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DalaGStanator's Customs, Mods and Experiments
Wow, sounds great LaG, well done!
[Image: super-smiley-emoticon.gif]
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[Image: 93151-AD0-A896-42-B6-AA1-F-D0-B198-BF5-A51.jpg][Image: F4-C267-BE-8948-4-BA2-B66-B-979-D32-F53-EF5.jpg]

Immediately after the success of my TOMY inspired chuffing mechanism, I wanted to try adding it to one of the rolling stock from the Union Express set. I made a new spring due to the imperfections in the first one and (temporarily) fitted it to the blue caboose. This time, the cam couldn't be fitted the same way 'around' the axle and was simply hot glued to it. Due to the sliding axles, it was lightly adjustable to allow the caboose to move backwards without jamming. It worked on just about any surface except the track, likely because I didn't add traction tyres or another rough texture. That, and some mild pressure had to be applied since it didn't roll freely. Demonstration videos: carpet, floor, cam moved to allow both directions

While it was clearly louder than the iPhone 4 box, it made an inferior sound and the bottom wasn't hollow enough. The coach would've probably given a better result. I also took the opportunity to paint some of its detail black, notably the fake bogies.

[Image: AC1-B3624-C0-E9-4935-B25-A-BAC8-EAB7191-F.jpg][Image: C7-DED409-52-EF-4596-A26-A-1265-D09662-AF.jpg][Image: 4-E300305-3498-4-AF2-A4-A9-866-D275-AF051.jpg][Image: 71-E9-B459-5781-4-BBE-A4-DA-A6-D2-BF587-BB4.jpg][Image: 9806-C034-0-D29-4633-AF77-15161-B27-E761.jpg]

Finally made something for the literal Blue Plastic Tracks again. Inspired by TrackMaster Productions 2016's (terrific) Slate Quarry incline, I built my own winding house for use with my (standard gauge) trucks. At the end of each string for the cables, I attached a wire tie hook that can fit into the trucks' loop couplings or be tightened around their hook ones. He did mention it was hard for him to get it to function properly, so I didn't expect it to be easier. It was initially only able to pull the loaded and empty trucks up/down together, but I managed to fix it after several attempts. Demonstration videos: winches, empty trucks only, empty and loaded trucks

[Image: 0-E33-FBE3-77-DD-4729-A754-59-E956389-C38.jpg]

Since I didn't measure the span of two risers with one straight on top, it turned out the spools weren't really aligned with the tracks and I had to rebuild the winding house. The new base has skewers along the bottom to fit into the track grooves for a little more stability. As I thought, it does the job a whole lot better in every way. Demonstration videos: gravity power, empty truck pulled by hand, cranked with all six trucks

The only problems with the new version are the winding house has to be held down so it wouldn't fall over, and the ascending trucks can't really reach the top. The latter might be because the tracks were too short or the grade wasn't steep enough. Either way, it proved successful enough to show the principle worked for me too.

[Image: 86167348-9416-4-CCE-AD31-4329-F5-DC6915.jpg][Image: DEDC771-C-BFD3-4175-99-F5-009606021664.jpg][Image: B3879-A8-A-ECD9-4-EF4-A650-A8-D9523-E3-C17.jpg]

Another thing I've really wanted to make is a motorised transfer table (traverser), also for Plarail. I looked for the easiest way to control a motor's polarity and found this forward/reverse controller by How to Create. It uses two metal rods wired to the power source, with their other ends wedged into a dial so they make contact with three other conductive pins (two wired to each other with one also wired to the motor, and one to the motor only). Not quite as ideal as a regular three way switch, but easier for me to wire. I then made a smaller version with nails for the conductive pins and found it to be more responsive, likely due to them being closer to the wired rods. For a more practical demo, here's my first chassis being controlled by it.

Now I'll just have to find how to build the mechanism and incorporate this into it. In addition, it could also work well in a wide variety of other applications.
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A lot of thought went into this LaG
[Image: super-smiley-emoticon.gif]
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[Image: 7-A963-B2-B-78-EB-4-AEE-8-E42-98751924-DFE5.jpg][Image: 82631483-2823-407-E-A5-F9-2-ACDA57-ECE88.jpg]

After I got the hang of how that forward/reverse dial worked, I designed an alternative version that acts more like a slide switch. Effectively the same concept, but with a plastic T shape in lieu of the dial. The conductive pins are now small screws, which help keep the wires in a bit more tightly than the nails do. It does have a little too much free movement, so any further revisions should be more restricted. Demonstration video

[Image: 31-BDFC30-35-BA-4800-9122-81-B7-D9677451.jpg][Image: FEA86-DE6-2-E07-427-B-AAEF-DC0-A17-CDE96-A.jpg]

For the traverser itself, I measured two straight pieces with room for one riser between them (facing as if to cross them) to make the base. Two "trucks" were made to support the platform at the ends, joined by a long, flat beam. The rack for the gear based power unit is just corrugated fibreboard. The cardboard wheels were eventually replaced with wick sustainers to make them roll better. Demo before adding motor

[Image: 6-E979-CBE-7-B1-A-4-ED2-918-E-BC545-E9-FA426.jpg][Image: 6289940-E-EAB6-45-A2-99-AB-CF0-FF9-BCF918.jpg][Image: 90-E806-DD-03-AA-4-D30-B510-7-E8521-A99-C67.jpg]

My current solution for power is the gearbox I used for my last two engines, but with a gear on the axle to mesh with the rack. The motor is still mounted vertically and could be hidden in a control booth. Since the plastic gear had a little too many teeth for the rack, I replaced it with a cardboard "wheel" gear with the same tread. Didn't stop it from slipping/disengaging, however, especially when going backwards. Two additional rails were added to keep it from swaying sideways. It would probably work better if I'd use parallel racks with two gears meshing with them, or simply a belt from one end to the other. Demonstration videos: without track, with track, with truck on cardboard platform
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[Image: 8547-B552-E7-D6-4-D0-F-995-B-C83278-F76-C9-D.jpg][Image: DF6834-C1-DACE-4-A27-A5-ED-A9313-BEF01-D5.jpg]

It occurred to me that homemade smoke units are much easier to make than I thought they would be a few years ago. I've found multiple variants of them that use either fire in a tube or a nichrome heating element with glycerine/machine oil in cotton wool. Both types have a fan or a vacuum pump for the smoke to billow. A YouTuber named Quazar made two different steam engines with a nichrome smoke unit, and it would be amazing to have one of my own models with it. Too bad the pump makes them whine like Gordon in "Whistles and Sneezes" and totally ruins the illusion, even though it's safer and more compact.

I initially had mixed feelings about the fire based version, but gained enough courage to build one and risk trying it. The first two tests went well until the fan's blades broke off, but I didn't manage to record until the fifth test (pictured). I had to hold a battery in one hand (while pressing the wires over it) and the whole unit in the other, so a 2x battery pack allowed me to put it down and film it. Just 3V were enough to give a desirable effect, which I think might be harder with nichrome wired to the motor. I'm thinking of using 6V (four batteries) to power smoke in an engine, if not a separate 9V battery for it. Demonstration video

Right after recording, the flame got closer to the fan and even sparked for a bit before I managed to save the unit. The fan broke again and soot got into both halves, so it all had to be destroyed. I'll have to find a good, strong nichrome wire so I won't have to use the fire type again. I'm just thankful it didn't go horribly wrong, though it (inevitably) left a nasty odour of burnt tissue paper.
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[Image: 3-FBCC4-C2-C805-4-C99-81-FC-DFA16-EBD7476.jpg]

Unlike last year, a number of this year's customs have been experimental in nature and, as such, were taken apart a few days after they were made; in the case of the dark red 0-6-0T, only the chassis and electronics were taken out. Yes, I did count the American smokebox even though I never used it for a model. I also left out the custom narrow gauge track pieces, Duncan V3*, the incline winding house and the transfer table. If I'll get to actual buildings in 2023, they will be featured as part of the next group.

* Because V2 was in the last photo, though I haven't ruled out future revisions of other old projects appearing in group photos.
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Fine custom work LaG. Look forward to see what you come up with as far as buildings. Here is a suggestion that just occurred to me as I scrolled up the Posts above...If you were planning on a factory building, House with fireplace or a BBQ Restaurant etc, why not install your neat mechanical smoke machine described above? Wouldn't it look cool smoking from a factory, a fireplace chimney or the smoke from cooking meat at thr restaurant in a layout?
[Image: super-smiley-emoticon.gif]
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Those are all very good ideas, Supes, though I'd much rather find a source of nichrome wire before making another smoke generator (to avoid using literal fire again). Even with less (or non) flammable materials, I don't always know what might happen. It does eventually have to be put out when the flame gets too close to the fan. I agree any of the above would surely add life to a scene if done properly. Thanks again.
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[Image: B2756059-4-B70-4-D7-C-BD1-D-06155-C946214.jpg]

For quite a while, I've been interested in taking advantage of magnetism to add linear motion to other things besides trains, road vehicles or watercraft (or make the latter two categories look more realistic when moving). I can only assume it started when Miniatur Wunderland came to my attention. The (real) model railway market offers two popular options: the Faller/Tomytec system and Magnorail. Like any other products that work differently but share a purpose, they have their inevitable pros and cons. I looked at so many different interpretations of both concepts including with LEGO, yet never settled on an affordable, accessible alternative. Yesterday, it finally hit me: what if instead of a chain drive that might be difficult to hold in place/power continuously, I could just hide a TOMY/TrackMaster circuit and put the magnets on a running engine (with or without a train)?

[Image: A9815-A9-B-86-C7-4-F99-8-F41-1-B3-E76-BC4-CB3.jpg]

Sure enough, the (general) idea was already successfully attempted. I found this great video of a barge powered by nothing but a Hornby 0-4-0 chassis with a magnet mounted on it. Prior to that, I also found LEGO vehicles powered the same way with train motors and NXT robots.

The big canvas board I used for my old wish list has an additional middle support that would surely interrupt the magnet/s, which prevented me from using it. I recalled having a large sheet of paper that was originally from an "artist pad", so I took it out and taped it over six risers. It turned out too small for track due to the curve radius being too big, so the track had to be replaced with road (where the curves are tighter but engines can still clear them). My magnets latch onto the "Thomas type" drive unit without need for Blu Tack or similar. One important thing to make sure was the magnets on the chassis wouldn't "jump" onto the one on top, yet be stacked high enough to attract it. It did happen several times, mainly because the sheet wasn't supported in the middle. Demonstration videos: 1, 2

While it worked remarkably well, the magnet only made it halfway until it lost contact and briefly moved again. I also tried it with Elizabeth, but the results weren't as good even though she was made for TOMY road. If I had something large enough, I would've been able to cover a proper layout with points and stop/go tracks to control the surface magnet/s. Just like with Magnorail, the possibilities should be (nearly) endless. Moving humans, animals, cyclists, motorcyclists; anything without room for a battery and motor in small scales. I'm off to a good start with this one.
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Man you are something else DalaGStanator. Look forward to seeing the finished product
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[Image: BA021-A11-AA53-4-C90-8-EDF-8749-B5-FD728-C.jpg][Image: 206-F2171-31-F6-4-F8-A-97-A9-CF1-AB199-EAA6.jpg][Image: 1-B49-AB63-4-E29-402-A-8440-55-C88-ABE2-F5-A.jpg]

Another version of the above, but with my first cutting mat from the early 2010s. Unlike the second mat or the paper sheet, it is big enough to cover a simple oval of "normal" track with a smaller loop joined by points. It took 30 risers to hold it up for improved stability, while also trying to prevent the attracting magnet/s from getting "picked up". Using TOMY track led to the magnet getting left behind (despite being on a flat, hard surface), so TrackMaster worked better. It made it around the whole circuit uninterrupted, even when the points were set. The only real issue that still remained was the jittering caused by the magnet trying to catch up with the chassis, giving a "stop motion vibe" to the way it moved. Demonstration videos: 1, 2

[Image: 983-B976-E-CC68-401-E-8-FD2-9-C2-F56-AF3-AD6.jpg][Image: 3-F191-EBE-7637-4432-A5-CE-8-FAE22896-A93.jpg]

Oddly, this yellow Forest Patrol jeep was the only vehicle I could power with it. My other plastic/die cast vehicles were too heavy for the magnets I used, including the lighter and more cheaply made cars. I replaced the four magnets on the Thomas chassis with a more powerful one (aided by one of the other type), yet it still failed to move them. The jeep's shell is removable, so I only hid two magnets under the bonnet and let them latch onto the front axle. Demonstration video

It may not be Magnorail grade, but it still worked nearly as well save for the jittering (in particular when reaching the curves). Of course, having parallel tracks with two chassis running could allow things like two lane traffic, (a) vehicle/s coming from other directions or whatever else.
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[Image: 97-D8-FF7-D-553-F-428-A-B7-AA-5467-D30-CC07-D.jpg][Image: ED30-BAE1-B795-49-C3-B998-1-E9-D220892-BA.jpg][Image: 39-F34826-B81-F-4-C47-8-C99-43-C0-D846-E140.jpg]

After being pleased with how the Forest Patrol jeep looked in the test run, I got the idea to make a new cardboard chassis rather than adding magnets to my vehicle bodies. Unlike them (or the die cast/plastic vehicles), I thought it should also be my first one with steering (or any articulation) to see if it would make much of a difference. Sure enough, it clearly looked better than having both axles be rigid. To achieve the steering, I mounted the front axle on a hinged plate and glued the magnet at its other end (inspired by the Faller system). Attempting to "drive" it manually made it steer in the opposite directions when going forwards, but not when reversing; likely because it works more like a coupling/drawbar between two units. It even "refused" to stay in line when tested on TOMY road. As such, I was a bit surprised it moved correctly when following the TrackMaster engine. If I had the motor and battery on board the chassis and laid a metal wire under the surface, I don't see why it shouldn't work like a Faller vehicle. Demonstration videos: 1, 2, 3

As much as I love how it looked compared to the die cast, I don't plan to incorporate (front wheel) steering in future cardboard vehicles. One reason being it might be a bit hard to shape the front/s without leaving huge gaps to prevent the wheels from colliding. The other reason is I (realistically) wouldn't have many opportunities to use Plarail/TrackMaster as a "Magnorail alternative" due to the height needed above the tracks (and the size needed to hide a big layout with something other than cloth).
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[Image: 79-CE9-C92-BB27-49-E3-AF05-662956457-CB1.jpg][Image: BCC59-EF9-0-B4-C-49-AF-AD90-F8-D4-CEBC8-A04.jpg][Image: 1-DB5-EE80-488-D-4-EB5-B561-2-A0003276-D6-D.jpg][Image: 69-EA9706-49-F4-4-D51-8-CCC-7108823-BD913.jpg][Image: 780-FEAF1-3-EA7-4-B00-9-C33-2-D26066-F0-A1-C.jpg]

Two weeks ago, I got an idea to try making a Dübs Crane Tank No. 4101 (the one Harvey is based on) with a motorised crane arm driven in a similar way to the original's (a shaft extending from the tank with a gear on the other end to power the large gear that turns the arm). I made this short 0-4-0 wheelbase with valve gear thinking I'd use it for the model, but mainly to see how I could pull off valve gear with two slide bars rather than one. Like on 69420, the rods are matchsticks with plastic tube rings at the ends. This time, they were attached a bit further away from the axles to increase their range of motion. There were originally also going to be coupling rods, but a frustrating issue with quartering led me to leave the piston rods only (until I could solve the problem on future designs). It actually doesn't look too bad with the coupling rods missing, and would also likely reduce the chances of jamming. The only (cosmetic) drawback to having the crossheads on the outside was how the rods protruded too far out the sides, which I was able to correct by "flipping" the crossheads around. Not to say it doesn't make them rub against the front wheels, though. Demonstration video

[Image: 9-C76-F522-248-E-4-CAE-9-B57-8-F26-D7677380.jpg][Image: 28-BD8-FA1-7868-4-B26-BC55-ECA791788-F37.jpg][Image: 788-F5364-6-C9-A-4119-8157-D5696-E5-DDDFD.jpg][Image: F731-B641-296-B-4-E54-8-F4-D-ADAB8777998-A.jpg]

However, I had a change of heart at a later point and instead turned it into an original saddle tank, drawing inspiration from industrial classes by Hunslet, Andrew Barclay, Peckett, Hudswell Clarke and a few others. That said, the smokebox turned out too big and makes it look more like another side tank. The model makes use of multiple non cardboard elements, including: a metal hub from a 3½" floppy disk for the smokebox door, a hair conditioner cap for the dome, a torch casing for the boiler (and firebox) and two parts from (possibly) paint bottles/pens for the funnel. The wooden buffer housings were cut from a paintbrush handle and put through a pencil sharpener to form the cones. The buffers themselves were initially wick sustainers hot glued to the housings, only to be replaced with circles cut from an anti slip mat. The (blank) builder's plates were oval googly eyes that were painted gold. If the orange looks a bit weird, it's because I wanted to try using silver markers for priming and see if they'd make the paint glossier/metallic. They didn't, but the mats and aluminium foil would look a lot better painted this way. Too bad the running board is wavy and the body is (still) crooked/asymmetrical in some areas. Demo after construction

[Image: 4-F52-D0-D5-3338-43-AA-ADF0-FAA65-E40-C4-E5.jpg][Image: 09144-C73-D779-4689-92-F3-1-D2-D6772-B0-C7.jpg]

The inside of the smokebox is blocked to allow the screw to go through it, like on the red side tank. While the cab isn't as detailed as 69420's, the torch body does look like a proper backhead (something the former doesn't have). One crew member is obstructing it, but it can be seen in the rear angle photo.

[Image: 322-D7-D5-A-0845-4-BDB-BD40-42-CEF01-D1549.jpg][Image: 9-A6836-DD-3-BBF-4-AAC-8118-AB6997442531.jpg]

Now that I've made a second engine with the paper clip coupling hooks, here's how they look with the chain between them. The buffers are too close together when coupled in front of 69420, but the tender can move more freely. I'd have to look for more four link chains in the same size if I'll ever use them on consists (whole trains).
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[Image: B31-B7-D5-F-050-E-4-A37-828-A-62-B15-B65-AED3.jpg][Image: C236-AFAB-1-FC0-449-C-8-EEC-ECC444-CF6154.jpg]

While I was transferring all my TOMY and TrackMaster track and road parts to better boxes, it occurred to me that I've only had 'two' stop/go pieces of both types all along. This gave me an idea to try replicating one of the TOMY ones in cardboard, like how I made new pieces for my black narrow gauge system. I also recall having two Keenway train sets with "plastic wooden" track, and one of the accessories from them is a station where they (clearly) reverse engineered the Plarail stop/go mechanism. All it consists of is a shaft connected to the switch with a tab near the middle that pushes up a loose bar (which falls back down when set to "go").

So, I just took out one of my two TOMY stop/gos and traced it onto cardboard, with the side protrusion also being measured from the original. The shaft is a toothpick with cardboard for the switch and tab, and works exactly the same way. My only real issue right now is the inaccurate geometry, because Plarail track is (usually) made of two layers "sandwiched" together. I might have a better chance to achieve that with matchsticks or the like for the outer rails on both halves. Either way, it worked fairly nicely for a cardboard reproduction. It could also work well for destinations built like official ones with embedded track.
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[Image: BB1100-EA-D1-A6-4660-A571-EB923-C9-CCF85.jpg][Image: DE380-FBF-973-D-4-C55-8-AC2-8124-EF75185-C.jpg][Image: 0-FA55355-16-B8-422-F-B823-77-F004293460.jpg][Image: 7-D169-D63-9-D1-E-4276-AA50-B4-D740-F0-D736.jpg][Image: B63-B1-FE7-849-B-4-FE9-9-B0-A-DC8132-A4-BE90.jpg]

My second try at reproducing the TOMY stop/go, this time with matchsticks for the rails on the top and bottom. Only one cardboard layer was made by tracing, and the height turned out nearly the same as the original. The shaft was mounted a bit higher, but the gap was later bridged over with zip ties in the wheel grooves. Definitely a more practical solution than trying to align the middle layer between the sides. Only the bar was reused from the first version, albeit cut down to fit and with corrugation added to represent the racks. Demonstration video

Update: it did work as expected in both directions, but the only difference from a real one is the lever has to be held in the stop position; otherwise, it won't stay up and the engine will knock it back down. Maybe I should've used a piece of metal or plastic for the bar to make it a bit stronger. That, or I could find something to add to the shaft so the bar could be held up properly. Either way, I got a good result.
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