Bridging the Gap Between Kits and Production Models

As you may have read on my blog before I often do commission work for companies allowing then to mass produce models using 3D printed parts.  And in this week’s post I have the latest release to share with you.

Three good examples of other projects which have been created this way are:

The Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) F22 flatcars & naval gun load.

The 4 vat open pickle car.

And the enclosed tank pickle car.

All three of these were drawn for the N Scale Architect who sells them as kits.  However, sometimes the projects are only sold as ready-to-run models and this new project is one of these.

My brief for the project was this photo of Pennsylvania Railroad gondola G26 #440375 taken around 1951. (Andrew J. Hart collection from “Pennsylvania Railroad Gondolas,” PRRT&HS).

The concept is to have a bridge girder load carried on or in a gondola car with the ends removed.  The overhang spans over flat cars, or idlers, at each end. I found it particularly interesting that the girder is not symmetrical;  I have seen this type of load modelled before in HO scale but never as an asymmetric girder.  This makes it unusual as the center of gravity will not be in the center of the car.

As well as making the girder I also had to work out how it was supported and strapped down in transit, taking into account the offset center of gravity.  And, as with all my projects, this work is all done in a 3D model.

The red parts are separate, allowing easy painting, and represent wooden blocks which brace the girder.  The black bars are just that, bars which clamp the girder between the blocks.

All five bottom wood sections will be fixed to the gondola car deck.  The two sets of vertical timbers prevent the girder from rolling over.  Two of the timbers clamps are positioned either side of the largest part of the girder, each one pulling towards the other, preventing the girder from sliding up and down the gondola.  The third clamp simply holds that end down.

And just to make sure it all fits I also modeled in the cars with just enough detail.

The next step was to order a test print to see how well it all worked, and I think you’ll agree from the pictures below that the actual girder looks good.

The supporting wood blocks are hard to see without any color, so the girder and the wood blocks took a trip to the paint shop and now they looks like this.

And here is a video of the train crossing the road, just as if you had stopped in your truck!

So where can you get one from?  These are on sale as a special run in limited numbers from the N Scale Enthusiast.  They have been painted and assembled by The N Scale Architect as a Union Pacific load from Kaiser Steel as shown below.

All three cars are made by Micro trains and include the shipping crates on the flat cars.

This was a great project to work on and really shows how 3D printed parts can help ‘bridge the gap’ between kits and production models.

 

When Schedules Go Off The Rails…

This week’s post will be a short one as I have lots of Ready-to-Run projects which need my attention so the drawing work, particularly the Union Pacific rotary snow plow, has taken a little bit of back burner while I get on top of things.  However I will have some more to share with you from the drawing side soon.

On a separate note, as some of you may already know there are new compliance rules for the use of personal data, or GDPR, coming into effect this May. I’m in the process of auditing my own process to ensure it meets the new rules, and will be updating the website and contact form accordingly, but in the meantime please keep an eye out in your inbox in case I send an email touching base with you.

I will leave you this week the information that my American N Scale group, from the Gosport MRC, and I will be at the Fordingbridge model railway exhibition this Saturday, the 14th April 2017, with a fair portion of our layout should you be in the area and want to stop by and say hello.

Improving Kato UniTrack HO Points for DCC Operation

Kato UniTrack is a very good product and allows reliable trackwork to be assembled quickly without the need to cut and solder track.  Most Kato turnouts, including N scale, have the ability to be switched between power routing and non-power routing, but the No.4 HO turnout, as pictured below, doesn’t. So in this week’s post I’ll show you how I modify Kato UniTrack No.4 turnouts for use with DCC.

But what does power routing mean?  Below is an extract from www.dccwiki.com showing how the turnout isolates different routes depending on how it’s set.

For DC operation, power routing is very useful as power is delivered only where you want the train to run.  The other route is isolated so any trains on that line won’t move.  However for DCC all the tracks want to be powered so the turnout ideally wants to be non-power routing.  As I said earlier most Kato turnouts can be switched between power routing and non-power routing but the HO No.4 can’t.

In the No.4 box you get the actual turnout and associated track parts.

The actual turnout has an all metal frog shown in green, electrically linked blades shown in yellow and switched rails shown in blue.  The stock rails are marked red and black; these have the incoming power.

Between the frog and the switched rails is a plastic insulator.  It’s these two rails which ideally need to be electrically connected permanently for DCC operation.  However the frog changes polarity depending on how the turnout is set so you simply can’t solder the switched rails to the frog.

On the underside of the turnout are five screws holding on the base plate.

Under the base plate you can see the electronic switch and the solenoid which changes the turnout.  In the image below the turnout is set for the straight route. The ‘T’ section in the center of the switch is connected directly to the frog and bridges power from the right side to the left.  This connects the frog and the relevant exit rail or switched rail back to the black stock rail.

In the image below the turnout is set to the diverging route and the ‘T’ section connects the switched rail and frog back to the red stock rail.

To make the turnout non-power routing is a fairly simple fix.  I use two short sections of wire, as shown below.

These two wires are soldered to the copper plates as shown below.  The upper wire links the red stock rail to the diverging switched rail.  The lower wire links the black stock rail to the straight switched rail.

And that’s it.  This modification also makes the turnout even more reliable as the power is transferred through the new wires rather than the contacts in the ‘T’ sections.

With the base plate replaced the turnout is ready for use on a DCC layout.  It can still be used on a DC layout, the turnout simply won’t act as a power router. Also, if you’re not into soldering, this modification can be done away from your layout at a model club or possibly a local hobby store as the Kato turnouts will remain self-contained.

Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) F22 Flatcars & Naval Gun Load

Several weeks ago I posted about the N Scale Architect’s new kit for a set of Pennsylvania Railroad F22 Flatcars & Naval Gun Load.  This kit, which was still in development, was announced at the Amherst Railway Society Show 2018, in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

And I spoke about it again two weeks ago as the sample came to the Bournemouth N Trak convention here in England.

Well, this kit is now complete and it looks amazing.

Here is what the N Scale Architect has to say about them:

“The Naval Gun Load kit is based on the Mark VII Naval Gun designed in 1939 and first used aboard Iowa-Class Battleships during World War II.  Measuring 16” in diameter, these guns could fire a 2,400 lbs projectile up to 24 miles. Each of these 68 foot guns weigh nearly 270,000 lbs and were shipped (breech first) across two(2) heavy weight flatcars with a third flatcar used as an idler. Many of these guns were manufactured by Bethlehem Steel in Pennsylvania and transported via the Pennsylvania Railroad across three(3) F22 flatcars. This kit comes complete with Frosted Ultra Detail (FUD) 3-D printed parts, full-color illustrated instructions, sixteen(16) inches of phosphor bronze rod and a ‘DO NOT HUMP’ placard sheet.

The Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) F22 Flatcar 3-Pak Kit builds three(3) of these wood-decked 30 foot heavy-duty flatcars which had a loading capacity of nearly 200,000 lbs when upgraded to the Crown 2F-F1 cast steel trucks modeled in this kit. These flatcars were originally designed in 1913 and, at their peak in the 1940’s, there were over 100 in use on the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) roster with some of them surviving into the 1960’s. This kit comes complete with Frosted Ultra Detail (FUD) 3-D printed parts, full-color illustrated instructions, photo-etched stirrups & cut-levers, brass car weights, Micro-Trains brake wheels & body-mounted couplers, Fox Valley metal wheel sets and a PRR F22 decal sheet that features nine(9) verified road numbers, pertinent car data and prototypical reporting marks.

The ‘Naval Gun Load’ kit (#20100) retails for $39.95, the ‘Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) F22 Flatcar 3-Pak’ kit (#20101) retails for $69.95 and the ‘Box Set’ (#20102) retails for $89.95… a $20.00 Savings !!!  These kits are available exclusively at the THENARCH.COM.  Additional 3-D printing material options are available at our Shapeways Shop: https://www.shapeways.com/shops/the-n-scale-architect.”

This was a project I really enjoyed working on as it’s such unique load. It was great to get everything correct from the trucks to the length of the gun barrel. The lack of restrictions, which are often caused by donor chassis and other parts that I have to use when designing a locomotive, are what made this easier to do. Only the wheels and couplings are bought in items.

As The N Scale Architect says the kits are available direct from their website or via their Shapeways shop if you want to order them in Frosted Extreme Detail (FXD).  If you do purchase a kit from Shapeways don’t forget to contact the N Scale Architect via their website (THENARCH.COM) or e-mail (thenarch.com@gmail.com) to obtain the additional pieces and instructions needed to finish the kit.  Be sure to include your name, mailing address and Shapeways order number in this message. These items will be mailed to you at no additional charge (including international orders). Please allow 7 to 10 business days for delivery (international orders may take longer).

For me it’s back to the virtual drawing board and on with my current projects, and I hope next week to have some more progress to share with you.

Union Pacific Rotary Snow Plow 900081 – Part 3

In this week’s post, as promised last week, I’m going to share with you a bit more progress on with my UP 900081 Rotary Snow Plow kit.

A major part of a rotary snow plow is the fan at the front and for my kit not only do I want it to be functional but I also want it to look right.  And the UP 900081 has a very complex fan.

The red sections look smaller than the silver parts, however, they are the same.  Each blade has wings which fold out to alter the size of the blade.  All the red ones are folded in.  In the close up photograph below you can see the wings on blade number 6.  Blades 5 and 7 have had the wings removed.  You can also see the circular chute the snow is forced down behind the wings. The chute slopes away from the center of the fan towards the back of the fan chamber.  As the blades cut the snow it’s forced down these chutes and as each chute reaches the top of the rotation the snow is blasted out through the hole on the top of the fan chamber.

It would be very easy to simply make a flat disc and add details to the front but I wanted to replicate this detail as closely as I could, particularly the blades and the circular chutes.  3D printing gives me the ability to make this complex shape and maintain strength at a 1:160 scale.  In brass at this scale it would be a very difficult task.

The fan will be printed in one piece with a shaft at the back.  This will pass through the shell bulk head and be connected to a gear which will be driven by the motor.  The fan will also be a separate part from the main body to allow easy painting of both the fan and the fan chamber.  In the render below you can see the fan located in half of the body shell.

The exit chute is directly above the fan.  Above the exit chute will be the directional cover which will force the snow either to the left or right.  This cover will probably be made from etched brass as a 3D printed part will appear to be too thick. The actual wings on the fan haven’t been drawn yet either but I do intend to add this detail.

Because the fan is modeled fairly closely to the original you will be able to see the end of the circular chutes through the exit chute.  However in order to retain strength the circular chutes don’t go back as far as the original.  As a compromise I have added a cut out detail in the side of the fan which you will see as it rotates.

My next task, once the fan and exit chute is finished, will be to work out a reduction gear system so the motor speed is reduced in order to spin the fan at a slower speed.  And in order to do that I need to complete the power chassis and that’s something I’ll share with you in a later post.

Follow-up on New Releases

Again this week’s post will be a short one.  Although I was at the Bournemouth N Trak Convention over the weekend I have a sprained wrist, having clumsily falling over in the snow, so things are moving a bit slower than intended.  But I’m hopeful that I’ll make a full recovery soon and then I’ll be back to modeling and 3D printing as normal.

Due to my wrist I didn’t take any photos this year at the N Trak Convention but there was one item that I wanted to share with you.  A few weeks ago I showed you the N Scale Architect’s new kit for a Pennsylvania Railroad’s F22 flat car set and Navel gun load.

Well, it made an appearance and did several laps of the Black Diamond’s layout behind a UP S2.

I will have more on this kit soon and will share a link once it is available on the N Scale Architects website. (These photos were kindly shared by the N Scale Architect.)

Although I won’t be there myself if you are in the Abingdon area of the UK this coming weekend you can see my club’s US N Scale layout, Solent Summit, at the Abingdon Model Railway exhibition.  A link to the exhibition can be found here.

Next week I’m planning on showing you some progress on the UP Rotary Snow Plow project.