Trolley Modeling in N Scale

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Two Tiny Trolleys III: Drilling Holes for Fun ~ Thursday, October 12, 2006

Since the mechanism I'm building for my two tiny trolleys project is centered around a chassis built from brass bar stock, I've been trying my hand at some light metalworking.

I started by cutting some 1/2" wide x 1/8" thick bar stock to about 2 3/8" "blanks", just by putting it into a vise and going at it with a hacksaw. Ultimately, each of the mechanisms I'm building will use two of these each, but I cut some extras, since I got a little more precise in my sawing as I went along and I wanted some extra material for practice drilling.

I'll be making one large hole for the truck gear tower to stick up through, and a few small ones for holding everything together. The main tool for doing this is a drill press built around a Dremel motor tool.

A couple of years ago, in anticipation of trying things like this, I bought a Dremel drill press stand. This was one of those "I don't need this now, but I just got a raise and I'm gonna buy myself something" kind of purchases. Needless to say, it sat in the box for a couple of years.

So a week or so ago I actually set it up and stuck it on my workbench with C-clamps. After playing with it a little, I was a bit disappointed, because it had some play that I just couldn't get rid of, even after resorting to reading the manual. Making holes exactly where you want them is kind of the whole point of a drill press. Of course, way too much time has elapsed to try to go back to the hardware store and try to exchange it.

Now sometime in the intervening years, my Dad, who has been redoing all the cabinets in my parents' kitchen (and they look really nice now, too), upgraded some of his tools and gave me his old Craftsman drill press stand. Even though it's designed for a different and much bigger drill, I noticed that it was almost identical to my Dremel stand, except for having a lot of metal parts where mine has plastic. So I ended up combining the piece that actually holds the motor tool from my new stand with the mechanism from the old one, cleaned off a couple decades of sawdust, and ended up with a pretty good drill press.

At first I tried clamping my workpiece down with nuts and bolts, but unfastening and refastening them all whenever I wanted to move it was a pain, so now I'm just putting the brass bar stock in a big vise I can shove around when I need to, but is heavy enough that it's not going to move by itself when I'm drilling.

One more note: I'm safety concious enough that I new better than to try all this without eye protections, but learned the hard way that you need to protect your ears too. The first time I tried drilling brass, ended up with a headach that lasted the rest of the evening. Just using foam earplugs makes it a lot more bearable.

So here's my "shop" so far:

In other news, I got ahold of another motor to supplement the one that came with the Atlas RS-1. It's a replacement motor for some Atlas/Kato diesel, with about the same overall dimensions, and most importantly, the same shaft diameter. I found it at "The Train Shop" in Santa Clara, CA--a good place for tools, parts, and other train goodies in the the south bay area.

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