Somerset & Dorset Signal Finials in OO

As a little bonus this week Shapeways, my chosen 3D printing company, are offering free shipping worldwide for any order over $25.  The sale ends on the 25th September 2017 at 11:59 PM PDT.  You can find all my models through the Shop drop down menu above or through my Shapeways shop.

As promised last week I have another new project to share with you; finials for Signals on the Somerset & Dorset Railway.

A finial, sometimes known as a hip-knob, is a decorative element used to mark the top of something.  You will see them on everything from bed posts to buildings.  Traditionally railways used them on top of the signal posts.  The example below is a Midland Railway lower quadrant signal (photographed by NottsExMiner).

As well as looking architecturally pleasing the finial also protects the timber post by helping to keep the rain from pooling and soaking into the top.

The S&D railways had some very decorative finials on their railway.  The ones I’ve modeled were for the OO scale layout ‘Bournemouth West’.  Although this station was the terminus of the S&D, the actual line from Broadstone and Bournemouth was owned by the London and South Western Railway.  Therefore the signals on this part of the line are actually L&SW. The finials used here were in a rounded cruciform shape with a hollow section in the middle.

As with all my projects, everything starts with a computer 3D model.  The base of each finial has a round peg. The idea is a 1mm hole can be drilled into the flat top of the signal and the finial can be pushed in, making a secure fixing.

The signals in this area didn’t use timber posts, instead they used lightweight lattice girders and these are often modeled from brass kits.  Again, giving the signal post a flat top and drilling a 1mm hole for the finial is the best way to fit them, making the signal look something like the rendered image below.

The peg in the bottom also helps with the 3D printing of the finial as it allows several to easily be put onto a sprew.  Printed in Shapeways FUD material or FXD gives the best definition for these tiny parts.

Typically these needed to be cleaned before they could be used and to do this I let them soak in a sealed jar of Goo Gone for 24 hours, then rinsed them in warm water.  Bestine is another good product for cleaning 3D printed items in FUD or FXD however that is a little hard to get outside of the US.

Once cleaned the finials were ready to be painted and mounted onto their signals.  And they look like this.

All these signals were built by Roger Sunderland for ‘Bournemouth West’.  They are all fully functioning using under board motors powered by DCC.

The finials are available in packs of 10 and can be found here.

Next week I’ll have a 3D printed body shell to show you which has been printed using some of Shapeways’ new tools.

OO Gauge Fixed Link Coach Couplings – Part 3

Two weeks ago I shared with you the second part of my new designs for 3D printed OO Gauge fixed link couplings specifically for coaches; you can find the post here.  This week I’ll be showing you the final part and, more importantly, where you can get them.

The couplings are designed to give a close fit on straight track and open up on corners, using the NEM cam system, without coming uncoupled.  At the same time they are very easy to manually uncouple by simply lifting the coach off the track.

This saves a lot of time when packing away an exhibition layout as was proven this weekend when around 70 coaches were removed from the new layout ‘Bournemouth West’ at the Swindon Railway Festival.  As the trains rolled into the yard for the last time the coaches were simply lifted into their boxes.

The couplings are printed Shapeways’ Black Strong & Flexible material and come in 5 different types:

Type 1 gives 16mm between NEM sockets. (When two type 1’s are used).
Type 2 gives 17mm between NEM sockets. (When two type 2’s are used).
Type 3 gives 18mm between NEM sockets. (When two type 3’s are used).
Type 4 gives 20mm between NEM sockets. (When two type 4’s are used).
Type 5 gives 21.5mm between NEM sockets. (When two type 5’s are used).

And they are available in two pack sizes; 10 couplings and 40 couplings.

A sample pack is also available which has two of each type.

All the couplings are now available in my Shapeways Shop here.

Next week I’ll have another new product to share with you which was also tested on ‘Bournemouth West’ this weekend.

Model Railways Solutions’ New Shop

This week, and today in particular, is a special occasion for our friends Steve and Martin at Model Railway Solutions.  For those who’ve never come across them, MRS are manufacturers of custom-built model railways and base-boards.  They also offer a variety of services such as repairs, DCC fitting, high quality custom re-paints and weathering, layout wiring and computer control programming, to name a few.

To expand their already diverse services, today they have opened their own model railway shop.

The shop, which is the front piece to their workshops, has been renovated, fitted out, lit and opened in just four weeks.

They still have more stock to display as it all arrives from the manufacturers but already they have a great selection of stuff.  And, as a US N scaler I’m pleased to see ‘Kato corner’ in the shop with a selection of the fantastic Kato Unitrack on offer.

The spacious layout of the store includes a test track which, when finished, will have running facilities for all the main gauges running on DC, DCC and computer control.  Also a special feature is planned for the test track which Steve is keeping as a surprise.

All the major brands will be stocked for British trains in the main scales, as well as several brands of European and US rolling stock.

Woodland Scenics products will have their own display unit with much of their extensive range of scenic material, accents and details.

Digitrax and Colbolt are two of the major DCC brands they carry, with many others available.

MRS also have lots of their own products, such as their self adhesive cork underlay, tools, wires, plugs, switches, point motor mounts, throttle holders and control panels.

Throughout the shop you will find everything you need to build your railway empire.

And if they haven’t got what you need in stock, just ask and they can order it in.  The shop is located at Unit 1, 10-12 Alder Hills, Poole, Dorset, BH12 4AL.

For those of you who can’t pop in to the shop there will be a website with everything on which is due to go online soon.  But for now, they can be reached via telephone on 01202 798068 or via email at shop@modelrailwaysolutions.co.uk.

MRS’ baseboard website is www.modelrailwaysolutions.co.uk which will become the shop website when it goes live.

It’s always good news when a new model railway store opens, and we wish them all the best with their exciting venture.

OO Gauge Fixed Link Coach Couplings – Part 2

In last week’s post I shared with you my designs for some 3D printed OO Gauge fixed link couplings specifically for coaches; you can find the post here.  This week I’ll be showing you the actual couplings and some images of them in use.

The initial test prints were done in Shapeways White Strong & Flexible material.  I chose this because it’s the cheapest material they do.  I’ve also used the Strong & Flexible material, instead of my normally prefered Frosted Detail plastics, as these couplings don’t need any fine detail. As they are hidden they simply need to function.  In the image below you can see a set of the white couplings in a pair Bachmann Mark 1 coaches.  This particular set turned out to be too short as the corridor connections meet before the pegs could locate into their holes.

But the good news is I test printed several different sizes in order to see what worked and I was able to come up with a set of 5 which covered all bases.

Below is a set of 40 Type 2 or length 2 couplings.  These are the second shortest type.  This time I 3D printed them in the Black Strong & Flexible material which will also be used for the final couplings.

These couplings were originally developed for use on the beautiful new model of Bournemouth West.  So a good set of coaches to test the new couplings on is Hornby’s British Railways Somerset & Dorset Maunsell coaches, as they would have been common in this station.

In this stock photo below you can see the big gap between the coaches using the standard OO couplings.

 

However with my coupling fitted, the corridor connections are millimeters apart, as you can see in the images below.  This gives the impression of a joined connection.

 

And as these coaches are fitted with the NEM cam system, this causes the NEM socket to swing and move out on corners; the gap increases as the coaches travel around corners. This prevents the corridor connections and buffers from locking up and derailing the coaches.

The overall effect is very good.  Also they won’t come uncoupled but can simply be lifted off the layout when done.

These couplings also work well for the Bachmann Mk’1 coaches.

This older set wasn’t fitted with the cam system but my couplings still worked well around the corners, as the NEM socket swivels.

The Hornby Pullman coaches have their NEM couplings set much further back than the others I’ve tested so far and required a longer coupling.  The ones used below are still a bit too long but this has been corrected in my computer model.

Here are some videos of the test couplings in use with a push-pull service reversing around the corner and heading into Bournemouth West Station.

And again with a section of the Bournemouth Belle coming around the corner and heading into Bournemouth West Station.

And finally with the Pines Express; some of these coaches have Kadee couplings but mine have been used on the rest.

Just of interest, the layout Bournemouth West will be making its debut appearance at the Swindon Railway Festival, held at the Swindon Steam Museum on the 9th and 10th September 2017.

Next week I plan to share the couplings with you in their finished condition and also let you know where you can get them.

OO Gauge Fixed Link Coach Couplings – Part 1

At long last my freight couplings for British OO rolling stock with NEM sockets are now available, so it’s time to share with you my designs for coach couplings.  You can find the freight couplings here.

Early British coaches had similar coupling to the freight 3 link.  They each had a hook and a chain, but because passenger stock needs to be smooth, the chains had a screw section in the middle. This worked by having the locomotive push two coaches together so the buffers compressed, then the chain was hooked over the hook and the screw tightened up.  When the locomotive releases the pressure the buffers can never fully un-spring.  This means there’s never any slack which would cause the train to snatch and jerk, as that’s not ideal when you’re sitting down to lunch!  Below is an example of a locomotive coupled to a coach with a screw link coupling.

Later coach stock adopted the knuckle coupler, very similar to the standard system used in the US. The difference is the knuckle can rotate around the hook so both systems could be used.  The knuckle coupler would hang down allowing normal access to the hook.  When needed, the knuckle coupler was lifted and held in place by a pin.  In the picture below you can see this arrangement on a BR Mk 1 coach. (Picture by Chris McKenna from Wikipedia)

The pin also held the knuckle down when not in use to prevent it from swinging.  This has also been implemented on locomotives.  You can see it on the front of the BR Class 91 locomotive below. (Picture by Chris McKenna from Wikipedia).

Modeling this can done and, with newer models now having the NEM sockets, different couplings can easily be exchanged.  A plug-in Kadee knuckle coupler is available for the NEM socket and it’s a good way to connect coaches.  However as with the freight stock, if you have rakes of coaches which you want to stay permanently coupled, adding Kadee couplers comes with the risk of separation plus the expense of adding one to each end of every coach.  Bachmann make a coupling designed to be a fixed link between coaches which looks like vacuum pipes hanging down.  Again this is a good idea but what if you run trains at exhibitions or like to swap the trains on your layout?  Picking up 5 to 10 coaches all linked together is a bit tricky.

So how is 3D printing a coupler better than this?  Well, the nice thing about coach stock is they normally have a corridor connection so travelers can move from coach to coach; this hides the coupling.  Therefore the coupling doesn’t have to represent anything, it simply needs to work.

My coupling is just that, simple.

Each has a peg and hole at one end and the NEM fitting at the other.  The two couplers simply overlap.  The height of the peg ensures they won’t come uncoupled but when you want to remove the coach from the layout you simply pick it up.

As with the freight rolling stock different manufactures have placed their NEM sockets in different locations causing the gap between coaches to vary.  This gap will also need to be specific to your layout depending on the radius of your curves.  So to solve this I have made a few options in length.

And unlike the freight couplings there are only a few; five different types in fact.

They can be used in pairs with the same number or mixed together to give any required length.

Next week I’ll share more with you regarding these couplings and some images of them in use.

OO Gauge Fixed Link Couplings – Part 6

As promised in last week’s post I’ve been busy getting all the OO Gauge Fixed Link Couplings ready and uploaded onto Shapeways, and the Short series are now ready to buy.

The Short series will work for the majority of rolling stock and I’ve added a page which describes all the couplings and sample packs in detail, and that can be found here along with the links to buy each product.

The Medium and Long couplings will be available soon.

I’ve been asked if these couplings can be used for coaches as well.  The short answer is ‘yes’, but they are not very prototypical, as coaches normally have different couplers from freight stock.  But don’t panic as I also have a new and simple coach NEM coupler which is designed for exhibition and home layouts.  It will allow close coupling of coaches without the chance of uncoupling on the layout, but, and this is the good bit for exhibitions, when lifted from the layout the coaches separate straight away, making for a quick pack away after the show.  I’ll be sharing this with you, hopefully next week.