On the right track!

The vacation week in Hango produced about 200 kilograms of welded track, here's a sample of small-scale mass-production:

I had made a jig of a large piece of chipboard (shown on an earlier page), which by now is quite charred by the welding...

At the same time, I worked a little more on the propane car, deciding that one 5 kg bottle will be enough to carry. This enabled me to lower the bottle below the car's widened frame (2 bottles would interfere with the axles), and thus get the car more proportionate - now, it's only just about 15 mm too high:

The frame and its protrusion below the car will be painted black, so as not to stand out so clearly. Our propane bottles are rather high, even the harder-to-obtain (and much more expensive to refill) 2 kg bottles are only a few mm lower than this ubiquitous 5 kg size - and the regulator valve adds quite a bit of height to the bottle. I think this was a better choice than having the car 80 mm (over 3") too high.

Here's a quick (very quick! ;-) sketch of how I constructed the bearings and pedestals for this, and my other cars. (Imagine this as seen from the inside of the frame.)

The ball bearings are "loctited" into the axle boxes. Note that there is about 1 mm of "slop" between axleboxes and pedestals - this enables the suspension to clear curves and unevenness of the track. If the tolerances are too tight, there would be binding, which could even bend the axles!

Next, determining the grades of the track: A surprisingly cheap laser level (including tripod and rotating head with graduations, it cost less than 50 Euros, the same in US $), a measuring tape and a ruler, is all that is needed. The ruler measures the height of the horizontal beam (laser dot on ruler, enhanced for visibility in photo, below left) from the ground at different positions on the measuring tape, and thus a height curve is easily obtained.

From the opposite direction (at right, no retouching here!) - don't look into the laser beam! It's definitely uncomfortable, even if it probably isn't as dangerous as all those warning labels advertise...

I noticed that even on this gravel walkway, the grade is almost 4% at the steepest point, so to get the loco to negotiate the track here, I will probably have to shovel some gravel...

Putting together the track proved to be an easy job; using a rechargeable drill with a hex bit I could assemble - as well as and disassemble - all the track I had so far (about 70% of the planned amount) in about 30 minutes. A test of the track with a couple of cars gave me one important piece of knowledge: Put something under the track where it goes over coarse gravel! The track will sink into the gravel with repeatable passes of loco, cars and passengers, working up small stones onto the rails.

I haven't yet decided exactly what to put under the track, but it has to be durable, removable and easily storable, since this track will be up for repeated, short periods (days rather than weeks). Some form of mat or netting, perhaps - a small stone on the track is enough to cause derailment, and you can be sure that happened when my sister's kids came along to try out the dowhill grade!

Now, back again to Helsinki to build the loco's boiler...

Close this window when you are ready...

Any information presented on this website (especially any do-it-yourself instructions) is given without any acceptance of liability for damage or injury - so, always remember: SAFETY FIRST!

The material on this page and its related pages is Copyright © 2001-2007 by J-E Nystrom. You may NOT copy, transmit and/or publish any of my images or texts in print, electronically, on your own website or in any other way. The author retains all rights to this work, with this sole exception: Storing the pages on your own computer or printing out a paper copy, for your own, strictly personal use is allowed.

You may, however, freely link to the "Building Live Steam Locomotives" page at: http://www.saunalahti.fi/animato/steam, or to my Animation Home Page at: http://www.saunalahti.fi/animato.

You should NOT link directly to THIS page, since it's address may change in the future. Also, you may not put any of these pages or pictures into "frames" on your own website.

Thank you.