RFI: Using Central Valley girder packs in N-scale

I'm looking at these Central Valley girder packs: http://www.greenwayproducts.com/a_bridges.shtml (scroll down) at $12 a pack, and I'm wondering:
I see 10 lattice pieces per sprue, but how many sprues are in a pack?
They appear to be styrene. Any warping issues here?
They look about right for building N-scale trestle towers. Has anyone tried this? How did it work out? Did you use brass for the solid girders? What about stainless steel, or aluminum?
I'm building over a dozen towers, many quite tall, so I'm obviously trying to keep costs down. Basically, I want to avoid etched brass as it's rather expensive. The alternative seems to be cutting the lattice from some kind of metal mesh, then joining it to girders in a jig, with either solder (tinning) or ACC for joining.
Am I getting warm here, or is there a better way?
Mac B. - Vancouver BC
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My way of making girder stuff is with sheet styrene. A few bucks for a large sheet of styrene and start cutting and gluing. You won't get much cheaper than that. Styrene is a good media for doing modeling and will last a long time on the layout.
-- Why do penguins walk so far to get to their nesting grounds?
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Bob May wrote:

If you cost your time at $0/hour....
I prefer to think in terms of enjoyable hobby time per dollar. [...]
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Commercial girder shapes are cheap enough, and have much finer dimensions than I could possibly achieve myself. That isn't really the issue. For me the issue is, how to model the fine lacing *between* the girders. I'm not cutting that stuff and gluing it myself. It's way too small to do in N-scale, and even if it wasn't, that's hundreds of pieces... maybe thousands on a large bridge. I don't have the patience for that in ANY scale.
I look at model building the way I look at managing a business. There's a time/cost factor that you have to confront if you ever want to get things done. Maybe not as much of an issue if you're retired, but I can't see myself EVER having that much free time, even in retirement. I want to get something up and running as quickly as possible, without sacrificing too much quality.
So, do I make it myself, or outsource it? What level of completion do I expect in the elements I use in my projects, and above all, what are my costs in time and money? (time and money are actually the same if you stop to think about it)
I love model railways, but I hate getting bogged down in fussy detail. My ideal would be everything ready to run straight out of the box- no swapping out wheel sets, no changing out couplers, no handlaying track and turnouts, no painting and decaling for obscure roads...etc....
For some people the challenge comes from building it all yourself. For me, the challenge is finding ways to avoid that. It's one of the major issues in N-scale I'd say, since most of the detail is so tiny you'd go insane trying to make it yourself.
Mac B.
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On Sun, 11 Dec 2005 14:47:30 -0800, polar bear wrote:

Preferences dictate actions. There are those of us who enjoy the modelling mode even more than the "up and running" mode. In fact, I may die of old age before my curren layou is completed :-).
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Larry Blanchard wrote:

For reference, polar bear is trying to build this:
www.ovar.ca. http://ca.pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/siamesesteve/album?.dir=/mail&.src=ph&.tok=phAz9AEBOUvj6cp6
If he becomes increasingly erratic over the next while, shows signs of stress or obsession: I apologize; it's all my fault for sending him my train trip pictures ;-).
Those fine cross-brace box lattices can't be more than a couple of mm wide in N-scale -- pretty hard to build from individual pieces.
More (potentially) usefully: there was an article in MR recently about someone who had modelled the lattice-work in catenary towers by printing it out on transparency film, and gluing it to sticks of clear acrylic plasti.
-- Kizhe
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Many years ago, I believe that E&B Valley RR co made catanary towers by painting the lattice onto square lucite rods. The theory was, you would concentrate on the lattice and not see the rod.
I think that the central valley lattice is HO scale.

http://ca.pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/siamesesteve/album?.dir=/mail&.src=ph&.tok=phAz9AEBOUvj6cp6
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I considered that actually. Probably a good solution for catenary, where you need lots of them at a cheap price, but I don't know how it would look on a center-piece model under close viewing. Another potential problem is diffraction/reflection when using floods or flash. I guess you could clean that up in photoshop, but It's kinda nice to have clean negatives.
There's a wire mesh out there with the right dimensions. I just have to find it!
Mac B.
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true, but stealing from other scales is sometimes the only way to get what you want. In HO those are light trusses. In N, they might be trestle legs, engine house roof trusses, or even supports for a NYC subway viaduct. In O they might be a pedestrian overpass, radio mast, highway sign bridge, or construction scaffolding.
I recall many years ago an HO layout that used N (or was it Z?) to represent an amusement park train ride. Very effective. Using models from other scales is also a good way to force perspective - an n-scale cabin way up on an HO mountainside of progressively smaller trees, for example, or a 220 scale trawler on the far side of an n-scale fishing port, with a 144 scale float plane in the foreground.
Mac B.
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Those pictures are quite reminiscent of a viaduct kit made by Micro Engineering several years ago. No longer made but they show up in the usual sources from time to time. IIRC, the N-scale versions are NOT that cheap! Hopefully bear will use selective compression rather than build the whole thing.

http://ca.pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/siamesesteve/album?.dir=/mail&.src=ph&.tok=phAz9AEBOUvj6cp6
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I've looked at the ME trestles, and they're not really suitable. Aside from the high cost, they'd need too much bashing. The Algoma trestle is an old one, built in 1911, so it's fairly heavy. The cross-bears are all V box lattice, and the legs are heavy C girders with X bracing. All riveted, of course.... and no, I am not counting them!

Actually, I DO plan to build the whole thing! I have an escape route though. There's another trestle on the AC - same vintage and design - which is shorter. If I burn out, I'll model that one. Sneaky, eh?
My idea of selective compression is to build the Algorail, which is 90ft shorter than a standard (730ft) laker <g>. That way I can knock 100 ft off Michipicoten Harbour without anyone noticing <G>
N-scale allows you to think big. Long trains, wide expanses of scenery, dramatic shifts in elevation, large structures. It's possibly the only advantage it has, so it would be a shame not to use it.
Mac B.
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Don't really know what to tell you then. Showpiece models do take a lot of time to build and that is why they are showpiece models. The use of the CV parts will make the job a lot easier to do the model but you still need to cut and glue all of the pieces together. Personally, I enjoy the time spent making a model as it uses up time that I'd otherwise waste drinking beer or something else like that. Sit down in front of the TV and watch a game while building the model and you end up doing two relaxing things at the same time and you will quickly find that the time goes by and you have a nice model when you're done. Part of the fun of the hobby is figuring out how to build things and that thinking is different than work and the brain gets exercised in different ways that, to me, relieves the problems of work.
-- Why do penguins walk so far to get to their nesting grounds?
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Don't get me wrong Bob. I like to build stuff too. That's just the problem - I have literally dozens of projects in various states of completion - some have been hanging around for years. I used to build model ships too. (rigging model ships is the very definition of tedious)
I have to be practical though. If I'm ever going to get a railroad up and running, I need as many RTR components as possible.
I realize doing the bridge first is coming at it ass-backwards, but I also know myself well enough that if I don't do it first, it will never get done, and neither will anything else. Maybe there's a general principle here? Build the big stuff first, and the little things will fall into place? Works that way for me at least.
Mac B.
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When the big Revell model of the Cutty Sark first came out, I built one. Went through and setup all of the rigging so that it could be moved and every single line was there. Model lasted until one of my sister's decided to buy a parakeet. Guess the first thing that the parakeet landed on when it got out. The ship did get it's revenge tho and strngled the bird.
-- Why do penguins walk so far to get to their nesting grounds?
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Hello, I happen to have a pack of these sitting on my desk. There are 5 sprues. Note that there are two solid girders as well as the 10 lattice pieces, and that the lattice pieces are of two different sizes. This makes three different sizes/styles of girder asemblies. Each piece on the sprue is "L" shaped in cross section, so that you glue two edges together to a second piece forming a four-sided box girder. You wind up with 10 of each type when you are done. Each piece is just under 6 inches in length.They are very rigid once glued. The "L" leg is solid and could be cut off if you wish to use them in some fashion other than to make box girder assemblies. I think this should answer your questions. I am not aware of pre-made items like this in aluminum etc. I can not imagine cutting and fitting all these little pieces out of styrene strip individually to make lattice work in n-scale. An alternative I found at a craft store is a fairly rigid cloth based material that is used I believe by rug makers. Think of a wide mesh window screen but made of cloth instead of wire mesh. Comes in 3 or 4 different mesh sizes and sold by the yard.. There is also a similar plastic based material used by needle-point crafters, comes in about 10 by 12 inch pieces. It is the non styrene type plastic so gluing might be a problem. Carl

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Thanks Carl. I've never seen these things - but just going by the photo, which shows a man's thumb alongside the product...
http://www.greenwayproducts.com/img_structures/struct_cv_girderpack.jpg
...they look about right. I don't have exact dimensions of the bridge yet - still waiting for those - but I think they can be used. Any chance you could measure the width of the two lattice sections and post back?
From my rough calculations, it looks like I'll need about four packages to do the legs. That's under 50 bucks. I can live with that. The smaller lattices look about right for the cross members, but there's way too few of them, so I'll have to find another solution there.

That way lies madness.

Those are good ideas which I'll have to look into. I experimented a bit with plastic window mesh. It's too small for what I'm doing, but if you cut it carefully at a 45 degree angle, you get nice stretches of X bracing, and even smaller V bracing. These would work for an N-scale highway bridge, or for jazzing up a Kato truss bridge.
I think aluminum mesh is what I need for the cross braces. I just need to find somewhere that sells it in sheets.
Mac B.
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Using the tried and true squinty eyeball method and a plastic school ruler for precision measurements, the widths are 1/4 inch and 1/8 inch. Carl
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Thanks Carl. 1/4 may be a tad wide for the legs, but I'll have to wait until I get the dimensions to know for sure. From the photos, the legs appear to be about the same width as the steps on a GP9 - around 3/8 inch. The lattice is on the side though, not the facing edge which is solid channel-girder, so I *might* get away with it.
Mac B.
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Hey Mac, if you really want to "go nuts", get the photo-etching system from Micro-Mark and make your own girders in the exact size you need.
Peteski
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Way too much work.
This is the stuff right here:
Expanding stainless steel into diamond configurations results in precise, fixed apertures that don't fray or unravel like woven materials. These products are strong, stable and easy to clean. http://www.internetplastic.com/metal_expanded.htm
Note: available in raised or flattened configurations.
These guys have similar woven products: http://www.twpinc.com/twp/jsp/index.jsp They sell in affordable amounts, AND they sell samples too.
Unravelling can be solved with ACC before cutting, BTW
This is the stuff dreams are made of: catwalks, roofwalks, chainlink fence, F-unit grills, etc etc. There is even material fine enough to make an n-scale screen door!
I've only just begun looking. These may not be the best suppliers - there's so many of them it will take time to sort out who's who. I'll post a synopsis when I have a better understanding of what's available and what the potential applications are.
I always felt that the etched brass and screen that you get in hobby shops was a rip-off. I mean, c'mon. They sell you a few lousy trusses for $20? How the hell are you supposed to build anything at that price? With this stuff, you could build the entire Quebec Bridge for under a hundred bucks.
Mac B.
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