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Earlier this year I bought a couple 60' foot flat cars from Atlas. At the time they were by far the biggest rolling stock that I owned. I ran them on the layout and loved how detailed they were. After a while in thought that they needed a load to spice them up. I started looking on Google for modern flat car loads and I stumbled upon the Boeing 737 loads. I had never realized that Boeing was shipping fuselages across the country by train. Spirit AeroSystems builds the fuselages in Wichita, Kansas and ships them to Boeing in Renton, Washington using BNSF.

 

I started looking to see if anybody was selling these behemoths. I found a lot of HO and N Scale modelers making them, but no one makes them in O Scale. This got me thinking if no one is making then I going to have to build it myself. I started looking for 3D files of 737s. This proved to be just as hard as finding someone that would sell me one. I found a couple of people who posted their files on Shapeways but, they were all in HO or N again, no O.

 

I knew if I just had the file, I could easily Scale it up to the correct dimensions. Sadly, the way Shapeways works is that sellers upload models and the seller has Shapeways print and ship the parts to the buyer. As a buyer you can't get the files and use them for yourself. This is very different from the way most of 3D printer community works. Most times files are posted online for free on site like Thingiverse, and MyMiniFactory. This has led to a huge boom in idea sharing and amazing models. I would argue that it’s a huge reason that 3D printers are so popular today.

 

However, I digress, I did end up finding a file on a site call grabCAD. A user named "Ben Blecha" had made an HO 737-800 fuselage and posted it there. I downloaded the file and got to work on modifying it.

 

The first thing I needed to do was Scale the model to the correct size. According to the NMRA standard HO Scale is 1:87.1 and O Scale is 1:48. To find the scale factor I used this equation 48/87.1 = 0.5511. All I need to do was scale the model in cad by 0.5511. I checked that I did this correctly by looking up the specs of the real 737-800 which is 130 feet according to Google. I found that my math was pretty close making considering my airplane was missing a tail fin and chuck of its nose. The O Scale fuselage end up being a whopping 30 inches. To put that into perspective Lionel's Big Boy is 32 inches with tender.

 

 My 3D printer is nowhere near big enough to print this airplane out in one go. I decided that I need to break up the model into smaller pieces. I'm using an Ender 3 to print all my stuff and it has a print volume of 8.6" wide, 8.6" long, and 9.8" tall. I decided to cut the model into 7" long sections which gave me five sections to print. I could have gone taller but by making the cuts shorter people with smaller printers could also give this print a try.

 

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Once I was done cutting the model, I figured that I should create some short of key in between the cuts so that when I went to assembly the model they would line up perfectly. I created circle shaped embossment on one section and the other section I cut away the material kind of like the pins and holes on a Lego brick. I also add 0.005" of tolerance between the pin and hole so that I could fit them together easily and also because 3D printer aren't prefect and won't also hit perfect dimensions.

 

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At this point I was ready to move on the slicing the model. Slicing is how you tell your printer what you what to make. 3D printers are kind of "dumb machines" meaning they don't really think for themselves. 3D printers just do exactly what they are told. You tell them what to do by feeding them a programing language called g-code. The slicing software writes the g-code for you cutting your model into a series of thin layers. Once the software is done slicing, it creates a file that you can send to your printer.

 

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Printing the 737 required high resolution (how thin each layer is) which increases your print time. It ended up taking over 6 and half days to finish the whole print. I ended up printing each section separately instead of printing them all at once which meant that each section took about a day and half. It didn't really dawn on me how big this was going to be until I started to assembly it. It was bigger than the 60' flat car that started with, so much bigger in fact that I decided to go with the proto typical 89' flat car. Not to mention this load brings a whole new meaning to "swing out". It hangs a good 6" off the end of the flat car and hits other trains on my double main line.

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I am very happy how this project has turn out so far. I still have a lot to do with sand and painting before it done. I'm glade take I was able to use so many of my skill to make something that nobody else had, but now that anyone who wants one can make their own. I'm posting the files on Thingiverse "link here". For those of you brave enough to.

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Last edited by Slipskull
Original Post

That’s an outstanding (as well as out-swinging) project, for which many thanks for posting. I have never got anything from Shapeways with a finish like the one shown in your photos - including the window recesses - or on which I could get such a finish. I can’t imagine it emerged from printing that smooth but what print medium did you use?

Slipskull posted:

Hancock52, 

That's the finish from the printer. I printed it at layer height of 0.2 mm. I haven't done any sanding yet. I used a PLA+ its just a little tougher than normal PLA but has similar tensile strength. 

Right, thanks. It was only by enlarging the photos that I saw how the layers had been applied, in effect creating a cylinder. What I have had printed is essentially rectangular, as in a tender body shell. Also, while Shapeways gives you some choice in terms of the material used, as far as I know there's no option for a particular layer height. I think 0.2mm = roughly 8/1000ths of an inch so very thin.

Will Ebbert posted:

That looks great! I had one made by a model plane number a few years ago. I really need to finish my flat car model. I have the cradles from Shapeways that turned out nice. Screenshot_20200420-124957_GalleryScreenshot_20200420-124950_Gallery

Will, 

Very Cool! How was yours made? I know you say you had it made for you, but do you know how it was constructed? Also which 737 did you model? 

Slipskull posted:
Will Ebbert posted:

That looks great! I had one made by a model plane number a few years ago. I really need to finish my flat car model. I have the cradles from Shapeways that turned out nice. Screenshot_20200420-124957_GalleryScreenshot_20200420-124950_Gallery

Will, 

Very Cool! How was yours made? I know you say you had it made for you, but do you know how it was constructed? Also which 737 did you model? 

Thanks! It was carved out of mahogany by a company based in the Philippines. Turns out the species of tree is threatened (oops). I went with the 737-700 since it's the shortest. In a perfect world I would've gone with a longer one, but the overhang is crazy as is. 

Awesome.  This is one of my upcoming projects but I'm still working out the approach.  FYI, there is a Boeing Model train club for Boeing employees.  A quick search would probably yield an email address.  I'm not promising anything, but, you never know what door could be opened by firing off a well phrased message.  FWIW, I met some incredible engineers working there and some had an almost fixation about anything engineering.  You probably already checked out the Boeing site and BNFS's site, I've seen details on both sites regarding these trains.

My mind is going a million miles a minute trying to solve all the swing out issues I would have on my layout with something that big.  It just won't work on my layout but I absolutely love the idea and the work you are doing.  I am a bigger plane brain then train brain and I fly 737s for work so, not being able to model this train is killing me!!!!!!! 

 

FAA is most of the way done with the recertification on the 737 MAX.  Spirit Aero and Boeing have started up the assembly lines anticipation of the new certificate approval.  Sooooo, soon you'll be able to see these rolling towards Seattle again.

@ddgoose69 posted:

the question remains, what do you think the cost would be just to get a rough version?

Sorry for not answering this question earlier, I have had to do a lot of thinking about this. My first thought was to suggest a place like shapeways. However, When I tried to get a quote on there website they wanted something like $700 per section which is ridiculous. I understand that 3D printing is not for everyone and there are people out there who just want the model. 

So If there is anyone out there that is interested in a rough version please email me at Davemlambert3@gmail.com. We can talk about details.  

I have been giving this a go.

ive printed sections 1-4 and just got 5 going.

 

FA1FF3A6-BE3C-4DD7-BFF7-28CD79B3CCFC

Ender 5 Pro
.12mm layers, 7% infill (cubic)

Hot end 215C, bed 60C

Microcenter PLA+

Sliced with Cura

 

The only “issue” is the file imports as mm not inches, and needs to be scaled up 2538.07% to print right.  It’s no big deal. I know we're working with a repurposed model, but its missing the overwing emergency exits. Those will need to be painted or decaled on.
every once in a while I get a misprint layer.  Right now I’m trying to get a complete model, then I can go back and deal with that.  I printed the outer shell 4 layers thick, so it’s probably strong enough, probably will just go over the bad layers with squadron and sand.  I suspect that’ll need to be done on the seams anyways. 
I’m going to use the Shapeways cradles, and that guy also has the clearance frame too.... Have enough atlas flats to do a couple, just need to repaint them. 

I would love to know if anyone has found a print material which is the right shade of green. Right now my plan is to assemble and clean up the joints, then paint it a light grey, followed by translucent green.  I know that wrapped up finish is going to be hard to get. I'll probably experiment a bit on some plastic sheet, etc... before I take a crack at the model itself. 

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Last edited by Boilermaker1

I would believe there are a lot of us interested. Personally, I have placed in storage the Atlas flat cars needed, not the correct graphics, but I would think if the planes were available, Atlas or a dealer would be eager to bring out the correctly marked BNSF cars.  Hope you guys keep pursuing this venture. Thanks for contributing to the topic.   Just dreaming?

Buzz

 

I have recently got in contact with some people at Boeing Employees Model Railroad Club. They have very kind in answering my questions and helping me make my model more accurate. With all this new information I decided to start on a Second Revision of my model.

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REV_02 has more detail around the wing sections. There some under structure that is exposed on the prototype that I did my best to replicate. I had to make some sacrifices in accuracy in order to make a more stable model. The printer I use can't replicate all the real world details because of it resolution. Also the details would become so small and weak that they would become too fragile to handle. To counter act these both problems I made some of the parts a little thicker than the prototype.

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The wing section had so much detail I decided not to use a normal FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) printer. I instead used a SLA (Stereolithography Apparatus) printer in order to capture the detail. The differences between the two is too complicated to get into in this post. This link goes into more detail. Basically, the SLA uses UV resin to make the part. The resin allows for more detail. To get these details fit on my model I added locating holes to lock these parts in place. These locking features allow the fuselage to be printed with FDM while allow the parts with more detail to be printed in SLA.

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This time I also model the cradles and the brush guard. This is where Boeing Employees Model Railroad Club help out the most. They gave me some good pointers on how to get the correct measurement. I can say that these part are about as close as I'm going to get the prototype. These were also printed in SLA.

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After trying to assembly a few of these planes I noticed a few were slightly misaligned.  I decided to key the sections together instead of using a round pin. This has help out a lot and made the planes easier to glue together.

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The last part I worked on was the tail section. I add the sections that would normally connect the tail fins on to the plain. I decide not to make these removeable because I felt that the FDM printer would do an okay job at capturing those details.

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Overall, I am very happy how REV_02 has turn out. I am still in the process of teething out issues with the new model so I won't release the model on thingivers right away. I will let you guys know when they are up.

 

Also, If anyone is interested I am thinking about trying to do a smaller 737 so that they can negotiate around smaller layouts (my layout included). I'm think 737-200 or 300. Please let me know if anyone interested.

 

I'm also printing these for people if anyone still wants one.

 

Thanks for the feedback,

David

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I have been giving this a go.

ive printed sections 1-4 and just got 5 going.

 

FA1FF3A6-BE3C-4DD7-BFF7-28CD79B3CCFC

Ender 5 Pro
.12mm layers, 7% infill (cubic)

Hot end 215C, bed 60C

Microcenter PLA+

Sliced with Cura

 

The only “issue” is the file imports as mm not inches, and needs to be scaled up 2538.07% to print right.  It’s no big deal. I know we're working with a repurposed model, but its missing the overwing emergency exits. Those will need to be painted or decaled on.
every once in a while I get a misprint layer.  Right now I’m trying to get a complete model, then I can go back and deal with that.  I printed the outer shell 4 layers thick, so it’s probably strong enough, probably will just go over the bad layers with squadron and sand.  I suspect that’ll need to be done on the seams anyways. 
I’m going to use the Shapeways cradles, and that guy also has the clearance frame too.... Have enough atlas flats to do a couple, just need to repaint them. 

I would love to know if anyone has found a print material which is the right shade of green. Right now my plan is to assemble and clean up the joints, then paint it a light grey, followed by translucent green.  I know that wrapped up finish is going to be hard to get. I'll probably experiment a bit on some plastic sheet, etc... before I take a crack at the model itself. 

Its very cool to see other people making these models. Sorry about the scale issues my CAD software doesn't let me change units once I start a model, and I'm use to scaling the models in the slicer.

Where did you come up with 2538.07%? The correct conversion should be 2540.00% since there are 25.4 mm per inch.

As for paint I found that rustoleum deep mint #338934 is close. I picked it mostly because its cheap. 

 image0 [1)

I'm going to post some cradles for REV_01. They aren't as nice as REV_02 but they will fit the plane. I'm not sure if the ones on shapeways will fit correctly. 

Keep up the good work!

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A millimeter is .0394".... so 1/.0394 is 25.38....*100%.

If I blew it up by 2540 it wouldnt be that much bigger.

I'd be interested to take a crack at the V2 file when you're ready. The extra detail looks great. I was going to print a few of them, but I want to try it with a .2mm nozzle so I can drop the layer thickness down to .08. I'm not sure how much improvement there'll be in the resolution lines but filament is cheap and time is plentiful.

 

If you're going to try doing 737 classics (200, 300)... they were not shipped whole. They were shipped in fuselage sections. Only the 737NG (700, 800 and 900) are shipped as a full length fuselage.
Also will need the tail box for the trailing flat car with the older models.

 

Last edited by Boilermaker1

A millimeter is .0394".... so 1/.0394 is 25.38....*100%.

If I blew it up by 2540 it wouldnt be that much bigger.

I'd be interested to take a crack at the V2 file when you're ready. The extra detail looks great. I was going to print a few of them, but I want to try it with a .2mm nozzle so I can drop the layer thickness down to .08. I'm not sure how much improvement there'll be in the resolution lines but filament is cheap and time is plentiful.

There is some round off error with .0394" =  1 mm. If you use one more digit you get .03937" = 1 mm.... 1/.03937= 25.40005. I did some more research and it turns out in 1959 the US changed the length of the inch so that it would be exactly equal to 25.4 mm. Here is a link that talks about it more.

But all that aside your right it shouldn't be that big of a deal your plane will be roughly  0.023" shorter front to back. Just make sure you remember the conversion you used so that you can replicate it in the future. Some of the tolerances in the model won't be correct if you switch back and forth. 

I hope I don't sound like a jerk in this post. I'm an engineering student and think this sort of stuff is interesting. 

I'm curious to see how the .2mm nozzle will work. I have never tried the smaller nozzles before.

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