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

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  • 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 1 of 26 , Dec 1, 2003
      --- 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 2 of 26 , Dec 1, 2003
        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 3 of 26 , Dec 1, 2003
          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 4 of 26 , Dec 2, 2003
            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 5 of 26 , Dec 2, 2003
              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 6 of 26 , Dec 2, 2003
                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 7 of 26 , Dec 2, 2003
                  --- 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 8 of 26 , Dec 2, 2003
                    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 9 of 26 , Dec 2, 2003
                      --- 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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