Transfer van update

Shapeways rendering shows the current state of the car - click on the link to see it the latest version on Shapeways

Shapeways rendering shows the current state of the car – click on the link to see it the latest version on Shapeways.

Here’s the latest rendering of the CN transfer van in N scale. So far I’m pretty impressed with how this is all coming together. The roof is designed to be removable and the car will be supplied with the roof as a separate piece. The floor is a part of the model and includes some very basic detailing. The bolsters are sized to work with a Micro Trains truck. I’ve included a 0.030″ diameter hole for the truck’s king pin as a centre guide but expect to ream this out larger for the trucks I’ll ultimately use.

Details that still need to be added

I will be adding in the smoke jack on the roof as well as some more details on the shell.

I’ll be adding in the rain “gutters” over the windows and platforms.

I need to add in the class lights on the roof. I’ll mark these out on the back of the roof casting too in case you want to drill them out to install fibre optic or pico LED lighting. (The roof is hollow to make it easier to route the wires).

Finally I’ll mark out the panel seams on the body. I’ll try to do this in a way that makes it easy to highlight them when painting and weathering while still making it easy to clean and polish the shell while preparing it for paint.

Details that are better added by the modeller and won’t be included

I don’t plan on incorporating much underfloor detail on this one as it’s just as easy to use up some detail parts and wire to assemble. I don’t  have any photos of the underside of these cars and would rather leave out detail than just guess. The generator is there, so it’s a start.

I’ve been debating on the subject of the handrails. This car will only be available in Shapeways’ Frosted Ultra Detail and the material really isn’t suitable for handrails – it’s just too brittle. More than just brittle, I’d need to create handrails that are just too thick (I tried including them and they looked like the were made from sewer pipe). It’s really easy to make up handrails from wire and given the vastly improved appearance I will likely elect for this route.

How much?

I expect the single car will sell for around $25 and I can offer a pair of them on the same print for around $40. I expect to order a test print of this car in the next few days and if everything with that goes okay they’ll be available in my Shapeways store in the next couple of weeks in case anyone else could use one.



  1. So good, Chris. I think the Rapidounderbodydetailitis has infected us all, and all around the world modellers are building derailment scenes, cars falling down ravines, rotary car dumpers or any other excuse to invert cars on their layout and feast their eyes on that gorgeous Rapido underbody detail. Personally, it’s all I can do to glue three or four brake components on an underframe before wanting to turn the car over, run it, and never see the underside ever again. So planning on limiting the underbody and leaving options on the rest of the car for modellers to work on seems like an entirely reasonable approach! So good!

    1. I agree. I’m a fan of the Rapido ethos and am constantly amazed by the standard they set and even more so by their ability to deliver on that time and again. Wow!

      When designing these parts I have to work within the constraints of the Shapeways printer’s tolerances. These affect free-standing parts like brake rods and piping as well as tiny parts. I’d rather not include them if they might not print at all or might affect Shapeways decision to print the part. Sort of a big picture approach.

      Also, though the Frosted Ultra Detail material that I use for these parts prints in a very nice surface finish there is still a slight grain in the surface that needs to be sanded or polished before painting. I have to be careful to design the parts so they can be cleaned up this way with a reasonable chance of success – it might be a real pain to have to work around rivets, etc.

      I’m a big fan of several British model railway companies that offer what they term as “scratch aid” kits. Their market is the modeller who likely will scratchbuild a model and they provide components to support that need. It’s a market just beyond the traditional detail parts market. Scratchbuilding and kitbashing are activities within the hobby that I really enjoy and I am trying to make parts that might tease a few more folks to try this segment out and be appreciated by people who build the way I do.

      If nothing else I’m having a lot of fun making all these parts. Yup…”fun”.

  2. Hi Chris
    Those transfer cabs look great! I’m in for a pair and my friend Pete might want some too – I’ll ask when he gets back from the lake. We are both retired CN Engineers who model in N scale. We have bought many products from small Canadian producers over the years (Briggs and Kaslo in BC and Serge Lebel’s CTC signals) if you make it people will buy!

    I have a couple of suggestions for shapeways projects if you are so inclined…..
    1. a non dynamic brake SD40 bodyshell that will fit on the Kato chasis….Kato never made a non D/B version. CN had two versions.
    2. A CN ComfortCab and walkway/pilot/steps/handrail combination that you could swap out on the Atlas GP38-2 and GP40-2 models . Kaslo hasn’t made a comfort cab in years and it is a little crude compared to what can be done with shapeways technology.

    20 years ago there was an outfit called Athabasca Scale Models in Saskatoon (the late John Trotter) who made folding brass kits for Comfort Cabs (for Kato Shells) as well as CN Pt. St. Charles and CP wide vision vans in HO and N scale. I worked closely with John providing Proto information as well as feedback in building the models. I can help you in this regard as I’ve spent thousands of hours in these engines!

    Looking forward to your reply

    Raoul Cieszkowski

    PS – do your flexicoil trucks in N fit Atlas GP9’s or Lifelike SW1200’s?

    1. Good morning and thanks for the enthusiasm.

      I’ve seen photos of the Kaslo cab and am quite a fan of it. I’d like to see those back in production at some point.

      I’ve seen the Athabasca kits for the cabs but never assembled one. In terms of flush glazing I thought it was a terrific idea and I’m more than certain these kits would build into something beautiful. I have used their handrail kits for the sw1200’s in the past and would like to get a few more of these kits. I wasn’t aware that John had passed away and am sorry to read this. He produced amazing products.

      I once owned a few comfort cabs from Miniatures by Eric. A nice cab but not as detailed as the Kaslo product.

      If we can’t re-start Kaslo production (I’ll look into this) I wouldn’t mind putting one up on Shapeways. I’m very passionate about N scale and Canadian prototypes so am willing to look at anything that we’ve been missing out on but I don’t want to overlap on anyone else’s existing production – we need to grow.

      Replacement pilots are very much on my radar in the same way that the hood ends are. A nice and simple one piece unit. I might propose a complete replacement for the sill casting to make it easier to marry up the new parts to the existing locomotive.

      The Flexicoil trucks are designed in two versions:
      The correct length one was designed as a direct replacement for the Life-Like sw chassis. From my experience they used the same chassis and trucks on their sw8, sw9, and sw1200 models so my sideframes should fit them all equally well. I have a test print of these here now to examine. There are a few minor areas that need correction and I’ll get those fixed and then the truck will be available.

      I’ve always thought CN’s lightweight GP’s were a neat model and they ran on the same Flexicoil trucks. The traditional GP9 truck wheelbase is longer than the truck under an sw1200rs so this second version of the sideframes is stretched to match the wheelbase of an Atlas “Classic” series GP9 truck. It should work equally well on their GP7 trucks. It is a compromise but I have one of these sideframes here too and it doesn’t really look that bad. Unfortunately it’s a very delicate print and mine broke. There are a lot of opportunities to reinforce the sideframe’s design and once those are complete I’ll re-print a test and then have them in production alongside the sw1200rs ones around the middle of September.

      Also on the radar in both HO and N are the Hawker-Siddeley cupolas. I have a friend who wants to kitbash a few of these. He figures he can get the main body to work but needs the cupola. These should be out sometime between now and mid-September.

      Thanks again for the note, I really appreciate the interest and enthusiasm.

Leave a Reply to Raoul Cieszkowski Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s