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17 minutes ago, Kamome said:

It will be great to watch the trains snaking their way through this scene. Looks a very impressive project and I look forward to following its progress. You’ve certainly set the bar very high but it will be a phenomenal layout.

repeat, same here!



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Thank you Kamome, thank you Jeff,  I'm looking forward to the day I can run a full length Shinkansen through the swan neck curve.

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This weekend I am going to make a start on the catwalks that run along the top of the arches.

The first step is cutting the walkway and legs from the etch and cleaning up rough edges. 



The small indents (seen above) in the walkway help locate the legs, the larger recesses allow the catenary portals to reach the pavement below.


Shown below how the catenary looks passing through the catwalk. 



A side profile shows how the walkways legs sit on the wall. The tab at the back fits into a metal strip mounted on the back face of the wall.

I have added a yellow line to show where the walkway sits.


Edited by Kamome442
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Martijn Meerts

You do your own etching right? I've been looking into it a bit, but as always, it's hard to find any info on suppliers of the necessary tools and materials in the Netherlands 😉


There's a few things I really want to add to my H0 project, such as fish plates, tie plates and other small details that are just too small to 3D print on a resin printer. I've looked around for a company that does etching, but I've only been able to find industrial types, some offer services for hobbyists, but then the fish plates would cost like 5 euro each o.O


Any chance you could maybe go over the process and which tools you use?


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I have not utilized it yet, but Ponoko offers photo-etched metal services (stainless steel, brass, and copper) for hobbyists.




I've used Ponoko for laser cutting of card stock and acrylic and been very happy with their service and quality.  I used freeware Inkscape to create those designs - the laser needs vector files.


I don't know about international shipping from Ponoko.

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Hi Martijn - I actually chickened out of making my own etches and send my designs off to a supplier called PPD Ltd. (there website: https://ppdltd.com). I am not sure if they ship internationally. I did look at a few videos online for home etching a while back, it might be something I revisit one day. I did find this video was quite informative: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJsBZWqrN-g


I have to agree it is really not easy to find a metal etching service that is willing to make things in small quantities at a reasonable price. I spent around six months requesting quotes from companies and around half didn't bother getting back to me. When you say etched fish plates do mean as a cosmetic piece that you glue to the side of the rail, something like this:


Quotes of 5 euro each is extortionate.  The company I use are happy to do one off sheets for hobbyists. The charges are based on the sheet size you send them and a one off fee to check your design work before they do the etching. I use a sheet size of 200mm x 300mm (with a 10mm boarder you get a usable area of 180mm x 280mm) and that works out at around £40 (around €45) plus postage. The more I can get on the etch the cheaper each part works out to be. There is a picture of one of my etches on page 1 to give you an idea of how much you can get on a sheet. For something as small as fish plates and tie plates etch you would be able to get hundreds on a sheet.


Please feel free to PM me if you want to any more help, I am happy to add a couple of your bits to my next etch, if you want samples to get an idea how it looks. I have been considering doing a little run of etched manhole covers to sell.



Maihama - Ponoko looks really interesting and from your experience it sounds like they are a good company to consider. Do you have any pictures of your last cut card/acrylic? 





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Martijn Meerts

Yep, those are the fish plates I need. Or rather, something like those. There are H0 scale fishplates from Proto87 (http://www.proto87.com/product1904.html) which are reasonably priced, but they're not really forest railway / narrow gauge ones. Other than myself, no one would probably notice of course 🙂


Tie plates are even easier, they're just small squares really, with a small lip on them on each side of the rail. I don't need any of the regular tie plates though, but specifically the ones around the moving parts of a turnout. From what I've seen, neither forest railway track, not branch like track used tie plates around the time period I'm loosely basing my ideas on.


There is of course a little bit of depth on them, the nuts have to stick out a little, and for the fish plates, they need to have a small bend, since they cover the entire bottom on the rail, so it's not quite a straightforward process.


I'm also going to try and 3D print more fish plates some using 1 or more different resins. A resin with a higher toughness might work. Still pretty new at it, so still working out things like minimum thickness and such 🙂

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41 minutes ago, Martijn Meerts said:

but they're not really forest railway / narrow gauge ones. Other than myself, no one would probably notice of course 🙂

Love it!!


They would work well as an etch, I have never tried to bend an etch however the metal is pretty thin. I use 0.25mm Nickel Silver and that would halved if you etch down on one side to have raised nuts. You could probably make a little jig to press them into shape. 


Please do let me know how you get on with 3D printing them. Out of interest do you have your own printer?

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Martijn Meerts

You could etch in a bend line, like you get with the brass kits, that would make bending them a lot easier. I haven't been able to find a spec sheet of the Micro Engineering rail that I'm using, so I don't know the exact dimensions.


I do have a 3D printer yes, a Nova3D Elfin. It's nothing too advanced, but it makes very decent prints. Like I said, still getting used to things and figuring out setting up supports and minimum wall thickness and what kinds of resin are, and the settings for each resin etc.


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That is a good point, I have seen people etch a perforated line to help create a clean fold. I haven't tried doing that on any of my etches but I would assume it's pretty straightforward. I agree having the exact dimensions is useful, it took me ages to find them for the rail I was using. Once I did I was able to print sleepers with a scaled down Pandrol clip that did hold the rail, sadly over time the resin would go brittle and the clips snapped. Which was why I moved to using chairs from FiNetrax.


I am pretty much in the same boat as you, I picked up a Photon printer a few months back. It has been a steep learning curve but I am slowly getting to grips with using resin.

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Martijn Meerts

I'm pretty sure I saw the dimensions of the rail at some point, but I just can't find them anymore.


I wonder if all resin goes brittle over time. I've printed some axle boxes to replace the white metal ones in a kit I have, not because the white metal ones are bad, but because the resin ones would make it much easier to add power pickup. However, if resin goes brittle over time, that might not be a good idea.


3D printing always looks so easy when you see people do it, but there's a lot to set up and much of it is trail and error. Which can be annoying if a print fails and you have bits of cured metal in the resin tank getting stuck everywhere 😄


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I did read at the time that a lot of resin prints are prone to going brittle with prolonged exposure to sunlight. That was around 6 years ago and there are many more resins available today then there were back then. It would be interesting to know if that is something that has improved over the years. The advice at the time was to make sure the resin was given a coat of primer to block UV light.


I have seen plenty of printed axels, bogies etc. made by others and not read of any major concerns about degradation. I would also say that the clips on my sleepers were tiny, I didn't take any pictures of the broken clips to post here, I was quite annoyed at the time that I had to strip all the tracks of the baseboard and start again! 😒


I do have this screen shot of the design from when I was drawing it up give you an idea of the piece that broke.



I can't remember the actual dimensions of the clips but they were around 0.3mm high if memory serves. They had to clear the train wheels on code 40 rail so they were pretty small.


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Progress on the catwalks was a little slow to begin with. I decided to 3D print a little jig to hold everything in place while I glue it together. 

It is a bit tricky to see (the jig is pretty small too!!), the deck clips in place and notches hold the leg front and back while I work on it.



I started by creating a small test piece to make sure everything lines up and sits on the wall the way I planned.



I am really happy with how it turned out. Now I just have to stick another 90 legs to finish the first board.  

A metal plate sits behind the wall to blank off the gap under the walkway.  There will be trunking running along the inner edge creating a barrier between the walkway and the ballast. I guess I should probably also add the kick boards, fence and handrail so I don't loose any maintenance crews over the edge.

Edited by Kamome442
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I haven't managed to get much done over the last two weeks. I started work at a new school and have been spending most of the time getting my classroom ready for this years intake. Normally it is just a case of putting up a few displays to make the place welcoming however there are understandably lots of new guidelines to follow so everyone can be safe.


I did find some time to do a little more on the catwalks.

Seen below with a person for scale (don't worry, I did have a stern word with them for not wearing an appropriate  Hi Vis).



These will be put on hold for now because the first set of 4 bridges arrived in the post today. There are 3 sheets in total, two identical sheets have the basic structure for each bridge. A third sheet includes items that are unique to each bridge (walkways, legs, drainage etc). This section opened in 1910 and there have been many repairs and upgrades over the years so each bridge will be slightly different. 



This is by far the most complex etch I have made to date and will no doubt drive me mad putting it all together. I did have the foresight (this time) to record where each part is located.

I have to say I am really pleased with how crisp the details came out on this set of etches.

2021992025_Screenshot2020-09-12at13_55_13.png.862e0abf50c2622847af70152f83c0fe.png     1335238151_Screenshot2020-09-12at13_55_26.png.0fc896997a85b6b1be7fef2ae0be6502.png   




Once I have them built I can finally finish track laying phase 1 for the Yamanote and Keihin lines and run some trains!


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A quick insight into my design process. 

Look at the problem:

When I lay tracks on the curved board I know from the pictures I took the tracks are inclined.


Pose the question:

I wonder if there is a way to work out what the cant should be?


Search the internet:

Stumble across this calculation


Source: https://pwayblog.com/2016/01/25/how-is-the-cant-measured/


Stare at the screen for 5 minutes then decide 2 layers of card should be quite sufficient while simultaneously denying any knowledge of the above.


Drink tea.

Edited by Kamome442
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Work on the bridge has started. I only got 5 parts stuck together as I spent a lot of time organising bits and working out the order to connect each part.


This is the trackbed and forms an inner box structure with bracing to the outer walls. It is still a little floppy until I get the cross bracing in place.



A close up of the track bed. the vertical parts will have a strip along the bottom forming an I-beam in cross section.



The underside of the track bed. Small braces will run between the triangular mounts on the underside of the track bed. Larger braces slot in the groves to connect to the outer walls.



I was playing a little fast and loose with the glue in places so I still have a little clean up work to do.


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A little more work on the first bridge today.



The first set of bracing pieces are in place along with strips to complete the I-beam. 





Tomorrow it's time to add the larger braces.

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The first stage of bridge construction is now finished, with all the bracing in on the track bed.



Now that I have constructed one I can already see a few improvements I can make to the design for the next batch. That said it all went together relatively smoothly.

A close up, showing bracing from above and below.

1883042980_Screenshot2020-09-20at18_37_17.png.aacb9d59e55417d3c08658a76e8d972f.png  557667722_Screenshot2020-09-20at18_37_32.png.fc64883724d9c3fd8f6e0bad60afb44a.png


The three holes in each of the large braces holds the gutter (I am really looking forward to carefully threading that through 8 tiny holes 😶)


One of the bridges at the southern end of the layout has had the gutters and drainage boards removed, which allows you to see the structure more clearly. I will model that span open in the same way, hopefully it will cast some interesting shadows on the road below.


Source: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Shimbashi+Station/@35.6695922,139.7586642,77m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x5851f1d35efc45b9!8m2!3d35.6661322!4d139.7584123


Fun fact: It was like this when I visited in October so I decided to stand below the track and watch a train go over the bridge, they hadn't put the blue netting in at the time so it turned from a great idea to mildly terrifying really quickly.


There is still a base to add, which will look like this. (above and below)

154498222_Screenshot2020-09-20at18_38_11.png.659f3456658093a08d42744bc39a665f.png  1527237202_Screenshot2020-09-20at18_37_50.png.784b47c3b95a6f47b22d1af29ec0276c.png


I am not going to fix it in place until I have carefully cleaned away the excess glue otherwise I might not be able to reach the corners.

I now have to make 7 more of these to be able to complete the four bridges.


Edited by Kamome442
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Ok so I couldn't resist mocking up the bridge on its supports (I'm only human).



The side walls still need to be detailed but it gives some idea of how it will look in the end.



The etch I made up also included frames for the chain link fences that cover the entrance to some of the arches. These things are as ludicrously fragile as they look.

I will no doubt destroy more than I use so if anyone is modelling a scrap yard I may be able to offer a steady supply of scenic details in the not too distant future.😉


Edited by Kamome442
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Martijn Meerts

Looking good.. Makes me want to try and get some fish plates etched again 😄


(still need to try another 3D print of them as well first though ;))


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Thank you Martijn, etching continues to impress me with just how fine the details are. 


If you can't get the 3D prints to work I can definitely recommend trying to etch them.

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Work is continuing on the bridges, mostly at weekends when there is enough daylight to see what I am doing. It is basically repetition of what I have shown already so I won't add any more pictures until I move onto the next stage.


The etch also included the metal beams they use to convert buses and trucks into open top variants before they can go under the bridge. 



They appear to have used two beams with a join in the middle, plates are bolted over the join. A hole on the bottom presumably allows access for maintence. The plates are etched separately and will be glued on each face.



There are also boards running along the top that indicates the bridges height in metres.



In the evening I have been drawing up the 2 double track bridge spans for the Tokaido Main Line, these will sit behind the bridges under construction.

While the basic dimensions and method of construction are very similar there are dozens of little differences between these two structures.

[INSERT some pun about it being a riveting experience]



I just have the legs to draw up for these two now (which are tapered halfway down, OH JOY! 🤪), then I can order the etch and get to work on the 3 bridges for the Shinkansen. 



Edited by Kamome442
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I have finished drawing my legs. It took a little longer than planned, as well as being tapered they are on a slight incline.



I am going to etch them in two parts (white) and 3D print (orange) the decorative cast metal accents.

Hopefully that will act as a jig to get the taper symmetrical (at least that is the plan!)

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I took a break from building etches this week to complete design work on the Shinkansen bridges. There are three in total, each with a slightly different design.

Thankfully they are a welded construction so I didn't have mass around and spam every inch of the drawing with rivets and bolts. (I was in danger of wearing out the control, c and control, v function on my keyboard.)


That is all the bridges for Phase 1 complete. I will order them this week. My timeline now is to have at least some if not all the P1 track in place by the end of the year.


Once I have drawn a structure in Illustrator I like to save a copy in .svg format. With this I can turn the 2D drawing in to a 3D model using 123Design.

This way I can check how parts fit together and create exploded/step by step diagrams to help me remember what goes where. 



I can also get a sense of how it looks compared to reference photos and check the finished model won't remove any paint from the sides of my trains.



The downside of the is project has always been the amount of planning and design needed at every step. Finally I can move from virtual model making back to actual model making.

Additionally I also had 4 of these on the last etch, they will form part of a jig I need to make.



I am not sure it will work just yet so for now I will leave you guessing as to their purpose.

Lets just say if I had to give it a code name it would probably be Project Why Do This to Yourself!  🤔


It will all be worth it in the end.





Edited by Kamome442
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