Chain Link Fence for the CB&W

For several months now, I’ve been messing with a chain link fence project for my club layout. I’ve never been know as a fast model builder cause I often have distractions crop up in my busy retired life that divert my attention. I finished a major section of it the other day and Ed asked me to write up a step by step explanation of the project. Here’s a picture of the gate and fence as it sits on the layout now.

The club has a large HO layout so there’s plenty of room for this fence which on the back side is 6′ long. By the way the layout has a 16 mile (HO scale) mainline run from one end to the other. The framing for the fence is 0.032” phosphor bronze wire, soldered together. I used 3′ lengths for the top pieces of framing on the back fence. I started with 1′ long pieces of brass wire from the LHS, but I quickly realized the 1′ lengths were going to be pretty expensive and difficult to work with for a long fence run. I used these 1′ lengths to make the fence posts and diagonal braces. For the chain link material I used bridal veil. I bought a couple yards of the stuff several years ago for some small projects and after this fence is done I’ll still have more than I’ll ever use in this lifetime.

The fence goes along the land side of a Navy base, similar to the Naval Weapons Station we have here in Yorktown, VA. The base is on a river, not open ocean. When finished, there will be three gates with tracks running through them. I’m using 1/8” square brass tubing for the gate frames.

I’ve finished the two large double gates. This is how they looked before painting.

I made a jig to hold square tubing while I soldered it. To me, soldering is easy, if you can figure out a way to hold everything in place while you apply the heat and solder. It’s a piece of 1/4” Masonite with scraps of wood glued to the bottom to allow the clamps to fit under the top. Just move the pieces and clamps around to do each joint. I use resin flux for all my soldering. Since this is all butt joints I used a silver solder for additional strength.

For the fence I made a jig from a 2×4. I started by scribing a line parallel to the long side of the board. I made several passes with a scribe to make it deep enough to hold a piece of the 0.032” wire. This picture shows the jig being used to make some of the gate parts.

As you may have noticed, I scribe diagonal lines for bracing and vertical lines for posts as needed. Those scraps of wood that hold the wires in place are moved around as the piece is being soldered. New holes for the screws are drilled whenever they are needed.

Here’s another view of the jig when I was soldering the long piece of fence together. Initially, I drilled holes where two wires joined and were to be soldered. I found out it wasn’t necessary and quit using them early on. As I said earlier, the jig makes the soldering easy.

This picture shows how the bridal veil goes on the gates. I fastened it with CA, and it’s a slow process, especially for the long fence pieces. After the bridal veil is glued on, I trim it with a scalpel. I use a scalpel, with a #11 scalpel blade rather than an Xacto knife because it’s sharper. I use scalpels or single edge razors for almost all my modeling projects. I buy the scalpel blades in packs of 100 on ebay for less than $10.

That top piece that protrudes from the right of the gate pieces in the picture above is inserted into holes that were drilled in the 1/8” gate frame. This provides a stronger joint. These pieces were either soldered or fastened with CA to the 1/8” gate pieces. Notice that near the bottom of the two outer 1/8” uprights there are short horizontal wires. When the gates are mounted on the layout they go in oversized holes drilled in the Homosote base. These wires will limit how far down into the hole the posts go and will be covered by scenery material.

I added gussets to the top corners of the gate frame for looks. I drew them on my computer and printed them on photo paper since I needed a smooth surface for the Micro-Mark rivet decals. As it turns out when I sprayed everything with a rattle can, the rivets are almost lost.

Here’s how the gate looks when placed on the layout.

The search lights were made out of styrene. I made an extra one as I frequently do because at my age I tend to misplace things. In the picture they’re on double faced tape stuck to a coffee stirring stick. After priming with a rattle can, the mounting frames were brush painted. Several layers of Gallery Glass were put in the open end of the tube to represent a glass lens.

The big task was the six foot fence. I made it in two three foot sections. After soldering the frame together I placed it on a long piece of 1×4 to hold it while I glued on the bridal veil. This was a slow process. I started at one end and worked my way down the fence. I trimmed it like I did the gates after the CA had set. This board was also handy for transporting the fence pieces to the club.

I drilled slightly over sized holes in the layout and placed the fence posts in the holes. I put some Weldbond in every third or fourth hole to anchor the fence. I also did that when I installed the gate. I think any white glue would work. One minor problem I had was trying to sight down the fence to make sure it was vertical, not leaning over. Because of the layout size, the closest place I could get to sight down the fence, was about 20′ from the fence. To solve that, I reached in and took a picture with my cell phone (a convenient modeling tool). Not a great picture, but it served it’s purpose.

The white blob at the corner of the fence is wet Weldbond cement – it drys clear. More ground foam has to be added around the base of the fence and another gate has to be built over the single track at the far end of the fence. The fence will then continue on into the backdrop.

If you look closely at the first picture, you can see small No Trespassing signs. I found them on the Internet and resized them for the fence. I printed a batch of them on photo paper. I find photo paper works best for signs with illustrations.

The second gate is going to sit on the back burner for a while, but when I get to it, I’ll add the pictures.