MODELING: Christmas Came Early

We all have our “bucket list” of projects that you intend to build someday.  I have an overflowing bucket of projects but a number have something missing that has kept me from diving into the project.  So in essence, I have managed to create a bucket list within a bucket list.  How weird!  Some would say that I have created my own barriers to not built the model.  I do this often.  There is always something I need to complete the picture.

As part of my “Just Do It” campaign, I decided to get going on a project that has bugged me for many years.   A simple part can make a difference in the completed model.  The part is a simple hinge assembly that was very common on reefers both steel and wood.  It is an assembly that allows the ice hatch to open and close along with a hinged insulating plug.

The hinge assembly is a simple yet difficult part to make.  The prospect of making eight parts per car has kept me from doing it.  I have a few Intermountain PFE R-40-10 reefer kits that have a rather clumsy representation of the prototype.

The above drawing is for a PFE wood car.  It shows the hinge assembly.  I reworked the original drawing to make the size clearer. My original plan was to make a pattern and have them cast in urethane.


The part would have some nasty undercut that will likely tear the RTV when making multiple castings.  This is the incomplete pattern but decided not to proceed with it.

During the time I was doing patterns for Mike O’Connell and his Chooch Ultra Scale II kits, I suggested that he should have Joel Berling tool it for plastic manufacture.  I offered to do a reefer or two use the part.   Sadly Joel passed away so it never reached a serious consideration.

Early this year  I met a guy who had 3D design skills and was willing to try his hand designing the part.  He was successful and the part was printed using a SLA printer.  This is the second part I had done.  The first part was a water tank lug. It turned out better than expected.

The orange colored part is the printed hinge plate.  I have installed two of them on this scratchbuilt wood reefer.  The reefer is the work of Robert Leners. The printed part is incredible. It has replicated the hardware faithfully.  I wasn’t sure that the square nuts would reproduce.  The speed in which 3D printers has progressed is amazing.  It is now possible to print parts with lettering as small as .020″ high.  That is incredible.

I had mentioned Intermountain reefers as being a project that needs a hinge upgrade.  The original part made by Intermountain is pretty crude.

Keith Jordan sent me a correction on the steel hatch type used on the PFE R-40-10 reefer.  They used a Holland Kapco design.  The part looks a little different from the modified hinge assembly I used.   Maybe I can get the correct part done one of these days.

The two pictures above show the basic assembly used on the R-40-10.

The model picture shows  the original hinge part at the top.  I cut off the kit parts and prepared the are for inserting the printed hinge.  The hatch bracket was left intact.





 I bonded the printed hinge to a strip of .010″ styrene to make it easier to position.  CA adhesives are somewhat difficult to slide a part around when setting the final location.   I did trim the tail end of the hinge to fit better and look more like the hinge used on steel roofs.


The final shot after touching up the paint. I will go back and do some weathering before calling it a wrap.

So Christmas came early as the title suggested.  I have a much needed part to move forward with multiple projects.

Hope your Christmas is fulfilling and happy.



14 thoughts on “MODELING: Christmas Came Early

  1. 3-D printing is removing so many road blocks. We are enjoying an exceptional time for scratch building. There are still some limitations, but I do think we are past the “dot-matrix” stage of 3-D printing.

    Love your blog, Gene. Happy holidays.


  2. Gene, as usual, well done! Yeah, I have a friend who helps me with 3d parts, drawing, printing, and sometimes, mold making. That he’s been in the stereo lithography industry since it’s birth and is a modeler of note really helps. As an example, when I mentioned wanting to improve the wood beam arch bar truck he knew exactly what I was talking about. Yes having talented people like you and him for friends is a real plus.

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