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lenses in 4mm scale

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lenses in 4mm scale

Unread postby South Western John » Sun Mar 1, 2015 4:28 pm

I am signalling an extensive layout in 4mm to the foot scale (gauge OO). For my sins I am making semaphore signals produced as kits by Model Signal Engineering. Everything has gone fine so far. I even have one working home signal installed. But I am baffled at present by the accurate making of the lenses. These are made from translucent coloured sheet (red and turquoise). Please, has anybody done this? How do you make the lenses? Do you use a hole punch along the lines of the punches for filing sheets of paper in a ring-binder? Any suggestions out there would be greatly welcomed.
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Re: lenses in 4mm scale

Unread postby andrewnummelin » Sun Mar 1, 2015 6:19 pm

I chickened out of trying to cut sheet to size for non-round spectacles in my first signal that I am currently building with MSE parts, but next time I might try sticking sheet to the back of the spectacle plate with gloss varnish and then cutting round the edge when all is dry. (Some glues may remove the colour from the sheet). If you have round spectacles a punch should not be to difficult to make but you'll need skill with a file if the aperture is an odd shape.
This time I've used the technique of using the clear "glue" sold for sticking model aircraft windows and also for glazing small apertures. You put a small amount on one edge and draw a film across with something like a bit rod, cocktail stick or similar. When dry, put a drop of transparent coloured drawing ink on "lens". Allow this to dry and coat with gloss varnish to stop the ink flaking off.
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Re: lenses in 4mm scale

Unread postby John Webb » Sun Mar 1, 2015 7:17 pm

The MSE instructions suggest that the transparent coloured material is cut slightly larger than the hole and stuck to the back of the signal arm. This seems to work. One way of sticking the material might be to use the model aircraft window glue mentioned above. I'm a bit cautious about colouring that as andrewnummelin suggests as it may be difficult to get the right shade.

What are you doing for working signal lamps, by the way?
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Re: lenses in 4mm scale

Unread postby colin1501 » Sun Mar 1, 2015 11:08 pm

I tried something similar to John Webb's suggestion with 'Ratio' signals years ago, although with those I had to finely drill and then carefully open out the apertures first - round for the green and oval for red/yellow (these were upper quadrant). I then cut the coloured plastic material to shape and glued it to the back of the arm. With the red/yellow section, I cut it to a chevron shape pointing towards the end of the arm, to represent the back of the spectacle plate. I then painted both sections light grey (not black - this was a Southern layout), but leaving the lens apertures clear. I didn't attempt to light these signals, but if I was doing it again I might consider very fine fibre optic cable from a remote light source, run up the signal post and into a hole drilled through the moulded lamp housing. Hope this helps.

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Re: lenses in 4mm scale

Unread postby andrewnummelin » Mon Mar 2, 2015 7:03 pm

John Webb wrote:...... I'm a bit cautious about colouring that as andrewnummelin suggests as it may be difficult to get the right shade.

What are you doing for working signal lamps, by the way?


I've used red and turquoise inks and am happy with the colour obtained. I tried taking a few quick photos this afternoon but I couldn't get the camera to focus properly and get decent lighting front and back.

I've not tried to light the lamps. I admire people who do it well, but I'll only be tempted to try when someone has worked out how to do working removable head and tail lamps (steam era).
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Re: lenses in 4mm scale

Unread postby Signalhunter » Tue Mar 3, 2015 9:54 am

andrewnummelin wrote:
John Webb wrote:...... I'm a bit cautious about colouring that as andrewnummelin suggests as it may be difficult to get the right shade.

What are you doing for working signal lamps, by the way?


I've not tried to light the lamps. I admire people who do it well, but I'll only be tempted to try when someone has worked out how to do working removable head and tail lamps (steam era).


If ever you get chance to see it, Martin from Kendal M.R.C. has a B.R. 9F with (re)movable, working lights. I'm sure he could also make working side and tail lamps for a brakevan, using the same system.
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Re: lenses in 4mm scale

Unread postby South Western John » Sun Apr 19, 2015 1:01 pm

Well, folks, I have solved the lens problem after meeting a modeller friend in the street. He told me, "Go to 'The Gas Cupboard'* in Trowbridge, Wilts. Dave Simpson (proprietor) will sell you a bottle of 'Glue and Glaze'. You put a tiny blob of this milky goo on either side of the lens aperture and using a sharpened matchstick, draw it across the aperture from both directions. To all cynics I can truly say, "By Jove, it works!!" When dry, you have stable clear lenses. Using a little spot of Humbrol paint the lenses are now red and turquoise and ready for illumination. I have not yet tried optical fibre. Can anybody give me any tips?

* The Gas Cupboard is a modeller's shop tucked away in a mews off Silver Street, Trowbridge, Wiltshire
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