Modern 52' Gondola with fiberglass cover

Stephane Savard Jan 12, 2021

  1. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    No updates yet.. I'm in the boring part of printing multiple models, cleaning the prints, sanding, and preparing for paint.

    However, I've been thinking of decals. Last year I bought some mill gondola decals for a road number I don't need (DJJX). Really I bought these for the generic data decals. The reporting marks and numbers I figured I'd get from generic letter decal sheets.

    Well. That's turned out to be a problem. All sheets I find have only a few X's. I'd need to buy eight generic lettering sheets to make up the eight gondolas! I'd print them myself if it wasn't white lettering. So, I turn to you all, any ideas how I can get multiple reporting marks for MWCX and creating 2004xx numbers?

    In other news, I came across and ordered some n scale ecofab cover decals! Found them quite by accident, really happy to have found these!
     
  2. Philip H

    Philip H TrainBoard Member

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    those "graveyard" gons would be fun as a scene on the layout of a wreck clean up . . . .
     
  3. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Long time no update! I'm just slow at working on these things :D

    So, now I have eight gondolas and seven covers printed and painted! Nothing much to see about those steps, the covers are white, and bodies are black. End of story. However, now I'm at the point where I'm applying decals. Oh boy. I didn't quite think this through when I started.

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    So first things first, the reporting marks and the car numbers. I couldn't find anything online to buy them that would make it easy. So I made my own. I had some 10 year old testors white decal paper from back when I was making R/C airplanes. I had scratchbuilt a Venezuelan OV-10 Bronco (64" wingspan) and needed to make my own decals back then. Well, it worked! I can't print in white, but I can print black! Only thing I needed to see is if the black ink from my printer would blend well into the gondola. And looky see up in that photo, it's close to seamless! To help even more I used a black sharpie to hide the white edges of the cut decals. I did this while the decal was still on the backing paper, just ran the sharpie along the edge. Works perfectly.

    To make the graphics, I used a Inkscape, an open source vector graphics program. I also downloaded the font online, turns out it's called "Coolvetiva" and it's really close to the real thing.

    Lucky, I have a "prosumer" Epson printer (an old R2880), which managed to make very crisp lettering (the end lettering is less than 1mm tall)!

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    The yellow stripes are Microscale N-scale stripes that I cut to the correct length. These are quite a bit more difficult to place correctly. Finicky. Real finicky. This is where is hit me :eek: I have to apply 32 long stripes and 64 short stripes! This is gonna be a while. So far so good though, I just stick on some headphones, music, and slowly concentrate on getting those stripes in place.

    Oh, and I found an amazing tool for decal placing!!!

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    These things are used for clay modelling. They are really small (different sizes available) and my little set comes in six "brushes". The tips are soft silicone or something similar. So I just use a small paint brush to wet the model with some MicroSet (blue bottle), plop the decal into place, and then I use these little silicon tips to nudge the decal into place. Works soooo much better than a paintbrush.

    Anyway, enough for now, gotta get back to decals! :D
     
    BNSF FAN and Sumner like this.
  4. SLSF Freak

    SLSF Freak Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Looks great! The black on that decal turned out nicely - I always worry about the colors blending in, but no problems on your gon!

    -Mike
     
    BNSF FAN likes this.
  5. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    That decal tool you found is a great idea. I fought with paint brushes for years....
     
    BNSF FAN likes this.
  6. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Wow, took me a month to get this far?

    So I'm not a really quick at this, but well, I've reached a milestone!

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    I finally have my little fleet of gondolas! I currently have eight black MWCX gondolas, one CN gondola, and three spare covers. All are painted, decaled, and have some satin varnish on them. But no weathering as of yet. Oh, and right, the CN gondola was not 3D printed. :D

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    Sometime last year, (or was it before? ) I bought this Athearn gondola to use as a template in helping me design the 3d printed gondola. I didn't have any pictures of the underside, and I was curious about dimensions. So while I eventually strayed from this design and ended up using a line drawing instead, the cover still fits! I also have seen some railfanning videos of a yard/siding near Montreal and the zinc concentrate processing plant, and the only two road names I've seen with the fiberglass covers were... MWCX and CN. Aha, bonus! The hobby shop was sold out of Athearn gons, but I hope to eventually find one or two more for my extra covers. I like the idea of the train having the two types of gondolas. Oh, right, the CN gondolas tend to have an older style of fiberglass cover, but I won't tell if you don't :D

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    Dust is a %^&!! to keep off these black cars for taking photos, sheesh. Deep black and bright white is also seriously taxing my cellphone, but I'm too lazy to bring out the dslr. Anyway, I'm really happy with how these turned out. The home made decals are good enough for me, and while in close up photos we can see the difference in black, and slight white edges, it's near seamless with the naked eye. But whew, that was A LOT of decals that needed to be applied.

    I should also mention that these are the second batch of ecofab covers I printed. I honestly screwed up painting the first set of covers, and ruined several covers trying to strip the paint. At that point it was easier to reprint than trying to fix the first set. That led to entire week off for learning the basics of painting as I watched painting videos for miniatures. Okay, so they paint wizards and orcs and dragons and hobitses, but they have one thing in common with n-scale - they're painting tiny details! So I bought better paint brushes, starting using a wet palette and my second time around I did much better job of painting those wires and latches. haha, yes, I know, the covers only use two colours, white and brown. But those little details are TINY. Turns out it's better to use a number 0 or 1 round paint brush for watercolours than trying to use a 10/0 or smaller spotting brush.

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    At first I had some problems with derailing when I was going around the layout, just playing with pulling them in and out of the yard, and watching the train go around the layout. But I quickly remembered that the trucks came from two packages of Intermountain coal gondolas. One set of six coal gons I had already opened and adjusted the coupler pins, the second set of six IM gons were new in their packaging and those pins were too low and hitting the turnout frogs. One truck was also badly formed and the axle kept falling out of the truck. A quick replacement and adjustment from another coal gon and perfect, no more derailment!

    So next I'd like to weather these, add a bit of rust around the cover's metal wire hooks, some dirt, and fade the black and add grime. I also have some graffiti decals that I will use sparingly on a couple gons (to strategically hide some imperfections in the 3d prints :D). But, I haven't made any progress on my layout in a long time now, ever since I started working on this model. I also need a bit of a change from gondolas to be honest. I think it's time to put these aside and do something new.

    Hope you enjoyed the slow progress on these!
     
    Kez, BNSF FAN, Philip H and 2 others like this.
  7. SLSF Freak

    SLSF Freak Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Indeed I have. They look great!

    Cheers -Mike
     
    Stephane Savard likes this.
  8. Philip H

    Philip H TrainBoard Member

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    Those rock! Well done.

    When will they be released for purchase?
     
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  9. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks all, I really enjoyed the feedback as well!

    I do see a lot of people selling models they 3d print, but my design isn't really quite scale, and has issues with layer lines and still has some distortions I'm willing to live with. Once you start selling, it needs to be perfect! I guess if someone absolutely wanted covers, something could be worked out. The gon itself is based on a specific truck from another model, plus honestly, it would be easier to buy one of the existing gons :D. I guess when you got a 3d printer, every nail looks 3d printable? :D
     
    BNSF FAN and Sumner like this.

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