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Coal Fired Bricks

New England BrickWorks: 3rd party curves and switches

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Posted (edited)

Hello Trainheads. I have been thinking about making parts for TLG trains for a long time. Ever since the lookdown started I really got into the idea more and in my head, it gained a lot of traction.  

I introduce New England BrickWorks

 

NOTE*** Still in development phase looking for feedback**** 

I have had a lot of time to think these days, getting my degree in mechanical engineering hasn't been eating up as much of my time. And I believe I have developed a new manufacturing method that will create parts with injection-molded quality with a slightly different material than plastic(very close strength-wise) for a fraction of the cost.  If I did my math correct I may be able to develop new products for little cost and the overhead will be low.  I will be looking to sell circles of r104 at about $60.  

 

Here are some future product ideas

 

r56

r72

r88

r104

r120

r136+

Side rods

Drivers

r104 switches

r120 switches

r40 switches

narrow gauge stuff

r56 -136 rails only (me models like)

Unpainted products(if you want light gray ballast and dark grey rails)

Other(post bellow)

 

***Please I beg you can you post if you want any of these products and give me feedback****

****Please fellow trainheads take this survey so I can easily see your responses(only takes one min)****

Still don't know if I want to do this, may start a KickStarter once I see feedback and do some designs

Take the survey   https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7ZC2YPK

 

Bye Bye Everybody

-Coal Fired

 

PS I still aren't sure about this endeavor I will decide if I want to do this after I see the responses to the survey and to the form. 

 

 

 

Edited by Coal Fired Bricks

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To be honest, to get any interest you're going to need to have something to show for it. We've had a lot of people come through promising big things and new innovations. A few, too, who put a ton of time, effort, and money into it and still didn't end up with a completely viable product. I don't know about the rest of the community but I really can't be interested over just an idea, especially since we do have some good options on the market already.

Especially so with an experimental/theoretical manufacturing method, I think you really just have to supply something for people to be able to judge the content. We've seen actual injection-molded parts come through before that still had a myriad of issues, not to mention questions and concerns of long-term durability. Clutch is King when dealing with LEGO, and after seeing so many people/companies get it wrong (Including the majority of the large brand-name LEGO knockoffs, such as MegaBlox), coupled with being 3D printed... IMO there's just a lot to prove here. 

Personally, just having a lower price doesn't interest me without knowing the above information. I would much rather spend $100-$140 on a loop of Bricktracks rail than $60 on a similar loop of track that's going to be a pain to work with and degrade or break after a year or two. Not everybody looks at value that way, of course, we've had lots of people happily buy poorly-designed 3D printed stuff just because it's cheap. But even that, the market has in good saturation.

If you can get and show something actually produced with great clutch and a good durability and still have a good price, of course, that would be great - but I would suggest you lead with that! Show us your exciting innovation in practice, instead of the numbers and words we've all seen pass through a dozen times. 

 

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I think your ideas are purely speculation at this point (from what I understand from your explanation at least).  You may find those to be quite ambitious.  I think the idea is possibly solid but you will find it may not gain any traction (pun intended) until you get physical parts in people's hands to get real input back.  I know there are a couple of companies already out there that do just that at the big train shows.  I do hope you try (and are successful) but you will be hard pressed for people to line up throwing money at you until they can SEE and/or FEEL the product you promise. 

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I'm with Daedalus on his third paragraph there... If you come up with something to show people would like to see it, but Coaster sets a pretty high standard.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/14/2020 at 10:20 AM, Daedalus304 said:

To be honest, to get any interest you're going to need to have something to show for it. We've had a lot of people come through promising big things and new innovations. A few, too, who put a ton of time, effort, and money into it and still didn't end up with a completely viable product. I don't know about the rest of the community but I really can't be interested over just an idea, especially since we do have some good options on the market already.

Especially so with an experimental/theoretical manufacturing method, I think you really just have to supply something for people to be able to judge the content. We've seen actual injection-molded parts come through before that still had a myriad of issues, not to mention questions and concerns of long-term durability. Clutch is King when dealing with LEGO, and after seeing so many people/companies get it wrong (Including the majority of the large brand-name LEGO knockoffs, such as MegaBlox), coupled with being 3D printed... IMO there's just a lot to prove here. 

Personally, just having a lower price doesn't interest me without knowing the above information. I would much rather spend $100-$140 on a loop of Bricktracks rail than $60 on a similar loop of track that's going to be a pain to work with and degrade or break after a year or two. Not everybody looks at value that way, of course, we've had lots of people happily buy poorly-designed 3D printed stuff just because it's cheap. But even that, the market has in good saturation.

If you can get and show something actually produced with great clutch and a good durability and still have a good price, of course, that would be great - but I would suggest you lead with that! Show us your exciting innovation in practice, instead of the numbers and words we've all seen pass through a dozen times. 

 

Agree 100%
I’ve now made (and ballasted) 2x full loops of Bricktracks and 2x full loops of ME Models. Not an issue with Bricktracks. Had to glue everything with ME models. Really not interested in another Kickstarter. 

On 5/14/2020 at 7:46 AM, Coal Fired Bricks said:

 

PS I still aren't sure about this endeavor I will decide if I want to do this after I see the responses to the survey and to the form. 

 

 

 

I think you may need to be a little more committed and motivated to see this through.

Edited by cptkent
Typo

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Great idea but as allready mentioned, first see then believe.

Besides that, there is someone like pfbricks that claim they are producing rails (but probably will never be real)

For Europe your product will be way to expensive thanks to inport duty's and such legalised theft.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/15/2020 at 7:34 AM, cptkent said:

I think you may need to be a little more committed and motivated to see this through.

I wanted to make sure there is a market before I put in more time and effort.  Also, I know BT is most likely using a 3PL (3rd Party Logistics) which as a small company isn't a bad idea because it isn't fun to buy 100,000 of equipment and make it in house.  Even manufacturing in China it is pricy to start making new products because a 3PL also makes products for other companies so to make a new product they have to pay for new tooling and for more manufacturing output.  But BT is also making a good margin(most likely) and maybe making the products for >$50 a circle but he wants to make a buck out of this and with low volume, it is hard to make any money with low margin.  For TLG their volume is so high they can make their margin very small to sell at lower prices but they still make good money because of volume. This product will be able to get a low price, decent margin, injection-molded quality, and a low cost to bring new products to market

On 5/14/2020 at 12:32 AM, Roadmonkeytj said:

I do hope you try (and are successful) but you will be hard pressed for people to line up throwing money at you until they can SEE and/or FEEL the product you promise. 

I know, ME models had the promise of a new system but well.................... you know...................had a fun short-lived business because the promised product was BT quality but when it got into the hands of costumers it was well.......not the........best.......we were..........promised.  I will start some development of the manufacturing technique soon with some simple straight track and I will be posting updates on this forum.  Again this technique may have a bit lower margin but the time, effort, and money needed to create new products will be inexpensive.  Also, I am willing to sacrifice margin for a lower price because I would love to make this hobby affordable for even young kids, I don't want to be at TLG prices but in proportion to them. 

 

On 5/15/2020 at 7:42 AM, JaBaCaDaBra said:

For Europe your product will be way to expensive thanks to inport duty's and such legalised theft.

There are always corporate loopholes. 

 

On 5/13/2020 at 8:20 PM, Daedalus304 said:

Especially so with an experimental/theoretical manufacturing method, I think you really just have to supply something for people to be able to judge the content. We've seen actual injection-molded parts come through before that still had a myriad of issues, not to mention questions and concerns of long-term durability. Clutch is King when dealing with LEGO, and after seeing so many people/companies get it wrong (Including the majority of the large brand-name LEGO knockoffs, such as MegaBlox), coupled with being 3D printed... IMO there's just a lot to prove here. 

I would agree.  We see these same ideas pass through the forum time after time but, this new manufacturing prosses will be relatively cheap to produce new parts without the reliance on FDM 3d printing.  SLA will be used to test parts because those prints will be used as molds. And with the affordability of SLA, I wouldn't mind trying 30 prints to get the right tolerances and changing sizes by 1000th of an mm to get clutch just right.  These SLA prototypes will be molded exactly to get a final product in the Plastic Like Material(hint it gets hot) so when the proto is right the product will be perfect. 

 

Lastly, I don't want to be the big bad wolf when I get this up and running I wouldn't mind telling BT how I did this and share some secrets.

 

 

Bye Bye EveryBody

-Coal Fired

 

PS on the Survey when I say switches I mean switches and crossovers. 

Edited by Coal Fired Bricks
Clarification

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I hope you do well in your endeavor! Reading the explanation of the high costs of manufacturing reminded me of something I heard recently: if you want to make a small fortune in manufacturing, start with a large fortune! Best of luck and looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Coal Fired Bricks said:

Lastly, I don't want to be the big bad wolf when I get this up and running I wouldn't mind telling BT how I did this and share some secrets.

I mean this, Scot put a ton of effort into what he created, I don't want to see that go to waste. Using a 3PL can get pricey when developing new products and that is where this would hurt his business. That is why I would share how I did this with him not TRIX because of the.....well.......interesting theories(all you need to do is scan the part).  And if we do ever get a chance to talk about this one thing I would tell him is to operate with a good better best model.  

 

Bye Bye EveryBody

-Coal Fired

 

Edited by Coal Fired Bricks

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Posted (edited)

If you could do monorail track now 4D brick has gone that would be fantastic.

good luck btw.

Edited by emm

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6 hours ago, Coal Fired Bricks said:

SLA will be used to test parts because those prints will be used as molds. And with the affordability of SLA, I wouldn't mind trying 30 prints to get the right tolerances and changing sizes by 1000th of an mm to get clutch just right.  These SLA prototypes will be molded exactly to get a final product in the Plastic Like Material(hint it gets hot) so when the proto is right the product will be perfect.

I believe you're talking about resin casting/molding.

Like many of the attempts we've seen before, I'll believe it when I see it. I would strongly advise against crowdfunding - ME Models poisoned the well there so I'm not keen on the idea of people putting cash towards another attempt to make third party tracks.

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3 minutes ago, Phoxtane said:

Like many of the attempts we've seen before, I'll believe it when I see it. I would strongly advise against crowdfunding - ME Models poisoned the well there so I'm not keen on the idea of people putting cash towards another attempt to make third party tracks.

One bad egg ruins them all:sad:.  ME ended up being a cross between scam and true company by only providing few with the tracks they asked for.  Lucky for this business idea of mine most of the KICKSTARTER money will go to a SLA printer and manufacturing materials the rest for essentials(PO box, vendor's license so I can go to shows, etc).  Because of the cost variability of SLA printers I can work $10,000 or $100,000 again more is better because I can get better quality molds and better quality materials. 

 

11 minutes ago, Phoxtane said:

I believe you're talking about resin casting/molding.

Maybe Maybe not.  After the whole 4d brix ordeal with the copycatting of trix I don't want to get the precise technique until I get a KICKSTARTER up and running.  Again TRIX most likely will have better margen but I don't mind having lower margin because, well, I'm not quitting my day job. 

5 hours ago, emm said:

If you could do monorail track now 4D brick has gone that would be fantastic.

4D claimed to be going DIY so you can always download a file from them and print at a local service(check here in an earlier forum).  I don't plan on doing these only because I don't have any measurements to work with and myself have no plans to buy any monorail related things. 

 

Will post a progress report of a prototype, this will mostly be a regular straight track because that has been already done and is easily modeled in CAD. Also I can test performance against the TLG part. May also try ballast plates that look like many individual parts but rather are one piece. 

 

 

Bye Bye EveryBody,

Coal Fired

 

PS will post pics of updates soon and I will post a logo idea by the end of the week. 

 

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I'd be most interested if you can provide a viable alternative to TrixBrix for narrow-gauge track.  I mean, leaving aside the aspersions cast on their business practices (some of which, based on my own research seem to verge on libel), the quality of the narrow gauge stuff I ordered from them last month is... Decent.  Not terrible, but not great either.  However, considering that they're the only game in town when it comes to narrow-gauge stuff (aside from some very limited offerings that 4DBrix had, but seemed to have given up on long before they decided to call it quits in general, with only some straights & curves being available, the rest, switches, crossovers, etc ended up being vaporware), for the time being, as the old saying goes, "beggars can't be choosers".

Still, like I said, having a high quality competitor to them in this particular area would be fan-freaking-tastic.

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I've got a ways to go before I ever build in narrow gauge, but I'd be interested in narrow gauge offerings as well. 

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4 hours ago, Coal Fired Bricks said:

Maybe Maybe not.

Just be careful if you are as the final product can chip and crack easily as its more brittle than standard ABS

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, mark6399 said:

I've got a ways to go before I ever build in narrow gauge, but I'd be interested in narrow gauge offerings as well. 

I will try to do some of that. Just not sure what the geometries are.

 

 

I've been thinking but would anyone like rubber flextrack. 

 

Bye Bye EveryBody,

Coal Fired

Edited by Coal Fired Bricks

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Posted (edited)

Hate to double post but here is an update (I designed in CAD to fast). 

 

 

This is a draft for a logo.  I'm not super happy with it so I may just scrap it and come up with something new and stand-alone.

49912714948_5ba506e806.jpgNew England BrickWorks. LOGO by Coal Fired Bricks, on Flickr

 

These are XXL drivers in the boxpok style, it should be easy to do Scullen-disk drivers because that is very similar to what these were made from.  Simple spoked may take a bit longer because I will need to make cutouts for the spindles(no clue what they are called).  These drivers have the flanges slightly set back so they will not bind on curves. *****THESE ARE FINAL UNLESS YOU HAVE COMPLAINTS****  

49912747738_ab1285e1c4.jpgProgress on XXL drivers by Coal Fired Bricks, on Flickr

 

Here are some r88 rails based on the ME style, may try to do something more prototypical shape-wise.  I will do whole piece tracks once I finish the line up of the rails.  The whole piece are going to be more 'lego-like' and have a more prototypical shape.  ****These are not final still need to do some polishing****

49913561592_c615e0023c.jpgProgress on r88 rails by Coal Fired Bricks, on Flickr

 

 

After the update, Based on feedback here is a simplified offering based on the survey results.

r56

r72

r88

r104

r120

r136

r152

All the above will be in both rails and a single-piece track.

r120 switches, crossovers, etc(will have to work on the geometry to know if I will need return curves or 1/2 straights)

I may do a curved switch(example in the link)

https://www.google.com/search?q=curved+switch+track&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwjZ7cWz5sDpAhUNSN8KHZdbA0oQ2-cCegQIABAA&oq=curved+switch+track&gs_lcp=CgNpbWcQAzoCCAA6BAgAEB46BggAEAgQHlC3DVj0G2CiH2gAcAB4AIAByAGIAYgGkgEFMi4zLjGYAQCgAQGqAQtnd3Mtd2l6LWltZw&sclient=img&ei=FkbEXtmKEY2Q_QaXt43QBA&bih=892&biw=1476&client=safari&safe=strict#imgrc=GP602tGv352jFM

 

1/2, 1/4, 1/8 straight track may be available

High radii narrow-gauge curves and switches(r56ish, 72ish, and r88ish) still may have to work on the geometry so I may ask Michael Gale about narrow gauge geometries. 

S, M, L, Xl, XXL drivers will all be available in boxpok, Scullen disk, and spoked in blind and flanged.  

Custom side rods on request. 

 

******THE SURVEY IS STILL OPEN IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE THE PLANNED CURRENT OFFERING OR YOU CAN POST BELLOW WITH COMMENTS AND COMPLAINTS*******

 

Thank you, everybody, for your opinions.

 

Bye Bye EveryBody

Coal Fired

 

PS the driver in the logo was a moc-up drawing I made to see what a boxpok driver would look like on one of my trains

 

 

Edited by Coal Fired Bricks
To bulk up the post and share some new ideas that didn't need a new post.

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@LegoTrainDude9231 - LEGO track has a very nearly rectangular profile instead of an I or T shape. Take a look at the diagrams from L-Gauge for reference

TrackProfile.png.f20600185cd9f62daa94a92a8cb6390f.png

Including this profiling in the rails would significantly thin the center of the rails and require an overhang.
This is particularly relevant in the manufacturing processes- real-world steel or iron rails are produced as lengthwise rolled pieces, so they can readily produce these shapes.

Plastic rails from LEGO are produced by injection molding, with the mold halves on the top and bottom of each rail. To separate from the mold there can't be overhang that would catch inside the mold and hold pieces in place.

3rd-party rails may be injection molded or 3D printed. Injection molding has the same problem with overhangs, and 3D-printing has resolution limits. Perhaps a cured-resin printer could produce the additional detail for the rail profile, but a typical extrusion printer would also need to contend with supporting an overhang if the rail profile had a wider head and narrower middle.

If the rails were formed as extrusions this profile would make sense- if you wanted conductive tracks you could use plastic ties and railbed with metal rails:

41ZiQBLgiuL.jpg.b21ee8a970b61ad2362b60ceedded8db.jpg

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Well, @Coal Fired Bricks on a Flickr comment did say that he will be doing resin casting.  I checked out the type of resin he is using and it is food grade impact resistant. 

 

Here is some info on it

TASK® 11 urethane casting resin is a semi-rigid plastic (has some flexibility) that is strong and very tough. Originally developed for high impact tooling (drop hammer punch), TASK® 11 also offers good abrasion and chemical resistance and is ideal for a variety of industrial applications.

This product is suitable for some FDA/USDA applications - dry food contact only. 

TASK® 11 applications include making abrasion resistant parts, foundry patterns, encapsulation, roller facings, metal bonding and vibration pads

Not sure what he may be using for molds but if using silicone he can make a rail shape.  

 

@slide_potentiometer yes the inside part would have to be thin, not sure how that could be fixed strength-wise. 

Here is the Flickr link https://www.flickr.com/photos/188099743@N07/49912714948/in/dateposted-public/

 

@Coal Fired Bricks do you know what you may be doing for a realilistic shape?

 

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Looking good in the hood.

 

49944918273_f94df8c203.jpgProgress.  Comment Y/N on the couplers. by Coal Fired Bricks, on Flickr

 

For the couplers comment y/n. Or comment if you want a casing for neodymium magnets that has the look of a real knuckle and fits the old (9v) setup.

magnetic_knuckle_coupler_433-1436.gif

Also, a TLG compatible version of this wouldn't be bad. 

 

And yes @LegoTrainDude9231 I will be using task 11 and silicone to mold with but I will be doing the normal TLG Track Shape (not the ME models look) and the ME models look.  I could do a Bessemer rail but it would be pricy because the mold will not last as long due the stress put on it, even if it is a 2 part mold. 

 

Bye Bye EveryBody,

Coal Fired

 

PS if you use Kadee of other couplers I beg you to make them nice and glossy so they match the look of TLG bricks when they are matte and the bricks are glossy it annoys the (insert bad word that has the same meaning a poo) out of me.

Edited by Coal Fired Bricks

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I second @LegoTrainDude9231's plea for R56 switches please?  Also I would like magnets/housings including replacement parts for #73092 and #2920 (or even #2607) on BL, because making multiple train cars can become rather expensive.  Just my thoughts ...

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@Coal Fired Bricks

I like the coupler idea, but 3D printing will yield quite a lot of breakages for the spring parts. I would suggest - if you're considering doing a knuckle - to use injection moulding and to speak to @coaster who was also going through the motions of a coupler before dropping it.

I'd prefer a 3d printed coupler box w/ stud connections for fitting a Kadee coupler in that could be anchored into existing builds. 

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