Author Topic: The first Showcase Miniatures/Century Foundry N scale signals (assembled)  (Read 5029 times)

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JoeW

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  Walter has recently finished a few signals that he and Debbie have listed on auction at ebay. Walter has built them himself in order to get an idea how long it was going to take and how he could develop the instructions (for those who prefer to buy kits and custom build the signals themselves). Now as you can imagine Walter is a little nervous about not putting a reserve on these signals but I encouraged him to list them at the minimum bid because I am so sure that some of you will appreciate these already built. The signals were listed last night so Walter has probably been wiping the sweat of his brow every time he’s looks at the ebay auction and cursing me because as of this post there is only three bids and the highest is a $1.30. For more information http://www.showcaseminiatures.net/2/post/2013/06/n-scale-searchlight-signals-clear-to-proceed.html

JoeW.

Denver Road Doug

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I think they look good, although like many things on eBay...need more pics, and need video.   I did bid on the single target one and got outbid.

I think signals are a hard sell.  They are TINY, delicate pieces and as such it's scary to spend $20+ on them not really knowing (a) if they work, (b) if they are durable, and (c)...everything else....right prototype, right size, somewhat proto color, work with your controllers, etc.,etc.   The companies that are mostly trusted like NJI, Sunrise, etc all have their quirks....biggest of which is availability or not having something even close to modern.   The companies like SMD made some really awesome stuff and then faded away. (and have SMD signals stood the test of time?)   Showcase Miniatures certainly has the brand recognition and seemingly the quality but....signals?   Guess what I'm saying is it's a cautious proposition, and not many are even to the stage where they're ready for signals.    It's gonna be a slow burn methinks to get an n-scale signal line off the ground, IMHO.   I wish Showcase Miniatures much success, though....it's something we really do need.
NOTE: I'm no longer active on this forum.   If you need to contact me, use the e-mail address (or visit the website link) attached to this username.  Thanks.

C855B

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These signals look great, Joe. Incredible attention to detail. Nice to see that the high bid on all three is now up to $14.50, and we still have five days left.
...mike

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Never trust anyone lacking a sense of humor.

peteski

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Ah, I just saw this last night, on the Showcase Miniatures website.  Very nice signal, but I'm just not all that excited about the fiber optic lighting.

Back in the early 90s I build this type of a signal as a proof of concept.  I was dabbling in photoetching and I finally found source of small (3mm) sized 3-color LEDs! At that time most 3-color LEDs were 5mm.  Using a lathe I turned down the LEDs as small as I could. I used the common lead as a mount for signal head.  At that point I didn't have viable hoods for the lenses.





My signal used an LED with red/green chips to get 3 colors (red and green on together simulate yellow light), but I figure that nowadays, it would be possible to find a 3-chip SMD LED which would produce true red, green and amber light and which could fit in the signal head.  Based on experience with building my own signal I realize that the wiring would be a bit more complex than just threading 2 optical fibers through the mast, but overall this would result in a more realistic signal.  But the bottom line is that I don't care much for the small point of light visible at the end of the optical fiber. I would prefer  a larger diameter source of light.  The optical fiber looping into the mast also looks a bit odd, but I guess that there have to be tradeoffs. The signal I built had more realistic wiring, but the signal heads were not true to the prototype.  :|
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C855B

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To update this...

The three trial-run signals sold tonight on eBay, and I think Joe and Walter's efforts were rewarded. I won the single head and double head for $29.50 and $35 respectively, the double-on-cabinet went for $51; once it went past $40 I bowed out. There were 17 bids on the double-on-cabinet.

What I paid is roughly in the ballpark for what I would expect for RTR of this quality; I would expect to pay $35-40 for the version with cabinet. Since these were unlit but had the fiber, adding the LED kit @ $11 a head made them a bit expensive. I will update once they get here and have a chance to try them out.

Joe, I'm looking forward to the kits. I intend to find a way to light them with true-color nano (0402) LEDs in the head rather than using fiber. As Pete indicated this is preferable if we can make it work.
...mike

http://www.gibboncozadandwestern.com

Never trust anyone lacking a sense of humor.

DKS

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While neither approach is perfect when compared to the real deal, to be honest I actually prefer the fiber optic effect over that of LEDs in this case. Nothing against your exquisite craftsmanship, Peteski, but LEDs look like, well, LEDs. Perhaps with some fine-tuning, the fiber technique can be improved. Maybe lens the end of the fiber with heat more to make it larger, then lightly sand it to diffuse the light a little?
« Last Edit: July 02, 2013, 10:19:17 AM by David K. Smith »
“Everyone leaves unfinished business. That's what dying is.” —Amos, The Expanse

Ian MacMillan

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Ah, I just saw this last night, on the Showcase Miniatures website.  Very nice signal, but I'm just not all that excited about the fiber optic lighting.

Back in the early 90s I build this type of a signal as a proof of concept.  I was dabbling in photoetching and I finally found source of small (3mm) sized 3-color LEDs! At that time most 3-color LEDs were 5mm.  Using a lathe I turned down the LEDs as small as I could. I used the common lead as a mount for signal head.  At that point I didn't have viable hoods for the lenses.

Like I've said before. I would go for some of these.
I WANNA SEE THE BOAT MOVIE!

peteski

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Like I've said before. I would go for some of these.

You are interested in my version of these signals?
Like I mentioned, this was proof of concept with home-brewed photoetched parts.  I wanted to see if it was feasible for me to make signals for my B&M based layout (if and when I decide to build it). But the artwork is in a vector-format (Corel Draw).  Also, like DKS stated, the LEDs are early 90s technology: not very bright and the colors are bit soft. They are common cathode. There might be some similar contemporary LEDs available which have brighter and richer color.

If you want, I could provide the artwork to you, along with instructions on how to assemble the signals (and the assembly jig).  Or maybe we could ask Ed to take the artwork and have it professionally photoetched.  I would also have to turn the LEDs down on my lathe. You would have to figure out how to make the hoods. PM me if you are interested.
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3DTrains

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These look great and I'll be adding several to my want list. :D

However, and not meaning to pick nits, Joe, but the hoods appear to be too short as shown on your website. FWIW, here's a typical US&S H2 2-head signal on the approach to Woodford:

http://www.redoveryellow.com/signals/tehachapi/034_West_3507_29423.jpg

...and another at the east switch at Woodford:

http://www.redoveryellow.com/signals/tehachapi/035_West_Woodford_36044.jpg

I have modeled all the signals along Tehachapi and Beaumont in virtual format, as nothing close existed. Your timing of the new product is much welcomed and appreciated - especially to this SP convert! Any other shots of the target/hood in larger format? :)

BTW, one thing that's needed in the kit is a selection of masts ranging from very short (3.25') to very tall (21.5'). Just MHO though. :)

Cheers!
Marc - Riverside

Sokramiketes

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My signal used an LED with red/green chips to get 3 colors (red and green on together simulate yellow light), but I figure that nowadays, it would be possible to find a 3-chip SMD LED which would produce true red, green and amber light and which could fit in the signal head.  Based on experience with building my own signal I realize that the wiring would be a bit more complex than just threading 2 optical fibers through the mast, but overall this would result in a more realistic signal.  But the bottom line is that I don't care much for the small point of light visible at the end of the optical fiber. I would prefer  a larger diameter source of light.  The optical fiber looping into the mast also looks a bit odd, but I guess that there have to be tradeoffs. The signal I built had more realistic wiring, but the signal heads were not true to the prototype.  :|

We're pretty happy with the BeNscale heads which have three separate LED's in a small package.  This gives proper color for each indication.  His heads are available assembled.
Mike

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Better modeling through peer pressure...

JoeW

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There has been some interesting responses in this thread.  I am not surprised by the kind of  responses.  Signals as a whole can be a very technical subject. 

First off Peteski nice work and you mentioned the early nineties, that was about the same time that Dan Crews (Sunrise Ent.) was in full swing offering some very beautiful models.  I believe his production models used the same method of LED lighting as your study.  Please let me know if you find an LED that fits inside the dimension of one of our true to 1/160 heads.  We will definitely consider trying to build it with that LED. 

Here is the real story about our current N scale signals

We did the r&d before we produced the signal and we did so with the help of Jim Hinds http://www.richmondcontrols.com/  Jim’s Richmond Controls is known internationally for LED lighting kits.  Jim has developed a very small tri-color LED that we use and recommend for lighting our HO signals.  It is probably the best RYG LED available to us model railroaders (with the leads already attached).  In regard to our N scale signals, Jim showed us some alternative smaller LED packages but we still could not get one to fit in a true to scale 1/160th H2 head. Once that determination was made the fiber optic became the most practical choice.

From the beginning our emphasis was on the scale fidelity of the signal components.  Our thinking is that those who are very particular about any aspect outside of the static scale look of the signal itself could opt to modify or replace part by part according to their taste.  In the meantime (the finished signals) we have provided a way that achieves a practical way to animate the signal.  Who knows maybe time and experimentation will yield a new method altogether.  It is funny though light tubes have been perfectly acceptable for the ditch lights on some of the Kato locomotives.  Is that less than ideal?

Marc you have a sharp eye and were able to notice something that might not seem so obvious to others.  In regard to the hood on the H2 Walter has been going by drawings that came from Bruce Petty.  Bruce obtained these drawings from a signal maintainer from the days of the Shasta division.  In researching this we have learned that the SP had more than one depth hood they used on the H2.  For confirmation I have attached a picture from near Tahama http://s1085.photobucket.com/user/joeshopper/media/N%20scale%20Showcase/SPTahama1LR.jpg.html?sort=3&o=0.  Although I would like to promise you that we are going to offer all the various hoods, at this point we are taking a wait and see approach.   I am sure you have collected some interesting information on signals, I would like to meet with you possibly we could compare notes on prototype signals. 

Mike congratulations and thank you for bidding on the signals.  I anxiously await your thoughts and opinion.

The multimillionaire, John D. Rockefeller, was once asked the question, “How much money is enough?” He answered quite transparently, “Just a little bit more.”
I have learned that scale model building and designing is about considering compromise.  Much like John D. Rockefeller’s sentiment but it would go like this “How much closer to scale can we get it”.  I don’t have an answer for that question yet but I know it is a lot of fun trying.

peteski

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First off Peteski nice work and you mentioned the early nineties, that was about the same time that Dan Crews (Sunrise Ent.) was in full swing offering some very beautiful models.  I believe his production models used the same method of LED lighting as your study.  Please let me know if you find an LED that fits inside the dimension of one of our true to 1/160 heads.  We will definitely consider trying to build it with that LED. 

We did the r&d before we produced the signal and we did so with the help of Jim Hinds http://www.richmondcontrols.com/  Jim’s Richmond Controls is known internationally for LED lighting kits.  Jim has developed a very small tri-color LED that we use and recommend for lighting our HO signals.  It is probably the best RYG LED available to us model railroaders (with the leads already attached).  In regard to our N scale signals, Jim showed us some alternative smaller LED packages but we still could not get one to fit in a true to scale 1/160th H2 head. Once that determination was made the fiber optic became the most practical choice.

From the beginning our emphasis was on the scale fidelity of the signal components.  Our thinking is that those who are very particular about any aspect outside of the static scale look of the signal itself could opt to modify or replace part by part according to their taste.  In the meantime (the finished signals) we have provided a way that achieves a practical way to animate the signal.  Who knows maybe time and experimentation will yield a new method altogether.  It is funny though light tubes have been perfectly acceptable for the ditch lights on some of the Kato locomotives.  Is that less than ideal?

I have learned that scale model building and designing is about considering compromise.  Much like John D. Rockefeller’s sentiment but it would go like this “How much closer to scale can we get it”.  I don’t have an answer for that question yet but I know it is a lot of fun trying.

Thank you Joe.
I wish that I knew how large is those smaller SMD RYG LED from Richmond Controls are,but unfortunately Jim doesn't offer any of those RYG LEDs for sale.  I also don't have the budget to have some custom made.

Like you mentioned, scale model building and designing is about considering compromise. Maybe using  that smaller RYG LED in those signals would be an acceptable compromise for me.

You are correct, many modelers don't mind light pipes being used for illuminating headlights or ditch lights in N scale locomotives.  But those are molded to be the correct scale-sized lens.

I don't have the Showcase Miniatures signal on-hand but at least in the photos it looks like the diameter of the fiber optic used is smaller than a scale size of the lens used in that signal. That results in a point of light being emitted, instead of a larger illuminated area.  You could use a larger diameter fiber optic, but it might not fit in the post and the visible loop of the fiber optic behind the target would be even more noticeable.  As it was mentioned earlier, maybe the end of the fiber optic can be mushroomed to create a larger diameter light emitter.  But I still don't care for the visible and rather large fiber optic loop behind the target. However, like you said, it is all about compromising. Someone else will not find it objectionable.
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JoeW

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Petski
In defense of the scale fidelity of the Showcase Miniatures/Century Foundry signals.
I am not sure I understand what you mean by "But I still don't care for the visible and rather large fiber optic loop behind the target."  Here is a picture of the prototype you may notice a loop of flexible conduit behind the target http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=2489907 What are you talking about?  Maybe you are thinking of a different type of signal.  None the less I enjoy your challenging critique.
JoeW.

peteski

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Petski
In defense of the scale fidelity of the Showcase Miniatures/Century Foundry signals.
I am not sure I understand what you mean by "But I still don't care for the visible and rather large fiber optic loop behind the target."  Here is a picture of the prototype you may notice a loop of flexible conduit behind the target http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=2489907 What are you talking about?  Maybe you are thinking of a different type of signal.  None the less I enjoy your challenging critique.
JoeW.

You right Joe, the fiber optic loop does show similarity to the conduit on the real signals. I guess that what throws me off is the fact that the fiber optic comes out from the rear of the signal head. But I do realize that was one of those compromises that had to me made.
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3DTrains

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Hi Joe,

SP (and other roads) used both short and long visors. However, long visors were more common on mast-mounted signals (especially on SP, WP and ATSF) than their shorter ground counterparts - at least that's what I've been able to determine based on signals used in and around Arizona, California and Oregon (albeit both long and short on Donner Pass).

BTW, I found this while searching for signals along the Shasta route, although I don't recognize the image as being anywhere near there (North of Mt Hebron, perhaps?):

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5281/5225025715_10e231c8b3_o.jpg

...having both long and short visors! :facepalm:

Cheers!
Marc - Riverside