The model railway hobby is a broad church. There are easy ways and hard ways, and modelling the New Zealand scene in S scale (1:64), has always been at the difficult end of that continuum.
Here at NZF we like to think we can make things a bit easier, and many of our products break new ground when it comes to achieving the hitherto unachievable.
The story so far…
Way back in the early 90s I was an impoverished recent graduate with a burning desire to build great models of New Zealand Railways. I avidly read the Model Railway Journal and dreamed of being able to get etched brass kits for the models I yearned to build. Wind the clock forward a few years, and I’d learned how to draw up etched kits in CAD and we had a few well received kits and bits on the market. NZFinescale was humming along and we featured in the NZMRJ on a regular basis.
In the new millennium things changed a bit. Home ownership, career change, young family, emigration, repatriation and earthquakes successively diverted my focus and New Zealand Finescale languished. Since 2014 things have changed again. Technology has moved on, making better models easier than ever. We even have our own 3D printer churning out bits. In 2017 I sold out of the business I was involved in and at present I’m taking a sabbatical – which means I’m doing a lot of modelling.
What does all this mean to you?
I’ve always enjoyed being at the cutting edge, and NZF allows you to benefit from the products and services that spin out of that. It’s an exciting time to be modelling. Have fun with it.
What we do…
Quite simply, we use the best technology we can access to produce models, kits and parts that are as good as we can get. Primarily this means etchings and 3D printed patterns with very high resolution coupled to rigorously proven design. If I find useful things that are not widely available, we also stock those.
Our guiding philosophy is to use the best process and material to get the desired result. Typically this means that kits will be assembled from a variety of materials using a number of processes, to suit the parts being made.
Our kits and products are produced using the following technologies:
Flat parts are drawn in a 2D CAD package. The file for the phototool consists of two layers; a ‘top’ and a ‘bottom’. This image is transferred to metal sheets, which are the subjected to an acid treatment to remove unwanted material. The result is a fret containing the desired parts with surface details on either side.
The skill with this process is not so much cutting out parts as designing assemblies that fold up origami-like into the final model. This minimises joining pieces and avoids misalignment during building.
Three dimensional models are drawn in 3D CAD and printed on our in-house high resolution 3D printer. The resulting models are then:
- Used directly (as in our figures)
- Used to produce moulds for casting
- Used as sacrificial patterns in the lost wax proces for the very best quality castings.
Lost wax casting
In the lost wax process wax (or printed resin) models are encased in a mineral ‘investment’ in a flask. This forms the mould. The flask is heated to burn out the wax, and the molten metal is then introduced under vacuum. This process allows very fine detail to be produced. While typically referred to as ‘brass’, our castings are actually a bronze alloy.
We also use a variety of more traditional model making techniques in a variety of materials.