June 20, 2016

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall

Looks like a scene from "Fast and Furious IV"

 Robert Frost may have had mixed feelings about his stone walls, but to a person modeling a modern port, fences are a fact of life. And these are not the charming stone walls of Frost's New England, but utilitarian chain link fences frequently topped with  barbed wire. With normally flat land and few places to get an high viewpoint, fences are the bane of railfans looking for photos near the waterfront.

I have been installing fences on the layout using the photoetched kits from Alkem Scale Models. I will toot my own horn here since I developed the product, but they are a breeze to install, and they look great.

I found it is also easy to make the gates operate using 1/32 inch wire and 1/16 inch thin wall tube from K&S. I solder a 1/32nd inch wire to the edge of the gate that extends about 0.75 inches below the gate. Then I insert a length of 0.75 inch 1/16th inch tube in the scenery, predrilling a hole if necessary. Next I slide the wire into the tube and test the fit. If all is well, a dot of CAA on the tube exterior holds it in place being careful to not get glue on the moving wire. That's it! Working gates.

Note that the Alkem Scale Models fence parts are photo etched  stainless steel. When soldering, rosin core solder and rosin flux will not work very well. I recommend the Superior Flux 71 available from H&N Electronics in hobbyist sizes.  Also, get some solid core solder to avoid having the rosin core contaminate your flux. Again, H&N carries what you need.

John Drye stopped by Sunday to do a bit of work on the layout. He was on his way to chaperone a high school girls graduation party, so he only had a brief time available.  He was able to build a tank in about an hour. It was a Walthers Kit. It will reside in the refinery area of the layout.

In case you don't recognize the title of this blog, it is the first line from Mending Wall by Rober Frost.

The security guard tends to the operating gate at Chase Marine Terminal.

Mending Wall

SOMETHING there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:         5
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,  10
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.  15
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.  20
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
He is all pine and I am apple-orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.  25
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.  30
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down!" I could say "Elves" to him,  35
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there,
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,  40
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors


  1. Now you're going to tell me that them folks up at MIT had you areading Robert Frost! But I do like the last line.


    1. We read that poem in Catholic grade school, well before attending MIT. Having spent the last 35 years in analysis and technical writing, I now sometimes find poetry hard to take. I much prefer lyrical and metered poetry to the rhymless, staccato and fragmented theme poems. Though this poem by Frost is in the latter category, it seemed to echo the love-hate relationship of fences to rail fans and model railroaders.