Jig #1

An important milestone was reached today on the construction of Morpeth. I moved offshore for the first time and started work on the jetty that heads out into the Hunter River. This event wasn’t exactly exciting but it was a big leap forward never-the-less because it’s taken something like seven years to get to this point. I know this because I started construction of Morpeth within a couple of months of purchasing a home in late 2009 and I’ve worked on and off on the layout (with breaks to build locomotives and rolling stock occasionally) for all of that time. The “point” of the whole layout was to allow me to build a pier with an associated ship model so this is significant, in a minor milestone sort of way.

I commenced working on this styrene jig this evening. The timbers are untreated at this stage, that comes next. I'll make three pier assemblies using this jig and these will carry a single track out the wider double track jetty. This larger assembly will require piers that are much wier than this one.

I commenced working on this styrene jig this evening. The timbers are untreated at this stage, that comes next. I’ll make three pier assemblies using this jig and these will carry a single track out the wider double track jetty. This larger assembly will require piers that are much wider than this one.

After a bit of careful calculating and a bit of test cutting of 12″X12″ basswood this afternoon I decided to make a start on the first of what will likely be several jigs. The base is 1.5mm thick (about .060) and the various styrene blocks that retain the timber are just a range of appropriate Evergreen sizes.

I’ve cut all the timber I need for the three piers and tomorrow night I will distress the timbers and commence staining them in an ink and alcohol wash. Over probably the following three nights I’ll glue the main assemblies together one at a time (what you can see in the photo) and when these are dry I’ll lever them out of the jig, flip them over and glue the bracing to the other side. Each pier has two sloping 12″x12″ timber braces on each side but I’ve decided to cut, distress, stain and fit these later, when the track carrying timbers that tie these pier legs together are attached. That way I have a bit of flexibility to cut an adjust them to the legs as I go. If I try to fit them now I’ll have to cut each of them to an exact size and glue them in place in the precise place they need to be. Fitting them later will be a much more forgiving process. I’ve chosen to use square timbers rather than the round timber of the prototype for the main legs mainly for convenience and ease of cutting. I have a good amount of 12″x12″ on hand and working with the precise dimensions of the basswood is far easier work than using dowel rod.

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