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Ball Signal

Started by Scratchman, April 18, 2007, 03:20:57 PM

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This signal was used in the early days of American railroading. It was used to indicate the right of way where two railroads crossed. The plans are out of the May 1965 Model Railroader Let?s have a ball By Donald S. Robinson, and is on my http://www.flickr.com/photos/77318580@N00/ page.
The model is 1/2? scale (Part # 1) was bevel 1/8? on all side. For these cuts used a table saw with a good fence with a series of block glued to the work piece to keep the work true for each cut. Also a large disk sander will work.  Cut a notch on opposite sides down 3/8? from the top 1/16? deep leaving a 1/8? tongue for the top arm and 13? down from the top a notch 1/4? wide 1/8? deep for the lower arm. For the steps (part #2) I went up from the lower arm and place a step every 1 1/4? and placed a step in between on the other side of the post. Then I added (parts 3 and 4) to the bottom of the pole. The top arm (parts # 5 6 and 7) Part # 5 is the out side member with (parts # 6 and 7) used for the spacers leaving space for the two pulleys (Part # 11).  The lower arm (part # 8 and 9) part # 8 was beveled on  the ends and glued centered in the notch part # 9 were all notched for the pulleys part # 10 then placed between parts # 9. To add the pulley I drilled the four holes for the shafts and installed the pulleys with the eight NBW castings (# 12) glued over the shaft ends along with the twenty NBW castings (#13) placed on the top and lower arms. Now I added the lamp covers on the lower arm (parts # 18 and 19) and the braces on the top arm with the NB castings (parts # 14 and 15). To finish up the ropes, lamps, balls and counter weights (part # 16, 17,20,21,22 and 23) are added to the pulleys. I painted all parts before assembly. The post is put in the hole in the base.

Parts list

1   1 wood 1/2?x1/2? x15? + what you need below grade
2   18 large spikes (Micro engineering co.)
3   2 styrene .040 x 1/2? x 1 3/4?
4   4 N.B.with large washer
5   2 wood 1/16? x 1/4? x 4?     (top arm)
6   2 wood 1/8? x 1/4? x 5/16?    (top arm)
7   2 wood 1/8? x 1/4? x 11/16?    (top arm)
8   2 wood 1/8? x 1/4? x 2?       (lower arm)
9   4 wood 1/8? x 1/4? x 1 3/4?     (lower arm)
10   2 pulleys G. L. # 3515 (lower)
11   2 pulleys G. L. # 5091 (top)
12   8 N.B.W. G.L. # 16
13   20 N.B.W. G.L. # 16
14   2 brass .040? x .125? x 1 1/8?
15   6 N.B. G.L. # 82
16   2 1/2? diameter bead
17   2 lamp O. M. #
18   2 styrene tube 9/16? x 3/4? long
19   2 styrene tube 1/2? x 1/16? long
20   2 brass tube 3/16 x 1? long
21   8 screw type jewelry clasp (male end)
22   2 screw type jewelry clasp (female end)
23   4 heavy thread 12? long


Start with a 3/4? piece of particle board 13? x 8?. Draw lines from corner to corner to fine the center and then draw a rectangle 6 1/4? x 4? center on the base. Paint the bottom and sides black or brown. I built a styrene box around the bottom 7/8? of the main post and glue it in center of the base. Taking some 3/4? wood stock cut 7/8? wide strips 2 ? 4? long and 2 ? 9? long. And nail them around the rectangle. Using white glue to add a strip of manila folder to the inside of the forms this will help when removing the form from the plaster now add 4 screw leaving a 1/2? out to catch the plaster to help hold to the base. Now add plaster level to the top of the form and after its dried remove form and manila folder and add another form 3/8? high out 3/4? from the first casting using the same method as before. Now I carved in the stone and painted it with water color. To finish I added the ground cover and the dead sagebrush for the trees.         
Gordon Birrell - Scratchman



The first time I modeled this signal I had to scratch these part.The jewelry parts made this model a lot easer.I got the parts at a yard sale along with a lot of other neat parts that I use in my modeling.

Gordon Birrell,  Scratchman



Another beutiful piece. Wow. What a great model, not just the modeling and painting itself, but the character of the piece/prototype. So much to see and enjoy on it.

Thanks also for the detailed explanation and parts list. Makes the model all the more interesting and enjoyable.

I am an unreliable witness to my own existence.

In the corners of my mind there is a circus....



New Base

After rushing the work on the rock foundation I decided to rework the finish. I started with a mix of gray paints using Model Master Enamels and before the paint was completely dry I added Brown and Orange pastel chalks rubbing them in with my finger. Now I spray with dull cote and let set for a few days. For the mortar I painted the joints with Floquil Reefer White rubbing off the excess with a paper towel and paint thinner and then I added a final layer of dull cote.       

Gordon Birrell - Scratchman


Quote from: Scratchman on April 18, 2007, 03:20:57 PM
This signal was used in the early days of American railroading. It was used to indicate the right of way where two railroads crossed.

A beautiful model of a very interesting prototype!

It is nice to see truly original work.

Regards, Hauk
"Yet for better or for worse we do love things that bear the marks of grime, soot, and weather, and we love the colors and the sheen that call to mind the past that made them"  -Junichiro Tanizaki

Remembrance Of Trains Past


Disgusting. Everything you do looks great. Why can't I do as well? -- Russ