Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pondering line pole wiring on Bylong

I received several comments on my last post which I will reproduce here:

From Jim

"Maybe do them in the winter."

From Ian Millard (liverpoolrange)

"When Andrew and I installed the EZ-Line elastic product for the fence on Bowen Creek, we found that superglue reacted with the line and crinkled it up. We ended up using PVA glue. Yes it took longer to dry, but the effect was better. Your recent tests with the local product have been very interesting, and I'll keep it all in mind when come to do my line poles. I reckon your sag test doesn't look that bad. I think if you get even a small amount of sag, it will look better than being taut. I can understand though the difficulty of getting the sag uniform across all wires."

From Pete Coombes

"Once again apologies for opening this can of worms for you, but I agree with Ian that your test looks much better than the taut, even if there is a little difference in the sag between wires. May I refer you to the September MR article by Pelle Soeborg, who I think you would agree is one of the great finescale modellers currently publishing. The photos show that even his wires have a slightly uneven sag but look fantastic. He uses CA and EZ line however. Not sure if this is helpful or just complicating the discussion."

Here are a few details about line poles on Bylong.

I have 110 spans of wires to do if I proceed, this doesn't include the 9 spans already done which following on from Jim's comment could be in a cool valley so the wires would be tighter but Bylong is set in late 1965 (late Spring - early Summer).

I have 51 of the 110 spans in between the layout edge and the main line. On the real lines the crossarms face Sydney however the line poles may be on either side of the line.

I like this as it looks more realistic, I like having the trains going through the scenery and buildings not having them in front of the scene. I have done this since the first Bylong exhibition layout in 1979. When taking model photos I like the effect of the line poles being in front of the train, it places the train in the scene.

The existing line poles are not glued in place as I have found that if they are knocked they tend to just move instead of having the crossarms break off.

If I go ahead with sagging wires the poles will need to be glued as a movement as little as 1 - 2mm in the test poles causes various wires to either tighten or sag more. This may be less of a problem if I can get a bit more sag into the wires. This effect also means that it is not possible to wire the poles in a long timber jig and then put them on the layout, all poles will need to be wired in place.

I occasionally have operating sessions at Bylong with as many as 10 operators (4 Station Masters/Signalmen and 4 - 5 driving at a time) so the potential for damage is probably medium to high.

The Knitting In Elastic does stretch a long way and is not likely to cause damage in itself when caught on a hand, sleeve, etc. However, if a pole is damaged and the crossarms break and/or come off the pole the repair is likely to be difficult given that the elastic will want to pull the crossarm away from the pole while the glue sets. I think that it may be possible to hold the crossarm(s) in place with something like the small tweezers that Kadee sells for assembling their coupler boxes (N gauge ones I think, I have two).

Before I can wire a lot of the line poles I still have to upgrade about half of the backscenes including new installation and scene painting.

OK, enough of the background detail.

I may try doing some sagging wires in place on the layout using Ian's suggestion of PVA glue, I think that it might be possible to lay the elastic across the insulators of a number of poles, adjust the sag across all the poles then glue using PVA. This might give a little adjustment while the glue is wet in case the application of the glue moves the elastic, remember that I found that as little as 1-2mm can cause an appreciable effect to the sag. Of course the PVA being water based may also pull on the elastic as it shrinks. The PVA may be of real benefit in case of crossarm breakage as it might be possible to wet the glue sufficiently (wet tissue placed around the glue/crossarm(s)) to allow the wires to be removed to replace the crossarm with a new one. Knowing how big Ian's layout is and how many wires follow the main line through Ardglen I feel for him.

Regarding Pete's comment that Pelle Soeborg has achieved a realistic sag, true enough. Pelle does amazing work however his layout is quite small so we go back to the problem of the number of spans to be done on Bylong and the time to do it. It took me one hour to do one span when trying to get a sag on the test board; 110 hours, hmmm?

So the decision is in the hands of the Gods at the moment, I can't see a quick resolution and certainly the line poles won't be done quickly if they do get done.

Everyone will have to make up their own mind as to what they might do on their layout.

As I said in an earlier post, Bylong is an experiment in techniques, some work, some don't. 

I hope this information has been of some help to others.


Colin Hussey said...


Not sure if it would make any difference but would using the Selleys acrylic grip be better than the PVA, while it is water based I don't think its quite as bad, as it tends to dry a bit faster, & you leave the glue to set a bit first then try to put the sag in.

The other thought is to wire the posts/arms say 1mm further apart each with the wire taught, & when dry set in place at normal spacings to see how they look.

I notice with some of the photo's of Bylong that the poles are on the other side of the line to the facia, rather than between the facia & line, which, if I am reading you correctly you would like to have the poles on the opposite side between the facia & track.

Personally, & while I understand your reasoning which does make sense, I would tend to think that it could create some problems during operating sessions, with such things like a derailment or wagon uncoupling, trying to get to that problem without damaging the wires may be a bit tricky.

One of the issues that raises its head in the weekly group I am a member of is that some have a habit of using facia's as arm rests, also inquisitive fingers go walking & testing new things which does sometimes create some problems.

Some suggestions to deter these people have included, electric edges based on the cattle fencing wires, & miniature razor wire running along the top. Not sure how they would be received but.

Ray P said...


I will try the acrylic glue as well when I get to do some more.

The only way that posts can be wired off the layout and then put in place would be if you are going to have taut wires.

About half the poles on Bylong are already on the fascia side of the track but I don't intend moving all poles there. The poles in the station areas run behind the yards to get them out of the way.

I have always considered that a certain amount of breakage is likely especially when you have tow grandsons playing on the layout with cars, etc. So potentially breakage of crossarms is just something that I might have to deal with when it happens.

In a couple of places where elbows may impact the scenery I have placed a tree made from stainless steel rigging wire with No More Gaps over the trunks and these have very sharp points at the ends of all the branches but will bend when knocked.


South Coast Rail said...

Another great blog of "Pilgrims Progress"