Thursday, 30 July 2009

Taking Stock!

Last month Colin Lea described his new stock boxes over on his blog, so I thought I'd describe my stock boxes I made a couple of years ago. Someone (I can't remember who) turned up to a Sussex Downs 009 group meeting with one of these:

It's a tough plastic crate containing four compartmentalised storage boxes (one of which has been removed in the photo to show how they slot in), which at the time were available in B&Q for about £20. Several of us rushed out to buy one as we saw the potential! Each of the storage boxes has four compartments with removable dividers, but with the dividers removed they are an ideal size for 009 stock.

A local upholstery shop supplied some 5mm thick foam sheet for about £5 - I also had some similar left over from a previous stock-box. This was cut into strips and sheets to line the bottom and sides of each compartment, and the lid, and glued in place with Bostik contact glue. Some removable strips can be added to reduce the depth of some compartments for narrower stock, and some "chunks" were cut from thicker foam to use as spacers between each item of stock, to protect couplings. In fact the springiness of the foam and lid tends to grip the stock gently, and stock is put in such that when the storage box is slid into the crate they are on their wheels. So the stock is well protected from damage.

It is surprising how much stock this can contain, and when in the crate it is very well protected. Unlike bespoke wooden stock boxes it is relatively light (though not with lots of white metal loco's in it! Even my rolling stock contains a fair amount of lead ....). So I have a robust and effective stock-box big enough for all my (serviceable) stock, for a reasonable price and a couple of evenings work cutting and gluing the foam.

I actually have a fifth storage box of near identical dimensions (it will even slot in the crate) which I bought from Hobbycraft previously and lined with foam in the same way (hence the left-over foam), and I'm sure other similar compartmentalised boxes are available.
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Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Dimmer and Dimma

We popped into IKEA at the weekend as we were passing and were after a few bits (normally our nearest is an hour away, fortunately as we never seem to get out without buying loads of odds and ends!). I managed to pick up a DIMMA which is basically an in-line dimmer switch for any lamp. As you can see it is a Y-shaped lead with a standard plug and socket on the short arms, and a dimmer control on a long (2m) lead. Now of course it is intended for any household lamp but it struck me as much more useful for layout lighting ...

So here it is connected to the lighting of Awngate. Well you can't see the connection as that is at the back, but the dimmer control is hanging from a hook below the layout (left). This allows the level of the light (provided by two 30W tungsten strips) to be varied nicely. Now I could have made something similar using a dimmer switch and pattress box (and indeed I have on a previous layout) but that would probably have cost more (this was just £7) and not been so neat - plus this can be used on any layout.
Like all dimmer switches it only works with incandescent bulbs (i.e. not fluorescent/energy saving bulbs), and only up to 300W total so if you had a lot of lights you might need to run them in groups to separate dimmers. However for my needs it's perfect! Hmm, I wonder if it could be used with a soldereing iron for temperature control ...?
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