Etched Brass Coach Door Hinges…Not for Me thanks

On the weekend I got out a project I started earlier this year, and sent back to the pile as other projects passed it by in my motivation to work on list.  Now that I’m back at it, I’m up against one of the reasons I set the kit aside, figuring out the etched brass door hinges for the car.  There are 18 of these to install (3 per door, 3 doors per side of the car).  It’s a lot, and they are, to be kind, tiny.

IMGP2602RawConvThe door hinges are the oblong parts with the raised bulb in the centre.

The kits instructions, are to be fair, probably sensible to someone whose built etched brass coaches before, but with no diagram explaining how to do what they say, and no previous experience, they are proving to be beyond me.  The instructions state “Using the new easy position hinge etch, insert all three hinges into the side from the outside face so that the hinges are just proud of the inside face, solder.  Snip off unused portion of etch and dress back to correct length with a file or disk in a mini drill.”  Seems to be English, might as well be Russian for all the sence I’ve made of it in months of looking at it, and now an evening of trying to do it.  I haven’t even managed to be 100% sure of whether the bulb is supposed to go inwards into the fully etched through opening or not.

IMGP2604RawConvThat little etch is supposed to go into the three oblong holes on the side of each door.

It’s pretty clear to me that I am not going to make sense of this, and any effort I’ve made to install the hinge has resulted in my dropping the tiny part, or feeling like I’m going to bend/warp the etched car side and do damage I’m not capable of undoing.  I’m not above admitting defeat on something, and moving on to Plan B.  In this case, Plan B is to use a material I know and create something that looks like I think the hinge is supposed to look like based on a Bachmann Mk1 coach in my collection.  I am going to use styrene or brass rod to create the appearance of their being hinges on the doors.  I quickly made up some hinge pieces with 0.025″ evergreen styrene rod to see how it looked, and to my eye, it will be passable when painted and detailed, other than being a bit too big.  I need some 0.020″ styrene or brass rod, something I am out of at the moment to make my hinges just a bit smaller looking, so I won’t be finishing this until the weekend and my next shopping trip to a hobby shop, but at least I have a path forward that I know I can achieve and be happy with the outcome of.

Door hinges on a ready to run Bachmann M1 on the left, and my first attempt at styrene replacements on the right.  The 0.025″ styrene is too big, i think 0.020″ will do better.  You can see how tiny the etched hing is to the right of the brass car side.

And yes, in case you were wondering, it was shooting door hinges across the floor that prompted my earlier post this evening about using the Workbench Apron I have to prevent me crawling around beneath my workbench.

Making Sense of a Mk1 Coach Underbody

While I wait on my seemingly never shipping order from Shapeways, which has both parts for new projects and my current active project building a model of 587 Yonge Street, I have pulled another project out that I’d worked on earlier this year, and set aside for a variety of reasons so I have something to work on.  I could have started one of the several kits in the queue, but decided to try to advance something I’ve started while I wait on parts arriving.

I pulled my Southern Pride Models kit of a British Railways Mk1 First Class coach back out.  I had set it aside as it wasn’t a project I was in a rush on, and other projects I was motivated on took priority for a few months.  When I had set the car aside, there were two paths for next steps, the injected plastic underframe, or the brass car sides.  When I pulled it back out, I decided the plastic underframe details would be the easier path to spend my Sunday afternoon on and make some progress.  Once I got started, maybe the brass and soldering/epoxy would have been easier…

The kit instructions are not the clearest in terms of how the truss structure that is the largest part of the detail, and then the various underbody mechanical bits go on, and this is on a car that has almost no underbody piping or detail in the kit when compared to the North American passenger car models I am used to building.  Fortunately, I had another ready-to-run Mk1 coach available to compare with, which, typical of British models also has almost no underbody detail, but has just enough to help me get everything into generally the right places on the kit.

IMGP2595RawConvUsing a Bachmann Mk1 Coach (rear) as a guide for constructing the underbody details on a Southern Pride Models Mk1 coach kit.  Not a lot of detail on either compared to North American models.

So, with the underbody detail such as it is done, I moved on to working to get the cars ride height to be roughly the same as the RTR coach it will run with.  This didn’t turn out to be straight forward either.  The kit uses a different mounting system for the trucks, but uses RTR Bachmann trucks.  This means having to drill out the mounting opening of the Bachmann truck, and fit an insert into it.  While doing this, it becomes quickly apparent that there is a reason the instructions say you have to remove some of the detail from the top of the trucks, they bind constantly when the car is set at the right ride hight.  I haven’t trimmed anything yet, as I want to take out some track and test to see how bad it binds on rails instead of my workbench, then I’ll trim off the detail if it remains an issue.  Its much easier to leave detail on and trim it off later, than find out I’ve missed an obvious fix for the height that doesn’t need me to cut away cast on detail.

A look at my progress at the end of the day.  All the underbody detail is fitted, and the trucks are test fitted for adjusting the ride height of the car.  Brings me perilously close to having to tackle the brass car sides and fiddly detail bits (door hinges and handles)

Again the rather thin instructions provided in the kit don’t make the next steps on how to assemble the brass car sides, or more specifically, how to install things like the door hinges and other separately etched details are going to slow this down, on top of my lack of experience soldering brass parts together.  I suspect I will wind up installing things like the hinges with epoxy or CA glue, and hoping that along with the coat of primer once installed will hold everything together.  Time will tell!!

IMGP2600RawConv.jpgThe brass etched car sides out for adding details and painting.  18 Door Hinges, 6 handles, 6 grab irons and 2 toilet vents to go.

Thinking outside the box in 3 Dimensions to get a 3D Print to Print

So, my current waiting game with Shapeways and my efforts to make them print things the way I want on their print bed so that it fits appears to be working.  I spoke about this a couple of weeks ago here where I looked at the issue of a standard 80’+ long modern passenger coach being too long for their printer in HO scale.

Traditionally, 3D designers have had to resort to adding sprues to models to force Shapeways to orient their model on the printer the way they want to get it within the size limits of the machine, or to attempt to control which surfaces have the best finish.  Shapeways changed their pricing on FUD earlier this year to more clearly identify what you are being charged for.  One of the changes is a clear separate charge for print material, support material, and machine space.  The result of these, is that adding sprues or more material to force an orientation would potentially drastically increase the price of the part to force (and the part isn’t cheap to begin with at around $100USD without any markup for me if I want to sell it down the road).   If I was going to get the car to print, I was either going to have to split it into multiple parts (with the alignment and appearance problems that can bring), or find another way to get it to print.

I don’t know how others work in their design drawings, but I work using the X and Y axis as my length and width for a car.  The X axis is the “front” if you look at an elevation, and Y as the depth.  The Z axis is the height of whatever I am drawing.  In this case, for a passenger car, the X is is the long side of the car (i.e. where windows etc are.  I set my base point on the X with one end of the car at zero and measure out from there.  For the Y depth, I do a 50/50 split, the zero Y axis is the centreline of the car, over the centre of the tracks.  This lets me mirror the sides of the car once one side is done.  I draw with half the width is in positive Y, and the half in negative Y.  This is important as being a bit rigid helps me visualize what I am drawing, and makes measurements easy as you are working along with the linear axis in the software from zero.

So, back to the issue at hand of parts being too big for Shapeways.  The rendering below shows two rectangles, one in grey is the Shapeways FUD printer maximum print bed X and Y (my models have no issue with being too tall, just too long).  Designing as I describe above, when I scale the car down from 1:1 to 1:87, it is too long and hangs off the end of the printer bed.

ShapewaysAnalysis1Passenger car too long when scaled down to be printed by Shapeways, or is it?

So, how to overcome this?  Shapeways system won’t try to re-orient a part in anything less than a 90 degree increment (i.e. they won’t place it at an angle across the print bed).  In thinking about it, I wondered if while they won’t orient a part at an angle, if I did so in the .STL file that gets uploaded for them to print from, if that would work.  When you upload a model, their system runs a bunch of automated checks looking for obvious failures that would prevent printing, and the size so it can calculate a price. Once I was done the model, It was scaled down to HO, and then I took it and rotated the part until it just fit inside the length of the printer as shown below.

ShapewaysAnalysis2Look at me being cheeky (and a little clever), I turned the part inside my 3D software to a jaunty angle so Shapeways system considers it to be within the maximum print size for FUD.

Doing this, allowed the part to pass the automated checks, the most critical of which is the “Bounding Box”, or the automated systems analysis of whether the part would fit within the maximum size the printer can produce.  Having a positive outcome on this, I went ahead and placed the order.  As of when I am writing this post, the body has successfully printed!! I have no idea what turning the part like I have will do to the print quality, or anything else.  For all I know, the turn will create exaggerated stepping on the model instead of it being oriented lengthwise along the bed, but, it has printed, and I can’t learn if I don’t try.  It’s worth one shot to me to see if it works, given how close the car was to fitting as one piece in the normal orientation.

ShapewaysAnalysis3.jpgShapeways Order Status page showing the car has moved from “In-Production” to “Packing”, meaning its done printing, now the long wait on shipping!

So, the question all of you (or at least some of you… someone, anyone???) are asking, is what is this mystery car you’re working on!!  I’m not ready to tell you yet, but I can tell you that if everything goes to plan, and the order from Shapeways arrives in time, I will have the car at the Brampton Model Railroad Show on September 30th and October 1st, 2017.  I know that’s over a month away, but not everything in my Shapeways order has printed yet, the target ship date is August 31, and my past few orders have taken almost 3 weeks to arrive thanks to getting stuck in CBSA purgatory for taxation at the border (seriously, if you’re going to tax it, just get it done, the math to add 13% to the exchanged value plus a $10 service charge isn’t that hard!!). I’ll also hopefully have a post ready to go for the Saturday morning introducing the model for anyone who isn’t in the Toronto area.  I’ll have more details about what I’ll be doing at the show and the show closer to the dates in September.

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.

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!

Observation Railings for Nova Scotia

My model of the former Dominion Atlantic Railway/Canadian Pacific Railway/Upper Canada Railway Society/Ossawippi Express Restaurant car “Nova Scotia” (here, here & here) that is in the collection of the Toronto Railway Museum now has been semi-stalled for several months.  I’ve been trying to obtain brass etches that BGR Group has done for CPR observation cars, that are the same design as those on Nova Scotia in the 1950’s as my model is, but haven’t had any luck.  I did draw and 3D print the railings, but they are very fine.  That said, I wanted to take the car to the Barrie-Allandale Train Show last weekend, so I set about installing the 3D printed railings temporarily.

Installing the 3D printed railings on the observation platforms of Nova Scotia, using the highly technical method of tweezer supports to hold them in place while the slow setting glue cured.

To do this, I had previously painted the railings on my trip to my paint booth.  Using Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement, a removable glue meant for placing figures on layouts, I gently pried the railings into the holes in the platform.  Then, as seen in the pictures, I used tweezers for leverage to hold the railings while the glue set overnight.  The railings are flexible, as the glue forms a soft bond, rather than a hard bond as CA would, but I want to be able to remove the railings if I do eventually get etched ones.

imgp6238rawconvOne end of Nova Scotia showing the 3D printed “Frosted Extreme Detail” railings installed on Nova Scotia.

It took a couple of tries to get the railings in, but they did go in.  I am actually pleasantly surprised at how good they look, I think if I had installed them with CA, they would stand straight up, they have a bit of a lean with the soft glue, but it accomplished the goal of being able to bring the entire TRM Passenger car collection to the Barrie show.  The 3D printed etches will definitely work, though if I ever put the car for sale, I’ll need to either have the print include extras, or do them as a separate part with a supply of extras (or come up with brass etches I can sell/provide separately).  For my first run, I did them as a separate part in the higher quality “Frosted Extreme Detail” resin from Shapeways.  I haven’t seen the benefit of this material on large size prints for the price increase, but for something with fine detail like this, it seemed like a good choice.

imgp6269rawconvToronto Railway Museum Passenger cars in HO Scale.  Ex-CPR 14 section First Class Sleeper “Jackman” at the rear, Ex-CPR/Upper Canada Railway Society Solarium “Cape Race” in the middle; and, Ex-DAR/CPR/UCRS Business Car “Nova Scotia” at the front.