Author Topic: 3D printed Life-Like-like plastic frame locos: Crazy idea?  (Read 490 times)

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Sharky_McSharknose

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3D printed Life-Like-like plastic frame locos: Crazy idea?
« on: June 25, 2020, 02:33:01 AM »
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This is probably a :ashat: idea, but what the heck, why not share it?

I've been doing a lot of looking at Baldwin Babyface and Sharknose cab diesel locos, and was thinking of ways to produce the unproduced ones in N scale. Given the only commercial choices are the E-R RF-16 Sharks, V-line Shark shells, BLI Centipede, and brass Centipede, you'd likely need 1%er money or eyes like a hawk for the V-line shells to get kitbash material. I think Shapeways has shells for the B-B freight Babyfaces but I'd need to double-check. I looked at the thread for having metal frames 3D printed (https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=48624.0), but it's been said there that there are a lot of issues going that route.

Then I remembered: What about the Life-Like plastic-frame PAs? I've owned the plastic-frame GP18 and GP38-2, and I'm not impressed with those. However, both of my L-L plastic-frame PAs are fantastic runners and pullers, and relatively inexpensive. Would it be viable to use the plastic-frame construction technique for a 3D-printed loco? The frame and shell would be 3D printed, the L-L PA would donate its motor, trucks, and weights, and the modeler would source the detail bits, paint, and couplers. The passenger Sharks and four types of A1A-A1A Babyface locos (CNJ double-ender, CNW loco/baggage combo, GMO passenger, NYC rebuilt passenger) used the same trucks as the PA, so those could make for good first projects. Of course, my CAD modeling skills are worse than my real-life modeling skills, but am I way off base with my thinking? Has this been tried at all before?

ChristianJDavis1

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Re: 3D printed Life-Like-like plastic frame locos: Crazy idea?
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2020, 02:48:50 AM »
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I've thought of something similar for brass locomotives that just refuse to run right or short at the drop of a had. Alternatively, if the original mechanism has manufacturing defects (zinc pest) that make them impossible to repair without replacement parts. Shouldn't be that hard to cut down a life-life mechanism, if you wanted to go that route. Not sure anyone would want to make one commercially, though, given it's a downgrade from split-frame mechanisms.
- Christian J. Davis

bbussey

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Re: 3D printed Life-Like-like plastic frame locos: Crazy idea?
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2020, 08:48:01 AM »
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It’s not a crazy idea. I printed a metal frame for the EP-3 that was designed for Kato components, so a plastic frame designed for Life-Like components certainly is practical.
Bryan Busséy
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AlwaysSolutions

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Re: 3D printed Life-Like-like plastic frame locos: Crazy idea?
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2020, 02:47:27 PM »
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I've been doing this for a few years with my Little Joe.  Initially I was using the Shapeways strong flexible plastic but lately I've been getting better results (and cheaper results) with my FDM printer at home.  The Life-Like locos were exactly what I thought of when I was asking the same questions as you are - - they work.  Sure, they're cheap, but they work.  The obvious downside is that they're light weight so you need to figure out how to weigh your loco down.  Some are straight forward, some are not (like the Joe)

Anyway short answer...YES!! 

Cheers -Mike

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John

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Sharky_McSharknose

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Re: 3D printed Life-Like-like plastic frame locos: Crazy idea?
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2020, 04:55:44 PM »
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Now we're talking! Maybe I wasn't searching hard enough, but those replies are all encouraging.

@bbussey Do you have pictures or links to the metal frame?

@AlwaysSolutions  That Little Joe frame looks impressive. I have a SeeMeCNC RostockMAX v4 FDM printer I could use to experiment with creating frames. Of course, I'm a n00b at 3D modeling so it will likely be a while before I'm churning out detailed shells and not just vaguely-locomotive-shaped shells.

Regarding the weights: The L-L PAs are pretty heavy. All of the example Baldwins I listed except the NYC Babyface are longer than the PA. For those, I would reuse the weights from the PA and try to position them so there is room for a LokSound decoder without having to trim them. I would also have to get some surgical/silicone tubing for the "driveshafts." The PA already uses that type of drive but the tubes would be too short to transfer over.

I converted one of my plastic-frame PAs to LokSound by trimming down the rear weight, placing the decoder on top of it, and replacing the fuel tank casting with an ESU speaker and baffle. It's still quite heavy. That would bode well in case trimming is required for the Baldwins.

The NYC A1A-A1A Babyfaces are shorter and have a shorter wheelbase than the PA, so weighing and chipping will be more difficult.

ChristianJDavis1

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Re: 3D printed Life-Like-like plastic frame locos: Crazy idea?
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2020, 05:14:54 PM »
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The NYC A1A-A1A Babyfaces are shorter and have a shorter wheelbase than the PA, so weighing and chipping will be more difficult.

Maybe, maybe not. Remember Life-Like had FA's that used the plastic frames, too, and they were plenty-heavy. How much weight you have to remove to fit a decoder may affect that, but those weights are soft and easy to remove material from, plus I think they would still be pretty heavy. At least heavier than the GP18's they also made that you didn't like.
- Christian J. Davis

nsbob

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Re: 3D printed Life-Like-like plastic frame locos: Crazy idea?
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2020, 05:44:56 PM »
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     If I am straying off topic here, I apologize in advance.  I would like to be able to find someone who could make plastic frames for building dummy locomotives.   I know a lot of modelers have no desire to do this, but if you are running prototypical unit trains or modeling the present era with long trains and using multiple locomotives, you don't need all the locomotives to be powered.  Currently, the only way you can build a dummy locomotive is to strip the metal chassis which usually is sold with motor, lightboard, shell, trucks, and fuel tank.  With a dummy plastic frame, all you need are the shell, trucks, and fuel tank.  For a dummy frame, you just need the bottom half for the trucks and fuel tank and not print the motor cradle portion.  Finally, with a dummy locomotive, you don't have to worry about trying to get locomotives from different manufacturers to run at the same speed.

SkipGear

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Re: 3D printed Life-Like-like plastic frame locos: Crazy idea?
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2020, 07:40:52 PM »
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     If I am straying off topic here, I apologize in advance.  I would like to be able to find someone who could make plastic frames for building dummy locomotives.   I know a lot of modelers have no desire to do this, but if you are running prototypical unit trains or modeling the present era with long trains and using multiple locomotives, you don't need all the locomotives to be powered.

More topic drift but about the only prototypicaly long train that I could see a dummy loco being an advantage would be passenger power.  We run long trains 80 to 100 cars on Ntrak and it takes 4 loco's to reliably pull that load. A real train of that length depending on the cars and grade could be handled by 2 loco's.

Back on topic, there are already people out there printing replacement powered truck parts so it would not be hard to print the same truck designed for needle point axles only, and a frame to go with it, like the old ConCor dummy PA's or even the current Broadway dummies that come in their A/B sets.
Tony Hines

nsbob

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Re: 3D printed Life-Like-like plastic frame locos: Crazy idea?
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2020, 09:26:26 PM »
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More topic drift but about the only prototypicaly long train that I could see a dummy loco being an advantage would be passenger power.
.
 
I disagree,  My example would be a modern unit coal train with a DPU and/or pushers.(CSX, NS, and BNSF come to mind.)   If anyone knows of a manufactured dummy  freight locomotive, excluding freight F and E units, besides the Life Like GP-38-2 and the cow and calf switcher sets, I would like to know.(The Readers Digest GP-35 or whatever it is doesn't count.) 
My former NTrak club limits trains to 24 cars so I was prevented from running a long unit train there. 
« Last Edit: June 25, 2020, 09:30:17 PM by nsbob »

SkipGear

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Re: 3D printed Life-Like-like plastic frame locos: Crazy idea?
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2020, 09:42:33 PM »
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Actually had not thought of DPU, that is one instance that a dummy would make sense.

Our club prides itself on long trains. That is why we exist, I can run 24 car trains at home. The club gives us a chance to run scale length trains. My son regularly runs 30' trains with 4 engines up front. I run steam with 70 cars behind a single engine.
Tony Hines

Chris333

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Re: 3D printed Life-Like-like plastic frame locos: Crazy idea?
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2020, 09:47:34 PM »
+1
3D print the whole world!

bbussey

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Re: 3D printed Life-Like-like plastic frame locos: Crazy idea?
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2020, 10:39:12 PM »
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@bbussey Do you have pictures or links to the metal frame?

I don’t have any pics here, but there are plenty on my layout’s Facebook page. Go to Bridgeport and New London and look in the EP3 photo album.
Bryan Busséy
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