Wednesday, October 20, 2021

CN 65ft Gondola series 156000 - A Proof of Concept

Work is progressing on the CN 65ft gondola. I need them on the layout and the goal is to use them as a first "product" to fine tune my printing skills. The GTR caboose is full of challenges and I'll wait a little bit before doing anything serious with it. On the other hand, this gondola is so simple it's easy to figure out what works and what doesn't.

So far, I'm glad to report printing the ladders in place is indeed feasible. They look good, are sturdy enough to survive normal handling conditions and are rather quite fine in details. The next challenge is understanding why I get bad definitions on the B-end which is printed first. For some reason, details are softer and less defined there. Worst, some resin has a tendency to cure in the rib, creating an unsightly blob. I don't like it and I'm pretty sure nobody would. On a positive note, the decals are currenly printing.

Interestingly enough, my friend, using a different resin, got perfect results three months ago with exactly the same model. It makes me wonder if the custom mix resin I use is the culprit. I'll do some more testing this weekend to find out what's the deal. If I can overcome this difficulty, the kit will be ready to print.

That raises a few legitimate questions. Should I provide a somewhat complete kit including preformed grabirons, wire and metal stirrups or leave it to the modeller?

Under normal circumstances, I would have provided a complete kit, but some parts, like A-Line stirrup steps are getting hard to find in Canada. As we all know, importing stuff from the United States now cost an arm and a leg.

For this reason, I think the gondola should only provide the 1-part  shell, brake wheel, trucks and decals. Leaving all the other small metal parts to the discretion of the builder.

As for assembly, I built three of them in an afternoon for the club layout (yes, I decided to repair the B-end the old fashion way!) and must say they are quick to build. Sanding and preparation is straightforward. In that regard, I made sure the printing supports are easy to remove and can be sanded flush without ruining details. You ten drill 20 holes for 10 standard 18" Tichy grabirons and 8 holes for A-line stirrups. Glue the brake rod made of a bit of wire then add the brake wheel. If you want it, add brake rigging to the underframe, glue Kadee coupler boxes of your choice then add two cut levers.

Adding weight is faster and easier if your work with steel shots. Balancing wheel weights work too but may require trimming. I've personally went the lead wheel weights way and added about 3 oz. to the car.

Then paint, decal, weather and enjoy!


  1. This looks superb, neat piece of design and I applaud the balance of detail, choice of parts and perseverance. I can’t wait to see one painted and finished, to get a feel for the quality of the print.

    1. Thanks James! Designing for oneself and designing for others are quite different processes. The moment you are no longer the single judge about your work, this balance must be achieved at all cost. They should be painted by next week if everything go as planned.