Finally. N scale Flexicoil sideframes. It’s sw1200rs time folks.

N scale Flexicoil sideframes for the Life-Like sw1200 – click on the image to see teh Shapeways listing for these parts

These sideframes have been on my own personal wish list for a very long time. I’ve had only moderate success scratchbuilding a set and none at all casting copies. Like the RSC13 sideframes I produce in HO scale, these represent an application of 3D printing technology that opens up a possibility that simply did not exist when Life-Like first announced their beautiful sw1200 in N scale. Yesterday’s mail brought the final iteration of these sideframes. Words fail to describe how excited I am about this and how proud I am of this accomplishment.

These are designed as a direct-fit replacement part for the Life-Like (now Walthers) truck. Basically you unclip the factory sideframe and then snap mine back in place. I am a big fan of the Life-Like engine and the beautiful work the manufacturer did designing each part of the model but it wasn’t until I started drawing my own based on their truck frame that I really understood and truly appreciated just how amazing a job they did in the first place. Their sideframe casting is beautiful. I think it might be the finest sideframe casting I’ve ever seen in N scale. They set a pretty high standard to work against and I have a new found appreciation of their work. Thanks guys – you did it right!

Similar to a lot of N scale diesel trucks, the Life-Like switcher uses an copper strip mounted outboard of the wheels to pick up power. The shape of this piece alone dictated a lot of the design of my parts and did impose some limits on my design. As a result of this practical limit, my sideframe is shallower than I hoped but it does still cast a decent shadow. As I mentioned in the listing, the brake cylinders mounted outside the frames will rub against the gussets cast into the diesel’s frame. These gussets are not as pronounced on the Canadian diesels as Life-Like rendered them so filing them back a little shouldn’t be too much of a bother. This remedial work is closer to being a “must do” if you have tighter curves on your layout.

Beyond the brake cylinder thoughts, it’s also important to remember that the Frosted Ultra Detail these sideframes are printed in is a fragile material. It is not as forgiving as a traditional sideframe casting. Finally, to make sure it was possible to print this in the first place I have made a few tiny areas just a little bit bigger than they need to be so some filing may be in order but this is minimal and the result is wonderful.


  1. I have a LL 1200 and Atlas GP9’s. I am going to see how close a fit the LL truckframe is to the Atlas. So I might be in for a few. Also – the Briggs 8-40CM’s are out only 45 produced.

    1. The LL truck is shorter than the GP truck so the sideframe alone won’t fit. I have a number of both of these models and really need to see how hard it would be to fit one’s trucks to the other.

      Thanks for the tip about the new Briggs models. He does beautiful work. His approach to kits is something I’d like to see expanded so we could have N scale RSC13’s, etc.


    1. RS1325’s. Cool. Are you modelling the Chicago and Illinois Midland?

      I’ve succesfully printed the Flexicoils as shown in this post, as a full basket, and also as flat sideframes to glue over the original sw1200 truck sideframes. I’m quite pleased with how well they worked out. I originally hoped to work out a conversion so that these trucks could be used under a GP-style frame. Originally I created a stretched Flexicoil mounted on its own frame as a direct fit replacement for the Atlas GP truck. It looked great but was fragile and I need to rethink my approach.

      Thanks for the comment. Sorry I took so long to reply.


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