Friday, April 16, 2010

Scott Perry Takes on the Traintools Egroup

After a 4+ year hiatus to raise children I have come back to managing the Traintools E-group.  You can find it here...

I want to especially thank Chris "RADAR" Roeben for his fantastic work in building and moderating the group for these many years.  Chris now has a new job starting Monday and we wish him well in his new endeavor.

We've grown!  Over 50 new members have joined today alone!  Watch for the blog to grow.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

NMRA Achievement Program Yahoo Group

NMRA Achievement Program Yahoo Group is a new way to find information, guidance and the sometime necessary kick-in-the-pants to help you earn your Achievement Program Certificates and become a MASTER MODEL RAILROADER.

If you are an NMRA member and would like to join, just go here…

I’m Scott Perry, long time Yahoo Group host and found of several groups such as…


And others!

So come join the fun, make new friends and make a plan to Achieve!

Scott Perry

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tools: Midwest Products Scale Lumber Gauge - I4A$$

I'm working on three projects now in the shop, all scratchbuilt.  Going between HO and O scales is tough when you have scale lumber laying all over the shop.  So I decided to order this scale lumber gauge from Midwest.  It cost me $6.

This "ruler" is heavy plastic and marked on two sides.  On one edge are cut outs for measuring scale lumber in different sizes.  Here you can see 1" and O-scale 1/4" notches.  A "10" under O-scale means this is a 10" wide board.

On the other end of the red side you can find HO and N scale.  ALMOST?  What the !#@$! is almost?  The scale says ALMOST HO and ALMOST N.  Now, pardon me, but I thought a measuring device was about precision!  I guess not.

Let's check it out.  I took a hardwood dowel and checked for an area that was 12" in HO scale. I put the dowel in at the point I measured and it was 12".  Looks good.  There doesn't appear to be any difference in the blue and red side, other than the color.

The same dowel should be a 6" width in O-scale, and it does measure correctly.  The gauge is fairly thick an the wood hangs in the cut out well without sliding left and right.  This should provide a good measurement.

I checked the 12" ruler with my steel rule and the marking were accurate, crisp and easy to ready.  There are holes on either end of the Scale Lumber Gauge for easy mounting.

As a review, the jury is out.  I don't like ALMOST on a measuring tool and I ALMOST didn't buy it.  However, it appears to be more accurate than it gives itself credit for.  I'll keep using it on my workbench for a while and let you know.  Guess you can't go wrong with $6 so if you do scratchbuild, you may want one.

Tools: NWSL Chopper II - B1D$$$

Well, my old trusty Northwest Short Line Chopper finally died.  We buried him with honors.  He'd been a good friend and long time companion of many hours of modeling fun.  I hated to see him go.

But hey, just like women, we can replace him with just a quick trip to town!

So I stopped by my local hobby shop (a convenient 4.1 miles from home) and bought a Chopper II.  Really I wanted the same old Chopper I that I've used for over 20 years, but they didn't have one.  Thus, I coughed up $40 and bought this new and modified version.  Actually its been around for years.

I don't normally get all emotional over things like tools but this is a beautiful piece of equipment!  Cast in aluminum with a strong handle it appears to be super sturdy.  The lines and wording are cast into the metal and painted bright yellow.  The cutting surface is replaceable and can be turned a quarter at a time as the surface wears out from razor cutting.  Unlike my old unit the angles for miter cuts are made of steel and are heave.  The holding clamps are spring loaded metal as well.  She'll be around for a long time!

When you open the box, look for the screws taped to the lid!!!  I almost threw them out as they are hard to see.  These are replacement screws for the blade holder.  I'll tape these to the bottom of the cutter and will mount two magnets for securing the angles.  Nice to have them in steel!

The instructions were a bit lacking.  Really they should start of in big red letters THIS GADGET WILL TAKE YOUR FINGER OFF IN A SPLIT SECOND!  JUST ASK LEFTY!  I read through them and didn't see any particular point of interest.  There are no diagrams or pictures, so I tossed it in File 13.

I took a small magnet and tested the angle to make sure it was steel.  Yup, we have attraction!

Then I pre-heated my hot glue gun and put a large spot of hot glue on the bottom of the chopper.

I pushed the magnet into the hot glue and there!  You have a keeper for your angles!

I'm working on a model for my Okefenokee Railroad called Dr. Bank's Office, so I thought I'd give her a workout tonight.  I like the feel of the cutter with its strong arm and secure blade.  The cut is smooth and the cutting pad receives the blade nicely.  Cuts are relatively smooth...more cutting than breaking, but it still doesn't cut a whole lot better than the old style.  The clamps hold the angles tightly and repeated cuts are spot-on accurate.  The heavy base keeps it from moving while I work, and I really like that.

Some drawbacks are the black paint.  While it is nice to look at, the black paint absorbs all the light making it hard to see where you are cutting.  The larger handle and very large blade holder block out even more of your line of sight.  It is much harder to use.  As you can see from the picture above I removed one of the clamps because it was in the way when I was trying to cut O-scale 2x4 lumber.

My overall review is that it is all show and no go.  At the next train show I'll find one of the older $25 models and buy it, then sell this one on Ebay.  Or maybe just leave it in my shop for people to say "wow, that is a pretty cutter!"

Some advice from Reg Barron...

- I would not use a chopper for anything thicker than 1/8" (and that for rough cut stuff like NG ties). You can flip the wood over if it does not cut cleanly on first chop.

- works best on thin wood (1/16" and thinner).

- make sure blade is new and sharp

- be sure the wood is well supported and you are not cutting over old grooves from previous cuts. Rotate or replace the cutting mat. The combination of a groove and a dull blade, might cause the wood to break??

- use a stop for repetitive cuts

- I have also angled the blade up with a spacer to get clean edge cuts.

- an easier way is to touch up edge with the sander. This also helps with getting a slightly longer piece to exact length.

- for thicker wood, consider the Mitre Rite with its fine tooth back saw. When using the saw, ease up at the end of the cut, to avoid a break when the cut is almost finished. Or use a a sacrificial piece under the good piece of wood. This provides support as the blade breaks thru.

First I am only familiar with the Chopper 1 and 3 but much of this might apply to the 2. On my machine, there is a small piece of aluminum angle screwed to the masonite base. The angle piece also is connected to the chopper arm. If this is tilted up on one side about 1/16" with a small spacer, the resulting cut will be closer to square rather than the wedge cut that usually occurs, especially with thicker stock. To do this I remove the two mounting screws (that come up from the bottom and are threaded into the angle piece. These screws are replaced with ones slightly smaller that pass thru the holes in the base and the angle piece. They are secured at the top with nuts, after a small bit of 1/16" plastic strip is inserted to one side on the angle piece (and under it). This tilts the whole cutting assembly.

Another trick I use is to widen the fence. This is easy to do with a strip of plastic or wood (1/16" thick and about 1/4" wide - width is not critical). I simply tape this in front of the original fence, on the side of the machine where I hold the stock to be cut (does not need to go the whole length of the fence on both sides of the blade). This presents a new section of the blade to the stock. I find the part of the blade nearest to the fence tends to dull fastest. The result is less of a chance of crushing the stock being cut.

For those of you who are really "gung ho", it is possible to resharpen both single edge razor blades and the blades used in modeling knives (such as #11). Google "scary sharp" for more info.


Reg Barron
Reg Barron

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cheap and Portable Airbrush Cabinet


For some reason I can't find my drawings of this handy and inexpensive airbrush cabinet.  I found the plans on the internet as posted by a model car buff.  A few years ago I taught a class on airbrushing and needed four inexpensive and portable cabinets. 

The cabinet is made from a plastic tote bin with fold down flaps for the lid.  I bought them at Walmart for $19 each.  I bought transparent ones, not solid colors, so the light would come through.  The photos are from the class.

I cut a roughly 1 foot x 1 foot square hole in the bottom of the of the tote bin to use as a port.  Inside I put a small furnace filter that I bought at Home Depot.

Not shown, on the back, I mounted an inexpensive AC bathroom fan for ventilation.  AC means ALTERNATING CURRENT.  This is not a DC fan.  YOU MUST BE SURE TO BUY THE RIGHT ONE OR IT COULD RESULT IN AN EXPLOSION WHEN USING SOLVENT BASED PAINTS.  AC FANS DO NOT USE MOTOR BRUSHES THAT CREATE SPARKS.  It was $14 at Home Depot.  It is bolted to the back of the tote for easy removal.

The vent fan causes the airbrush booth to sit at a very convenient angle for standing up to spray, or you can sit the tote bin down for sitting and painting.  We painted a ton of rolling stock that day and never had the first problem with any of them.  We used acrylic (water based) paints that day due to the tight quarters in the room.  The fan had just the right pull to catch the particles, but not to disturb the spray pattern.

The box gives you plenty of room to work.

The REALLY neat thing about the box is....once you are done, you remove the fan and put all your stuff back in the box.  We were using the small compressors and put them back in the box along with the brushes.  Very handy for teaching a clinic that is mobile!

If you coat the insides of the tote bin with furniture polish before you paint, you can wipe the paint out of the booth before you put your supplies inside.

Here is one of the airbrush booths being used at a clinic the other day.  They are perfect for moving, and the cabinet becomes the storage unit for the compressor, airbrushes, and bottles.

Here is the A/C fan attached to the back.  A few nut/bold fasten it to the bottom and a liberal amount of duct tape seals the device.  We mounted a 120 volt plug to the power cord and plug it into a terminal strip with a switch for easy power on/off.

The flexible dryer vent hose is attached to the blower and runs through another furnace filter (for acrylics only!)

 Then the unit is place on top of a vented box to catch the particulates.  Crude, but it works VERY well!

Here you can see the well worn interior furnace filter that is now 2 years old.  Guess we should replace it!

Iron Mike Devaney teaches a three hour weathering clinic using the portable air brush booth. 

We had about 20 students for the class and all painted, weathered and decaled rolling stock.  Most were able to use different types of brushes furnish by BADGER.  Thanks, Badger!  I wouldn't use anything else.

Total cost of the airbrush cabinet was less than $40 and all are still going strong.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tools: Clamps B1A$$

You cannot have enough clamps.  If you didn't hear that, I'll say YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH CLAMPS!  Just when you think you have enough, buy some more and then ask for some for Christmas.  Then you will have 25% of the clamps you need.  Repeat the process.

Clamps don't have to be expensive.  These medium size spring clamps come in boxes of 12 and can be had for less that $20.  They are perfect for holding boards in place and for building spline roadbed.

This QuikKlamp bar clamp is much more expensive and comes in a wide variety of sizes.  I have some smaller than an HO locomotive.  They are easy to use and fasten quickly, which comes in handy.  Put this one on your Christmas list.

At the hobby bench I use much smaller varieites of the same thing.  These are vice-grips which make for strong and very adjustable gripping.  The are about 5 inches long.

Vice grips come in all kinds of shapes and sizes.  I use these for metalwork.

Hemostats are the smallest of the clamps.  These also come in many different sizes and clamping strengths, so I have quite a few varieties.

My big shop clamps are kept in a large plastic tote bin with a cover.  They include bar clamps, pipe clamps, spring clamps (metal and plastic), C-clamps, angle clamps and more.  Make it a practice to pick up a clamp everytime you go to the hardware store and you'll have a good collection in no time.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Track Laying Tools Videos

Hey, here are some really cool tool videos by Tim Warris...