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Martijn Meerts

H0e forest railways with H0 branch line

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Martijn Meerts

Had a quick chat with someone at Fast Tracks, who make various tools and fixtures for hand laying tracks and creating turnouts. Definitely very helpful, and I quite like that they didn't try to immediately sell me multiple tools, but actually tried to get the initial cost down to a minimum by seeing if I can get away with using turnouts that allow for reusable tools.

 

Pretty much decided that the branch line is going to use Fast Track's H0n3.5 / H0m fixtures, which is 1/87 on 11.9mm track. It's actually slightly smaller than it should be, but the only other option is a TT fixture, in which case the tie spacing would be too narrow, and the scale of the ties would be off. Probably going to use #6 turnouts for this line, which are a little bit tight, but should work for a branch line.

 

For the forest line I'll be using Fast Track's H0n30, which is 1/87 on 9.1mm track, basically the same as H0e. Turnouts here will be a combination of #4 and #6 most likely. Tie spacing on the turnouts is a little bit narrow, but I did see pictures where in this is also the case on the prototype. So tie spacing on turnouts will be narrower than on regular track sections.

 

What I haven't figured out yet, is which rail code(s) to use. It seems code70 is common for branch lines in H0, but quite a few people feel it's oversized. I can go down to code55, which of course might cause clearance issues with wheels. Another option is to go code70 for the branch line, and code55 for the forest line, which would increase the visual difference between the 2 tracks.

 

Of course, I don't actually have a track plan, or a real idea of where to go just yet. Or where to put the layout for that matter, since all the space on the attic is reserved for the N-scale layout 🙂

 

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Martijn Meerts

Received my ESU power pack and modular speaker set, so went ahead and see what I can do with those in the Hokutan loco.

 

The power pack requires some adjustments. I'll need to remove the capacitor from the circuit board, and reconnect it using some additional wires. The capacitor by itself fits nicely in the front of the boiler, and the circuit board I can fit in one of the side (water?) tanks. The sound decoder will be installed in the other side tank. I do need to adjust the loco so I can access the power pack circuit board and the decoder after the loco has been put together. By default, the side tanks are completely closed off once all the parts are in place. Since I need to build an interior from scratch, I'm hoping I can open up the tanks so I can access them from the cab. Of course, the sound decoder is bigger than the cab, so I need to check if there's enough clearance to install the decoder through the cab.

 

As for the speakers, the new one is a little bit smaller than the one I'd been using to measure things with, so I'll end up with a little more wiggle room. I have no idea yet about the sound quality, haven't tested it yet.

 

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Martijn Meerts

Was doing some research into what kind of sound the little Hokutan steamer would make, and came across an absolutely lovely little railway in Wales with a couple of very similar locomotives, the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway (https://www.wllr.org.uk/)

 

There's a couple of lovely videos, some of which give a bit of a glimpse into the interior of the cab. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any good images or videos showing the cab interior in detail. It's really obvious though that the interior on the World Kougei kit is really sparse / non existent, so I've got quite a bit of scratch building to go.

 

I wonder though, does anyone have any images showing the cab interior of these kind of locomotives? Also, where would coal be stored, considering there's next to no room for that.

 

I don't plan to be prototypical at all, but I certainly would like some good detail in the locomotive that looks somewhat believable at least 🙂

 

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marknewton

Gday Martin,

 

Unfortunately this is a low resolution scan, but it does show where the coal bunker is on the W&L engines.

 

large.720554B4-677F-4617-A9BD-7C5A5AF567

 

Cheers,

 

Mark.

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Martijn Meerts

Not entirely sure where exactly I'm supposed to be looking 😄

 

The interior isn't going to be very prototypical anyway, I just thought it might be nice to add a little bit of coal on the floor or something. I did end up finding some shots / a video showing parts of the interior, and what I was considering doing to incorporate the speaker is definitely not something prototypical. I was thinking of creating a sort of center console, bottom part being the boiler / firebox, and on top of that add a shaft type thing which hides the speaker and which could have some instruments as detail bits. The prototype obviously doesn't have anything above the boiler other than a few instruments.

 

I thought H0 would make it easier to hide speakers, and use bigger speakers, but I guess this is just a small locomotive, even in H0 😄

 

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marknewton
On 5/13/2019 at 9:25 PM, Martijn Meerts said:

Not entirely sure where exactly I'm supposed to be looking 😄

 

The rectangular space between the cab gangway and the back wall of the cab is the coal bunker.

 

All the best,

 

Mark.

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Martijn Meerts

Ah right, thanks!

 

The kit I'm building doesn't really have the room for a coal bunker there it seems. There's very little space (less than in the drawing). I'll have to see what I can do though, I'm going to do quite a bit of additional detailing most likely.

 

I also might skip adding sound. Even in the H0j kit it's hard to fit in a decent speaker and keep it hidden, although that's a fairly small locomotive. But the H0e locomotives are almost impossible to hide a speaker in, and the sound will likely not be very good quality. I'm leaning more towards using any possible available space for a power pack / capacitor circuit / energy storage to improve running rather than having sound.

 

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Martijn Meerts

Seems it's going to take a while to get my track building tools. The stuff from Micro-Mark is on the plane, but the stuff from Fast Tracks is going to take a little longer, since the fixtures I ordered aren't common ones that they keep in stock, so they actually have to mill them first 😉

 

In the meantime, I ordered an oval of TT track, as well as a 2-axle freight car and a 4-axle / double bogie freight car. Those are mainly for testing purposes once I start building the turnouts. I still don't have a track plan, or really an idea of a track plan. I'll likely experiment a little bit first with building track, and then start looking into planning something. I also don't really know what the minimum radius is for the 2 locomotives I have, which makes it rather difficult to plan something in the first place 🙂

 

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Martijn Meerts

large.70866E6E-C3CA-43BC-97C3-506B9B4263

 

TT track came in faster than I thought. 2 pack of curves, 2 packs of straights, a connection track, a 2 axle freight car and a 4 axle freight car.

 

That means I now have Z, N, TT, H0 2-rail, H0 3-rail, H0j, H0e and 0 ...

 

  • Haha 1

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Martijn Meerts

Lots of fun stuff arrived the past days:

 

Fixtures, ties, glue, tools, rail, chop-it (and spare blades), sand-it, gluing jig

large.463CB631-0F1D-4470-8045-E0FB05FA1D

 

 

#6 turnout fixtures for H0j (or, H0n3.5) and H0e (or H0n30)

large.06DBED9B-852D-4F93-B1D8-D2B3D5076B

 

 

Lots of scale lumber ties, there were no H0j specific ones, but H0n3 is close to H0n3.5, which is very similar to H0j. Just need to shorten them a little bit most likely

large.DD5E4FEA-15AF-4D06-8099-A3407B4FBB

 

 

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cteno4

The sand-it and chop-it jigs are great!

 

jeff

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Martijn Meerts

Gave them a really quick test, and they work really well.. Need to clean a little space so I can start working on a small sawmill kit for which I bought the blueprints and scale lumber.

 

In the meantime, started working on building an H0e turnout. Haven't progressed all that far, but what I have done is actually going pretty well. Bending the guard rails on this small scale is a bit painful on the fingers, but luckily it's only a very slight bend. Filing the frogs will need a little practice, since it's pretty precise, as in fractions of a millimeter precise. The frog in the picture was soldered already, but I need to continue building the rest of the turnout before I can actually test if it's good or not.

 

Just looking at this picture it doesn't really feel like hand building the turnouts makes much of a difference, the Peco ones for example are actually really well made visually as well, but I think once it's in place on actual wooden ties, it'll hopefully give it that little extra.

 

large.436F347D-AF86-4265-AC2E-9DBCF10D8B

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Martijn Meerts

And here's the first turnout all soldered up. It's not completely done just yet, I still need to cut the gaps around the frog so it won't short out, and I need to adjust the switch points a little bit since there's a slight chance if wheels catching. Of course, it'll also need a bit of cleaning up, and some paint eventually. Overall though, the thing runs smoother than any pre-built turnout I've tried, and considering this is my first one, it didn't actually take all that long. Forming the frog points and switch points will need a little practice, as well as pre-bending the rail where needed, but the rest worked out pretty well.

 

I did end up using a little bit of flux for the first time since forever, definitely helped the solder flow a little better, and was pretty much needed around the somewhat tighter areas. It also seems my go-to soldering tip broke, it won't heat up anymore. Luckily I had a couple of replacement tips that worked well in the case as well. The go-to one served me well though, it's lasted for about 15 years give or take, and I used it to solder pretty much everything. Of course, since my soldering station is a Weller, it's easy enough to get a replacement, since they still make them 🙂

 

large.FC166715-0369-4583-A13B-99C9E5E9B7

 

 

Next up, an H0j turnout, which should actually be a little easier, since I'll have (slightly) more room to work with

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cteno4

I’ve always read the fastrak jigs were nice to work with, really looks like it!

 

jeff

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Martijn Meerts

They definitely make it relatively easy to build your own turnouts. It's a bit expensive to get started, the fixtures themselves aren't too bad, but you optimally also need additional tools for form the point rails, frogs, and file the gap in the stock rails for the point rails to slot into. Of course, the rail itself as well as the wooden ties are cheap, so you break even after probably around 10-15 turnouts depending on your scale.

 

I keep having to remind me this thing is H0 though. Since it's 9mm and the same angle as the medium Peco ones (number 6 / medium), I keep comparing them to my N-scale stuff 😄

 

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Martijn Meerts

Well, the 2nd one went together a bit faster already 🙂

 

large.33FCE301-4EBE-4783-9BCD-D15C4ECB5A

 

 

And a comparison of the 2 turnouts

large.8A0DAEE5-B8DA-4C2F-89F1-9DAD4F4BFB

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Martijn Meerts

Did a quick test fit of the ties. When I ordered the stuff from Fast Tracks, I included some of their 'Quick sticks' laser cut turnout ties. Using those you don't have to manually cut and lay the ties yourself. However, during transport they got a bit messed up, but that wasn't much of a problem considering I only added those to use as a template. I wasn't planning on using them for the actual ties.

 

So, I put them back together, made a copy of them on paper, used some spray adhesive on the paper, and then just laid the ties with the track on top of them, so it's all very much temporary.

 

large.C159BD52-9047-49A3-AA62-647414801C

 

 

I need to figure out whether I want to paint or stain the ties. Tim Warren (who started Fast Tracks) installs the track in place first, and then spray paints everything in 1 go. To me, that doesn't feel right, since the ties are never the same rust brown as the track. I'm thinking staining them (using multiple layers and maybe slightly varying colours in a random pattern) would look better, although blending in the pc board ties will likely be difficult. Also, staining would need to be done before laying the track on them, which means painting the rail and spike heads would need to be done by hand ...

 

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cteno4

Nice! Wood dies might work well here as well to pigment but keep the grain and give the same look as bare wood ties. But what about the pc ties, I guess those have to be painted in any case.

 

Jeff

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Martijn Meerts

Yeah, I'm tempted to go with stain / wood dye, although I also have to see how that reacts to the water / alcohol / glue when ballasting. The pc board ties will need some additional work before painting, obviously they're very flat and have no wood grain at all, and the gaps to isolate the rail from each other also needs to be filled. I'm wondering if a tiny amount of putty on top of the whole pc board tie, and then scribe some wood grain in the putty would work.

 

Another issue with the pc board ties is the spikes. I could drill small holes in the ties for the spikes to go through, but I'm wondering if maybe just a bit of styrene would already be enough to simulate a spike. On the wood ties, the spikes actually need to hold the track in place, but the pc board ones are soldered.

 

I'm leaning mostly towards wood stain / dye, go for a really dark colour initially, and then weather them a bit after ballasting. The rails for the straight and curved sections I can airbrush before spiking to the ties, and the spike heads I can manually touch up afterwards. For the turnouts, the pc board ties would be airbrushed along with the rails, and then blended in after installation.

 

I also need to do a little more research / look at the articles Roger posted on the forum about the Kiso forest. I'm not going for a prototypically correct layout or even a model version of the Kiso railway, but it's great reference material and inspirational 🙂

 

 

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Martijn Meerts

I started working on a little test setup. I found some scrap wood to use as base to just try some things on, initially just some straight track, but eventually I also want to test try some turnouts and curved track.

 

For now, I glued some ties down (one by one I might add, which is a ton of work 🙂 ) I tried 2 different tie spacings for the narrow gauge line, and only 1 spacing for the branch line. For the branch line I'm pretty sure the spacing I used (6mm center to center) is what I'll be using, for the narrow gauge line I'm not entirely sure. I might go for a sort of variable spacing. The more used parts would get a closer spacing than the less used parts. The less used parts will also probably get sharped number 4 turnouts.

 

First image is the narrow gauge line at 6mm spacing with slightly misaligned ties. To me, this doesn't scream narrow gauge forest railway at all.

large.B43C43D8-E335-43B7-8FA3-7BB401B980

 

 

Second image is the narrow gauge line at 7mm spacing. Ties are a little more misaligned than the first image. I also decided to try adding a split tie for extra effect. To me, this looks good for the more often used parts. The less used parts could probably do with even more spacing. The only problem is that the turnouts are 6mm spacing, but I have seen images of narrow gauge track where the tie spacing of turnouts is less than the spacing of regular track.

large.4DE8F0B3-4832-4209-80AC-6C62C48F10

 

 

Third image is the H0j branch line at 6mm spacing. This looks to be fine for a branch line.

large.EC06D0AA-2891-46D3-9B93-5FEAC3B356

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cteno4

Hmm yeah it’s going to be hard to match the texture and color on the Pcb ties to the wood ones with anything but paint. Stains and dies won’t do much on the pcb. A base layer paint that would give you some texture on the pc might be gesso. It’s the stuff artists paint onto their canvas for a base coat and gives a bit of texture. Even at HO scale putting in wood grain will be tough. Maybe a small fine wire brush on paint may give some fine scratches that may give a wood grain appearance or it may give too much. You can get small dremel wire brushes that you could just scrape over those ties like a brush (ie not in the dremel tool). I see why he paints the whole thing to even it all up but then it’s pretty uniform (track and all) and takes out most all the wood tie texture. Might try the wire brush some on the wood ties as well to distress them some as I bout a forest rr will have all nice perfect rest ties.

 

jeff

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Martijn Meerts

Yeah, I'm definitely going to distress the wood ties, and probably cut some bits off some of them to add a bit of a bevel, especially on the narrow gauge ones. I've hand laid a stretch of 0 scale track a while ago, so I've picked up a few techniques there. Of course, in that size you can just spike turnouts, no need for pc board ties at all.

 

Looking at some (relatively recent) video of the Kiso line, there's a lot of colour variation in the ties. Some look almost bleached from the sun and look pale grey, while others are almost black. The black ones might be new of course, but it seems a bit odd to replace only 1 tie on a long stretch. Overall though, there's a lot of subtle variation from one tie to the next, so I think it should be quite possible to blend in the pc board ties, as long as I can get some sort of wood texture on them in some way. Maybe I can use a regular plastic H0 tie, and use it as a stamp of sorts. Put on some putty and stamp the plastic tie in it. You're obviously not going to get the same effect as a stained wooden tie, but still.

 

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cteno4

I think a lot of those forest rr they probably moved tracks quite a bit so probably a big mish mash of ties.

 

here is the brush I was talking about

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/5pcs-3mm-Rotary-Steel-Wire-Wheel-Brush-Cup-Gift-Shank-for-Drill-Rust-Weld-Best/233247776665?hash=item364ea69f99:g:ozMAAOSwJkNc9xCD

 

probably wrap some tape around them to tighten up and trim some. Might also try scratching the paint.

 

are you spiking the ties down or gluing them? Drilling holes in pcb and spoiling sounds faster and more even than trying little styrene bits. 

 

Gesso may give you the texture you need on the pcb to mess with some — Its thick and sticks well. The plaster may just pop off the pcb. I like it over basic acrylic paint for a base for ground cover as it’s got some texture and is a real flat finish that’s not smooth. I just mix it with tempra powder to pigment.

 

You should be able to color and distress the wood ties before putting them down. You are going to have fun distressing lots ties!

 

jeff

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Martijn Meerts

I have a couple of those type of wire brushes. They're pretty small though, so might go to the local hardware store and pick up some bigger ones. I need those to clean the turnout after soldering anyway.

 

The ties are glued down, the rail will be spiked on the ties. I'm not sure I can use the spikes on the pc board ties though. I can of course drill a hole in them and place the spike, but there's also the little bit of solder on them. Same problem with tiny bits of styrene of course, they'd have to go on top of the solder as well. There's not a huge amount of solder, but I probably need to test a couple of different techniques.

 

I'll have a look at the gesso stuff. The local hardware store doesn't have it, but it seems to be more of an arts & crafts store type of stuff. I'll order some online, sounds like useful stuff. The more I think about it though, the more I think blending the pc board ties isn't going to be as much of an issue as I think. With ballast and general weathering of everything it should blend quite well already.

 

Once I get going with the actual layout, I'll definitely at least distress the ties before glueing them down. Just throwing them in a bucket with some small stones and shaking them should work, and then manually do a couple of ties to really cut out some chunks or split them.

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Martijn Meerts

Went to the hardware store yesterday, picked up some more wire brushes and a bunch of stains and dyes for the wood ties. I wasn't paying enough attention, so ended up with 2 small pots of stain, and 2 small pots of dye. The stains I have are ebony and rosewood. The ebony should simulate fairly new, creosote covered ties, or slightly older ties that have been out in the sun for a while depending on how many layers of stain. I'm not sure they even used creosote on forest railway ties though. The rosewood is a deep reddish brown, which should work nicely for fresh non-creosote ties. Of course, mixing them up will give different shades as well.

 

The dyes are a white wash and a black wash. the white wash I probably won't use on ties much, but would be great for old sunbaked buildings. The black wash will probably be mostly for weathering effects, although that too might be usable for creosote covered ties.

 

Yesterday I marked off some more positions to place more ties. I'm going to try a couple of additional tie spacings for the narrow gauge line, including some pretty extremely misaligned ties with large spacing. I'm also going to add some more H0j ties, to extend that part a little. The idea is to colour the H0j ties using various shades to see what works.

 

Other than that, I've been paying a little attention to the ties used around the stations I'm at every day. Still a lof of older wood ties used there, and I noticed that quite a few ties are pretty flat with very little wood grain, so having some ties look slightly different (the pc board ones in this case) is probably not that strange really.

 

@cteno4 What type of gesso would you recommend? I noticed there's really cheap stuff from hobby stores, but also the more expensive stuff you buy at decent arts & crafts stores. The more expensive stuff is still not overly expensive really (about 12 euro for 1 liter), so I'm kinda leaning towards that. 

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