My apologies for the delay in updating this thread. I've had a number of technical problems to work out. Good new is, I seem to be back up and running.
....enjoy the continuation of this build.
Step 38 : Handrails
Time to complete : 25 hours
Total time to date : 151 hours
The handrailings would require jigs in order to build them with any degree of accuracy. The highly complex shapes of the upper and lower railings of both the upper and lower wintergartens simply made the construction of the jigs a requirement. The whole process of building the jigs could just be considered part of the rail building phase.
The jigs were built using 3/4" MDF. Using a copies of the photocopied tower plans, four separate railing profiles were cut out as well as the bottom deck profiles. The six pieces include :
1) The upper railing of the upper wintergarten
2) The lower railing of the upper wintergarten
3) The upper railing of the lower wintergarten
4) The lower railing of the lower wintergarten
5) The upper deck
6) The lower deck
These templates were then traced onto a piece of MDF and cut out. A line was marked in the exact centre of the width for the pieces that represented the railings. This line is where the actual 3/32" brass rod would be placed. This was calculated taking measurements off the plans which showed that the railings were 3/4" apart. Given that, if the brass rods were placed in the centre of each piece of 3/4" MDF, there would be 3/4" distance between the two. I have included many photos with this phase to help clarify.
Once the six pieces were cut, their respective upper/lower wintergarten pieces were laminated together using gorilla glue. Care had to be taken to ensure the three pieces of each wintergarten jig were in alignment.
Once the glue had cured, a bevel shape was put on to help getting the railing assembly off the jig once built. After beveling, tiny finishing nails were put in to act as a rest for the 3/32" brass rod. The nails were placed in such a way so that the brass rod would be right on the centre line. Notches were then shaped using a rotary tool to allow for the placement of the vertical rails.
The side railing jigs were built by taking the measurements from the plans and drawing onto a piece of MDF. Narrow strips of hardboard were cut and glued beside the drawn lines with just enough space to allow a piece of 3/32" rod to fit.
The rear antanae mount jigs were built using MDF with dimensions taken from the plans.
The construction of the jigs took 8 hours.
Using the jigs, the 3/32" brass rod was moulded and shaped, and bent, and manipulated, ...and moulded some more, until it conformed to the jig. Once the four railings were put on the jig in this manner, the vertical rails were set in place. Now it was time to solder.
What I discovered is that a "normal" soldering gun doesn't make enough heat to solder 3/32" brass rod. My first attempt resulted in not enough heat, which meant a cold solder joint, which meant very brittle, which meant the railing assembly completely broke apart when I tried to remove it from the jig. .....time to use the torch.
I was unsure whether my MDF jigs would hold up to the heat generated by the torch, but, ....I had to go for it. The torch worked great on the LOWEST possible flame setting. I tried not to damage the jigs any more that I had to. They blackened, but the material remained intact. I can not say the same for the side railing jig. The narrow strips of hardboard were damaged quite a bit, but I WAS able to get the two railings built.
Once soldered, all the joints were ground with the rotary tool and then hit with the stainless wire brush, again on the rotary tool. ...basically like miniature welding.
The railing assemblies were then sprayed with primer. Once the primer was dry, the railings were test fitted onto the tower. Perfect fit. Again, showing the value of well constructed jigs. I can not stress enough the importance of taking the time to build jigs when they are required. These railings would not have been done without them.
More to come