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RE: [z_scale] Re: STEP/CNC for Creating Low-Demand, High-Quality Z Gauge Items

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  • Robert Allbritton
    Hi Jim & Group, Just a comment or two: I don t want to dampen ANYONES enthusiasm, but when it comes to machine tools, you really do get what you pay for. I
    Message 1 of 26 , Dec 1, 2003
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      Hi Jim & Group,

      Just a comment or two:

      I don't want to dampen ANYONES enthusiasm, but when it comes to machine
      tools, you really do get what you pay for. I have owned 3 lathes:

      A Unimat One - $150 This thing is a toy, I can make parts with it, if I have
      about a day per part of free time on my hands.

      A Harbor Freight Lathe (forgot the model number) - ~$600 Nice Lathe and mill
      combo machine, but it was a pain to switch back and forth between Mill and
      Lathe. It also needed to be readjusted regularly to keep it in tolerances.
      Probably OK for prototyping, but forget production.

      A Sherline Lathe with Milling attachment - ~$1500 with all the attachments.
      This thing is *GREAT* right out of the box, works like a champ. VERY easy to
      go from Lathe to Mill and back. Could you do production runs with it?
      Probably, but even then, it is going to get tedious awful fast. A small
      production run of say 20 units (assuming we are talking about a locomotive
      frame) could be done.

      But in the big picture, you are still talking about Locomotives that will
      cost in the AZL price range when you get done - unless you are willing to
      donate quite a few man hours to our hobby, and I thank you if you are
      willing!

      People forget that it takes more than just time and materials to produce a
      product. There is a TON of your own time spent on design, marketing,
      distribution, support, repair, and a hundred other little things. You really
      need to sell a product for at least 50% more than your production cost just
      to break even with all of the other cost built in.

      Again, I'm not trying to rain on anybody's parade, but consider just making
      models for yourself - did you see the pictures of the Big Boy? - and how
      many man hours did that take? Its a lot easier to rationalize big purchases
      on machine tools when you say: I'm going to make things that will pay for
      this "investment." But it is a lot more realistic say that you are doing it
      because you enjoy the hobby - oh, and if you do make any money, use them to
      buy more trains (grin)

      Best,
      -Rob

      -----Original Message-----
      From: jim_manley_alpha_six [mailto:jim_manley@...]
      Sent: Monday, December 01, 2003 1:12 AM
      To: z_scale@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [z_scale] Re: STEP/CNC for Creating Low-Demand, High-Quality Z
      Gauge Items


      Hi Steve,

      I'm going to continue with this in public on the list until a poll of
      the list members indicates we need to go private, but I think it's
      important for the future of our scale in all its glorious gauges
      (thanks for the clarification, Jeffrey - I should have known better!
      :) Besides, there's a handy "Next" button at the top of every message
      that allows non-interested parties to ignore my babbling. Those who
      are interested could very well determine our future - or not, our
      mileage may vary.

      Anyway, your wish is the manufacturer's command. The lowest-cost RTR
      (Ready-To-Run, for our newbies :) "desktop CNC milling machine" (yep,
      like desktop publishing) that I've found so far is the MaxNC 5 for -
      are you sitting down? - $895, which has 8" X-axis by 5" Y-axis by 6"
      Z-axis travel and a claimed resolution of 0.00012" (yes, that's 120
      microns - the next level of machines can supposedly get you down to a
      micron or less), which is plenty for Z scale). Here's a link to the
      product description:

      http://www.maxnc.com/page12.html

      Now, it's designed to have a hand motor tool (e.g., Dremel Moto-Tool,
      etc.) clamped into the Z-axis frame, so it doesn't come with a true
      milling machine spindle, or even a spindle motor, but it looks like
      those could be retrofitted, if you decided to get into this seriously.
      The purists are going to immediately jump on this and say, "You fool!
      Those hand tools aren't able to withstand very much side-force on the
      cutting heads because of their puny bearings, so accuracy and speed
      will suffer!". This is absolutely true, but we are more likely to be
      working plastic, wood, and soft metals like brass and non-alloy
      aluminum (aluminium for our UK friends :) and not making titanium
      airframe parts for the F-22 Stealth Fighter (the cockpit/fuselage
      interface is CNC milled from a single roughly 6 x 8 x 1 foot block of
      titanium over several days!). If you run the cutting tool at a low
      enough feed transit speed (measured in inches per minute, so we're not
      talking about something all that fast anyway), you can still do some
      pretty neat stuff. Besides, we're not trying to pump out hundreds of
      thousands of identical parts, and it certainly would have to be faster
      than what it takes dealers to get stuff from most manufacturers
      (measured in products per month ;)

      As John pointed out, Sherline (http://www.sherline.com) also has a
      line of desktop CNC milling machines, but they start at a couple
      thousand dollars and go up rapidly from there. You can find other
      manufacturers if you look long and hard enough via Google (and believe
      me, I have), but their lowest-priced models also start in the
      mid-thousands. However, their focus is on small professional shops
      (there are an estimated 500,000 of them out there) and so their
      machines have spindles with motors, larger beds, better mechanical
      resolution, more capable (but also much more complex) software, etc.
      Our good friend here on the list, Yuji Kuwabara, used a Taig
      (http://www.taig.com) desktop lathe to create some of the parts for
      his wonderful Big Boy, and there is a CNC option for that lathe and
      their desktop milling machine, but the prices are close to the range
      of the Sherline units. A useful source of info on lower-end
      commercial products is at:

      http://www.super-tech.com/default.asp

      You can get a quick feel for the range of CNC machines that have been
      manufactured over the years by monitoring the CNC milling machine
      section of your favorite four-letter WWW auction site (which shall not
      be mentioned by name here - Ah-ah-mennnn! ;) You can find some pretty
      interesting older models that are definitely in the industrial
      category (they are measured in cubic yards and weigh tons!), but good
      luck getting them into your garage/basement without laying a new
      concrete slab and putting in a dedicated exterior door, much less
      figuring out how the software works (many are proprietary and no
      longer supported, but some have been retrofitted with PC interfaces
      very similar to what the MaxNC and Sherline models use).

      If you're a real glutton for punishment, you can even Do It Yourself,
      i.e., build your own CNC milling machine (or lathe). MaxNC sells
      their PC interface board (with their basic software package) with
      three stepper motors (very low-torque - only 70 ounce-inches, but
      again, probably more than adequate for our needs) for $295, and you
      can build the milling bed from all sorts of interesting materials
      (some people have used Medium Density Fiberboard - MDF, or particle
      board, all the way up to machined aluminum and steel). Since the
      stepper motors don't care how long the feed screws are (they move the
      feed table around under a fixed spindle, or the spindle over a fixed
      table), you can build a much larger table - some DIYers have machines
      the size of a 4 x 8 sheet of particle board, and even larger, where
      the spindle moves over the work. Some good WWW sites for DIY CNC are:

      http://213.10.73.60/majosoft/index.html (lots of examples of DIY machines)

      http://www.hobbycnc.com/ (3-axis controller kit + three 85 oz-in
      motors $219)

      http://www.stepperworld.com/ (3-axis controller kit $50, kit + three
      33 oz-in motors $119, kit + three 125 oz-in motors $219)

      http://www.mendonet.com/cnclinks/index.html (links to all sorts of CNC
      stuff - hardware, software, controllers, motors, kits, assembled, etc.)

      There are links from some of these sites to DIY efforts all over the
      world, if you follow enough of them. Stepper motors can be had on the
      aforementioned four-letter auction site starting at a few dollars for
      used ones, less than $30 for new, and going up pretty much linearly
      with their torque and speed capacity. So, the minimum cost of entry
      for a bare-bones DIY CNC machine is probably a few hundred dollars and
      a few dozen hours of work. A lot of sites sell plans, but if you're
      willing to peruse Google for several evenings, you can find info
      similar to what I've listed above.

      The free and shareware CNC software is fairly basic (and some is even
      written in BASIC!) that allows you to manually control the tool and
      process G&M code files, but there is a lot of it out there, and I
      haven't even scratched the surface, yet. Most of the commercial stuff
      has 30 day trial versions that can be downloaded, so you can get an
      idea of what's possible, especially if you can afford to spend a few
      hundred dollars. TurboCAD is a good lower-end choice, and I happen to
      know the guy who is the master machinist and mechanical engineer in
      the aerospace industry who led the development of AutoCAD (he's quite
      a character, and has no limit in his animosity for what the executives
      at AutoDesk did in ignoring their own technical experts, in addition
      to buying out better upcoming competing products just so they could
      bury them, one of which he also directed the development).

      Analysis continues, as we say in the intelligence business.

      All the BeZt,
      Jim


      --- In z_scale@yahoogroups.com, STEVDEL@p... wrote:
      > I've been wondering when equipment like the CNC
      > would be widespread and economical enough to start to
      > show up in the model railroad supply chain.
      > What's the order-of-magnitude of the cost of this
      > kind of equipment now?







      "Z" WARNING! HANDLE WITH CARE! Highly addictive in Small DoseZ!


      Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
    • Bill Hoshiko
      ... that will ... . You really ... cost just ... My old bookkeeper training told me that the final retail price of any product should be 5 times the
      Message 2 of 26 , Dec 1, 2003
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        --- In z_scale@yahoogroups.com, "Robert Allbritton" <robert@p...>
        wrote:
        > Hi Jim & Group,
        >
        > <snip>

        > But in the big picture, you are still talking about Locomotives
        that will
        > cost in the AZL price range when you get done -

        <snip>
        . You really
        > need to sell a product for at least 50% more than your production
        cost just
        > to break even with all of the other cost built in.


        My old bookkeeper training told me that the final retail price of
        any product should be 5 times the cost to manufactur. The retailer
        generaly marks everything up 100% over his wholesale cost. The
        wholesaler also makes a profit. If it is not sold within a
        reasonable time, the retailer is lucky if he nets 20%

        As for this step/cnc stuff please take it to:

        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/traintools/

        It is interesting but not really specific to Z.

        All those interested in this subject can subscribe to the traintools
        group and continue to follow this thread.

        Bill
        El Toro, CA
      • Reynard Wellman
        Hello Rob, Glad to see your notes. I, too, have used this equipment. These small lathes and mills are time consuming to setup so I use them solely for
        Message 3 of 26 , Dec 1, 2003
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          Hello Rob,

          Glad to see your notes. I, too, have used this equipment.
          These small lathes and mills are time consuming to setup
          so I use them solely for prototyping. But building your own
          "one of a kind" locomotives can be a real pleasure
          and I would recommend the Sherline for anyone who is motivated
          to do this.

          For locomotive consumer production, many surfaces need to be
          CNC milled on heavier spindle & way bed machines after casting
          or molding. This must be done at a fast rate per hour to provide
          cost effective products. But prototyping, testing, marketing
          research and advertising consume most of the product budget.

          BTW, we have revised some of our product line items and are
          adding free US retail shipping for December, 2003.

          Best regards,
          Reynard
          http://www.micronart.com/

          On Monday, December 1, 2003, at 08:29 AM, Robert Allbritton wrote:

          > Hi Jim & Group,
          >
          <edited for length>
          >
          > People forget that it takes more than just time and materials to
          > produce a
          > product. There is a TON of your own time spent on design, marketing,
          > distribution, support, repair, and a hundred other little things. You
          > really
          > need to sell a product for at least 50% more than your production cost
          > just
          > to break even with all of the other cost built in.
          >
          <edited for length>
          >
          > Best,
          > -Rob
          >
          <edited for length>


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Reynard Wellman
          Hello Bill, I would like to disagree. What provoked this discussion was all the buzz about Yuji Kuwabara s Union Pacific Big Boy in Z scale. Naturally that led
          Message 4 of 26 , Dec 1, 2003
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            Hello Bill,

            I would like to disagree. What provoked this discussion was all
            the buzz about Yuji Kuwabara's Union Pacific Big Boy in Z scale.
            Naturally that led to discussions about building Z scale locomotives
            and to the machinery involved in doing just that.

            I believe that as we refine and focus our desires in this scale we
            will continue to have discussions like this about equipment and
            techniques. Many items, not just locomotives, need some rework
            in order to operate properly. It is a natural outgrowth of this
            "jeweler's" scale requirements that these debates be engaged.

            Best regards,
            Reynard

            On Monday, December 1, 2003, at 09:38 AM, Bill Hoshiko wrote:
            >
            <edited for length>
            > As for this step/cnc stuff please take it to: 
            >
            > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/traintools/
            >
            > It is interesting but not really specific to Z.
            >
            > All those interested in this subject can subscribe to the traintools
            > group and continue to follow this thread.
            >
            > Bill
            > El Toro, CA


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Bill Hoshiko
            ... locomotives ... Reynard, Like I said, it is interesting and I did read through 50% of the original post, but there is a point where those of us, who will
            Message 5 of 26 , Dec 1, 2003
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              --- In z_scale@yahoogroups.com, Reynard Wellman <micron@m...> wrote:
              > Hello Bill,
              >
              > I would like to disagree. What provoked this discussion was all
              > the buzz about Yuji Kuwabara's Union Pacific Big Boy in Z scale.
              > Naturally that led to discussions about building Z scale
              locomotives
              > and to the machinery involved in doing just that.


              Reynard,

              Like I said, it is interesting and I did read through 50% of the
              original post, but there is a point where those of us, who will
              never consider purchasing a mill or a lath or even a Dremel Tool,
              will only skip any further postings.

              Perhaps, if highlights of this process are continualy posted here,
              we can all be excited about it. When the posts become a little
              technical, then I will become disinterested. There are only so many
              hours in the day.

              I have been involved with handlaying track for over 55 years. I
              occasionaly post some thoughts about handlaying track to the Z_scale
              groups but I don't think that this group is very interested. They
              may like the idea, but they are not planning to get involved.

              I post most of my handlaying track ideas to the Nn3 group or to the
              handlaid track group. These two groups are more active in
              handlaying track. With these two groups I may get some feedback.
              The only communications that I have had about handlaid track from
              the Z-scale group has been from Ole and Svein-Martin Holt . (Ole,
              if your are reading this, we think of you often.)

              When I reach a point that my work is Z scale specific, then I shall
              make some posts to this group but untill then I will make only
              occasional remarks.

              I, for one, do respect your remarks, Reynard. You are involved in
              metal fabricating, manufacturing and marketing. Your efforts are
              instrumental in the advancement of Z scale. Someday I wish that our
              paths will cross and I can shake your hand. It will make my day.

              Bill
              El Toro, Ca
            • Reynard Wellman
              Hello Bill, I admire your restraint. Sometimes this stuff is not as interesting to all of us unless we are directly involved. Yes, I miss Ole Rosted as well.
              Message 6 of 26 , Dec 1, 2003
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                Hello Bill,

                I admire your restraint. Sometimes this stuff is not as interesting
                to all of us unless we are directly involved. Yes, I miss Ole Rosted
                as well. He was excoriatingly critical of inaccurate track
                and turnouts. He is an advocate for code 40 in Z scale and I believe
                he is right. Also, handlaid track can be very beautiful in any scale.

                I respect your remarks as well but want leave open ended the
                various traces we follow as we blunder through this technology.
                Z scale needs criticism as much as it needs as advocacy.

                We (Micron Art) will have booth #450 at the Seattle NMRA 2004
                show in July. If you are there, please stop by. We can exchange
                war stories on the railroading front. All of us can agree
                that it is railroads that we want to promote as the alternative to
                the millions of acres that are continually squashed under concrete
                every day.

                Best regards,
                Reynard

                On Monday, December 1, 2003, at 10:51 AM, Bill Hoshiko wrote:

                > --- In z_scale@yahoogroups.com, Reynard Wellman <micron@m...> wrote:
                > > Hello Bill,
                > >
                > > I would like to disagree. What provoked this discussion was all
                > > the buzz about Yuji Kuwabara's Union Pacific Big Boy in Z scale.
                >
                <edited for length>
                >
                > Reynard,
                >
                <edited for length>
                >
                > I have been involved with handlaying track for over 55 years.  I
                > occasionaly post some thoughts about handlaying track to the Z_scale
                > groups but I don't think that this group is very interested.  They
                > may like the idea, but they are not planning to get involved. 
                >
                > I post most of my handlaying track ideas to the Nn3 group or to the
                > handlaid track group.  These two groups are more active in
                > handlaying track.  With these two groups I may get some feedback. 
                > The only communications that I have had about handlaid track from
                > the Z-scale group has been from Ole and Svein-Martin Holt .  (Ole,
                > if your are reading this, we think of you often.)
                >
                > When I reach a point that my work is Z scale specific, then I shall
                > make some posts to this group but untill then I will make only
                > occasional remarks.
                >
                > I, for one, do respect your remarks, Reynard.  You are involved in
                > metal fabricating, manufacturing and marketing.  Your efforts are
                > instrumental in the advancement of Z scale.  Someday I wish that our
                > paths will cross and I can shake your hand.  It will make my day.
                >
                > Bill
                > El Toro, Ca
                >
                >
                <image.tiff>
                >
                >
                > "Z" WARNING! HANDLE WITH CARE!  Highly addictive in Small
                > DoseZ!
                >
                >
                > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.

                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • jmac_han
                Hi Gang, You may notice that I have changed the tag line for this posting. This is a good way to let the membership know that I am not about to give an opinion
                Message 7 of 26 , Dec 1, 2003
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                  Hi Gang,

                  You may notice that I have changed the tag line for this posting.
                  This is a good way to let the membership know that I am not about to
                  give an opinion on CNCs, milling, lathing or whathaveyou. I would
                  like to comment on one of the reasons that this forum exists i.e. to
                  promote the free exchange of information related to the world of Z-
                  scale model railroading. To that end, there have been thousands of
                  posts covering hundreds of topics presenting every facet of the
                  practice of, passion for and future of Z-scale model railroading.

                  There are so many incredibly talented and knowledgeable people who
                  are members of this group and who have taken the time to share with
                  the rest of us. I learn from practically every post here. That is
                  not to say that I am promoting the idea that everyone should read
                  everything, no, not at all. We all have our particular interests.
                  But the great thing about an internet-based forum is that one can
                  chose to read the messages one wants, skipping the subjects or themes
                  that are of less interest.

                  As a general-delivery style forum, Z_Scale can and has played a
                  significant role in bringing like-minded people together to form
                  groups, create new products, promote the hobby, meet face-to-face and
                  find so many ways to enjoy the hobby.

                  This is why any posting of relevance to Z-scale model railroading,
                  including many topics that may be of limited appeal, is welcome
                  here.

                  Thank you to everyone who has posted to Z_Scale. You have broadened
                  my horizons.

                  Cheers,
                  Jeffrey MacHan
                  Moderator

                  --- In z_scale@yahoogroups.com, "Bill Hoshiko" <billhko@y...> wrote:

                  >
                  >
                  > Reynard,
                  >
                  > Like I said, it is interesting and I did read through 50% of the
                  > original post, but there is a point where those of us, who will
                  > never consider purchasing a mill or a lath or even a Dremel Tool,
                  > will only skip any further postings.
                • jim_manley_alpha_six
                  GreetingZ FriendZ, RomanZ, and PlanetperZonZ (yes, I m still eating Turkey/Tofurkey/TurDuckEn Day leftovers :) Thanks for everyone s comments thus far on this
                  Message 8 of 26 , Dec 2, 2003
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                    GreetingZ FriendZ, RomanZ, and PlanetperZonZ (yes, I'm still
                    eating Turkey/Tofurkey/TurDuckEn Day leftovers :)

                    Thanks for everyone's comments thus far on this topic. I was
                    hoping to stir the pot, and I'm really glad to hear everyone's
                    comments (especially yours, Bill - now I know where to look for
                    more tool-oriented stuff! :) I don't have time to "track" (PFI - Pun
                    Fully Intended) much more than this list, and if I can help just
                    one other member of this list learn something, then I've achieved
                    my purpose.

                    Reynard "gets it", along with Jeffrey, Steve, the Johns, Lajos and
                    Randy (but they're really smart, handsome, all-around good
                    guys, so that's what we would expect! :) Several are also
                    experienced with the kinds of tools I've been describing, so it's
                    probably easier for them to grasp what I'm talking about. If we're
                    able to produce some really detailed operating models that none
                    of the mainstream manufacturers have addressed, at
                    reasonable prices or otherwise, then I'm sure Bill will "get it" too.
                    He's already a really smart, handsome, all-around good guy, too,
                    so it's just a matter of time before we win him over, and I need to
                    better explain how this idea applies to Z, in particular.

                    The whole purpose of my concept is to help solve the
                    chicken-and-egg situation where we have a very limited
                    selection of locomotives, rolling stock, track, structures, etc., at
                    affordable prices, in reasonable quality, and in appropriate
                    quantities. Not to pick on any of our highly-respected
                    manufacturers, but just as an example, while the selection from
                    AZL is getting better, the numbers produced and the prices are
                    not. Only eight of a given road number in a particular road name
                    for a specific model is ridiculous, regardless of the price, which
                    could come down significantly if enough volume were produced.
                    I think my idea may positively impact this problem, and I would
                    love to discuss this with the folks at AZL and in Korea (my
                    company is doing a lot of new business with manufacturers
                    there, and although it's in the consumer electronics space, I
                    believe there are useful parallels).

                    I believe that some of the more basic parts can be produced at a
                    reasonable level of quality, fairly quickly, in the number needed
                    for everyone on this list, using the mid-level CNC equipment
                    we've discussed. This would include locomotive and rolling
                    stock metal frames; sheet metal shells that are typically now
                    etched (and parts produced via CNC can be finished using more
                    limited etching, sintering, sandblasting, etc.); wheels, axles and
                    trucks (especially those for locomotives beyond F7s and SDs);
                    and masters for non-injection-molded objects (e.g., shells and
                    their accessory details like horns and bells, body and structure
                    details, etc.). Over time, I think that very detailed injection molds
                    can be produced using my idea, but they are a whole level of
                    complexity above what I think we can for now (my brother-in-law
                    is a foreman for Hitachi multi-ton injection molders, so I've been
                    learning a whole lot about what it takes to generate molds, and
                    set up, operate and maintain the molders).

                    I think that final finishing, such as painting, printing, etc., can be
                    accommodated if the right materials and techniques can be
                    identified to use in CNC machines. This is probably going to be
                    the trickiest thing to get any level of quality established, and may
                    take years to achieve. However, I'm already waiting for a lot of
                    new models, so I've got nothing but time (except for my
                    day/evening job, family, maintaining my health, keeping up with
                    this job, I mean hobby ... :)


                    Here's what I AM proposing:

                    - Customers and manufacturers could generate the .stl (STEP),
                    .dxf (AutoCAD Data Exchange Format), G&M code, or other files
                    containing 3-D part/product description data. They could be
                    generated by (auto)tracing photos and edited to 3-D, or via stylus
                    (many CNC systems have an option for producing 3-D data from
                    physical objects by running a stylus over the objects' surfaces in
                    a raster-type path). An abundant source of surfaces could be HO
                    or larger scale locomotives and rolling stock (assuming they're
                    accurate to begin with). The files could represent something as
                    simple as a brass bell, or as complex as Yuji's entire Big Boy.
                    Data files for models could be built up from contributions from
                    multiple manufacturers and customers, perhaps from parts
                    libraries built up by everyone.

                    - I think it would be fantastic if everyone on this list with access to
                    a computer (I hope that includes everyone on the list, except
                    perhaps former neighbors of the Unibomber) generated some
                    portion of a 3-D model for a particular locomotive, piece of rolling
                    stock, or structure that everyone would want to have (it could
                    become our signature icon - in the physical, not computer
                    graphics, sense - to be proudly shown at model railroad events
                    - can you spell NTS 2004 Seattle? - and that new members of
                    the list could obtain as a welcome-aboard gift at cost, if they
                    weren't capable of producing it themselves). We would need to
                    work out the intellectual property issues, but I would suggest
                    something like the GNU Public License (GPL) Copyleft, where
                    the data files are copyrighted and placed in the public domain so
                    that everyone can benefit from them, and no one can control
                    dissemination of them except those who produce them.

                    - Customers who have CNC-compatible equipment (lathes and
                    milling machines are both necessary to produce all parts) could
                    experiment with manufacturing parts from shared data files at
                    whatever level of accuracy/detail/quality their equipment is
                    capable of producing. They could do this for themselves and
                    other customers.

                    - Manufacturers who have CNC-compatible equipment could
                    generate parts at higher levels of accuracy/detail/quality for
                    whatever prices the market will bear, perhaps on a sliding scale
                    according to how much time/effort is required.

                    - Any part/product/tooling could be data-modeled and produced,
                    for locomotives, rolling stock, track, ties, turnouts,
                    people/animals, structures, injection and resin masters/molds,
                    lost-wax/plastic/wood/metal masters for metal castings ... Can
                    you hear me now? Good!


                    And here's what I AM NOT proposing:

                    - Putting anyone out of business - in fact, I'm trying to come up
                    with a way to expand our market, to the benefit of manufacturers
                    (especially those producing smaller numbers of higher-quality
                    products) and customers.

                    - Forcing anyone to go out and buy any equipment - there are
                    probably already enough of us with access to the appropriate
                    computer and fabrication equipment/software to produce more
                    parts than everyone on the list could assemble over our
                    lifetimes, especially if this becomes a primarily automated
                    process.

                    - Excessively raising the hopes and expectations of anyone - I
                    will be the first to admit that I spend a lot of time thinking outside
                    of the box, and sometimes the box is a 12-dimensional
                    hypercube that, in an earlier age, would have gotten me tossed
                    into a well-padded cell for treatment of psychoses, or a dungeon
                    for heresy. However, it was once thought that the world was flat,
                    blood-letting was the best way to treat diseases, electric lights
                    were an impractical curiosity (it took Edison decades to get
                    electric power generation and distribution to become
                    widespread in New York alone), the speed of sound couldn't be
                    exceeded (many scientists were genuinely concerned it would
                    result in certain death to the pilot, in the unlikely event the aircraft
                    could survive structurally), and that no one could ever walk on the
                    Moon, much less return to Earth to talk about it. My idea is
                    probably on the order of the pet rock, but hey, a lot of people
                    thought those were a good idea!


                    So, what should our signature model be, and who is interested
                    in generating data model files that we can assemble into a
                    complete digital representation that can then be transformed into
                    the constituent physical parts? How about the very first
                    locomotive to be used in service, or the largest locomotive ever
                    built (my favorite is the
                    completely-impractical-to-operate-on-a-Z-layout 1969 era Union
                    Pacific DD40XA Centennial, which is over 98 feet in prototype
                    length, and over five inches long in Z)?

                    OK, enough babbling, as I've been up working all night, and it's
                    now after 5:30 AM here (Beginning of ad: and I'm happy to report
                    we've now got over a million TiVos to support - the more you buy,
                    the sooner I can retire and make this dopey CNC idea work! End
                    of ad. :)

                    All the BeZt,
                    Jim


                    --- In z_scale@yahoogroups.com, Reynard Wellman
                    <micron@m...> wrote:
                    > I believe that as we refine and focus our desires in this scale
                    > we will continue to have discussions like this about equipment
                    > and techniques. Many items, not just locomotives, need some
                    > rework in order to operate properly. It is a natural outgrowth of
                    > this "jeweler's" scale requirements that these debates be
                    > engaged.
                    >
                    > Best regards,
                    > Reynard
                    >
                    > On Monday, December 1, 2003, at 09:38 AM, Bill Hoshiko
                    wrote:
                    > >
                    > > As for this step/cnc stuff please take it to: 
                    > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/traintools/
                    > > It is interesting but not really specific to Z.
                    > > All those interested in this subject can subscribe to the
                    > > traintools group and continue to follow this thread.
                  • ztrack@aol.com
                    ... Why would this locomotive be impractical to operate on a Z layout? Z is the perfect scale to operate such a large locomotive. HO and above is impractical.
                    Message 9 of 26 , Dec 2, 2003
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                      In a message dated 12/2/03 8:38:47 AM, jim_manley@... writes:


                      > How about the very first
                      > locomotive to be used in service, or the largest locomotive ever
                      > built (my favorite is the
                      > completely 1969 era Union
                      > Pacific DD40XA Centennial, which is over 98 feet in prototype
                      > length, and over five inches long in Z)?
                      >

                      Why would this locomotive be impractical to operate on a Z layout? Z is the
                      perfect scale to operate such a large locomotive. HO and above is impractical.
                      One of the benefits of Z scale is that we can model large locomotives and cars
                      with zero compression. We can have completely prototypical curves that can be
                      broad enough to handle a 5 inch loco with no problem. The only limitation is
                      ones own space for a layout, but again, that is where Z scale has it's
                      advantages. Though we work small, it is time to think big.

                      Rob Kluz
                      Ztrack Magazine Ltd.
                      6142 Northcliff Blvd.
                      Dublin OH 43016
                      www.ztrack.com


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • kimvellore
                      Jim, I don t want to bring your enthusiasm down but I feel what we currently lack in building Z scale anything is either casting or injection molding. Some
                      Message 10 of 26 , Dec 2, 2003
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                        Jim,
                        I don't want to bring your enthusiasm down but I feel what we
                        currently lack in building Z scale anything is either casting or
                        injection molding. Some level of detail can be obtained by Photo
                        etching, but none of the lathe and end mills can get to the level of
                        detail that casting or injection molding gets. For Z you need all the
                        tiny details. For example take a Z-scale loco from Marklin and
                        observe the details from the rivets to the trucks, no mechanical
                        machine can do that. I own a 4 axis CNC Mill and CNC Lathe and access
                        to most CAD software. The only things I can build for Z loco are some
                        parts for the drive mechanism, even making the gears right is
                        extremely time consuming, so I use Marklin gears and drive mechanism.

                        If we could find an artist like Yuji who could make a master
                        mould in styrene or wax or resin then it could be reproduced in
                        Brass, add some PE details and use some CNC for making the chassis
                        and drive mechanism parts and you have a working loco.

                        So in order of priority I would say Casting, Photo Etch, CNC
                        machining, decal making and painting. The CNC parts could also be
                        eventually cast.
                        It is a great effort that you making for Z scale community,
                        but concentrating on CNC alone will not be able to achieve what you
                        are trying to do.

                        Regards,
                        Kim
                      • themohican2003
                        ... Everyone: As I recall when Yuji described what his model consisted of I believe he mentioned that the drive gears he used were from Marklin, I presume he
                        Message 11 of 26 , Dec 2, 2003
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                          --- In z_scale@yahoogroups.com, "kimvellore" <kim@b...> wrote:

                          > If we could find an artist like Yuji who could make a master
                          > mould in styrene or wax or resin then it could be reproduced in
                          > Brass, add some PE details and use some CNC for making the chassis
                          > and drive mechanism parts and you have a working loco.
                          >
                          > So in order of priority I would say Casting, Photo Etch, CNC
                          > machining, decal making and painting. The CNC parts could also be
                          > eventually cast.
                          > It is a great effort that you making for Z scale community,
                          > but concentrating on CNC alone will not be able to achieve what you
                          > are trying to do.
                          >
                          > Regards,
                          > Kim
                          Everyone:
                          As I recall when Yuji described what his model consisted of I believe
                          he mentioned that the drive gears he used were from Marklin, I
                          presume he used those to save time and effort since his model is a
                          one time project.
                          I myself am planning to use a combination of resin castings for
                          bodies and chemically etched metal detail parts like the end frames,
                          roof walks and hopper hatches.
                          I almost considered making metal bodies from etched sheet metal, but
                          I didn't care to solder all those cars, plus I would still have to
                          cast the frame for mounting the coupler/truck assemblies.
                          Hoppers Away!!!
                          Allan Borg
                        • michael
                          What about 3D (Stereo) Lithography? Is this technology too far out of reach, or is there another obstacle preventing it s use for Z? Viewed from my distance,
                          Message 12 of 26 , Dec 2, 2003
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                            What about 3D (Stereo) Lithography? Is this technology too far out
                            of reach, or is there another obstacle preventing it's use for Z?
                            Viewed from my distance, it appears to offer the best of both
                            worlds: the qualities of casting with CNC repeatability. I have
                            seen some machines going at online auction for a *fraction of their
                            original prices. There must be companies out there that rent time
                            on these things. Or maybe a club with a big enough local nucleus
                            could set up a non-profit testing ground where interested parties
                            can pool money for the cause. ...just throwing out ideas here,
                            folks.

                            This is a wonderful discussion on a subject which I have been very
                            interested in.

                            Also, as a side note, I have direct access to a couple of pieces of
                            CNC-type machinery. I own a small CNC milling machine which was
                            designed for printed circuit board fabrication (Brand-LPKF, Model-
                            C60). I also have access to one of the MaxCNC machines which Jim
                            pointed to in his first posting.


                            Cheers,

                            Michael

                            --- In z_scale@yahoogroups.com, "kimvellore" <kim@b...> wrote:
                            > Jim,
                            > I don't want to bring your enthusiasm down but I feel what we
                            > currently lack in building Z scale anything is either casting or
                            > injection molding. Some level of detail can be obtained by Photo
                            > etching, but none of the lathe and end mills can get to the level
                            of
                            > detail that casting or injection molding gets. For Z you need all
                            the
                            > tiny details. For example take a Z-scale loco from Marklin and
                            > observe the details from the rivets to the trucks, no mechanical
                            > machine can do that. I own a 4 axis CNC Mill and CNC Lathe and
                            access
                            > to most CAD software. The only things I can build for Z loco are
                            some
                            > parts for the drive mechanism, even making the gears right is
                            > extremely time consuming, so I use Marklin gears and drive
                            mechanism.
                            >
                            > If we could find an artist like Yuji who could make a master
                            > mould in styrene or wax or resin then it could be reproduced in
                            > Brass, add some PE details and use some CNC for making the chassis
                            > and drive mechanism parts and you have a working loco.
                            >
                            > So in order of priority I would say Casting, Photo Etch, CNC
                            > machining, decal making and painting. The CNC parts could also be
                            > eventually cast.
                            > It is a great effort that you making for Z scale community,
                            > but concentrating on CNC alone will not be able to achieve what
                            you
                            > are trying to do.
                            >
                            > Regards,
                            > Kim
                          • Lajos Thek
                            ... To build an injection mold for a well detaled product you need to use mill and lathe. The trick is knowing how to design and make the necessary tooling. To
                            Message 13 of 26 , Dec 2, 2003
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                              --- In z_scale@yahoogroups.com, "kimvellore" <kim@b...> wrote:
                              >
                              >...none of the lathe and end mills can get to the level of
                              > detail that casting or injection molding gets.

                              To build an injection mold for a well detaled product you
                              need to use mill and lathe. The trick is knowing how to design
                              and make the necessary tooling. To design something in 3D is
                              the least expensive part of the process. To convert the program
                              to a working product requires many expensive steps. On the basic
                              three or four axis CNC machine you need to figure out the correct
                              holding of the already machined surfaces (special tools made
                              strictly for the product), a more sophisticated shape requires
                              many tool changes, and even the production of a simple gear
                              requires a "fifth" axis. To make the proper tooling is the
                              biggest cost factor. Requires the "know how", what is rarely
                              "public domain". I wish we'll see CNC machines capable to make
                              the necessary tooling prior production of the parts, using the
                              product's design and machining information. Then position the
                              necessary cutters into the automatic tool changers, set-up
                              the part holders, insert the material and go...
                              Anyway, if someone with a small CNC machine is interested to
                              manufacture small numbers (few hundred?) of parts, I have a
                              nice, long wish list.
                              Lajos
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