Quite some time ago I started a sample sign project. Here’s the link. But then we got busy. It has sat in the corner gathering dust ever since. But good ideas can’t stay dormant forever.

As I thought about a needed weather vane I knew just what I would make. I removed the tracks as they were too short and instead welded up some steel pieces that would be a little stronger too. Then I did a little sculpting using some Abracadabra Sculpting epoxy. It didn’t take long to have the piece done.

I’ll let it cure a couple of days and then we’ll give it a few coats of paint. It won’t be long until it gets installed on the water tower – a perfect fit for the mining theme.
Every detail we add tells just a little more of the magical story.

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First assembly

It’s been a while since I had any time to work on the Lucky Jim sign but tonight I squeezed in about half an hour to do a few things and make significant progress. I cut a few pieces on the band saw including the two axles and the frame.  I also cut some axles from 1/4″ steel pencil rod and then drilled the holes (slightly off kilter) for the wheels.

The pieces were assembled using five minute epoxy making them plenty strong in a very big hurry. I’ll be adding more details with sculpting epoxy the next time I get some time.

I’ll be mocking up the box on the mine car next along with Lucky Jim. At that point I can determine the size the sign needs to be and I’ll get to sizing the routing files which I’ve already begun.
Stay tuned for more developments…

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Laying down tracks

Today was a busy day but I couldn’t resist working just a little on the Lucky Jim Mine sign. The MultiCam was busy routing exterior moldings for the house but as each file finished I snuck in the railroad wheels and tracks on what would have been scrap. I actually ran the wheels twice as the first time they were simply too big for the sign I was building.

I also built the file for the track. It was a quicky.

The vectors were simple. Two parallel rails would form the bent track. The other vector required was the profile of half of a cross section of a train rail. I used the sweep two rails command, and followed the prompts

When it performs the task it shows black until I hit the render button. Meshes show up red. Meshes cannot be tool pathed. We first have to convert them to reliefs.

In order to do this I first created a zero height relief. using my outline vector.
The rail mesh needs to be positioned correctly in the vertical space as I would be adding this volume to the flat, zero height relief. I did this in the front view with the up/down keys.

 Then I selected both the relief and mesh to light up the mesh/relief merge button. In this case I could have used either the add to relief of merge highest.

When I render after merging the mesh and relief it comes out as splotchy red/yellow. I can then move/delete the mesh.

I duplicated the relief and flipped a copy for each rail to create the two halves of the rail. I tool pathed it using a 3/8″ ball nose bit with a 90% overlap. This would give me the rounded inside corners I wanted.

I used a five minute epoxy to glue the two halves together.

I used my trusty air-powered die grinder to whip up some railroad ties. This thing is coming together in a hurry… the hard part is done. 
Stay tuned as more parts come together…

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Mine car wheels

The wheels of the little mine car are a great exercise to practice our building of various shaped reliefs and how to merge them into a final shape which we want. As we build the reliefs we have to keep in mind the final result and then think of what we have to add or take away to get exactly that. There are many ways we could have achieved a similar effect.

We start with the vectors of course – all created inside EnRoute. The wheel will be four inches in diameter (including the flange) and 1″ deep.

The back flanges on railway wheels are sloped so the first task was to create a disk using the largest vector circle.  I kept it fairly shallow.

Then I selected the next vector and created a flat disk 0.9″ tall. This was then merged with the first tapered disk I created.

Then it was time to knock out the center to make room for the spokes and the hub of the wheel. I created a zero height relief which was then merged to the base relief.

Next up was the spokes. I first created flat reliefs in the shape of the spokes.

The spokes looked good but I wanted them to be curved on top and higher in the center. THis would need to be done in a couple of moved by modifying these reliefs. First ‘I used the done tool to puch down the center in a bowl shape.

Then I used the prism tool to modify the reliefs once more by building them over a cone shape.

These spokes were them merged highest with the base relief.

Next up was the hub of the wheel. I created a flat relief 0.9″ tall. This was then merged (replace) with the base relief.

The last step was to add the center section of the hub by adding to the relief.

I then duplicated the wheel to make a set of four. This was tool pathed using a 3/8″ ball nose bit for a rough pass at a 50% overlap. A final pass was then added using a 1/8″ tapered ball nose bit with an 80% overlap. I’ll post some pictures as soon as I put the file on the MultiCam. It will be routed from 1″ 30 lb Precision Board.
Stay tuned…

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Lucky Jim Gold Mine inspiration

The house is a fun project and we’ve used EnRoute, Precision Board and our MultiCam plenty but lately I’ve been itching for something a little more creative. With the house we typically don’t need one copy of anything but instead keep the router busy making fifty copies of what we need. That is a little too much like production work and that doesn’t totally scratch my creative itch after a while. Things have slowed down enough for me to start thinking about some new samples for the display wall.

I’ve long wanted to do an imaginative piece that incorporated LED lights and even had some ideas in mind. One of those ideas was inspired more than four decades ago when I visited an abandoned gold mine on Quadra Island. It was called Lucky Jim’s Gold mine. So that will be my next sample project.

Little about the actual mine I saw long ago will make it into the actual piece with the exception of the name… but it is a cool start. I spent a few minutes online looking for images of mine cars. I found two great photos that gave me the information I needed.

I wanted this display piece to be wider than it is tall. I grabbed my sketch book and started scribbling…   I drew the drawing in two pieces, not concerned about fonts, or even scale at this point.

Then I imported the rough and quick sketches into PhotoShop to tidy things up a tad and then assemble the parts into one image. This is close enough to begin the actual design of the piece using vectors.

Because I’m not sure of the final size of the piece (and it does not matter) I’ll build the mine car and figure first and then scale the background sections around that. I started with the vectors of the wheel – all work done using the drawing tools in EnRoute. In the next post I’ll show how I created the wheel reliefs. 
Stay tuned…

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