Welcome to New Zealand Rail 120, Lewis Holden's blog on modelling railways in New Zealand. I'm now modelling in 1:87 (HOn3.5). For NZR plans see the Plans page, or the NZ120 Facebook group.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

ZBP "Pulpliner" VI

The real thing, courtesy of Darryl Palmer
Almost done. Just need to add couplers, paint a few details (i.e. the shunter's grip thingee) and weather and it's done:

Yes, the large shadow is mine...
A slightly less blurry version...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

HWT wood chip container I

Part of my layout will feature a sawmill scene, with the sawmill itself "out of scene" and only part of a storage building / loading shelter and woodchip silo visible. For the woodchip silo I'll of course need woodchip wagons... and the HWT wood chip containers seem to be the perfect fit for a 1990s layout:
From NZR Rolling Stock Lists
The majority of the wood chip containers are HFC class. These are just converted ISO containers, with the roofs taken off. The HWT class were meant as a better alternative to containers, they had greater capacity and, more importantly, could tip when a hydraulic ram was applied to unload the woodchips.

From KiwiBonds
HWT 16, pictured above, was the prototype which came out in 1993. It was originally painted grey, as per the KiwiBonds pic above, but was later re-painted green with a Railfreight logo applied, and the branding "FibreLiner" (which was the style at the time... along with "SpaceRunner" for the ZH class, "SpaceRacer" for the ZG class and I'm sure plenty of other brand names). Named wagons was some sort of 90s thing.

HWT 16 was an orphan for three years until the then Tranz Rail, as NZ Rail became in 1995, had won the woodchip traffic from Portland - Port Whangarei. The production HWTs were significantly taller and shorter than the prototype, but were also 'tipping' and operated by hydraulic rams.

In my fantasy world, the original prototype went into production, hence I can have multiple HWTs mounted on UK wagons with woodchip traffic.

I'm also in the process of designing on the hoof a woodchip silo (see my other thoughts here), more on that later. Before I do I need some basic measurements for the container to get the silo's height correct. So I rapid-prototyped a container this evening in front of TV, thanks to the plans being available in the February 2005 edition of the NZ Model Railway Journal:

The plans were photocopied and glued to cardboard.
 It was one of those basic squares with a few flaps added jobs, but it did the trick:
HWT at the site of the yet-to-be-built woodchip silo.
As you can see, the sides are bent inwards, to fit within the loading gauge.
 Eventually I'll get around to making one (probably with the outer parts 3D printed)...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

LWD tank container in 1:87 scale (HO scale or NZ87)

Not much to update on this week... I've not spent much time in the garage (apart from fiddling a bit with the track), and on the 3D front I've only done a scale-down design for a fellow Shapeways member who asked for a 1:87 version of my LWD tank container design. Here it is.
LWD containers being loaded in the 1990s, with Railfreight decals.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Response to Peter Ross on 3D Printing

A response to Peter Ross, regarding his comment in the June New Zealand Model Railway Journal:

About a decade ago, the Journal noted an ongoing and seemingly unstoppable decline in new adherents of the model railway hobby. Club memberships are in decline, magazine sales falling and anyway, kids these days are more interested in video games.

About the same time, I noticed an increase in newbies to the hobby who were playing around with Microsoft's Train Simulator and Auran's Railworks. They started making 3D models for use in the game, and "skins" for them based on whatever the current liveries were  (just look at all the 3D models submitted to - the breadth of models available is very impressive). I thought at the time this was a huge loss to the hobby, as most people playing train simulators were, obviously, already interested in railways and willing to spend hours making up routes (effectively digital versions of our physical layouts) and drawing models.

While 3D printing has been around since the 80s, it has only really taken off in recent years due to the trifecta of increasing low-cost electronics, freely available CAD software and the internet. It's now possible for someone with fairly basic CAD skills and an internet connection to manufacturer plastic components as they desire. The technology is having a major impact on everything from jewellery to (more worryingly) gun manufacture. Even NASA is sending a 3D printer into space to produce otherwise bulky and heavy tools and equipment as its required, rather than having to send up entire tool kits. The technology has massive implications for manufacturing which I won't go into here - but one prediction has stated it could be as important to human progress as the invention of the printing press.

I'm certainly a fan of the technology, and have made use of it myself. My view is that it's pretty good for making awkward parts that aren't easy to replicate in styrene, at least in 1:64. But I'm not so sure such glowing predictions will prove to be accurate. Like Peter in his June comment in the Journal, I do think 3D printing can be seen as something like a tool for all purposes. It's also absolutely true that the quality of some of the models isn't nearly as good as other traditional methods. I suspect this is because many of the models being printed are coming out in the cheaper materials (which tend to show up the "layered" nature of 3D printing) rather than the ultra-detail materials which look far better, if not better detailed than traditional methods allow. At the moment I would say such models look best in NZ120 scale, rather the larger scales.

Regardless of quality though, the critical point is that 3D printing is opening up New Zealand model railways as a hobby to many more people. In particular those born since the internet became a feature of our lives. I have to take my hat off to Peter Bryant's exceptional work in this area. Peter has produced many models that would otherwise never have been made. The economic realities of making models for New Zealand's unusual gauge for our small market. To my mind the combination of train simulators' and their CAD designs and 3D printing will ensure that modeling New Zealand's railways will prosper in the long term, rather than go into decline. While I accept that 3D printing doesn't yet have the quality of, say, laser-cut that isn't the issue.

Monday, October 7, 2013

LWD 10ft bulk liquid container II

I've ordered a print of my LWD container. Now for the decals...
Enough decals for 3 containers.
The NZ Model Railway Journal shows on its design that the containers had the text "bulk wine" with the Railfreight logo and typeface, but it seems there aren't any pictures of this text actually ever appearing on the containers.