Cape May County Library

Library stories: Creating impossible-to-find model railroad parts at the library

  • Written by Jeff Trout, Supervisor at the Technology Learning Center of the Cape May County Library
    Jul 20, 2017
  • Category:
    / Inspiration

Anyone who is familiar with model railroading knows that models can be pricey. Individual parts for models can cost you big money. Just ask Mr. Winder, who has been able to bring his 3D sketches to life. Mr. Winder is an avid model railroad enthusiast. He has been one since he was a child and has owned some of his models for nearly seventy years. For many years he has put together accurate representations of actual railroad stations.

Recently he was working on an engine house for a small Pennsylvania Railroad Station. He was unable to find the proper vents for the roof. There were no quality manufactured pieces in any models or loose parts. He had scoured the web to no avail. And, he could not model them from wood due to scale.

He started by making sketches of the complete structure using the free 3D drawing program, Sketchup.


sketchup models

Once he had completed the overall model he pulled the vents out and completed them with proper amount of slats in the louvers and then converted them to an STL file and was ready to go.


sketchup slats

He did a test print of one vent where he found it had several problems. The connections and lines were not fully complete. Those missing connections made the models fail. We have staff that are competent and in some cases very well versed in 3D Design. We helped him find the flaws in his model.

He corrected these problems and on the second print, was successful. He printed two sets of double vents that fit perfectly into the roof of his model.


printed slats

The whole project was so inexpensive for him that he now visits many times to create windows, lattice, and fencing. Thank you, Ultimaker!


Cape May County Library