The Oneonta & Mohawk Valley Combine painted

Oneonta & Mohawk Valley Combine, H0 scale

The Oneonta & Mohawk Valley Combine has received some coats of paint and weathering.

The cars was hand painted, except the sprayed primer coat. Alco truck frames are mounted. Ready for the East Penn Traction Meet...


Chicago Surface Lines "Sedan" painted and lettered

It looks like this when Master Mechanics Paul Mayer painted and lettered a resin printed carbody of my CSL Peter Witt 3D model. The result is amazing. The car is nearly ready for the streets of Chicago....

The model was mounted on a Bachmann drive and the trolley pole and some other details added. Just the glasses and the destination signs are to come.
(Photos: Paul  Mayer)


Chicago Surface Lines "Sedan" One man car in H0 scale

Photo: Collection Paul Mayer

In the early 50ies, some dozen of the famous CSL Peter Witt "Sedans" were transformed to one man operation.

The single center door was removed and the double door reduced to the half. The replacement windows had rounded corners. Sadly, this cars never run in revenue service.

But you can make them run in H0 scale, as I added the carbody to my 3D print collection.

Paul Mayer has one of the rare photos of this car and  helped me with all informations needed to reproduce this car. Paul is also working on a decal set.

The model on my i.materialise gallery :



3D drawing and printing [part 2]: side panel with elliptic window sash

 A classic North American Interurban car has some characteristic features : elliptic window sashes, clerestory roofs, rounded ends and big pilots.

This features are not always easy to modelise. The next chapter in my 3D tutorial is about drawing a wooden side panel with an elliptic window sash.

The first step is done in Illustrator. If you are famliar with drawing in your 3D software, you can do it directly.

But I prefer make the basic objects in Illustrator:
1/ The side panel with the window cutout (yellow).
2/ The window moulding (red) and
3/ The elliptic sash window panel (blue).

I draw this 3 elements for the normal paired window and for the small simple window. The paired window panel ist 64" wide.

Saved in file format Illustrator 8, you can open this document in Cinema4D. The best way is to make each element step by step.

The side panel is made first. The flat 2D drawing is "extruded" 4.5" deep and becomes 3D. The lower part of side panel was then adjusted to the full height.

Second object to be extruded is the window moulding, with an offset of prototypical 1 inch. And the the the elliptic window is added, extruded 3.5" deep, or about 1 mm in H0 scale. This is the minimum thickness recommended for most usual materials.

Once this elements assembled and aligned, you have already a basic side panel.

The remaining parts are based on simple cubes and are made native in Cinema4D: the Letterboard, and the lower paired window. Now the basic side panel is finished.

What is still missing are the grooves.

The grooves are "cut" in by a boolean operation. They are drawn first as "positive" long strips (red). Their prototypical width is exagerated to 0.8" and they are spaced 2".

and then multiplied by clooning and carefully placed. The boolean operation engraves the grooves "negative" in the side panel.


Printing an Interurban in Shapeways "Fine Detail"

I received my first Shapeways 3D print (SW), and can now personally compare with i.matrialise (IM). I had ordered a big 61'6" Interurban: carbody, floor, and 2 bogie frames. As material, I choose Fine Detail (FD). Shapeways FUD is not applicable for such large models.

Here is my personal "Benchmark":

Price: The model in FD is almost exactly the same as for IM's Prime Gray (PG).

Quality: I am very pleasantly surprised by the quality. The roof curves are perfect, with no steps. The ultra-fine grooves (spaced .58 mm) are well rendered, without horizontal lines. The floor with resistors, compressor and air tanks has been well executed. Likewise, the bogies.

Fit: The approximately 22 cm long model of SW is about 2mm shorter than the same model in Prime Gray from IM ...

Material: Now the downsides. FD by SW is clearly less robust than PG by IM. A truck frame had already come broken in the shipping box. When cleaning with water I broke also the graceful pilot. It consists of 1x1 mm strips. Presumably, they are unstable by wax inclusions. The chassis was warped, but you can unwarp with hot water. The chimney, about 2mm thick, however remains intact.

Treatment: SW "cleans" the models from wax before shipping with ultrasound. Wax is used as contrast material. But the pieces still contain enormous amounts of wax that you can feel (and smell). Especially with very detailed models with much relief there is too much wax whose removal is still a mystery to me. I used textil cleaner. This washes out the wax, but it remains hanging on the surface as a white powder  and must be laboriously removed with a toothbrush, eraser pen and water baths. As long as the FD parts seem pretty clear and smooth, they contain wax. Only when they are milky white and rough, they are paintable. Dewaxing is a real torture. Does anyone have advice? I'm experimenting also with oven cleaner, WD40, vinegar and salt ...

Design Recommendations: I could glue the pilot again, but after this photo he broke again. In the end, one would have to draw for FD other than for PG: thin structures with long 1x1 mm posts are not possible. Neither pilots nor bogie truck frames in FD. FD also warps easily.

Conclusion: FD is very well suited for monolithic detailed car bodies, but without thin extensions. Forms with many curves are very well reproduced without steps. When drawing, you must consider that FD is much less stable than PG. For thin free-standing structures, one should not venture into FD, even if you stay within the material tolerances. Wax inclusions are obviously a problem. The removal of wax is also a fundamental problem and actually the biggest drawback.


3D drawing and printing [part 1]

Cinema4D interface 

In anticipation of my visit of the East Penn Traction Meet early May 2013, and of the "clinic" I will hold there, I will try to explain some details of 3D drawing and modeling. I will explain my personal way. There are many ways to execute a printable 3D drawing.

First of all, you have to chose the software. Maybe, in many cases, your employer makes this choice for you. If you have to use a 3D drawing software at work, using it also for your hobby would be always be a good choice. For my profesionnal work, I have had to learn Cinema4D. This was very painful, but for me it was the question about to stay in my job or to leave it. Many modelers also work on 3ds Max or a CAD software. But even a "low end" 3D software as SketchUp can be used.

Beside Cinema4D for the 3D drawings, I use Adobe Illustrator for for "flat" (2D) drawings. Each of my 3D models are based on a detailed 2D drawing of all main elevations. The making of the first "flat" drawing constitutes often a considerable amount of time, specially when blueprints are not complete or even not available.
Illustrator drawing scale 1:72
But this pays later. Illustrator interfaces easily with Cinema4D, when exporting in AI8 format. So you can prepare complex vector pathes in Illustrator before using them as parts of 3D elements.

But before drawing, you must fix an essential point: in what scale you want to draw? After trials in H0 scale (1:87) and 1:100, I switched to a basic scale of 1:72 for my flat drawings.

This scale makes it easy to handle imperial measures as 1 pixel represents 1 inch. To simplify a little, all measures are calculated in decimal inch, rounded to half an inch, somtimes a quarter of an inch.

Setting export scale to 87

And when exported to Cinema4D, this scale of 1:72 is easy to transform to full scale. Yes, my 3D drawings have no scale.

They are drawn in 1:1. Only the exported print files are downscaled to 87 and converted to millimeters.