Trainman2001 posted:

I may have given the wrong impression. The sign letters are laser cut out of laser board with an adhesion backing. They're not 3D printed, but you're making me think that it could be. Interesting...

Yes, I understood you. That was my point: Your coincidental mentioning the laser-cut signage in the context of 3-D printing caused my wandering mind to realize the potential here.  




My heart is warm with the friends I make, 

And better friends I'll not be knowing;

Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,

No matter where it's going.

                        Edna St. Vincent Millay


That's what made me think of your possibility too...

I wrote a post last night, but was interrupted by #2 grandson with a diorama project. It's that time of the year again. My post timed out and I lost most of the pictures. It was too late to start over so tonight is a two-for. 

I got the filler strips weathered and installed. I finished the P&P RR signage for the Engine House (EH) and today installed it. Grew some more machine tools. Made scale-looking personnel doors. Then I helped grandson design a model of an Irish house where the author of Angela's Ashes lived. I had some styrene furnishing, but we needed to find more on SU and make them on the Machine. I spent this morning drawing up plans for him and correcting some printing errors.

The filler strips are in and look decent. I added more grease stains since this is the part that's under the engines. Of course I ran into a minor complication. There are feeder wires soldered to the siding tracks now in the EH. I didn't realize how much they interfered until I was in the process of hot gluing the strips in place and there were these large bumps that pushed the filler above the tops of the power rail. I had to take them into the shop and grind relief into the undersides of the MDF and actually remove some of the styrene packing. Meanwhile, hot glue is annoying! It often cooled too much before I got the strip situated and I had to scrape all the hardened glue off the ties and start over. This only happened in two out of the six strips. After gluing down the strips, I put the EH back on it moorings and permanently fastened the bumpers in place with the contact adhesive strips. I tested them and it holds like crazy.

EH Filler-wire problemEH Fillers Installed and BumpersEH Fillers Installed

I was going to just grow some crash bars hardware for my personnel doors, but when I looked at the SU doors that I had downloaded they were complete with crash bars, door closures, outside handles… the works. I decided to grow them and see how they would turn out. 

They grew well, but they're very thin and warped like crazy making them unusable. Or so I thought. The door closures, even though I doubled their thickness, were too thin to survive very long. The warpage was awful

EH Personnel Door Warpage 2EH Personnel Door Warpage

I thought about cutting away the crash bars and just using them, but they too wouldn't have survived the mayhem. So I tried laminating these doors to the inside of my scratch-built ones. The dimensions were dead on. The printer prints accurately.

I had to clamp them to straighten them out a bit, but even so they were still a bit warped. But it worked. After painting, they look remarkably real. The crash bars on one double door cracked, but I was able to mend them with Bondic. If you're going to do resin printing, make sure you get Bondic too.

EH Personnel Doors

Here's a door sitting in a machine shop wall. Even without those microscopic closure arms, the door works!

EH Personnel Door Mod 1

I first tried to pad paint the signage with gloss black, but the sponge pad I was using was too soft and was contacting the base surface also. I went to Plan B: using Bare Metal adhesive backed aluminum. It was time consuming, but rewarding. I use the technique suggested on the instructions: you carefully lift a lip of the foil off the backing and then fasten this to a slip of paper. You go to the other side of the piece you're using and do the same. You then lift the foil off the backing with these strips.

EH Handling Adhesive Foil

If you're foolhardy enough to try to just lift the foil with a tweezers, it will be immediately curl back on itself and generally ends up in a mess. Using the paper gives good control and lets you carry the foil to where it's needed. At first I was burnishing the foil down hard and then trimming with a new #11 blade. This made it difficult to almost impossible to remove the scrap, and I was scratching the base color. I modified my approach to just putting the foil in place and fastening it to the letter's top only so I could clearly see the outline. After trimming I went back with a Q-tip and burnished down the edges. The results were gratifying.

EH Signage Finished

Today, I marked out the EH and, using 3M99 high strength spray adhesive, I affixed the signage to the building.

EH Signage Installed 1EH SIgnage Installed 2

I'm designing the exterior lighting. I'm going to have three units mounted to the roof directed at each door. This will also serve to illuminate the signage. I also want lighting over each personnel door. I'm going to grow the fixtures to specifically accommodate the surface mount LEDs that I'm using so much. I also bought two 12 VDC 30 watt units that will be most capable of powering whatever lighting is going to be at that end. I bought two since I'll need more for other uses as well.

And… the ultrasonic cleaner (USC) arrived yesterday and immediately went to work. I now have a fully equipped resin printing work station. The unit is noisy, but it works great. I cleaned my air brush and it worked well. I also cleaned my watch band and it was filthy. I cleaned everything the Machine put out. I'm still using the two-alcohol baths, but for shorter time. I then run it through the USC for about 6 minutes. The unit has temperature and time controls.

3D Printing Complete Setup

I put some aluminum screen in the main basket so little parts don't fall through.

Ultrasonic Cleaner Vat

Ultrasonice Cleaner

I'm getting itchy to finally build the gantry. All my ducks are lined up in a row. My older grandson visited us yesterday after coming back from being the sailing counselor at his sleep away camp in Wisconsin. He started University of Illinois next week. He immediately said that I should have mechanized the crane and then suggest that I could rig up a cable system to at least drag it back and forth. I think that train has left the station. If I was to do that, it would have had to be before the girders were epoxied in place.

Just for your edification, here's all the little bits that we grew for grandson's diorama. We grew a bed and table, but they seemed to large for the floor space, so I shrunk them a bit and dit it over. The wood stove in the foreground was a disaster. I had to redraw a lot of it so it would work and I enlarged it a bit since it was just too small to be noticed. We were able to download some 3D people STLs and they printed beautifully. I also found that I can orbit around the images in the slicer by using the two-finger track pad move on my MacBook Pro. Not the easiest of moves, but I was getting frustrating by only looking the top-front-and left side of the objects. I also designed an printed a set of stairs to make the build go faster. He has to have it done by mid-week.






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Seriously, I can't believe all that's gone on for the last 10 days either. My grandson and I worked all weekend on his English project. He needs it for the first day of class which is Tuesday. It had to be a project based on a book he read over the summer. He read "Angela's Ashes", so he wanted to build a replica of their small Limerick, Ireland row house. The scene he was duplicating was their Christmas dinner where all they had was the head of a pig. The house was tiny and the first floor was flooded. We built the house in O'scale since I had some plastic furniture to use. We also made terrific use of the Machine. It really is remarkable! A little over a month ago, I didn't even know such a machine was possible and now I've had it running almost every day.

I also designed and grew the steep staircase. Jack did the floor out of stripped 1/32 balsa.

AA Eating the Pig Head 2

The house made use of some left over Grandt Line doors and windows, and some brick paper I bought from MicroMark years and years ago. I bought it before I had settled on my methods for doing scratch-built projects. The shingles were the last of my Rusty Stumps lot, but Rail Scale is now marketing them.

AA House Build Progress

I drew the plans on CorelDraw. Jack cut the parts out of 1/8 foam core. I did the exterior work and Jack did all the interior work. He'll pick up the finished house tomorrow.

I continued to refine the Printing Station with the addition of digital timer that will manage the UV Chamber. I've already over-baked two projects after putting them in the chamber and forgetting to get them out. They get brownish and very brittle. I can still use them, but they become much harder to handle. Now I set 10 minutes on the timer and leave it alone.

Interval timer for UV BoxUV Timer Running

I've also gotten a line on a flexible resin that when added to the one I now use will impart some impact strength and cut down on the brittle breakage of the finer details.

I wanted to add lighting to the engine house and designed a goose neck affair. I wanted to have it fixed to the roof so I could tie the power into the roof system. I grew the base and the head and will use 1/16" aluminum tubing for the pipe. It's the same tubing I used on the Woodbourne Gallery and Nighthawks exterior lights. 

EH Lighting Fixture

I wanted to be clever. I designed the parts so the all the holes would be grown in. It took three tries. The first I had the head and base on the platen flat and using light support. I also included one pig, since the Machine doesn't care how much stuff is on the layer. It's just an imaging process. 

Screen Shot 2019-08-16 at 12.48.53 PM

The heads printed okay, but the supports were up inside making cleanup troublesome since that's where the LED is going to nest. The pig came out great, and the bases all broke loose for their supports. They were just a flat blob cemented to the FEP film at the vat's bottom. I thought I was going to have to replace the film since they seemed really attached. After removing and filtering the resin back into its bottle and cleaning up the vat, I attempted to remove the stuck resin and was successful by just gently picking up one corner and the pieces just popped off. There was no apparent damage to the film and the Machine printed successfully two more times.

The second attempt grew nicely by positioning the pieces on the 45. The heads were perfect, but the bases again failed, but this time due to my SketchUp design. I didn't group the center hollow mounting peg (1/4" o.d.) and the pipe holder together. Instead, I drew them together with the housing. The result was a hollow housing with the center lug contacting the bottom surface only. Since a surface has absolutely no thickness, as soon as I removed the supports the lug fell off.

Back to the drawing board. I then grouped the tubing parts. Drew the box around them and grouped that. This time, the box grew as a solid resin piece. The lug was formed perfectly with a hole all the way inside. The pipe tube's hole ended at the front face of the housing, but that's okay since I was able to drill it through to communicate with the lug's hole. I enlarged the pipe hole anyway since at exactly 1/16" the tubing would be a press fit and would break stuff. By going to a #52 drill I have a couple of thou clearance.

Speaking of a couple of thou. One of the tests of a resin printer is how close it produces objects to their intended size. I measured the .250" lug and it came out to .251". That one thou could have been the accuracy of the Chinese digital caliper, or it could just as easily have been the rounding error since 1 divided by 48 is 0.02083 not .021. Either way, it's pretty darn close to perfect reproduction. This is attempt #2. Notice the housing sitting flat on the cutting pad.

EH Ext Light Parts Not OK

Here's the total production of good ones. I had a couple of failures when the tubing cracked due to over-aggressive drilling. I found that it was better to do the drilling with the Dremel. The resin doesn't get hot or melt like thermoplastics. I need five heads and bases for the engine house. All the rest of the heads are going to be good-looking modern LED street lights. More anachronistic mind warps on my railroad. I still have to try and build some using the surface mount LEDs. The chamber is not that large. The magnet wire takes up very little space, but needs to be packaged carefully.

EH Lighting Parts grown

I used a contour of Bondic around the tube exits on the housings and the heads. I may have to use a small burr to clean out the LED chamber to ensure sufficient room for the LEDs and their solder joints.

I also received the two LED power supplies that I am using to power all the new lighting. These are 12VDC, 30 watt units that will power lots of LEDs. The HVAC unit is the one I'm building for my son's nephew. I'm going to make some custom decals that say, "Liam's HVAC Company" or something to that effect.

LED Power

And finally, I took advantage of a Harbor Freight sale and bought a portable metal cutting band saw and an angle grinder. I really need more equipment to do the plane restoration justice. These tools will reduce my net since I'm not getting paid for tools that will remain mine, but I've wanted a means to cut metal more efficiently for years to prepare parts for turning. I hate using a hand hack saw. I also bought another digital caliper. They were on sale for 10 bucks and it includes two button batteries. They're almost worth price of the caliper. My current one was getting a little worn. I'll keep it for a spare and throw out the one that it replaced. Anybody want an old parallel port HP Laserjet printer? I don't even have a computer that has a parallel port. What the heck is a parallel port anyway? I have vague memories of them. And the box its sitting on is an old Pixma printer that's already at the Louisville electronic disposal facility.

Harbor Freight Raid

When I first started buying power tools at Harbor Freight I was a little put off by everything being of Chinese manufacture. Now I see that regardless of the brand, including Milwaukee, their stuff is made in China too. So what's the difference. Is my 10 dollar caliper on par with a Starrett. Heck no! But when it wears out I get another for 10. That can go one for quite a while. If I was a professional machinist, I'd probably stick with the Starrett.



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The say the details will make the project and you sure have nailed it. Your new printer is making a big difference in quickly completing the engine house scene. Creating repetitive details are is no longer a time consuming problem.

Where did your grandson get those figures? Really nice, you could have used some of those on your "Nighthawks Cafe" project, You and your grandson are a great team in producing some realistic modeling.


Myles, The project with your grandson looks great!!  It reminds me of projects our daughters did in school.  They made the rough design, I suggested materials and showed them methods.  They took it from there.  At one time we had a portion of the Great Wall of China and the Roman Coliseum in our attic, to name a few.

The new work with the printer is amazing for sure.  Some day that will be taken for granted.

 I do the same with tools I won’t use much.  I figure the tool will outlive me.

My grandkids are going to inherit one helluva shop if they want it.

Yesterday I got the engine house powered up with the new LED power supply spending a lot of time on my creeper under the platform and I feel it today. It's been 20 years since I actually started building this monster and things change physically over that length of time. I have a power strip (actually three of them) feeding all the various stuff the layout requires. I plugged the LED power into the one nearest that end of the layout and then stretched its power cord even further to reduce the amount of hookup wire I would need to reach my target. I use big brass ground bars that are normally used in electrical service cabinets to connect all the +s and -s up. The lighting was strong and looked good.

EH All LitEH Lights on Far awayEH Lights on

I then spent the rest of the afternoon trying to get the trains running into and out of the new facility. The tracks were really dirty and the engines were being very uncooperative. In fact, they were a complete pain in the butt. I'm still working on that problem. Even though my gigantic, out-of-scale, Ross track is more forgiving than say HO or N regarding track cleanliness, it does have its limits and I believe I passed them. I need to install something more substantial on the EH roof so I can lift it without damaging any of the appurtenances that reside on it. Right now I'm lifting it by the smoke jacks, but that's really risky.

Today, I'm getting the shop early and will make some significant headway on the gantry which I started on saturday when working downstairs with grandson.

I also, with the help of Jean Vincent, my Lyonaisse compatriot, finished (finally) drawing the two massive Roots blowers that grace the back end of the 567 prime mover. I will now add the flywheel and finish up the rest of the front end. Then it's onto designing the main generator and exciter and working out the print schedule.

567 Blower End

When finished, they were a bit too large so I scale them back to 90% overall and a bit more on length and now they're pretty close. I wish I had a scaled drawing of this engine. It would have made it much easier to draw. As it is, I've been guesstimating all of the dimensions. We finally worked out that crazy geometry of the plenums below the blowers. I still have the mufflers and exhaust piping, but I'm not anticipating any trouble with that. The blowers were the singularly most complex SketchUp drawing I've ever tackled. I have to decide how many separate pieces I want to grow. By separating into smaller sub-assemblies, I can perfect the printing scheme more closely. Won't take any more print time since they're all going to fit on the Machine at the same time (except for the block)

567 Status Shot Aug 20


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Great nite time picture of you r engine house, quite realistic. The nite time pictures are fabulous. I don't think its been 20 years since I've began following your build, but I think its the first time I've seen your control panel lit up. the diesel engine will definitely add to the detail of the engine house.

Send me an email concerning the flexible resin, my number is listed in my profile.


Thanks Gerry and Pat! If you recall I had written about part of the 567 cylinder head detail not printing way back when I was first experimenting with the Machine. Today, after watching a SketchUp tutorial on speeding up the display I was exploring the Styles tab and found a way to make those pesky reversed faces more obvious. I changed them from the default light green to bright red. Just for fun I went back and evaluated the 567 drawing. Everything looked okay until I peered more closely into that complicated valve area. I found out quickly why things like the cylinder head clamps didn't print. It wasn't due to my positioning or supports. It was due to the sides of the clamps being bright red. Those faces were reversed. So were the cams, the cam bearings and both ends of the rocker arms. I drew this before I learned that the STL conversion software doesn't register reversed faces. The bright red makes the reversed face pop. I fixed them all and now am excited to see how it really prints.

I got the gantry girders including rails built today. I also made a jerry rigged scheme to raise the EH roof and hold it there while working on it. I got the machine shop roof covered and started on the rain gutters. And finally I put the bells on the stack bottoms. I also sliced my left index finger in a bone-headed mishap.

Here's the lifting rig for the roof. Stupidly simple.

EH Roof Lift Fix

After I get it all lined out, I'll remove it, but leave the holes. I was lifting it by the stacks, and while they were holding, it was very tenuous. The prop does a nice job holding the roof open so I can work inside.

EH Roof Prop

I had already glued one 1/4" sq piece that formed the top filler for the gantry girder, but I needed to check it against the trucks on the main rails. I found that I just needed to relieve the angular beam portion so the girder would lie nice and flat and not push the trucks outwards.

EH Gantry Size Check

I was confident that the sizes were correct so I built the girders. They consist of the two sides and several pieces of 1/4" stock to space the girder sides. After gluing all the pieces on one side, I clamped the second side on and glued it all up. 

EH Gantry Clamp

After they were dry enough I trued all their edges so they could receive the flanged that boxed in all four sides. I have a piece of medium grit sandpaper glued to a granite surface plate that I use for all my flat surfacing operations. I hold the workpiece up to an angle square to ensure that the surfaces are not only flat, but also square.

EH Gantry Girder Truing

The flange extends 0.040" on each side. I measured the width of the native girder and two pieces of 0.040" stock and measured this stack with the caliper. I transferred this to the 0.040" sheet stock and scribed the width. I scribed the strips with a long straight edge and an model knife with a #11 blade. It was doing that that got my index finger. I was having trouble with the tail end moving slightly and needed to apply more pressure. I noticed my thumb was close to the edge and moved it towards the straight edge center. What I didn't notice was that my index finger was actually hanging over the edge and drew the blade into it. Work then abruptly stopped! Being an Eliquis user, my blood clots slowly. I find that with a clean cut, direct pressure for a few minutes works well to keep bleeding minimized. I then hit it with some clean IPA, and then New Skin liquid bandage followed up with two layers of tight bandaids to keep the pressure on.

Then I got back to work.

After gluing on all the flanges I went back and trued them up, trimmed the angle pieces and prepared them to receive the rails. You can see that very little relief notch at the ends.

EH Gantry Girder Built

The hoist rail is some S-guage scale rail from a chunk that Roundhouse Trains gave me gratis. It was a piece of scrap. I cut them to length and epoxied them with 6 minute epoxy clamped to the table edge.

EH Gantry Rail Clamp

EH Gantry Rail Epoxy 1

And here's a neat tip: I don't know where I picked this up. As a quick and disposal mixing pallet I've started using a piece of Press-n-Seal food wrap. You stick it to the table. Put the epoxy or paint or whatever on it. Mix it up, use it and then peel it off and throw it away. I also use it to seal my air brush paint bottles when their flimsy lid gaskets deteriorate. Put it on the bottle, stretch it and the screw on the cap.

Press n Seal Trick

I tried the hoist on to check the spacing vis a vis how the girders fit over the trucks. It fits. I'll do the final gluing of girders to trucks while the trucks are sitting on their rails. I'm going to glue some spacers between the rails to make it easier to position for the final assembly.

EH Gantry Hoist fit

There are some bumper stops that I need to craft although I could grow them. In fact maybe I will. I'll combine them with some 567 prints so I'm not wasting machine time.

I used the same duct tape on the machine shop roof as I did on the main roof. The back door light is going to be tied into the foil wiring under this roof. For the main roof I'm going to run another circuit.

EH MS Roof Covered\

The last thing I accomplished was to glue the bells on the exhaust stacks thus finishing the roof.

EH Stack Bells

I was working on the gutters I ran out of time.



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Progress continues on several fronts. Got the machine shop gutters built. Received my UV curing chamber turntable. Successfully grew both the gantry track bumper, and more importantly, got a great part for the 567 blowers. All that time spent on perfecting the drawings paid off! I glued the gantry girders together and came up with a fair method to make the machine shop roof movable.

I used a piece of floral wire to figure out the curve in the machine shop downspouts. I bent the curves as I did with other projects using the K-S spring wire small tube bender. I soldered it together with the RSU and soldered in some 0.032" brass wire that will tie the gutter to the building. I then cleaned the joints in the Ultrasonice cleaner. For just a few seconds the metal was spotless. I wish it was bigger. I could only do the end, but that's where cleaning was needed most.

EH MS Gutters after Ultrasound

EH MS Gutter Soldered

I used the JAX chemicals to first turn it dark bronze and then add the patina. You don't really know the patina is working, but you just have to let it dry and then, there it is.

I put the gutter on the building and it shows up well. I'm not happy with the way the white roofing is going up building. It's acting as a light block and the hinge to let me open the roof. But I didn't get it very even. I'm going to trim it tomorrow. There's also a strip inside and double layer outside. There's a little leakage, but it's tolerable. The gutters are going directly into the ground to a subterranean storm drain so I didn't have to bend the lower end.

EH MS Gutter 2

I put some H-beam plastruct between the girders to glue them together. Their spacing is a bit narrow, but it doesn't matter since I'm going to epoxy the hoist to the rails. My small razor saw miter box is worn out and the cut guides are so wide that it no longer produces square cuts.

EH Gantry Assembled

I quickly designed the bumpers on SketchUp and then staged them with the 567 Roots Blowers to grow them all at once. If it's going to take a few hours, I might as well get as much grown as I can.

Bumpers and Blowers

The bumpers are a bit large. I added a chamfered base which made them wider and longer than I measured. So some careful filing I got them to fit nicely.

EH Gantry Grown Bumpers

And here's the Piece de Resistance. The blowers were the essential part of the engine that had to be nailed to make the whole deal work. 

567 Grown Blowers 1

The print is so precise that the slight variations in the plenum surface show up. I can do so minor sanding and smooth it out even more.

567 Grown Blowers 2

I got back to work on the front end and found out why the hand throttle lever didn't print. It didn't print for the same reason as the cylinder hold down clamps. There was a significant portion that had reversed faces. On the lever, it was the section right at the junction between the arm and the hub. It took a while to rectify. I had to remove the part from the engine. Copy it to its own file, scale it up 100X and then fix it. Shrink it back to 1:1 scale and put it back on the engine. When you're dealing with small details in SU, it works much better when you enlarge it… a lot.

The turntable is an AC powered unit so I don't have worry about buying batteries. I'm going to by a multi-outlet for the timer and have the UV light and the turntable run by it. It makes for a more even hardening. I spread some PSA on the turntable and stuck on some aluminum foil so its reflective like the rest of the box.

3D UV Box Turntable


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