Oswestry Works

Locomotive works diorama in 4mm

Tag: 3d scanning

Modelu first steps

Missenden Abbey 3D Scanning Demonstration Sample Prints

It’s been a hectic time since the Missenden Spring weekend with not much time for modelling unfortunately.  On March 31st I officially finished work at my IT job and in effect officially started working self employed with Modelu.  The rest of March was spent finishing the garage/workshop conversion then April so far has been getting down to business working on the scans taken at Missenden Abbey.   I owe the Missenden organisers a huge amount, having the opportunity to demonstrate there has really helping bring things on a pace.

The scans were all edited in Netfabb, having anomalies removed where the person may have moved slightly or the scanner picked up the ceiling or floor.  Printing wise, I’d like to say everything has gone smoothly after using the printer for a few months, but there is always a bit of room for user error to mucky the waters…! After a few days of shenanigans I’ve been getting consistently improving prints, helped by input from jewellers who are the predominant users of the B9 Creator.

Missenden Abbey 3D Scanning Demonstration Sample Prints

I’m really pleased with how these have come out, the printer continues to exceed my expectations – but it does demand some serious time and energy, there is no way I could have got this far with it if I was still working full time.   Scanning takes some patience and imagination; its quite easy to fall into the trap of imagining yourself as the model instead of the real person, posing in ways which are either unrealistic or overemphasised.  There is a definite knack to it and it will come with practice.

These little cameo’s were fun to put together – this is exactly the kind of thing I want to do for Oswestry Works and what ultimately inspired me down this path in the first place.  Being able to have scanned figures of some of the men that worked there and being able to share and recreate some of their memories really appeals to me.  On that note, I’m meeting two former Oswestry men towards the end of the month, one a former boilersmith apprentice and the other a fitters apprentice.  I’m really looking forward to listening to their experiences, it will give the works project a real boost.  That’s if I can find time to work on it!

I did make time this evening to finish off No.9000 however, all its needed was numbering and allocating, so with some help from a fellow Cambrian modeller, Alan Jones I got some new plates.  He sells etched plates and yesterday I put my last minute order in, hoping to get 9000 finished before the weekend.  Alan kindly sorted my order out and got it in the post first class and the numbers arrived today.  Check out his website if you need any GWR and absorbed etched plates, he also has lots of plans to cater for Welsh modelling, Cambrian Railways in particular.  No.9000 ran with a Dean tender so it’s not quite finished yet, it also needs weathering at some point.  Smokebox plate is Pacific Models again and 89C shed code is from the Model Masters range.


Tomorrow I’m off to ScaleFour North for the weekend, I’ve been invited to demonstrate 3D scanning so I’ll be there both days with all the kit.  If you want to have a go yourself, or see the samples, or just say hello, you can find me next to the Missenden Abbey stand, opposite Mark Tatlow’s superb Portchullin.

Scalefour North 2015

Saturday 18th April 2015 – 10:00 – 17:00
Sunday 19th April 2015 – 10:00 – 16:00

Queen Elizabeth Grammar School
154 Northgate

Admission £7.00
Scalefour Society members £6.00


I really must spend some time painting figures…


Missenden Abbey Spring Weekend

Last weekend of March 6-8th was my second experience at Missenden Abbey modellers weekend.  Last year at the Autumn weekend I’d registered on the 3D Printing course led by Bob Gledhill, an experience which played a large part in my decision to go self employed in 2015 and start Modelu.  This time round however I was there to learn about loco building, in particular chassis building.  I’d bought a High Level 57xx chassis at Scaleforum North last year which I’d not had the courage to start, so that seemed like a good project for Missenden.  There are probably simpler first kits to attempt – I’d also purchased the Comet Dean Goods, but as the instructions were so comprehensive I opted for the HL Pannier, backed up by the knowledge that help would be on hand if I got into difficulties.

Missenden Abbey Loco and Kit Construction Course

With guidance and sound advice from Paul Willis and tutors Tony Gee and Tim Watson I got as far as constructing the frames, laminating the articulated connecting rods and constructing the horn blocks.  Having never constructed a chassis before I needed some assistance interpreting some of the instructions, where experienced builders would already know which stage for example to solder the spaces and frames.  Other than that, the build went well without any major malfunctions!  So far so good and I’m aiming to finish the chassis for Scaleforum North in April.

High Level Pannier Chassis build

For anyone thinking about going to a Missenden weekend I can highly recommend them, not just for the modelling and skills, but for the people you meet, the friends you make and the banter you have.  It’s worked well for me saving a complex kit or a particular new skill for a Missenden weekend where so much help is on hand, not just from the experienced tutors but from other modellers as well.  I’ve learnt much about tools, techniques and tips, all which should help further my modelling skills now I’m back home.  What also makes the weekends so enjoyable is the time spent at dinner and in the bar, where you get to find out what others have been working on, maybe track building, weathering, lining, DCC, sounds etc or just having a chinwag and a laugh – so much is going on that the weekends fly by.  Looking back at the first post on this blog, I’d just come back from the Autumn Missenden.  That weekend gave me a big modelling boost as I’m sure the Spring one will.

As well as tackling the Pannier, David Brandreth and Tim Shackleton kindly invited me to demonstrate 3D scanning on the Saturday evening, in particular scanning people.  This is something I’ve been researching and experimenting with for producing highly detailed and highly realistic figures.  Attendees on the course were invited to bring along props and clothing suitable for the 1930’s-1950’s period, to be scanned in various poses

Missenden Abbey 3D Scanning Demonstration

A good number of people rose to the challenge, three people bringing boiler suits, firing shovels and grease tops (two of which were volunteer drivers on preservation lines), another bringing a pick axe to be depicted as his grandfather who worked in a permanent way gang.  Tim Shackleton donned a cloth cap and was scanned in a ‘waiting for the pub to open on a cold morning’ pose.  It was great fun and I learnt a lot about the process and where it needs streamlining.

The scanning setup uses a Cubify Sense scanner, which is a handheld laser scanner for the consumer market. Retailing around £300 it is usable for low resolution scanning of people or mid-large size household objects.  Anything requiring greater fidelity or accuracy requires a more advanced scanner, with quite a hike in cost, such as the Artec Eva (approx £10,000) or for smaller subjects the NextEngine desktop scanner (around £3000).   Using the Sense scanner does have some operational drawbacks – the scanner is wired to a laptop/pc, which means extension cables must be used.  Care has to taken not to get tangled up in cables!

The scanner captures 1 metre cubed in 3D space, so any background outside of this box is ignored.  In some cases areas of the floor or ceiling maybe captured but these can be easily removed later in a 3D package such as Netfabb or Meshlab.  Other issues can occur if the scanner is moved too fast, or if the laptop/PC isn’t powerful enough.  For trouble-free scanning a powerful computer with a dedicated graphics card such as a high-end Nvidia is needed.  With a steady hand and a patient person being scanned, acceptable results can be produced with the Sense scanner once they have been scaled down to the required scale.   I’ve experimented so far with 2mm, 4mm and 7mm figures.

Modelu Test Scans

It’s still early days but I’ll be offering this as a service in the future, for modellers who’d like to feature themselves in their layouts, driving a loco, spotting on the end of a platform, or watching the world go by in some sleepy corner of the layout – the possibilities are seemingly endless! The immediate priority though is to push on with converting the garage into a workshop with proper lighting and enough power sockets for all the paraphernalia associated with 3D printing.   Then I’ll have a proper working environment to see where this new adventure leads.