Oswestry Works

Locomotive works diorama in 4mm

Tag: missenden abbey

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.

Missenden Abbey 3D Printing Course

I’m fresh back from attending Missenden Abbey’s Autumn weekend with a few test 3D prints.  8 of us took up the 3D Printing course which was running for the first time, involving an introduction to Sketchup and then as much 3D printing as you could fit in!   The course was self paced so worked will with the variation in knowledge of Sketchup, with people being able to help each other out as they progressed through the course material.  Having 3 printers between 8 of us also ensured there wasn’t too much waiting around for your turn on the printer.  It was a great weekend, with so much else going on in the other rooms as well.  I was able to drag myself away from the 3D printer for a half hour or so to see Kevin Wilson demonstrating soldering and having a bit of hands on myself.  I’d highly recommend the weekend, not only was the modelling good, its a nice place to spend a weekend with good food and good company – being able to put some names to faces and chat to some of the best in the field was great.

My aims were to improve my abilities with working with some of the solid tools in Sketchup and creating complex shapes such as fillets and bevels, along with getting an understanding of how 3D designs need to be engineered with 3D Printing in mind.  Such as taking into considering overhangs, bridges etc, by either using support material or printing in multiple components.  Here’s some examples of what was produced:

GWR 9000 Class 4-4-0 ‘Dukedog’

I’m interested recreating some of the subtle variations between the many Dukedog’s seen on the Cambrian (as superbly researched here on the GWR Modelling site).  These 2 items were good first steps to try out with the printer – above footplate sandboxes (as per 9000 and 9005), tall top feed (9021, 9004, 9000 and many others).


Top Feed

The sandboxes were straight forward enough, taking the sandbox and wheel arch/splasher measurements from J.H. Russell’s Pictorial Record of Great Western Engines.  The top feed was a tougher to get right and I’m still not 100% happy with it, but it was a good test of skills using the follow me tool in sketchup.  I’d not been able to find any drawings of it before hand so it was a best guess from photos and drawings of other top feeds.

Craven Crane Hoist

This is part of the Erecting Shop crane that I have on my list of things to do for the works.  It’s a little early days to be thinking about detailing the works interior but this was a good chance to see what the printer could do.  I’ll need to revisit the 3D Design later to get it right, but this wasn’t a bad first pass.  I’ve roughly modelled the crane within the erecting shop to get an idea of scale as I’ve no drawings to work from, just photos from the surviving crane at MOSI.


Craven Crane

GWR Manor Chimney

Lastly, by far the hardest task was attempting a chimney.  I’ve been looking for a BR-era Manor chimney for about a year, the DMR model seeming to be the best production but they are very hard to find.  Next best option has to be printing my own!  Find drawings however has been a challenge, I had a quick look at the NRM but didn’t have enough time for a thorough search.  This drawing is based on the GWR Chimney (loosely!), but it was more of an exercise in learning how to make the complex curves and shapes as the chimney meets the smokebox.  After getting a headache from trying to get this to work natively with sketchups toolsets, I had to use a plugin after reading this post on RMWeb.

Manor Chimney

Finally, here are all the bits printed out!  They were made using a MakerBot Replicator 2.0 at 200mn resolution.  They certainly have given me an idea of what is possible and more importantly got me thinking about how things need to be made in order for them to be printable.  I’d already taken the plunge and bought a 3D printer before doing this course.   After reading up and also seeing Rab’s achievements with his printer, I bought a B9 Creator 1.2.  The 1.2 B9 is capable of 30mn resolution so my first job will be reprinting these pieces as a comparison.   I’ve bought the kit version of the printer and haven’t started the build as yet, I’ve another course on Monday evening at the B9 distributors in London, I think it best to go there first to see one in action before making a start.

Missenden Abbey - 3D Printing Course