3-D printing is all the rage these days, any manner of thing seems to be offered by this new technology. And now Z items are available through the company Shapeways. I hadn’t even thought about searching for such things but a few months ago I came across the Shapeways website. My Wife and I had a day off in some far off land so I had time to check out the 12 pages of Z gauge offerings by a number of designers, and I found it very enjoyable and ordered one. The item I ordered was a German class 701 catenary maintenance locomotive, it arrived packed in a sturdy box by the time we got home from our trip.
It is interesting to order from Shapeways, items are printed on demand with the disclaimer that the order maybe cancelled if Shapeways feels the item is too delicate to print so presumably not everything is available. The item I ordered was printed, and I am very happy with the finished shell. The plastic is translucent with a slight texture that will take paint well. Because of the translucent material lighting the loco will be disappointing unless a solution is made by masking (later problem to work through).
The locomotive came in two parts including the main shell and service platform. Detailing and design is quite excellent including warning beacon lights and roof top observation window. Shell has the same specs as the standard Marklin railbuses so adding a chassis and motor will be easy. A small hole is included in the roof to accommodate the single arm pantograph. Challenges for completing this project include painting and thus masking for three separate painting phases: safety yellow, gray and silver. Note: I find it easier to paint the dark color first inside and outside shell, finishing the roof as the final paint is what I do. Brushing the silver hardware for windows and black paint for buffers plus any touch-ups before following up with the final matte clear coat. Much easier to airbrush using water based paint diluted to flow through the airbrush used. Attaching the work platform permanently with 5 minute epoxy only, but the cool loco is designed for a pivoting work platform secured with a screw.
The prototype well depicted by the 3-D printed model as can be seen with two paint schemes by Marklin and Trix, and the roof observation hood as seen in the third photo of the prototype:
photo: Trix N scale class 701
photo: Marklin HO class TVT 6219 Esn
photo: prototype class 701
Notes on Shapeways products for Z: many curious items are offered including autos and loads as well as buildings, locos and rolling stock. These are projects that need to be completed and some that are offered will be more successful than others.
Buses, Trolleys & Trams thrived for a time in the 20th century throughout cities of the world, today buses are the main mode of transport alongside subway systems in certain cities and monorails too. At one time a rich variety of transport for the people could be seen traveling down the streets of any city each had their day, horse buses supplanted by steam trams supplanted by electric and petrol. By the end of World War II interurbans reached their end of life for many reasons: politics, auto ownership and road construction, and the high cost of maintaining infrastructure. All good things come to their end in the name of progress, but it is fun to think back on other days when very interesting vehicles transported people to work, shopping errands, sightseeing, and otherwise. Can we bring back some of this charm and excitement from yesteryear, at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine we can certainly try. Featuring the largest collection of trolleys and buses from around the world the Seashore Trolley Museum is also the oldest of its kind. A destination for some but for all others who visit the great state of Maine consider a stop here before heading up to Acadia National Park. Here you will see the only surviving “Liberty Bell Line” trolley from PA or a double decker trolley from Scotland. And you can ride the trolleys all day with the price of admission.
Buses, Trolleys & Trams, The Hamlyn Publishing Group LTD, 1967 is one of the very best anthologies on trolleys, trams and buses written with flair by Chas. S. Dunbar the book is supplemented by beautiful photos and illustrations. It is also an easy to locate book and attractively priced.
Okay so you think you have seen this book reviewed on this site before, and you are right! This book deserves a second nod because it covers some important local railroad history in my neck of the woods in Lehigh Valley, PA. And the author is a friend and passionate fan of trolleys, buses and the “Liberty Bell Limited” that served the three connecting cities of the Lehigh Valley, PA with runs to Philadelphia. The Liberty Bell was owned and operated by the Lehigh Valley Transit Company, it met the same fate that other trolley systems experienced namely the car in every driveway and our robust expansion of the highway system. The author Ron Ruddell spent 10 years patiently researching the material and writing a lively text that accompanies numerous photos and illustrations. Some densely populated cities in the United States have brought back the trolleys but here in Eastern Pennsylvania a trolley system that provided transport to rural and city dwellers is long gone, books like this help us preserve the history of the interurban rail systems in cities like our’s in the Lehigh Valley.