Railflyer Model Prototypes Construction Update

SD and GP walkway modules, almost fully assembled.

Work has progressed, albeit slowly, on the various Railflyer bits and pieces I’ve received so far. An in-law invasion last week, and various other commitments have limited my time at the benchwork, but since this stuff is all in kit form it doesn’t require that I waste any time brainstorming solutions to problems as I generally would were I working with a model from other manufacturers. As further inspiration, Ryan Harris has posted photo’s of his progress with two SD walkway modules: http://www.pbase.com/mecrharris/railflyer.

Bending the fuel tank top plate with an Etch-Mate 3c.

One of the first things I accomplished was getting the 4000 Gal fuel tank for my SD40-2 assembled. It’s a fairly simple process, exactly the same as the with the 3600 Gal tank I documented previously. Now that I have the PE, I could complete the assembly. I bent the top plate with my Etch-Mate 3C to match the contour of the tank and attached it with a thin layer of Barge + MEK.

The fully assembled fuel tank.
A close up of the edge created by the fuel tank endplates.

The end plates just needed to be detached from their fret and glued in place. The back side has a very precise depression that matches the end of the tank. Originally the Barge + MEK I used was too thin, and after a week or so, the end plates popped off. I added some more Barge to the mixture and reattached them. So far all seems to be well. I also found that running a thin bead of MEK around the edge of each brass piece really helps to seal everything up and give the parts a welded on look.

Equipment used for soldering a step well.

A development I’m particularly proud of is my newfound ability to do construction soldering. I purchased a wide array of equipment (none of it particularly expensive) from Micro-Mark and after a little practice was able to assemble an older step well I have left over from my GP40-2 project. I used a fine soldering tip attached to a Butane powered soldering torch with Tix solder and flux. I modified a Micro Mark soldering stand slightly with flat jawed alligator clips that grip the brass parts better than the serrated type. I’ll go into the equipment in more detail later, for now if anyone has any questions, just shoot me an e-mail.

Front view of my first soldered step well.
Rear view of my first soldered step well.

I need to clean up the step a bit with a file, but otherwise it is all done, and solid as a rock. The only part I had trouble with was the bottom step, but I eventually got it on straight. I didn’t have any problem with parts I had already attached falling off when I heated the step well to attach the next part. The clips act a bit like a heat sink, and Tix solder seems to melt at a pretty low temperature, so it was possible to keep the step well pretty cool.


8 Replies to “Railflyer Model Prototypes Construction Update”

  1. How do you like soldering with the torch? Also, did you try using just the flame?


  2. Donnell,

    I liked the torch, it heats up considerably faster than the electric soldering irons I’ve used previously. I didn’t try the flame as it didn’t seem precise enough and I was afraid of melting my previous joints, but I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work otherwise. I have another older set of steps, so I may use it when I put them together.


  3. The reason I ask is because this method is similar to brazing copper pipes. I like the fact that with the flame you get the heat without physically having to touch the pieces being soldered. This eliminates any chance of the workpiece being shifted while soldering. I wonder if there is a better way to get a pin point flame to just heat where you want it…

    The torch is on sale for $19.99 at MicroMark.


  4. The soldering stand that micro-mark also sells holds things pretty tightly in place, and I didn’t have a problem with things moving once they were properly lined up (though getting that far was a bit tedious as the arms on the stand are somewhat springy).

    Tomorrow I will see how well the flame works and will let you know. There are also some even smaller torches available from Micro-Mark and Radio Shack that might have even smaller flames.


  5. I saw some pencil torches on eBay for quite cheap. As for Radio Shack, I’ll check it out.

  6. Donnell,

    Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I tried the the flame on the torch, and it worked so-so. The main problem I had with it though was that when I had my work area heavily illluminated the flame became nearly impossible to see. I was able to use it though, and it didn’t melt any previous joints.

    I’ll probably stick with the soldering tip, it seems more precise to me, and with my soldering stand adjusted correctly, everything seems to stay pretty square, but it’s good to know the flame will work, I can think of a few situations where it might be the only option.

    Were you able to find a decent torch?


  7. I haven’t got the torch yet, but I have several leads including Radio Shack which is right up the street. When I was bending my stepwell kit I bent the ifrst one backwards, so in an attempt to corrent the mistake I bent everything the opposite and end up separating the part in two. I can solder the two halves together with some silver solder paste and flux, so I’m not worried about it breaking, but I wanted to try the torch method to see if I’d like it.

  8. Well(s) Chris,

    I went out and got a ‘cheapie’ ($1.39) torch from Harbor Freight to see if I can get a handle on this soldering with a flame. The Butane fuel only cost $2 at the local Tobacco/Liquor store. I’ll let you know how things go…


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