Silk Purse? Sows Ear?

Work has continued on the second hand 3D printed loco body. This has involved a Dremel grinding bit, a razor saw and some head scratching.

I have:

  • removed much of the thickness of the fire box to allow the motor to go further forward
  • reduced the height of the cab to make it look more like a miniature railway loco
  • extended the length of the cab so the driver can sit down
  • added a false footplate to enable me to mount the body on the chassis
  • placed an N gauge loco bogie under the rear of the cab
  • added a false front plate because without it the smoke box was floating in mid air (and that’s not a good look)

I could see there were some problems with this loco body but as I work on it I’ve noticed several other problems:

  • nothing is square or parallel – for example the front of the cab of at least 0.5 mm narrower than the rear
  • the body has obvious lines from the 3D printing process – and these will have to be removed
  • the grey primer is coming off on my fingers while I’m working – suggesting I need to soak the model in white spirit, which can introduce more distortion

At this point there are two key questions:

Am I making this look more like a miniature railway loco?


Am I putting lipstick on a pig?

At the moment I’m not sure.

I think I will assemble the modified body and then decide.


  1. It’s looking good and you’re doing a great job, Steve. But, to quote the old saying, ‘If you want to go there I wouldn’t start from here’!


    • Hi Chris
      Thanks for saying I’m doing a good job and funnily enough I used that quote in a previous post 🙂
      Perhaps I should adopt the motto of the great philosopher Mrs Doyle ‘Go on, go on, go on, go on….’ 🙂


  2. Hello Steve,

    Going to have to be honest and say that the loco does look a little contrived. It just doesn’t look right. The wheelbase of the driving wheels is too short for a loco of this length and the rear bogie just sits wrong. The shape of the bodywork would work with a different chassis with a longer wheelbase and perhaps 6 driving wheels instead of 4 but I guess finding the right chassis that fits is going to be an issue especially with such a visible cab exposing most motors. Given the other issues with the body this is certainly one to think about hard before you go any further. Hard and disappointing to give up on something but sometimes it makes the most sense. Apologies for sounding so negative but trust that the above is of use.



    • Hi Woody
      Thanks for taking the time to comment and for wording your comment so politely. Few people on the internet do that these days 🙂
      I do see your point. 6 coupled driving wheels would look better. But I will continue to at least the next step. for two reasons 1. I’m learning stuff as I go 2. I’m enjoying it…..


      • And enjoying it is the most important part and given your skills you will no doubt produce a stunned of a loco even if at times you wish you would have binned it! Wish you well with this Steve and more than delighted when I have to eat my original words!



      • Hi Woody,
        I don’t think you’ll have to eat your words, I know it wont be the most convincing loco, but I can live with that 🙂
        All the best


  3. It’s got character but I can’t help wondering if it is as much work as scratch building- where you could have adjusted proportions to suit. Given suitable tube for the boiler the only challenging parts to make are the smoke box door and the chimney.


    • Hi Michael, Yes, I agree. There’s a lot in what you say. It would take as long, or perhaps even less time, to scratch build something and does give more flexibility. I have in mind trying to scratch build an ‘Exmoor like’ loco on the same Minitrains o/f chassis. Haven’t got round to that yet because I’m modifying this 3D printed body… oh, the irony 🙂
      As you say the chimney is one difficult part to make, and I’m particularly stuck on how to approach making the curved metal work / flange where the base of the chimney joins the boiler. So many curves in several different directions…. I suppose the best approach would be to ‘give it a go’.
      All the best


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