Sunday, May 6, 2018

Putting up Some Walls

On Friday this week, after finishing early, I made my way over to a plastics place at Archerfield.  I was looking at pieces of acrylic and polycarbonate to be used as walls on either side of some of my high track sections, to prevent disaster if a loco of carriage comes of the track and plummets to the ground below.  The  guy at the outlet was very helpful.  He gave me two small offcuts so I could experiment with cutting and drilling.  A full 2440 mm x 1220mm is not cheap - $150 to $160.

The first piece of polycarbonate I tried was 42cm x 20cm.  I marked out the first strip of 6cm.  I tried scoring the strip with my snap off blade knife.  It was taking quite some time to make my way though the substance.  So I thought, let’s get the Dremel out with the cut off blade and see if I can just follow the line and cut off the strip.  It seemed like the blade was melting the substance and it was resetting when the blade went past.  Anyway the molten flow was cleaned off the strip and then I drilled three mounting holes in the product with my standard drill.  First a small hole, then a larger one.  This was attached to the layout baseboard.  The strip was mounted on the raised track section between Dutton Park and Park Road Siding on the back side. 

So after installation I resumed trying to score the next strip off the remaining polycarbonate product.  This time after about 20 passes of the knife, I wanted to try and see if it would score and snap.  I started bending at one end, and I head a snap, so I worked my way down the strip, bending some more.  Eventually the whole strip was separated.  I then divided the remaining sheet in half, scored it a few times and again snapped it in two.  These strips were drilled and added to the same section of track making my way towards Park Road Siding.

After reflecting upon the work that was occurring, there was a section of track just as the trains get to the set of points at Dutton Park, that splits the traffic towards either Park Road or Fisherman Islands.  For trains heading towards Park Road, there is a bit of a swing to the right, before branching off to the left – a reverse curve as you will.  This piece of track is slightly exposed with no barrier in case of derailment.  So I found a piece of old Ssyrene type material, that was originally part of a venetian blind.  I was given this many years ago.  It fitted perfectly, so it was attached to the outside of the track.

The other piece of clear material that I picked up from the plastics shop, was a piece of acrylic, 50cm x 16cm in size.  It was marked off into three strips.  The first strip was then scribed many times, and I think this is a softer material than the polycarbonate, but I think it is less flexible and more brittle.  I was trying to use the same method as before, a few scribes, and then trying to snap off the strip.  As this was occurring, the first strip broke into two pieces.  Whoops.  So half was added at the end of the other 4 polycarbonate strips, and now the track coming around the main line from South Brisbane Interstate station passing the Park Road Sidings towards Dutton Park, is protected in case a train wants to not take this large curve.  The other half of this strip, was added on the inside of the Park Road Siding at a place between where a top of baseboard mounted point motor sits and where the existing timber laminated edging right next to the Park Road Good Shed sits.  Perfect fit.

So I went back to the remaining Acrylic sheet, and started scoring some more, to separate the last two strips.  This time, I ensured the score was quite a way through before I attempted snapping again.  These ones did split near enough to down the middle.  I started at one end, and tried to snap, and once I made the original break, I continued bit by bit, along the score mark, until the whole strip had come apart. 

Getting back to the track the splits at Dutton Park and this time the one that heads towards Fisherman’s Islands, there is big curve here.  So I fixed the two strips of acrylic to the outside of this curve.  So after this small piece of work, I am much more confident that the trains running on the exposed sections of track high up on my layout, will not be damaged should there be a derailment on these sections of track.  Any wayward rollingstock should just hit the new clear walls and remain on the track.

What started this journey was when I was over at the Club a couple of weeks ago, I was given a couple of small offcuts, some from the rubbish bin, of some polycarbonate used at the club around the layout edges.  I had previously affixed small offcuts to the inside face of the Dutton Park to Park Road raised section of track.
The raised section of track from Dutton park in the middle left, heading towards Park Road Siding on the right.
This shot shows the piece of acrylic that split in two.  It was put to good use, on either side of the baseboard around Park Road Siding.

The track to Fisherman Islands is heading to the left.  The two pieces of acrylic are seen in this shot on the outside edge of this curve.

I will probably get back down to the shed on Monday and measure up what lengths of polycarbonate I need to complete the protection of trains on very top deck of the layout.

Once the fixing of the see through walls was completed, I adjourned to the PC, and continued working on my Modelling the Railways of NSW presentation.  I made a few cosmetic changes.  I then updated my document for the Open House nomination form for the September NMRA Convention.

Today I resumed activities fine tuning the Modelling the Railways of NSW presentation.  I decided to take new photos of the ones in the current presentation, where some scenery work has progressed further.  I thought it might show the layout off in a brighter light.


  1. Regarding the acrylic sheet. I was at a mates a few days ago and he cutting clear acrylic to make a track inspection wagon. He was cutting it on the table saw with no problem and it leaves quite a smooth edge.

  2. The guy at the plastics store, said that you can do that, but my blade is very course. It apparently needs a fine toothed blade.

  3. That sounds right. He was cutting up 5mm thick and had a finer blade than I usually have on my saw.