Monday, December 29, 2014

3D Printed NSWGR Lower Quadrant Signals

In my last post I mentioned that I will be releasing a number of NSWGR signal 'kits' through an online shop at Shapeways, an on demand 3D printing company located in both Eindhoven, The Netherlands and also New York, USA. Australian print orders have recently been allocated to the New York facility.

The signal posts have been designed to be printed in the Shapeways White Strong and Flexible material (WSF).

The White Strong and Flexible material is a laser sintered nylon which has a low print resolution but is quite strong and flexible. The flexibility is of advantage for a signal on a layout as it will actually bend a bit if knocked or if it is caught by clothing when someone reaches over the layout.

One disadvantage of 3D printing is that for each material there are minimum tolerances for printing, such as minimum wall thickness, minimum supported wire (rods or other small cross sections), minimum unsupported wires, minimum detail size, etc. As a result the finer details sometimes have to be enlarged to be printable and for that matter, even to be seen.

By choosing to use the White Strong and Flexible material the ladder and railings are thicker than would be found in an etched signal kit. If wire railings are preferred then the printed ones may be cut off and wire ones substituted in fine holes that will need to be drilled at the previous signal attachment points. Similarly, the existing ladders could be cut away and etched ladders may also be added. Be aware though that the nylon is tough and doesn’t cut easily even with a sharp hobby knife. A pair of new transistor snips could be used where there is access. Transistor snips are ground flat on one side of the cutting edges so they can be pressed against a surface to give a reasonably smooth flat cut.

The upside of the printing process is that other parts may be of a more correct thickness and have detail such as the cast iron support under the beams of a bracket signal. In an etched signal this support is usually just a thin brass shape. You will also find that there are individual boards on the platforms with gaps that can be seen through.

The White Strong and Flexible material is nylon which doesn’t normally glue or take paint well, in this case however, due to the laser sintered fine particles there is a very good key for both glue and paint. The preferred glue is Super Glue (ACC – cyanoacrylate) and acrylic water based paints also work well, enamels can be used as well but the acrylics are usually a bit thicker which can assist in sealing and smoothing the surface of the White Strong and Flexible material.

The signal arms and other detail parts of the signals are printed in the Shapeways Frosted Ultra Detail material (FUD). The Frosted Ultra Detail material is an acrylic resin which is printed by using a ultra-violet light to set the resin layer by layer. This material will give a high print resolution but is hard and somewhat brittle, a disadvantage when knocked.

The Signal Posts

I have uploaded 3D models for the following signals:

16' post - 1 Signal arm.
18' post - 1 Signal arm
18' post - 2 Signal arms
23' post - 1 Signal arm
23' post - 2 Signal arms
23' post - 3 Signal arms
27' post - 1 Signal arm
27' post - 2 Signal arms
27' post - 3 Signal arms
27' post - 1 Signal arm + Lamp above (Distant Signal)
27' post Bracket Signal - Right Hand lower Signal arm
27' post Bracket Signal - Left Hand lower Signal arm
27' post Bracket Signal - Right Hand - Even height Signal arms
27' post Bracket Signal - Left Hand - Even height Signal arms
Centre post Bracket Signal - Right Hand lower Signal arm
Centre post Bracket Signal - Left Hand lower Signal arm
Centre post Bracket Signal - Even height Signal arms
Offset Bracket - Right Hand 1 Signal arm
Inverted Bracket - Right Hand 1 Signal arm
27' post Triple Bracket - Centre post highest - Left and Right lower at same height.

Some example renders of signals:

Close up of detail on bracket signal

Coloured left hand bracket

27' post with 3 signal arm positions

Centre post bracket with even height dolly posts

Right hand offset bracket

Triple bracket
Inverted bracket
To overcome some problems printing the ladders I have had to add some ladder supports which will need to be removed with transistor nippers as shown in the following image.

The 'Y' shaped ladder supports are to be removed.
Detail Parts
To complement the above signal selection I have designed and uploaded a number of signal arm and detail part 'sprues'.

I have tried to cover various combinations of signal arms with these 'sprues'.

The following signal arms will be available in various combinations:

39 1/4" arms - Main line
36" arms - Main line
30" arms - Passing and crossing loops
Siding arms
Shunt Ahead arms
Wrong Road arms

Standard Bracket set

Distant set

Siding and Shunt Ahead set

39" and 36" arms set

Inverted Bracket set
Centre post Bracket set
Spares set
Siding and Wrong Road
Some of the above are also available as double sets.
The above detail sets will come with a frame around them to hopefully stop any parts breaking off the sprue during cleaning and handling post-printing. If a part does break off the sprue it usually means that the print is rejected as the person handling the item doesn't know that the part has just broken away from a sprue, they think that the item is broken. Shapeways will re-print the item at their cost in this case which can delay the delivery. Unfortunately, if the item keeps breaking they will reject the item and withdraw it from sale. At this point I will be notified to correct the design. Hopefully the frames will stop this from happening.
2 x 30" Arms and 2 x Siding Arms set in frame
Extra Items
I have also designed a few items that might be of assistance to the modeller:
Operating mechanism for use with other signals such as made by Uneek

Type 1 SG90 servo mounting (for servos as used by Tam Valley) - Can be used for points

Type 2 SG90 servo mounting (for servos as used by Tam Valley)

Type 3 SG90 servo mounting (servos as used by Tam Valley) with 'wire in tube' mounting

'Wire in tube' bracket designed to be screwed to any signal operating mechanism
Fascia mounting for Tam Valley Singlet control board in white, green or black
Well, that's about the range so far and I am still hoping to open a Shapeways shop in early January.
I have been asked about upper quadrant and the tubular lower quadrant signals and I haven't made any decision about those as yet as there are some very different challenges with the tubular posts but who knows.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

This afternoon Ron Cunningham, Gary Laker and myself drove down to the Illawarra Model Railway Club for their Christmas party. The club had the layouts operating, NSW railway DVDs running on a wide screen TV, lucky door prizes, nibbles, drinks, pizza and the afternoon was filled with good conversation and camaraderie. I was lucky enough to win a grey Trainorama OHG guards van in the lucky door prize drawings. Thanks for a lovely afternoon boys.

Well, as it is that time of year here is my usual Christmas card and yes, I do know that the points aren't closed. I took the photo without the layout powered up and it only came to my notice when Ian Dunn pointed it out. Also, the retaining wall below the shop still needs to be done, this being a view that you can't normally see from the aisle.

Some modellers know already that I have been working since May on a number of 3D printed NSWGR lower quadrant signals, three of which are pictured in the above photo.

My intention is to open a Shapeways Shop on the Shapeways web site where those that are interested will be able to order the signals to be printed and sent to them.

Please note that the prices on the Shapeways site are US$.

Given the current exchange rate I think that the parts for a single signal (say that quick!) will be about AU$45 and a bracket style signal will be about AU$55.

The only other items you will need not counting an operating method is some 0.015" and 0.032" phosphor bronze wire (Titchy Train Group), some #4 6mm screws (Jaycar), some 8BA or 2-56 12mm screws (those black acetal Kadee ones work well) and some 3mm washers (Jaycar).

I will also be starting another blog which will have the instructions to put the signals together and make them operate.

I have designed 20 different signals along with signal detail parts and several other items.

The signals are relatively easy to put together, as long as you can bend some wire, screw in screws and paint the signals.

There is an operating mechanism that has been designed to allow the movement of the signal arm to be limited to its correct arc. The signal can then be installed in a 20mm or 22mm hole in the baseboard after which one of several means of operation may be used such as servos, solenoids, push/pull rods or even fishing line and sinker counterweights, it is up to you.

I have spent a lot of time to work this out and I hope that you like the result.

So if all goes well I hope to open the shop in early January and I will announce it on this blog at that time.

I will post more information soon.

Anyway until then, Chris and I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Werris Creek Station 'Final' Colours

On the way back from the New England Convention at Armidale, Chris and I stopped at Werris Creek to work out the colours that the station buildings were painted in 1972.

While there I also photographed and took measurements of the railway hotel and refreshment rooms for the next part of the station complex and yes, it was that really hot Monday (40 deg. C ?).

I walked around taking a few more photos of the main building and I noticed that some areas of the paint work had been damaged by platform seats. What showed through nicely was the mid-green of an earlier painting of the window sills. I also found an awning post with some damage about 1400mm up from the base and no I didn't take a pen knife with me. It does look like someone has purposely cut through the layers.

While I was asking the museum volunteers if there were any colour photos taken in 1972 (no luck) I was taken upstairs into the old hotel section and shown a model railway that is being built under contract by someone from Queensland for $70,000. The layout trackwork was Peco and it will be run with a Digitrax Loconet system, press the button and watch the trains run. Unfortunately for some ridiculous reason it was about 600mm off the floor. It should have been about 1200mm so that maintenance could easily be carried out underneath and a raised platform with railings could have been built so that children could see easily. Given the above, I do wonder who sliced into the awning post to reveal the colours, I don't mind though.

Here are the photos that confirm the colours.

Green on the window sills of the ground floor windows
Layers of the different colours painted over the decades
The colour layers on the awning post are very useful and with the photos I have received from several people and the ones I found on the Internet I now am about 95% certain of what was there in 1972.

Here are a few dates from photos of the post colours:

Current brown top coat painted in 2005.
All dark green in 2002
All dark green in 1996
All cream in 1979, 1981 and 1983
Painted all mid-green after 1969 and before 1972
Base black, post brown and cast iron brackets cream in 1963
In 1961 the awning post seems to have been black base, green post, mid-stone top of post and cream cast iron brackets, this is based on the lightened Weston Langford photo of the earlier post.

This black and white photo taken by Tony McIlwain in 1972 has been very useful in showing the various colours when cross referenced with the other photos and the colour information from last Monday.

Now comes the interesting job of building the model but don't hold your breath in might be a while before the next Werris Creek instalment.

"We will now return you to our normal programming....."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New England Convention

I would like to thank the organisers and members of the New England Model Railway Club, the presenters, the clinic presenters and any other helpers for a very enjoyable weekend. This was the first time that I have been able to get to the convention as work always interfered previously.

I spent the weekend talking, talking and talking with old friends, new ones and managing to put faces to names, such as fellow bloggers. Due to the socialising I only managed to get to one presentation and found it very interesting.

The layouts being shown were of a high standard and the commercial representation was good, too good, my bank balance is certainly lower.

Here are a few photos of Bullenbung Creek, the other two layouts were very nicely detailed and sceniced On30, one Australian themed (sorry I can't remember the name) and the other was the Charging Moose US Oregon style of Geoff Nott and John Montgomary. I didn't take a tripod and due to the nature of the scenery on the layouts I was only able to take photos of Bullenbung Creek as it was flat and I do time exposures. I was allowed to place my camera on the roads near the front of the layout. I also took a couple of videos using a small video camera of the sports variety which doesn't have a screen. Unfortunately all I got was a black screen with sound. The video camera wouldn't work until I deleted both files, I have no idea what happened and I was looking forward to seeing the videos.

Attendees were asked to bring along a model to show so I took a NSWGR Distant Signal, more on that in a later post. The models ranged across scales and prototypes but were invariably of a high standard.

Throughout the weekend there were many lucky door prize draws based on your registration number, the prizes being donated by various commercial interests, those in attendance and some that were not present.

The dinner on the Saturday night was excellent both the company around the table and the food. The after dinner speaker (Ian White I believe) was incredibly funny as he described the trials and tribulations of building his own 2 foot gauge railway on a country property.

Chris and I arrived home from the convention yesterday afternoon after staging our trip south over three days. As some may know Chris has back issues and we need to stop very hour or two so that she can get out and move around to loosen up. So we left the convention on Sunday afternoon, drove around Armidale and then down to Tamworth for an overnight stay.

On Monday we stopped in at Werris Creek so that I could investigate the 1972 station building colours and take more photos and dimensions of the refreshment room building. I will give an update on the blog soon. This done we again headed south to Singleton.

On Tuesday morning we drove into Maitland and surprised Chris' 93 year old mother and her sister who go there to have a coffee. After lunch we set off home.

We will certainly be going to the next convention, all in all, a great five days away.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Werris Creek Station - More Colour Information

Today I received an email from Tony McIlwain with a number of photos attached.

Thank you Tony, they were very much appreciated and useful.

There were three colour photos of the station along with ten black and whites. The colour photos were from 1972 and two of them have caused a bit of consternation regarding the colour of the awning posts and cast iron brackets. The photos appear to show the posts and brackets as being green. Tony postulated that the green could be the same as that on the window sills of the hotel and refreshment rooms however the sills were green in the 1963 photo in the last post so it is unlikely that it would be the same. It is more likely that the green would be the same as the dark green used on station platform seats, Newcastle Station awning posts and brackets and other railway infrastructure of the era.

Here are the photos as received and then after a bit of adjustment.

Photo 1
Werris Creek Station - 1972 - Vintage Train to Glen Innes - Tony McIlwain

Photo 2
Werris Creek Station - 1972 - Vintage Train to Glen Innes 2 - Tony McIlwain

Photo 3
Werris Creek Station - 1972 - Wallangarra Tour return at Werris Creek - Tony McIlwain

The adjustments were made to bring the colours of the buffer beam, the locos, the red brick of the refreshment rooms and the common bricks of the upper storey of the main building to a more correct tone. The photos were also lightened to bring out the detail in the shadow of the awning.

The third photo is included here out of interest as it doesn't add much to the colour information.

After this, I then adjusted a few of the photos from the earlier posts to see what showed.

Here are the 1969 photos, the first clearly shows the brown post and cream cast iron bracket above and the second was lightened to hopefully better show the colour surrounding the white rectangles between the ground floor and the first floor of the refreshment room/hotel building as well as below the gutter. This colour, what ever it is can also be seen above the first floor on the main building.

Now for an answer to the unknown colour around the white rectangles here are some black and white photos taken in 1971.

It now becomes apparent that there isn't a different colour around the white rectangles, it was just a shadow effect. Also shown in the last photo is the single colour of the awning post and brackets, looks green to me.

Lastly John Hurst's photo of 3801 at Werris Creek from the previous post (taken in 1973) has been adjusted to see if the 'cream' trim on the buildings could be more like the paler colour of the trim in the above photos. It may be that this was Light Stone.

It a seems to me that the awning posts and cast iron brackets were painted green sometime between 1969 and 1971. The rest of the paintwork seems to be the same between the two years.

So unless someone else can shed any light on the issue it looks like the posts and brackets will be green as Ron's era for his Werris Creek layout is nominally 1972.

Now, though what is the colour of the trim around the bottom of the walls which shows up well in the last black and white photo and also the window sills of the ground floor windows?

Based on this adjusted Weston Langford taken in 1961 I believe that it is dark brown.

I think that I had better stop at this point, then again I am travelling north in two weeks.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Werris Creek Station - Colour Update

I have been able to find a photo of the Werris Creek station buildings taken on 03/02/1973 by A. J. Hurst (John) on his web site. I contacted John to see if he had any more useful photos from that day but after a search he responded that the answer was no. I thanked John and certainly appreciated the time that he took to look for me.

Here is the photo that tells me most of what I needed to know. The year 1996 is not the date that the picture was taken.

The cream or light stone trim with the white rectangles and windows are shown quite clearly in this photograph. Also shown is the interesting colour around the white rectangles, it appears to be a light greyish green, perhaps khaki (also see the 1969 photos from the last post).

Now this photograph really only left the colour of the awning posts and cast iron awning brackets at the top of the posts.

Marcus Ammann told me that there was a 1963 picture on page 38 of the Train Hobby book Country Railway Stations NSW Part 5. I had seen this picture before but had dismissed it but Marcus pointed out that the bottom of a post was in sunlight and that the cast iron brackets above appeared to be cream.

Further searching produced a 1961 photograph by Weston Langford which had a bad red colour shift but did seem to show some colour on the awning post.

I tried to shift the colour back to something more 'normal' by trying to keep the colour of the 48 class within a reasonable range and making the sky blue and this was the result.

As can be seen the post is different to the 1963 photograph. Of interest is the red text on the refreshment room sign and the coloured poster next to the door into the refreshment room.

With nothing further to go on, I have decided that the awning posts and the brackets will probably be painted as per the 1963 photograph. The base of the post will be black (possibly bitumen to protect against water and rust, the posts being in holes capable of retaining water), the post will be a red brown and the cast iron brackets above will be cream.

Here is a 3D printed post and awning truss along with some etched cast iron awning brackets. The post and truss are printed as one piece and the etchings are glued in place. The etchings are a bit rough and are my first effort at etching at home. It would be nice if these could be 3D printed as well but the holes are probably too fine but I must look at it to confirm although it wouldn't be fun drawing the bracket.

So that is where I am up to at the moment.

Chris and I will be going to the New England Convention in November and we will be dropping into Werris Creek on our way back to take some more photos.