Shapeways Special Offer For Cyber Monday Extended

Good news!  Shapeways have extended their Cyber Monday sale and are offering 15% off any model in the Shapeways Marketplace for an extra day.

This offer runs from today, November 26th 2018, and now ends at 3am EST (Eastern Standard Time) on November 28, 2018.

All my Shapeways products can be found in my Shapeways shop here.

All you need to do to get the offer is enter the code ‘HAPPYMONDAY’ at the checkout.

I will continue my step-by-step build of a set of N Scale A-B-A ready-to-run Alco C-855 locomotives next week where I’ll have a long post covering all the remaining detail parts and lights.

Shapeways Special Offer For Cyber Monday

When it comes to internet sales today is considered to be one of the busiest in the year; Cyber Monday!  And not wanting to leave anybody out Shapeways are offering 15% off any model in the Shapeways Marketplace.

This offer is only available today, November 26th 2018, and runs out at 3am EST (Eastern Standard Time) on November 27, 2018.

All my Shapeways products can be found in my Shapeways shop here.

All you need to do to get the offer is enter the code ‘HAPPYMONDAY’ at the checkout.

Alco C-855 R-T-R Build – Part 10 – Window Glazing & Wipers

This week I’m covering the next part of my step-by-step build of a set of N Scale A-B-A ready-to-run Alco C-855 locomotives.  You can find part one of the build here.  This step is window glazing and fitting window wipers.

Now that the decals have all been applied, with the exception of the number boards, I can sort out the window glazing.

This wasn’t done sooner as some of the paint needed to be finished by hand, such as the red lining over the front wwindows. I do this by hand as there are four holes for the windscreen wipers and it’s easier to paint the stripe than cover the holes with a decal and try to find them again.

If the glazing was fitted first there would be a risk of getting paint on it.

The glazing, only required for the C-855 A units, consists of 5 parts; a center section which covers the four forward windows, two side sections for the pairs of side windows and two door sections for the doors at the rear of the cab.  I cut my window glass from clear acrylic sheet.

The main section is 18mm long and 6mm deep.  The cut out at the bottom is 10.5mm long by 1mm deep; this is to avoid the chassis.  The side window sections are 6.5mm wide by 5.5mm deep. They are shown in the wrong orientation in the photo and fit into the cab turned by 90°.  The door sections are 3mm wide by 4.5mm deep.  These sizes are rough but allow the window hole to be totally covered giving enough space all around to fix the glazing in.  So if your slightly off it’s okay.

I tend to start with the main window section. As with anything like this I always do a test fit first.  With the shell resting so the nose is at the bottom I’m able to drop the window in using a pair of tweezers.  If it’s a good fit I take it out, but if it’s not a good fit I trim it down where needed and try again.

To fix the glazing I use a very small amount of superglue.  The reason I only want to use a tiny amount is because of the reaction superglue fumes have on fingerprints.  As much as I try not to I still get fingerprints all over the glazing, then, if a lot of superglue is used, the fumes stick to the prints and they show up on the glazing, turning it hazy.  So to prevent this I put a drop of glue onto a piece of card; something glossy is great so the superglue won’t soak in.

Then using a pin I put a dot of superglue in each corner of the windows, and as this is a set of four windows I also put one above and below the middle.  Then using the tweezers I place the glazing back in.  As the glazing and shell are made from acrylic and so is superglue they all bond quickly together with no fumes when the glazing drops into place.  In the picture below you can see the front glazing stuck in place.

This is then repeated for the side windows and rear doors.  As long as the glazing isn’t any bigger than the given dimensions it will not interfere with the fitting of the cabs and crew.  Once fitted the glazing gives a much better look to the cabs.

Now I can fit the windscreen wipers.  They are located in the etched brass fret on the right hand side, one for each of the front windows.

In the picture below I have cut out the right hand pair.  (Right hand as you are looking at the loco, not from the driver’s perspective).

About 1mm in from the left hand side of the arm is a half etch section on the rear of the etch; this is where the wiper arm needs to be bent in order to attach it to the shell.  I use a flat pair of tweezers to hold the wiper and push the arm over with my finger.  Because of the half etch the arm will bend in the right place.

Now I do a test fit.  The holes on the cab for the wipers are the right size and they should fit well but it is possible that the holes have filled with paint. If that’s the case a 0.5mm drill can be used to reopen the hole.

I use a pin vice for small drills like this.

With the holes open the arms can be test fitted; you can see the first arm test fitted below.

Once you are happy then it can be fixed in.  Again I use superglue for this but not applied directly to the model.  I put a fresh drop on to my piece of card and using the tweezers lightly dip the bent arm into the superglue then put it back into the hole.  You have a few seconds to position the arm where you want it before it sticks.  The main windows the engineers look out from are the deeper outer windows.

The C-855 shells are almost finished.  They still need the sand boxes adding, as well as the handrails, crew and a few other details such as the lights which I know a few readers are waiting to see how to do. This will all be covered in next week’s post.

Alco C-855 R-T-R Build – Part 9 – Decals

This week I’m covering the next part of my step-by-step build of a set of N Scale A-B-A ready-to-run Alco C-855 locomotives.  You can find part one of the build here.  This step is decals and how to apply them.

There are lots of different ways to apply decals and I’m sure some are easier than others but I’ve found a system that works for me.  I originally used to print my own decals; this has the advantage that you can get whatever you want, with the exception of white.  You need an Alps printer, or something similar for white.  But it also comes with a few disadvantages. I found that with homemade decals the color looks great on the sheet, with the backing paper behind it, but as soon as it’s applied to the model the color of the model affects the color of the decal.  This is because the layer of color on the decal is not that thick.  For example red letters or lining on Union Pacific Harbor Mist Gray went very dark, but on the Armor Yellow stays bright.  If the decal crossed the two colors it looked rather odd.  So now I tend to use specifically made decals from Microscale or Circus City.  Their color layer is thick and the decal can be placed onto anything without color change.  Also they do seem to stick well.

So how do I do it?

The tools I use are a craft knife, always with a new blade, a modeling paint brush, a pair of tweezers, a metal rule, a foil tray with some water, a sheet of paper towel, Micro Set solution and Matt Cote.

I always use a new blade because I’ll be making some small precise cuts and I want the decal paper to cut not tear.  A blunt blade may cause the decal to move slighty on the backing paper rather than slicing through it or it may cause the backing paper to wrinkle, destroying the decal.

The foil container of water is because these are wet slide decals so we need the water to separate the decal from the backing.

And the paper towel is to absorb the excess water; if there’s excess water on the decal it won’t stick. I also have a scrap of paper towel, about the size of my thumb, which has been folded a few times to give a crisp edge and is also dampened.  I’ll explain what this is for later.

Micro Set and Micro Sol are both products from Microscale for setting and fixing the decals to the model. Micro Set is a setting solution to help the decal adhere to the model.  Micro Sol is a decal softener which allows decals to be pushed onto tricky shaped areas.

Matt Cote is made by Humbrol and is a varnish that goes on clear and dries clear. It dries to a smooth, low-sheen, matt finish.

The decals are printed onto a clear film which is stuck onto a backing sheet and they need to be cut out.

Large decals can simply be cut out using the knife or even a pair of scissors but small items such as loco numbers will certainly require the knife. Strips such as the lining need to be cut out in a certain way.  If you simply run the knife around the decal there’s a chance you will cut the decal itself and if you cut the ends first it will curl up as you cut it out.  So, being right-handed, I place the rule so the edge is just to the right of the decal and run the knife down the side, starting above and finishing below the decal.

I then place the rule just to the left of the decal and cut the other side.  Because the ends had not been cut the decal doesn’t curl up.  If there is some of the clear film between the cut and the decal that is okay; if you are too close you could cut the part you want.

The ends of the decal can now be cut and the strip can be removed ready for use.

I always test fit the decals to be sure. The vents or grills on the C-855 will be blackened so I’m not going to run the decal over them. Also running the decal over the vents will hide the great detail.  Any areas such as this which do want the red strip I will touch in with paint later.

Once I’m happy with the piece I want to apply I dip it in the water for a few seconds and place it on the paper towel. I then use the brush to lightly wet the areas where the decal will be going with Micro Set.  At this stage the choice of priming the models before applying the paint pays off because of the material used to 3D print the shells can be porous and the Micro Set would sink in too fast.  But with a primer and gloss finish the decal has a smooth surface to adhere to.  Matt finish paint is coarser than gloss which also gives problems when getting decals to stick.

Once about four minutes have passed I pick up the decal carefully and push the decal on top of the backing paper and it starts to slide off.  Then, using the tweezers to grip the backing paper, making sure I don’t grab the decal, I position one end, hold it in place with the brush and pull the decal off the paper.  In an ideal world the decal lands exactly where I want it, but normally it doesn’t, so using the brush, I position it correctly.  The Micro Set evaporates fairly quickly and as it does the decal fixes to the model.  The glue which held it to the paper was loosened by the water and then reactivated by the Micro Set.  If I’m happy with the position I use the small thumb sized, slighty damp, piece of paper towel to press the decal down.  This gets rid of any air trapped behind the decal and ensures a good, flat fixing.  It’s damp to make it maleable and soft.  If I’m not happy with the position I can use the brush to put some more Micro Set onto the decal and it will start to slide again.

As well as the lining, the words and numbers on the model are important.  Under the cab will be the words ‘Dependable Transportation’.  These are on Microscale sheet 11-92.

This is a small decal and hard to see up close but I’ve simply cut out the rectangle leaving a bit of space from the edge of the lettering.

I do a quick test fit.

Then dunk the decal in the water and wet the area under the window with Micro Set.

Then, when it’s ready, I slide the decal in place.

Once pressed down the clear film around the letters disappears.  I then do the other decals such as the big Union Pacific, loco numbers and bottom red stripe.  This stripe also runs around the sand boxes but it’s easier to do the main body before they are fitted.

One of the main features of this iconic locomotive is its nose and being a UP loco, UP like to let you know it’s one of theirs.

There are areas which still need a few decals, such as above the cab windows, but these will be touched in later once the windows and details have been added.

Lastly, the decals need to be sealed otherwise they could be rubbed off by handling the locomotive. You can use an airbrush or spray can and coat the locomotive in a laquer.  I’ll be spraying the locomotive with Testors Dullcote when finished, but for now I’ll be covering the decals with a layer of Matt Cote applied by brush.  The Matt Cote is fairly thick and it’s also a solvent which softens decals so I always cover the them in one pass.  I need to be sure before putting this on because once a decal is coated in this it won’t come off without being cut off.

With all the primary decals applied I can now add the windows and most of the fine details, such as the windscreen wipers, which I’ll cover in next week’s post.

Alco C-855 R-T-R Build – Part 8 – Shell Painting

Now that the Poole Model Railway Society’s exhibition is over for another year I can return to my normal activities and this week I’ll be getting back to my step-by-step build of an N Scale A-B-A ready-to-run set of Alco C-855 locomotives.  This week will be concentrating on painting the locomotive shells.  You can find part one of the build here.

As you may recall the shells when delivered were white, or rather translucent, and I cleaned them up using a bath of Goo Gon for twenty-four hours.  Once they had dried and I’d removed all the excess powder with my brush in a Dremel style tool they looked like this.

The first step is to prime the parts.  Originally when I started painting 3D printed models I used to simply paint or spray acrylic paints directly onto the prints.  Although this worked well it does have a few disadvantages.  Firstly the material is porous and the color soaks into it which can alter the actual color.  Secondly with lighter colors it needs several coats to prevent light from showing through which can cover up detail.  Thirdly only acrylic paints can be used because enamel paints had a reaction to the material and simply didn’t dry.

So I now spray all the parts with a primer similar to Tamiya Fine Surface Primer to cover all the surfaces.  Because it’s so fine none of the detail is obscured as you can see below.

Once the primer is dry my attention is then turned to the main colors.  Union Pacific locomotives have used the same colors for long time; Harbour Mist Gray and Armor Yellow.  I intended to use True Color paints for these models and although the Harbour Mist Gray is spot on I find their Armor Yellow is a little too orange so I mixed my own to color match with several other Atlas and Kato UP models.

The Armor Yellow is the first to be put on and I sprayed all of the sides leaving the top clean.

Then, once dry, I masked off the area below the top Harbour Mist Gray area.  It’s the masking off which takes all the time and once it was done I jumped right into the spraying so I don’t have any photos, sorry.  But once dry it looks like this.

Spraying the Harbour Mist Gray on to the Armor Yellow requires less paint than the other way around; dark colors always cover better than lighter. I then masked off above the lower section and sprayed that part as well.  This was even trickier to mask off; who designed this kit anyway?!  Once the mask is removed the shell looks like this.

A few areas have a bit of paint bleed between the colors but as I planned the paint joint to be in the middle off the red line it won’t show.  A few areas also didn’t get any paint but these can be touched in with a paint brush as I work through the fine details.  All three shells are now sprayed and ready for the next step.

As well as the main shells I’ve also sprayed the sand boxes and fuel tanks.  As there are so many parts I find it easier to use a piece of masking tape with the parts stuck to it.

The next step is to apply the decals and I’ll be using Microscale sets, 71105 and 60-35, plus a few extras from set 60-36.

In next week’s post I will show you how to apply the decals.