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.