Typeface for the Traction Engine Door

mk2 of the smokebox door etching

My son commented that the Arial typeface for the traction engine door wasn’t really correct. So we searched for something better using google’s typeface tool (google fonts). This tool allows you to type in a phrase and to select certain classes of fonts, eg you can turn off all Serif fonts. The closest font we found was Rajdhani as this had a number of features that we could see in an photograph of a smokebox door from a fullsize traction engine.

The original artwork for the door was created by me using powerpoint, easy to use and I could make the text follow a curve. The downside I would find later when I started etching and reviewing the parts under a magnifier was the crispness. Somehow powerpoint had added a shadow.

So we swapped to Inkscape that allows you to create vector images and artwork of the highest quality. The big issue for me having tried this before is it takes time to learn. This is where again Patrick came into his own and created a superb master file.


washing the paper from the brass before etching

The etching onto brass was tricky. The most difficult part is getting the laser print which is plastic to adhere to the brass. The next tricky part is removing all of the paper backing without damaging the plastic lettering.

So, a few goes were required, the most important step is the thorough cleaning of the brass.

The result was this brass door plate that was then sprayed in undercoat and lightly sanded. The undercoat brings out the lettering and allows me to check how well this will look when finally painted red. There are some areas where it is not as clean as it could be, this might be due to the etched material getting trapped.

Rajdhani font for door
Rajdhani font and Inkscape
new etching and smokebox door

After making up a new smokebox door I machined out the centre of the brass etching and aligned this on the new door.

This whole assembly will then be setup in a jig so that I can then silver solder the brass etching to the smokebox door and the hinge at the same time.

About Nigel 358 Articles
I've been making models since I was around 7 years old and using a lathe from the age of 11, a self taught engineer with a passion for making model engines.

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