PEI Motive Power


I wanted a blog title as big as I felt when Taylor Main stopped by my house last week to show off something so very amazing: the resin castings based on the HO scale MLW sideframes I drew and 3D printed. In short, you take a set of them and just clip them onto a set of Kato trucks and within minutes you are here:

assembled truck

Taylor Main photo and model.

Which is one heck of a big step toward building a model of classic Canadian branchline diesel like RSC14 #1762:


Taylor Main photo.

Of course, with one of those you can just as easily build a second and then…

The castings were created by Barry MacLelland of Railway Recollections ( I am so very impressed with the quality of every single one of these castings (Taylor ordered a lot). No flash. None. Every casting was as good or better than anything I’ve ever seen from an injection mould. This is work to be very proud of.

I’m so proud of this accomplishment. I started drawing parts to 3D print at Shapeways just to fill a void I felt existed in the model railway market and to return to my own roots as a draftsman. Creating these parts, in the very first place, was so good for my soul and has repaid so many times over just in the simple act of drawing again. I never expected anyone would buy the parts and since then I’ve seen photos of models made using these parts. I’ve seen N scale Tempo diesels and HO scale RSC13’s just to start. Of course, 3D printing is still a premium means of expanding the reach of the workbench. As soon as I saw the first parts I was curious to know if we could use this technology to create masters from which we could make moulds, and ultimately, resin cast models. I’m so excited to feel like that time is here. Stay tuned for the rest of the kit.

It’s a week later and I still smile every time I see these parts. This could not have worked out better. None of this would be possible without:

  • Taylor Main. Thank you for your support and enthusiasm for this project. Furthermore, thank you for heading up the production of the cast parts and coordinating their production;
  • Barry McLelland. You do good work. Very good work. I’ve been looking forward to working with you and grateful that, that time is here;
  • Krista. Nothing good or worthwhile gets done without your gift of being able to inspire good work. Thank you for investing this passion in this project and the ones like it.

I’ve had a lot of chances to speak about 3D printing to fellow modellers and I look forward to having more of these conversations in the future. We get lost in the idea of the models but there’s a much, much bigger story here in the way 3D printing changes the way we relate to manufacturing. Parts like these casting are a showcase of this change. They are great for the way they take the best talent from the best people and harness their passion for just that one part of the production process. Each of us looked at a project like this and thought we had a way to help. This is just one real example of the power of a good group.

Diesel-driven engine makes first run here

Pretty exciting headline eh?

I’ve mentioned the excellent online newspaper archive at before and how much great stuff there is waiting to be found inside. Today was another of those days where a trip into the archive returns another great nugget of Prince Edward Island rail history. Most of my searches are part of a greater project researching freight patterns over the railway. While chasing down a lead on coal sales I started wondering what might have made the paper with regard to the first diesels on PEI. After all, our Island Division was the first on the entire Canadian National network to be dieselized. Never one to dissappoint the archive returned this wonderful account of day one:

Click on the image to read the full edition at

Click on the image to read the full edition at

Those two 44 tonners were really part of something big. While not a photo from that first day, one of my favourite photos features one working this same Murray Harbour service. You can see a copy online in the CN Images of Canada website hosted by the National Museum of Science and Technology:

While on the subject of the 44 tonners, check out Trevor Marshall’s video on Youtube featuring an S scale model he made:

RSC13 sideframe – excellent photos of the production version

My friend Steve Hunter was kind enough to order a set of the RSC13 sideframes I’m offering on Shapeways and then take some terrific photos of how awesome they look. These are printed in Shapeways Frosted Ultra Detail (plastic). Thanks to the magic of a macro lense he was able to really zoom in on the parts. The grain appears but just check out the detail and how well those equalisers look. I know it sounds silly since I drew these but I’m really proud of how they turned out and how well the details rendered. Check out those bolts, the way the equalisers are proud of the truck frame, and the detail on the face of the brake cylinder.

The photo I had shared earlier showed my first test print. Since that arrived I tidied up the drawing and added that eyebrow casting just above the centre journal box. I also hollowed out the back of the journal boxes. Steve pointed out that on only one of the journals the post that I used to “drill” out the back of the journal re-appeared in the test print. I will correct this on the file at Shapeways and want to apologize (here and now) to anyone who has a set where this appears. It’s only a minor issue and one that is easily fixed on the finished part in seconds with a knife but I wanted to address it.

Thanks to Steve for letting me share his photos here on Prince Street.

RSC13 sideframe test print – arrived and is good

I was just home to make a quick coffee and, as luck would have it, I was just getting ready to head back to the office when the Canada Post driver appeared at my door with a parcel from Shapeways. Inside that box was the first test print of the RSC13 sideframes.

I am so excited!

I’ve now had them in my hands for about five minutes so these are literally my first impressions:

  • The look fantastic!
  • The inner and outer equalizer beams printed perfectly. Since this was really the biggest reason to explore the medium, I couldn’t be more happy.
  • The axle spacing matches the Kato RSC2 truck perfectly

Now to upload the latest drawing with the final detail revisions and these will be available for production if anyone needs a set.

Thanks Shapeways

Set of four sideframes. The production version will have a different layout to save on printing cost.

It’s been quite a while since I posted an update on the RSC13 sideframe project. I think the last I wrote was an update that my set of four had been shipped from Shapeways.

Though I’ve been openly critical of Shapeways past insistance on using only UPS to ship parcels to Canada I’m excited that they now offer a United States Postal Service option. It was never about the cost of shipping, I just find that UPS shipping to Prince Edward Island is about as reliable an option as just firing the parcel into the nearest river and relying on time and tide to bring the order.

This post isn’t about UPS. I wanted to update on the RSC13 sideframe project and where I’m at with that and to do something I should have done just about two weeks ago: thank Shapeways and recognise supber customer service.

Once you’ve placed your order with Shapeways they provide a web page where you can track your model through the printing process. As the print job nears completion they add the parcel’s tracking number and a link to the shipper’s website so you can track its trip to you.

My model had travelled through the Shapeways process meeting all their projected timeline points and it left Shapeways as they planned. I copied down the tracking number and periodically checked the USPS website to see if it was closer to the Island. USPS’s service standard for the parcel put a delivery time of around ten working days. Around day fourteen my parcel hadn’t arrived. I’m not in any rush for these but wanted to ask in case there was anything going on I wasn’t aware of.

Within a few minutes of my sending Shapways an email I received an auto-reply notifying that my question had been received. What impressed me so much was that well within that first hour, I received my first personal email from Shapeways. No generic email either. A nice personal note to let me know they’d seen my note and to reinforce that they were going to see what happened. By the end of hour two, I’d received two more personal emails. Both were really nicely composed notes and by the end of the third they apologized and offered to re-print the model and send me a second one. I replied that their extra attention was appreciated but unnecessary, that I was okay to wait. They insisted and I took them up their offer. Shapeways had done their job printing my parts but immediately took responsibility for USPS loosing the parcel. I am so impressed with their personal attention and the way they offered to take responsibility for developing a solution that suited us all. A lot of folks do a lot of talking about owning a process and last week, Shapeways really went out of their way to prove their commitment to their service and their customers. I’m really impressed and already looking forward to doing more business with them.


Now, back to the trucks.

On July 8th they shipped my second set of sideframes. I’ve been following this on on USPS’s website and today the parcel cleared customs. I fully expect to be holding onto them this coming week and I am pretty excited. I have a Kato RSC2 here (thanks, again, Greg!). I expect within minutes of getting the parcel I’ll have a photo to post showing how these look on the stock Kato truck they were designed for. I already have the final version of the drawing ready to post to Shapeways and if everything goes to plan, I’ll open the model up for ordering on the Shapeways website by the end of this month.

Finally. A ready-to-run PEI diesel for HO scale.

Yup, that’s right. Excepting the brass models Overland has sold we’re about to have access to a PEI railroading diesel right off the shelf! Bachmann have planned to offer their 44 tonner in CN’s olive colours and decorated as #1. I understand there will be a few details that won’t be perfect but think about the big picture, for a reasonable amount of money a HO scale modeller can purchase a ready-to-run PEIR diesel.

Here’s the listing on the Bachmann website:

I posted a note on Bachmann’s forum to see what colour scheme it would be offered in and they replied this morning:

Dear Chris,
It will be in the olive scheme.
Have fun!
the Bach-man

I think this is pretty terrific news. We have those wonderful eight-hatch reefers and wooden vans from True Line Trains. There are many other PEI-friendly models to compliment these and this is a great start for someonee interested in a PEI themed model railway set in the 1950’s to 1960’s.

PEIR contractor’s diesel

Beside the trail in Murray River is another of the excellent information signs that the Island Trails folks have been adding. A lot of them include some really neat railway facts and this particular sign included a photograph of this funky little contractor’s diesel. Looks like a little Davenport. Looking behind the engine that background scenery doesn’t exactly look like the area but then again maybe I just need to learn more about the shot.

Tignish, Miscouche from “Les archives vivante”

I may have shared these links before, and if I have forgive me. Some great historical bits and a great PEIR narrow gauge photograph in each one.

Gare à Tignish
Includes a great shot of the second Tignish, PEI station. Of the variations I’ve seen in Tignish this is my favourite version. I drew this station’s predecessor and the drawing is available somewhere in the blog. Thankfully these articles are all linked together by Categories and Labels.

Train de Tignish
I know I’ve probably shared this photo a pile of times before. A larger version is included in Allan Graham’s book and I just love everything about this shot. Those 4-4-0’s are just the sweetest locomotives ever built this is just such a beautiful shot of one on the turntable at Tignish.

Train à Miscouche
Another great photo and article. Shows a passenger train waiting at the station and some box cars parked on the public siding immediately behind. No date in the article but definitely narrow gauge era.

RSC14 truck update

Progress on the CAD work for the HO scale RSC14 trucks continues, though at an almost glacial pace lately.

Apparently the Kato RSC2 truck has the correct wheelbase and it’s sideframes clip to the sides of the gearbox much in the same way that a Athearn or Proto sideframe would. I’ll try and design a similar set of posts on the inside of these sideframes so they are simple “plug and play” parts for the Kato trucks. The Kato RSC2’s have been out of production for a while but they are still common on and various hobby shops.

I’ve been able to vist RSC14 #1762 in Kensington and hope to see #1754 soon to finalise some dimensions before releasing the CAD to I’m pleased with the progress so far and excited about how much more detail we can pack into the HO ones compared to the smaller scale versions I had actually started out drawing.

RSC13/14/24 truck progress – 3d started

I had a go at converting my 2d drawing into a 3d piece…so far so good. I thought I’d share a preview here.
not to scale - click to view full size

It looks a little sparse but keep in mind that I’m drawing this to print using Shapeways rapid prototyping process for Z scale (1/220 full size) so I hadn’t planned on adding detail where it might never appear. If I get around to doing one in a larger scale I’d definitely refine this a whole lot more from this. One area that I’ve left some highlight on is the springs (shown in green). I just used a pair of cylinders but think I’ll redraw this to try for some appearance of an actual spring. That change will likely appear in tomorrow’s update. For now, it’s off to bed for me.