G Scale Water Tower – About a month ago, I inquired with a colleague in Texas about building an O scale water tower to go with his Lionel Challenger and Mikado. These are larger engines than my On30 narrow gauges, although they are the same size. I knew I wanted to make the tank’s support area taller than my own system, and decided to make the tank’s circumference (and corresponding volume) larger.
The first item on the agenda is to select the required size mail tube and cut it to the required length.
G Scale Water Tower
I covered one end of the pipe with cardboard and measured how many strips of basswood I needed to cover the pipe. A machinist square helps to stick them perfectly perpendicular to the floor.
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I always stain my piece of wood before assembly, using isopropyl alcohol with a few drops of leather dye. I store different colored stains in plastic containers like the one marked “wire” in the background of this photo. I used script siding to cover the card stock underneath the tank. This area will not show much in the finished model. This photo also shows the beginning of leg assemblies made from 1/4″ square basswood stock.
For the tank bands I used .015 x .080 inch Evergreen styrene strips. They are painted black before being glued to the tank.
I graduated with Bud, and the pads went up the side. They are placed this way because the water pressure at the bottom of the tank is high. I will hide the butt joints behind the structure of the spout counterweights.
A quick dunk on some rail weathering solutions works great on these Grand Line spout parts.
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I had some Grand Line band tighteners, but they were made for cable tightening and weren’t really good on steel banding. I decided to make something better. These are two small beads, a small piece of wire attached to layered sections of strapping material. I added them with CA and Zip Kicker for speed and then painted them black.
They are each less than 1/2″ long and I made one for each band in the tank.
Here is the start of the under-structure that fits between the legs and the body of the tank. My friend in Texas wants the tank spout to be operated by remote control, so I cheated a bit with the spout pivoting system. I have attached other tanks to the bottom of the spout with a prototype chain support, but the chain breaks with repeated use.
I made a tank top with more written sides and four battens. The hatch handle is a small piece of bent piano wire that I will add grand line hinges to later.
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I used the same water level gauge that I had previously designed for some tanks. A little expansion is enough for this. If you look closely you can see those butt joints in the bands I mentioned.
At this point I decided to drill the legs for the truss rods. Keeping them all lined up helped with subsequent production.
Here is the completed water level measurement. I took a small powder pot from it with brown weathering powder and some white. The top pulley is made from an N size wheel set. I cut it in half at the axle center, filed the axle points flat, and glued the wheels facing each other. I’ve done this before and they can actually be replaced like a real pulley, but this one is glued in place.
I built the ladder on a jig I have for O scale ladders. The sides of the freezer box are the sides of the ship lap.
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Because the joints in ship lap siding are so prominent, I went right over my back and deeply nailed each joint.
Another compromise with the prototype is the forged casings for the spout counterweights. My practical counterweight is inside the tank, with cables attached to the spout. Cables pass through small holes in the side of the upper tank behind this enclosure.
Frost box corners are finished at a 3/32 angle. Both ends are open. An actuating rod goes up through the ice box to raise and lower the drop.
Various accessories test fit. I put a cardboard stock base to secure it under the legs. It is covered with ground material.
Peter Durst Water Towers
Top view. Since I have access to the inside of the tank, I loosen the top of the tank. You’ll see why that’s necessary in a moment.
…..another one. The end of the chain from the water level gauge drops down through a small hole in the top of the tank. The number scale marker is actually suspended by that chain, but I glued it to the pulley in a fixed position.
These tanks leak notoriously with age and changes in weather, so the joints, especially the lower parts of the tank, are covered with mineral scale from the water leaks. I simulated this with a mixture of AIM Dirty White Weathering Powder dissolved in alcohol. I brushed it through the stakes from the bottom. The water level gauge in this photo has also been weathered.
Here is the small hole for the water level gauge chain. When you close the tank you slide it into the hole; It is not glued, so the top of the tank can be removed.
Piko 62231 G Scale Durango Water Tower Kit
I waited until after the project to glue the band tighteners. I know from experience that they can be easily defeated.
After securing the legs, I cut the truss rods to length and applied NBW castings to each end. I used Bracton’s Rusty Powder wherever there were metal parts.
I was originally going to use chain to suspend the spout, but with previous tanks, I had trouble with small amounts of chain breaking, so I used Michael’s heavy needlepoint thread. A little weathered, it looks like braided cable.
View from water level measuring area. This scale can be placed on either side, and my customer preferred it on the left side of the spout. I imagine the actual railroad tracks would be placed where engineers and firefighters could see them more easily.
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Now on to the animation. I had to try it on my layout to see if it would work. My Durango yard is built in a sandwich of 1/2″ plywood and 1/2″ homassat; About an inch thick. The thickness of the layout determines part of the length of the spout actuating rod.
I drilled a 1.5 inch hole in the layout and attached the switchmaster motor to the bottom 1 x 4 piece. There is nothing scientific about the diameter of the hole; I had a hole cutter that size. However, a nice big hole helps to keep the connection from getting stuck. The feet that mount on the motor create one limit for the pivoting rod to throw, and the drywall screw on the right side of the motor creates another limit.
The actuating rod is welded to a small screw eye, which is fixed to a lead counterweight inside the tank. A small piece of white styrene tubing serves to pull the “cable” through the holes in the side of the tank. I would have drilled a bigger hole in the bottom of the tank, but the foundation limited me. This hole felt right.
I used the measurements I started with for the entire project, basically including the height of the track and the height of the locomotive tender fill hatches as well as the height of the stack as it passes the locomotive tower. From these I can determine the upper and lower limits of spout travel. The relationship of the rod to the counterweight determines the upper and lower end points of the spout travel. The position of the drywall screws next to the switchmaster motor determines the total length of spout travel. Both are adjustable.
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With the animating mechanism removed from below the layout, the pivoting rod, attached actuating rod and pivoting rod stop can be seen on the switchmaster. To my great joy, the whole business is up and running and the water tower spout can now be controlled by any of the push buttons or DPDT switches used for polling control. The model took 31.5 hours to complete over 15 production days. After a lot of work on the solar circuit that powers the red glowing LED on top I finally finished my city water tower.
Rhinosugar said: Will Mike cut everything, will Mike make muffins? Click to expand… No he mows lawns, he’s in the landscaping business, he’s my son, I’ve built buildings for my kids ventures and friends.
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