Thursday, July 31, 2014

Updates for end of July 2014

My apologies for not updating, but things have been busy, with summer finally in full swing in the Chicago area.

I've painted the 3D print of the baldie ... I chose the brown and orange scheme ... (and yes, no underbody details, wrong trucks and incorrect roof - more on that later):

This was second attempt at painting a model, so I'm happy with the results. The paint colors used were:

Tru-Color TCP-115 G+W Orange
Tru-Color TCP-163 SP Depot Trim Brown

I'm happy with the print quality, but after some review, assisted by local experts, I decided to redraw the roof. Along with the new roof, the letter board on the model was also raised by about 1 1/2" to better match the prototype. Below are the new renderings:

The change isn't dramatic, but I'm trying to capture the more squat, rounded nature of the baldie roof. Since the roof is printed from the material white, strong and flexible, it does not have the resolution to handle rivet details. That will have to be added by the modeler.

Below is a side by side comparison ...

The new version is on the left. The difference isn't dramatic, but offers more vertical surface on the roof to add the row of rivets that is found on the baldies.

I hope to finish up some design details shortly and order a new model from Shapeways soon.

In other news, I've added some new cars to the fleet. First I've added my first interurban, a CA&E Pullman, shown below operating somewhere west of Marshfield in the late 1940's.

Below shows a very rare railfan excursion to the north side:

And just a plain side view:

I've also added to the fleet a Northwestern Elevated Railway trailer:

And to really expand the layout ... and operations, I obtained 3 Q-Car Chicago Surface Lines streetcar models:

These models I'll probably save until the winter or early 2015 as I have no street trackage at this time to run them. But, what is great, is that I have all the necessary parts (bodies, poles, trucks, finishing details and decals) so it should be a really fun internet scrounging for parts.

In other happenings, I've felt like I've been neglecting the layout in working on all the 3D modeling. So, I've been trying to spend more time working on projects on the layout. I've started working again on the expansion L structure by casting more girders and will try to get that done in the next month or two. Also, I've obtained more N-Scale Architect brick sheets so I've started on some additional background buildings.

In this area to the left of the Southport station, I will be building the back of an apartment building. This will be a large (21" long), three and a half story structure. I also need to finish the back porch on the incomplete building in the center of the picture.

I've also begun weathering and adding mortar details to some of my apartment buildings on my residential street. This hasn't been easy as these were basically done. It would've been much easier to weather BEFORE all the windows were installed. I've still got some work to do, but it does look better than un-weathered...

I used two different types of brick on this building, so they take mortar in different ways (or none at all). The white haze is more grey on the model and much more subdued. Plus, I'm still toning this all done with washes, so its not completed. 

I've also added new "sliced" building near the Sheridan Road curve...

This was ad easy addition ... I just used some scrap "test" sections I had laying around and attached it to  a MDF core.

I've also re-started construction on the apartment building across the street:

I'll post more as more progress is achieved!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


I finally received my last attempt at printing a car from Shapeways ... and good timing too as I’m out of money! It is true when they say all the costs are in the R & D.

But ... success!

I can finally say that I have printed an O scale rapid transit car that can pass casual inspection.

This time, as mentioned previously, I split the car sides each into five sections: the two end doors, the center doors, and the right and left window sections. I had to do this so I could make the parts small enough that they could be printed in Shapeway's Frosted Ultra Detail.

Below shows what the parts (the doors and the window sections) look like when first taken out of the box (fresh from the factory, so to speak):

These parts came with a very heavy coat of wax. So, they were soaked in Bestine for a few minutes then rinsed with water. I cut them from the sprues before soaking.

Once dry, all the parts (six doors total and four window sections) were prime with Rustoleum grey auto primer.

Some close ups of the parts once primed. There has been no sanding of these parts.

As shown above, the finish on the parts (roughness, lines from the printing process) is very good. Good enough that I haven't sanded. Also the fit of the parts (doors to window sections) is also very good. No sanding required. The sides look crooked as they don't lie absolutely flat. I had to "bump" the opposite side of the door recesses out a bit as the material got very thin and had a tendency to warp. But, I put the sides along a straight edge and they are straight.

Below shows the entire "kit" of parts: two ends, roof, six side doors and four window sections.

This is definitely a "shake the box" type of kit. Below shows the sides assembled. Again, no sanding to make the parts fit, its just a friction fit at this time:

To assemble the sides into one piece, I used bits of 0.040" styrene along with ACC glue to join the door sections to the window sections. I then glued a piece of brass square stock along the top of the side. The ends were then glued to the sides.

Some observations:

The whole process has been way too expensive. Granted, some of this has been my own fault (destroyed masters due to casting mishaps, design errors) but the cost of 3D printing is still pretty high for a one off model. A fleet of same cars might be better served by making molds.

Rivets - I just don't get it. Superman has his Lex Luthor, Batman his Joker, my arch enemy will be rivets, especially 3D printed O scale rivets. Granted, on this model, being printed in Shapeway's Frosted Ultra Detail, the rivet detail (where it printed) is very good. I say where it printed as there are spots where either the rivets just didn't print or were knocked off during processing and shipping. They are very fragile. 98% of the rivets printed without issue. But, there are a few that are just missing. This isn't a deal breaker as I'm just happy the car turned out. But if I were making a commercial mold, I'd be miffed.

The roof - That single piece was the most expensive part. So, I will make a mold of that and use that to make copies. Now, you purists might note that there are no rivets around the edge of the roof. This material wouldn't allow those to be printed so those will have to be added via rivet decals. 

Next up will be painting...stay tuned.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

First coat of paint on the 6200's is done

The first coat of paint is done on the MTH 6200's. So far. I am happy with how the cars are turning out.

My lighting isn't the best, so the colors aren't 100% accurately being reproduced in these pictures. But, I think the colors are close enough, in person, to pass. Once "Dulcoated" and weathered slightly, they should look pretty good.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Updates for May 2014 ... painting and printing

As a diversion from the endless issues related to 3D printing, I've decided to repaint my MTH 6200 Bicentennial 6200 set to the Alpine White and Mint Green. I've always absolutely hated the Bicentennial scheme the MTH chose, so changing paint schemes has always been on the "to do" list.

After a day's soaking in 90% rubbing alcohol and a coat of primer, the first car waits for space in the paint shop at the Sheridan Road station.

The below car has just emerged from its alcohol bath is waiting for primer.

And the whole car that has been primed:

MTH actually did a very nice job on these cars. The details are good, its just a shame that they are slightly out of scale for 1:48, more like 1:45. Luckily, they were relatively easy to disassemble and the paint came off very easy.

As for the Alpine White and Mint Green (and without custom mixing) the closest match I can find are Vallejo Model Color Ivory 70.918 and Tru-Color CP Rail Action Green TCP-32. For my poor eyes and layout lighting. I feel that the colors are "close enough".

Below is a paint sample I painted on styrene, with grey primer underneath. The white is more ivory in person. To me, again, its close enough.

As for 3D printing and the CTR 4000 baldies, I got my 2nd set of car sides (with end doors as separate pieces) back from Shapeways. These were printed on Y axis (that is, vertical) and using the material frosted detail. I am not happy as to how these sides turned out. 

After priming and some light sanding:

The fit of the end doors (printed in frosted ultra detail) to the sides (printed in frosted detail) is good, so no issues there. However, the resolution and quality where the rivets are printed just still isn't acceptable for an O scale model. From a casual viewing distance (3 feet), the parts look good. But, up close, the roughness in areas that have a lot of rivets is very apparent and distracting.

So, as one last measure to see if it is possible to create a 3D printed O scale model of acceptable quality, I've decided to split the side into five separate pieces (two end doors, middle door and 2 window sections). This way, all the pieces can be printed in the highest resolution material, frosted ultra detail. Splitting the side into smaller pieces will also help eliminate warping and errors I've encountered with larger parts. I've noticed that quality along the length of a part is inconsistent as I think the part shifts or cools and a different rate during the printing process.

So, the idea is to "sprue" parts together so that they will fit within the limitations of the frosted ultra detail and have the highest resolution possible.

Then, when received, just cut apart and assemble. Again, the fit of the parts is very good, so there should be minimal gaps.

Obviously having a side made of separate pieces isn't the idea, but the quality just isn't there for the side being printed in its entirety in frosted detail. Additional bracing will need to be done on the inside of the model, but this is the best compromise that I could come up with knowing the limitations of the material. In addition, I've heard that master model builders such as Bill Clouser used to make sides out of separate pieces, so if it was good enough for him, I'll give it a try.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Skokie Swift's 50th Anniversary Party

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Skokie Swift's 50th Anniversary party, where the CTA ran the historic 4000 series cars 4271 and 4272.

Below are some photos and a video I took of the day's festivities.

And some video of the day: