Amtrak Empire Builder in TT

Amtrak Empire Builder in TT

Postby dileTTante » Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:35 pm

Here we'll try to make a TT scale model of Amtrak's Empire Builder. This is self-serving because it will motivate me to follow through instead of just dreaming about it. If succesful, the results may interest others who like the train.

First of all, what I know about model railroading is simply what I've read in the magazines over several years. I have next to no practical experience, but we have to start somewhere. I've traveled on the Empire Builder about every year for more than 25 years. So while I'm ignorant about many aspects of modeling, I know the Empire Builder pretty well.

This web site -http://www.trainweb.org/fredatsf/protopass6.htm - shows the passenger cars in Amtrak service. Some of the drawings came from Model Railroader November 1982. I found a copy of the MR in our local public library. The article is excellent. It has a discussion of the cars, drawings of the cars, drawings of the interiors in plan and elevation views, and it shows typical consists for the various trains which used superliner cars throughout the U.S. I photocopied everything and hope to find the magazine somewhere for myself. Another source was Model Railroad Craftsman March 1991 which had an article about modeling the Empire Builder in HO, including detailing the locomotive models. I didn't copy this but copied the drawings from a companion article about the materials handling car, a fancy boxcar which Amtrak used to pull just behind the locomotives to haul express goods. This car isn't used any more but it makes the train interesting in a way and comes from the time when the F40PH locomotive was used. I like the locomotive and want a model of it not only for Amtrak but for the VIA cross country train.

The locomotive can also be the Genesis which is in use today, the cars remain the same. The Genesis might be better -I have the drawing and it looks simpler than the F40PH. Essentially the cars are coach, sleeper, lounge, and diner. Then there are all the variations of consist over the years. The sensible thing would be to start with the materials car which is simple and a way to learn to use CAD and molding. But I want the passenger cars so I'll start with one of them.

This isn't very informative. It's just a start and a way of committing myself to try to make the models. I'd like to run the model once in a while to recall the many experiences of riding that train.
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Spokane, Washington 13 December 2010
DSC01124R.JPG
Spokane, Washington 13 December 2010
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Re: Amtrak Empire Builder in TT

Postby dileTTante » Mon Mar 28, 2011 2:47 pm

Over the weekend I learned that I don't have enough brains to use FreeCAD, or gCAD3D, which are free applications for Linux. Other software looked worse, running from the command line, or looked easier but cost a lot of money. Monday I found HeeksCAD a free program made for windows but thanks to someone's scripts compiled and installed on my linux. http://code.google.com/p/heekscad/ There are tutorial videos --http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idV54AqNbPo. I haven't tried anything yet, but the tutorials made sense.

The Model Railroader drawings for the Superliner have no dimensions given. The material handling car in Model Railroad Craftsman has dimensions. All drawings are to HO scale. I'll go back to the library and re-copy everything using the dimensions to set a zoom ratio to twice TT, 1 : 60, so that the drawings are easier to measure.
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Re: Amtrak Empire Builder in TT

Postby ConducTTor » Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:35 pm

As I like this train and hope to ride it someday, I look forward to the progress. My vote for loco is the Genesis.
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Re: Amtrak Empire Builder in TT

Postby dileTTante » Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:20 pm

Thanks. I have drawings for the Genesis (Model Railroader January 1994) and earlier Amtrak P30CH (Model Railroader April 1994). Both are in S scale so I may copy them same size. I'll have to get a scale rule for measuring them since I lost my old one a while back. Need an engineer's scale, too, for measuring TT. Also library has Model Railroader (April 1987) with drawing of F40PH which I'll get and copy.

The available drawings for the cars are for the original Superliners. There's a later series of Superliners. I don't know how they differ or whether older and newer cars were run together. There's an on-line roster of Amtrak rolling stock which is the sort of thing Marquette might dream up, but I haven't tried to make sense of it yet. I'll try to compare old and new photos of the trains as well. If the later Superliners are different then maybe modifications can be estimated since there seem to be no drawings of the later cars. The Genesis wouldn't be suitable for running with first Superliners in paint schemes of the earlier operating phases.
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Re: Amtrak Empire Builder in TT

Postby dileTTante » Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:00 am

This is a very-little progress report. HeeksCAD taught me a little bit but seemed not to work right -it was not very responsive to input, for one thing. I installed Sketchup 8 and it works in linux using the wine emulator. I might try the windows version of HeeksCAD with the emulator out of curiosity. The screen shot shows my first attempts at Amtrak's Genesis. Back end is unfinished, front end and lower contours not done at all. Doesn't look like much but my brain hurts all the same. I'm having troubles with the tapered and rounded solids. My approach has been to build up the different shapes but probably the better way is to subtract volumes. Sketchup pro with solids tools might help. I'll carry on with this to learn what I can and then try to re-do the whole thing. Superliner cars may be easier to do.

Monday I visited Central Hobbies. Bill Dixon had the day off so I didn't get to say Hi. I got a new scale ruler and a few back issues of some magazines. Now I have my own copies of the plans for the F40PH and for the materials handling car. All the plans for the locomotives are in S scale. Having the scale rule, I'll blow up the HO scale Superliner drawings to S for taking measurements rather than twice TT size.

It was a shock to learn how old the Genesis locomotive is. It was introduced in 1993.
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pathetic first try at Genesis loco
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Re: Amtrak Empire Builder in TT

Postby ConducTTor » Wed Mar 30, 2011 10:36 am

dileTTante wrote:I'm having troubles with the tapered and rounded solids.


It's not you - it's Sketchup. I don't know if the pro version alleviates this.
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Re: Amtrak Empire Builder in TT

Postby dileTTante » Thu Mar 31, 2011 5:47 am

One of the magazine articles about the Genesis locomotive said it had a monocoque body which was essentially a tube. So for my next efforts I drew a cross section of the main body and extruded it to make a main portion without front or back ends. I used push-pull to create a negative volume at each end for the bogies. The problem was the push-pull left a vertical face at the fuel tanks when they need to be slanting. Using push-pull from the side of the body to create the slant didn't work because at that point the body surface isn't perpendicular to the push-pull.

The tutorial video spoke of a set of solid tools but they are available only in Sketchup 8 Pro. I installed a trial version of Sketchup 8 Pro. After extruding the body again, I drew profiles of the cut-away portions, including the slopes of the fuel tanks and extruded them. Put the cut-out into the body and subtract it. The pictures show the main body with no front or back end added. I haven't learned yet whether it's better to shape the ends separately and add them, or to extrude a longer body and carve out the end shapes.

The video said the solid tool functions could be done by the intersect tool which is in all Sketchups, the solid tool simply being more convenient. So the next step is to learn how the intersect tool works, 'cause this evaluation copy will be gone. From the videos about intersection, it's true that this can be used in all Sketchups. It means accurately sizing the negative area separately from the model and then hitting the model with it.

I don't know how you guys do all this and come up with such complex drawings. What I'm doing is embarrassingly basic but I'm posting as a way of self motivation and to let you know I'm still on the case.

Why I'm not working on Superliner cars -- The only drawings are in magazines bound together at the library. Since no dimensions are given, the way to get a dimension is to measure the car length, which gives smallest chance of error, but the cars are spread across folds in the page. The folds are deep in the binding. I need to get a copy of the magazine to pull out the pages to lay them flat for measurements and copying.
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Re: Amtrak Empire Builder in TT

Postby Marquette » Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:16 am

dileTTante wrote:I don't know how you guys do all this and come up with such complex drawings. What I'm doing is embarrassingly basic but I'm posting as a way of self motivation and to let you know I'm still on the case.


Line by line.

Honestly, as I was reading, I had no idea what you were talking about, with extruding and cutting away... I've just been doing this by drawing lines...
#include <std/disclaimer.h>
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Re: Amtrak Empire Builder in TT

Postby ConducTTor » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:59 am

Marquette wrote:Line by line.

Honestly, as I was reading, I had no idea what you were talking about, with extruding and cutting away... I've just been doing this by drawing lines...


Holy crap dude!!!!!!!!!!!! Save yourself as shitload of time and start extruding (pushing, pulling)
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Re: Amtrak Empire Builder in TT

Postby ConducTTor » Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:40 am

@ dileTTante

Starting out basic is the right way. My very first CAD model is the gondola. Nothing but straight lines and 90' angles. Later on I added brake cylinder etc.
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