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.

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.

MLW RSC sideframe project back on track

Preview of the HO scale version – click on the picture to see the model page on the Shapeways website.

I think this project is at a point where I can start to share it.

The photo shows a sideframe that I’m working on, that will be available on Shapeways. This sideframe is designed as a direct replacement for those on Kato’s RSC2 trucks and represents those found on the iconic Canadian RSC13, 14, and 24 lightweight diesels.

The final part will include mounting pins so these sideframes can just be plugged directly into the Kato truck. I’ll include brake rigging details that are found on the face of the prototype truck but none of the details typically found behing the truck (e.g. brake shoes). They’ll be packaged in a set of four and I expect they should price out just under twenty dollars for a full set.

I expect to have a test print ready to submit by the end of the week, this week. Once I have a test print in hand I’ll be able to adjust it to make sure what I created works as well as I want it to and to adjust any details for thicknesses and similar refinements.

Also on my drawing board right now are some other detail parts for typical lightweight MLW parts including hood ends for the same 13, 14, and 24 diesels. The first parts will be in HO scale but very close behind will be TT (1/120) and N (1/160) scale versions.

Since this is all still in development, let me know what you think and any suggestions for the design.

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.


RSC13/24/14 truck first drawing

Okay, so this is something I’m also working on right now:

RSC13 truck – not to scale

The above is a 2d drawing I am working on in AutoCAD. Once I’m happy with this elevation I’ll start stretching it into a 3d piece and I’ll be emailing it over to Shapeways to print. Stay tuned, I’ll be updating more on this project soon.