Telephone poles

Fishplate Feb 7, 2011

  1. Fishplate

    Fishplate TrainBoard Supporter

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    I'm not satisfied with the usual plastic telephone poles. They don't look like prototype North American poles with 10 insulators per cross arm (like the excellent Rix HO poles). Keith Wiseman says he plans to reintroduce the former N Scale of Nevada telephone poles sometime this year. In the meantime, I'm looking for a practical way to scratchbuild some. I thought about etched brass, but have no experience with metal etching. Any ideas?

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  2. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

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    Verne Niner made some truly excellent scratchbuilt ATSF poles for his layout, and when he left N scale I bought everything - the ones he had finished and all the unfinished material that hadn't been assembled, and there was a lot.

    He'd taken round stock for the poles and hit it with stain, notched the poles for two wood crossarms, made brass wire supports, and taken a whole bunch of insulators off of plastic poles, painted them, and individually glued them to crossarms. No kidding!

    They look fantastic. They are a bear to make though, basically because I have yet to find a good way to consistently glue the insulators to the crossarms, they are about the size of a tiny seed. They are just tapered enough to want to fly out of tweezers.

    If you look at the poles in this shot you can see them. Those are the ones that Verne did, not me. Note the colors of the insulators!

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  3. fatalxsunrider43

    fatalxsunrider43 TrainBoard Member

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    I might be releasing some pictures of all wood prototypes to see if there is any interest from N scale modelers. I am a few weeks away from finishing these protoypes. PM me and I'll give you more info...

    fatalxsunrider43
     
  4. mcjaco

    mcjaco TrainBoard Member

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    Modutrak uses Atlas' poles. Just weathered, and the insulators painted. Atlas' model poles are almost identical to the ones along the Milwaukee Road mainline.
     
  5. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    As someone who collects glass insulators I have lamented the low quality telephone poles. I also want a crossarm with 10 insulators. I would prefer to buy crossarms, insulators and braces molded as a unit that can be glued to my own wooden poles. That way I can model the double arms and the situations where 2 poles support the crossarms, such as at a river crossing.

    There are some incredibly detailed artifacts, like the cantilever signal bridges from NJ International, that demonstrate such an item can be manufactured. I don't know what steps are involved getting a mold made and then producing them.

    At work we have a 3-D printer that can create in plastic just about anything that can be expressed in a CAD drawing. I have been tempted to try my hand at making some crossarms but first I will need to learn a CAD tool, such as Solidworks. The printer can produce detail smaller than 0.010". For n scale this is barely adequate. The printer could produce some awesome ho scale pole line details, but those items are probably already available.
     
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Those are some nice looking pole assemblies.

    One thing which always bothers me, is getting the right color for a pole. So many have been out in the weather a long time. Thus their colors have been washed, sunbleached, etc, and often appears as a gray or silvery hue. Only new poles would be a brown. But I can never quite seem to get the paint to look as I desire...

    Boxcab E50
     
  7. kingpeta

    kingpeta TrainBoard Member

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    I just ordered some poles and I'm wondering: what is the typical spacing of telephone poles? Does it vary? If you have poles on your layout, how far apart did you space them? Did you do the whole layout or just certain more urban areas? Thanks in advance,
    Pete
     
  8. Buzz Lenander

    Buzz Lenander TrainBoard Member

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    As a general rule, telephone poles along railroad lines were placed 132' apart. If you travel the Union Pacific from Denver to Cheyenne; or the BNSF transcon across New Mexico, or Amtrak from Albuquerque north to Trinidad and across Kansas, you can count the poles per mile. There are 40 poles in a mile, with every 10th pole marked, the quarter mile pole will have one line, the half mile pole will have two lines, the 3/4 mile pole three lines, and the mile pole will have the mile marker with the number of miles from mile 0. Divide 5280' by 40, and you have 132' between poles.

    Buzz Lenander
     
  9. Buzz Lenander

    Buzz Lenander TrainBoard Member

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    I have made power poles using wood dowels, sanded lightly with fine sandpaper, stained them with light brown (liquid shoe dye), and then after they dry, use a diluted (with alcohol) wash of Reefer White paint (PolyScale). You can apply as much as you want. A diluted silver or gray wash would probably work also. I usually leave the top of the pole brown, and us the wash on the bottom half of the pole, to the bleaching effect.

    Buzz Lenander
     
  10. wcfn100

    wcfn100 TrainBoard Member

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    You can find numbers ranging from 100' to 150' but, like Buzz, I have counted 40 poles per mile on numerous travels through the mid-west.


    Jason
     
  11. OC Engineer JD

    OC Engineer JD Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    The NSN poles are IMHO the best looking poles you can get. Really hope to see them done again!
    Vernes poles look great on your layout Randy! Plastic poles just look like plastic....but real wood is the best. :)
     
  12. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    What I'm hoping to re-create is the same effect as that pole in the photo from Fishplate.

    Boxcab E50
     
  13. 282mike

    282mike TrainBoard Member

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    Micro mark sells a chemical product that turns wood that aged gray color. If you decide to make wooden poles it may be worth a try.
     
  14. Buzz Lenander

    Buzz Lenander TrainBoard Member

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    Builders In Scale also make stains for wood, one is called Silver Wood Stain.
    They have other stains as well.
    As stated by 282 Mike, Micro-Mark makes wood stains, in several colors, brown, gray, and bridge and tie stain in gray/brown.
    These stains work great on WOOD, but don't do much on plastic, so if you want to get the silver wood look like the picture you posted you probably have to make poles and arms from wood.

    Buzz Lenander
     
  15. JASON

    JASON TrainBoard Supporter

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  16. Fishplate

    Fishplate TrainBoard Supporter

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    Get ahold of the July 2006 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. There's a great article by Harold Minkwitz on making styrene look like weathered wood. IMO with this technique plastic actually looks better than real wood.
     
  17. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

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    Well, I just spent about an hour assembling some of Verne's poles.

    I finally found something more frustrating and repetitive than making Ponderosa Pines.

    Putting N scale insulators on crossarms. Verne was right, yellow carpenters glue is just the right consistency to work. But wow..... is it ever hard!

    So whatever you do, take that into consideration.
     
  18. riog66

    riog66 TrainBoard Member

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    They look like awesome though, best looking poles I've seen in a while

    I'm a bit partial (and probabably lazy:pwink:) cos I like the old Atlas standby.
    Sure they don't have as many insulators, but with a bit of effort they do the "arms length" job quite well after a bit of prelim work
    I usually remove at least one cross arm either by chopping the top off the pole or by chiselling off the bottom cross arm
    I then airbrush the whole pole grey brown to silver grey & most variations in between
    But the biggest improvement on the Atlas poles is to pick out the individual insulators

    I have placed them at about 80ft apart to create an illusion of distance & they look OK

    I took a few dozen way on holidays to paint the insulators & have managed to stockpile enough to keep me going for a while.......
     

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  19. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

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    OK, after playing for a bit...

    Here's how I'd design a kit, and prevent small parts insanity.

    1) poles are wood, we can pretty much agree on that as the best if not the only option.

    2) The insulators and the bracing can be photoengraved on a .005 or .010 sheet, same pattern as a regular crossarm (hear me out)....

    3) then you'd have a thin wood OVERLAY that would go over top of the brass crossarm, stained, be ACC'd on the brass, go on both sides maybe, covering the brass on the crossarm only, leaving the insulators and the bracing inside and centered. Could even be that sticky thin plywood stuff - lasercut.


    Insulators would not only be straight and spaced properly but strong enough to take simulated wire.

    you could stain the wood pieces whatever you wanted.

    each pole would consist of the pole, two brass crossarm inserts with insulators and bracing, and 4 wood crossarm overlays. 7 parts, not bad. You have one standard etched part only so the design isn't too rough.
     
  20. Mark Dance

    Mark Dance TrainBoard Supporter

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    Interesting thread, but a bit late form me unfortunately as I am committed already...

    I have to install several hundred telegraph poles so I need a technique which was scalable in time and $s. I also find them very prominently featured in photos of my prototype and the paired green or clear insulators were something I felt I had to reproduce to get the "feel" of the scene right. My prototype had 5 pairs on a single cross-arm and another conductor pair on stand-offs angled from the main pole.

    After a bunch of messing around I found I can convert Atlas poles in about 5 mins each by removing the lower cross arms and adding on an additional 6 insulators manually with MEK. Delicate work but important for me. I then airbrush 30-40 at a time and paint the insulators by hand throwing in a green insulator or two on about 50% of the poles.

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    md
     

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