My Growing Fleet of 3D Printed 1/160 Vehicles

Making N Gauge vehicles on the Cheap...

Making Economies Where I Can...So I can afford the crucial expensive stuff!

(...The story so far...)

Because I've chose to base my model railway on the KATO system of Unitrack, due to it's modularity and reliability, I literally paying the price for it's beginner friendliness - over, say, the cheaper PEKO system. In particular, the points (turn-outs), which are the heart of my plans are quite costly and I need a few, so economies need to be made where I can.

N Gauge Bought Vehicles
Above: My collection of purchased N Gauge vehicles. And that's as many as
I'm going to splash out on! Still, they give me reference for my models!

With the purchase of the KATO Unitrack being top of my buying list I can't afford to buy 'the very best' of ever other item I need for my layout. Among all the ancillary items I need to consider are scenics like buildings and vehicles to populate my fictitious Japanese town.

Now, as I mentioned in a prior post, I'd already bought a couple of lovely examples of Oxford Model and Graham Farish vehicles, these are relatively costly when you consider that I'll need quite a few to make a believable town-scape. So I undertook to 3D print my own cheap stand in vehicles.

Trial and Error, My Way of Learning Things!

I'm not a very organised thinker, whenever I start a project that I've never done before I don't do comprehensive research followed by meticulous planning then careful construction. Instead I do a little research, followed by a little planning and then I just make things up as I go along.

I make a lot of mistakes, but I also have a lot of fun. That's just me.

3D Printing 1/160 Scale Model Car

My tiny 3D printed N Gauge vehicles have been like that, I'm sure experienced 3D Printers will say I've gone about this all the wrong way, but I've blundered my way to a result even if it could have been better.

So, one attempt after another ensued as I slowly changed how I did things and hopefully improved ever consecutive model as they rolled off my Flashforge Adveturer 3 printer...

First Experiment in 3D Printing & Painting 1/160 Car
Above: My first completed attempt... Not horrific! (?)

The commercially produced N Gauge cars came in handy as I used them as reference templates on which I based the dimensions of my models and they also gave me something to aim at. Obviously, my vehicles would never be as good BUT if I hoped that nobody would notice as they were so small and would only be viewed from arms length distance! 😉

More 3D Printed 1/160 Scale Cars
Above: I compared my models against the commercial ones as I went along.

Getting There, And I'm Actually Quite Happy!

After innumerable 'prototypes' I did end up with a little army of 'not quite perfect' variations! This progression got me to a model that I was quite pleased with, as I seemed to eventually get the hang of how simplified I could go in order to get reasonable detail. 

1/160 scale 3D Printed Vans
Above: They don't look great close up, but I'm particularly pleased with my
version of the classic Suzuki Carry van!

Yes, the end produce does look like a kids idea of what a car would look like, but this simplicity does mean these tiny models print with reasonable success. And look 'OK-ish'! (I'm happy anyway.) 😄

However, I won't say they are perfect, my inexperience in the dark art of 3D 'slicing' means I haven't been able to rid my models of the dreaded layer lines. Where that is because I am not printing y models the right way or because my standard 0.4mm nozzle isn't good enough I can't say...

3D Printing N Gauge Vehicles - Smoothing Layer Lines
Above: If you can't fix it, hide it! Slap on the filler and sand!

So, I've had to resort to some old school filling and sanding to smooth out the imperfections. A bit of an annoying recourse - I'd much rather I had perfected my 3D printing, nut I suspect that I am at the very edge of what my printer is capable of - but the end result isn't too bad is it???

I got there in the end I think, it has been fun and I seem to have managed to produce a large amount of the vehicles that I might need for my layout in one go.... For pennies! 😁

Latest 3D Car Models - TinkerCAD

The good thing is that now I have sorta worked out a 'successful' formula for making my vehicles, it's easy now to knock out variations. 

And with the printing sorted out to my satisfaction, I now turn to the actual painting...

Painting My 3D Printed N Gauge Vehicles

And that's where I'll leave things for now, I'll do a 'reveal' video when things are completed.

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