Friday, June 24, 2011

Empire State Express Update #1

Front Truck, drive cylinders and cowcatcher
Things are progressing, albeit slowly, on the Empire State Express.  I turned and installed the steam dome, sand dome and smokestack into the boiler last week and I now have the majority of the locomotive front truck and cowcatcher completed.

Making the cowcatcher is not difficult but is always a very "putsy" task.  You can quickly get the frame cut and glued up but cutting, fitting, gluing each piece into the “grill” takes time because you really have to wait -- patience, Tom -- for each rib to dry before you dare attempt to measure, cut and install the piece next to it.  I have a pair of really pointy tweezers but the spacing between ribs is so small that it is still difficult to get a rib into position without bumping the one next to it.  If the glue on the previous piece isn’t at least halfway dry, you’ll be repositioning them both…again!

I always cut the pieces wide and long and shape them after the glue has dried.  It you look carefully -- you will probably have to click on the picture to expand it-- you will see that I had to add another piece to the middle rib.  The middle rib is always the first one I add because it has to be there to hold the whole assembly in alignment.  In this case, I realized about half way through the rib installation process that the middle rib did not match the others.  So when I was all done I glued an extension on to it, which I had yet to shape when I took the picture.  Please excuse the all of the “fuzzies”.  I have yet to do any final sanding.

A question for any Ferroequinologists (“Iron Horse” or railroad enthusiasts) out there:  The Empire State Express has a small, horizontal ”flat” located near the center top of the cow-catcher.  Any ideas what that is for?

Wider shot to show sand dome and smokestack
You can see from the photos that I have turned and installed the two drive cylinders and the front boiler support.

One the wider shot, you can see the sand dome, the smokestack and the hole where the bell will be mounted.  The boiler has had one coat of sanding sealer so that is why it appears darker than the front truck and cowcatcher.  Several coats of the sanding sealer (sanding with 320 grit between coats) produce a nice, hard smooth surface that looks much more like metal than raw Basswood.  Make sure you sand again, lightly, prior to painting, however, to ensure that the paint has something to “grab”. 

As I look at the photo, I realize that even though I went to all of the trouble to prop up the boiler for the purpose of taking the picture, I positioned it too far back.  It needs to come forward between 1/4” and 3/8”.

One for the Bench

Always take life with a grain of salt…but sometimes it helps to add a slice of lemon, and a shot of tequila.

‘Til next time…Keep makin’ chips!

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