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Monday, October 22, 2012

Jumping on the 3D Printing Bandwagon!

Encouraged by the fantastic results Volkmar Meier has been achieving with Rapid Prototyping, Additive Manufacturing, Stereolithographic 3D Printing, I have decided to give it a go myself.

I was approached by Shapeways years ago inviting me to try out this emerging technology of 3D printing. Looking into it, I wasn't impressed with how rough the 3D prints were. So I dismissed it for the time being. But the technology has marched on and 3D prints are looking really nice these days!

Volkmar's blog, Interurban Railways, chronicles very nicely his construction of a Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern wooden combine, from a 2D drawing, to a 3D render and then finally an actual 3D Print model. There is still a slight texture to the finished model, but once painted, its hardly noticeable. His work has embolden me to finally give it a try.

But before building something as elaborate as an interurban though, I thought I would cut my teeth on a bite-sized project first. I've been wanting to build a model of these inner city junction towers for quite some time now. I even started building one out of brass seven years ago, but the model wasn't progressing as well as I would have liked. So that project stalled. But now I think this tower would be perfect for a 3D print noob like me.

Another deciding factor is that I still have the drawings I made for the brass model. All I have to do is import these drawings into a 3D program and build the 3D model over it. There are many 3D programs out there that are well suited (and cheaper) for modeling structures for a 3D print, but I will be utilizing 3D Studio Max for this project. By profession I am an animator with years of experience animating with 3D Studio Max. So its a logical choice for me. And its already installed on my computer.

Some of the details won't print well and so have been omitted, such as the awnings and the stirrup steps. These will be added afterwards. I did include pilot holes for the stirrup steps up the post, we'll see how well they print out. The post is hollow so that wiring for lighting could be run up from the base to the tower. The roof is removable so that the interior can be painted and detailed and an occupant added (the most important part!). 
There has been a flurry of discussion about 3D printing on a Yahoo Traction Modeling group lately. And after carefully weighing what folks had to say about the quality of different 3D printing companies, I have decided that since this is my first model and I want to see how much of the detail shows up on these prints, etc, I'm going to go with a company that is the least expensive but yet still has decent quality. So I put in an order with Shapeways (White Detail). When the model comes back, I'll see whats working and what isn't, make adjustments to the 3D drawing, and then place an order with an expensive, excellent quality company. Yes sir! An expensive, excellent quality company!


Monday, October 08, 2012

Bag of Lightning

Assembling the Hollywood Foundry Lightning Trailing Truck Kit
is actually easy-peasy!
The drive on my old Pacific Traction H.O scale San Diego 400 series car has had a full life. The gears are worn, the spring drive slides, even one of the tires has separated from the axle. It needs a whole new drive. Preferably a precision drive, capable of ultimate slow speed smooth running on tight city curves.

And Hollywood Foundry has (once again) come to the rescue with their magnificently designed Diablo Power Truck. But, it comes as a kit, assembly required. Assembling such a precision instrument can be a little intimidating. But Hollywood Foundry maintains that its actually easy and quick to assemble.

So, to get an idea of what it will take to assemble the Diablo, why not assemble their Lightning Trailing Truck first? Their methods of assembly are very similar. And that's exactly what I did. Yes sir, that's exactly what I did.

Let me just say that the instructions are very well written with plenty of crystal clear illustrations accompanying the text. AND a color version of the instructions are available on-line for free. The rest of my post pretty much reiterates what already has been published. But if you want to see the assembly of the Lightning Truck in photos, well then, here you go:

But make sure you follow the instructions that come with the Lightning!

Only three tools are required to assemble the Lightning Truck. The first is a simple file to deburr the parts.

These bearings are what make the Lighting Truck such a great roller. The bearings can actually be dropped into place and will be trapped without fear of them falling out. Or you can glue them in. I chose to carefully solder them in place so that they will never be a problem. First I spread some solder (tinning) around the bearing itself, then, I tinned the truck frame around the hole. Then I dropped the bearing into the hole and heated the assembly until the bearing was properly seated in the hole.

Now comes the folding: 

The only rule Hollywood Foundry has with bending the parts is that the metal is always folded towards the etched fold line.

Bending the parts are easy-peasy. Using the second tool, a smooth jaw pliers, to hold the part just below the etched fold line, I applied firm, balanced pressure with my finger, slowly bending the part into its correct position.

The opposite side of the truck frame is bent half way to first accept the wheelsets before bending fully into position.

 I just realized the painting the wheelsets ahead of time would have been a good idea. Bending and unbending would cause the metal to harden and become brittle and could break. So this little planing ahead would help keep the truck sound.

 With the wheelsets in place the frame is folded into position.

 I made some slight adjustments to the folds for maximum "spinnage". And true to advertized, the wheels spin for quite a while when spun with a finger.

 Now for the bolsters. A quick clean up with a file and were ready for...

 ...fold, fold, fold, fold. 
Washers are included to adjust the height of the truck. But that will be determined when the Diablo is built and the height of the Lightning and Diablo need to be matched.

A Wiha Phillips #00 screwdrive was the only tool I needed to buy for this. But I needed one of these for a while now. So it was about time I bought one. The bolster screws right on, what with the holes already been drilled and tapped and whatnot. Like I said: easy-peasy. Yes sir! Easy-peasy!

For reliable transfer of track power from the truck to the chassis, I soldered the lead to the nickel silver solder tag.

 Now were ready to mount the truck.

 First, place the Derlin washer and properly seat it into the hole.

 Then place the truck on top and fit the screw through.

 Flip the chassis over...

 ... and fit the second Derlin washer seated into the hole.
 The nickle silver power tag is placed next and...

 ... place the nut and tighten moderately.

And there we go! Essentially the truck is assembled and installed. I just need to add the old side frames.

 The holes in the old sideframes were the bearings for the old wheelsets. But with the new, high tech Lightning bearings, the holes in the sideframes need to be enlarged to clear them.

 It was a simple matter of finding a drill bit with the same diameter as the bearings to enlarge the holes. Test fit. Drill some more. Test fit. Don't drill all the way through!

 Then the sideframes were soldered on. And were good to go!

This all went together in about 45 minutes! And that includes stopping to compose these pictures.

I'm so ready to tackle the Diablo now because, I tell ya, I feel like a downright metal smith now! Yes sir! A downright metal smith!