A Few Upcoming Exhibitions and Events

This week’s post will be brief as I’m in the middle of the preparations for the Poole and District Model Railroad Society annual exhibition, which will be held on the 5th November 2017. This exhibition will be at the Poole Grammar School, Gravel Hill, Poole, Dorset BH17 9JU.  More information can be found here.

Also coming up on the radar is the NMRA (British Region) annual convention which I normally try and give a rundown of the fun stuff going on there, but sadly this year I’m not able to attend.  However, the convention is running from 27th to 29th October at the Derby Conference Center, London Road, Alvaston, Derby DE24 8UX and opens to the public on the 28th if you want to go and have look.

Also that weekend my N Scale group from the Gosport Model Railroad Club will be taking our layout, ‘Solent Summit’, to the Newbury Model Railway Exhibition hosted by the Newbury Model Railway Club.  The exhibition is at St Bartholomew’s School, Andover Rd, Newbury RG14 6JP and you can find out more here.

I do hope that if you’re able to make it, I’ll see you at the exhibition in November.

Lubricating, Oiling and Greasing Locomotives

As well as 3D printing model trains and building model railroads, I do a lot of repairs to locomotives for fellow modelers. These range from simple wire repairs up to total motor and chassis rebuilds or replacements.  One of the issues I come across is over lubricated locomotives, so in this post I will tell you a bit about why this is a problem, and how it should be done.

Some people have said that liberally lubricating moving parts will help preserve them if they are going to be stored for a long time and I can assure you this is not the case.

Over lubricating a locomotive can have the following progressively worsening effects:

It can cause the locomotive to lay a film of lubricant on the rails making the locomotive and others loose traction.

It can make it slippery to handle and possible damage the paint work.

It can make it easy for the mechanism to retain dirt and fluff, which will start to cause binding and over strain the motor.

Oil inside the motor, or on the commutator, can disrupted the flow of electricity to the motor making it run slow or roughly. (What is a commutator? see the image below).

Oil inside the motor on the armature can connect parts of the motor to the power or chassis causing arcing and bad running though intermittent shorting. (What is the armature? see the image below).

And the biggest problem, oil coating the commutator and brushes which will cause a dead short.  This will in turn cause the motor to overheat and burn out; this is when the small gaps between the commutator plates blend into one, so the electricity just passes straight through.

I often get locomotives to repair where there has been smoke coming from the motor or a glow and buzz, rather than turning.  This is normally a sign that the motor has become jammed or the commutator is shorting.  The glow is lubricant and carbon, from the brushes, stuck between the commutator plates acting like a bar fire element.  The smoke is usually the excess oil burning off from the heat being produced. If the commutator or brushes are heavily lubricated electricity simply doesn’t go where its supposed to.  Sometimes if a motor gets to this stage it can get deformed from the heat and will never run as well as is should again.

One other issue I sometimes see is if the wrong type of lubricant has been used.  Some are not plastic friendly and can cause gears and parts to break down.

So what should you do?  The simple answer is ‘just a few drops will do, don’t over lube’ and this is the phrase on the package of the main lubricant I use from LaBelle.

Being an N Scaler I tend to use lubricants from LaBelle as they have a set designed specifically for N scale which are plastic friendly and very fine, but the principles are the same for all scales.

The three products in the kit are oil, gear lubricant and grease.

LaBelle 108 is a very fine oil with a high viscosity.  It is used, sparingly, for moving metal components like valve gear and side rods on steam engines.  It can also be very sparingly used on motor bearings and brush slides etc. but try not to get any on the actual brushes or commutator. (LaBelle 107 is designed more of larger scales such as HO and O).

LaBelle 102 is heavier than the oil but not as thick as grease and is designed for exposed gear boxes.  It contains PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) which has been called “the slickest substance known to man” and is the parent chemical of “Teflon” which is a registered trademark of Dupont Chemicals.  It’s great for metal gears and axles.

LaBelle 106 is a grease, which also contains PTFE.  Their slogan is ‘just a dab’, and they are right.  It’s designed for plastic gear boxes and worm gears.  A dab on one of the gears will work its way through the box and onto any worm gear.  Again, a dab is all you need, over lubricating with grease could start to bind the gear box.

There are lots of companies making similar products, and any good model shop should be able to guide you to the right one for your model.

But which ever you decide to use, remember just a drop is enough.

3D Print Orientation Tool

My apologies for missing a post last week; I was travelling around Northern France on my motorbike, and I had a spectacular time, so hopefully you’ll understand!

Getting back to trains; this week I have some images to share with you from a 3D print which just arrived from Shapeways.  This model has been printed many times in the materials Frosted Ultra Detail and Frosted Extreme Detail, but what makes this different from the previous prints is using one of Shapeways’ new tools: I was able to specify the orientation of the print.

Why is orientation important?  With FUD and FXD 3D printing, the print material sits on a support material, which is a form of corn oil.  This support material, despite being very fine, leaves a slight imprint on the surfaces it touches, whereas the top of the 3D print is normally smooth.  Therefore we ideally want the surface with all the detail to be at the top.  However, the support material is fairly expensive, not as much as the print material, but lots of it can soon add up.  So Shapeways have previously positioned 3D printed models to minimize the amount of support material needed.  This means models like locomotive shells, which are basically bath tub shape, would get printed upside down to avoid the whole inside being filled with support material.  The models, as many of you know, still come out very well, as you can see in the images below.  This particular DT6-6-2000 shell was printed upside down in FUD.

The detail’s good but there’s still a level of fuzziness on the surface.

The inside of the shell is nice and smooth.

As you may have read in some of my previous posts Shapeways have reduced the cost of the FUD and FXD materials almost by half and added a charge for the support material used; so I can keep the orientation as it was and have a slightly cheaper model. But here’s where the choice of orientation is really good news. Now that they’ve added a tool which allows me to specify which way I want the model to be printed  I can guarantee all the crisp detail is on top and pay a bit more for the extra support material.

And that’s what I’ve done.

This DT6-6-2000 shell has also been 3D printed in the FUD material, which is not such a fine material as the FXD, but I think this is the best DT6-6-2000 shell I’ve received so far.  All the details are crisp and the top surfaces are smooth.  The images above were taken the day the shell was delivered before cleaning it.

The shell still had a waxy feel, which is normal as the corn oil leaves a residue.  To remove this I always soak my models in Goo Gone for 24 hours.  Many others use Bestine in the US but I’ve found Goo Gone works well for me.  The images below show the model after it’s come out of the Goo Gone, been rinsed under the tap and left to dry overnight.  Before I put any paint on it will need a bit longer to dry and I’ll give it a dust-off with a soft brush in a Dremel tool.  This is because any remaining corn oil residue will turn to powder as the model dries.  But as you can see the detail is very crisp.

And all the main surfaces are smooth.

So from now on I’ll be setting all my new models with the ‘Orientation Tool’ so the best detail gets the best print.  I’ll also be working through my existing models and making the change, but if the price difference is large I may offer the model with and without this option.  If you are about to order a 3D print and would like to know if the tool has been used, or what the price would be if it has not, please send me an email or get in touch via the contact page.

The quality of the 3D printed models we’ve been ordering from Shapeways has always been good, but this new tool takes the standard up and as modelers, we all like to get the best out of our hobby, so I hope you’re as excited as I am about this great new development!

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.