Power Poles : an exercise in HO scale telegraph poles.

Discussion in 'Gary's Scratch builds' started by Gary, Jan 15, 2022.

  1. Gary

    Gary Wants more time for modelling.... Staff Member Administrator

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    Going back a few years, I purchased a box of Atlas HO scale power poles. They looked okay and I put them aside for when I needed them.

    Now I need the poles, I pulled the box out and thought to myself, 'these look a tad too small...'

    I jumped online and googled power poles, most notably power poles around the Miami area where I'm basing my layout on. I found out that the average power pole is 35' high and the Atlas poles are 28' high, less once planted into the scenery after the base is removed. I will post up a comparison photograph at the end of this thread.

    With me being an avid Boomer Dioramas fan (you tube and well worth viewing his channel), I watched his video on power pole construction and took on board his techniques.

    This may seem like a long winded and photo heavy thread, but the end results are worth it if you follow the building instructions.

    Okay, so where do you start, what do you need ?? :scratchchin:

    Evergreen styrene is my go to material for the build of the poles. I love the stuff and it can be readily available at all good hobby stores.

    Here is a selection of Evergreen styrene I use. Use the number at the top left as a guide for purchasing.


    I may have missed some packets in this shot, but these are the bulk of the styrene required. Oh yes, you will also need some cotton and of course your preferred glue (MEK).

    Alright, lets get started...

    1. Take the 4mm diameter tube (#225) and cut to correct length. I cut these to 123mm (35' HO scale). Use a coarse bread knife, hack saw or a razor saw to stress the tube, giving it a wood grain finish. You may need to run some fine sand paper over this once done to remove any burrs and styrene threads.


    This is the result...


    A 0.7mm diameter hole needs to be drilled through the tube, 6mm from the top.

    2. The two (2) top cross arms. Use the 2.0 x 2.5mm styrene strip (#165) for this. I stress the whole 14" length in one go and cut the arms from this. These measure 35mm (10'). Drill three holes using a 0.7mm drill bit, approximately 2mm from each end and one directly in the middle. I stack the two pieces on top of each other so the holes line up correctly.


    3. Now you have your two cross arms, it is time to mount them. Using the 0.64mm styrene rod (#219), feed a length through the one cross arm, the the pole (previously drilled hole) and then feed on the second cross arm.


    4. Use the cigarette lighter to form a mushroom head on one end of the 0.64mm rod. This can be done by moving the flame up to the rod and allowing the heat to expand the styrene.

    5. Take a piece of .015" (0.4mm) styrene sheet and drill several holes into this.


    Then take a spade bit and cut little square washes for the 'bolt' securing the cross arm to the pole.


    6. Slide the washes onto the bolt (0,64mm styrene rod) and secure the lot together with MEK or your choice of glue.

    7. Repeat step 3, 4 & 6 for the outer holes on the cross arm. This is how it should look.


    EDIT. I missed writing above about finishing the bolts off.
    Trim the bolts to 1.5mm outside the washer after it has cured and use the cigarette lighter to mushroom the end, forming the 'nut'.


    8. The cross arms require some bracing and I use 1.5mm angle for this (#291). I always over cut the length approximately 16mm in length. You will require four of these.

    One side of the angle needs to be notched out. This will aid in fitting to the cross arm.


    9. Fit the braces at 45* to the pole with the notched out sections behind the cross arm. I glue one in place and the trim the end off at the pole, allowing enough angle to run past the centre of the pole. The second piece needs to be measured out again to allow it to fit against the piece already installed.

    This is how they look.


    Once the first side is complete and cured, turn the pole over and complete the other cross arm.

    End of Part 1 (photo limit)...

    Cheers, Gary.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2022
  2. Toto

    Toto I'm best ignored Staff Member Founder Administrator

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    Looking very good Gary. Nicely illustrated as usual.

    Cheers

    Toto
     
  3. Gary

    Gary Wants more time for modelling.... Staff Member Administrator

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    Part 2...

    10. Take some .093"/2.4mm diameter tube (#223) and splice off little washers. Save these on a length of styrene rod offcut.


    11. Now that the pole and cross arms have cured, drill two 0.9mm holes through the cross arms approximately 4mm inside the outer bolts. Feed a length of 0.035" (0.88mm) rod into the holes. Leave about 6mm hanging out each side and secure into place. Allow this to cure.

    12. feed three 2.4mm diameter washes onto the rod and secure, being careful to keep them separate when securing. These become the insulators for the wires.


    13. Now the top cross arm is 90% complete, we move on to the lower cross arm. I chose to only use one arm here, although two can be used, (following the steps 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8). This cross arm is longer than the top arm. I measure this to 44mm.



    Allow this to cure.

    14. Transformers. Taking the 0.250"/6.3mm diameter tube (#228), cut a few lengths and file to same size/length of 12mm.


    15. These need to be capped off with some 0.15"/0.4mm styrene sheet (#9015) and then trimmed and sanded smooth/round.

    16. Handles for the transformers are made from 0.64mm styrene rod. Drill six holes in vertical pairs, 4mm in from each end, dividing the tube into 1/3rds. Bend some 0.64mm styrene rod using needle nose pliers and insert these into the holes.


    17. Take a length of 0.040"/1mm diameter rod (#211) and wind on as a spiral and secure with MEK. Allow this to cure hard.


    18. Drill two 0.7mm holes into the transformer between two handles and insert two pieces of 0.64 rod that have been mushroomed using the cigarette lighter method as described in step 4. Secure with MEK.

    Now drill two 1.2mm holes in the top of the transformer and insert two 8mm lengths of threaded rod (coils) into these. Angle these outwards away from each other. Secure with MEK.

    Take a length of 0.010 x 0.040/0.25mm x 1.0mm strip (#102) and form up a brace to secure the transformer to the pole. The positioned coils, handles and brace should look like this.


    Allow all this to cure.

    19. Turn the power pole up side down and rill two holes with a 0.7mm drill bit through the lower cross arm, 3mm from each end. Idrilled a third hole 4mm in from the hole on the right hand side of the cross arm. These holes will house the other insulators.

    End of Part 2...

    Cheers, Gary.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2022
  4. Gary

    Gary Wants more time for modelling.... Staff Member Administrator

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    Part 3....

    20. Making small insulators. Take the 0.7mm drill and drill into a length of 2mm diameter rod. Drill into it to 9mm depth.


    21. Take the rod and sand the drilled end to form a rounded end.


    22. Cut the sanded end off at 2mm in length and repeat step 21 again until you have enough insulators. The more insulators required means more drilling into the 2mm rod. Insert these insulators on a length of 0.64mm rod. Secure with MEK.


    Trim the tops a little allowing 1mm of rod to protrude. Insert these into the lower cross and secure. Trim off the excess after it has cured.

    23. Attach the transformer to the pole just below the lower cross arm bracing. The whole lot should resemble this...


    There we have it, one power pole. Here is another photo of another smaller pole to be used next to one of the industries. The same techniques have been used.

    This smaller pole has a fuse box located at the best and a large insulated conduit running to it. Wires will be added once the poles are painted and inserted on to the layout.



    I hope you find this an interesting thread and inspires you to scratch build your own poles. I will cover painting and weathering soon.

    Cheers, Gary.
     
  5. Toto

    Toto I'm best ignored Staff Member Founder Administrator

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    First class Gary
     
  6. Chris Doroszenko

    Chris Doroszenko Lost in the spare room Full Member

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    Geez thats some fiddly work in HO. Nice result
     
  7. Vinylelpea

    Vinylelpea Full Member

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    Thanks Gary, very useful. Appreciated. :hammer:
     
  8. Gary

    Gary Wants more time for modelling.... Staff Member Administrator

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    Thank you Toto. Been a while since I have posted anything remotely useful here, so whilst I built these I photographed 90% of the build along the way.

    Cheers, Gary.
     
  9. Gary

    Gary Wants more time for modelling.... Staff Member Administrator

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    Lots of little fiddly bits as you say, but the results are pretty good. They may not be perfect, but they do look like a power pole !

    Cheers, Gary.
     
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  10. Gary

    Gary Wants more time for modelling.... Staff Member Administrator

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    Thanks Philip. I know Boomer does justice with his models, I hope I have achieved a near enough/good enough representation.

    Cheers, Gary.
     
  11. Vinylelpea

    Vinylelpea Full Member

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    Boomer would be proud of you mate. We are all at different levels, on this journey of ours. I think we are always our own hardest critics. :thumbs:
     
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  12. Jim Freight

    Jim Freight Full Member

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    Some fine work there, in the detail and execution :thumbs:
     
  13. Gary

    Gary Wants more time for modelling.... Staff Member Administrator

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    Thank you kindly for your words, much appreciated. :tophat:

    Cheers, Gary.
     
  14. Andrew Laing

    Andrew Laing Full Member

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    Fantastic bit of modelling.
     
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  15. Gary

    Gary Wants more time for modelling.... Staff Member Administrator

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    Thank you Andy, much appreciated.

    Cheers, Gary.
     
  16. paul_l

    paul_l Staff Member Administrator

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    Very nice Gary - as usual.

    Just one question, did you check the rules regarding the spacing, I'm sure I saw a documentary where the poles had to be modified to stop larger birds being electrocuted by shorting out two or more cables. Otherwise may be a few dead eagles around the base to add to authenticity :hammer:

    Paul

    Paul
     
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  17. Gary

    Gary Wants more time for modelling.... Staff Member Administrator

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    So what better job to do today (Australia Day) than paint and weather the power poles !

    To be honest, the painting does involve the weathering by applying several washes and dry brushing to get the desired result. ;)

    1. We start the painting stage by spraying the unpainted poles with primer. Here I chose to use Mr Hobby Acrylic Primer.


    I do like the Mr Hobby range of paints, they go a long way with really strong pigment.


    The acrylic primer goes on smooth and doesn't dry dusty like some primers do.


    These here are the colours I will use to paint the poles. Only two are Mr Hobby acrylics, three being Citadel and one from Tamiya. All these brands are great paints !

    The colours clockwise from the top are : Tamiya Flat Earth #XF-82, Mr Hobby Aqueous Flat White #11, Citadel Eshin Grey, Citadel Zamesi Desert, Citadel Mournfang Brown and Mr HobbyAqueous Gray FS #36270


    2. The first coat of paint is a lightly thinned coat of Eshin Grey. This gives the pole a good dark base on top of the primer.


    Allow the grey to dry completely as a few light washes will follow. The darker grey being thinned will dry a little lighter than what looks very dark.

    3. A light dry brushing of Zamesi Deser comes next. This highlights some of the timber. This is put on sparingly across the dry grey. Allow this to completely dry.


    4. Take the Gray FS and dry brush some over the pole. This can be seen in the above photo.

    5. A wash is made using Flat Earth and applied right over the whole pole. Don't worry about the braces as they will be painted at a later stage. Allow this to completely dry before handling.

    6. Take the Flat White and paint the small vertical insulators.

    7. Whilst using the white is out, take a small amount of Mournfang brown and mix together. Use this pinky/brown paint and paint the horizontal circular insulators.

    8. The bracing need painting now and here I mixed one part Gray FS and one part Eshin Grey together. Together it makes a great galvanised steel finish for the braces. Take care here not to paint the pole !

    9. Use the same Gray FS/Eshin Grey to paint the washes/bolts on the cross arms.


    10. Use a small amount of Mournfang Brown to high light the top of the bolts on the poles. Just a small dab or dry brushing will be enough to make them 'pop'.

    11. Last of all, use Gray FS to paint the transformers. Allow this to dry then take some white and paint the coils on top of the transformers. Allow all this to dry and the job is done.



    The completed poles could have a clear matt coat sprayed over them just for protection.

    Here is a photo of the poles on the layout, all painted up.


    Well there you go. A bunch of poles made from Evergreen styrene and painted with acrylics. They don't look too bad if I do say so myself ! :D

    Hopefully this will help some of you scratch build a couple of poles for your own layout. If you do take the plunge, make sure we get to see them ! :thumbs:

    Cheers, Gary.
     
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  18. Vinylelpea

    Vinylelpea Full Member

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    They look fantastic. Thanks for the detailed explanation. :thumbs:
     
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  19. Gary

    Gary Wants more time for modelling.... Staff Member Administrator

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    Thank you kindly. I hope that my description of the technique I used read easily enough and the technique is easy for anyone to follow ! :thumbup:

    Cheers, Gary.
     
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  20. Vinylelpea

    Vinylelpea Full Member

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    I understood, so anyone should be able too. :avatar:
     
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