Project Log

Selected Projects (When the client gives us permission to put their project on our web page!)

Wooden Trim for Antique Automobiles

posted Jul 6, 2013, 9:04 AM by Jay Gross   [ updated Jul 6, 2013, 9:10 AM ]

Here is a completely different kind of project than the trains and metal industrial parts; it is wooden trim for 1930’s and 1940’s automobiles known as “woodies.” As you can imagine, it is difficult to find wooden car parts from 1940’s that are in serviceable condition. JG Conversions’ role in this restoration process is scanning the old parts and getting STL data files of the shape to the client.  The client produces a new wooden part using a CNC controlled router. Here is a link to the client’s blog.
trim prior to preparation for 3-D scanning Front           trim prior to preparation for 3-D scanning - back

Here are the front and back side of both halves of the original pattern part. This part is about 4 feet long.

wooden trim after to preparation for 3-D scanning          wooden trim after to preparation for 3-D scanning - back

A patched-up original is used as the object that is scanned. The patch up job does not need to look good and can even consist of clear tape with a white powder spray. I can do some touch-up and repairs digitally, but it is faster and cheaper to fix the physical object before scanning. The trim is finished in a clear finish, so no putty or patches can be used for the final part. 10 thousandths extra for the tape thickness for a wood part does not matter. The client did the more important front side with putty to save money and to preserve the correct details. Lighter color paint would scan a little better; the surface can be coated with the white talc powder too. I quickly did the back with tape. The damaged tendon sticking out from the end was re-constructed using tape since there was nothing smooth to extend with the correct cross-section. The part then (after the above pictures) got another light coat of white power spray to make the surface more uniform and cover up the tape. The scanner scans thru the clear tape to the surface of the wood at the bottom of the holes I am trying to cover up! The ping-pong balls and dots are for alignment of the individual scans.


trim in good shape            measurements after SLS scan - back side


This part, a rear quarter trim was in good shape and was actually used as a pattern to (slowly and meticulously) make other identical copies using a mechanical pantograph arm and a router before being bought by our client. Defects in the wood for this piece prevent its use as an actual trim piece on a car. I digitally extended the outer surfaces on both ends around 3 inches lengthwise and covered over the complete tendons. Since the original was smooth, I was able to duplicate the individual scans of the ends, slide them down and trim them before fusing (attaching and averaging) all the scans together. It is easy to copy something, but difficult (and expensive) to create all new surfaces. The 70 inch long part is at the limits of the 3-D CNC router and the scanner. The part was scanned using a Structured Light Scanner.




3-D CNC wood milling machine/router

The client, Jeff Yeagle, has a 3-D CNC wood milling machine/router. The CNC router, pictured above can make the wooden part using a digital STL file much the same as a 3-D printer produces a plastic or metal part, but on a much larger scale. The bed of the CNC router is 45x45x6 inches. The part above of course is foam and has a much rougher finish than the final wooden part due to less cutter path overlap. The foam part are used just to inexpensively test the fit on the car. Wood parts produced this way are useful as patterns for metal sand cast parts. The cost is lower than manually created patterns (from a traditional pattern maker) or ABS plastic 3-D printed patterns especially for larger parts. Jeff does this as a service.


Thermo Cap

posted Mar 27, 2013, 7:13 PM by Jay Gross   [ updated Jan 1, 2016, 9:04 PM by Benjamin Gross ]

This small die cast part shows the accuracy we can do the scanning and modeling. It turns out the horizontal tube was pulled when it was cast (or bent afterwards) and goes down a few degrees. There was also some local distortion around the gating. These areas were trued up (straightened) in our SolidWorks model. Not counting these areas, we were able to get all surfaces of the model to within +/- .005 inches.   
The original part, about 2.25 inches long.

This is the scanned part. The brown areas indicate we were not able to scan to the bottom of the hole or inside the horizontal tube. Complete coverage is not critical when building out a complete model.

    The filtered and simplified Low Resolution points (left) and profiles are used as a guide for manual creation of SolidWorks model.

Here are a few views of the SolidWorks model. This can optionally be created by client who has CAD expertise.


Nathan M5 horn for Train

posted Mar 27, 2013, 7:13 PM by Jay Gross

Here is part for a newer diesel train. Our client had purchased a 1/8 scale part in plastic from another vendor, but it was too fragile and broke. We scanned the broken parts and fixed everything digitally in software. The sections were made thicker and deviated from scale is some areas for additional strength. Finally, the finished product was compared against photos of an actual horn and adjusted accordingly.  The finished model is around 1.5 inches long. The best source of information on this horn is found here:

Here is the finished model.

Throttle Body

posted Mar 27, 2013, 7:12 PM by Jay Gross   [ updated Jan 1, 2016, 9:04 PM by Benjamin Gross ]

A physical part was already created by hand for one working steam engine, but our client needed more same-sized copies of the part for additional engines. We scanned in the part, created the profiles used for modeling from the scan data. We imported the profiles and other IGES data into SolidWorks and created the CAD model by hand using the scan reference data to ensure accuracy. Throttle Body part and models displayed with permission from Kevin Sprayberry.

Here is the original part. This 3 inch long part mounts on the front of the steam engine’s boiler. The back of the brass part is hand-fitted to the rough opening in the side of the main inch-thick boiler tube wall.


This is most of the data from the laser scanner for the part.  Here each color is a different scan, our software puts these together based on surface features. The data samples far away from the average surface height are thrown out and the resulting average is used. The object looks solid due to the number of samples. 



These pictures show the simplified scan data. The surface roughness from hand grinding (hidden from view once mounted on the engine) shows up.


These are the profile point sets after importing into SolidWorks. Each IGES layer from the scan data is imported into SolidWorks as a separate 3D sketch in SolidWorks. Each 3D sketch can be a different color or can be hidden from view.  Note that the Low Resolution point set and alignment features are hidden in these pictures. The previous 4 pictures on this web page are the same SolidWorks model with different 3D sketches hidden.


Here is the final product. We did a version with the hexplate and bolt details and one without. The grey square bar is a 4 inch ruler for the client to quickly verify the actual size of the part.


Oval Door Cover

posted Mar 27, 2013, 7:11 PM by Jay Gross   [ updated Jan 1, 2016, 9:05 PM by Benjamin Gross ]

Not all parts are exciting or complicated. No scanning is actually required since the part was measured easily with calipers and an angle gage. The handle is formed by a putting a wire into the slot and not in the model.  Part can be produced by just CNC or manual machining with a rotary table. Displayed with permission from Kevin Sprayberry.

Part is around 3.5 inches tall.


Not too tricky, we did re-center the slots for the door handle.

2 Cylinder Steam Powered Compressor

posted Mar 27, 2013, 7:11 PM by Jay Gross   [ updated Sep 30, 2013, 4:25 AM ]

This is a complex project. Scanning was a challenge because of the cooling fins, recessed areas, black color and the area behind the two shafts with oil seals. Around 120 individual scans were pieced together. We were able to get a water-tight mesh as needed for rapid prototype production from an almost complete 3-D scan data mesh. This was offered as a lower cost solution. The level of detail and corner sharpness was not good enough and the part was then fully modeled using 2 different CAD packages. (This part was too complex to model directly from the scan data, so an intermediate CAD program was used.) A very precise and clean water-tight mesh was obtained from the final CAD model. You can read more about this part in Interesting Projects.This part appears with permission from Wayne Godshall of Godshall's Custom Machining.
Here is the original part.  The right side picture shows the light blue 3-D scan data over the grey solid model.

The first picture shows the scan data of the middle after cleanup. The second picture shows the detail of the solid CAD model just before getting the final touches. The seals around the shafts were redone by hand since the backside of the shafts cannot be seen by the scanner.  Scale modelers will use polished steel shafts and real rubber seals here to be more realistic. Bolt heads can be added to the CAD model and cleaned up after fabrication with a file.  As an alternative, the CAD model can be split along the original casting seams to get drill bit clearance and then can be drilled out after fabrication for real bolts.


Exhaust Steam Injector for Steam Engine

posted Mar 27, 2013, 7:10 PM by Jay Gross   [ updated Sep 30, 2013, 4:26 AM ]

This project was done from photographs of an actual train part and a railroad part placement drawing from 1944. The train for the actual part was a bit different than the train we had access to, so the final model was modified to match the photographs of the Challenger (UP3977 and UP3985). This part was modeled directly in SolidWorks. A watertight mesh (STL) was generated for rapid prototyping from the finished CAD model. The physical parts were fabricated by from the STL files. You can read more about this project in Interesting Projects

Here is the full-sized injector mounted on a Challenger Steam Engine. To the right is the railroad drawing. Look closely and you will see it does not match either train!


The final size is 1/8 of the original, so these parts in the right picture are around  1 inch long. Some of the smaller features were not modeled because of the feature size limitation for rapid prototype produced parts. These will be fabricated by hand by the client.
This part appears with permission of Wayne Godshall of Godshall's Custom Machining.

Check Valve for Steam Engine

posted Mar 27, 2013, 7:10 PM by Jay Gross   [ updated Jan 1, 2016, 9:07 PM by Benjamin Gross ]

This project is an add-on for the Exhaust Steam Injector. I added all four double flanges as part of the check valve even though in reality, of course, the flanges from the check valve and the flanges from the pipe are held together by bolts. This allows simple copper pipe to be used for plumbing the engine. A 7/16 diameter rod is inserted through the check valve. The ½ inch O.D. copper pipe is slipped over the protruding rod on both sides. This gives mechanical support to the finished product since the outside diameter of the check valve between the flanges matches the OD of the copper tubing.


A picture of the actual check valve can be seen above in the Exhaust Steam Injector post.

Shapeways model of check valve

This is the part done in black, strong and flexible plastic on Shapeway's 3-D printer. The quality is much better than any 3-D printer under $25,000 that JG Conversions can afford for limited use.

Bell Yoke and Bracket

posted Mar 27, 2013, 7:10 PM by Jay Gross   [ updated Jan 1, 2016, 9:06 PM by Benjamin Gross ]

We did this project as 2 separate parts. The models were made directly from old rail road drawings. These parts were produced in rapid prototype direct to stainless steel at The parts are only a few inches long. Models and final product displayed with permission from Kevin Sprayberry.
This is the drawing.
Here are the SolidWorks Models. Note the inner web/fillet was unnecessarily removed for manufacturing considerations.
Here are the finished parts. 1/2 inch "T" slot in backround for scale.

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