Building the s-160 class Consolidation,
the ARR 550 class
Section 1 - A Productive Workbench
(By Pat Durand)
For years my workbench was the kitchen table or a space carved
out of the garage or whatever. When I finally got serious about building,
I dedicated a spare room in the basement, and moved all my raw materials and
reference works in. I stuck nails in the sheet rock all around the room and
arranged a 40 year collection of packaged materials from floor to ceiling.
About 20 lineal foot of book shelves handle just the reference materials and
two file cabinets host miscellaneous printed material.
Along one wall I laid a solid core door on top of two double
drawer file cabinets as a work bench. You will not all have the luxury of
this much space but I find it handy. Now when I want that little bit of wire,
detail part or a prototype photo, it is in view and at hand. That is provided
it is not three layers down on the work bench. Several steps have been taken
to increase productivity on the bench. Little things that help avoid frustration
and wasted time. Several photos of my
bench are linked here for some clarity.
Have decent light coming from several sources that are
adjustable. Ott lights are nice full spectrum.
Install a modified jewelers apron. Any scrap of cotton
fabric about 36" X 30" taped to the front edge of the work bench
so it can be draped across your lap. Now those little parts have a 50 percent
chance of landing between your legs on the apron instead of going missing
in the carpet. You always have a rag handy to wipe fingers, brushes etc.,
on the edge of the apron. When soiled, just pitch it and replace.
Use a solid color piece of polar fleece or felt about 18
X 15 inches on your work bench top. Again loose pieces will not bounce or
roll away and the color makes a strong contrast with the part. When it gets
dirty just pitch it.
Parts trays are vital. Visit the dollar store or yard sales
and look under the kitchen cabinet. Look for stable flat bottom containers
about 1 inch deep that allow easy retrieval of parts from the individual
sections. When you are working on a locomotive, the parts for the pilot
truck go in one slot, the motor parts in another, tender truck another and
the screws that hold the boiler to the chassis in another. You can avoid
the constant search for the right piece.
Start saving the plastic lids from: yogurt, cottage cheese,
sour cream, etc. etc. These are disposable pallets for adhesives and paints.
No adhesive ever gets close to my models with out first being expressed
on one of these lids and then applied to the model with a strait pin or
toothpick. The same with paint. I mix and blend the pigment with the vehicle
from the bottle along with alcohol or water on the pallet before it goes
on the model. This in the long run saves adhesives and paint because the
original container does not become contaminated from repeated opening and
Measuring devices. An HO calibrated
is fantastic. Add a caliper that is calibrated in metric and
english divisions.. HO scale ruler and a dividing ruler in flexible stainless
steel are both handy.
Take a piece of foam rubber
the length of your finished project and about 4"X 4" on the end
section. Cut a notch about 3/4 inch deep and 10 scale feet wide, the length
of the foam. You now have a cradle to hold your work in proper attitude
to be worked on. You can also get a firm grip
on your work piece with out doing damage. I have several of these in various
lengths. It is also a good means of transporting the model to the test bench.
Next section will be a list of tools and adhesives I find invaluable.
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