After years of scheming and dreaming about making my own trains, I finally decided to break down and buy myself a 3D printer. I selected the Qidi XPLUS, a light industrial model that I have some familiarity with from work.
I wanted to make a model of a locomotive that wasn't easy to find in O Scale. I had just returned from a trip to the Trolley Museum of New York in Kingston and had taken detailed photos of an uncommon engine in operation. The museum's World War II surplus Whitcomb 65-tonner has been restored to (mostly) working order with a handsome new paint scheme. I found that although there are some nice HO Whitcomb models, I couldn't find any for 3-rail O Scale. Challenge accepted!
I had a K-Line S2 diesel chassis with truck-integrated motors that had been given to me by a TCA friend. I tuned up the motors, took measurements from the frame and started making Solidworks drawings that I could slice and print. I made some truck buffers and a new fuel tank for the frame.
After a few evenings of effort, the cab files were done and ready to run. Each cab takes about 36 hours to print plus a few hours each for the smaller parts. So far I've used ABS plastic for everything since it's strong, a little flexible and easy to sand or paint.
Getting the right printer settings for a complex part is an iterative process. The first print failed due to poor bridge settings while the second used excessive support material that was hard to clean off. I used the damaged cab to make fit checks and settle the railings and other frame details. I painted and added Microscale decals to the frames and trucks while the prints were running.
On the third try I had a cab that printed to my satisfaction. Here's the finished locomotive, the Whitcomb 65-Tonner Number 9!
I managed to fit in an ERR Cruise Commander board in as well as LED headlights and illuminated number boards. Maybe I could have wedged in a sound system, but I already had an extra sound car to pair it with. With extra cab weights and well-lubricated gears, it runs smoothly and even manages the 5% grade on my layout with a couple of cars!
The printer files are mostly settled and I still have quite a bit of filament left, so I've been keeping the Qidi cranking over the past few days and nights. I've already produced a duplicate kit and am partway through another. I've got some ideas for one or two more Whitcombs for myself, but I might run off some extra kits to sell or trade if I find anyone who is interested.
So what would you, my fellow Forumites, like to see next? Comment below and include some pictures for ideas!
*edit to fix photos