Sunday, July 13, 2014

Maker Faire KC 2014 Highlights

At least for me, these were the highlights.  I was asked to display some of the items I 3d printed by the model railroad group that runs the displays at the station, in particular, Louis Siebel.  I want to thank him for inviting me.  There are lots of children in attendance, so I did have a couple do not touch signs up.

Here are a few of the things I displayed.

I also had the printer running both days, and, because people need to touch something, I included a tray of 3d printed things that can be touched. 

I also brought a diorama that is mostly items I had printed at, the small engine repair shop, more pics here:

I really thought more people would laugh at the inside joke on this model, but alas, I only saw two people laugh on Saturday.  Sunday, however, was better, as about 10 people caught on.  If you don't get it, you didn't watch Breaking Bad.  The original post with details on building this project are at:

I displayed my 3d printed forklifts,, and happen to be printing one when  Steve (Reverend Hearse) came by the table.  

He was a builder of model vehicles, and wanted to know if I sold the items.  I told him that I had one printing, and if he would come back in an hour, I would fix him up.

This is what I handed Steve, no charge.  I had actually never assembled the lift portion, in fact, I had never printed it on my printer before.  The one I built was scratch built with styrene strips.  

He showed up at my table the next day with the prototype done, or close to done.  I had not made a good way to attach the lift rack to the front of the tractor, which it the reason you build a prototype.  

Not bad for an overnight project and no instructions!

Make Magazine had a nice booth.  Make does a great job covering the home based 3d printing market.

Iron Man showed up along with whoever the other guy was...?

The Sedgewick 3d SLA printer, a kit made here is KC, as showing their printer, and taking orders.  

Check this out, a summer project by a couple young men, building a 3d printer from scratch.  

I really made a mes of my modeling area getting everything ready for the Turkey Creek build challenge, and the Maker Faire.  Then I ended up having a business conflict and not making it to the Turkey Creek meeting.  I have spent the last two weekends just cleaning up the mess, but I did get a lot of drawing done on the next 3d printing project, the Chilhowee State Bank in Chilhowee, MO.

So this is the next big project I am working on.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

34th National Narrow Gauge Convention

34th National Narrow Gauge Convention

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Barrels, Wood and Steel, HO, S, and O Scale, 3d printed

I will be giving away 3d printed barrels to any model railroader who stops by my table at the Maker Faire KC this weekend.  Table 129.  I have both wood and steel in HO, S and O scale.  

 Most of the time, I prime the ABS, as it is porous from the printing process.  Here are all three scales, and both wood and steel.  I print four at a time, just to keep the cycle time down, and two open and two closed in each group.

O (1/48) scale, as I finished them. 

 S (1/64) scale

HO (1/87) scale

You can click on the pictures, and see a higher resolution, close up picture.  Then you can see the flaws in the FDM printing process.  However, at normal viewing distance, for scenic items, they look fine for most purposes.  I would not want to use this process for printing motive power or for vehicles.  For that I would want an SLA printer at the very least.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Stone Arch Bridges, 3d printed, Down on the Farm 10

I saw some pictures of stone bridges, and thought it would be a good learning project for 3d printing.  Here are the two bridges I have done so far.

The back one was just to see if I could get something acceptable, and the front one I am using on my hog farm diorama.  I still don't know where I will use the back one. 

Here is a picture I uploaded in to SketchUp, then I scaled the picture to something reasonable, and used those dimensions to draw the bridge.  

The bridge had to be split in four pieces for printing.  

To get even a quarter of the bridge to fit on the printer, it has to be oriented at 45 degrees on the printer table.  This is a screen shot of the printer software showing a section of the bridge ready for printing.

I added texture to the surface of the rocks by mixing Aleene's Tacky glue to the paint.  That filled in any imperfections in the printed surface, gave the rocks some uneven surfaces, and put some color on at the same time.  The top course of stone was printed separate from the rest to adjust the width to fit the track ties.  I used Micro-Engineering bridge track, but won't add the guard rails until it is installed on a layout.

Down on the Farm #10
I have not been working on my hog farm diorama for some time, and really planned on having it done this week.  Some family things got in the way, but I still hope to have at least the buildings placed for next weekends KC Maker Faire (  I will have a table there displaying many of the items I have 3d printed.  I decided add train tracks to the farm, and since there is a stream through the farm, I was going to need short bridge over said stream.  
Knowing the stream width, I designed a bridge to fit the space.  I decided to add a cut stone with the railroad name to the face of the bridge.  Because the bridge is so small, I did not bother with rock detail under the arch, as it will not be seen.  Also the large bridge above is two sided, so it can be viewed from either side.  This one, because I think I know where it is going on the eventual layout, only needed details on one side.

Here is a screen shot of the Afinia printer software, with the bridge positioned on the printer table.  

The finished bridge except for installation in the diorama.  I added texture to the rock faces by mixing some sand in to some Aleene's Tacky glue.  I looks okay, but if it were a foreground model, it would be marginal.  

A little better shot of the cut stone lettering, and the texture.  The texture would have been better if I had used finer sand.  Next time!

All the Down of the Farm series of posts can be seen at this link:

Down on the Farm post listing, a 3d printed HO scale Hog Farm diorama

To simplify sending people to all the Down on the Farm series of posts, I have added this page, which I will keep updated.  It just makes it easier for me, as now I can just send people to this page, and they can decide what they want to look at.  Most of the structures were 3d printed, and designed by me.  

Smokehouse, 3d printed

Storm Shelters, 3d printed

Slaughterhouse, 3d printed

Shop Building and Machinery Shed, 3d printed

Farm House, 3d printed

Octagon Barn, 3d printed

Farrowing Barn, 3d printed

Windmill and Tool Shed, Woodland Scenics metal kits\

Corn Crib, Blairline Laser cut wood kit

#10 is going to be a 3d printed stone arch bridge

#11 Hog feeders, Hog wallow, water troughs and hog sheds

#12 Starting the diorama

#13 Scenery for the farm, grass, dirt, and a stream

#14  Final scenery and the hog pens.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Barry Well, 3d printing and Vac-U-Forming meet in HO scale.

This picture of the Barry well was posted on one of the Kansas City Facebook groups.  The Barry Well was located only a few miles from where I now live, and I thought it would be a nice model that I could use some place either in a diorama or on a layout.

This photo was posted by Gary Brenner in the Kansas City Memories...Vintage Photos, Places and Things Remembered Facebook group.

This was a hand dug well dating back to the time of the Oregon Trail.  It is said that it was one days trip by Oxen team from Liberty Landing.  

Liberty Landing was about where hwy 291 crosses the Missouri River, and Barry was located about at what is now hwy 169 and Barry Rd.  According to my calculations, that would be about 12 miles.

I drew the well in SketchUp to 3d Print most of the parts in HO, 1/87th, scale.

Once drawn as a complete structure, I explode and orient the parts for printing on the Afinia printer.  

The roofing was another matter.  I decided to go old-school, and break out the 1962 era Vac-U-Form to make the tile roofing.  For more on the Vac-U-Form, see this link for a previous post on who I used it and what I have learned so far.

I did some tests, including this one with the canoe.  The patterns for the tile and the canoe were 3d printed and also drawing in SketchUp.

I cut the formed tile in to strips, and glued it to cardboard for the roof.  

The ridge cap is also Vac-U-Formed, but is individual pieces.  

I am not sure what I am going to do with it, but it was a fun, quick project.

I have to get back to work on the Down on the Farm series, and I have a few more posts to do to finish up the structures on that diorama, so hopefully, I will get motivated to get that done in the next few weeks.  Scenery just ain't my thing!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Vac-U-Form, used for making HO scale parts and details

Did you have one of these when you were a few years younger?

Well I did, and I wanted it back, so I went out and bought a used one.  Generally, when you buy something that old, there are pieces missing, and/or it does not work.  Thankfully, someone else wanted to preserve and use them, so there is a company that has some parts and rebuild kits.

Discover unique and innovative parts and accessories for your Vintage Mattel VAC-U-FORM thermoplastic vacuum machine.

what's available:

  • Products to repair damaged or defective components
  • Products to improve the performance of your VAC-U-FORM
  • Economical replacement plastic sheets - up to 30mil!
  • Helpful user information
  • Nostalgic VAC-U-FORM advertising



Share your ideas and experience with the VAC-U-FORM community.
VAC-U-FORM is the registered trademark of Lo-Tek Inc.

After acquiring the Vac-U-Form, I ordered up some plastic sheets and the full parts kit.  By now, I have about $50.00 tied up in this project.  Certainly cheaper than a new HO scale locomotive, but I didn't know if it would work.  

The projects that I had in mind were a canoe, a row boat, and making wind shields for automobiles.  First, however, I gave the machine a try, just to see how it worked.  I tried it without the upgrade/parts kit, and it lacked enough suction to pull the plastic down around the molds, or so I thought at the time.  Although I was probably right about the suction, even with the upgrade kit, things did not work right, as I was not getting the plastic clamped in the holder tight enough.

The upgrade kit includes and plate to cover the hat plate, thus holding in the heat, and getting the clamp hot.  The plastic sheets available now do no have holes in them to fit the prongs on the clamp, so the clamp must be hot enough to melt in to the plastic in order to hold it solid.  I hope that makes since?

 The used machine I bought did not come with any molds, which was fine, as the only one that I remember that might have worked was the boat.  Regardless, I had to make my own molds...bring in the 3d printer.  I was in need of some tile roofing for a project, and did not find any HO scale that I liked.  So, that and the canoe mold were in the first couple tests.

 This is the first one that came out almost reasonable.  The tile to the left could be cut in to strips, and although the plastic did not pull down tight in the corners around the canoe, it looked usable.

 The plastic supplied has a glossy side and a flat side.  The black sheet in this picture has the glossy side up.  To show the cut lines, I used a white paint pin on the black plastic, and a pencil on the red.

 Once cut out, it is easy to see the backs of the boats were not formed well, and will have to be built up from styrene.

 I am adding some details and reinforcement to see what looks right.  I ran out of red plastic, as I wanted to finish the well roof before I did this post, but it will be another week before I get more plastic.  I will do a post on the well by itself at a later date.

 I cut off the back end of the boat, and replaced it with some styrene, which incidentally, solvent welded to the Vac-U-Form plastic just fine.

You can click on the pictures to make them larger.
 I do have some cap shingles I formed, but can't put them on till I get more red plastic...

 which I would have had, if I had not screwed up this sheet and another.  The is what happens when the sheet is overheated.  The glossy area on the right is so thin it is clear and it broke open, breaking the vacuum.  Maybe two of the rows of tile will be good, but I needed four to finish the project at hand.  The other pieces are to be cut for caps.

This is about the best I have gotten!  For the record, this was preheating for 15 minutes with the plate to hold in the heat in, in place.  Drop the plastic in and use a spring clamp to hold it tight, wait another five minutes, then put the plate on for 15 SECONDS.  That's right, 30 seconds and it melts through like the shot above in red.  If you look close, you can still see some gloss on the right side where it got a little too hot.  Note that the back of the boat is formed perfectly.  I don't think that with this technology from the 1960's I can get much better than this.

It is also important to point out that with each failure in the Vac-U-Form process, I also found issues with the molds.  This is the third rendition of both the boat and the canoe molds.  Adjusting for air holes and getting what was to be the final product down as close to the surface as possible.  Each sheet costs about a quarter, so when a print fails, you just wasted about 20 minutes and threw a quarter away. :)

More later as I get these projects finished up.  Not sure what else I can use the Vac-U-Form for, got any ideas?