Ten Windows Down, Ten to Go

IMGP1431RawConvTen windows trimmed out of the brick, ten to go.

This is a positive self re-enforcement post if ever there was one.  I am half way through trimming the brick sheet for the windows on my model of 587 Yonge Street (here).  This is a very slow and delicate process.  I have already determined that I wasn’t generous enough with the depth on the brick detail above the upper windows, and will be re-printing the detail as a separate piece a bit bigger to place over the current versions, but I still need to be very careful trimming the brick sheet to size around the window frames to not create big nasty gaps between the brickwork and the 3D printed window frames.

I am a visual modeller, I figure out my problems by putting things together temporarily and look at how the fit and where I am having issues.  In this case, last night I needed to see how the walls actually were starting to shape up, so I managed to get the two walls with windows on the 3D printed ground floor front, and stand them all up on the street base as you can see in the lead image to give me motivation to keep going with the slow and steady opening of windows on the south wall.  I am really pleased with the look, and now I’m ready to continue on with the slow and steady progress of carefully opening up a window or two a night when I have some time to put to this project.

29515480414_3868e052bb_oThe model is definitely starting to resemble the now demolished building at 587 Yonge St.

Too Big for Shapeways FUD Printer

I’ve 3D printed a fair number of things now with Shapeways, and while I’m still a long way from printing Mystery Rail Vehicle #3, I discovered one complicating factor on Friday shortly after my post on it.  85′ and longer passenger cars in HO Scale are too long for the FUD Printer Shapeways uses.  The underframe design draft that is in the linked post above, came out at 283.9mm in length.  The Carbody rough model came out at 289mm.  The maximum dimension for the FUD printer is 284mm.

July29 Shapeways3.jpgUh-Oh, a red part in a green box means the part is “too large” for Shapeways to print.

Yes, I know what you are thinking, think in 3 dimensions and there are a couple of ways you could get it to re-orient and print it.  It would print at an angle inside the box, and you are correct, it would, but that could have disastrous results for the print quality if it was angled from the print base rather than across it, or the cost based on how Shapeways prices the material if i added pieces to force it to print at 45 degrees corner to corner off the deck.  Fortunately, there may be a get out for me if i can design the car with separate ends from the carbody.  If the ends of the car were a separate piece, the car would then be short enough.  It would also give the possibility of providing greater flexibility for some changes to the ends of the car that happened over time.  Things to consider on a Saturday evening while organizing measurements taken today to help the project along.

Let there be Light!

For those of us who don’t have layouts to work on or operate, our workbench is our most important space in the hobby in all liklihood.  I know mine is, most of my hobby time is spent at the desk in our office/spare room working on projects.  I’ve been horribly neglecting mine for some time, because frankly, I can be cheap when it comes to spending money on things.  I’ve been using a bodged together combination of little 15w bulb desk lamps and an LED desk light from IKEA for ten years since I started getting active modelling in my previous appartment.  Today, I finally cracked and went light shopping.  I don’t think the solution Ifound is perfect, but it strikes a balance between cost and results that at least improves on what I had before.  An LED strip light from Home Depot, designed to mount on the underside of kitchen cabinets to light your contertop was the solution.  Its a 24″ long bar with a strip of LED’s inside.  Even in daylight, the second I plugged it in and looked at how much light it would cast from where I could mount it told me it was a winner.

IMGP1425RawConv.jpgNot the best shot ever, but it makes the point about how much more light i have now than before with the new 24″ LED light strip installed.  Conveniently, the old computer desk i use for a workbench, the underside of the hutch is 19″ above the desk surface, the Kitchen Counter LED recommended a height of 19.5″ for maximum spread/efficency.

In the end, a simple project, but one which I think will drastically improve my working in the coming months, as there were more occurances than less of late where I was finding sufficent light for what i was doing wanting.  I’d been looking at Ottlites, but they still cost a lot more than this, and a side goal was to free up some desk space by not having a lamp sitting next to my soldering iron any longer.  I may look at one of the swing arm Ottlites that also has a magnifier in it to add to the desk down the road, but for now, a successful Saturday improving my workbench!

The Joys of a New Project – Learning from Past Projects Mistakes

I’ve started on the 3D modelling work for a new project.  I’d mentioned it a couple of weeks ago in my mid year review, but there is nothing so satisfying as coming into possession of actual drawings of what you are modelling to create some motivation to get started on a project.  I was lucky enough to get some drawings for the “Mystery Rail Vehicle #3” project, which as I’d mentioned is a passenger car.  I have now designed two fully 3D printed railway vehicles, a heavy load flatcar, and a wooden passenger coach.  As I’ve documented on posts about these models, I have run into issues with the structural rigidity of Shapeways Frosted Ultra Detail Resin, my preferred material for long vehicles in HO Scale.  So, in starting my newest model, I’m literally starting from the frame up and designing a frame for the car that takes what I learned from the previous projects, and combines it into one. This “new” frame design for me will also be modified if successful to create frames for C-1 and C-2 to go with the CNR D-1 so that I can offer them for sale to others who may be interested in modelling those cars.

July29 Shapeways2July29 ShapewaysThe images above show the initial work on the frame for my next passenger car project. You can see the channels down the length of the underbody for brass bars.  These will both give the car more structural rigidity, but also add weight.

Using the lessons from the TTX heavy load car model for the Dominion of Canada shipment, I’m starting this underframe design with channels for brass bars.  One long flay bar will run down the spine of the car to give it overall rigidity.  I’ve added provisions for square bars to run down the sides of the car, as you can see, I am still working on adjusting the magnetic mounting holders to fasten the frame to the body of the car.  I would like to adjust the magnets so the bars down the side of the frame run the whole length between at least the end magnets, so I need to inset the middle frame magnets.

Unlike some of my friends who actually work professionally in the model railroad industry for manufacturers, I don’t have the benefit of years of experience designing models for production to work.  But I am building experience from my own design mistakes on previous projects.  Even in the time I’ve taken to type this I see a couple of things I will adjust to hopefully make the frame work even better.  So with that, back to the 3D modelling software for me!

Tuesday Train #65 “Attention 2 Trains”

IMG_4064“Attention 2 Trains” Note the important message, two trains could be here! Always be safe around railway lines. There are lots of safe locations to take photos from, and just because one train has moved off a crossing, if the lights are still on, there could be another coming you can’t see!

Two Sides of the Same Crossing.  The Goderich and Exeter Railway switches in downtown Kitchener, blocking St. Leger Street with the head end power as cars are uncoupled and dropped in the sidings at the station for the local train to shunt.   This crew was working hard to clear the main line as a VIA Rail passenger train was due to arrive in less than 15 minutes.  I had to leave to get to an appointment before the VIA arrived unfortunately and couldn’t catch the trains together.

IMG_4074The other side of the crossing after I had circled around where the streets were blocked.  A bonus shot of all three units in the train is below.  And yes railfans, that is an Ex-Southern Pacific SD45T-2 “tunnel motor” #3054 (ex-9392) in the middle of the consist.


Model Railroading in 1:1 Scale…aka Volunteering at the Toronto Railway Museum

I know what you’re thinking, is it really modelling if you are doing it in full scale?  Maybe not, but this post is a bit of a push for many like me who spent a long time going to museums and preserved railroads, and never doing anything to help create those places for others to go and enjoy.  You don’t need any railroad skills (or any skills really), there are opportunities for all sorts, even model makers!!!  You don’t even need to commit a lot of time to be really helpful to making something happen either, just a few hours when you have them spare can make the difference between a small museum staying open or closing.

P1050595.jpgMe working the TRHA/TRM Booth at the Barrie-Allandale Train Show, a chance to meet the public and introduce them to the museum.  No skills other than being personable required!!  An example of the range of tasks that a volunteer can be a part of.

I had never been a part of any preservation group or museum prior to me joining the Toronto Railway Historical Association in 2009.  The TRHA is the volunteer group that has constructed and operates the Toronto Railway Museum in the former Canadian Pacific Railway John Street Roundhouse in Roundhouse Park, Downtown Toronto.  I had visited the roundhouse at Doors Open, and seen the TRHA at train shows, and truthfully didn’t pay them much attention until June 2009 when I saw that they were having Canadian National 6213 moved from its long time home at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds to Roundhouse Park.  After this, I took a look at what they were doing, and said hey, these folks are right in my backyard and actually getting things done, I should get up of my rear end and do something to be helpful!  I had alsways wanted to be a part of a museum/restoration group.  I was always very jealous of my friends in the United Kingdom who have a wealth of preserved railways and museums for people to pick and choose from.  Here, there are several good museums and groups around the GTA, but most for me mean hour long drives each way to get there, which limited my motivation to be active.

3613951306_3a56bffb4e_oCN 6213 loaded up at the CNE Grounds, and starting the overnight move to her new home at the Toronto Railway Museum, just under the CN Tower in the distance.

When I started volunteering at the roundhouse with the TRHA, I met some fantastic people who were volunteers, who I am now friends with and see both at and away from the museum.  When I started, my first tasks included scraping rust off two big air tanks and painting them aluminum, and getting right at it in the cab of 6213 and repairing the wiring that had been cut when the locomotive was moved from the CNE.  Trust me, no skills were required to scrape off the rust with a metal wire brush or slap on aluminum paint on the tanks.  It was must definitely grunt work!!  When I started, the museum was in the “Construction Phase”, restoring buildings, preparing our three stalls, and building the 7.5” Gauge Miniature Railway in the park.  It wasn’t open to the public, and the historic railway vehicles in the collection were all tarped over for their protection.

A picture from my first weekend at the TRM, cleaning and painting the air reservoir tanks from the Machine Shop.  Me working in the cab of CNR 6213 to repair the wiring, and a Goal Achieved, making the first runs on the complete loop of the Miniature Railway on New Years Eve 2009.

After the museum opened in May 2010, I did some work operating the miniature railway, but focused on getting involved in restoring historic vehicles, as that was where most of my fellow volunteers attention went after the big push for construction.  Our first project was a four year long restoration of Toronto Hamilton & Buffalo Railway caboose No.70.  I also worked regularly on restoring the interior of the cab of Canadian National Railway F7A 9159 (only the cab remains of this locomotive). I am neither an expert woodworker or metal worker, or any other kind of handyman, but I can work with all these materials under supervision, and take direction to be helpful to those who have the serious skills.  I can definitely say that the skilled people who make up the regular Thursday/Saturday volunteer restoration team at the museum are friendly and willing to help new volunteers learn how to safely use the tools and learn the skills to help with restoration of historic vehicles if that is your interest.  Similarly, if your interest is in dealing with people and operating the miniature railway, there are opportunities for that as well.  It all starts with coming out and volunteering to help however you can, and building trust to get given the opportunities to do the things you want to do!!

Me working on the Cab of CN 9159 on the left, and drilling a part for something (I have no recollection of what I was working on) on the right.

As time went on, I found I was having less time to get down regularly, and work on restoration, but the museum had continued to grow, and following a production of The Railway Children play in the park in 2013, the museum was able to convert space that had been rented by the show into our initial display of historic artifacts.  This space which takes up about half of Stall 17 and a third of Stall 16 is our initial museum, until a future project to fund raise and build a permanent building is launched.  After several years, the initial displays in the Stalls were getting a bit tired, and left opportunities to improve our visitor experience by working on new displays.  As I was having less time to go get dirty on restoration/maintenance, and the Museum Manager and executive knew I had interests in display, I wound up getting involved in the ongoing process to create new displays and update older ones.  This worked as it also allowed me to leverage skills I have from my day job in designing displays and graphic materials for the museum space.

Partially installed exhibit on The Canadian on the left, and updated board on the CPR 3100 Northern Locomotives on the right.  Both new/updated exhibits now on display in the Toronto Railway Museum.

While I know not everyone has the desire to go out and volunteer, if you have even a tiny bit of interest, go out and meet your local museum or historical society.  If they are anything like any museum or group I’ve ever met, they always need willing and motivated people, and any organization worth being a part of will work with you to find out what you are interested/able to do, and help to get you involved in that part of their operations if they can.  I can speak from experience that you will meet plenty of good people in doing so.  The past 8 plus years have been very rewarding (though not without their challenges as with anything else in life), and I am definitely proud of  whatever small contribution I have made to preserving and protecting Toronto’s railway heritage for future generations.