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.