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.

CP plywood-sheathed van in N scale

CPR Van 436980-437264 preview no scale
This is another of those projects I’ve wanted to try for a while. I love these plywood-sheathed CP vans (cabooses). Over the years I’ve often kitbashed stand-in versions based on the Bachmann, Model Power, or AHM three window, end-cupola cabooses by blanking out the extra windows in the body and cupola. While I’ve liked every one I’ve done they all are missing the proportions of the prototype.

This model is designed to fit exactly on an Atlas or similar end-cupola caboose floor. This helps keep the costs down and if you select a newer production model, like the Atlas Trainman version, you not only get the floor but some nice, low-profile wheels, and Micro-Trains compatible couplers. I have included the railings as moulded on parts. With no real extra details required, all the modeller should have to do on receiving the model is to clean and prepare it for paint, paint, and finally rub on some classic CDS dry transfer lettering for these vans.

sw1200rs Flexicoil truck update

Some previews of the Flexicoil sideframes. I think these are pretty close and these revisions should resolve the issues I found in the first iteration’s test print. I have decided to add in some more brake details. These should be separate parts but given their small size this might be worth attempting as a moulded on part. I think they look terrific and I can’t wait to see the second test print.

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.


Tempo hoods in N and coming soon in HO

N scale Tempo RS18 short hood and long hood end now available on Shapeways.

Last week I finished the CAD design to print a short hood and long hood end for one of CN’s RS18 Tempo diesels. These ends are designed to fit onto a Atlas or Kato N scale RS11 shell. Simply cut off the old and glue on the new. These ends can be used on models of 3150, 3152, 3154, and 3155. 3151 and 3153 were involved in wrecks and when rebuilt had their HEP generators removed so the detailing on the top of the hood was changed. I’ll be adding a different hood end for these two units.

I’m a pretty big fan of these and have wanted a pair for some time. The pair I’m particularly interested in are 3152 and 3154 since both have served in both Tempo and GO Transit service. I’ve blogged about the prototypes often here on Prince Street and most of those posts should be tagged with “Tempo” so searching for them should be easy. For more information, check out the CN SIG’s page:

N scale sw1200rs sideframes

A clip-on replacement for the Life-Like N scale switcher trucks to convert the stock sideframes with a pair of Flexicoil ones and bring us one step closer to an N scale sw1200rs. I’ve just uploaded the CAD work for these sideframes to Shapeways. Here’s their preview photo showing the sideframes:

N scale sw1200rs sideframes

The listing showing the sideframes is here:

These are direct replacement parts for the ones the Life-Like sw8, sw9, and sw1200 come with. I’ve designed the basic truck frame to exactly match the Life-Like truck. Life-Like did a beautiful job with their truck. A few times, the minimum wall thickness for Shapeways was a little thicker than Life-Like’s so you may have to do a little filing to tidy up the finished part. Some small diameter hoses and rods can not be printed so are not included. I have included a silhouette of the brake shoes but they are not in line with the wheels (neither are Life-Like’s, for what it’s worth).

I’ve been day-dreaming about this project for a very long time. It’s neat to be on the cusp of completing it. I expect to order a test soon and as soon as it arrives and I’m comfortable with the quality I’ll open it up for sale.