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Treatise on overhead construction
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 Posted: Wed Nov 17th, 2010 06:09 pm
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Herb Kephart
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POLES- (the non-European ones)
The poles that were used to support the overhead ("line" poles) were usually metal in cities, wood in towns and rural areas. The metal poles were often stepped diameters, approximately 10" diameter at the base and 6" at the top, with usually three different diameters. These can be modeled with telescoping brass tube. The top of a metal pole had a cast iron plug, or finial, which could be very plain, serving to only keep the rain out of the hollow pole, or could be ornamental, with several diameters and perhaps a pointed top. In O scale I would make these poles from 3/16" and 5/32" tube slid (and soldered) over a 1/8" brass rod. Look in Gardenvilles links for Arendt's scrapbook 54A-" Tramspotting in Dusseldorf" for this type of pole-although the ones shown have far too pronounced steps for American practice.

Wooden line poles, by rights, should be slightly tapered- starting at about 12" diameter at the ground, and about 8" at the top. Often the real poles were also called on to support cross arms holding feeder or signal wires. In this case the poles would be significantly higher, with a corresponding increase in diameter at the ground end. The top end of a wood pole should be "roofed" to shed water- either cut on a 45* angle, or cut on two 45* angles, like the roof of a house. Even in O scale model poles made of wood usually aren't satisfactory, because they lack enough rigidity. I have used metal (usually steel, because of cost) but have never found a way of replicating the very slight taper with out spending far too much time on one pole. One variety of pole (see later) requires drilling cross holes and the taper significantly interferes with this, so my "wooden" poles are straight 7/32" diameter, a compromise between top and bottom diameters.

The poles should be "planted" back from the track a sufficient distance to give about 30" clearance with the widest car- to prevent someone becoming trapped between the car and the pole. Poles placed on a curve should be checked with the longest, widest car, remembering that the ones on the outside of the curve will come closest to the front and rear overhanging portion of the car, and those on the inside should have the clearance checked at the middle of the car, which will overhang the inside of the curve. Since poles are put up after the track is laid, this checking is not a problem. When drilling holes for the poles, they should be canted away from the track a degree or two, to counteract the pull and weight of the wire.

There are "bracket poles" and "span poles". The later are just two plain poles with a cross, or span, wire between them






I use the same .020” PB wire for spans, pull offs, and backbone -we'll get to the second and third later. To attach the span wire to a pole, make two complete wraps around the pole, and then 4-6 wraps around the span and cut off excess.





Here is a good place to mention the “warts” on the span wire. They represent insulators, used on the prototype. I use small glass beads that are available in craft stores (Michaels, in the US) I use brown, because the real insulators that we used at the museum were that color- although they were/are available in green and black, I'm told. Get the smallest beads that you can still get the wire through, and even then they will be oversize. My opinion is that oversize looks better than none at all.


The other type of poles-bracket- are next.





As previously mentioned the pole is 7/32” diameter, the heavy horizontal bar is 1/16” diameter, and the light horizontal and angular is one piece of .030” wire. There is a small wrap of shim stock, about 1/16” wide between the two horizontal pieces between where the ear is fastened and the pole, but closer to the ear. A long time ago I made a hardened drill jig to drill the 3 holes crosswise through the pole. All  the pole pieces are soldered together. Bracket poles are nearly always planted on the outside of a curved track, for reasons that will be shown later. Bracket poles were not all that common in US cities, with  the exception of when two parallel tracks were going down a "median" (usually grass covered) between the opposing lanes of a major street-boulevard-avenue. In this case, the pole was located centered between the two tracks, with one bracket arm mounted opposite another. Since the locations where this was called for were in somewhat higher class neighborhoods, frequently the poles and/or arms were decorated with fancy cast iron scroll work, etc.


Next fascinating (?) installment will cover ears---




Herb





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 Posted: Wed Nov 17th, 2010 06:40 pm
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Huw Griffiths
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ebtm3 wrote: Next fascinating (?) installment will cover ears---

I'm listening - I'm sure we all are.

OK - it's a terrible pun, but I'm really enjoying reading all this stuff - and I'm learning an enormous amount in the process.

You've set the line high for the remaining installments.

All the best,

Huw.

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 Posted: Wed Nov 17th, 2010 06:52 pm
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Bill Fornshell
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Hi Herb,

You are off to a great start.

I just ordered two 100' rolls of Pole wire , Phosphor Bronze, Grade A, .0179, 26 Gauge from Alpine. I should say from my local train store who will get it from Walthers.

How about a list of a few materials to get on order so when you get to that part we (those) who might be following along will have the stuff we need to keep up with you.

Thanks

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 Posted: Wed Nov 17th, 2010 07:40 pm
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W C Greene
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Bill-I am sure you know this, but some others may need to know that Precision Scale has both HO and O scale trolley poles. The O scale jobs actually have spoked wheels or shoes. I have a pair of these in a box somewhere...maybe someday...

                            Woodie



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 Posted: Wed Nov 17th, 2010 08:42 pm
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Bill Fornshell
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Hi Woodie,

Yes, PSC has 4 pages of "O" Scale parts but only 1 slim page for HO Scale. The pictures of the O Scale things help a bit. The HO Scale things are mostly Trolley Pole related and I have a few of most of them.

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 Posted: Wed Nov 17th, 2010 09:03 pm
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Herb Kephart
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Bill

I can understand your wanting to be able to collect as many needed pieces before starting. I looked at the list of dealers, and what they sold, on the East Penn Traction site and came to the conclusion that the list is so far out of date, that it is useless. The only site that was listed under line parts that worked was http://www.alpinemodels.com, they list span poles (which couldn't be any easier to make- what they call wire hangers,(and I call ears) and wire frogs in HO

Ears can get to be expensive if you buy them, that's why I have always made them- next subject coming up. Frogs you will probably want to buy--they are persnickety to make, although not impossible.

If you haven't already, please read the second paragraph in the first post of this topic regarding what's available and my lack of knowledge thereof.

So I would say get some frogs, some beads, and figure out what you are going to do about poles.

I know that you would like a much more comprehensive list, but please bear in mind I make--not buy

Herb  :old dude:



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 Posted: Thu Nov 18th, 2010 10:50 am
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Herb Kephart
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A trip to one of the major home centers made me aware that 1/4" dowels are now available in oak. This would probably work very well for line and bracket poles for those building in 1/45, or 1/48 scales. I tried flexing a piece, and it seemed to be twice as stiff as the common (bass wood?) dowel, with the advantage of being much easier to drill (for bracket) and taper. Put one end in the chuck of a drill press or power drill and apply sandpaper, while running.

Not much help for those in 1/87th though---


Herb  :old dude:



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 Posted: Thu Nov 18th, 2010 11:07 am
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W C Greene
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Herb-for tiny scales such as 1:87, etc...how about using appropriate sized brass rod for the poles, soldering the brackets to them and then the wire...It seems (to me) that then the poles themselves could be used as a "common ground" and in small scales would be a lot stronger than the little sticks. Tapered poles might be a bit tough to do this way, but anything is possible. I seem to remember (marimba?) this being done back in the yore days when guys like Gil Mele and Bill Schopp built things "hell for stout"...

                               Woodie

Probably a great reason that I have no overhead is how rowdy we get when operating, things like wires above the track might get torn out due to wild "engineers"...



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 Posted: Thu Nov 18th, 2010 01:49 pm
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Herb Kephart
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Right again Woodrow--

In  HO metal poles are the only way--wood, plastic, or emulsified ectoplasm just aren't stiff enough, a typical case of modeling ED.

Herbie



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 Posted: Thu Nov 18th, 2010 02:15 pm
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Bill Fornshell
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Hi Herb and Woodie,

I spent a little time yesterday and sorted out all the traction articles I had saved from old model train magazines. I put the ones related to overhead wire construction in a new note binder. I also rediscovered a good article in the Model Railroader "Traction Guidebook" called "Modeling Overhead". I have had the book for awhile but used it mostly for the plans in it and never really read this article. As it turns this article was first printed in an old MR Magazine. I had the first 2 pages of maybe 3 or 4 pages of the original article. The old magazine version has a few different diagrams but I enlarged the page and lost the month and year on my copy.

I then had a look through my "stuff" and found I have all kinds of "Pole" material. It ranges from 1/8" (I am doing HO) brass brazing rods from my old Hot Rod days, 3' aluminum rods, 3' and 12' titanium rods, 6' aluminum all-thread rods, 3' dowel rods and wooden meat squerers in 7/64" and 5/32". I also found some Phosphor Bronze wire in the right size from some detail work I was doing. I even found a tube of clear "Glass Beads - 11/0 Seed Beads" that might work as insulators. I think I have enough stuff to try a "for practice" Pole.

I am going to make the first Poles out of one of the wooden items. Then I might try one of the different metal rods for a few Poles.

Note: I was writing this and did not see Herbs suggestion about using only metal for Poles.

In reading some of these old traction articles again I found I was being distracted into paying more attention to the layout and cars running on them and not on how the overhead wire was made.

To maintain my focus on learning how to build overhead wire I am going to build my first effort on an empty board. Nothing more then the track and the overhead wire relate construction necessary to make it work.

Last edited on Thu Nov 18th, 2010 02:18 pm by Bill Fornshell

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