Shapeways and N scale tramway track

I just had one of those “Eureka!!!” moments and I figured I’d just note it quick before I forget again. I’m like that.

The other evening I took the time to “pave” the rest of the street trackage on my little N scale traction experiment. Most of what I know about building N scale tramways I’ve learned from reading articles on similar topics written by OO scale modellers. Regardless of whether their trackwork is handbuilt or from a kit we all wind up with having to improvise a method of “paving” the space between the rails. In N scale this really delicate work. On my current experiment I’m trying to use some air dry clay made by Crayola. I’m quite pleased with the project so far but I am still saddled with two issues:
– the clay shrinks when it dries
– it’s still challenging to make a decent and uniform groove at the flangeway

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to inspect a length of HO scale Hartel trackwork. This stuff is really nice and it’s a real shame that it’s no longer available. I don’t work in HO but I’d buy some if I could find it – just to have!

Reflecting on the Hartel product and how much I wish I could have something like it I started to reflect on what I can have based on the skills and materials I have here in my workshop in Prince Edward Island. Then, this morning, it hit me: “Why not draw up some straight and curved track sections in AutoCAD and send them to Shapeways.com to produce?” I figure I would draw up a set of parts to make sectional panels of straight and curved trackwork. The panels would not include rails but would be designed to allow the modeller to simply thread their own Atlas code 80 or 55 rails in place. Then all you’d have to do is glue the panels to your layout surface and get on with your layout.

Since Shapeways product is priced based on volume little N scale tram track parts shouldn’t be crazy expensive to price. I can’t wait to get back home this evening to start drawing a panel. I’m actually going to try this idea out so watch this space. As it progresses I’ll post updates here online and if it all works it will be available to try out.

Boy I sure am excited about this.

/chris

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