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

Charles Orr

Member
Location
Leicester UK
They look superb Martin.
I'm currently unable to do any 3D printing because I have some decorating being done, but I'm itching to try this out.
In a few days time hopefully.
 
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Hayfield

Member
Location
Essex
Having created the file for the screenshots, I thought I may as well print it. By changing the auto-arrange settings in Chitubox, I got 6 strips on the Elegoo build plate, so that's 144 S1 chairs -- and they all printed ok.

Still on the build plate, next step is UV cure:

View attachment 1709

I used the UV machine, but in today's weather I could have simply left them in the sun for an hour or two. :)

View attachment 1708

Having put a bottom taper on the chair plugs, I think they could now be a fraction deeper for a firm fit. Especially for use with through-hole sockets in 1.6mm timbers. The side flanges on these plain-track sleepers have much improved the strength of the sleeper alongside the socket. C&L nickel-silver rail:

View attachment 1706

View attachment 1707

Because they all printed, and therefore no bits left in the resin, I avoided the faff and mess of filtering the resin back into the bottle. Just covered the resin tray with aluminium foil until next time.

cheers,

Martin.
Martin

The detail looks stunning, one now wonders how much longer injection moulded chairs will survive
 
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Martin Wynne

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I've floated the idea of a bottom flange on the timbers a couple of times, to be hidden under the ballast:

index.php


It hasn't been met with howls of outrage, so perhaps we can take it a bit further.

Given that my filament printer has a work area of only 8" square (some others are larger, but not by a lot) it's obvious that the timbering base for any significant chunk of pointwork will need to be assembled from several separate pieces. Which need to be aligned precisely for Plug Track, because the base provides the gauging and rail alignments. Resin printer work areas are even smaller, so for anyone planning to resin-print the bases there will be a great many pieces to assemble. Likewise for Plug Track in 7mm scale.

I had high hopes of creating a "3D template" on the Cameo cutter, which the base pieces would drop into. The Cameo has a work area which could easily cover a baseboard. Unfortunately it can't cut anything of the thickness needed for such an idea with sufficient accuracy, if at all. Or at least, I haven't been able to find a way of doing so.

So back to the timber flanges. Which could be extended in places to create a sort of "Lego" set of timbering bases for a layout, by adding locking connectors to the timber flange at strategic locations, which might look something like this:


timber_connector.png


All to be hidden under the ballast.

It's going to need some careful thought about dimensions and tolerances, because timbers can be at odd angles and spacings and not necessarily parallel. And some means to tell Templot where to split the 3-D export and add a connector.

Even for larger laser-cut plywood bases, some means to align the separate pieces would be desirable.

Much food for thought.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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to create a sort of "Lego" set of timbering bases for a layout

Having introduced the Lego analogy, we may as well take it further. Just when you thought the DXF dialog was complex enough, here is another tickbox:

timbering_brick.png


A timbering "brick" is a single piece of timbering base (typically one that fits on a 3D printer work area) which will clip to other bricks to create the timbering base for a pointwork formation or an entire layout.

Ticking this box limits the DXF/STL timbering export to timbers wholly contained within the current export rectangle on the trackpad.

No effect on the rails, which would presumably be switched off when creating brick files.

Now we need a whole lot of functions to create numbered bricks on the trackpad, save and load them, and select which one is current for export, and add the clip connectors. Fortunately I'm wearing my programming shorts today...

Martin.
 
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First post here. I had always intended using Templot to create templates for 21mm PCB track but this development is really exciting. Fantastic work. That's all I have to say for now :)

All the best,
Phil.
 
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Martin Wynne

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@murphaph

Hi Phil,

Welcome to Templot Club. :)

Always good to see 5ft-3in gauge here!

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Thanks for the warm welcome Martin. I look forward to following this thread in particular with great interest.

My long term plan is 21mm gauge but with EM tolerances to check rails rather than P4 ones. This is the "standard" described in Modelling Irish Railways.

I hope by the time I'm ready to start printing my track (still sounds like science fiction to me lol) that I'll be able to select these options in Templot though from what I understand you're leaning towards a configuration file rather than overloading the interface with check boxes, which probably makes sense given the number of combinations possible.
 
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Martin Wynne

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My long term plan is 21mm gauge but with EM tolerances to check rails rather than P4 ones. This is the "standard" described in Modelling Irish Railways.
@murphaph

Hi Phil,

There are some pre-sets in Templot for 5ft-3in gauge, although you can of course set any custom standard you wish:

em_5ft_3in.png


It doesn't include the standard you mentioned because I regard it as flawed, although I may add EM-SF(I) to take advantage of the Exactoscale 0.8mm check-rail chairs.

The golden rule is that to use an exact-scale track gauge you must also use exact-scale wheel profiles and flangeways, otherwise the wheels won't fit behind loco valve gear, inside splashers, behind axleboxes, etc. All H0 models are over scale width in the running gear for this reason. To use overscale wheel profiles, the track gauge must be reduced slightly if you want a scale-width model. Hence EM, 0-MF, etc.

As you probably know, there is about 20 years of my modelling life in the 21mm Adavoyle Junction layout -- although I recall spending most of my time working under the baseboards rather than on top: :)

2_050749_470000003.jpg


The pointwork was mostly built by Peter Taylor in 1983, with some contributions from the earliest beginnings of Templot. It's been in my thoughts recently because it was fully chaired riveted plywood -- we chaired it by injection moulding chairs in situ around the rivets using a hot-glue gun. I remember spending several evenings on the spark eroder making the injection tools. Joe Brook Smith was delighted when I showed him the chairing process at Scaleforum in 1986. I wonder what he would have made of the resin-printed chairs I made this week? The layout spent about 20 years on the exhibition circuit, and is now in the care of the South Dublin Model Railway Club.

More info and pics: https://85a.uk/GNRI/adavoyle.htm

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Paul Boyd

Member
Location
Loughborough, UK
@murphaph

Hi Phil,

There are some pre-sets in Templot for 5ft-3in gauge, although you can of course set any custom standard you wish:

View attachment 1732

It doesn't include the standard you mentioned because I regard it as flawed, although I may add EM-SF(I) to take advantage of the Exactoscale 0.8mm check-rail chairs.

The golden rule is that to use an exact-scale track gauge you must also use exact-scale wheel profiles and flangeways, otherwise the wheels won't fit behind loco valve gear, inside splashers, behind axleboxes, etc. All H0 models are over scale width in the running gear for this reason. To use overscale wheel profiles, the track gauge must be reduced slightly if you want a scale-width model. Hence EM, 0-MF, etc.

As you probably know, there is about 20 years of my modelling life in the 21mm Adavoyle Junction layout -- although I recall spending most of my time working under the baseboards rather than on top: :)

2_050749_470000003.jpg


The pointwork was mostly built by Peter Taylor in 1983, with some contributions from the earliest beginnings of Templot. It's been in my thoughts recently because it was fully chaired riveted plywood -- we chaired it by injection moulding chairs in situ around the rivets using a hot-glue gun. I remember spending several evenings on the spark eroder making the injection tools. Joe Brook Smith was delighted when I showed him the chairing process at Scaleforum in 1986. I wonder what he would have made of the resin-printed chairs I made this week? The layout spent about 20 years on the exhibition circuit, and is now in the care of the South Dublin Model railway Club.

More info and pics: https://85a.uk/GNRI/adavoyle.htm

cheers,

Martin.
Hi Martin

Adavoyle was one of those hugely inspirational layouts me for in the early to mid-1980s, and the late Tony Miles' series of articles on loco-building in Railway Modeller were probably the point at which I realised that we don't have to just stick RTR models on the rails and off you go. Definitely one of those very few layouts that has stuck in my mind, despite never having seen it in real life.

Cheers,
Paul
 
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Martin Wynne

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Adavoyle was one of those hugely inspirational layouts me for in the early to mid-1980s, and the late Tony Miles' series of articles on loco-building in Railway Modeller were probably the point at which I realised that we don't have to just stick RTR models on the rails and off you go. Definitely one of those very few layouts that has stuck in my mind, despite never having seen it in real life.
@Paul Boyd

Thanks Paul.

Unlike most 40-year-old layouts, you might still get to see it. Its actual 40th birthday will be next year, so maybe the club will be holding another open day:

http://sdmrc.ie/2019/06/

Of course it's difficult to pin down the exact birth date of a layout. But having decided to use domestic doors for the baseboards, the day Tony took the bathroom scales with him to the DIY store to weigh their entire stock of different doors sticks in the memory. :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Phil O

Member
Location
Plymouth.
I remember seeing Adavoyle a couple of times in the early eighties, but I don't remember which particular shows, one may have been Bristol or perhaps Kiddy. I certainly remember articles in the Modeller.
 
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Martin Wynne

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I have just posted this on the Ffestiniog topic. It might be worth repeating it here if I haven't made it clear:


In the current Templot version 228a you can 3D-print ordinary REA S1 chairs* for any scale, to match any rail section.

The rail section details are entered by clicking the set custom rail... button on the DXF dialog.

*but only S1 chairs. I haven't done the special switch and crossing chairs yet.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin,

The ability to generate chairs is a fantastic step forward and I have been experimenting with this a little bit. I have an Anycubic Photon 3D printer and a Darkly Labs Emblaser 2 laser cutter and I am keen to explore the possibility of using these tools to create normal P4 track and, for now, preserving more traditional techniques for turnouts.

The Emblaser cuts card much easier than ply and I have used card extensively in the machine with shellac which produces a really strong end result. The photo below shows some 3D printed chairs from 228a together with some sleepers cut from 1.5mm mounting board. As you can see I have had to reduce the size of the socket hole in order to preserve a reasonably strong edge to the sleeper.

Is there anywhere in 228a which enables me to change the size of the plug on the chair base please? I have set the hole in the sleeper at 3mm x 1.5mm which should be just as strong as the size you are using but I can't see anywhere where the size can be changed - am I missing something please?

Ralph

20210801_142629.jpg
 
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Martin Wynne

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Is there anywhere in 228a which enables me to change the size of the plug on the chair base please? I have set the hole in the sleeper at 3mm x 1.5mm which should be just as strong as the size you are using but I can't see anywhere where the size can be changed - am I missing something please?
@ralphrobertson

Hi Ralph,

That looks great! Thanks for posting. :)

I'm aware that the chair plug size weakens plain track 10" sleepers. That's the reason for adding the bottom flanges on the 3D printed sleepers.

Currently the plug dimensions match the centres of the base corner radius on the chairs, i.e. 6" (2mm) wide and 12.5" (4.17mm) long. I'm sorry, at present there is no means to change that. There will be eventually some means to change almost everything, including fully-customizable chair designs, but we are not there yet.

That leaves the base overlapping the plug by 1" (0.33mm) all round, and I'm a bit reluctant to change that. I have made the base as close to scale thickness as I dare, and even now they are a bit fragile with the occasional corner breaking off (prototypical if it is only "occasional"). If the base overlap is increased by reducing the plug width, I fear it will be necessary to increase the base thickness even more to avoid damage.

The L1 bridge chairs have a larger corner radius, and a correspondingly wider plug overlap, but the sockets still get very close to the edge of the timber. I will cross that bridge (!) when I get to it. Fortunately L1 chairs are not used on 10" wide sleepers.

But all that will be up to the user in the end. It just takes time -- I wanted to get 228a released because all this has been in development for about 3 years now. I accidentally released some of it in 227a so there didn't seem much choice but to do a proper release with at least some intended functionality. It's also great to get some feedback such as yours, many thanks.

In the meantime you have a couple of options:

1. edit the DXF/STL files in a CAD package to reduce the plug width.

2. some plain track -- on soft ground, in tunnels, and under water troughs, was laid with 12" wide sleepers, also the end joint sleeper of some track panels was 12" wide. Strictly speaking that would require S1J chairs, but not always. You could try fitting the 6" wide plugs in 12" sleepers to create a short length of such track.

It might be some time before I can do a release with adjustable plug sizes, but I might be able to post a STL file with reduced plug widths shortly for you to try.

If you are using 1.5mm thick sleepers I suggest increasing the plug depth slightly -- that's the chair / socket fit... button on the DXF dialog. I added a bottom taper on the plug since setting the default, and I think the plug now needs to be a fraction deeper for a good fit in the sockets.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Location
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Thanks for replying so quick Martin. I realise the way I work is a bit different to most and to change Templot just for me is a nonsense. I have already generated a pair of S1 chairs with no plug and I had intended to try to add a plug of my own to make them fit my sleepers so for now I can pursue this line thanks. I will let you know how I get on in the next few days.

Ralph
 
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Martin Wynne

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@ralphrobertson

p.s. Ralph,

Silly me. :(

There is a way to change the plug width. But only by changing the length at the same time. Change this to say -0.25mm and the plug width and length will reduce by 0.5mm:

plug_size.png


That was intended only as a fine tweak to accommodate variations in resin shrinkage rather than for design purposes, but you can of course set whatever you want. The socket clearances would need to be changed by the same amount.

At chair / socket fit... button.

I haven't actually tested the above, but have no reason to think it won't work.

Sorry I didn't think to mention this in my previous reply.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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