Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Last minute repairs to the locking bolt

Broken Lock BoltAs I type, we've just returned from York and after nearly three hours behind the wheel, and three days of the show, I'm too knackered to blog it properly, so that will have to wait for later in the week.

However, the trip nearly had to be cancelled at the last minute. Unpacking the layout to load it in the car, we discovered that somehow, the bolt that locks the fiddle yard in position was broken and in the process, lifted several inches of track. Quite how this happened, I don't know but without that bolt, the electrical connection and more importantly, the alignment of the tracks doesn't happen.

To make matters more interesting, we found this at 9:30 in the morning on Friday. The show closes for setting up at 5:30pm the same day and we were 3 hours away and had other plans for the morning.

The bolt is square section K&S brass tube running in more of the same. It is soldered to some PCB sleeper strip on the basis that this should allow the two halves of the outer tube to align and let the inner one slide. The resulting arrangement obviously isn't very strong.

Repaired Lock BoltMy repair involved replacing the sleeper trips with a slab of PCB. This is stronger but slightly thicker so first it had to be thinned from the back with the power sander. Not easy or precise but it seemed to work. The bolt outer tube is attached with solder and heated with my gas torch - the only way of getting enough heat into the joint to make the metal run. The brass was still warm nearly 5 minutes later !

All the emergency bodging worked. The bolt was stiffer than before but at least slid and aligned the tracks properly. After 3 days of use, it was becoming easier to slide too. Phew !

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