Saturday, July 4, 2015

Time to Start a New Chapter

I haven't posted on my blog for months, due to lots of other things going on in my life, and I seem to check email about once a month, so while I haven't been off the grid, it hasn't been far from it.

I thought I would post some exciting news from Trainworx if you haven't already seen it.  I must say that when I first saw the announcements of Trainworx getting in the truck and trailer arena, it was bittersweet.  I am excited that a major player is now getting serious about some popular and meaningful models for us in N scale.  However, they have come forward with guns blazing, and seem to have replicated multiple truck and trailer models that I have designed for 3D printing over the past 2 years.  I have always said that 3d printing had its limitations, and now that Trainworx has stepped up, they will be able to provide us great models, painted, and ready to use on our layouts, as well as a very reasonable price compared to a raw 3d printed model.

I do find it ironic that they are creating a 379 Pete with a Merritt livestock trailer.  Hmmm, I wonder how they got that idea?  I like to think that I had a lot of influence over their model decisions, but I guess it really doesn't matter whose idea it was in the end.  I hope to see a lot more modern truck models from them and welcome other players into this space as well.

So what does this mean for me?  Not sure.  I get hot and cold on projects all the time, and lately, I haven't touched anything in N scale.  I still do have many unique designs that no one else in N scale has replicated, so I don't plan to shut down my Shapeways shop any time soon.  I never really intended this to be a business, but rather a fun way to finance my hobby.  I would have put forth more effort otherwise.  If I get an itch in the future I might try to design some new models.  But ultimately, I think this might be the change that forces me to look at a layout again.  I am certainly due for another layout project, and have carried many ideas with me since I sold my Marias Pass years ago.

Here is the flyer about the new Trainworx model.  There are photos online circulating of other "in progress" models as well which include a wide variety of models we desperately need.  I see the 379 Pete with Merritt trailer listed for under $30 on some online shops.  That is a steal when you consider that my Wilson version costs about that same amount for a raw printed copy.  Way to go Trainworx.

Monday, March 23, 2015

3d Print Quality - A Closer Look (some new things including my 53' reefer)

I just got a new package from Shapeways today and thought I would share some close up photos of some of my latest designs.  After a soak in Bestine, I rinsed the pieces off with warm water and while they were drying, I took some photos.  Keep in mind that some of the parts are still damp, which tends to leave them with a more transparent appearance.

This 389 Peterbilt isn't a new design, but I did enhance some things.  In addition, I have added a set of mudflaps as part of the grill and air cleaner sprue.  They have a bracket already designed in, with a mounting pin that fits into a hole already designed into the frame.  I am anxious to assemble one of these to see how they turn out.

My concrete block layered sandwich pieces turned out as expected.  The detail is great.

This isn't my first 53' reefer print, but the first I am sharing.  I tweaked the design slightly from the original, but the components are still pretty much the same.  I wanted to show a close up of the rear door, as the detail is very clean.  I have already assembled one of these trailers and they are a beautiful trailer.  With no one else in the world making a modern reefer, I'm excited to be the first to do so.  We desperately need them.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Custom Peterbilt 389. It's Getting Good.... Really Good

I was anxious to get this beauty finished, so I rushed some of the details before letting them dry completely.  However, I think it turned out really well.  Surprisingly, this is my first Pete 389 that I have painted, and one of the latest models I have designed to date.  This custom version includes the stretched frame, rear fenders, and custom taillight bar with shorty mud flaps.

The paint is Rustoleum from a spray can which seem to give me great results on these trucks, and very easy to use without a lot of clean up.  I included a photo of the Peterbilt 386, 379, and 389 side by side to illustrate the subtle differences in these models.  

Lastly, I am still perfecting my 53' reefer design, but thought I would include a teaser at the bottom of the page here.  

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Concrete Block on Pallet - Loads for Flatbed Trailers

I had an idea proposed to me the other day, so I decided to make a new design.  I have been thinking about suitable loads for my flatbed trailers, and pallets of concrete blocks is a perfect fit.  I probably over-engineered the design, but I don't want the stack of blocks to look like one giant block once printed.  So I decided to design individual tiers that could be printed and then stacked separately, including the pallet.

You can see here that I designed a pallet, top and bottom tier, and then 4 middle tiers that can be turned a quarter turn when stacked to "tie" them into the other tiers.  I voided the middles to reduce print material.  I also created a render of what the load will look like after assembly.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Peterbilt 386 Out of the Paint Shop & My Growing Class 8 Fleet

My first Peterbilt 386 is fresh out of the paint shop.  I decided to go yellow on this truck.  The exhaust stacks are brass wire and aluminum tubing for the mufflers.  The mirrors are brass wire for the brackets and styrene for the mirrors.  The steps and fuel tanks were wrapped with aluminum HVAC tape.  Overall I am pleased with how this model turned out.  The newer front axle design makes assembly so much easier.  Instead of trimming the axle and eyeballing each wheel for proper location, now I simply twist the wheel on until it bottoms out against the larger diameter shoulder.  The custom made mirrors were also easy to apply with the #80 holes already printed into the cab.  With these enhancements, I hope to be able to cut down on my time to finish a model, and increase the overall quality of the final product.

While it seems that I have finished only a small number of models, I am beginning to accumulate a sizable fleet.  I now have a decent collection of class 8 trucks, with more planned.  I hope to have a 389 to add to the fleet soon.  Stay tuned.

Painting Wheels

I have tried a few different methods of painting my wheels, and wanted to share my experiences and the method that I feel gives the best results, and the least amount of work or steps to complete.  When I first started these 3d projects, I tried painting my wheels before assembling to the truck frame, after assembling to the truck frame, painting black first and then silver for the wheel, painting silver first and then black for the tire, primer first and then color, and no primer and painting color only.

What I have found is that primer works very well on the truck body and cab, but will just build up on the details on the wheels.  So for my aluminum wheels, I use a rustoleum spray can and paint a couple of coats directly on the raw print.  For steel rims, I still use primer, and then hand paint the rims whatever color I want.

What about timing of tires and wheels?  Well, I find that painting silver first, and then hand painting the tire black yields the best results.  I have designed the front tires with an exaggerated rim where it meets the tire so that a steady hand with paint brush can flow the paint right up to the rim and leave a nice crisp line between tire and wheel.  The rear wheels are a little easier in that I just use a silver Sharpie marker around the inside of the rim to make a perfect line between rim and tire.

As I have posted before, my recent design revisions to place the wheels in a square pattern on the sprue rather than a straight line has seemed to influence the print orientation.  I am getting my wheels printed flat now, which results in very clean prints.  As you can see in the photos, the lug nut detail is present on all wheels.  Take a look at my Kenworth T2000 and you will see that the quality of my wheels has come a long way from the early days.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Some Progress on My Kenworth T2000 and Fontaine Drop Deck Trailer

I thought I would share some progress I am making on a couple of models.  First, the Fontaine drop deck trailer is not new, but I never got around to finishing one for myself.  This trailer model is the Fontaine Infinity which has a steel frame.  I decided to paint the frame red to make it pop a bit.  The trailer still needs a few details including DOT stripes, and maybe some toolboxes between the spread axles.  Also note that this model has the appropriately sized lo-pro tires, just like the real one.  I am already starting to think of dozens of load types to put on this thing.

My Kenworth T2000 is a new model, and this is the first of my truck designs with included mirror details.  The mirrors come printed on a sprue which includes the wheels and tires.  They have a small post on the end of the mirror bracket which fits into a hole on the side of the cab, which is also designed and printed into the model.  I am surprised how much difference a small detail like this adds to the overall truck model.  You will also notice how much cleaner the wheels and tires are in both printed detail and paint.  Re-configuring the wheels in a square pattern versus in a long straight line seems to have influenced how Shapeways is printing these parts.  So far, my wheels are getting printed flat, and very clean.  This is now producing some fantastic results.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pickup Trucks are Out of the Paint Shop - Silverado and Ram

Vehicles are hard to paint!  Enough Said.

Here is my first Silverado and Ram out of the paint shop.  I am happy with the results, although the detail is hard to paint.  It takes a very steady hand and very fine paint brush.  The separate rims and tires worked perfectly.  I'm getting a hang of this 3d design stuff.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Reefer Fuel Tanks & Traffic Barrels

While I was designing my 53' reefer, I decided to take the fuel tank and add it to Shapeways as a separate detail.  I know Trainworx makes a fuel tank, but it is a longer version.  My design is a much more common 60 gallon tank that can be found on most modern day reefer trailers.  My design comes as a 6 pack on a sprue.  They are oriented upside down for optimal printing.

Another idea that I had was a simple traffic barrel for road scenes.  I created these in a 12 pack, in clusters of 4 to a sprue.  I think these took about 5 minutes to design, but I haven't seen these in N scale before.

Monday, February 9, 2015

20' Container Chassis Revisit

It sure feels good to start finishing some truck and trailer models again.  Of course I quickly get too many going at once and am overwhelmed by the amount of time it takes to properly finish just a single model.  I recently bought a pair of my 20' container chassis, as I never actually had one to display here on my blog or on my Shapeways shop.  It's a very nice model, and fits a 20' container perfectly.  I designed the axles as a separate component so that they could be assembled in the extended position as you see below, or the collapsed position when not carrying a container.  I think 20' containers are unique and have a dozen or so for my future layout, and these chassis will make a nice addition to a container yard or highway scene.  Here is my original post about the chassis design.

I took the opportunity to also photograph one of my Kenworth K100's with mirrors and railings applied.

The container chassis are available in my Shapeways Shop