Category Archives: Products

N Scale U36B Solutions

I have two parts available on Shapeways for turning Atlas U23B models into reasonable facsimiles of a U36B or U33B. The first solution requires cutting off part of the U23B radiator and fitting a whole new flared radiator over the cut section.

The second solution simply requires gluing flared radiator wings onto the sides of the U23B radiator.

I use method two for my own models just because it is very easy and can easily be applied to a factory painted model. I paint the flared radiator wings the proper color. And I attach the flared radiator wings with Elmer’s white glue so I can wet them and remove them if I ever desire to do so.

If you aren’t satisfied with the second solution due to the existing U23B radiator, which is too narrow and doesn’t extend to the flared section, I provide a choice of two vector images (white background and gray) that can be printed as a decal or on paper to represent the radiator screen and to cover the existing U23B radiator. To use the radiator graphics, scrape the grab iron on the top of the existing radiator off with a razor blade. Print the screens (ideally using a laser printer), glue the screens down with Elmer’s glue if using paper. You could print the graphic with the white background on colored paper. Or you could use the dirty gray screen graphic.

Get the parts at Shapeways here and here. As always, with parts in the Frosted Detail materials, don’t skip the step of using a soak in Bestine (or Doc Edington’s brand) to properly clean the parts of support wax.

N Scale Flex Track Comparison Guide

track1Here is a breakdown of the main N scale flex track options available as well as some other options. I personally most often use Micro-Engineering code 55, not because it is perfect but because it has the most features I want relative to what is available. Recently, I’ve started using Central Valley Model Works (CVMW) N Code 55 Curvable Mainline Ties with Micro-Engineering code 55 rail when appropriate. CVMW ties are pretty much the best bet available currently for nice looking N scale track. I’d probably use Peco code 55 if the tie spacing was prototypical for the United States. Atlas code 55 is nice but the spikes cause issues with some of my older locomotives. The ideal track for me would be code 40 Peco style track (where the rail is actually code 80 but half of it is embedded in the ties and thus very sturdy) with prototypical US tie spacing, prototypical tie width, and small spikes. Kato Unitrack is also nice track just not very prototypical. I like to use Kato Unitrack for hidden track when appropriate and practical. If Kato made code 55 Unitrack with prototypical US tie spacing and spikes plus also left the ballast off the roadbed allowing users to paint the track and apply their own ballast I’d likely use a lot more Unitrack than I do. At the very least, I’d use more Unitrack if Kato made some little Unitrack code 80 to code 55 flextrack transition tracks. Those would be easier and more reliable than fabricating transition tracks out of Peco code 55 track (see below).



Micro-Engineering code 55


  • Long 36”
  • Small spikes
  • Prototypical US tie spacing and tie width (close enough anyway)


  • Somewhat hard to bend into smooth curves
  • Plastic flashing is somewhat common
  • Somewhat fragile


Atlas code 55


  • Easy to bend into smooth curves
  • Prototypical US tie spacing and tie width


  • Short 30”
  • Spikes are too big and interfere with wheel flanges on older equipment. But not really an issue if you just have newer equipment made in the last decade or so.


Atlas code 80


  • Cheapest
  • Easiest to find
  • Easy to bend into smooth curves


  • Not prototypical US tie spacing or spikes
  • Short 30”


Peco code 55


  • Long 36”
  • Uses code 80 rail embedded in the ties…making it sturdy


  • Not prototypical US tie spacing or spikes

Peco code 55 track can be used to make transition tracks from code 55 to code 80. All that is required is a file.

Peco flex track code 55 80 transition N scale flex track 55 80


Central Valley Model Works (CVMW) N Code 55 Curvable Mainline Ties.


  • Unlimited length
  • Ties can be painted and ballasted before the rails are applied making variation in tie color easier to achieve (especially if a masking template is constructed) and the rail can easily be painted a slightly different color than the ties
  • Long stretches of Micro Engineering code 55 rail can be soldered together before being applied to the ties
  • No glue required to attach the rail


  • The ties vary a bit in length which is true to a lot of prototype track (especially older track) but not necessarily true in all cases
  • You still have to buy Micro Engineering code 55 rail









Kato Unitrack


  • Reliable
  • Reconfigurable


  • The rail is code 80
  • Not prototypical US tie spacing or spikes
  • The ballast is part of the track which can be a pro or a con, but it is a con if prototype accuracy is the objective.

Kato N Unitrack vs. Micro-engineering code 55 Flex




3D Printed Track?

Finally, I just wanted to mention that I played around with 3D printing some code 40 track. I did this because there is some track I wanted to put on my layout to make it true to the prototype, but I didn’t need it to be functional. So, at about 10 cents a foot, this 3D N scale code 40 track does the trick just fine, especially since it allows me to make custom track such as very long turnouts in code 40 rail that aren’t commercially available. As technology gets better, dead rail battery powered locomotives on cheap 3D printed track may be a viable solution for some applications.

Code 40 N Dummy Track 3D Printed in PLA










Originally posted 1/10/16. Updated 3/19/18.

Atlas N B36-7 Out Now

Atlas N B36-7 Seaboard SystemI just got my Atlas Master Line N B36-7 Locomotives. And I wanted to mention something some potential buyers might have wondered about. In the product photos that I’ve seen on various websites, the Seaboard System models have gray fuel tanks. I couldn’t understand that since I never saw any photos of real Seaboard System B36-7 locos with gray fuel tanks. Fortunately, the actual models have black fuel tanks, as they should, unlike the promo pictures. So I just wanted to make that clear. Overall the new models look great. Atlas N B36-7 Locos are starting to appear on Ebay.

N Scale GP11 Paducah Geep

GP11 N ScaleAn N scale GP11 is now available. There are two versions depending on if someone wants printed handrails or do it yourself brass handrails.

For the printed handrails you can just download the handrails file here: gp11handrails – STL. The file is a .STL file and is in a zip folder. So you need to remove it from that folder on your computer before you try uploading it to Shapeways. Then upload it to your own Shapeways account (choose “inches” when asked). When ordering, select “print anyway” and Shapeways will print these for you. These are too delicate to put up for sale but Shapeways will print them for individuals. Contains two of each handrail piece in case one breaks, but they held up fine in my own test orders. Print in either Frosted Detail or Frosted Extreme Detail.

I was thinking of doing some other Paducah Geeps, but Intermountain has decided to make the real deal, not just shells, with an N GP10 model.

Yes! B36-7 in N, Seaboard System and CSX

B36-7 Seaboard System N ScaleAtlas is finally putting out the N scale B36-7 in Seaboard System and CSX paint. Now I can model a Seaboard System Juice Train. However, there still aren’t any truly accurate Tropicana Reefers available. But I’m glad to finally see the B36-7. Now Atlas just needs to change one piece on the U23B to make U36B models and I’ll have the main models I’ve long wanted.

Dmc-12 DeLorean N Scale 1:160 and HO 1:87 Back to the Future

DMC-12 DeLorean N ScaleI took a stab at making an N scale vehicle available. I’ve started with a Dmc-12 DeLorean. If shapeways ever starts offering a clear material that I could use to model window glass, I’ll start making a lot of vehicles. In the meantime though, I’m using my own printed decals as windows for the DeLorean. I printed the decals for my own DeLorean on MicroMark clear laser decal paper using my color laser printer. I cut close around the decals leaving just a sliver of the clear decal film around the edges. Get the printable files here for your version of the model: DeLorean decals N Back to the Future DeLorean decals N Back to the Future DeLorean decals HO DeLorean decals HO

Buy the N DeLorean model here.
And the Back to the Future N version here.
And the Back to the Future HO version here.
And Dmc-12 DeLorean HO Scale 1:87

M-5 Caboose N Scale Now Available

m5 n

The M-5 Caboose is now available in N Scale from Shapeways.

The M-5 Caboose was used by ACL, SCL, Family Lines, and Seaboard System between 1964 into the 1990s. There were 438 total M5’s built.

This kit requires trucks, couplers, etched roof walk, paint, decals, and wire for grab irons (a small jig is included for bending grab irons). The picture above is of a pre-production model I put together (it isn’t quite finished in the above photo, but it’s close enough for now). I improved a few minor things on the model that is now available at Shapeways relative to the model in the above picture. If you want to model the Atlantic Coast Line, you can just use Microscale ACL decals. For SCL and Family Lines, here is a print ready PDF to make your own decals m5decals. I just print my decals with a laser printer on decal paper from MicroMark. After printing, seal the decals with a dull coat and they are ready to go.

N Bluford Shops Transfer Caboose Replacement Roof

Bluford Transfer Caboose

This is a roof designed to replace the smooth roof found on Bluford Shops N scale transfer cabooses. The Bluford Shops N scale transfer cabooses are great, but the roof (and some of the handrails) are not true to different railroads. This replacement roof is the kind of roof used on L&N Family Lines (CSX) bay window transfer cabooses. The roof on the Bluford Shops models snaps off with minimal effort and can be easily replaced with this roof. As always, soak the 3d print in Bestine. Also, for additional cleaning on non-delicate parts (like this roof) use a simple toothbrush and tooth paste. If anyone wants this roof in HO, contact me and be ready to provide me with measurements (in mm) of the HO Bluford Shops transfer caboose roof.

Buy it here

STANRAY roof csx caboose

N Scale Pontoon Boat

N pontoon

Now available on Shapeways: N scale Pontoon Boat
It comes in two variations, one with railing detail and one without. The railing on the one without railing detail can be modeled graphically by printing out the railing as artwork and attaching it to the model.

Download printable graphics here (includes railing in four colors and floor carpeting in two shades of gray).