When I lent my services to a collegue who was working on a film about 12 years ago, I was introduced to the world of cnc. I remember watching this huge machining centre milling out a slab of mdf and turning it into a fantastic set of gears. I knew that it would have taken me hours to achieve the same thing with traditional power tools. I decided then that I would invest in a cnc router for my own business Oxenham Design. At that time I could turn on a computer, but even to check email seemed like a crazy set of operations. I persevered and learned every piece of relevant software I could get my hands on. I am now fortunate enough to be using Vectric's ASPIRE software, and Techno cnc routers, which has helped us to create some amazing projects, both in part, or in full. I thought that this blog would be a great place to share "behind the scenes" adventures with the software, materials and equipment we use, as well as the projects we build.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Alphabet Soup!

The front of the heart gets the word "Stettler", Well actually, both sides get the name of the town on them. These letters will be 3/4" white pvc. This is so we don't have to paint them. The pvc is UV stable, and has the color running right through it. So small scratches or dings shouldn't be a problem for years to come.
Due to time issues, as well as current space issues, we had the truss welded up at Brewsters Welding a couple of doors down from us. He did a stellar job! Each frame actually splits in half, with guide pins, so each side can only get put together one way.
Jody got to work on painting it with a gloss red rust paint. I think her shirt was white when she started :) It's my hope that the red truss will blend very nicely into the red heart. As nice as the fabrication is, I don't want it to take centre stage!
While the paintwork was being done, our Techno cut out 2 sets of the  word "Stettler" I punched 2 holes through each letter, and countersunk a 5/16" Tee-nut. That should be plenty of power to hold these to the truss. I also milled a pocket on the back of each letter, slightly bigger than the bracket on the truss. This eliminates the text kerning, and height issues, that would arise from free-balling all the letters on the frame. They ended up locking the letters in place, easy peasy.

 Guess who is mysteriously missing from the above photo.........................?

That's how I roll!

Not a lot of structure is visible behind the letters, but what is visible looks pretty sweet, all shiny and new!

Once all the letters lined up to the holes in the truss, I cut a bunch of 1/8" thick disks, and glued them up as screw caps to cover my nuts.......................Oh no he di'int! (circle snap)

Once we were finished dealing with the giant letters, Jody moved on to painting the bridge.
She started with a red-oxide primer, as our bridge will be a steel bridge.
And then got a number of paint treatments, this being the first.
I find I'm walking a fine line for this. My artistic, movie prop side really wants to make the train, and the bridge VERY weathered and rusty, but I'm sure the Stettler board of trade would prefer to not show their town as a post apocalyptic, rusty nightmare! So clean looking is the order of the day, but I think the bridge is a very good meld of the 2!

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

I think I can, I think I can...........finish this job this year!

The front of the train barrel finally got all the little detail pieces attached. Including the dimensional sign for the front. The real train has this as well, although the scale of ours is quite a bit larger, just to make it stand out a bit! Although, funny story, the first version of this sign, I misspelled the word
prairie, and no-one noticed for 5 days. In fact, it was a friend whom had stopped by, that pointed it out! Stupid Jamie.

There was still a bit of underside work to finish up, so we put the whole assembly up on a couple of tables. It's pretty high already, to say nothing about the 4 more feet it will be sitting in the heart.
The very last step was to weld up the bracket that will bolt the bridge and the train together! That was a whole lotta crap working in that tight space!
Quite the monster from down around this height!
I had a few options for bringing the train whistle to life. But in the end, I decided to 3d print it. Who says 3d printing is "rapid prototyping"? Pfffff. HA HA! I do like his leaning back posture, and from the front, he kinda has "blowing cheeks"

I didn't even take the time to sand, and clean it up. I just went right to our 2 stage polyester primer, and applied it with a brush, because I didn't want to have to clean the spray gun for a tiny little bit of primer! Jody sanded it the next day, and it looked great!

All in all, he looks awesome!

Monday, 23 March 2015

On with the train details!

I got the barrel of the train coated and sanded, as well as managed to get the black strips around the front glued and riveted. That was clearly a 2 person job, and Jody stepped up nicely! A self proclaimed "Good holder of things"! That Jody.............
The last major pieces were the 2 pipes that come off the main barrel, into the lower pistons. This was 1.5" abs pipe, carefully, and frustratingly, cut around all the parts that were in it's way. This took forever..................really. Cut a bit here, cut a bit there, repeat, repeat..........................and once more!
Once they were as close as my patience would allow, I used Apoxie Sculpt, a 2 part epoxy putty, to fill in the rest! Including my miscalculated mounting hole!

Jody used 3/16 brass upholstery tacks to simulate the rivet heads on the body of the train. The color isn't a factor, as it will all be going black! We're keeping the rivets to a minimum on this. I want just enough to suggest that the whole thing is riveted together, old school, without junking it up too much.

Once the last bits that were going black were all mounted, I sprayed it up, and then clear coated it with a water based urethane clear. I find the water based clear is a very versatile product, I've even used it as a glue in a pinch! Plus, the sheen eventually all evens out in the end, unlike some, non automotive, products I've used in the past.
Jody was also able to get the track sections sprayed with rockerguard, to give it a bit of texture. Almost everything we are building will get this "miracle in a can" treatment!
Once dry, she speckle coated the tracks with a red oxide primer, strictly for the color, then did a washed glaze, to tone down the brightness of the red.
The last step on the tracks was for her to get the bright silver paint onto the top edge of the rail tracks. We went with the Rustoleum water based metallic silver for this part. Normally I don't use water based paint directly over plastic, but because we had used a flexible clear primer on the top side, the bond will be VERY good!