Plug-in structures

Discussion in 'The Academy' started by RailRon, Dec 5, 2004.

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  1. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

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    A part of Marian City on my TC&W layout consists of a group of houses, which will be lighted. I wanted to 'plant' them in such a way that I can remove them easily, e.g. for further detailing or changing a burnt out bulb.

    The layout base in the Marian City area is chipboard plus a 3mm (1/8") layer of cork. This was painted with a basic acrylic earth color. For the structures I use hard Masonite bases.
    Here you see three structure bases with two buildings and the baseplate of a third one, temporarily arranged on their future place. (Please note that they are ON the layout baseplate!)

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  2. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

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    Lighting the house:

    This is a KIBRI plastic kit out of their 'Wild West Town' series - the 'Gun Shop'. I inserted a cardboard floor and added some detailing - like a counter with a cash register, some sacks, barrels etc. I put up simple wood frames to carry the laminated cardboard floor of the second story. Into this floor I inserted a low voltage bulb (from a Christmas light chain) with an appropriate resistor in series. Dropped onto the frame, this floor covers the shop and provides its illumination. (Later I'll probably replace it with a golden-white LED.)

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  3. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

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    'Digging out' the fundament:

    I placed the house on the Masonite base, outlined its footprint with a pencil and finally traced the outline of the structure base to the cork layer. Then I cut the cork along these lines down to the chipboard and removed the cork with a spatula, leaving a shallow recess for the structure baseplate.

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  4. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

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    Making connections:

    I got myself a few cheap low voltage connectors, which you can buy at any LHS. Then I discarded the plastic casings of two male and female connectors.
    Next I dropped the structure baseplate into the recess in the cork layer and drilled two holes with the diameter of the outside of the bare connectors (in my case 3 mm for both) through both structure and layout baseplates. You see the holes (enhanced) in the white rings on the pic!

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  5. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

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    The next step was to solder feeder wires into the two male plugs. Then I threaded the wires through the holes of the layout plate, then pulled them down, until only about a half of the plug looked out of the chipboard. There I fixed them into place with cyanoacrylate glue. Finally I connected the feeder wires under the layout to the transformer.

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  6. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

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    After this I soldered two short brass wires into the screw hole of the two female plugs.

    Next I pushed the bushes into the holes of the Masonite baseplate. Next step was to test-fit the whole setup, so that both plugs and bushes, as well as both the structure base and the recess in the cork lined up perfectly. Finally also the bushes in the structure baseplate were fixed with CA glue.

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  7. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

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    Wiring house and baseplate:

    After this I glued the house to the baseplate. I led the wires to the bulb through a cutout in the kit floor, so that the structure is sitting flush on the Masonite.

    When the glue was dry, I soldered the wires from the building and the stumps on the bushes together. Then came the final test: The lamp should light up when I plugged in the whole General store into the layout. (Well, it did! :) )

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  8. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

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    Landscaping:

    Finally I took the structure back to the workbench, glued down the wires and painted the ground a grayish color. The connector behind the house was covered by a small cardboard cone, which I trimmed so that it fit into the corner between house and tool shed. This was covered with sifted fine dirt. The ground was finished with Woodland Scenic turf.

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  9. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

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    Along the side wall I covered the wire with green fiber material and made a line of shrubs and bushes by adding more WS coarse and fine turf. Then I covered the front connector with a piece of cardboard which served as a base for a stack of sacks. (The visible opening at the outside will be covered by more stuff lying around.)

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  10. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

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    When the structures are fitted and finished, I'll take them away again and add the ground cover up to the rim of the fundament holes. When this has dried, the structures will be plugged back in and the fine separation line covered with some loose dirt.

    I find this method gives me the possibility to easily pick a structure away from the layout for maintenance, further detailing, or even replacing a structure with another one.

    Comments, anyone?

    Ron
  11. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

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    I got several PMs asking about the connector plugs I use for mounting these structures. As it seems, in the US these mini-plugs and sockets are not as commonly used as here in Europe.

    In fact they are manufactured in Europe by BRAWA. If your LHS doesn't stock them, Walthers is selling them.

    Parts no. 186-3070 ---> 8 crosshole plugs (like in the pic) and 8 sockets - $4.99
    Parts no. 186-3071 ---> 15 plugs and 15 sockets - $7.99

    Ron

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  12. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

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    A good idea Pat - I see how you did it.

    For me it is more important that I can take out the whole structure for further detailing or replacing. These are plastic kits and I hope to replace them later by more detailed scratchbuilt structures.

    When I change to LEDs I hope that I don't have to replace lamps anymore! :)

    Ron
  13. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

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    Chris, perhaps you might be lucky if you find a hobby shop which sells Märklin stuff...

    Märklin produces several turnout control boxes (e.g. for four turnouts, with two momentary contact buttons per turnout - see pic below). To connect the buttons to the turnouts they have installed sockets which are exactly for these small plugs. (Three of them are plugged in below.) Therefore it seems logical that this hobby shop also should sell these little plugs.

    Good luck! :thumb: :)

    Ron

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