March 2021 Newsletter

Wow, what a difference a month makes.  Shown in the February Newsletter, snow had accumulated to a depth of 2 feet (G scale) on Dick and Laurie Saunders’ Red Rock Railroad.  However, with temperatures climbing into the low 70’s this coming weekend, the promise of spring is finally creeping up on SW Utah with snow only a distant memory.

Club News

Work on the Lionel Project Layout continues.  This past Thursday, Bob Mallory, Al Thorne, Dan Mangiaracina, Jim Clark, and Bryan Osborn were busy performing various tasks on the layout, concentrating most of the work on Board #3.  Click HERE and scroll down to the March 2021 Update to see a couple of progress photos.

The CCMRRC Honorary Plaque recognizing past members for their service to the club will debut at the Washington County Fair in April 2021.

G Scale

Like many Club members, I’ve read a number of write-ups in railroad modeling magazines about 3D printing.  Articles have included general discussions, specific machines, types of plastics, and projects the authors created.  And businesses like Shapeways offer 3D printed detail parts for sale in a variety of scales.  You might recall Keith Johnson mentioned in the December Newsletter he’d taken a 3D printing course through Dixie State University to construct various buildings for his railroad.  I wanted to learn more from Keith about 3D printing at DSU and asked him a number of questions.  I was very pleasantly surprised when I received his expansive reply to my inquiry.  Thanks very much Keith !!   

“We have taken several courses at Dixie State over the years. One of their catalogs we received described a 3D Printing course that seemed very interesting as I had thought about the subject but didn't really know very much. So, I signed up. The cost was about $59 and consisted of one 2-hour session per week for three weeks. The course briefly described the process and the goal was to design something and print it. I have had previous experience with CAD/CAM design systems so I was somewhat familiar with the concepts. I had an old warehouse building on my layout which a wooden roof cap that has deteriorated over the years so I decided I would try to replace it was a 3D print. The instructor recommended a real simple CAD program so I designed a sample of the roof cap, 2 inches long instead of the full 18 inches, and used that to learn the actual 3D printing process. It worked and I then printed two 9" lengths of the roof cap and glued them together to form the total roof cap.”  (Click HERE and scroll down to March 2021 Update for photos.)
“The DSU printing lab is actually part of the Innovation Center. The Innovation Center consists of a large metal working shop, and full wood working shop and the Maker lab which contains 3D printers, large laser cutting machines as well as various other equipment. About ten 3D printers, ranging in various sizes up to a machine that prints 18" x 48" x 36" vertical. I have used that machine 3 times, twice to print my girder bridges. There is also a resin printing machine that I have used to print by mother/child in my Mothers Honor Park. The primary 3D printers are Ultimaker S5 printers that have a print volume of about 13” x 9.5” x12”. Most of the prints I have made have been on these machines.
Now for your questions.

DSU has the 3D printing course as a prerequisite for using the equipment. You are allowed to make one print as part of that course. As mentioned above, there are about ten or eleven printers. The most used are the Ultimaker machines. But very large projects can be done on the Modix printer, with its 18” x 48” x 36” build volume.

The Innovation Center has many different print materials but the most used is the PLA plastic. The reliability and accuracy of the print seems best with PLA. I'm actually experimenting with PLA to see how it will stand up to our weather. It has most of the characteristics for external use, especially if it is coated with paint and a UV protector. PLA is good up to about 130ºF and I don't think my back yard gets up that high. Other materials better suited for exterior use are ABS, PETG, and resin. But resin requires a special printer. The other materials are generally supported by other printers.

The way this works is you use a CAD program to design your model. SketchUp ( is one of them but I'm using Adobe’s Fusion 360 ( It is a free product for hobbyists. It has some limitations about number of active models but nothing that has caused me any issues. The CAD model is then exported using a particular file format, .STL (Standard Triangular Language). [Ed. See].  That file is then fed into a slicing program that generates the specific output file that goes to the specific printer. The slicing program, called CURA (, is also a free package. So, I do all my design work at home, generate all my printing files at home, output them to a flash drive, reserve a print machine online at the Innovation Center, drive to the Innovation Center, plug in the USB drive, wait for the print to actually start (about 5-7 minutes), then go home and do more modeling. I am usually able to reserve a machine for the next day. Depending on the size of the print, most of my prints take less than 24 hours, but one or two have taken up to 40 hours.

After the initial introductory class, the costs are very reasonable. Each print costs $3.50 ($5.00 for the large Modix printer) per 24-hour print. So, a print that requires 30 or 36 hours would cost $7.00. There is also a charge for the material at $0.05 per gram. Again, depending on the size of the print, my material costs have ranged from about $1.20 up to $30 or $40. For example, the large girder bridge on the Modix machine took almost 32 hours and $36.50 in material costs. That bridge cost about $46.50. Not sure what it would have cost at a commercial printer, but I'm sure it would have been a lot more than $46.50.  Because there is a single charge for a print, I try to include as many models as I can in one print job on the build plate. Then I am basically only paying for the material cost.

The Innovation Center has only been open for a little over 2 years. The staff there have always been very helpful, very knowledgeable and more than willing to answer questions/issues. I have printed about 65-70 print jobs on the various machines. I have many buildings (mostly birdhouses) on my layout, many of which are 5 to 10 years old and falling apart. My goal is to eventually redesign them in the CAD program and generate 3D prints to replace them. I have done several but I have many more to go.

The Innovation Center is open 10:00 to 6:00 Monday through Friday. Its primary goal is to support the DSU students and the community to learn new technologies and innovation. It is used by many students who have a product idea that they want to build and try out. It is designed to allow anyone to try new designs, generate prototypes and small run manufacturing. It has worked perfectly for my purposes.  In fact, I am doing a real cost analysis to determine if using the equipment at DSU is more cost effective than buying my own 3D printer for home use. So far, the Innovation Center is more cost effective.

You can look for more detail at And then look at Makerspace.”

Here’s Keith’s review of 3D printing he posted on DSU’s Innovation Center website.

“Extensive availability of equipment. My primary use is for 3D printing. All the staff at Makerspace are extremely helpful. Any questions you have will get a direct answer or a reference to someone who has the answer. Printer reservation system is quite good. I have generated many 3D prints and the quality is very good. Excellent place to learn the technology. Highly recommended.”

Visitors to Dick and Laurie Saunders Red Rock layout have witnessed the couple’s creative talents displayed on their backyard railroad.  Up to this point, we’ve always seen the finished product but this month Dick takes us into his workshop while building a curved display trestle for a G scale locomotive.  Click HERE and scroll down to the March 2021 Update for step by step photos of the construction.

February has been a on and off month for Larry and Peggy Schneider.  “After last fall’s landscaping project, I had to re-lay some track and also redo some of the roadbed.  Also in preparation for Train Control, I have 12 track connections where the isolators were removed and replaced with normal solid connectors.  Because I use the track for power, I must maintain solid continuity. After replacement of isolators on the 180 foot mainline, total resistance measures less than 2 ohms.  I also refurbished the grave yard with new grass, cleaned up fall debris, and reset two grave markers that had been knocked over.  My one bridge was also in disrepair as it had some structural damage from being outside for 5 years.  After cleaning, refurbishing, and re-staining, it’s back in place and ready for trains.”  Click HERE and scroll down to March 2021 Update for pictures.  “On to March warmer weather and more work.”

American Flyer

Trains are up and running on Rick Guercio’s new layout.  Click HERE and scroll down to March 2021 Update for a video.  Note the dramatic background images hand painted on the walls.

HO Scale

Newcomer Tom Lantry tells us a bit about his layout beginning construction.  Just starting a small HO layout in a 10’ by 12’ spare room. Benchwork is not feasible so using Woodland Scenics riser system. It will be a dog bone with two doglegs forming a “C”.  Modeling current era trains and SW Utah scenery.  Mostly want to teach myself scenery and DCC techniques.”  HERE is a photo of his current progress.

From Chance Haworth Got two new locomotives last week. Upon getting home, I discovered the UP is DCC. It said DCC nowhere on the box or sticker but I found out when I was reading the instructions and warranty book. The switcher is my first Walthers locomotive, and the UP is Athearn Genesis model.  All of my locomotives are Athearn, but were ‘blue box’ models except for 6 locomotives that aren't.  And what my little layout looks like now. Got another switch, so I have a total of three sidings, so I can run 4 different trains, depending on which consist I want to run.”  Click HERE to see his new equipment under the March 2021 Update.

Model Railroad Events, News, and Videos

Additional information on the Kanab Train Show coming up on March 5th and 6th was shared by Robert Lacey.  (Click HERE for the flyer.)

“I wanted to send out an updated flyer that I hope you can get out to your members.. We're excited to see the number of vendors and layouts we have coming to the Kanab Train Show. We're up to I think 7 total vendors and 10 or 11 layouts, plus representatives or materials from a half dozen tourist railroads (plus giveaway tickets for door prizes).

Of special interest may be that the president of the Silver State Toy Train Operating Society, Bill Arndt, will be there. As a Lionel ambassador, he'll be bringing several pre-production items to display, along with stuff to sell. He's so excited, he's lined up 3 toy train vendors and a multi-scale vendor from Southern California to come up, and says he's got at least a couple dozen guys driving up from Las Vegas to see the show. That's in addition to the Hobby Stop from Orem that's bringing 6 tables worth of stuff and the Rio Grande Modeling and Historical Society. If you've got little tikes around (or big ones that forgot to grow up), there will also be a large Lego and Lego Train display coming.

If you'd like to learn more, we are on the web at There, you'll find a full list of layouts, vendors, and a lot of other info.

We hope some of your club members will be able to join us. We're doing our best to make sure the COVID precautions are in place, but we understand that it's a difficult year for some because of that. Hopefully those that can't make it this year will be able to join us next year. If you have any connections at all, please feel free to share this around.”

S Scale and S Gauge Model Railroad Trains - American Flyer and Beyond, history by Randall Roberts

Operating Lionel Cattle Car and Corral.  I first saw one of these post-war treasures on Dan Mangiarcina’s layout.

The Ultimate Spiral in HO Scale – The Tehachapi Loop has nothing on this!  (thanks Werner Balsterholt)

Club members are encouraged to review the list of NMRAx Video Clinics available on YouTube.  COVID-19 has forced model railroaders across the globe to Zoom and other meeting software packages to connect with one another and share our hobby.  Why not take advantage of these experts and their considerable knowledge when pondering your current project.  Click HERE for a list of NMRA video clinics available on YouTube.

Prototype Railroad News

Project in Estonia to convert Former Union Pacific Locomotives to Run on LNG