The basis of this article is to describe how you can get the seven strands on a GWR Ratio fence looking straight and level. Initial attempts were the normal way, which was to fix the posts first into the baseboard, then slowly fix the strands in situ, pulling and gluing as you proceed. However, the result was not always as satisfactory as we wanted.
The idea came when looking at the strings and frets on a guitar, it suddenly dawned that the same principle could be employed on the work bench, thereby making the whole process a lot easier, quicker and more accurate.
Here's how it's done.
We used a spare piece of 10mm MDF as the 'setting out' board and marked up accordingly. Each post is at 20mm centres, with a corresponding base line drawn to allow the post to be set using the ground as the datum. Slopes are worked out with a card template and transferred to the 'setting out' board in the same way, Posts are made from square-section plastic microstrip due to the pre-cut grooves in the Ratio posts not lining up.
Lining up the base of the post with the base line on the 'setting out' board, each post was set out at the vertical centres with the strand groove uppermost. We fixed ours with small pieces of masking tape as this can easily be removed or cut if necessary and doesn’t leave marks behind. With the lower part of the posts fixed, the tops were fixed carefully to the board with a piece of masking tape, holding them firmly but not obscuring the strand groove.
To fix the strands, we used a 4lb lightweight fishing line. Seven strands were cut from the reel, each being much longer than was needed. They were required to be stretched over the posts and be ready to be used as anchor points on the layout.
Each strand was lined up with each relevant groove and the excess line was stuck to the setting out board with Sellotape (or similar). We found this was better than masking tape as it has a stronger adhesion.
With all strands in line and temporarily held in place at the ends, we applied superglue to each strand groove on each post. In this case used a cocktail stick to apply the glue and reduce signs of ridges. In certain instances where the fence might be put under a lot of tension when fitting, a second application of glue was ran down the post to further strengthen the bond. If you need to speed up the glue-setting process, use an accelerator spray.
When fully dry, the post and wire fence can be removed from the 'setting out' board, but leave the ends as long as possible to aid fixing on the layout.
This next bit is optional, cut every other one of the ground fixing lugs off the posts as it saves drilling loads of holes and then trying to get them all to line up. Mini clamps were fitted to each end using these strands to grip, and the fence assembly was then pulled to tension them. Weights, in this case spanners/grips, were placed on the clamps to stop them moving. Holes for the post lugs had already been drilled out by using the fence as a guide and were made larger than necessary to take up inconsistencies in the spacing of the post holes. Be mindful that none of the holes touch the fixing lugs as this will stop the fence being correctly pulled straight. A dry run is recommended before actual fixing occurs. When happy that the strands were pulled tight and the posts vertical, we flooded each post fixing hole with a liquid super glue and left it to set. The bottle of paint ensures the posts stay vertical.
Two metal pins were cut and wedged in place at each end of the fence to both look like braces and to keep the posts vertical.
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Fix the fencing in short lengths, rather than one long piece, as it’s easier to hold in place and tension. We also glued the first two or three posts in place prior to proceeding with the remainder. Ensure the posts are vertical; note the mole grip with a cocktail stick used to keep the first post upright, and strands tensioned level. As can be seen, anything and everything was pressed into use to line up the posts. Don’t be afraid to improvise.
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