Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A few months progress .... Pt 3

As part of creating a 4000 series Baldie ... one must have the correct couplers.

Presenting the infamous Sterns and Ward coupler:

I gather a "true" 4000 model, whether a Baldie or Plushie, wouldn't be complete without this rather unique, if somewhat unloved, coupler. CRT and the London Underground seem to be the only adopters, maybe due to the Samuel Insull connection. Otherwise, it seems as if early century rapid transit companies missed out on all the fun.

Therefore, after a lengthy study of the real thing at IRM, and the review of scale plans provided by Ed Halstead (be sure to always visit Ed's blog, linked to on the right), I have been working on a 3D model of this much loved (?) coupler.

The above pictures are of the initial 3D drawings. The somewhat lengthy shank needs some fine tuning to correctly fit under the car.

One benefit of 3D modeling is that the models can be combined and measurements taken to see how everything fits together. The following picture shows the couple at the correct height above an imaginary rail head:

Following is a visual study of this much maligned coupler:

Due to limitations in the 3D printing process, the coupler will not be functional. But, I will try to make it were two could slot together.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A few months of progress ... Pt 2

A photo to start things off ...

But, back to the 3D printing...

As I mentioned in the previous post, I made a design for the more modernized doors with the oval windows.

I was able to recess the windows that would match the recessed gasket that holds in the windows as in the prototype.

HOWEVER ...in trying to add some variety, I decided to model the upgraded doors that still maintained the recessed panels on the lower half (in the same manner as the doors of the 4000's at the Illinois Railway Museum (apologies for the use of flash ... the barns, even at mid day, are TOUGH places for photography) ...


And at Howard:

So, the adjustments were made and a sprue assembly of doors was created:

As with the other doors, due to the recessed panel, I had to add a "bump out" on the back of the doors. So, looking at these doors, they make almost a concave shape ...

Which, upon printing, caused an extreme amount of warping. The doors basically turned out like Pringles potato chips. The received door sprue assembly is show below:

And, once cut from the sprues, the parts warped even more. No photos of those, but trust me, they warped like dried out leaves. The doors basically curled in upon themselves. I tried to add styrene stiffening to straighten out the doors, but the doors are warped in both directions ... both horizontally and vertically. 

I'm pretty certain that the warpage was caused by the design of the doors, especially the recessed panel and bump out in the back. In addition, the windows are recessed. I do have another set of modernized doors that were printed without the recessed panel and the window wasn't recessed. The gasket around the window, instead of being recessed, protruded out a scale 1/2". Those doors had minimal warpage.

So, I may remove the recessed panel and add some stiffening ribs along the back to minimize warping.

Back to the drawing board on these doors.

And one more photo ...

Stay tuned for part 3 ... still lots happening!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A few months of progress ... Pt 1

Apologies for the extreme time between posts. Its been a busy time ... both with modeling and other things. 

First up:

I received my 4000 series trucks from Q-Car. And of course, these are a work of art. Beautiful doesn't begin to describe how nicely detailed the trucks are...the craftsmanship is outstanding.

So, currently the shop has replaced the North Shore spare trucks that were under my first Baldie model with the fresh out of the box Q-Car correct trucks...

The shop still hasn't added the under body details, which I also obtained from Q-Car. That might wait awhile as I'll probably make one powered floor and then just swap bodies. The transit agency is short of funding at this time so another set of power trucks has to wait.


As mentioned in a prior post, the design of the Baldie model was changed to better account for the proper roof contour and some minor fixes that needed to be made. Once completed, the files were uploaded to Shapeways and via the magic of 3D printing, the pieces were received back in about 2 weeks time.

Below is the pile of Baldie parts received ...

Since O scale is too big to print in one shell, the car is made up of 13 separate pieces (roof, two ends, four window sections, and six separate doors). In this picture I have enough parts to make an original style door car and a modernized door style car. But. I only ordered one roof ... need to order another.

After cleaning and assembly. the car in primer:

Note ... these pictures are of an extreme close up ... zoomed all the way I could go to show the actual surface detail. At normal viewing distance, the surface does look better.

Also, on this model, I added Archer Transfer Rivet Decals to the roof line to simulate the roof rivets that are a defining feature on a Baldie. These, however, I believe are "too scale" to show up. These are 5/8" street car rivets ... they are barely visible. Next time I will try Micomark's rivet decals. I have heard they are a little larger.

On this particular model, the doors had more warp than my first model. I may add some internal bracing to the 3D part that would be printed as part of the model. I say "may" as any addition material added to these parts just raises the cost. But, nobody likes to deal with warped parts .... especially me ... so I'll think of something.

Below is the internal bracing. I used square 1/32" brass tubing along the letter board and Evergreen 0.100" x 0.250" along the bottom. Various pieces of 0.100" x 0.250" and 0.100" square styrene was used to reinforce the corners.

In the following, you can see that the side does have a slight inward bow. But, the side is flexible enough that once the floor is inserted, this can be eliminated.

Why no photos of the modernized door style car? I'll go into that fiasco on part 2. 

Stay tuned ... 

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 project...no 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.