Arkitex (00) - Expanding a 1960's System

Discussion in '3D Modeling Projects' started by Jim Freight, Dec 6, 2023.

  1. Jim Freight

    Jim Freight Full Member

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    Introduction

    In this series of articles I explain my approach to expanding the Tri-ang Arkitex (00) system using 3D filament printing to add extra parts to enable a wider range of buildings to be created for use with 00 model railways built for 1960s operation.

    My model railway readily mixes vintage and modern models, so here, I do not attempt to make parts that are more realistic, my aim is to expand the system sympathetically, i.e. maintaining the flavour of the original concept to what might have been.

    Most designs are for printing in PLA using a 0.4mm nozzle in a single extruder 3D printer, some have been tried in ABS but I have had rather mixed success with ABS.

    Some parts are also designed for printing with a dual extruder machine in two colours, e.g. fascia bricks and mortar. These will also be available for single extruder printing such that they can be painted accordingly after printing.

    As the articles are posted the static list below (which I am at last catching up with) will become active links.

    Article List

    1. The Tri-ang Arkitex (00) System
    2. Before 3D Printing
    3. The Arkitex 3D Printing Project
    4. Type A Panel - The Basis of All Panels that Follow
    5. Printing Fascias
    6. Type A Panel - Refinements
    7. Type A Panel - Doors
    8. Type B Panel - Short Panel
    9. Type C Panel - Full height, 3/4 width
    10. Type D Panel - Short, 3/4 width
    11. Type E & F Panel - Full Size, Handed
    12. Frame Top Flange - Revision for Strength
    13. Type G Frame - Full Height, 2x Width
    14. Type H Frame - Short, 2x width
    15. Frame - Alternative Printing for a Better Formed Top Flange
    16. Custom Base Plate
    17. Evaluating the work so far
    18. Royal Mail Warehouse Frontage Version 1
    19. Warehouse Floors - Design 1
    20. Custom Connector Beams - Basics
    21. Thick Floor Connector Beams
    22. Warehouse Floors - Design 2
    23. Roof Panels
    24. Roof Edging - Completes RM Warehouse Version 2
    25. Correcting Type C Frames
    26. Frame, Panel and Baseplate Geometry Revision
    27. Overhang Beams & Columns
    28. Long Horizontal Beams
    29. North Lights
    30. Structural Floor Panels
    31. Truss Connector Beams
    32. Two Storey Factory Windows
    33. Additional Corner Parts
    34. 1.5 Storey Factory Windows & Walls
    35. Single Storey Factory Windows
    36. Red Brick Panels
    37. Roof Level Half Height Panels and Corners
    38. Tierwag Loading Ramps
    39. Minix Motor Works, Re-modelling Summary
    40. Single Storey Factory Windows, Full Glaze
    41. Electrical Engineering Works, Update


    More to come, likely ...

    Jim :)

    Return to "A Wrinkly in 3D Printing Land"

    Return to Warren Yard ( The Layout )
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2024 at 11:49 AM
  2. paul_l

    paul_l Staff Member Administrator

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    I've got the popcorn and a new cushion order Jim.

    I can't remember the Arkitex system, but no doubt will recognise it when I see them. I do remember the Super 4 track tho'.

    Paul
     
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  3. Walkingthedog

    Walkingthedog Full Member

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    Thought I had heard about all those types of construction kits but not that one.
    Had a similar one by Chad Valley.
     
  4. Jim Freight

    Jim Freight Full Member

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    Hi Paul I had quite a bit of it as a kid over numerous birthdays and a couple Christmas's in 1/42 for use with my Corgi and Dinky cars, alas it was disposed of before I started buying and selling on eBay, however plenty is available in good used condition now in 00, I introduce the system in my opening postings shortly.

    Jim :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2023
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  5. Jim Freight

    Jim Freight Full Member

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    Hi Brian, they were about the same era, Arkitex was produced in Northern Ireland but for various reasons, some lost in the mists of time and others that will be referenced it had a short life.
    But I liked to play with it, then as well now, such as the large buildings now on my railway, after 60 years I can finally expand it in a time effective way :facepalm:

    Jim :)
     
  6. Walkingthedog

    Walkingthedog Full Member

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    Look forward to seeing your progress.
     
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  7. Jim Freight

    Jim Freight Full Member

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    1. The Tri-ang Arkitex (00) System

    Origin

    This construction system originated in approximately 1959 and represents office block building design into the 1960s, it was produced in 1/42 scale and '00'. The 00 system was aimed at the emerging 00 gauge model railway systems of the time, as such it is a valuable resource for constructing modern buildings of that era in quite a realistic manner.

    Further details on its origin can be read from the Brighton Toy and Model Museum website, reference 1.1.

    Overview of the Arkitex System

    A simple frame is built in cubes using beams and 6 way blocks and the building clad with panels representing walls, windows, doorways, floors, flat roofs and for a short while parts for blocks of flats.

    However it's downside was being limited to the notoriously box like architecture, inflexible parts, and with the 00 system difficult to build well without gaps and misaligned parts due to the very light components as can be seen in many built examples. I will expand upon these issues with useful tweaks to minimise or even eliminate the worst ones later.

    Despite its issues, at some 60 years old the parts have aged minimally and very good condition used parts can be readily obtained on eBay at reasonable cost providing you avoid perfect boxed sets. I have bought much as job lots of parts, incomplete tatty sets and bundles. Almost like buying second hand Lego by the kilo bag.

    The 1/42 sets were letter coded 1 to 5, the 00 sets A to E, here I am focusing on the 00 version so I will refer only to sets A to D in this series as I do not have any E set parts, too expensive. There was also some smaller 'Junior' sets, (Ref 1.2).

    The basic 00 sets were :-

    Set A - Small office buildings.
    Set B - Medium office buildings, double the quantity of parts contained in set A.
    Set C - Large office/shop buildings with penthouses, lighting, overhangs, and stairs.
    Set D - Bridge building set which included ties, ramps, and solid road panels.
    Set E - Apartment buildings which included domestic windows and balconies.

    A range of extra accessories were shown in the handbook and catalogue but may not have ever been made.

    Constructing Buildings with the Arkitex System

    Using extracts from the 00 system handbook and catalogue the basic components and method of construction is outlined here so the design work that follows is put into context.

    Image 1 shows the basic assembly of the cube structure using connector blocks and beams.

    1_1.jpg


    Image 2, left shows the fitting of the card floor and roof panels, these the same pieces, one side printed red for internal carpeting and the reverse side grey for roof surfaces.

    Right shows the insertion of the coloured metal panels, red one side, blue the other, and the window glazing, some later sets had light green/light blue panels.

    1_2.jpg


    Image 3 shows fitting of a wall panel, common to all parts with slight variation for the smaller panels and the assembling of the door panels.

    1_3.jpg


    Image 4 shows the order of fitting panels and the vertical decorative corner posts.

    1_4.jpg


    Image 5 continues corner assembly and the application of roof edging.

    1_5.jpg


    That covers the parts available in sets A and B.

    Set C, this includes the above parts plus the extras to add further variations to the structure and where it all starts to get a bit complicated for what was supposed to be a children’s toy.

    Images 6 & 7 shows the additional parts and how to fit them for penthouses and towers extending above a flat roof.

    1_6.jpg

    1_7.jpg


    Now the fun really starts in image 8 when building what the handbook refers to as a porch, 4 different size and shaped panels around the porch plus additional roof edging parts.

    1_8.jpg


    Image 9 shows further building up from a flat roof with an internal corner, yet more specific parts.

    1_9.jpg


    Further parts are included in set C for overhangs, shop windows, lighting and stair cases, a list of the parts in each of sets A to D is shown next.

    1_10.jpg

    Further set contents information can be found at reference 1.2.

    Refining Construction for a Better Build.

    The parts of the 00 sets are rather light weight compared with the 1/42 sets and prone to have parts misaligned as seen in many images of buildings constructed with the 00 sets, totally spoiling their appearance. Issues I have come across are as follows :-
    • Small remnants of plastic at the ends of vertical corner posts where they have not been cut cleanly from the sprue after moulding, easily trimmed off with a modeling knife.
    • Stringing of material from the connector blocks which if bad prevent full engagement with the connector beams, and even if small can disrupt the seating of roof edging. Once again trim off with a sharp modeling knife.
    • Split end of a connector beam such that a beam and block will not grip each other, no fix, just use the beam out of sight if short of parts, or keep for modifying as a 'handrail' making contact with a wall by cutting off the split end.
    • Warped floor/roof boards, even a slight warp is enough to upset the alignment of the roof edging, it may be possible to flatten them with a domestic iron but otherwise use internally where it does not show.
    Summary

    By now the limited flexibility of the system is apparent, especially with all the different accessory parts required if building beyond the basic multi-cube block.

    Only the rough cast concrete wall finishes were present in sets A to C, brick and concrete block finishes were only available as accessory packs, brickwork panels in the apartment block set E.

    Next I will discuss my early attempts at expanding the system before 3D printing was an option.

    Jim :)

    Back to Article List

    References

    1.1 Historic information from the Brighton Toy and Model Museum

    https://www.brightontoymuseum.co.uk/index/Category:Arkitex

    1.2 Comprehensive list of 00 set contents

    http://www.tri-ang.co.uk/Arkitex List.htm
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2024
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  8. Keith M

    Keith M Staff Member Moderator

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    I can't recall the 'Arkitex' system, but I did have a "Bayko' set 4 back in the 50's which used rods fitted into a base, with sections of 'brickwork', windows, doors etc slid in between them. The roof parts were all fully formed, so you could only construct buildings to a size that an individual roof would fit onto unfortunately, and not sure what scale they were made to back then.
    Keith.
     
  9. Jim Freight

    Jim Freight Full Member

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    Hi Keith, I had some assorted Bayko, it was very good for semi-detached and detached domestic houses, a quite hazardous toy when used on the carpet with a bed of nails to impail yourself, aah, those were the days :headbanger:

    Jim :)
     
  10. paul_l

    paul_l Staff Member Administrator

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    I had the Beta Builder - I've just found out it was an Airfix product

    upload_2023-12-7_17-8-49.jpeg

    Paul
     
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  11. Jim Freight

    Jim Freight Full Member

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    Hi Paul, I wonder how many sets you needed to match the box illustration :faint:, Jim :)
     
  12. paul_l

    paul_l Staff Member Administrator

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    Now thinking about it I think it may have been my youger brothers, and as we were living in Hong Kong at the time may have been a "compatable" chinese version, but still was quite a good system. Now long gone.

    Paul
     
  13. Jim Freight

    Jim Freight Full Member

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    Hi Paul, do you mean your younger brothers had the Betta Builder, or what you had was a "compatable", Jim :confused:
     
  14. Jim Freight

    Jim Freight Full Member

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    2. Before 3D Printing

    Back in the days before 3D printing modifying Arkitex parts in any quantity was a labourious task, typically involving a hacksaw, files and plastic card.

    My previous attempts revolved around modifying standard full sized plain wall panels, only the window panels were available in the forms, short, 3/4 and handed parts as shown in this handbook and catalogue image below, most variations do not appear to have been manufactured or very few e.g. the brickwork panels for the apartment set 5.

    2_1.jpg

    For example the electrical engineering works required a three track set of roller shutter doors, double height plus numerous cut panels. The roller shutter doors started with a cardboard template followed by construction out of plastic card.

    The gaps to the right of the template required 3/4 wide panels one window and one plain as will be seen in the second image onwards.

    2_2 DSCF4681.JPG

    2_3 DSCF4751.JPG

    2_4 DSCF4757.JPG

    2_5.JPG


    The fitting, complete with three sets of top lugs to attach to the connector beams and accept the tongues at the bottom of the window panels it supports.

    2_6.JPG

    2_7 DSCF4767.JPG

    The next view shows the many panels that were cut to shape for inner and outer walls, luckily there was always many spare plain walls available. Similar to so many Dublo and Trix secondhand brake vans on eBay, probably one per 5 other wagons at times, probably related to typical train set wagon quantities.

    2_8 DSCF4773.JPG

    All this cutting, shaping and creating took a lot of work without the advantages of a 3D printer to do the repetitive donkey work.

    Note the use of bridge set ties to reinforce the high single thickness outer wall, large unsupported ceiling and mezzanine floor, also other bridge set parts such as roadway units and locking blocks (short white blocks). The locking blocks probably got their name from securing electrical contact bars included with set C. The name was carried across to the bridge building set 4 where it is used to support connector beams as handrails or crash barriers and bears no relevance to its use for bridge building.

    Next, the Arkitex 3D Printing Project.

    Jim :)

    Back to Article List
     
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  15. Jim Freight

    Jim Freight Full Member

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    3. The Arkitex 3D Printing Project

    Another customised Arkitex building was required for the Montague Dock in the form of a warehouse frontage for the Royal Mail, space is limited but it also helps solve a scenic break issue I have at this part of the dock.

    The building is to be based on the type of warehouse where a balcony is used to transship goods between warehouse and steam packet via one of the rail mounted cranes. The prototype for this arrangement existed at Bristol Docks M Shed in the 1950s, a precarious working environment for the warehousemen :-

    https://www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/stories/m-sheds-cargo-cranes/

    I also wanted the standard rough cast panels to be replaced with brickwork of the same style as the Victorian warehouses, namely large, coarse grey bricks with dark brown mortar. Roller shutter doors are required for both ground level and balcony level, as well as ordinary personnel doors.

    So with this in mind the next step was to start the design of the parts such that they become an extension of the Arkitex system.

    Where to Start?

    This project was to be printed with a Raise3D E2, in PLA using a 0.4mm nozzle which is rather a large nozzle size for 4mm scale modeling but I continue to stretch the limit of what can be done with this nozzle size.

    I decided to start with the largest panel from which the others could be derived, namely a plain wall panel, an example was measured up and modeled in SketchUp (Make 2017) and a test print made to make sure that it was compatible with original Arkitex parts.

    After a few tweaks to include any shrinkage of the 3D parts on cooling the following single piece panel became the basis of the parts to come.

    3_1.JPG

    By default the surface finish of the panel is that of the 'bottom' or first layer of a print, so not very pretty, it can be modified in a slicer but otherwise it will need sanding to smooth out to a decent finish or sand enough to attach a textured printed paper of your choice.

    However if a detailed pattern is applied then that will override the default appearance by defining and thus constraining the path of the nozzle and plastic extrusion.

    Prior to developing the coarse brick fascia it was decided that splitting the one piece panel into a frame and the panel surface which I call the fascia, was desirable so that the two parts could be developed separately and combined as required.

    Possibly a limited clip fit between the frame and fascia could allow swapping of fascias, however PLA elasticity is poor so gluing was likely to be necessary and locating pins or posts would at least aid alignment when gluing the parts together.

    In the future additional fascias could be created and attached to stock frames as required.

    Naming Convention

    To simplify the storage and maintenance of the many files likely to be associated with all the parts the following naming convention was created as apart from catalogue reference numbers all the lettering examples in the 'Handbook & Catalogue' apply only to individual illustrations.

    Most of the examples given below are for known manufactured office window assemblies, but their overall dimensions are relevant.

    Panel, Frame & Fascia Naming Convention.

    3_2 Naming Conv Table.png

    Next

    The design process begins in earnest with the frames and fascias of type A, all except G and H are reduced height and/or width versions of type A.

    Jim :)

    Back to Article List
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2023
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  16. paul_l

    paul_l Staff Member Administrator

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    Considering the age and manufacturing methods at the time, the results are impressive.

    Are you ptinting with PLA or ABS filament.

    If ABS you can smooth the surface with acetone - becareful as the Acetone will dissolve the ABS.
    PLA is harder, but UV resin painted on in thin layers and cured in sunlight or under a UV light, will produce very smooth results, with all the usual caveats of using resin.

    Paul
     
  17. Jim Freight

    Jim Freight Full Member

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    Hi Paul, I am printing with PLA filament as there seems to be little advantage to printing with ABS, especially with the pong and the greater likely hood of stringing. I may have used it but as I have found that DeLuxe Materials Plastic Magic readily glues PLA parts together, and that was the only advantage to possibly using ABS in the first place as it is easy to glue.

    The current finish I achieve with printing a brick pattern very much overcomes the crude finish shown above as I will show shortly.

    I am also experimenting with much brain damage using Blender to create height mapped surfaces, after numerous different YouTube videos I think I have actually managed accidently to do it and export it to SketchUp. But will it print, that's tomorrows headache!

    Unfortunately SketchUp Make 2017 cannot support a plug-in to do it straight off, and I am not prepared to pay £££ per year for the paid SketchUp version.

    The results will not be as good as resin printed parts, but the results I am getting are acceptable to my aging eyesight, and if I start printing with a 0.2mm nozzle it should be better.

    Also modelling in 4mm scale and not 7mm scale is additional fun, but it is prooving adequate, and printing PLA is warm and cuddly compared with resin in a shed :avatar:

    Jim :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2023
  18. paul_l

    paul_l Staff Member Administrator

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    Hi Jim

    One of the issues with a 0.2mm nozzle is any inconsistancy in the filament can cause the nozzle to block so you may need to change to a higher quality filament if you get issues.

    As you're having some success with Blender, can you not try and do the whole model with Blender and not just the surface texture.

    Paul
     
  19. Jim Freight

    Jim Freight Full Member

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    Yes, going to a 0.2mm nozzle does require good quality filament as the smaller the nozzle diameter, the more prone they are to clogging, I'm aiming at 0.2 for smaller models as so far the 0.4 seems okay for this project, but I could compromise on 0.3mm. It's not a quick to swap of nozzles, need recal. and offsets done for two nozzles so they work aligned to each other, so at fastest about 2 hours of fun, so I need to plan ahead.

    'Some success' - very debateable after a few days of tearing my hair out, it's amazing how many little details are overlooked in some videos, how fast they navigate their UI and how out of focus/too low a resolution many videos are :faint:

    My first blender attempt yesterday resulted in too high a detail output files, almost impossible to import into SketchUp (my old laptop getting bloated) so I need to refine them down some what, it's very much like the scanning I did earlier this year, massive output files are far too easy to create.

    At present it is far easier to design in SketchUp than Blender, dimensionally creating things in Blender is by no means it's forte, although a plug-in has recently become available to make that easier. Blender is much more for animation activities, what I use is just what they call 'scenic' work, fixed objects.

    I am really bonkers taking this route for textures, it's a last resort.

    Jim :)
     
  20. paul_l

    paul_l Staff Member Administrator

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    There's always Fusion 360 - the non commercial version, it does limit you to 10 editable projects, but you can set projects to read only, and back again as often as you want. A bit of a pain but only takes seconds. I've not tried applying textures to Fusion files so don't know if it would work.

    Paul
     

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