It is hard to believe that it was almost ten years ago I witnessed a CNC router in action for the very first time. I was fascinated and simply had to have one! Although I had been in the creative end of the three dimensional sign business for most of my life I didn't really know what I would do with one of these machines - but I just knew it could do fantastic stuff.

Along with the CNC router I discovered the wonderful material called Precision Board and the glues, primers and other companion products they offer. Since then we have gone through many tons of the material using it in most signs and projects we tackle. This journal will chronicle our many adventures both past, present and future. I'll talk from the perspective of someone who pushes these products to the creative limit on a daily basis. I'll be adding to the stories two or three times each week. -dan

Monday, July 25, 2016

Hand control one

I love to design and fabricate somewhat complicated things using EnRoute and CNC tools. For the grampa train project I could have used a simple push/pull choke knob to accomplish the adjustment of the drive controls. It would have worked just fine but it wouldn't be very authentic. Now I'm not at all a rivet counter kind of builder where everything has to be prototype down to the last detail but the thing I am modelling has to appear to function as it does in the prototype but in a fun way. The throttle of a steam strain is a lot like an old fashioned lever hand brake and I considered using an old one. But as I looked at historical pictures I decided it was just the kind of fun project I love. Using EnRoute to build the file and the plasma cutter to do the work would be relatively easy. Best of all I could easily scale it down to our train size and yet keep it chunky and slightly cartoon in keeping with the style of the grampa train.

The pieces would be cut from 1/4" and 3/8" steel plate. I designed it as a single piece and then broke out the different pieces and separated them according to thickness.Everything was designed entirely in EnRoute using the various vector tools. The MultiCam CNC plasma cutter made quick work of cutting the files and they were plenty accurate enough. A little touchup with a sanding dis is all that will be required before I begin assembly. The quarter inch thick files looked like this.

The 3/8 thick files were these.

As soon as the pieces were cool enough to handle with my bare hands I mocked up the pieces to see how it looked.  It's going to be very cool and should work real well to control the train. Now it's time for a little grinder work and then I'll light up the welder and wrenches to fasten the pieces together.