Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Keeping It Together…. 

A Stewart FT modeling tip

I'm not going to take credit for this as I found it on the MR forum last night, but I will pass it on...

Like many O&W modelers I have several of the Stewart FT sets. These come with two lengths of plastic drawbar to be used depending on how tight your minimum radius is – the idea being to keep the units as close together as possible. For my layout the two supplied sizes are "Too Long" and "Not Long Enough". Some time ago (when I had access to a laser cutter) I made several "Just Right" drawbars from acrylic sheet. The problem with these is that they (like the plastic ones included with the model) are brittle and prone to breakage around the screw holes.

I was reminded of this when, while preparing for an upcoming open house last night, one of my DCC decoders (fortunately NOT the sound one) accidentally let the smoke escape, necessitating a return to the shops for service. On removing the units from the layout one of my custom drawbars snapped, leading to some new and interesting sound effects from the layout owner, so I added "Make a new drawbar" to my list of projects.

The tip, and it's SO simple and clever, involves the material used to make the drawbar. In the past (yes, this has happened before) I've used sheet styrene in a pinch, but it’s proved even more delicate than the acrylic. The material suggested in the web tip was… wait for it… an old credit card. (I happened to have my old AAA card in my wallet, so it sacrificed itself for the greater good.) You can cut the material with scissors, file it to shape with any normal file, drill it as needed, and it's damn near unbreakable! I twisted my sample drawbar through well more than 90 degrees with no issue, and it snapped right back.

 I’m sure that we’ve all had “fun” trying to tear up or fold old credit cards after they expire. The inspired moment here was when somebody said “HEY! This would make a great drawbar!”

 Now why didn’t I think of that…?