Chapter 131 – 13/02/2021

For those of you that have been following our Faceplant Page (insert disgustingly shameless plug here), you’ll be aware of some new project we’ve been claiming will be a “game changer”.

Well, perhaps it’s time we revealed exactly what it is…

That’s right, Wuiske Models is making Flexible Track in HOn3½!

With our original image, many of you assumed, this was a rib sided container mold.
I feel I should point out that these pieces are actually rather LARGE. About 3 feet in length actually. What we’d shown was merely the mold base. The marks people assumed were ribs are nothing more than tool marks left over from the milling machines tool path.

In any case, making track was something we mentioned about 10 years ago that we were planning on doing. This was simply due to the, at times, sporadic availability of HOn3½ track… And that was BEFORE this covid stuff.

As usual, most people thought nothing more about us saying we “wanted to produce…”.
However, as usual, we’ve now done it.

Back in Early December 2020, we were having a conversation with Kieren Haskell and between us we collectively said “bugger it, how hard can it be?”

As it turns out, there are MANY reasons that there are only a handful of track producers on the planet. But, as usual, stupidity and bloody mindedness prevailed and now we’re very close to having track available.

The first issue was to sort out if this was something we could make here in Australia… It wasn’t.
The second issue was to see if Kieren could do it in Taiwan, turned out he couldn’t either… But together, we muddled through and with a lot of Taiwanese help, we got it done. At this point, I should mention that it’s not without VERY good reason, that most of the decent quality track brands are NOT made in China.

So by dispensing with such silly things as sleep and family time, Kieren and ourselves managed to learn a few things and invent a machine or two.

The next step was for us to find some dimensions for Queensland Rail sleepers and spacing… There are three of them at least!
Eventually, we agreed upon a standard that would work and was the most common.

The next step was to produce a mold. In the meantime, Bridget and I were talking with a couple of the handful (there is actually less than 5) suppliers of model rail on the planet and we decided we’d be best to at least attempt to make our own rail.

So, since Kieren was talking about “getting his head around this track stuff”, we said, “good, let’s make rail too”.

After much swearing, tears, oaths and badly missed translations for “Nickel Silver”, he got so furious that he managed to force molten metal through a teeny tiny (0.075″) opening using little more than brute venom and hatred for those Wuiske mongrels.

So, by this stage we had Code 75 nickel silver rail and a start of a mold for the sleepers. The next step was to work out how to bring the two together… This was not simple.

In the end, Kieren had exhausted his vocabulary of current, historical and future swear words and we’d repeated “it can’t be THAT hard” enough times that a design was arrived at for a nifty little machine that should mean we can get accurate Australian narrow gauge track produced without it costing more than the average Porsche.

As you’re mostly aware, Bridget and I are about to commence construction of an insanely stupid layout. We estimated we would need about 3,500 lengths of track for this monstrosity. As it turns out, that’s about 15% of the way to breaking even on producing track. So now we’re making track.

So by this stage, we’d been working on track for about 30 days and most people were ringing in 2021. We had a mold that was spitting out test shots and about 30 kilometres of rail sitting with Kieren in Taiwan.

The next step was, once we approved everything, to add the wood grain and the all important “Wuiske” wording underneath it.

The next steps were to look at what we would actually make the sleepers from…
Kieren had stumbled upon a material (by act of pure serendipity) that would give the flexibility and strength required BUT, would also provide a degree of temperature absorbing in the finished product.

Essentially, if we spend about 10% more on the raw plastic, we can produce a sleeper that whilst not heat resistant, will mean you can afford to take a few seconds longer soldering feeder wires to your track without it becoming a tangled blob of plastic on ply.

One of the other benefits of this Process is that the top and sides surfaces are not as glossy as conventional sleepers. Something that’s been a pet peeve of most of us for years.

So, where we now stand (2½ months after having said “bugger it, let’s just do it”), is that we have HOn3½ Flexible Track with accurate sleeper dimensions for Queensland Railways. Our own Code 75 Nickel Silver Rail, Semi Heat resistant sleepers and a rather nifty (though I may be biased) label to put on a cardboard box.

The plan is that this track will be made available in boxes of 15 three foot lengths with an SRRP of $150AUD.  With the way it’s looking at present, the current machinery will allow Kieren to pump out a maximum of 1,000 lengths per DAY!  With any luck, this will eliminate shortages of HOn3½ flexible track.

The HOn3½ track will be available VERY soon and will be available exclusively through Wuiske Models, with the exception of Taiwanese and Japanese customers, for whom it will be sold by Haskell Co.
All in all, not a bad effort for 2½ months of no sleep.

With any luck, this little experiment will work out well and then we can look at a few other track based ideas we have rattling round our collective brains.
As always though, we shall see how we go.

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