Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Princeton Jct. in T-Scale Concept

When I was a teenager, I accompanied my sister and mother on a trip east to look at colleges.  One stop was at Princeton.  I requested to be dropped off at the Princeton Jct. station on the Northeast Corridor and spent a great afternoon watching and photographing E60's, GG1's, Conrail and SEPTA trains.

Fast-forward 40 years and I am thinking about an idea for a T-scale layout/diorama of the Princeton Jct. station that would allow for a 4-track mainline under catenary, with Conrail diesels and Amtrak trains. 

Which got me thinking of developing a few models in T-scale to use on such a layout.  I have 3 prototypes in the works that would fit nicely.  They all still need refinement but I am making progress.

One of the other benefits is I am developing an internal bearing bogie which can also be used on the bi-level coaches.  Still, lots of work to do but I'm very productive lately.  The biggest snag is the cycle time to get prototypes from Shapeways.  Speaking of which, several models previously mentioned are on the way and/or being revised.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Couple of Developments

One of my sources of "prototype futzing" with T-scale has been the couplers.  The stock couplers, with their square/angular oversize appearance, just don't look much at all like real couplers--at least those found in North America (or some other parts of the world, Australia, South America, etc.).  They might have some redeeming quality if they actually were operational, but they aren't (although the good people at T-Gauge.Com are developing a T-scale coupler that has some automatic coupling capability!).  I don't forsee T scale being much of a switching scale for the time being, but I do want more prototypic rolling stock for the "roundy-round" style I want, so I set about trying to make a better coupler, more resembling the standard knuckle coupler found in the US.

First, I scaled down a typical prototype coupler in the US (the Janney Coupler) and printed in what materials I could on Shapeways.  At the time this was only the old "Frosted Detail";  but the results not only were these just too small, but far, far too fragile.  So I scaled them up and printed them in bronze.  This was semi-successful.  The fit was so tight I needed pliers to get them apart, and the cost was outrageous (somewhere around $15 for a set of 4).  There were no other alternative materials, and so the project was set aside.

Fast forward a few years, my interest in T-scale rekindled.. and some additional material options available on Shapeways.  I tried the "Professional Plastic" and it seemed to have promise.  After a couple tweaks to the design I printed what you see below.  They come on a small sprue and printed in a gray material, so I painted a rust-brown color.

Note they are holding together unaided.  It is a decently firm grip--but not so tight you can't separate them.  The material is grainy in texture, but paint seems to fill in the texture, even looking a bit like cast iron.  They are somewhat flexible and are remarkably strong and resilient.  I found I had to sand/trim them a bit to fit through the pilot hole in the GP40, reducing the horizontal profile a bit.

Yes they are still over-sized but they are small enough and prototypic-looking enough for me to be "good enough".  I will be striving to make them smaller and see how small I can get.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Progress Update

--Newly available to purchase:
 2-packs of 40-, 45- and 53-foot trailers on a sprue/base.

Prototypes being made at Shapeways currently:
-- 89' intermodal flatcar.
-- 60' smooth-side hi cube boxcar.

-- Track bed (North American prototype).  This track bed will have North American tie spacing and is designed to accept the Code 40 rail available from T-Gauge.com.  My goal is to make more realistic looking track.  This will just be straight/curvable sections, but if the concept works it's possible turnouts and other trackwork may be added.
 -- RDC-4 design added with "open" windows and under-body detail is in process and awaiting test model.

Test models received from Shapeways:
-- 50 foot outside post modern boxcar with improved details.
-- 3-day open hopper revised and test model received and looks good as well.  I will post pictures shortly of both this and the boxcar. 
-- Knuckle-style couplers work better, but still need some adjustments to drawbar.
-- Blomberg and Roller Bearing Freight trucks, need adjustments for proper width.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Busy T-imes

I have been extremely busy lately designing and evaluating new models, and revising old ones.  Here are some of the updates:

-- 50 foot outside post boxcar revised with better details.-- 60 foot smooth side boxcar added.
-- RDC-4 design added with "open" windows and under-body detail (will revise RDC-1 similarly if this works.  I want to try Krystal Kleer as the window material.)
-- Added both 53 foot and 45 foot trailers and did custom designs.
-- Knuckle-style couplers being modified to look and work better.
-- Blomberg B, Blomberg M, and Roller Bearing Freight trucks in the pipe designed to work with needle-bearing axle wheelsets.

Also in the pipeline: 
-- EMD F40PH
-- Inside-bearing passenger trucks
-- Celestory roof coach (80-foot)

Blue sky on the white board:
-- 89' flatcar
-- Track bed (North American prototype)
-- Opening up windows on passenger cars to allow for use of "Krystal Kleer" style or other windows.
-- Amfleet coach

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

R&D Findings

I've been very busy lately designing some new models and testing out decorating ideas and techniques...  I mentioned several of the projects previously so lets get into some of the results!

Trailers:  53' foot dry van trailers are very common in North America "over the road" and the 45's were a very common TOFC trailer.  The trailers turned out well from the printer--details are rendered nicely.  I designed the 45's on a sprue so they can be produced en-masse more easily and safely--although Shapeways has been extremely good about making some of the smaller items and I have not experienced any broken items recently (knock on wood!)   Here they are after a wash with some warm soapy water, a couple brushed on coats of Future, a bit of light sanding, then a couple coats of Tamiya white primer.  And some more sanding as you can see.

The home-made decals for the trailer are turning out to be much harder to produce than the 3D design actually.  Finding the "sweet spot" on my Epson printer can be a design-by-design thing.  Bleeding ink on the decal paper is my nemesis--any color causes bleeding.  It may be due to the secondary market inks I'm using though.. I'll have to try genuine Epson inks and see if that makes a difference.  The ink works fine on glossy photo paper, just not on the standard clear decal paper.  

RDC model update:  Using the 23M chassis available from T-Gauge.com, the trusty RDC can be powered with a visually "ok" truck (bogie) placement.  Technically, the 23M trucks are too closely spaced at about 54 scale feet, but it looks acceptable at arm's length.  I will try correcting it to prototype length, which will require some surgery on the chassis, but as this is the longest powered chassis available "off the shelf" I figured it would be good to show how it looks.

Also note the coupler design.  I wanted a more prototypical US coupler so I designed this in "professional plastic".  Yes it is way too big, but compared to the stock couplers and the models are a bit "fuzzy" but I think it's ok.  It's strong enough but still needs some tweaking to couple/uncouple reliably.  And I'm reducing the size a bit.  Oh, and here's a look at the horn mounted on the RDC.  Of course they had to be made a little too large for prototype as well, but again--a good representation at arm's length.  

So, now it's on to some painting and decorating!  Check back soon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Trucks and Trucks and Horns Oh My

Long overdue for a rework/development effort were the Blomberg trucks.  After all, there's a GP40, and MP36, FP7's all needing proper 4-axle trucks.  Originally these were just sideframes so I created dummy trucks from them.  I also improved the Blomberg B trucks (the older ones) and created Blomberg "M" trucks which are the more modern ones with the dampener on the leading axle. 

A semi trailer was also in the offing.  Pretty simple when it comes down to it and I'll be making 40', 45' and 48' versions as well.

What does a GP40 or an RDC need to warn 1:450 scale trucks at grade?  A horn of course!

All of these are in test printing right now and if they come out ok I'll release them on the Shapeways shop.

How about one of these ex Lackawana/EL electric MU cars?  I'm about 75% done with one...

And still working on a semi-scale knuckle coupler.  It's really difficult because of limitations on materials... but it will happen.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Conrail GP40 Unpowered Model

Although I still fully endorse the "full side decal" process I started getting interested doing some models with standard decals as a painted finish is admittedly better.  Well, and I became frustrated with the performance of the print-your-own decal paper and lack of white ink.  The inkjet decal paper is just too thick and doesn't seem to respond to MicroSol to conform to the details.  

So, perusing the web I found CMR Products who does print-on-demand decals in odd scales like O and Z.. and they were very happy to do several of their sets for me in 1:450. And good news is I am a fan of the roadnames they already make.

I had a GP40, FP7/9 and few boxcars undecorated from my shop (Shapeways "Smoothest Fine Detail Plastic")  so decided to give the fine folks at CMR Products a try -- I emailed and they were very glad to make decal sets of their existing artwork re-scaled to 1:450, and for a very reasonable price!

The GP40 from Shapeways was washed in warm soapy water, with gentle scrubbing with an artists bristle brush.  After drying, it got a coat of Tamiya Fine Surface Primer from a rattle can.  I touched up a few spots with a sanding stick, then another coat of primer.  Then a coat of Tamiya semi-gloss black..  Then a few of the rougher spots remaining from 3D printing got 2-3 brush coats of Future.  When that was done, the whole model was brush painted with Future (clear acrylic).  Decals were applied and some touch ups done.  

As you can see, the decals were crisp, opaque and accurate.  They handled extremely well, especially given the tiny size.

I added an air reservoir tank above the fuel tank, made of a piece of electric wire with the end conductor exposed a tiny bit, and painted black.  I maybe should have removed the Chessie style rock plow on the pilots.. but eh.  It's T.  So, the GP40 is ready for trucks and couplers, and a horn to boot, plus weathering--but that's another story (stay tuned).