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"Shoo-fly" Free-moN Module (2'x6')

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"Shoo-fly" Free-moN Module (2'x6')
Posted by mcfunkeymonkey on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 12:01 AM

Well, the Free-moN bug has bitten.

Credit (blame?) goes to Steve Williams and the Silicon Valley Free-moN group for doing such excellent work on their own modules and putting on some great shows. Seems like every time I go to a local train gig, like a LDSIG meet or the x2011 NMRA convention, I end up hanging around these great dudes & their modules and wishing I had one to contribute. So time to get busy!

Even though the group is an hour away from my part of the Bay, I just had to start building something Free-moN, not just because of Steven and the groovy group, but because Free-moN is such a fab deal: single mainline, 50" layout height, emphasis on prototypical scenes and ops, and very few "standards"--really just the track (code 55), wiring, and endplates!

Anything else is pretty much up to you!

You could build a 20' curved yard, divided up into five 4' sections (for transport), and, as long as the endplate on the far left & far right are Free-moN, you're good to go! Which means you could take a section of your "home" layout, attach 6" "adaptor" sections on each end, and then participate in a Free-moN event.

Seems like the best of all possible N-finite worlds!

Originally I designed a groovy 6'x6' under-&-over loop module based on the WP Feather River Route, but that would have necessitated cleaning out more of the garage than I could easily do, and then the Silicon Valley Free-moN group got an invite to show in early April, so that set the deadline!

Ever since reading John Armstrong's Track Planning for Realistic Operations I've been intrigued by his drawing of a "shoofly" (page 123, 3rd ed.). It's a simple scene of track diverted over a fill while a crew repaired / rebuilt a bridge over a small stream, yet contained the possibility of multiple "stories" within the scene (not only the work on the rails, but the land just outside of railroad property: orchards, farms, roads, forests, etc.)

So I designed a 2'x6' "Shoofly" module:



Bent at 30 degrees to add interest & show-layout possibilities, and it eases the curves on the diverted track (Free-moN standards: 22" radius curve minimum).

Best of all, I might get it done in the month & a half before the show!

The 24"x6" endplates are 3/4" birch plywood, but I ripped the rest of the 4"-tall frames from 1/2" sanded ply "handy panels" I had laying around for a different project. (The 2" pink foam will take up the other 2").

A great investment for benchwork and all types of home-improvement projects is the mitre/chopsaw:



Not only rotates to any angle, but also cuts at a bevel, which came in handy for the 15 deg cuts where the two sections come together.

Wood glue, drywall screws, and some right-angle clamps help put the frame together:



[Notice the dropcloth over the Mt. Coffin & Columbia River layout: I learned the hard way last time I cut wood in the garage that sawdust goes EVERYWHERE! I also tried to do all the cutting before my wife came back, but it didn't happen, and luckily I remembered to take all the laundry inside before starting!]

Apparently ACE has an adjustable-angle clamp, but was way out of stock, so I just built all the right angle stuff and then put the 15 deg board on last, holding the boards in place with my hand while I drilled the pilot holes. Turnout out fine:



About right now, you more experienced woodworkers are noticing a few things I forgot to do before assembling the frame (what can I say, I am excited!), but I'll show you that it's all ok in the next post

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Posted by mcfunkeymonkey on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 12:02 AM

As the 1/2" ply is a wee thin, I braced it with some glued& screwed triangles:



So I assembled the frame and supports before:
1) drilling holes for the bolts that connect the two sections
2) drilling a hole for the wires to pass between the two sections
3) drilling holes for the 2"x2" legs
4) cutting out the holes for the NCE UTP panels
5) routering the endplate "mouths" for the wires

D'oh!

And, as it turns out, the space between the frame supports wasn't wide enough to allow a drill in to do all of that.

D'oh!

Thank goodness for this little miricle: The "Orbiter"!




Was able to get all my legs & wire holes in after framing. Very handy, that Orbiter!

The main track bus and accessory bus need to be 12 gauge wire and have Anderson Powerpole connectors at the endplates.
Those Anderson connectors are very cool, but a pain to crimp to stay on.
Until I realized that solder worked better.

So got frame, wiring, legs done:



About that white foamcore sheet:
Turns out that 2" pink foam isn't 2": it's about 1 7/8" (dimensional foam?)
So I was short coming up to the 6" endplate.
I thought about screwing & gluing a 1/8" masonite plate on top of the frame (upon which I'd attach the foam), but dang that was heavy.
So I got some 3/16" Elmer's foamcore from Target and laid that down with some caulk.
Pretty rigid stuff.

The Pink foam will lay on top, and the foamcore will provide a base for the Bullfrog turnout control I'll be trying on this module.

But tonight, the caulk is curing the foamcore to the frame, with the help of a model railroader's favorite tools: whatever weights available.



Will our hero get his module done in time for the show?
Will he make more messy mistakes while he man-handles his module into being?
Will he stop refering to himself in the third person?

The answer: Oh, yeah.

Will post updates soon.
Any / all feedback & suggestions appreciated!
Thanks for looking.

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Posted by mcfunkeymonkey on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 12:03 AM

What's great about it is that you can have a working scene and a bullet-proof mainline at the same time.
As well as a place for your crane & camp cars

There's only one turnout (which could be a dummy if you wanted), and the yellow "slow order" signs add operational interest.

Gonna need some cows & lots of static grass for this one

Good thing I just made "The Banananator":



Haven't done farmland yet, so this will be fun!

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Posted by steinjr on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 12:45 AM

Another great project in the making. Looking forward to this one too.

 Smile,
 Stein

 

 

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Posted by "JaBear" on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 2:53 AM

Gidday, I'll go along with Stein.

Cheers, The Bear.

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by mcfunkeymonkey on Thursday, February 23, 2012 4:16 PM

Thanks, Stein & JaBear.
I'll do my best to not disappoint ;)

Thanks for all the encouragement & well wishes: we'll see if I can do "Module in a Month"

The foamcore / caulk dried pretty quick and made a nice base.
The foamcore is the Elmer's stuff you can get at Target: pretty cheap and stonger than some artstore foamcore I looked at (no Gatorboard around here, otherwise I'd snag that up quick). It's also 3/16", which makes my 1 7/8" pink foam stick up a little over the endplate, but a little sanding will do the job.

Spread caulk over the foamcore and then placed the pink foam:



I intentionally left it a little long on both sides where the sections butt up, so I can sand it to a good fit later.

Attaching foam to foam over a large area takes a long time to cure (no air!), so I'm not planning on carving until the weekend or next week.
Tomorrow I'll take off the weights and clamps and start laying out the track & maybe caulk down the cork.
But today I built a #6 turnout as well as the Bullfrog I'm trying out for turnout control:



The Bullfrog was pretty easy to put together: very well designed!
And has a switch to power the frog. Not bad for $6!
I didn't get the control rods / knobs (they even have a set up for Free-mo modules!) because I figure I can make my own.

I'm going to have to reinforce the bottom of the foamcore with a sheet of styrene and gorillaglue to get the firm base the Bullfrog needs, though.
And I seem to have placed a crossbrace right at the area I have the one turnout (D'oh!), so I'm hoping the Bullfrog's "small footprint" works (the wire is on one side, so it shouldn't be a problem).

Will be fun to start laying cork & track soon!
Thanks for looking.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Friday, February 24, 2012 6:48 AM

This thread actually made me look up the Free-Mo activity in my area.  Whenever I see a Free-Mo setup at a show, I'm impressed by the way it all comes together.  With fewer constraints on geometry and track arrangement, these layouts seem to show a lot more creativity.

Thanks for putting this photo essay together.  Can we get a look at the underside and the wiring standards once it's done, to see how the Free-Mo concept implements connectivity?

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by mcfunkeymonkey on Friday, February 24, 2012 7:42 AM

Thanks, Mr. B.
Isn't Free-mo and Free-moN cool?
Some of the stuff in Europe in both HO and N is spectacular: I've seen some German clubs fill a huge building with modules that flow very nicely from one to another.

The most difficult aspect of Free-moN is storing the modules!
I could easily build 4-5 modules of different scenes and learning new skills on each, but then where would I put them?
I'm already taking up 1/2 the garage as it is! Whistling

As for the wiring, check out page 40 of Dave Falkenburg's fab slide show.
He's got some very neat & tidy wiring on his Alviso module.
Anderson PowerPole connectors are very reliable and easy to use.

I'll take some wiring picts of my own later today after I take off the clamps on the pink foam.

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Posted by Sir Madog on Friday, February 24, 2012 9:19 AM

Storage is always an issue when you build a modular layout (or just various modules) and don´t have the space to put them up permanently.

For my "mini-modular" desktop-layout, I decided to get a cheap rack&shelf system to store the modules. While investigating into such systems, I decided to change the scope of my layout. It will no longer be a desktop-layout, but a point-to-point layout semi-permanently set up on a  11 ft. shelf. This will allow me to operate the layout without any such work as clearing the desk, assembling the modules, connecting the wiring.

Cheers!

Ulrich

People in Hamburg don´t tan, they rust!

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Posted by fwright on Friday, February 24, 2012 9:40 AM

MisterBeasley

This thread actually made me look up the Free-Mo activity in my area.  Whenever I see a Free-Mo setup at a show, I'm impressed by the way it all comes together.  With fewer constraints on geometry and track arrangement, these layouts seem to show a lot more creativity.

Thanks for putting this photo essay together.  Can we get a look at the underside and the wiring standards once it's done, to see how the Free-Mo concept implements connectivity?

The diagrams I have are .pdf files, so I can't post them here.  A basic description for HOn3 Free-mo follows (more can be found at the NSNG, Free-mo, and hon3-free-mo Yahoo Groups):

Track/Power bus:  red and black wires (12 gauge) running length of module.  We use NCE DCC, HO uses Digitrax.  At the module ends, 12" pigtails are made with red and black Anderson 30 amp Power Pole connectors (HO uses Clinch Jones connectors in a similar configuration).  The red PP always connects to the right hand rail when looking at the module end.  Black PP attaches to the left rail.  During setup, red PP connects to black PP, and everything should work well.

Within the module, we require a circuit breaker between the red/black bus wires and track feeders so a short only brings down the module, not the entire power district.  Usually this is implemented by having a local track bus connected to the main track bus through the circuit breaker.  The bridge rails have insulated rail joiners on one end.

Accessory bus:  a very recent addition to our standard, we have a 12V DC bus for running Tortoise switch motors and other accessories.  We found every module having its own wall wart wasn't working in many setup venues.  HO Free-mo has a 16V AC accessory bus, with trailer plug connections.  In HOn3 we use blue and white wires - blue is positive, white is negative - and blue and white Anderson PP connections to link modules.  Unlike the track bus, the accessory bus always keeps its color.  Blue PP plugs to blue PP, and is always positive.  A fuse or circuit breaker is mandated on each module between bus and accessories - again to localize any electrical issues.

Throttle bus:  standard 6 wire cable runs length of module.  Jacks are required on each side of every module, more if module length warrants.  We use standard RJ splitters to feed the jack panels.  A pigtail with 2 male connectors links the modules at the ends.

Our end plates have hand holds cut out in them.  Normally, we pass the inter-module wiring through the cutouts.

In addition to the above, HO Free-mo has an optional signal bus.  Modules without signalling can very easily implement the signal bus as a pass through to signals on other modules.

The other great aspect of Free-mo for me has been uniting with other model railroaders to solve problems and conquer issues together - much like a good club.

I hope this helps answer some of your questions.  There is a lot more posted, especially in the various Yahoo Groups.

And thanks to our OP for his photo essay.  Just the kick in the pants I needed to get excited about getting on with my pair of HOn3 modules (Upper and Lower Elk River Canyon).

Fred W

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Posted by mcfunkeymonkey on Saturday, February 25, 2012 2:44 AM

Ulrich: glad you figured out a way to have the layout up and running without having to disassemble & store.  That gets old fast!  I'll probably hang my 2'x3' sections on the garage wall like trophies until I figure out more room.

Fred: thanks for taking the time to post all that info, and I'm looking forward to seeing your progress on your modules.  HOn3 is a great way to the the detail of HO in a more N-ish space.

The wiring for Free-moN is a little different from what you described.

Here's a shot of the Anderson Powerpole connectors:



[That's not a gang tattoo or snake bite on my right thumb, just a benchwork-building battle scar]

In Free-moN, the track bus wires have the red connectors stacked vertically and following the "Left Over" rule: looking from the end of the module the left track bus is over the right.
The accessory bus connectors are black and joined side-by-side.
At first I was crimping the inserts, but they were slipping out.
Took me 6-8 tries before I realized I should just solder them.
(D'oh!)

After drawing in the main and laying down cork, I played around with some track until the shoofly had decent curves and distance from the main:



Didn't want a big arcing loopy thing, but also didn't want it too close to the main.
N scale cork roadbed, like N scale Caboose groundthrows and so many other N scale things, seem to be sized more for HO than N, so I trimmed off a little less than 1/8" from both inner sides to narrow it down just a bit.

In the above photo you can see some of my references: Armstrong's drawing on the right and a photo of a two-track shoofly around a four-track main that Chris333 shared.
Lots of little details will make this pretty cool.

To transition from the main down to the temp siding for the work train & crew I sanded down into the foam to create the grade and then laid a short section of cork into that:



A bit of sanding tomorrow will smooth the cork out.

So here it stands tonight as the caulk cures:



Looks a bit boring, but that's because it's flat and it looks more like a passing siding.
The main will have track taken up around the start of the shoofly, effectively isolating it, and all the scenery will be carved out of the foam.
The stream will be around where the UTP panel is, so there'll be about a 9" section of that main missing.

I also want the main and the shoofly track to be slightly different, with the main older and the shoofly newer, so I need to figure out how to represent that.
Was thinking maybe having the main a basecoat of grimy black with the Free-moN standard grey ballast while the shoofly is rail/tie brown on the dirt bulwark, but I'm definitely open to suggestions.

Tomorrow, while my wife & daughter are at Japanese school in SF, my son & I will embark on Quest For Dirt: the stuff that's around here that I used for Mt. Coffin & Columbia River is a little dark. The perfect dirt is actually just across the street right next to the BART tracks, but I'm not climbing that barbed-wire fence to get it.
Hopefully there will be some good tannish dirt at some local parks, so we can scoop dirt between games of tag and frisbee (supposed to be another 70 deg "winter" day: gotta love California!)

Comments and suggestions always appreciated.
Thanks for looking & reading.

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Posted by mcfunkeymonkey on Sunday, February 26, 2012 1:30 AM

With the cork caulked down & sanded, I gorillaglued four pc board ties to the ends of the module:



I had soaked the cork & endplate area with woodglue, so that was rocksolid, and with the gorillaglue that track wasn't going anywhere anytime soon.
Seems the pc board ties drifted a little to the right under the weight while curing: the black marks are the actual track centerline (nothing some cosmetic surgery can't fix way later).

I also spray-painted the area that will be under the turnout Floquil grimy black: as Floquil is a solvent-based paint and will attack the foam, I taped off the area around the cork.
Even still, you can see a little hole on the left reminiscent of the affect of the alien's drool through the Nostromo's deckplates.

Also drilled 1/8" holes for the Bullfrog throwbar actuator rod as well as for the wire to power the frog.
Probably should have soldered the frog wire before laying the track (D'oh!), but it'll work out fine.

Laid down some caulk, but left some space on either side of the gap between the sections to lay down some gorillaglue:



[The section line is at the 11 o'clock position]

I love gorillaglue (must be the funkey monkey in me).

Tacked everything down with T-pins, got everything aligned (thank goodness for caulk having a long working time!), and then soldered the ends:



I had already sanded the cork flush with the endplate.
The rails stick out about 1/16", and I'll carefully file or dremel those later after everything's cured.
I really hope it matches up to the other modules.

So all of the operational track is down and the caulk is curing:



[the weights are holding down the section being gorillaglued at the section seem]

I probably won't lay down the mainline track until I carve out the stream and figure out how "built" I want the abutments.
(Right now I'm leaning towards one done and the wood frame being taken down while the other is still encased).

Also, my son & I had a successful Quest For Dirt--found primo tannish dirt right across the street from our LHS!--so we baked some while playing Monopoly, sifted it, so I'll see how it looks soon on a test diorama.

But tomorrow I'll install the Bullfrog for the turnout, drop some feeders to the bus, and hopeful have some trains (or a train) running by the end of the day.
(too bad the only place they can go is a 666 scale-foot drop to the concrete)

Thanks for looking.

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Posted by dexterdog on Sunday, February 26, 2012 9:27 AM

Being an N scale modeler, I have heard of the Free-mo concept and have always thought it was a much better and more flexible alternative to N-trak modules. At some point I will be looking to expand my layout, which I have constructed to be readily portable even if it doesn't conform to any standards. I was looking more towards being able to save any time and effort invested in my layout rather than junking whatever I've accomplished in case of a move, which has happened in the past.

Your current project has really sold me on building any future additions to my layout to Free-mo standards. You document all the construction steps involved clearly and with a touch of humor which I find to be quite an entertaining read. I find useful information in every one of your posts, so keep up the excellent work, as I am eagerly looking forward how things develop.

Frank B.

Dorval, Canada

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Posted by mcfunkeymonkey on Sunday, February 26, 2012 3:24 PM

Thanks, Frank.
Glad you're enjoying the thread, and hope to see some of your Free-moN modules soon!

So track is caulked, cured & secured to the roadbed.
I dropped in the feeder wires, and managed to sneak the frog wire next to the guard rail:



Doubt anyone will see it in a couple weeks.
Test car rolls through smooth everywhere.

Went to cut the rails where the two sections meet and found out why you should wear safety glasses:



The thin Dedeco cutting disc grabbed some gorillaglue I guess.
The other part bounced off my forehead (no cut or bleeding).
I wear glasses anyway, but next time I think I'll slip some safety goggles over them.

The Dedeco discs are fragile, but do give a nice thin cut:



See also the isolation gaps on the frog in the first picture.

So I wired everything up using suitcase connectors for the feeders to the bus.
Also installed & wired the Bullfrog:



Everything worked great until the frog wasn't getting power in only one direction.
Took awhile with the multimeter to figure out that one of the suitcase connectors failed.
Changed it & everything was ready to roll.
Which means: TRAINS!

http://youtu.be/TcawDLz5I8k

Time to get serious about scenicking!
Thanks for looking.

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Posted by HarryHotspur on Monday, February 27, 2012 1:42 AM

MrMonkey -

Can you tell us more about the miter saw pictured above?  It looks compact and interesting.  Thanks.

- Harry

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Posted by mcfunkeymonkey on Monday, February 27, 2012 2:20 PM

HarryHotspur

MrMonkey -

Can you tell us more about the miter saw pictured above?  It looks compact and interesting.  Thanks.

Hey Harry:  it's a Hitachi 10" 15amp Compound Mitre Saw
Picked it up at Lowe's for about $130.
For $140 you can get one with a laser guide, but it just reminds me of sharks with friggin' laser beams on their heads Wink

This one is pretty lightweight, but sturdy and relatively quite.
I really like that it bevels both ways, and it made cutting the fame for a 30 deg module (15 deg each section) very easy.
A lot of people seem to like it to cut molding for home improvement projects.
Having it makes me want to build a bunch of benchwork!
(so I have to chant to myself: "no space, no space, no space...." Sigh

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Posted by HarryHotspur on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 2:00 AM

Thanks a lot, MrMonkey!  I think I'll look at one.

- Harry

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Posted by mcfunkeymonkey on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 8:51 PM

So now I have an operating Free-moN module, albeit a "pinkfoam prairie".
While waiting for the caulk under the foam to fully cure (takes awhile as there's no air down there), I set about constructing a 4"x24" detachable extension so I can "stage" as well as have room to use the siding:



All built outta scrap wood, and will just clamp on (though I may drill one hole for a dowel later).
The vertical support is off-center to allow space for the wires to pop out of the endplate hole:



The triangular gusset is centered, though.

I ran a section of buswire under the extension with Anderson powerpole connectors on one side and U-prongs on the other (after about a 2' length of wire) to connect to either a DC powerpack or DCC panel.
Caulked some pink foam strips on either side to create some low landforms to both prevent cars from falling the 666 scale feet to the concrete as well as give me more "test diorama" to try out different scenery techniques:



[You can see the bus & suitcase connectors for the feeder wires at the bottom of that picture]

The turnout I found in the parts bin that I made probably three years ago when I was just starting out back in the hobby, so needed to refurbish it a bit.
Spray painted the "main" grimy black while the siding is "rail brown": never used that before, and seems a bit too brown. We'll see.

I just put down a layer of the "new" dirt my son & I found this last weekend, as well as some old dirt, gravel, and ballasted the tracks.
After it dries I'll post some more picts.

Also "built" a small hill out of scrap foam & caulked it down:



[Even after benchwork is completed, your drill and circular saw come in handy!]

I'm guessing I'll carve about 80%-90% away to create a gentle hill (it'll look taller, too, as the surrounding foam will be carved to slope down & the stream goes next to it), but my experience with the mountains of Mt. Coffin taught me it's easier to get the foam in way taller than you think at the beginning, because you can always carve it down faster than adding foam can cure.

And a video showing off my curves with a lovely Spielbergian crane shot dropping down into the extension.

Thanks for looking.

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Posted by mcfunkeymonkey on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 8:11 AM

Detachable extension with first layer of ground cover:



Mostly tan dirt with some older brownish dirt, gravel and some cinders here & there.





The ballast is WS fine grey ballast with some fine-sifted gravel mixed in (60%-40%??) to break up the uniformity of the WS ballast color & texture.
Let me know if it needs more gravel or something else.

The siding ties are darn bright brown, so I'll be weathering those a bit.
Goody bag of static grasses & foliage from Scenic Express comes on Friday, so will get to play around with greening up the sides soon.

Today's task: figure out what I want to do in the "orchard" area. If I'm going to model Sonoma, I guess I could have a lush vineyard (pun intended) in contrast to the dead one by the old barn, or I could make it a waterfront boat launch (with the stream coming to feed the river just off-layout), or I could go with some other type of crops.
I've always liked the Tamales Bay Oyster Company siding from the old North Pacific Coast line (interesting industry, waterfront), and the tracks have been torn up long ago but the grade is still visible (and part of the picknick area now), but I think I'll save that for another project.
So feel free to suggest any Sonoma / Marin crops or scenes for me to consider. Brainstorming is good.

Will be pouring over moocho pictures today and will try to compose the module's scenery in my head (talk about a blank slate!).
See you when I return

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 9:04 AM

I'm interested in that narrow extension.  For academic interest, did you build both ends to Free-Mo standards, so it could be used as a connecting piece, even though it has no legs and can't support itself?  Does Free-Mo have a provision for that sort of thing?

I'm working on a carfloat terminal.  It's in a narrow aisle, and I'm planning to make the carfloat itself a removable section so that I can get in there and work when it's not "in port."  Does your extension just hang out, cantilevered off the end of the module?  Or does it have some support on the far end?  Is the whole thing stiff enough to do that without sagging at the far end?

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by mcfunkeymonkey on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 10:46 AM

The detachable extension is not "standard" in any way, except that the vertical support plus baseboard is 6" tall to match the Free-moN endplate.

It's all scrap wood, with the 4" x 23 1/2" baseboard being a piece of 1/2" ply left over from ripping the sides & supports of the module framework (it was the "other" side of cutting a side frame piece, and so the end even has the other side of a 15 deg. cut).

Here's the whole shebang detached (before paint & track & scenery):

Right now I just clamp it on & it works fine, probably because it's only 24" long, though I'll probably go back and drill a hole higher up through vertical support and endplate to have a dowel just for ease of alignment.

If I were to do it again, I'd glue & screw a 1"x2" on edge along the bottom center of the baseboard to stiffen the structure: my 1/2" ply baseboard has a slight downward curve, as the triangle gusset is only 5" or so.  I could still glue and clamp one on, but I'll just put bumpers on the ends of the tracks to prevent the 666-scale-foot drop to the concrete.

 I've seen Free-moN layouts with short connector pieces like this: they have vertical supports on both ends that just clamp to the Free-moN endplates of the modules it's connecting.  Not sure if there are standards: small pieces like this are just fillers specific to each club & layout iteration.

If the extension is part of a perminant layout and will have only a flat carfloat on it, then I'd think about using a hinge and sliding bolt (or hinged gusset) to lock it in place when up.  If it'll have taller structures on it (like the apron hoists), then removeable is probably better).  Anything longer than 24"-30" I'd think about having a single detachable leg at the end to prevent sagging.

Looking forward to seeing your detachable carfloat!  A small addition that offers big ops!

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Posted by "JaBear" on Thursday, March 01, 2012 1:30 AM

Gidday, don't want to hog the post and don't know if MisterBeasley has the room but have seen and read about carfloats mounted on a "tea trolley" that could be wheeled right out of the way when not"in port".

As for watching the progress on the Shoo--fly module I was thinking that if I tended towards "the dark side' I could be come quite depressed when comparing it to my own lack of getting anywhere fast. However as I would rather tend to treat life as "a half full glass" as opposed to a half empty one, keep those posts rolling in.

Cheers, The Bear.    Big Smile

 

 

 

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Thursday, March 01, 2012 6:58 AM

mcfunkeymonkey

Looking forward to seeing your detachable carfloat!  A small addition that offers big ops!

Your really nice photo essay and interactive follow-up has inspired me.  I'll take pictures and see if I can do something similar.  Thanks.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by mcfunkeymonkey on Friday, March 02, 2012 12:39 AM

Today the foam was a-flying!

Well, it's a pinkfoam prairie no more.
Now it's pinkfoam puffball puddle.

Started by carving out the stream, place for the abutments, and old barn/abandoned vineyard on the right:



You can see the garbage bag I kept open under the edge to try to catch as many foam flakes as I could (not that many, it turns out, as wrangling foam bits is about as easy as hearding cats). Guess I could have put a large dropcloth under it, but actually it wasn't as messy as previous pinkfoam perferation parties I've thrown.

After the stream I worked left and got the gentle slope of the cow pasture:



Then the real fun began.
In the photo above, notice that it's still light out.
After about an hour of rasping, I carved out the downstream side of the waterway as well as the large Lush Vineyard that will extend along almost the whole side and will definitely be a challenge to model:



Yup, it's dark.
I used a steak knife that's been "missing" from the kitchen for a couple years for some work, but mainly that was all forming tool.
No reason to go to the gym now: probably put on five pounds of muscle in my right arm and back with all the exercise.

I'll get better pictures tomorrow after I carve & rasp some more.
Today I just started blocking out the shapes to get a feel of the composition and flow of it all.
Part of the fun is to see what landforms appear as you form away.

Don't worry: that big hill will get eroded down quite a bit by the time I'm through.
Had to stop on the hill because, even after 3 days, the caulk isn't totally cured between those small sections.

But it's fun to see things take shape

Thanks for looking.

  • Member since
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Posted by mcfunkeymonkey on Friday, March 02, 2012 7:55 AM

Someone made the fabulous suggestion of having some olive trees as part of the Sonoma scenery, and that got me thinking again (D'oh!)

Earlier I was seriously considering olive trees for the orchard area until I thought about twisting all of the wire for 40 trunks.

For some reason I think twisting all of the wire for 10 rows of grape vines will be easier.

But now I've got olives in my head (it's the pits!), and I'd love to have them on the module, but right now I"m envisioning the trains rolling slow past a large expanse of lush grapevines.

I could swap the old vines near the old barn with some olives.
Or, since many vineyards have groves of olive trees, too (it's the off-season crop):


I could stick a couple olive trees next to the vineyard between it and the river or on the other side towards the endplate:


That depressed area at the "front" is for the vineyard. The olives could go either left of it at the bend or on the right before or after the drop-off.

That way I'd need only a couple of olive trees to suggest something larger, and it would be cool to stage a picking scene:



Or a more realistic, prototypical picking scene:



Or a planting scene:


Usually I think "less is more" and so I was thinking "either / or" with the grapes and olives and would have to give up one, but in this case I think "olive" it could work out very well.

Time to press on!

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Posted by mcfunkeymonkey on Friday, March 02, 2012 8:32 PM

Not much done today.
Did get the bumpers put in on the detachable extension to prevent the 666-scale-foot drop to the concrete:






The crew is waiting for Hank to get off the ties so they can start working.
Problem is that Hank's as slow as molassas or gopher fannies stuck in gorillaglue, so looks like no one's going anywhere anytime soon.

But I did get a rather large package from Scenic Express today with my "weed" and "grass" shipment, so hopefully this is the last time you see the extension as bare as this:



Hope everyone has a groovy weekend!

  • Member since
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  • From: San Francisco Bay Area
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Posted by mcfunkeymonkey on Saturday, March 03, 2012 8:13 PM

Well, today I was ec-static: fired up The Banananator and used an old piece of scenery as a "grass palate" trying different combinations of long & short grasses of various colors.
Gotta say: It's going to take a while to get the static grass technique down, somewhere between too little and too much or too even.

Also tried some small "super trees", though not too ecstatic about the results. But will get better with practice, I guess.

That didn't stop me from starting to scenic the detachable extension with grasses, bushes, some trees and a wire fence:









'Twas not a great day for photos.
The lighting gods were not on my side today (I really need to get some good spots: the CFLs from the hardware store just don't cut it).

Got the grass a bit too uniform, even though I did "squish" some of it with the tweezers to break it up.
Actually looks better in person, though a little "chia-pet" in places.
Going to try some different mixes tomorrow.

But it's nice to be back in scenery after the benchwork.
Thanks for looking and have a great weekend!

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Posted by mcfunkeymonkey on Sunday, March 04, 2012 7:51 PM

Well, the pinkfoam prairie is no more.
Now it's a brownish blob.

This morning, after eroding the hill down into more of a rolling Sonoma shape and sanding the whole thing with a foam sanding block, I used some lightweight spackle to cover over the seam lines, smooth the riverbed, cow pond and some future dirt roads, and fill in some chunks:



[I'll ream out the holes for the temp tubes later, when I get them]

Then I took the latex interior paint I found in the mistint bin at the local hardware store ($3), and covered the whole shebang:





I occasionally dipped the brush in water to allow the paint to flow into all the pink places.

It's the same paint I used on the detachable extension, so I think it'll work out okie dokie.

Then I went to go wash the brush before it dried and got all stuck together...

STUCK TOGETHER???

D'oh!

So I ran back and undid the bolts and separated the two sections before I had just one:



Phew!
Now I just hope everything stays in alignment when I put it back together!

Thought about blending in the darker creek-bed bottom paint, but I'm going to have to touch up the bed anyway after I put the temp tubes in, so I'll do it then.

I also painted the two rock castings I'll be using: Sonoma really doesn't have that many large bare rock faces.
A weird change from the Mt. Coffin & Columbia River layout, which seems to have more rock face than foam.

Tomorrow I can rejoin the sections, lay the real mainline track, paint the tracks, and start dusting some dirt.
It will be interesting to see in what shape the scenery is next Sunday at the Pacific Coast Division meet!

Thanks for looking.

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Posted by mcfunkeymonkey on Tuesday, March 06, 2012 9:28 AM

Busy day yesterday.
Realized I needed to get the fascia cut & installed, so did a bit of tracing & jigsawing:





If I had more time I might just glue & clamp, and for some reason yesterday I wasn't thinking about glue until after I'd screwed it all in (D'oh!).
That's ok: I think the screw heads give it a solid, industrial appearance (yes, I countersunk them, but not all the way as it's waaaaay too easy to punch through the 1/8" masonite. Next time I'll try the 1/4").

I filled the spaces between foam & fascia with lightweight spackle:



I made it around the module with the spackle I had left: literally used up the last drop (chunk?) so that saved a trip to the hardware store.

Later I cut some 1/2" split cable tubing from Radio Shack to use as the temp tubes:



I've looked at tubing in a lot of places, and that gets as close as it can.
The tubing is spiraled, but by sliding the sections along the split you can make it concentricly corrigated.
You can also see my custom tunneling tool: sandpaper wrapped around a marker.
Worked great.

[cont.]

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Posted by mcfunkeymonkey on Tuesday, March 06, 2012 9:29 AM

After the spackle had dried, another coat of the brownish tan (or tannish brown) mistint-bin latex, and then I mixed in some muddy & black paints to color the creek bottom and cow pond:



My daughter said sadly, "It looks so lonely!"
So we fixed that:



[though a single cow might make the place even lonelier]

Installed the "true" mainline (the one being worked on):



It'll all look better when painted!

Almost forgot to make sure the track lined up towards each other on both sides of the future bridge!
But here's how I left everything last night to dry:



Today I'll prime the fascia sides and then start laying down dirt.
Going to need a lot of dirt!

Thanks for looking.

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