Designing an N Gauge Kit

Or should that be the 'Flight of the Pigeon Van'?

Having perfected my CAD skills over the last five years and receiving many favourable comments for the detail of my work, I decided it was time to explore the possibility of designing a model to take to market.

The decision to model the Pigeon Van was based on two things. Firstly, it was a model that covered a wide era, ranging from the late 1920's to the 1960's and secondly it was an interesting vehicle, which, due to the nature of its work, could often travel far from its supposed area of operation.

The first thing to do was gather reference materials - drawings, photographs etc. and study these to gain a feel for what the prototype looked like and identify any areas that might prove difficult to recreate.

The next step was to decide how best to break down the model into its component parts to be used as a kit, as well as looking at whether some components should be sourced from other manufacturers. My aim was to ensure any components left to be sourced by the builder would be readily available from mainstream suppliers.

Once these decisions had been made, it was time to start the design process. With all of my models now, this is done using a 3D CAD programme.

Firstly, I built up the basic shapes and used the features of my programme to ensure everything would fit as expected. Once I was happy with the basic appearance, detailing could then be added.

With any item of rolling stock from the pre-grouping era and especially with Gresley designed coaching stock, the main difficulty was recreating all the detailed panelling. Anybody attempting to scratch build a Gresley coach will be able to appreciate the complexity of the panelling, however with a CAD programme, this is eased somewhat as sections can be repeated and modified as necessary.

Once the CAD work was completed, it was time to send the model to the 3D printers.

The CAD image below shows the main body of the Pigeon Van about half way through its construction.







Finally the delivery day for my 3D printed Pigeon Van arrived and I set about checking that all the parts fitted together as per my original design. With any 3D printing, the surfaces are slightly rough and require smoothing which is a careful and time consuming process. When the surface finish of the components was smooth, the parts could then be sent off to the casters.

You can see the smoothed and primed 3D print of the Pigeon Van below.








I am now awaiting delivery of my cast kits and as soon as they have arrived and been checked, they will be made available for purchase via our online shop.

Any feedback is most welcome and can be sent via our Contact Form.