Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Atmospheric Spare Parts

While so far I've only painted one of the 3 bar slab wagons I recently designed, I actually had quite a few more printed; mostly because printing more than once at once is cheaper due to their small size. Given that I had quite a few I thought it would be useful to see what other people thought of the model, and not just through photos, so I posted a couple out to two fellow bloggers. One of those was Iain who has responded with a blog post which is well worth reading, especially for the wonderfully atmospheric shots of the painted model.

All the feedback I've received so far has been positive although it has led to a few changes to the model. Firstly there was a suggestion that the main cross bars weren't quite wide enough as they don't hang out over the wheels as far as they do on the prototype. I think part of the problem here is that the 9mm track is wider than it should be if the wagon is modelled at 4mm to the foot, so even though the wagon might be the right width it won't "look" right. So I've lengthened the bars by a few millimetres to improve the look slightly. The second piece of the feedback was one I should have realised myself; supply spare parts!

As you can see in this photo the sprue containing the four axle retaining clips is tiny. Each of the four clips has to be cut from the sprue and then clipped to the axle. No matter how careful you are there is a good chance that at least one of them will go pinging off across the room never to be seen again. Supplying a spare on the sprue adds almost nothing to the printing cost so the new sprue will contain five clips.

Now I know that not everyone thinks 3D printing is good enough to produce detailed models, and that the only way to get very good results is to hand craft a master which can then be used for casting. While I agree that 3D printing isn't suitable for every model (see below) I think it works well for this one, and for most models that are predominately wooden where graining in the print isn't such an issue. One of the real benefits of this approach is that when changes are necessary they can be made without any additional expense other than my time as there is no master to alter or re-make and no molds that need to be reproduced. From a distance I think many people would be hard pressed to tell you how most models were produced anyway!

Having now successfully proved that this approach to modelling inside framed wagons works well I've started on designing a few more models. In fact I'm currently working on three new wagons. Two of these will be produced in a similar fashion to the slab wagon (all 3D printed with one main piece and axle retaining clips), while the third will require something slightly different as the upper body contains elements that are two fine for 3D printing. My current plan is to 3D print the main frame and axle clips and then to fabricate the upper section from brass sheet which will be an interesting exercise given that the only experience I have of working with it is the few etched kits I've built recently. I'm hoping I can design something that can be just cut out and folded up without requiring etching but we shall see how that goes in a future post.

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