Step 1 - Pattern
Find or make a drawing of what you want to make.
Step 2 – Make the frame
Tools required: Cutters, welder, pliers / vice
Materials: I used 4 and 5mm round steel rod, as this was readily available and quite inexpensive.
Either use a blown-up version of your plan, (projectors are great for this) or, make it free-hand, referring back to your original plan. My train was made of fairly simple geometric shapes, so I used freehand.
Start with the larger outside sections. I bent the shape BEFORE cutting the pieces. This helped minimise wastage. Weld the parts together, and move onto the smaller, detailed sections.
Thing to remember: When having windows for example, they need to be supported so extend the top or bottom edge so that it attached to a side. Even if there will be no lights on that section of the frame.
Here’s my loco, almost finished.
Step 3 – Clean & Paint
Clean up the frame, removing any residue left by the welding, and sharp points of splatter. Prime & paint your frame making sure the welds are well covered.
Step 4 – Add your lights
I used ropelight, but mini’s would work just as well.
Materials: Ropelight, cable ties (zip ties), black electrical tape
For the ropelight to be easier to work with, uncoil it and then plug it in. This warms and softens the plastic. I used a cable tie between every 2nd globe (3rd on long straight sections)
You need to work out a path for the lights to follow (especially for ropelight). With my loco, I started at the back of the cabin, where it attaches to the wheel. At the bottom of point 5 (see pic), I had a section that I did not want seen so for this, I used the black electrical tape to cover the section not to be illuminated. Do this before securing it to the wireframe. Work out how long your "invisible" section is and cover it. It is much easier to tape a loose section of rope than it is if attached to the frame. Position the blacked-out bits behind the rest of the frame, so that it doesn’t cover the lights to be seen.
After the cabin, was the rear wheel (6-8), then the outside of the engine (9-12), invisible section jumping across to the window (13-16), another invisible bit at 17 which goes down under the engine and makes the first curve in the tank(18) another black(19) then the start of the funnel (20). Now 21&22 folds back on each other to give a wider line, and a sharp bend on the Right side. When making a double line I line up the globes so that they are above each other. To make the bend it is vital to have the ropelight warm. From there finish the funnel (23-24), pass under to 25, and getting close to the finish. Before doing the last 2 bits, the front wheel (26-28) and final curve in the tank(30), I worked backwards. I was going to have about 100mm overhang at the end, so, I attached the end, and rather than have the end dangling, I extended the last two black bit (between 25&26, and 29) so that it all fitted neatly.
Step 5 – Paint the rope/globes
Materials: Stain Glass Paint.
Determine what colours you will need. I chose yellow -wheels, red – cabin & funnel, blue – engine, green – funnel top, white (no paint) – window.
I found painting easiest to do with the frame laying down, (stopping any runs dripping onto other sections) and using a piece of cardboard to stop any overspray. I had power on while I was painting, as this gave a better indication of the final color. Getting the angle of the can wasn’t too difficult when full, but a little challenging if almost empty. Once the front was dry, flip the frame and coat the back. Allow to dry and give yourself a pat on the back.
This project was created by Dave Kenny - http://www.manningchristmas.com.au/