Experimental Plug Track: 3D-printed, CNC-milled, laser-cut

Having just assembled some of Waynes 3D printed turnouts, I found that it was relatively easy to slide the check rails through even though they had a flare.
Perhaps this was because I had just made a simple bend with a pair of flat parallel faced pliers.
What sort of bend should the flare be? Should it be a knuckle bend?
It would be quite useful (for me anyway) if Templot could put a mark on the check rail where the bend should be.
This is for check rails as opposed to wing rails where I know there are are already 3 marks to designate the knuckle.

Steve
 
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Martin Wynne

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Perhaps this was because I had just made a simple bend with a pair of flat parallel faced pliers.
What sort of bend should the flare be? Should it be a knuckle bend?
It would be quite useful (for me anyway) if Templot could put a mark on the check rail where the bend should be.
@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

It's not possible to answer a question like that without specifying a prototype -- check rails vary a lot.

And even then it can't be answered because the model flangeway gaps are different. Even P4 flangeways are over scale.

However, assuming you mean the original REA bullhead designs (now a century old), and exact-scale flangeways:

1. The flare is not a fixed bend. It is a curve with a radius of 33ft-6in. That's a radius of 134mm / 5.1/4" in 4mm scale.

2a. On some drawings a simple curve starts 3ft-1.5in from the end of the rail and curves outwards to a gap of 3.5" at the end of the check rail, from a flangeway gap of 1.75" at the start.

2b. On other drawings the 33ft-6in radius fits between the edges of the end two check chairs, with a straight end on the check rail at 1:18 from the running line, again to an end opening of 3.5". That puts the centre of the bend central between those chairs at 33" from the end of the check rail. It means the flangeway at the centre of the end check chair is 2.5", angled at 1:18.

3. Special angled end check chairs are made which fit at 18" from the end of the check rail (to the chair centre), to match the flared end. Left and right-hand angled versions are made.

4. For a typical 5-chair check rail, that means an overall check rail length of 13ft.

Nowadays check-rail flares tend to be a simple bend, starting typically about 3ft from the end, which is what Templot draws by default. Here is how that compares with the REA design:

check_ends.png


A is where Templot puts a simple bend, 3ft from the end of the check rail, and the green fill shows the result.

B is central between the chairs as per REA, and the red lines show where a 33ft-6in curve centred on B would run. The model rail is 36 thou wide, so you can see that the discrepancy is only a couple of thou.

All of which is largely meaningless because very few modellers use exact scale flangeways. Even P4 uses a flangeway which is 15% over scale.

You can customize the flare to whatever length and opening you want for model use by clicking the real > adjust check rails... menu item. You can also change from a "bent" flare to a flare angle machined into the rail, as on most heavy-rail flat-bottom.

I will look at adding a mark on the template for the flare length, but it's easy to remember 3ft from the end = 12mm in 4mm/ft scale. Check rails are always vertical, not inclined, so there would be no difficulty in making it a sharp bend, as drawn by Templot. But in practice it is usually a more gentle radiused bend -- as is typically made by holding the rail in pliers and bending the end with fingers, and thus making a closer match to the red line.

I shall need to give all this some thought when it comes to doing the end check chairs for Plug Track. Looking at those wrong chairs, don't hold your breath. :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin,
Thanks for your very detailed explanation.
I will now adopt practice of making mark 12mm from the end rather than judging by eye holding rail over template, at least they will be a bit more consistent!
Just need a 1.9mm diameter hole in my 12mm thick bit of plywood, insert rail mark, then apply pliers to the mark.

If you designed the check chairs including left and right end chairs in a similar way to the exactoscale check chairs but with plugs on, would it not be possible to slide the 5 chairs onto a flared check rail, then temporarily plug that assembly into a loose fitting check rail socket jig, then slide the stock rail through those five chairs, then unplug from the temporary jig, add your other chairs before plugging that assembly into the real trackbase (with the proper tolerance) sockets?
Might be worth an experiment when the time comes.
Steve
 
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then temporarily plug that assembly into a loose fitting check rail socket jig, then slide the stock rail through those five chairs, then unplug from the temporary jig,
@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

Yes, I have already been planning the use of spacing jigs for the chairs, i.e. loose-fitting sockets. That's my plan for the assembly of V-crossings. Fit chairs in jig, slide in the vee rails, apply a penetrating cyano adhesive to the chairs, when set lift assembly from jig and plug vertically into track base, if necessary in between other rails. You can try it now if you print a bit of track base with increased socket clearance to use as a jig. I'm hoping that it might be possible to avoid soldering vee rails if they are accurately prepared in printed filing and bending jigs. The tricky part might be keeping the cyano between rail and chair only, without gluing the chair into the jig -- there are some cyanos available in a precision needle dispenser. I have here some spray silicone mould tool release agent which is good to prevent sticking, but once used in the jig it would prevent any option of gluing the contaminated plugs into the final sockets. But as a lubricant it might help with a press fit.

It's all still to play for -- I'm hoping for some feedback from users. But first we need the special chairs. :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

There's a lot of thinking still to do. For example I mentioned the difficulty of sliding rails into position in the middle of a complex formation. But it might be possible to do that by clever positioning of the timbering brick boundaries. It might be possible to thread rails into two separate bricks before clipping them together, in a way which would be impossible once they have been clipped together. Or a crossing might be pre-built on its own little brick, before being clipped into a space in a larger brick. On the other hand that might not be feasible for laser-cut or milled bases.

Where it is possible to plug the chairs first and then thread the rail through them, that is likely to be the preferred method. Up to a certain number of chairs, beyond which friction and chair damage becomes an issue. Which is further determined by the closeness of the rail/chair fit settings -- chairs can be made as tight or loose fitting on the rail as you wish.

I think I have now got all the basics for the timbering done. If I can now make some progress with the chairs, folks can start experimenting with the bits to see what works and what doesn't. :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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REA L1 bridge chairs now finished:

l1_s1_colours.png


REA S1 and L1. The outer jaw on the L1 chair is very plain, but so is the prototype:

gwr_l1_outer2.jpg
. .
gwr_l1_outer.jpg


The above are GWR bridge chairs (2-hole), not REA.

The Templot chairs are stylised geometrical designs without the various fillet and blend radii of the prototype. Which are beyond the resolution of most home 3D printers and would send the file sizes through the roof. The resin-printed chairs need a good coat of paint to protect them from UV light, after which the lack of fillet radii will be hard to see in the usual model scales.

I will post 231a shortly, which means if you want to tinker you could now make this:

l1_s1_brick.png


Spot the L1 bridge chairs -- 10 of them. :)

You might even print the next brick without sockets, and create a hybrid catch points using C&L/Exactoscale switch chairs.

Slide chairs next, and a soleplate on the toe timber.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Version 231a is now on the server.

A new option is to use all L1 bridge chairs instead of ordinary S1 chairs:

all_l1.png


This is for track on waybeams for bridge decks, ash pits, inspection pits, etc. And also allows for a batch of L1 chairs to be made in the same way as the S1 chairs at:

https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.p...3d-printed-cnc-milled-laser-cut.229/post-2030

No doubt this is the first of several options on this menu. Note that all these settings are template-specific, and saved in the BOX file.

Here are some L1 chairs on waybeams:
on_waybeams.png


231a is not an automatic update because the only changes are the latest 3D export stuff (L1 chairs). Get it from:

https://85a.uk/templot/companion/manual_update.php

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin,
I have upgraded to Templot 231a successfully.

What is the default REA S1 plug width now?
What is the default L1 plug width?
The 2 screens driven by the [chair/socket fit] button, give ability of relative adjustments to width and length (but absolute for depths)
I seem to recall you were thinking of changing the default width.

Steve

ps think it was a good idea to add the experimental chairing message
1635258446191.png
 
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What is the default REA S1 plug width now?
What is the default L1 plug width?
The 2 screens driven by the [chair/socket fit] button, give ability of relative adjustments to width and length (but absolute for depths)
I seem to recall you were thinking of changing the default width.
@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

I decided against changing the defaults, it got too involved. Instead I added some additional relative adjustments, in addition to the fit tolerance adjustments:

socket_plug_size.png


At present those mods will apply to all chairs, S1 and L1 and any others, and apply to both socket and plug. I will look at options to have different settings for different chairs. The settings will be included in the custom settings file when I get round to it (if it isn't already).

The default sizes are derived from the centres of the base corner radii -- that's not set in stone, but would now require a lot of work to change. Here again is the stuff I posted a few days ago, see item 6.

With the experimental chairing switched on, this is the additional detail which you see on the trackpad when zoomed-in:

index.php


1. timber outline.

2. black lines -- cutter kerf line for laser cutters. Outside the timbers, inside the sockets.

3. extent of the timber flanges.

4. chair base outline.

5. chair base corner radius.

6. socket outline. The default size is derived from the centres of the base corner radii.
For REA S1 chairs, that's 6" wide x 12.5" long.​
For REA L1 chairs, that's 7.5" wide x 7" long. L1 chairs are not used on 10" wide sleepers.​

7. chair plug outline at the top. There is a small clearance from the socket on the sides, and a smaller clearance at the ends.

8. outline of the chair plug at the bottom inset section.

9. plug corner relief angles. Small for FDM and laser-cut sockets. Larger for CNC milled sockets.

10. outline of the top of the support pyramid below the plug.

11. outline of the bottom of the support pyramid.

12. chair screw/bolt centres.

All the above can be adjusted via the buttons on the DXF export dialog (except 4, 5, 12). They are shown on the trackpad so that you can see the effect of any changes (after rebuilding the templates). The chair dimensions 4, 5, 12, are set in the custom chairs dialog (not yet done).

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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So I have a question. As far as Templot is concerned do the sockets belong to the timbers or the chairs?
@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your thoughts. I'm working on this stuff right now.

I'm going to make sure that you can get what you want, but that doesn't necessarily mean it works yet. :( Every time I release a new version there are dozens of changes under the surface which aren't always immediately obvious.

The sockets and chairs are calculated at the same time, but go in different layers for 2-D or 3-D files.

What I'm hoping, and trying hard to achieve, is that 2D laser-cutting and CNC milling can use the same BOX file as 3D FDM printing. It would be a great disadvantage if it was necessary to know how the timbering base is going to be made when designing the track and doing any timber shoving. It would make it difficult to share BOX files with others, or re-use your own BOX files unchanged if you change your mind, or acquire a new machine.

edit: this is now working in version 232a, available shortly.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin,

As far as colours for timbers (outer cuts) & sockets (inner cuts) go, I am sorry but I made a mistake with the recent example because I first clicked on your button [omit all] and then assigned (at random) blue to Timber Outline Kerf and green to Socket outline Kerf.
The Laser cutting service I used (4D Model Making Materials) actually ask for GREEN for OUTLINE cut (ie Timber outlines) and BLUE for INNER CUTS (ie chair sockets), but that is just their method of working. They also ask for for RED for SCRIBING (ie trackbed or Timber numbering). I think what they actually do is assign different coulours to each "pass" of the laser.

Your current defaults of "timber outlines (kerf)" = GREEN, and "chair sockets (kerf) = BLUE are the right ones (for that supplier)

Steve
 
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Today's developments.

I have added options to make the trackpad view less cluttered and a bit faster in 3-D mode. The timber flanges and cutter kerf lines can now be switched off, on both the control template and the background templates.

This affects only the trackpad screen, there is no effect on the exported DXF/STL files:

trackpad_kerf_options1.png


trackpad_kerf_options2.png


Note that the kerf lines are now off by default, as this is probably a minority requirement. For the present the timber flanges and webs are still on by default, but maybe they should be off too.

I have also updated the partial template controls, so that omitting a rail now also logically omits the chairs along it. Previously it didn't, one of many details awaiting attention. Here I omitted the main-road crossing rail:

omit_chairs1.png


All the above will be in 232a.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Derek

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Hello Martin

I have refrained from commenting, but I've read all the posts you've written about this fascinating development.

Templot, until recently, couldn't perform some complex formations automatically- slips, tandems etc- and these needed manual intervention. Eventually we were very fortunate and you found a way to do it.

I wonder if you you've given any thought to a similar principle with 3D, in that Templot can perform some of those functions but others you've got to do yourself- such as positioning the plug holes. Maybe like the peg that slides along rails or centre lines and you press a key to mark the spot you want it.

Apologies if I'm writing out of turn; I know you are trying to push the boundaries to see what is possible, but as an interim, users need to be realistic.

A fascinating subject and I cannot wait to get back involved in modelling- one day.

Derek
 
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@Derek

Hi Derek,

Thanks for your thoughts. Certainly not writing out of turn -- that's what Templot Club is here for. It's everyone's turn! :)

At the moment I'm walking a tightrope between letting folks know what I'm doing (so that I can get some feedback), but not letting anyone run away with the idea that it's all ready to be used now, or likely to be any time soon. At present you can build plain track with REA chairs, but that's all. The rest is still just experimental tinkering about, which might or might not ever see the light of day.

My interest in all this is threefold:

1. to discover just what can be done with the latest home machines, which are bringing industrial tech to home workshops. And also what can't be done -- the Cameo cutter was a big disappointment, and there's a reason the small CNC millers are described as for wood-carving, not metal-working.

2. to see if my 73-year-old brain can get into 3D programming enough to kludge some of it into the ancient and creaking Templot code.

3. to find out if enough folks are interested in the result for me to spend time working it up into a usable function and interface for everyone. At present it's clear that only a minority of Templot users have 3D printers, but when you realise that they can now be obtained for much the same cost as an RTR locomotive, or not much more than a 2D printer, it's obvious that 3D printing will eventually be an everyday part of the hobby. You can see that already on some of the forums.

As to how much Templot can be expected to do by itself, and how much users will have to do themselves, it's too early to say. Until I've made enough progress with the code to see where it falls down, and whether I can fix it in my lifetime, I can't make that split. There are some aspects of track design where only a human eye is good enough, as in the timber shoving for example. I can see something similar being needed for the chairing of check rails -- be ready to add "chair heaving" to the Templot lexicon.

Short that is, of a crack team of AI programmers turning up in my shed. :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Paul Boyd

Member
Location
Loughborough, UK
@Paul Boyd

Here's an 0 Gauge layout entirely 3D-printed, mostly FDM with some resin:

https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.php?threads/guildex-show-online.318/post-3024

Martin.
Hmm…. Definitely some possibilities there although I suspect it was done that way to see if he could, rather than as a real solution. I was a little bemused by the fact that he appeared to start looking into track and wheel standards after making track and wheels! I didn’t watch it all though, so maybe I missed something.

Just wondering - when will Templot be able to do bent timbers? 😂😂 (I’ll get my coat…)

Cheers,
Paul
 
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Another day, another button.

hide_timber_outline.png


Hiding a timber outline differs from omit timber in that the chairs/sockets remain, but the timber itself does not. Omit timber removes the timber entirely, including any chairs/sockets.

This is for the DXF exports of course, so that some other timber can claim the chairs when shoved under them.

I haven't yet decided if or how this will have any effect on the rest of Templot and the timbering total lengths. It will probably have the same effect as omitting the timber.

This dialog is now getting very crowded and needs to be bigger -- you buy a bigger monitor, I fill the screen with buttons. :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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