Sunday, January 13, 2008


I always seem to be contriving. Right now I'm trying to come up with a way to build a mail catcher in N scale.

What the heck is a mail catcher, you ask? That's why I added the pictures. In what some folks refer to as the old days the trains didn't stop for every station. They kept on rolling but we all know the mail must go through. So the post office folks hung mail bags on what were called mail cranes and the arm was extended out of the Railway Post Office car and snagged on the fly. Of course they might also kick out a sack of mail for delivery in the town too.

Now on the Murphy Branch I can find NO indication that there were ANY mail cranes in any of the towns no I can find No indication that the mail catcher arm was ever used. BUT- I found pictures with the catcher arms on the cars. Sigh. Accuracy has a price.

So my car would have had an arm on each side.

Take a look at the pictures. That catcher arm is around four feet in length in real life. THat gets around 9 mm in my scale. And the diameter of the catcher arm was around 5/8 of an inch. You don't want to know!

But fools dread.

First I found scale drawings. With the net I found someone who had the 1931 US Post Office RPO specifications. Amazing what some folks have! And he'd scanned them into PDF form. And he sent them to me. Now I have no excuse not to build the darn thing. So I next went to a CAD package drew the drawings and then scaled the print output. Yes, I might be certified as crazy, soon.

I used my scaled down drawings to drill holes in a block and set pins in select locations. Now I might be able to bend bronze wire to the proper shapes. Next I'll have to build a jig to solder the pieces. I will NOT build a lathe to turn the wooden handle! Nope it will be bronze wire maybe made a little bigger with some solder and then painted to look like wood. I'm not THAT crazy.

I probably ought to build a few extras too. Darn things will get lost on the floor if they ever come off. Of course maybe if I bolted them on with some scale nuts and bolts... let's see how big is a 1/4 bolt in N scale?