My Experiment in 2mm Finescale

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acs1979
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My Experiment in 2mm Finescale

Postby acs1979 » Fri Aug 24, 2012 3:10 pm

Hi all,

Finding myself in a position to build a layout for the first time since I was a teenager, I decided to jump straight into 2mm finescale. I first encountered the 2mm scale association about 15 years ago at an exhibition when I was a student and since then I have always wanted to build a finescale layout. 15 years must be something of a record from introduction fo finally joining! During that time though, I have accumulated a large amount of N gauge stock and not had a layout to run it on. Hopefully by starting this thread I'll be more motivated to finish the layout (something I have never achieved) and also benefit from the collective wisdom of others.

I decided that it would be best to start with a small shunting layout to learn the trackbuilding and modelling techniques before trying something larger. My idea was for a single platform station to run my DMUs without having to convert the wheels to finescale standards. There would also be a set of 3 sidings to shunt engineers wagons around on. Here is the Templot track plan;

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The baseboard is 4ft long and 10inches wide and built from some spare 9mm MDF. Here is a picture of the layout with the track laid, including the fiddle yard;

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The plain track on the scenic side is 2mm fs association's Easitrac, but I built the turnouts using pcb timbers. The platform road has 3 fiddleyard tracks to hold DMUs upto 3 cars. As there are no finescale turnouts on this bit, N gauge stock will run on the Easitrack and space was saved by using peco set track points in the fiddle yard.

Building the turnouts was more straightforward than I expected. Using the Association filing and soldering jigs and roller gauges made it hard to go wrong, but I still managed to about 3 times before I got it right! Here is a closer view of one of the turnouts;

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I've tried to use blobs of solder to represent the chairs, but it is quite hard to get them all the same size, but hopefully it looks better once painted and ballasted.

A close up of the crossing shows that some of the insulation gaps are larger than necessary, but wagons still run over the turnout smoothly.

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This view of the toe end of a turnout. The turnouts are operated in a crude way using wire in tube connected to a PCB tie bar. You can also see how messy my soldering is! You might just notice the joggles bent into the stock rails to accomodate the ends of the blades and to stop wheels from banging against the blades and derailing.

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The bufferstops are LMS/BR design rail bult types made from etched kts. I made a mistake on the furthest one soldering the bracing plates to the wrong side but I can live with it... for now!

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The next step was to paint and ballast the track. I sprayed the lot with sleeper grime and then painted the rails track colour rust. I'm pleased with the outcome;

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I decided to use a brown ballast for the sidings and a light buff colour ballast for the platform road to make it look as if it had recently been relaid. The light buff turned out to be a bit too coarse for my liking but I think it will look better once weathered.

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I need some wagons to shunt around so I attempted a few kits. My first attempt was a 'Shark' ballast plough brakevan, one of my favourite wagon types. This is an N gauge society kit with a 2mm scale association etched chassis. Still needs painting and transfers added.

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I then had a go at a pair of 16T mineral wagons one unfitted and the other fitted. I made a few minor mistakes with the underframes on these, but only a rivet-counting expert is likely to notice, but the fact that I know it is not quite right is going to bug me.

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Next up was an unfitted plate wagon, which went together rather well despite my messy soldering.

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Finally a Grampus wagon which is my best effort yet;

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These wagons all still need buffers and DG couplings added. I've place an electromagnet in the appropriate place to allow for automatic coupling and uncoupling, but I still need to wire it up. I also need to make a jig to ensure that the DGs are mounted at the correct height. In the meantime I've got a few more Grampus to build, some Catfish and Dogfish too plus a brakevan.

Thanks for looking and I welcome any comments and constructive criticism.

Regards,

Tony

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Essex2Visuvesi
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Re: My Experiment in 2mm Finescale

Postby Essex2Visuvesi » Fri Aug 24, 2012 3:16 pm

some nice work there, hard to tell those wagons were N gauge.

You must have very small hands and perfect eyesight lol :)
Si quam primum vos operor non successio , impono

The only stupid question is the one I didn't ask

Proud member of the OAM
(Order of the Armchair Modeller

CheekyPaul
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Re: My Experiment in 2mm Finescale

Postby CheekyPaul » Fri Aug 24, 2012 3:18 pm

Wow, they look great, you're certainly doing a good job with it!

I look forward to see how the layout develops!

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ceejaydee
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Re: My Experiment in 2mm Finescale

Postby ceejaydee » Fri Aug 24, 2012 8:53 pm

Your layout shows just how 2mm FS can offer fantastic opportunities to build highly detailed and realistic layouts in tiny spaces.
I don't think that you should be too hard on yourself about your wagons as they look spot on in the photos and once painted the different media used in their construction become a whole item rather than an amalgamation of parts in the raw.
Not sure that I would be able to solder something so small; ditto track and I think that handbuilt track in any scale is an achievement possibly more so in 2mm & 3mm where tolerances are so fine.

I really enjoyed the opportunities that N gauge offered for a realistic layout in a small space but was always frustrated by the clumsy track and wheels.
2mm FS is very easy on the eye as a viewer and the photos of your models do nothing to betray their diminutive size; we could easily be looking at 4mm/EM or 7mm scale models.
If I could see things that small these days I'd definitely give 2mm FS a go.

Hope that you continue to share your progress.
Regards
Christopher D.

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SouthernBoy
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Re: My Experiment in 2mm Finescale

Postby SouthernBoy » Sat Aug 25, 2012 9:42 am

Hello acs1979, and welcome to the forum.

I'm impressed with your track work and wagon building - it all looks very promising, keep the updates coming :)


May I ask what ballast you used?

acs1979
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Re: My Experiment in 2mm Finescale

Postby acs1979 » Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:07 pm

Hi again,

Thanks for all the kind comments. Soldering the small parts of the wagons can be tricky, but I cheat a bit. I paint solder paste onto the contact surfaces and the heat from the soldering iron welds the surfaces together. I think that takes alot of the skill out of it.

May I ask what ballast you used?


The short answer is 'I don't know'. The brown ballast I used is no longer in it's original packaging and I have had it in storage for years. I think it might be Woodlands scenics fine brown. The light buff ballast is definitely Woodlands scenics.

I spent the weekend wiring up the uncoupling electromagnet which is located just before the first turnout. I created a small control panel with a switch to control it and another switch to control a Dapol semaphore signal which will be placed at the end of the platform. I thought it would be prudent to make this panel larger than I needed in case I decide to add other things to the layout.

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In my previous post I put a picture of a Grampus wagon that I was very pleased with. I was a bit puzzled that the wagon I built did not have interior detail but the picture in the instructions of the finished wagon did. I have since realised that the reason for this is because I didn't follow the destructions correctly! I soldered the detail layer on the wrong side of the sides. I can't blame the instructions either because the instructions I had were the most detailed instructions I have had for anything. D'oh! Having said that Einstein said something along the lines of 'A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new'.

So I had another go at a Grampus and I thought it would be worth posting a sequence of pictures to show how these wagons are built. This picture shows the kit as it comes. There are enough parts to make fitted and unfitted variants and other detail differences.

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The axleboxes and springs are made first. There are two options for these and I opted for the Hybox versions. This is done by placing 3 layers ontop of eachother and aligning them with top hat bearings and then soldering the layers together.

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The frames are then cut away to leave the axleboxes and springs ready for use later.

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Next the ends are assembled. Again 3 layers are soldered on top of eachother and can be arranged with the planked top side facing inside or outside the wagon.

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The ends once separated from the frame.

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The next step is to make the sides and body, and this is where I went wrong last time.

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Then the planked floor is then soldered in place, again using top hat bearings to get correct alignment.

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The sides can then be folded up to form the shape of the body and the ends soldered in place.

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Once done, the chassis is cut from the etch and folded up. The appropriate tabs are folded up in the center of the chassis depending on which version you are building. This is going to be a vacuum fitted wagon, so all tabs are folded up. This is to allow the brake gear to be fitted.

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The chassis is then soldered to the underside of the body. Alignment with top hat bearings again.

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Next up are the solebars. Cut from the etch and folded up.

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The next picture shows the wagon with the solebar soldered in place. You can also see the door bangers which will be folded into the right shape later on.

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I then attached the axleboxes and springs. Here is the result, and I am now ready to work on the underframe.

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Here is the wagon with all of the underframe detail added including the turned brass vacuum cylinder, brake levers, storage racks etc.

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The result is an incredibly detailed wagon in which most of the detail is hidden out of view under the chassis!

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Compare this picture to the one of the Grampus in my first post and you can see the difference. It still needs buffers and couplings. Overall constructing the wagon was about 8 hours work.

Trackbuilding and wagon building is enormously time consuming, but I've really enjoyed doing it and there is a real sense of satisfaction at building something and that it works well when you test it.

Cheers,

Tony

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SouthernBoy
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Re: My Experiment in 2mm Finescale

Postby SouthernBoy » Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:32 pm

Excellent tutorial and a fantastic wagon. Thanks for posting.

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Herr german
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Re: My Experiment in 2mm Finescale

Postby Herr german » Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:40 pm

excellent work so far, will keep returning for future updates

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mika
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Re: My Experiment in 2mm Finescale

Postby mika » Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:09 pm

Thanks for the step by step instructions. It's amazing how much detail that wagon has. Nonetheless, I'll probably stick to RTR wagons :oops: .
Looking forward to seeing your FS layout develop.

Michael
My layout 'Sudbury-on-Sea'

My German layout 'Zinnroda (Thür.)'

acs1979
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Re: My Experiment in 2mm Finescale

Postby acs1979 » Mon Sep 10, 2012 5:32 pm

Thanks again for the comments.

The wagons I built needed buffers and the ones that I wanted were at the time out of stock, so rather than wait, I decided to have a go at 3D printing them.

3D printing of models is an exciting development in the hobby, and having seen the success that others have had with it I thought it would be a good idea to try it out myself.
I've already had some CAD experience as in a previous incarnation I built models for the Trainz railway simulator using Gmax and then Blender. To make it worth the expense I would have to produce quite alot of buffers in one go. This is what I knocked up in Blender, a sprue of 100 buffers;

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It was important to make sure that the model had no manifold vertices/edges and that it was watertight. The way I imagine it is if the model was filled with water, none would leak out. I then uploaded it to Shapeways to be printed and after a few weeks waiting this is what arrived;

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I was initially really pleased with the look of them, and just as I was getting excited I picked it up and broke one! It turns out that they really are quite fragile. The weakest part is the connection to the buffer head. I think if I decide to print anymore I will compromise on this bit and make it a bit thicker for extra strength. The other possibility is to print it without the buffer heads and use turned brass ones instead, which I think is probably the better way forward. Nonetheless I am really pleased that I have succesfully had something 3D printed and now ideas for larger projects are creeping into my mind!

This picture shows the size of the buffers and also how easily they are broken. I doubt whether they will be able to withstand regular 2mm scale shunting, but I'll find out.

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I was very impressed with the level of detail that was achieved. It is difficult to see the detail whilst unpainted, but I fitted the buffers to a plate wagon and you can see if you look carefully you can even see the bolts on the baseplate. Hopefully they will look good once painted etc.

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Cheers,

Tony

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SouthernBoy
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Re: My Experiment in 2mm Finescale

Postby SouthernBoy » Mon Sep 10, 2012 7:57 pm

Impressive work, and good-on-you for taking the chance that things may not work out. It's all part of the learning curve :)

Such pioneering work pays off, not only in terms of getting the products you want, but also in respect of the extra (transferable) skills you are teaching yourself, and the additional confidence it gives you to push on with other challenging projects.

I take my hat off to you and your buffers :)

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Michaelaface
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Re: My Experiment in 2mm Finescale

Postby Michaelaface » Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:58 pm

how much did it cost to have those buffers made?

acs1979
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Re: My Experiment in 2mm Finescale

Postby acs1979 » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:23 pm

Michaelaface wrote:how much did it cost to have those buffers made?


It cost 15 Euros give or take a few cents which includes post and packaging. It does depend on which material you use though. I went for FUD (frosted ultra detail) as details up to about 0.1mm resolution can print. This costs about 6 Euros per cubic centimeter. There are cheaper alternatives but the detail won't print on them.

If anyone is interested in trying this for themselves I would recommend Blender as a CAD. It is free, very poweful and easy to use. There is an excellent train related tutorial for Blender here;

http://www.44090digitalmodels.co.uk

The tutorial is for making models for a rail-sim where the practise is to delete faces you can't see to save memory load. For 3D printing you need all of the faces and to make the model water tight. However the tutorial will teach you the programme and all of the techniques you will need to build complex models. Its well worth giving it a go.

Cheers,

Tony

acs1979
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Re: My Experiment in 2mm Finescale

Postby acs1979 » Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:04 pm

Its been a while since I updated my progress on this thread, so here is what I have been doing over the past few months...

I've spent some time working on the scenery where I have made extensive use of Scalescenes stuff. Here is a view of the station building.

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I eventually got round to building the bridge portal and installing the Dapol signal. I built up the embankment using expanded polystyrene from some packaging, then built up a thick coating of strips of newspaper soaked in PVA. The picture shows it painted and static grass applied. I didn't have an applicator, so I improvised using and old sqeezy honey bottle which seemed to work fine.

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Once the static grass had set I then added other scatter materials and foliage to give the following result;

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I intend to represent part of a road and pavement at the sides of the bridge where you would expect to see it, along with a fence. At the embankment at the back I plan to put a public footpath providing a short cut from the road to the station with fencing along the route. Behind that I hope to eventually put a backscene of the rear of a row of terraced houses, so plenty to do yet.

I want the layout to represent NW England in the 70s or 80s where relics from LMS days could still be seen. So I designed and 3D printed a set LMS designed concrete platform lamp posts. I believe lamps of this sort lasted until the mid 80s at some locations. Here is one painted, but I have yet to install them on the layout.

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I've also been busy building rolling stock. I now have 3 plate wagons and a rake of 5 grampus wagons. I needed to design and 3D print some self contained buffers to fit onto the grampus wagons, and for the Catfish/dogfish I still have to build.

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These buffers are much stronger than the last set I printed because they are thicker. The detail is superb, including the rivets etc, but its difficult to see in the photo.

Regards,

Tony

Ex-Pat
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Re: My Experiment in 2mm Finescale

Postby Ex-Pat » Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:31 pm

Glad you refreshed because I've managed to miss you until now - must have been on a computerless holiday.

Very impressive work - I know the feeling about the fact that you know something is wrong and it bugs you, but you just have to live with it. Anyway surely 2mm is too small for rivet counters?

So stop counting and keep it up! Looking forward to further updates.


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