Jump to content

Family Saloon - Hybrid Construction Method




I thought it would be easy to modify my U29 model, to represent the body of a diagram G13 Family Saloon but various gremlins struck with a vengeance!


Omit reading the ‘Gremlins’ sections, if you just want to follow the progress of the model itself.




I have now learned the necessity for taking great care when selecting entities to modify in Fusion 360.


For example, when selecting parts of a drawing in, say, the X-Z plane, it is easy to include parts of a drawing that are in the Y-Z plane, by mistake.  So, unintended changes are made to the ‘other’ drawing as well.  I think this explains how I managed to lower the height of the clerestory, without noticing until I had done a lot more design work.  Although I could ‘go back’ to the point where the problem started, I still had to re-do all the work on the window apertures and partitions, to fit the corrected body shell.


I have also found some difficulties when importing old DXF drawings into Fusion 360.  Some panels, which had seemed to be ‘closed’ in other software, could not be extruded.  I eventually spotted some very tiny gaps, which I managed to fill, although I am still not sure exactly which incantations are needed to make the ‘extend’ command work on drawings imported into Fusion 360.  I had almost given up, when the command suddenly started working, for no reason that I could determine!  


Having modified the drawing, I tried to save it and this brought up a message that “This file type requires cloud translation, which may take a few minutes.”.  For some reason, the ‘translated’ DXF file was unreadable in other programs, such as Studio, Autosketch, or Irfan View.  In the end, I decided to go back to Autosketch and repair the file there, so that it now works correctly in both Fusion 360 and other programs.  


I mention these things, to show how learning 3D CAD programs can be very frustrating.


Printing the G13 body and clerestory


Once I had modified my carriage design to represent diagram G13, I printed the body and roof, as previously described for my U29 carriage.  




This time, however, I wanted to investigate how I might use the 3D printed body as a basis for ‘finishing’ with parts produced on my Silhouette Portrait cutter.  For this reason, I omitted the inset panel details, which I had included in my U29 model, and left the outer surfaces smooth.  I did, however, include other inset items, such as window apertures and drop-light frames.


3D-printed Carriages


There’s nothing really new in this – I’ve simply substituted a robust 3D-printed body shell for the relatively frail laminated plasticard that I had used before.  I am impressed by the toughness of the PLA plastic.  It’s supposed to be bio-degradable, however, so perhaps it will crumble away in a few years time – I’ll leave it to my Grandchildren to find out!


My planned method was to use my Silhouette Portrait machine, to cut out the body framing from 10thou (0.25 mm) plasticard, and my HP Inkjet Printer to print overlays for the body sides.  The ‘registration’ facility of the Silhouette Cutter could then open up the window apertures in these overlays, in registration with the printed body sides.



The Three Printers used for This Project

For most of my earlier carriage building, I printed coloured sides onto HP Photo Paper, although I did carry out some experiments into printing directly onto plasticard (described in posts in JCL’s Silhouette Cutter thread)  I found some of my old ‘printed-on-hairspray’ samples in a drawer and they still look fairly good – better than I remember achieving at the time.


The actual printing and cutting procedures were exactly the same as I had used previously, when building my earlier versions of these carriages.  To summarise:


“Open the colour image in Studio, copy it and paste it into the cutting diagram. Use the 'Arrangement' command to sent the image to the back and then re-size and align the image with the cutting marks as accurately as possible on the screen (use a magnified image and make sure that 'Snap to Grid' is 'off'). Once you are content with the alignment, turn 'on' the Registration Marks in Studio and Print the image on your colour printer, using the highest print-quality settings. The print-out will include the alignment marks, which will be read by the Silhouette cutter so that the various apertures will be aligned with the colour image.”


I already had all the necessary drawings in DXF files and the colour images as TIFF files, so I could simply open these in Silhouette Studio.  The only differences from my previous method were that I printed the colour overlays onto printable vinyl and cut the frames out of 10thou plasticard, to be applied on top of the vinyl sheets.


Finishing the Model


The first task in finishing the detailing of the 3-D printed body was to cut out the frames, using 10thou (0.25 mm) plasticard.  After cutting out, which the Silhouette cutter handled very well, I painted the frames black and hung them on hooks to dry.  If I were making a lot of these, I would try to source some black plasticard.



Silhouette-cut Frames


Next I printed the body sides from the Silhouette Studio software, using my HP ink-jet printer.  I found, after the first test, that the colour setting of my printer needed to be re-adjusted for printing on vinyl sheet, since what should have been ‘chocolate’ came out more like ‘Indian red’.  After a couple of test prints, I achieved a more acceptable colour for the lower body sides.


I had found before that the vinyl does not stick well to the body shell after spraying with grey primer so, while painting around all the window opening in Indian Red,  I decided to continue painting the whole side with enamel, hoping it would provide a better surface for attaching the vinyl.


It was quite tricky to get the vinyl sheet into good alignment with the window apertures, since there is no ‘slide’ and the adhesive grabs very quickly.  As it happened, the first attempt went well but it does need considerable care!  The clerestory was particularly tricky because I had to tuck the top edge under the roof overhang, for which I used cocktail sticks to push the vinyl layer into place before tamping down over the rest of the side.  It was good to have painted the entire sides first, as any very slight mis-alignment round the windows was not apparent.


Finally, I had to decide how to attach the outside frames, which are rather ‘floppy’, since they are just a skeleton of narrow beadings.  I did not want to damage the appearance of the printed vinyl sides by applying excess adhesive.  I decided to go back to the can of hair-spray that I bought some years ago for experiments on printing directly onto plasticard.  It acts as a mild ‘hold’ adhesive while leaving no visible traces on the surface and I was pleased to find that, in general, it worked well, although adhesion in a few places was poor.  I felt, however, that once the main part of the frame was correctly positioned, everything could be made firmer by applying an overall coat of varnish.  This was another very tricky part of the assembly and the alignment on my first attempt was not perfect.  The ‘First’ lettering on the doors is not quite centred within the frames.  I shall continue to experiment, if I try further assemblies of this type.




Overall, this method of construction worked well.  I haven’t really broken any new ground, since I have previously added new printed sides and framing to one of the well-known Ratio carriage kits.  The only new aspect in the current model was in using all-plastic materials, rather than photo-paper and card.

Perhaps I would have felt a greater degree of satisfaction if I had built a new type of carriage, rather than repeating one I had made before.  There is no doubt that the use of a 3D-printed body has resulted in a much stronger overall structure.  I’m sure this could be achieved for Silhouette-cut sides by laminating more layers, although that approach brings risks from warping and mis-alignment.


A photograph, which had previously cruelly revealed the defects in my earlier carriages, does show that the new overall structure, especially the clerestory roof, stands up well to close scrutiny.


G13 Family Saloon – final details to be added


For this photo, I placed the body on the Cleminson chassis that I built several years ago for my original Family Saloon.  I have nostalgic feelings for the older carriage, which now has a well-worn look but is noticeably out-of-true in several places.  The really huge advantage of the 3D-printed body lies in the clerestory roof, which I never managed to fabricate well.


From my point of view, it was all part of a learning exercise, helping me to feel more confident in tackling more complex shapes, where the 3D-printing method will come into its own.  I shall now switch my attention to such structures.



Blanche Wilcote is pleased that the new carriage is much less draughty than the old one, which had various gaps along the seams!  So that is some reward for my efforts :)




  • Like 5
  • Craftsmanship/clever 11


Recommended Comments

  • RMweb Premium

I do like this mixed-media approach. I've felt all along with 3D printing that there's been too much trying to treat it as the answer to everything. But that is quite an arsenal of high-tech weaponry you're building up...

  • Like 1
Link to comment
  • RMweb Gold

That's a good result Mike, Blanche has good reason to be pleased.


Would it be worth adding a further thin layer between the 3D body and the framing, in order to ensure completely smooth sides and ends (I notice the stepping on the ends)? 

Link to comment

Thank you Mikkel and Compound2632.  The vinyl layer does a good job in masking the 'stepping' lines from my type of fused-deposition 3-D printing.  I could have added vinyl inserts between the framing at the ends (which are part of the 3-D model itself.) and may do this later.  It was easy to rub down the sides of the carriage before adding the vinyl but more difficult where there are already raised mouldings.  My aim, at this stage, was just to try out the main principles.


Adding the overlays remains a fiddly job and the self-adhesive vinyl has no 'slide', which is not ideal.


I may try a different 'mixture' of methods on the U29, where I including the mouldings into the 3D-print.  I could use vinyl over the large lower side panel but rely on painting for the rest of the body (and, perhaps, over the vinyl as well - using it merely as a 'smoothing' layer)


Perhaps, the UV-cured resin type of printer will solve all the problems of surface finish but, at present, it involves too many unpleasant chemicals for my domestic environment.

  • Like 1
  • Informative/Useful 1
Link to comment

Mike, Excellent work.  The scale four newsletter article about using vinyl for framing Isle of Wight coaching stock I mentioned in another post used a vinyl that had pressure activated adhesive to allow easy positioning over the main shell.


I look forward to the next instalment!


  • Informative/Useful 1
Link to comment
  • RMweb Gold

Mike, I came across this post, perhaps of interest for your own loco chassis? 


Link to comment

Thank you Mikkel.  Yes, that fits very well into the way I'm thinking of making use of 3D-printed parts in the future.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
On 28/08/2019 at 15:52, MikeOxon said:

... it involves too many unpleasant chemicals for my domestic environment.


You're not wrong there. I think your coach looks excellent. On the ends, are the lines noticeable in real life? If they are, can you just file them back slightly?

Link to comment

I have no doubt that the Silhouette cutter produces much 'cleaner' panelling than I can achieve with my 3D printer.  As you suggest, JCL, it all depends on how critically one observes these things,  The photo of U29 in this post looks quite good but, on close examination, the panel lines are quite ragged.  I'm painting the U29 at the moment and will illustrate the difference at some time, when it's finished - it's a rather tricky painting job!

  • Like 1
  • Friendly/supportive 1
Link to comment

Hi mike, a quick one, have you seen this thread? A bit off topic, but someone has been using similar technology to yours to create buildings 


Link to comment

Thank you JCL.  There are some beautiful buildings on that thread.  The printing is (relatively) the easy bit - it's the design work that needs the effort.  There are so many possibllities, it's easy to get stuck just thinking about them all :)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
On 13/09/2019 at 15:12, JCL said:

You’re right. I’ve no idea how he goes about his brickwork.

Hello  Jcl thanks for linking to my work sir :) and more so bringing me to the attention of Mike’s cracking carriage work, i’m a huge fan of these pre-grouping railway stock and locos, the more folks making this stuff the better. Once I get my resin printer up and running im going to have a crack at some pre-grouping wagon stock first hopefully to see how i get on! 


As for how I tackle the brickwork on these models, I pretty much make a section of stonework/brickwork in 3d then copy it around the facade of the buildings dressing the stone around windows and doors, its a laborious task, but once you get the tolerances right it can produce some ok detail, and if anyone is interested I am always happy to share some 3d working diagrams how I put this stuff together if its any use to anyone :)


Looking forward to seeing more of these lovely carriages Mike  

  • Like 1
Link to comment

Thank you for looking in woko and I'm pleased you like my carriages.  As I wrote above, I like your buildings very much.  Overall, I believe the scope for 3D printing for railway models is enormous.  I'm especially impressed by the 'solidity' of the resulting models - I can even let my 3 year old grandson play with them :)

Link to comment

Hey thanks Mike, I agree this 3D printing malarkey is addictive, I am currently hooked on it and the endless possibilities now open to us as modellers, and the quality is only going to improve in the next few years. I can't wait to see the quality these machines start to produce.

I have to admit the one thing that has maybe put me off of modelling carriages, and locos at this stage, is the painting of these successfully. I think the construction is the easier bit for me, its how to get a solid paint finish on them. Especially the lining, and fine details, if I can see a way of nailing that, then I think I would happily plough on with making all sorts of pre-grouping locos and carriages :) 

Link to comment

Thanks again, woko.  I adopted a 'cheat' method of printing all those fiddly details on sheets that I then cut out with my Silhouette cutter and stuck to the carriage sides.  I wrote quite a lot about it at the time (around 4 - 5 years ago). Try:


  • Like 2
Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...