Author Topic: Modutrak Searchlight Signals (WAS: Building BeNscale Signals)  (Read 13711 times)

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Sokramiketes

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Modutrak Searchlight Signals (WAS: Building BeNscale Signals)
« on: November 15, 2013, 04:24:38 PM »
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If you have a need for searchlight signals with bright LED's and excellent color rendition, the BeNscale heads are currently the best option out there.  (www.benscale.com)

I've been purchasing the pre-wired heads and assembling the signals from there for the Modutrak layout.  I took pictures while assembling one and thought I'd share some techniques for soldering one together.

Here's an assembled signal along with the parts for the next signal.  The fret of ladder and platform parts is etched in phosphor bronze and available by special request from BeNscale.  He doesn't have them on the site yet, just the SP style ladders, but these match our Milwaukee Road prototype better.  The signal mast shown here has two positions for a dual head signal.  For this sample I'm going to cut it shorter and put back-to-back heads on a single pole.  The methods are the same for other searchlight arrangements.

« Last Edit: October 22, 2014, 11:17:03 AM by Sokramiketes »
Mike

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Sokramiketes

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Re: Building BeNscale Signals
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2013, 04:25:45 PM »
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Soldering these parts together results in a very sturdy signal.  I use Superior No. 30 Supersafe flux (http://www.ccis.com/home/hn/page22.html) and solid wire 96%tin/4%silver solder (http://www.ccis.com/home/hn/page5.html) from the same company.  When I'm trying to do neat joints, the solid wire solder and separate flux is great.  I'm using a small 12W pencil iron for construction.  And the first thing I do is make a pile of small solder chips.  When I'm ready to solder a joint I pick up a chip on the hot tip of the iron and apply it to the fluxed joint.  This controls the amount of solder that hits the model... something that is hard to do when feeding solder into the joint from a reel of solder.

Mike

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Sokramiketes

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Re: Building BeNscale Signals
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2013, 04:26:25 PM »
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I've found it is easier to solder the platforms and railings to the ladder first, and feed the assembly onto the post later.  This way, everything is spaced properly and I'll show you how I hold each piece in alignment.

First, the platform gets soldered to the ladder.  You can see a small bit of paste flux at the joint, ready to receive a solder chip from a hot iron.  One finger can hold them in place on the work surface (MDF).  Just square them up by moving the ladder, and hit with solder when lined up. 

Mike

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Sokramiketes

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Re: Building BeNscale Signals
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2013, 04:27:04 PM »
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And here's the soldered joint.  The solder should run into the joint and leave minimal surface cleanup.

Mike

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Sokramiketes

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Re: Building BeNscale Signals
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2013, 04:28:19 PM »
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Next up is the safety railing at the top.  The railing etching has two notches in it to receive the top of the ladder.  Apply a bit of flux and then hold the ladder to the railing upside down on the work surface.  Again, it is easy to hold into place with one finger, get it lined up and plumb, and then hit it with a solder chip at each joint.

Mike

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Sokramiketes

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Re: Building BeNscale Signals
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2013, 04:29:05 PM »
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And attached:

Mike

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Sokramiketes

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Re: Building BeNscale Signals
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2013, 04:29:52 PM »
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Next up is a bracket that holds the lower portion of the ladder off the mast.  For this piece I use a pair of needle nose to hold it in place while soldering.  Doing it with a finger burns...

Mike

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Sokramiketes

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Re: Building BeNscale Signals
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2013, 04:30:30 PM »
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And here's the final ladder assembly, ready to thread onto the mast.

Mike

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peteski

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Re: Building BeNscale Signals
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2013, 05:09:01 PM »
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Interesting construction method.   When I scratchbuilt a similar signal, I built a jig which allowed me to solder the platforms and railings (in their proper locations) to the mast. Then, once they were solidly attached to the mast, soldering the ladder to them was really easy.
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w neal

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Re: Building BeNscale Signals
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2013, 05:15:27 PM »
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Mike,

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!


I look forward to using these same signals on the WC and maybe the afore mentioned project. They seem like a close match.

Please do keep posting as you get along...



Buffering...

Sokramiketes

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Re: Building BeNscale Signals
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2013, 08:18:18 PM »
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And here it is on the mast.  The clever part of the BeNscale parts is that everything is built on a small printed circuit board.  The board has a small piece of telescoping tube soldered to it already, which accepts whichever height mast needed.  There is also a set of holes to accept the ladder through the board.

Mike

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Sokramiketes

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Re: Building BeNscale Signals
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2013, 08:18:50 PM »
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Now we're ready to prep the preassembled H2 signal heads.  They come pre-wired and I like to check to make sure all the LED's are working at this stage.  This LED tester is from Ngineering and will supply a constant 20ma of current.  In other words, no need for resistors or fear of blowing up surface mount LED's.  It automatically compensates for any 20ma LED.

This head checks out!

Mike

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Sokramiketes

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Re: Building BeNscale Signals
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2013, 08:20:56 PM »
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Interesting construction method.   When I scratchbuilt a similar signal, I built a jig which allowed me to solder the platforms and railings (in their proper locations) to the mast. Then, once they were solidly attached to the mast, soldering the ladder to them was really easy.

I'm pretty lazy so I try to find the most positive construction method available.  I did a couple of these (without a jig) in the manner you did... but it was fiddly.  Jigs are great if you are in the mood to make one. 
Mike

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peteski

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Re: Building BeNscale Signals
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2013, 08:32:04 PM »
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I'm pretty lazy so I try to find the most positive construction method available.  I did a couple of these (without a jig) in the manner you did... but it was fiddly.  Jigs are great if you are in the mood to make one.

Sure Mike, whatever works for you. But if someone needs to build couple of dozen, a jig comes in handy.
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Sokramiketes

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Re: Building BeNscale Signals
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2013, 08:40:23 PM »
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Sure Mike, whatever works for you. But if someone needs to build couple of dozen, a jig comes in handy.

Jigs have their place.  But with these three pieces needing to meet exactly in location on the ladder, but being able to float on the mast, it just clicked in my head to assemble the parts that had to meet perfectly first.  Even with a jig I'm not sure I'd hit the spacing on the mast deadnuts perfect to keep everything square.
Mike

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