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OHLE for beginners - Scratchbuilding. - More Practical Help - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Thu Jul 31st, 2008 12:15 pm
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87 101
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I think this is the right section to post this. My garden railway is based on the WCML and so requires some OHLE building. Over on TVGR forum I had some requests for a tutorial so here it is for those intrested....

Ok first I would like to point out that i'm no expert when it comes to OHLE and secondly if you would like to comment on any of the following could you please use the catenery thread as i intend to keep adding to this tutorial as work on my own layout progresses. Thanks guys. ;-)

Right then OHLE or to give it its full title Over Head Line Equpment. Most modelers are usualy terified of this stuff as it looks so complicated. However I aim to show that even a beginner can produce somthing that looks relistic enough. I will be building various structures for my layout over the next couple of months using diffrent materials and techniques.

TOOLS REQUIRED

Soldering iorn I use an antex 25w iorn with a standard chisle tip.
Wire Cutters Size not to important as long as they ar'nt blunt.
Long Nose Pliers Again size not important as long as the ends meet!

MATERIALS

Brass rod Diffrent thicknesses
Jewellery Wire This is sold on 24yard bobbins(cotton reel) from most good craft shops. Mine was about 1.12 a reel. You will need some 24 & 28 gauge. Make sure that you buy the silver coloured stuff as the copper stuff has a clear coating on it!
1mm Copper Wire Mine was obtained from cutting up some 6mm earth cable then untwisting the strands.

Ok now for a few health and saftey warnings. Copper wire and brass rod gets very hot when soldering so dont try and hold it with your fingers as you will only start swearing and loosing your temper! :lol:

There are two types of OHLE for a layout. The first is purely cosmetic and is only there for effect. The second is more functional and is sometimes used to power the trains. While the basic structures are the same the construction of the wires is diffrent. We will look at both types later. ;-)

Please use the Catenary topic for replies and comments on this project as this topic is going to be added to. Thank you.

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 Posted: Thu Jul 31st, 2008 12:16 pm
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Ok here we go then lesson one. A good place to start is with a bit of research into the real thing. Basicly, catenery wire is suspended above the running lines via a set of registration arms that are either attached to a mast at the line side or an overhead gantry structure. The length of the arms can variey according to location,etc but in a nut shell on a straight length of line they alternate between long and short. This is due to the way that the wires are attached and the fact that the wire zig zags from side to side. This is to allow for even wear on the pantograph head. The registration arms are attached to the mast/gantry by insulators. These prevent the high voltage comming into contact with the supporting structures and making them 'live'.

For my first example I thought we would start with a simple box section gantry......




1 This is one of the crossovers on the approch to st Davids station.
2 As you can see the gantry needs to span the crossover and the washing plant. Before work began I thought about how it would be done on the real railway. The brick wall in the background will eventualy be part of a retaining wall so as the clearences are tight I imagened that the gantry would be bracketed off the wall.
3 One thing that I missed off the materials list was some copper coated panel pins. As you can see here one has been fixed to the wall.
4 Another pin has been fixed to the baseboard. This will be the foundation for the post.
5 The post was made from some square brass tubing roughly 4mm square. The end of the tube was filled with solder then placed over the pin whilst heating with a soldering iorn (use pliers !).
6 The top post was attached to the other pin in the same way.

Now we get complicated.....





7 Using a cutting disc in a mini drill ( again forgot to add to list ) cut the post down to the right hight. Dont forget to wear saftey glasses! Once cut the two tubes are soldered together.
8 Now the 'fun' starts. Select a smaller brass box section (I think this was about 2mm) then cut out the cross braces using your mini drill.
9 To anchor the brace to the wall another pin has been knocked in and the head cut off. This is to allow the box section to fit over the pin.
10 Two more cross braces were added to the top of the post. Dont worry two much about the solder as this will be cleaned up later before painting.
11 And there we have it a simple box girder gantry. ;-)

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 Posted: Thu Jul 31st, 2008 12:17 pm
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Ok, now we have a gantry to work with we now need to add the registration arms that will support the wires.







12 The arms are made from two diffrent sizes of brass rod. I'm not 100% sure of the exact size but I remember it being the smalest and the next size up on the display when I bought it. Here the smaler of the two rods has been bent at one end. This will eventualy be where the wire will be attached.
13 One of the most distinctive features of OHLE are the insulators. The easest way to replicate these is by wrapping a small length of 24 gauge jewellery wire around the arm.
14 Here the 'insulators' have been formed around the arms note the thicker rod at the back.
15 The smaller rod is now bent into a triangle shape. Note the position of both insulators and the flat part on the point.
16/17 Using a sutable gauge ( the fixed pan on my 87 comes in handy here!) solder the flatened point to the underside of the gantry.





18 The thicker rod is then soldered to the gantry and the smaler rod. Once fitted the rod is then cut to size
19 View from the other side showing insulators moved up into there final positions.
20 The wiring on the main lines are made in the same way. Note that the arms on the right are the opisit way round. This is due to the pointwork underneath.
21 This is a slightly better view of the support arms over the washing plant.
22 The completed structure. All that is required now is coat of paint.

Hopefully this has demostrated how easy OHLE is to construct with some basic skills and a little know how.

Next time we will look at building a lattice work gantry as typical to the WCML. ;-)

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 Posted: Thu Jul 31st, 2008 12:17 pm
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As a footnote to the last section here's what it looks like once painted...






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 Posted: Thu Jul 31st, 2008 12:18 pm
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Moving on to somthing slightly more complicated. This is how to construct a latice girder as seen on the WCML. Again I will break this down into sections....


1 First we need to build the supports. These can be from brass tube or old lengths of nickel silver rail!
2 This is the location of the proposed gantry.
3 Again copper coated pins are used to fix the supports to the baseboard. Remember to check the clearence with the longest coach you have if like here the track is curved.
4 Here the rails have been soldered to the pins. Note the pins are on the inside of the support structure. This will make hiding them easer later on.
5 Using scrap offcuts of rail fit the cross pieces to the rails forming a ladder type structure. I have noticed thet most support structures have four cross pieces the ones nearer the top are closer together. I would refer to some good pics to judge the spacings.
6 Repeat for the opisit support. Tip. Use a piece of card or balsa to transfer the mesurements to the other side so that the finished structure wont look lopsided.






Ok. Once we have the supports in place next we need to fabricate the latice work itself.
7 The latice work is made from some 6mm earth cable that I found in the garage.
8 When stripped back the bare copper conductors are then seperated and straightned out.
9 Using a pair of long nose pliers bend the wire at right angles in a zig zag pattern.
10 When finished it should look somthing like this. Position the zig zag piece between the supports. From the top of the support the finished girder should go down first then up(refer to pics 13/14 if not sure).The other end of the should be the same. Cut the zig zag piece to length.
11 Next take another length of wire and solder the zig zag piece to it making sure that the whole assenbly remains straight!
12 Now take another piece of wire and solder to the other side again making sure that the whole girder is straight.







13 Bend the ends down as shown. If your zig zag section dosent quite reach between the supports leave the top bar slightly longer.
14 The first side can now be fitted. Fit the solder side so its towards the inside of the finished gantry.
15 Repeat above to produce another girder and then fit to other side. Again fit with the soldered side towards the inside of the structure.
16 Fabricate another piece of zig zag section then solder this across the top joining both sides together.
17 Once the gantry is complete the registration arms can be added. These were made from scraps of copper wire. Dont forget wind some 28gauge wire round first to produce the insulators.
18 Add some paint to finish. The insulators have been picked out in brown.

And threre you have it a WCML style gantry built from scrap. Of course you could replace the rails with H section brass and use L section brass to solder the zig zag section to. This could also be made from brass rod bent to shape. ;-)

Please use the Catenary topic for replies and comments on this project as this topic is going to be added to. Thank you.

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