Exhibition Preparation

This week’s post will simply be a quick note about what I have coming up as this is a very busy week for me; just as this week was last year!

The main reason why I’m so busy is this Sunday, the 5th of November, will be the Poole & District Model Railway Society’s annual exhibition held at Poole Grammar School on Gravel Hill.  And this is my second year as the Exhibition Manager.

Again this year we have fifteen exhibition layouts at the show plus P&DMRS’s own layout which is based on Poole. We also have several demos as well as the usual traders to fill all your modeling needs. The full list can be found on the P&DMRS’ website here.

Once all the preparation was done for last year the actual exhibition was great fun so this year I’m really looking forward to it!  So wish me well and I’ll see you on the other side!

Getting in a Bit of a Pickle

Over the last few months it might have seemed that I haven’t really been doing much in the way of 3D printing design.  Well in fact I have; I just couldn’t tell you about it, until now!

The N Scale Architect has commissioned two new N Scale freight cars to accompany their new turn-of-the-century pickling plant kit, pictured below.

This lovely kit has everything you need to build a pickling plant, but how do you move the produce around the layout? The answer comes in two forms.

The 4 Vat Open Car.

And the Enclosed Tank Pickle Car.

Both car kits come complete with a full-color illustrated instruction sheet, photo-etched ladders & stirrups, bronze tie-rods, four 1/4oz car weights, a decal set of your choice and Micro-Trains brake wheel, trucks & body mounted couplers.  Each decal set is inspired by vintage pickling company markings and includes four different road numbers.

The 46′ open 4 vat pickle car follows prototypes made by Thrall, GATC, ACF and other manufacturers from the early 1900s up until the 1950s has four printed sections forming the chassis, vats, roof supports and the roof.

The roof supports are separated before they clip into the chassis.

The 42′ enclosed tank pickle car follows prototypes made by Thrall, GATC, ACF and other manufacturers from the early 1900’s up until the 1950’s and has three printed sections forming the chassis, sides and roof.  All are printed with the best side facing up to get the finest detail.

The etched ladders on both and the sign on the enclosed car are stainless steel.

Both of these new cars are available from the N Scale Architect’s Shapeways shop or through the website.

And that’s not all, there are more cars on the way from myself and the N Scale Architect but you’ll have to wait to see what they are!

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!