  I've been working on the trucks and wheels, which is really pretty much the last of the building to be done on the passenger cars.

     I started by making the sides for the trucks that included the springs, main cushion blocks and trunnion blocks.  Each side consists of 6 different pieces to be manufactured ( 8 sides total).  Next came the 16 wheels and 16 wheel flanges.  Each wheel is 7/8" dia. x 1/4" thick and each wheel flange is 1" dia. x 1/8" thick.  Once I centered, glued and clamped each wheel to the wheel flange I then drilled a 1/4" hole through each assembly for the axle.

     Here's a picture that shows one of the wheel and wheel flanges (clamped while glue dries), a couple of the truck sides, one of the truck assemblies before the wheels and axles and one of the completed trucks.

If you click on the picture you can see a little more of the detail

     Once I had the truck assemblies built, I made sure they where the right width for my track before they where mounted to the passenger cars.  I also did a dry fit to the cars to make sure everything lined up properly and also turned and pivoted the way they are suppose to.

     Another picture showing the trucks actually fitted to the car and on the curved track.  Everything fits and lines up perfectly.

     Now I'll be able to remove the trucks and start the finishing process on those.  Once I spray sealer coats on those and steel wool everything down, I will be able to start the final finishing on everything.  Right now it's too cold in the shop, so will probably put that off for a little while.

     I still have to finish the assembly of the trucks for the second car, but all the parts are made so it's just assembly that's left.  So far I have 17 hours in building the trucks and still have 3 or 4 more hours to go before I can start the finishing process.

     Tomorrow is the last day of 2012.  I hope everyone had a great year and may 2013 be even better.


Monday, December 24, 2012

"Twas the night before Christmas

     Twas the night before Christmas and all thru the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. But out in my shop it was a different story, I had presents to finish or there would be no glory!

     While the rest of the family was all snuggled in bed,  I had a shop full of saw dust floating around  my head.   There's presents to finish and I wonder why I try, I can't even get this dang glue to dry!

     I needed more clamps and a new saw blade or two, so what is this poor woodworker suppose to do? I've made my list and cut everything square, but no matter how hard I try it still doesn't seem fair.

     I do this every year and I run out of time, so I think next year I'll just order on-line
     I was about to give up and throw in the towel, when all of a sudden my dog commenced to howl!  He usually only does this when he hears a fire truck, but running outside I realize it was the UPS truck.

     The driver was dressed in a funny red suite; he might have been funny, but not very cute. I was not very happy with my late night intrusion, he only added to all my confusion.  He unloaded some packages with all kind of labels, brought them in my shop and put em on the table.

     It was hard not to notice what was written on the boxes, sitting on the table; names like Bosch, Dewalt and even Porter Cable.   I wasted no time unwrapping each delight; new sander, more blades, everything was just right. Box after box I tore open with glee and began to realize I didn't have to be a woodworking wannabe!
     I'm sure the lacquer has affected my thinking; was I sleeping, dreaming or just wishful thinking?   I'll have to wake up soon, and finish the presents,  but for now lets just say;  "THAT'S MY STORY AND I'M STICKING TO IT!.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Great progress on the Passenger Cars!

      I'm usually going crazy about this time of the year trying to finish a dozen or so woodworking projects for Christmas presents, but this year I decided to pass on trying to make something for everyone.  I'm using the excuse that we moved from SC to Delaware this year and I just haven't had the time to get the shop set up and build anything.
     I sure hope the family hasn't been following my blog, cause I've been putting some pretty serious hours in on making my passenger cars for the steam locomotive..........and enjoying every minute of it!
     A couple things I forgot to mention earlier;  As I said before, I built the steam engine for my Dad ten years ago and after he died in 2003, my Mom wanted me to have the steam engine back. Later I found a set of blue prints to make the passenger car, a coal hopper and the caboose, but didn't start anything for a long time.   Then a few years ago I decided to build not one, but two passenger cars and get back to working on the complete set.  After getting the floor plates and all the seats made for the two cars, they got tucked away in a cabinet and pretty much forgotten about for a couple years. 
     Every now and then I would find them and think; "I really need to get back working on these and finish what I started", but instead I would put them back in the cabinet and like the old saying goes; Out of site - Out of mind, which brings me to tell you a little about my new set up for a shop, because while setting up everything I found the cars again, only this time I kept them out and got inspired to get working again.
     Here on the property I have a detached two story, two car garage. ( about 25' x25').   In the garage I have 9 ft. ceilings and up stairs is a hip roof with windows on each end.  I have plenty of power to the garage and it was already wired with some receptacles and a couple 220v plugs.  I've installed a few 8ft. fluorescent light fixtures both down stairs and up.    I love having the complete upstairs to use for some of my smaller projects.  I have a couple working desk/benches along the front wall with the window so I can sit up there and work and watch the world go by at the same time. (this is where I work on the train).    I even hooked up the TV antenna and have a small TV and radio to keep me entertained.  I have a few of my cabinets mounted on the walls upstairs to keep all the extra hardware stored so it doesn't have to be downstairs with all the saw dust, etc.
     I used to love to do stained glass and still have all the supplies, so hope to get back into that also, but that's another story for later.
     The upstairs makes a perfect little workshop for working on my train.  I have everything set up and when I get done working (no matter for how long) I can just leave it there and not have to worry about picking everything up and putting it away.  I think that was one of the reasons I quit working on it the last time.  Trying to run a full time business and then switching over to work on something like the train for a half hour or so and then having to pick everything up so I would be ready for the next day for the business became too big of a hassle and took all the fun out of working on it.
     Anyway, back to the passenger cars. Here's a few pictures to show the progress.

  The past few days I've been working on making the diaphragms for each end of the cars, the ladders for each door ( 8 total) and making the hand rails for each ladder.

   I did a little final sanding on the cars and sprayed the first coat of sealer to see how things will look.  I'll steel wool everything down with #0000 steel wool before I put the final finish coats on, but I think I'll wait now until I finish building the rest.

     The last picture here shows that I can remove the top to the one car so we can see the interior.
      Now I get to start on making the truck assembly and wheels. There will be over 100 pieces just to make up the truck assemblies for the two cars, so I'm going to leave that for another post.
     What do ya think so far?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Passenger Cars for my Steam Engine

     I've posted a few pictures of the Steam Engine, Coal Car and bridge in one of my earlier blogs, but I'll start this entry off with a picture I took after I started on the passenger cars.  The first picture shows the beginning of the frame work for the passenger cars.  When I started I thought it would be just as easy to build two passenger cars as one, but boy was that a joke!   When 26 seats turned into 52 seats, I soon realized this was going to be very time consuming. 

     I'd like to take a couple minutes to explain a little of what went into making each seat.  Each seat consisted of a double bottom cushion, double top cushion, a pedestal and then an 1/8" dowel to mount the entire seat assembly to the floor of the car body.  I decided to make the cushions from maple so I would have some color contrast.  Once I cut the basic size to each top and bottom cushion, I then had to do the final shaping by hand by carving, filing and sanding each one to the final shape.  I had to cut each back cushion at a 5 degree angle so when the cushions where glued together the backs would lean back like a regular seat. 

     I built each base from walnut and glued each seat to a separate base.  I then drilled and glued a short 1/8" dowel in each base.  After all 52 seats were built, I layed out the location on the floor of each car for the proper location of the seats and drilled a mounting hole for each seat and glued in place.   I sprayed a couple coats of finish on all the interior parts while I had easy access.

     From there I was ready to build the sides and the tops for the two cars.  Once the sides where built and the windows cut out ( 9 windows on each side) I did the window trim. 
     It's hard to realize that it took 10 pieces of wood to trim out each little window.  You do the math; 9 widows per side, four sides, 9 window per side and 10 pieces for each window.  360 Pieces!
     Each window was first framed out with a casing, then the casing was trimmed with the exterior molding (each corner mitered).   Each window shade was made with a thin piece of balsa wood and the bottom rim was made with 1/8" dowel, filed flat on one side and glued along the bottom edge of each shade.  I made the shades random lengths and mounted to the inside of each window.
     When that was done I took a small staining pencil and stained the trim a little darker then the rest of the car.  No finish has be applied yet to the exterior.
 I did make one small design change on one of the cars though.  I realized that once the sides and tops where permanently mounted you would not be able to really see very much of the interior, especially all the work on the seats, so I made one of the tops so it could be removed.  No big deal, but sure makes me feel better!
     I have 8 doors and 8 sets of steps to make next with a few other small details for the body of each car and then I will start on making the trucks.  I remember how complex the trucks are from making them for the engine and coal car, but that will be later. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Back to the Railroad

     The holiday season sure makes it tough to find time to just sit and write for a while,but I did want to catch you up on my progress with making  the train.   I love when I get "off track" and forget about sticking with plans and just start designing things my way.  It's all part of the challenge!

     I'm still working on the passenger cars, but that's a very slow process and besides I had this wild idea and couldn't wait to see if I could do it.  I believe I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs that I wanted to display the train along the top of the headboard of our bed.   I'll post some pictures so you can better understand how that might work, but for right now, my focus was not just making some more straight track and have it run straight, but I wanted to see if I could build curved track and make it look like the train was coming out of the wall and across the top of the headboard!

     It's a challenge enough making the rails out of wood with all the cross ties, but making curved rails was going to be fun, especially since there are no plans to do such a thing.   The rails are somewhat like an "I" beam, so even though they are small, it's not too hard to run a profile on each side of the rails to make that, but that process won't work if you cut the rails in a curve first, so my only other option was to bend the rails once they were shaped like the "I" beam.

     I've never tried steam bending before, so I thought this would be a good time to learn.  I started reading up on how to "steam" wood and realized that it really wasn't that big of a deal.  The first thing was to make my straight rails ( decided to make them approx. 45" long), so I could attach them to the bridge I already built for the steam engine and coal car and that would allow a curve from the center section of the headboard to the back wall on the left side of the headboard so the train would look like it was coming out of the wall at about a 45degree angle.

      Sorry, really hard to get a good close up of the actual profile of the rails, but it gives you the idea.
Now it was time to build the steam box.  I built mine from some scrap plywood I had, but the next time I believe I will build it from PVC pipe instead. 

The one thing they recommend about steaming wood is to make the steaming box no bigger then necessary to put your wood in to be steamed.  Your wood also has to be supported in a way that the steam can penetrate the wood from all sides, in other words, you just can't lay the wood in the steaming box.  I took and drilled a small hole in each side of the box and slid a piece of coat hanger through from one side to the other.  I did this in four different locations along the length of the box so the  pieces I wanted to steam would be suspended on the wire cross bars.

Next I had to bore a large hole towards the end and make a plate that would be able to sit on the steam source and allow the steam to enter the box.  Oh, I forgot to mention, I needed a way to boil water to make steam and since I didn't have any other means, I moved my operation into our kitchen so I could use our stove.  Here's my set up once I had my box built, a pot of water on the stove and my steaming box stretched across the stove and counter.

     Before I steamed the rails I took a scrape piece of plywood and cut the shape of the curve I wanted my track to be. It was to be a template to use to clamp the rails to to make the curve.  The one mistake I made though; I made the jig to the exact curve I wanted the final track to be and didn't allow for the rails to actually spring back a little when they were taken off the form.  It turned out OK since the actual curve was not real critical and there was plenty of curve when I finished, but I'll have to remember that in the future if I do any steam bending where the radius is critical to the design.

Here's a picture of my famous steaming box set up in the kitchen!

Once I put the rails in the box and brought the water to a boil, I covered the opened end of the box with a towel.  Do not seal off the box tight, it will build up pressure and could explode.  It's amazing how hot it gets!  Make sure you are wearing gloves when you start handling this.   Since my rails are only 5/8" tall and 3/8" wide, it only had to steam about 15 minutes.

When I took the rails out of the steaming box, I immediately put them on the jig and starting in the middle, I clamped the rails to the shape of the template.  I let them stay on the clamps all night and the next morning when I removed the clamps, whoa-la, I had two curved rails!  That is so cool.

I made 45 cross ties out of Wenge, built a couple different spacing jigs and started gluing the cross ties to the rails.  This was a very slow process, since my spring clamps took up so much space, I could only glue 3 cross ties in place at a time.

So after 3 days of gluing, clamping, let dry, remove and do 3 more, I finally made it to the end!
Here's a picture of the track when finished and one picture of the track tied in with the train and how it will work on the top of our headboard.

     Now my next project will be to design and build a tunnel portal that will mount at the wall to give the appearance of the track actually coming out of the wall and across the top of the headboard.  When I get all the cars made for the train, it will reach from one side of the headboard to the other.
     Here's one more picture showing the train and just the bridge centered in the middle.  I'm thinking I will probably just run the track straight across the right side of the headboard, but who knows, I've got a couple more ideas floating around in my head so we'll see.