SW1500 Shell Assembly

If you have completed the frame, it’s time to assemble the shell!


The SW1500 Shell

This is a guide to assemble your SW1500 shell. Work slowly and accurately. The shell requires more patience compared to the frame. Some very small parts will need to be bent into shape and some drilling is necessary.

Keep your completed motorized frame away from your incomplete shell. An unpainted shell is likely to cause short circuits if it placed on the frame.



Scrub the shell with 91% rubbing alcohol and a toothbrush to remove the clear coat applied by Shapeways.

The handrail set should be washed, too. If the handrail set has any tarnish, use a tarnish remover before cleaning it with alcohol.

Need a cheap tarnish remover? Believe it or not, ordinary ketchup will work. Cover with ketchup, wait ten seconds and rinse with water.


Step 1 A

Using #75 drill bit, drill out the holes for the handrails.

There are four pilot holes on the shell that will help start the drilling.

Two of them are by the rear door of the cab. Drill completely through.

The other two are on the top deck facing up below the rear windows. Drill straight down(like the drill bit in the photo). Drill down to .5 mm (.02 inch).


Step 1 B

Using #72 bit , drill the holes for the lights.

You will need enough clearance for .5mm fiber optic strands. Thicker strands are not flexible enough to navigate the cab area to the rear lights.

There are pilot holes to help start drilling on the front of the long hood and at the rear above the cab door.

NOTE: Due to the metal casting process, the pilot holes can be anywhere from fully open to non-existent. Even if they did not fully cast, there is still a dimple that will serve as a mark for drilling.


Step 1 C

Insert an MTL 905 body mount coupler into the pilot to test the fit. It should fit snug but still be easy to insert. Check the front and rear pilots.

If you have difficulty, sand the pilot hole and until the coupler slips in.

Remove the couplers before moving on.

NOTE: The couplers should fit tight enough that no mounting screw is needed for operation. If desired, you can insert a screw by using the MTL tap and drill kit. There is hole under the stair case for the screw.


Step 2

Cut one of the pilot details from the sprue.


Step 3

Apply CA glue to the area highlighted in red.

Press the pilot details into the glue. Be sure to align the details before attaching it.


Step 4

Repeat step 2 and 3 for the other set of pilot handrails.


Step 5

Check for lost details.

The rear panels next to the cab stairway(circled in red) can be rubbed off during the finishing process at Shapeways.

If the area circled in red is completely flat with no detail, go to Step 6.

If the details are there, as seen in the photo, skip to Step 7.


Step 6

Cut the panels from the sprue.

Glue them in place as seen in the previous step.

When placing them on the model, orient the panels so that the two notches are at the top.


Step 7

Cut the cab staircase handrails from the sprue.


Step 8 (Optional)

Find the midpoint of the handrails (red dot in illustration).

Bend the handrail 15 degrees sideways. Bend the two handrails in opposite directions.

NOTE: This step is optional but it is highly recommended. The handrails will look much better and more realistic if they are bent into shape.

If you want even more realism, bend 15 degrees outward 1/3 the way up from the bottom. Then bend the opposite direction at the half way point(red dot). See the image below for reference.


Make it real

Here is a reference for the cab staircase. The real SW1500s have a complex bend in the cab staircase handrails. They turn sideways then up to allow room for the cab door to open.


Step 9

Test fit the cab handrails. Take note of which handrail goes on the left and right side of the staircase.

Make sure you can easily put the handrails in place before applying CA glue.


Step 10

For best results, follow this order for the adhesive.

1. Apply glue to the wall of the staircase (under second step).

2. Apply glue to the top tip of the handrail.

3. Insert top part into hole by cab door.

4. Push the bottom against the staircase wall.

Repeat for the other side.


Step 11

Cut the handrails for the rear steps from the sprue.


Step 12

The handrail will need to be bent at the halfway point of the arch.

Using pliers or tweezers, grip the handrail and make a 90 degree bend.

Bend the other handrail the opposite direction.

Take a look at the next two images for more reference on the bend.


Step 13

The bent handrail will line up with the hole on deck and the notch in the stairwell. The notch is located on the stairwell wall by the second step from the bottom.

Test the fit before moving on.

Notice the bend in the handrail turns toward the cab.


Step 14

1. Apply glue to the top of the hand rail.

2. Apply glue to the notch in the stairwell.

3. Place the top into the hole on the deck then push the bottom into place in the stairwell.

Repeat for both sides.


Step 15

Cut one of the pilot handrail sections from the sprue.

Using CA glue, attach the pilot handrails to the shell.


Step 16

Glue the other pilot handrails to the shell.


Step 17

Cut the right side handrails from the sprue.


Step 18

Check the fit of the handrails.

This set of handrails needs to be bent to fit into the stairwell area. See the next step.


Step 19

Bend the stairwell handle 45 degrees toward the shell.



On the shell, there is a notch in the front stairwell to attach the bottom end of the handrail.

Don’t glue it yet!


Step 20

Apply glue to the side of the walkway and in the depression under the cab.

Attach the handrails to the shell.


Step 21

Using a toothpick apply CA glue between the bottom end of the handrail and the stairwell.

Then push the bottom end of the handrail into the notch.

NOTE: If toothpicks are too wide, use a hobby knife to sharpen the end of the toothpick into a fine point.


Step 22

Cut the remaining handrail section from the sprue.


Step 23

Bend the stair case handle 45 degrees toward the shell.

Apply CA glue to the shell on side of the walkway and attach the handrails.

Just like in step 21, use a toothpick to apply glue to the bottom end of the handrail.


Step 24

Use a toothpick to apply glue where the handrails meet the cab.


Step 25

The shell is ready for a coat of primer.

Clean off any finger prints with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol before painting.

Be sure to paint the interior of the shell to prevent short circuits.

Assemble The Truck Details



The truck details should be cleaned with Dial dish detergent and a tooth brush.

BE CAREFUL! They were designed to snap off the sprue easily. Don’t lose any parts while cleaning.

After they are dry, apply a coat of primer. Don’t paint the back side.

NOTE: Tamiya primer for plastic models works best. Kylon Primer & Paint works well, too. Be sure the paint/primer of your choosing is compatible with plastic.



After painting, carefully snap the trucks off the sprue.

Check the fit of the details on the shorty trucks before gluing them in place.

The red arrow is pointing to the inner wall that wraps around the shorty’s truck. Scrape with a blade or sand this area if it is too tight on the truck.

NOTE: The illustration shows the backside of the truck details.



Removing the shorty trucks from the motorized frame will make this step easier.

Apply a thin coat of CA glue to one side of the shorty truck.

Attach the details to the truck.

Repeat for the other side.


Finishing Up

Paint the shell in your favorite livery. Be sure to use a gloss coat before adding any decals. Decals will be added to the SW1500 Shop in the future but there are other sources for z scale decals.

If you have artwork available or would like to request custom decals, try; http://www.circusdecals.com/

If you would like to browse some already created decals and/or request custom decals, go to: https://www.cmrproducts.com/netzlofdesign-z-scale-decals/

Fiber Optic Filament For Lights

NOTE: Paint and clear coats should be complete and dry before adding fiber optics.


Fiber Optic Filament

Fiber optic strands can be used to take advantage of the LED lights on the circuit board.

The recommended thickness is 0.5mm. Thicker filaments are not flexible enough to negotiate the corners between the hood and the cab.

Fiber optic filament is available in various stores around the internet. A good source is; https://thefiberopticstore.com/

The product to look for is called “End Glow - Single Strand Filament”.


Step 1

Cut two pieces of the fiber optic strand about 3 mm (1/8 inch) in length.

Insert the pieces into the holes on the front of the long hood.


Step 2

NOTE: Do not use cyanoacrylate glue (Super Glue) to hold the fiber optic strands in place. Use white glue (Elmers) or epoxy.

Using a tooth pick, sparingly apply a minimum amount of glue around the strands on the inside of the shell.

Don’t put any glue on the cut ends of the strand. The glue can reduce light output.


Step 3

Cut two 25mm (about 1 inch) pieces of filament.

Insert one into a light hole above the cab.

Insert about 1/3 the total length.

NOTE: The reason for using an extra long strand is to accommodate any creases that may be introduced by the tools. In a few steps, the strand will be pulled through the shell and cut. The segment to be cut off is the part that was gripped by the tools. Thus, eliminating creases, cuts, and marks on the strand. This will ensure light passes through the fiber as intended.


Step 4

Use tweezers to pull the strand up past the cab area.

Pull the strand until 2/3 of the total length is inserted into the shell.


Step 5

Use needle nose pliers with teeth to grip the strand and maneuver it through the hoop under the long hood.

NOTE: Needle nose pliers are recommended. Tweezers may not be strong enough to bend the filament.


Another View

Notice how the filament fits through the hoop.


Step 6

Continue to pull the filament through until the end of the strand is flush with the light fixture on the cab.

Repeat steps 3 to 6 for the other cab light.

Slice off any excess filament that goes past the hoop.

Apply glue to the inside of the cab where the filament enters through the inside wall.

Questions? Comments? Contact: thezmaker@gmail.com