Friday, March 22, 2013

New 50 Foot Boxcar

The 50 foot boxcar is one of the most prevalent pieces of freight rolling stock found in North America.  When I got into 3D printing of T-gauge models, the 50-foot outside braced boxcar was the first model I made.  Since that time, the original has "lost it's shine" as they say!  I wanted more detail and more options.. so earlier this year a re-design was done.  The model was made hollow, which makes it a candidate for powering.  This is important because in T-gauge, the locomotives typically will struggle to pull more than 3 pieces of un-powered rolling stock.  If the goal is modeling 20-car freight trains--or there-about--powered revenue equipment is needed.   In addition, the choice of doors was improved by offering three types:  A plug door, a "Youngstown" door and a "Superior" door.  These make it possible to model a wide variety of boxcar prototypes.  Thirdly, the roof detail was improved.  Other details--such as a brake wheel or grab irons--can be added by the modeler.  I've contemplated making etched brake wheels just for this reason!

Here's the model from Shapeways, after washing in warm soapy water and a gentle scrub with stiff bristle artists brush, then a few thin coats of "Mr. White Surfacer 1000".   Note the un-finished door parts on a sprue in the background.

This prep work does two things:  1.) It fills in some of the roughness of the 3D printed surface;  and 2.) It provides a white surface, good enough to decal on with my home-made clear decals.  

The surfacing paint is actually a very thin putty mixture;  It can be gently sanded between coats to make a more smooth surface as well.  The white color is needed because the ink-jet printer used for my decals cannot print white (nor can any other normal ink-jet).  Therefore, the white lettering or graphics are clear on the decal, and the background (the model) must be white and seen through the decal.  Many of the colors printed also need a white background to look proper.

Next, the door was installed.  I used the plug-door choice.  The part was held in place with a bit of thinned Krystal Klear (I really like this product for my T-gauge modeling!)  I used this as an adhesive so if I wanted to change it--a quick soak in warm water would release the door.  
Note: Evident here is the bottom sill being just a bit too thick (back to the drawing board to fix).  In the meantime a little sanding will fix that!

I wanted to model a plug door boxcar, and the P&LE would be an appropriate "fit" for my Etna layout.  Here's the prototype: 

After a bit of trial and error getting the size and spacing right, I got the decals straight.  The application consisted of three parts;  The left panel, door, and right.  Micro-Sol was used to get the decal to snuggle between the ribs and into the door.  Any exposed white areas were touched up with a bit of green made from PC Green, mixed with some blue and reefer white to get the right shade of green.  The roof still needs to be painted of course.  

Here is the decal artwork if you want to make your own!  Feel free to use for your own non-commercial uses.


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