ABS Legs for Modules
In my quest to find a stable leg system for my modules, I looked into the use of ABS rigid plastic pipe that is used in plumbing. I found the advantages of ABS were many - cost, fabrication, simplicity, standardization, availability of components, easy to cut the pipe to any length, easy to glue the components together, no fancy power tools required. And, most important, a very sturdy, stable, simple system!
But how to fasten this end cap to the module? Very simple! Cut a short piece of 1"x 4" wood about 6" long. Cut a square hole in the wood the same size as the nut on the end-cap and glue the end-cap into the wood. Then fasten this assembly with 4 woodscrews to the cross member at the end of the module. For extra security, put a nut and bolt through the end-cap to the cross member. The leg simply unscrews from the end-cap which is now fastened securely to the module. If your club wants to change the length of the legs, simply saw the leg in half, glue two unions to each end, and glue a short piece of ABS pipe that will bring your leg to the new height. First problem solved.
However, when I stood the module up with my newly fabricated plastic ABS plastic pipe legs, the module wobbled like a new born baby deer. While the wobble was less than with the typical wooden legs I had previously made, I still wasn't happy. I needed a good bracing system - one that would pass the "cement block" test.
Fibreglass Bracing System
So back I went to the building supply store and started wandering the aisles in search of a solution. By mistake, I turned down the aisle where they had the chain link fencing. There staring me right in the face was the answer. Chain link fence is fastened and tensioned to the end posts by a very strong but light-weight fibreglass "tension bar". If I cut and drilled the tension bars, I would have a simple system for stabilizing the legs. There was just one problem. How could I fasten the tension bars to the legs?
Hose Clamps To Tie It All Together
Now, if you're interested, we give you the details below. If you try it and you like it, let me know. If you try it and you can improve on it, also let me know. I might be able to get 3 cement blocks onto the module.
The legs for the modules are 1½" ABS rigid plastic pipe. The pipe is fastened to the underside of the module using a threaded end-cap. Cut a short piece of 1"x 4" wood about 6" long. Cut a square hole in the wood the same size as the nut on the end-cap and glue the end-cap into the short piece of wood. Then fasten this assembly with 4 woodscrews to the cross member at the end of the module. For extra security, put a nut and bolt through the end-cap to the cross member. (Use a T-nut drilled and epoxied into the top-side of the cross member.)
Using some ABS glue and a Q-tip to apply the glue, glue the ABS end-cap onto one end of the ABS pipe, and the leg leveller onto the other end. If you had your 1½" pipe cut at your building supply store, there's no cleanup required. If your club changes the height of the legs, it's a simple matter of sawing the leg in half, cutting off or adding some extra pipe, and glueing it all back together with a couple of couplers - ABS couplers, that is.
Modifying the Hose Clamps
Now here's the secret. Drill a hole in each of the clamps, insert a threaded flat-head screw (head on the inside), keep the screw in place with a nut and, voila, you have your fastening system.
You will need 3 different lengths of 3/16" threaded screws - ¾", 1", and 1¼". The bottom clamp requires a screw 1" long. The middle and top clamps require screws that are ¾" long. The module-end of the sway-bracing requires 1¼" screws.
Insert a 3/16" threaded flat-head screw in the hole you just drilled (flat head is inside the clamp). Thread a nut onto the screw. A total of 3 clamps are required for each leg (3 clamps x 4 legs - 12 clamps in total).
Assembling the Cross Bracing
Slide 3 clamps onto each leg (top and middle clamps have ¾" screws, bottom clamp has 1" screws). The tightening nut for the top and bottom clamps should be on the outside of the leg. The tightening nut for the middle clamp should be on the outside end of the leg.
For the cross-bracing, insert the 21" length of tension bar over the screws on the bottom clamps (make sure the nut to tighten the clamp is on the outside). Next, insert the ends of two 30" tension bars over the screws on the bottom clamps and fasten with nuts. Insert the other ends of the 30" tension bars over the screws on the top clamps (again, make sure the nut to tighten the clamp is on the outside) and fasten with nuts.
Assembling the Sway Bracing
For the sway-bracing, drill a 3/16" hole on each side of the module about 20" in from the end of the module. Insert a 3/16" threaded screw (about 1¼" long) and fasten in place with a nut. Insert a 30" tension bar over the screw on the middle clamp and fasten with a nut. Attach the other end of the tension bar over the screw in the module and fasten with a nut.
Tighten It All
|I hope you've enjoyed this tour. If you'd like to see a bit of the history of some of the railways in Eastern Ontario, click on the "Home" button. Or, if you'd like to see how we installed the Atlas 341 DMD decoder into our Atlas GP7s, complete with headlights, click on the "Next" button.|