Virtual Locomotive Construction

A virtual locomotive can be created using a CAD application or by modeling in an artistic modeling package such as Modo. We have decided to use a Computer Assisted Drafting package for the initial development of mechanical models, as this gives greater flexibility for further usage in gaming applications.

The first step in this process is obtaining copies of the original drawings used to construct a real locomotive. Railway organizations interested  in preserving the history of rail travel can be a good source of information, but records may be incomplete in any one place. The plans can also be faded and with the odd patch of engine grease obscuring essential details. Photographing the plans and using post processing, such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, to enhance critical measurements of dimensions assists in recovering the information needed to construct a model.

Many thanks to the staff at the Goldfields Railway workshops for making their mechanical drawings available to us. Their assistance with the photography of the locomotive overview plan was very much appreciated. A large sheet in the small space had a few challenges to overcome so we went outside. The first attempt, using fridge magnets to attach the sheet to the side of a locomotive tender didn’t work very well: the wind kept blowing the edges up and lifting the magnets off!

Back inside, we quite literally took over the tea room. Somebody said that it hadn’t looked so tidy since the Christmas party. But there was no blu-tack to be found, so the sheet couldn’t be stuck on the end wall. The notice board on the side wall was close but just fitted the entire sheet into the frame. Then we captured greater detail in segments, to recover faded information to make it easier to recreate the drawings using modern CAD techniques. The judicious removal of a few drawing pins anchoring other things displayed on the notice board kept the overview plan in place.

Subsequently, an offer was made to provide us with the computer files of all the plans that they had already scanned in. We arrived at the appointed time and found the workshop crew hard at work refueling the locomotive. Once done, we all went inside to where the computer resides.

Note to self: never, ever, go anywhere without a memory stick!

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