I've been a Garden Railroader for several years now. It all started with H0 Scale layouts my father maintained and I ultimately inherited. As a young man raising a family and living in smaller spaces, I switched to N Scale to get more train in a small space, but of course my fingers got too fat and my eyes to dim! What a perfect excuse to move up to G scale. Bigger toys for big boys!
I loved the design, construction and operation of this outdoor adventure, watching trains wind through a garden with large running ponds, and large buildings. Adding the dimensions of computer control for multi train operations and live sound it created a wondrous world to escape into. I would spend time in the garden, coffee in hand, watching trains appear and disappear through the foliage. I loved it!
What happened? A little more time passes and the act of bending to weed, and attend to trains became the issue. I would move around the layout, cushion in hand, on hands and knees ballasting, clearing switch forks, pulling weeds, removing sticks and leaves and tending plants in the garden. This work was taking the fun of the hobby. I guess I should have elevated the track!
At the same time I was spending more and more time making automata, and the garden maintenance was not being done regularly enough. It was time to move on, or my layout and equipment would simply sit until someone other than I would be responsible to find someone to pass the equipment to. So with sadness I dismantled the layout, and collected up the equipment and look to pass the torch to another garden railroad enthusiast.
It was a great ride!
Here is a teaser video of my latest completed automata project of a skeleton tubing on the River Styx to kill time while waiting in the the underworld of Greek mythology.
Full video and back story coming soon on a new webpage!
When I make automata I often make them so that the top works, or action platform, can be removed from the mechanism once the links have been removed. I do this for two reasons. The first is I find them easier to assemble and the second is the automata can be easily disassembled if ever need be in the future for repair. I try to design with enough care that this should never happen, but having been in refinery maintenance for many years has taught me to always be prepared for the unexpected!
Normally I use corner posts, often 3/4" dowels, to hold the operating platform in a stable position above the mechanism. In this project I decided to further enhance the skeleton subject by using wooden bones as these support structures. Because of their final irregular shape it was important to square the ends and plan for locating pins in the ends before shaping the bone shaped pillars. The pillars will be glued to the underside of the top plate aligned with locating pins. The photo below shops the process steps.
On the far right is a 5-1/2" tall blank, 1-1/4" square. It has a 1/4" hole in the centre of the top and bottom surface for locating pins. The top and bottom surfaces are parallel. The blank next to it shows the cutout lines sketched onto the side of the blank, and the next shows what it looks like after it was cutout. The last one, far left, shows a completed post after shaping and sanding, including a knuckle relief on each side of each end.
The pillars will be painted and attached to the base from below with a screw run up through the locating pin into the post material.
I have been busy with other things but have been slipping into the shop to optimize the design details on my CAD drawings and fabricate pieces for my tubing skeleton. The photo below shows the cutouts for two pedestals, one on each end, that hold the eight follower ends that give the tube and the skeleton the bouncing motion. They still have the paper templates on them that I use to cut them accurately.
I saw how flat looking they were going to look and thought I should try to add something. In the past I have put thematic cutouts in for interest but nothing came to mind. What did come to mind was a portal to the lost souls that wait on the banks of the River Styx. I sketched the circles for sizing and made a little relief carving based on something I saw in a souvenir shop on the weekend. Below is the prototype relief I made stuffed into the pedestal on the right side of the photo above.
I was distracted goofing around with the proper colour for the skeleton's tube. Lots of tubes are what I consider too colourful for this project. I'm afraid that bright colours might be too visually distracting from the skeleton itself. Also I image the portals to hell should likely be more subdued not neon! It is unusual for me to do this but I pulled out some coloured pencils to check out some possibilities. I settled on this one in the end.
Here is the start of another project. What started out as a boy tubing at the cottage has turned into a skeleton tubing on the River Styx of Greek mythology. He is riding "Bone Crusher", a popular tube make of the underworld. There isn't much do do while waiting for a new soul, so some waiting choose this unusual form of entertainment.
Hopefully when done he will bounce around quite vigorously. Time will tell.
Here's a sneak peek at the finished A Boat, A Boy, And A Dog, as it leaves the shop on its way to video production. What can be more fun than blasting around the lake in a tin boat with man's best friend - it is almost a rite of passage in cottage country!
OOPS! There is radio on in the background so you might want to mute before playing!
Yes it has been a while since a serious blog entry has occurred here. What happened? Life happened! Other projects, summer heat and all the thousands of little things that keep you out of the workshop. I have however been sitting by the lake every now and then designing some new stuff. Nothing really big, but rather a collection of small designs that I am calling my Summer 2021 Series.
Here is a peek of the first one under construction. Watching all the kids running around on the lake takes me back to childhood days. It is called "A Boat, A Boy and A Dog". Below are photos of the principal unassembled components. When completed the boat will bounce, the boy will steer, and the dog will wag his tail enthusiastically.
Added a new course today into the Learning Centre on How to employ a Geneva mechanism to suspend movement of some component driven by another part of an automata. Not rocket science but an interesting application!
Not seeing red as in mad, I mean seeing red as in cutting a lot of gears. You may already know I advocate printing the templates in red ink as it is easier one my eyes to facilitate easier more accurate cutting. Anyway cutting gears is like a zen moment, relaxing, wholly involved, and you usually feel good when finished!
I haven't blogged for a while. I have been busy with design work, major dock repair at the marina and helping to online school a grandson, all with a pinched nerve in my shoulder slowing me down, (sucks to be old sometimes). We are still in COVID lockdown in this part of the world.
I am working on a new piece and have created a prototype on a key piece of the project, but I figured it was time for a little shop therapy and without finishing the design I set out to cut some gears. The project has a minimum of 28 gears at this point because o wanted to decouple several section to operate at different speeds to make things look a little more interesting. Anyway here are the first 18 gears, six of which have been cut out, which means lots of opportunity to see red again soon!
More to come soon.
Automata is a creative blend of my life interests , engineering, art and woodworking.