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Kitbashing An HO FM Trainmaster

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  • Member since
    October, 2015
  • 51 posts
Kitbashing An HO FM Trainmaster
Posted by cnjman721 on Thursday, May 23, 2019 8:48 AM

Recently, I decided to upgrade the details of an old blue box Athearn Trainmaster kit. My first goal was to improve the detail of the radiator fans on the long hood. Now I have seen probably dozens of kitbashing articles that all show what needs to be cut and where but I don't believe I've ever come across any article with tips for how to accurately make the various cut required.

I know you're probably thinking, "what's the issue?" but bear with me, please.

The original model has a cast grill which isn't bad -- at least the "openings" of the simulated mesh are of prototype accurate size -- but being able to see the detail of those 4 jumbo fans under the mesh screens was what I was after. 

I found that Atlas offers the detail parts I needed. Styrene fans and photoetched grills.

So now I was ready to cut away the original grills. Easy to make the vertical cuts across the top of the shell, but when it came to making the horizontal cuts across the bottom of the grill structure, I was a bit perplexed.

At first I thought maybe just use a Dremel cutting wheel, but I decided against that because I didn't want to melt the styrene, plus it seemed tricky to make sure the cutting wheel would be perfectly horizontal to follow the seam as you'd do with a razor saw.

Then I thought how can I get a micro saw blade to saw along the seam. That would require drilling a hole or a series of holes along the seam to allow for the micro saw blade enough cutting space to start.

I ended up drilling small holes along the entire length of the part I wanted to cut and then used the micro saw to "connect" the holes so I could snap out the part of the shell.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to perfectly align all the holes drilled by hand with a pin vise, so the cut was ragged and required a lot of filing and sanding to get it straight which I actually never succeeded in doing perfectly and I have had to resort to filler putty and more sanding. But even then, its one thing to fill a straight seam on say, a model arirplane fueslage, but filling and sanding a seam with rivet details on both sides of the seam I needed to fill was pretty much a mess.

I am almost to the point where I need to toss the project and start over. There must be a better way or better tools to make such cuts on thick styrene shells. Or, maybe I should have used the Dremel cutting wheel?

Thanks for your thoughts on this and don't hesitate to call me an idiot an amateur or both!

Ed

 

 

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Posted by mbinsewi on Thursday, May 23, 2019 9:49 AM

Ed, all of issues you tell about in your post, are issues we all face when we kitbash, and detail a locomotive.

Those Atlas parts look good, I've looked those up before.  Detail parts are getting easier to find.  

My "go-to" is Plano, and then I search from there for other options.  So many avaliable!

I have no "magic bullet" cure for the cutting issues, as I have faced the same on many occasions.

I do use a Dremel whenever possible, and I do everything you described, as well, with the drilling, filing and sanding.  Dremel also has a variety of "milling" bits that help a lot.  Check'em out.  I have a big selection that helps with the endless filing that sometime is needed, and for removal of cast on details.

My latest "test" will be removing the grills on an Athearn F7, and replacing with etched metal replacements, and the rivet detail surrounding the grills must remain, so I feel your pain.

All I can say, is take it slow, and be as precise as you can, and you will develop your own techniques as far as what tools to use, and how to use them.

Mike.

  • Member since
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  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
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Posted by dknelson on Thursday, May 23, 2019 10:24 AM

mbinsewi
I do use a Dremel whenever possible, and I do everything you described, as well, with the drilling, filing and sanding. Dremel also has a variety of "milling" bits that help a lot. Check'em out. I have a big selection that helps with the endless filing that sometime is needed, and for removal of cast on details.

Yes as Mike points out the Dremel comes with these router or milling bits (easily ignored when you first get the tool and want to see how the cutting wheel works) that seem to work better and more precisely for this kind of work with plastic.  They still turn too fast (as a rule) to totally prevent some plastic melting.  And it takes a while to get a hang of controlling the tool given how fast the cutting bit is turning at even the slowest speeds the Dremel can be throttled down to. 

What I have taken to is using those some routing or milling bits, but chucking them in a small precise chuck which is specially made to fit into electric screwdrivers (that is, the end of the chuck has that same sized and shaped piece that the ends of the replaceable slot and Phillips screwdriver heads have to fit into the powered screwdriver).  The usual use for those chucks is to use the screwdriver for very small drill bits but it works for other purposes too.

The main point in all such work of course is to never expect the cut to be the final cut so you always do it inside of the final lines and file away what's left.  It is too much to expect the powered tool to cut precisely to the final line when kitbashing with styrene.

Dave Nelson 

  • Member since
    January, 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 5,153 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, May 23, 2019 10:46 AM

I did a lot of customization to my Athearn Trainmaster for the STRATTON AND GILLETTE railroad.

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It did not have enough exhaust stacks (only two), needed bigger sand filler hatches, and a way oversized dynamic brake fan.

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Everything I did to it, like most of my locomotives, was completely far-fetched and ridiculous, but I like the finished result. Since this image was taken, I have completed the number boards.

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Have fun. Click the image for a bigger view.

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-Kevin

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Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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  • From: Canada, eh?
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Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, May 23, 2019 11:05 AM

I found some saw-type blades (perhaps at MicroMark) which fit into the large X-Acto handle....

Simply drill a suitably-sized hole near where you wish to cut, then insert the saw blade.  The large teeth make for fast cutting, but it's probably wise to not cut too close to the line.  Once you've got the bulk of the waste material out of the way, you can use a regular blade and/or an appropriate file the true-up the cut.
If you want accurate joints with the replacement parts, remember to use the file in only one direction, and don't be in a rush.

Wayne

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Posted by mbinsewi on Thursday, May 23, 2019 11:10 AM

Wayne, I have to find those blades, thanks for the tip!  

Mike.

  • Member since
    October, 2015
  • 51 posts
Posted by cnjman721 on Thursday, May 23, 2019 3:03 PM

Dave

Thanks for those tips. Can you point me to the source of those "small precise chucks"? Dremel makes a chuck https://www.dremel.com/en_US/products/-/show-product/accessories/4486-dremel-chuck and I've used that for some drilling and grinding. Is that what you're refering to?

Ed

  • Member since
    October, 2015
  • 51 posts
Posted by cnjman721 on Thursday, May 23, 2019 3:04 PM

Kevin -

Nice job on that Trainmaster!

Ed

  • Member since
    January, 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 5,153 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, May 25, 2019 10:13 AM

cnjman721
Kevin - Nice job on that Trainmaster!

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Thanks for the comment Ed.

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That is one of the more recent diesels I have completed.

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-Kevin

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Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

  • Member since
    May, 2010
  • 5,469 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Saturday, May 25, 2019 10:40 AM

cnjman721
Can you point me to the source of those "small precise chucks"?

If I may step in, I have the chucks that Dave refers to, and I got mine from MicroMark

https://www.micromark.com/Precision-Micro-Drill-Chuck-for-Cordless-Screwdriver

They have 2 sizes, I have both.  They work great, makes for a nice slow speed drill, or milling tool.  

The better quality of cordless driver you have, the less "slop" in the shaft, and less "wobble" in the chuck and bit.

Mike.

  • Member since
    March, 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
  • 10,047 posts
Posted by dknelson on Saturday, May 25, 2019 4:23 PM

Mine actually look more like this (apologies to the source) and I have two sizes.  Not sure where I got them; most likely The Tool Man back when that was Billy Carr.  You can see from the end how it fits into a cordless screwdriver.

Dave Nelson



Image result for small chucks that fit electric screwdrivers

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