Ghost train

Here’s a tip: don’t plan to spray things outside without checking the weather, and especially wind direction, first. Still, it was a learning experience and fortunately I was wearing a grey top anyway.

Now the fun can start. The vans will be different along variations of the styles seen in the mock up. I’m having second thoughts about the “photo” finish: it may be a bit too garish although I remain hopeful I can reduce that with sufficient weathering.

The wood wagons will go through a more complex process than the vans because they would get a proper beating in life, so they’ll get a base coat of brown to represent “rust” and then successive layers of matt varnish, hair spray and finally the top colour; and as one of the wagons is supposed to be “refurbished” it will probably be green instead of the usual dark grey.

This should give the impression the Körschtalbahn has a maintenance programme. Or at least had a maintenance programme at some point in its history…

Psychology works

Last weeks mock up had the desired effect; I finally managed to find the remains of a work ethic and added details every evening so I could finish both vans ready for the weekend.

So Psychology works, man.

Of course you can’t actually see those details on the picture above unless you enlarge it, or possibly have perfect eyesight. They are mostly some bits on the under frames which are clearly really important although I haven’t a clue why, and the door handles and runners, because I should probably at least pretend that the doors are openable. This turned out to be unexpectedly fiddly because your correspondent clearly isn’t quite as accurate as he assumed so several needed cutting to size so they fitted properly.

In other news, after spending 5 months losing drill bits I finally made a holder out of some waste pine wood at work, so now the bits are safe, there’s a lot less swearing and rummaging about, and I almost give the impression of actually knowing what I’m doing, as long as we ignore the chaos on the rest of the work bench.

Trial Run

I’ve been fretting and procrastinating about the colour scheme for the two vans I’m building and eventually decided to make a mock up as it put off doing something more difficult for a little longer.

I was somewhat surprised to find they don’t look all that bad, even with the mock-ups made of computer paper stuck on with the local version of Blu-tack. The advertising it partly because I want to have something recognisably “modern” but also because frankly you can have enough of green trains. The slogan loses a bit in translation I’m afraid: it means “Körsch valley railway, at home in the Black Forest”. In German this would be understood to imply strong commitment to serving the local region and economy. As it’s an isolated railway to a non-standard track gauge and owned by the local authority it’s unlikely to relocate, but it’s as good a slogan as any…

I’ll need to make some adjustments to the second version, at the moment the hills are a bit too high so the slant at the top of the door makes it look like the top of the hills have been cut off from some angles.

There’s also a crane in the village at the bottom but I’ll ignore that, as I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a German village without a crane somewhere.

I’m often struck be the irony that in a hobby where many people recreate long gone railways using more computer technology than required to put a man on the moon, I’m sat here making a modern railway using bits of paper and blue tack.

This week we finally had some reasonable decent weather at the same time as I had some primer and time to stand around spraying things, so the two wood wagons were finally retrieved off the shelf, dusted off, and sprayed light grey ready for me to make them look thoroughly battered.

Of course, after waiting several weeks to do this, it was a mere couple of hours later that I happened to see a video of wood wagons being shunted on the Rhaetian Bahn, which showed that they all have a step on each end and some folding handrails. These allow a shunter to stand at the front of their train, safely inside the loading gauge so they don’t get swiped by stationary objects but able to see exactly where they are going, and probably more importantly, when to stop.

This means that this afternoons making session will be to make more little detailed bits, preferably quickly before the weather changes and I can’t prime the result…

Shunter 2.0

I’ve been digging through bits in the attic over the Christmas holidays. It reminded me of many things, for example that attics are rather cold in December, and that no matter where you are, the roof beams move mysteriously to a position directly above your head. I also discovered several items I’d forgotten, like four sticks of Milliput, some motor bogies that may just work to build a DD51 (one day…) and a chassis for a small shunting locomotive.

This was the basis for my original attempts at model making a depressingly long time ago. Unfortunately I overestimated the correct size of the model for 1:43 scale, but a photo of the locomotive served as an avatar on various model railway forums while I repeatedly told myself I really should make a replacement and promptly got distracted by other projects/shiny things.

Finding the chassis finally made me get myself into gear and think about what sort of Shunter I want as a replacement. As this is supposed to be a modern railway, I’m currently thinking it should be an obviously modern locomotive, so I’ve based the design on the Vossloh G6. This is a popular choice for small railway companies in Germany, so it’s reasonable to suppose that The KÖB could have ordered a narrow gauge adaptation.

The idea of “adapted” locos is one I intend to keep using, because it’s the perfect excuse for mistakes or just leaving bits off that I don’t want to bother making.

There are limits to how far I can take that of course and I know I won’t be able to avoid those complex railings. It looks like I’ll finally have to learn the dark art of soldering…

Just before I caught the train to Stuttgart to spend Christmas with the family, I finished the final model making project of 2020, making balconies for the two vans currently under construction. I’m not sure why these vans have balconies but it seems to be important so I don’t argue.

After some fairly frantic searching I found enough bits of brass that I hadn’t bent or sat on while moving here, and battle commenced. Once again I chickened out of soldering and used superglue, and once again it seems I got away with it.

Next is some representation of the brake pipes and connections, which means I need to find a local musician who I can scrounge used guitar strings from…

Because it’s the new year and also because I’m short of blogging ideas, this seems a good time to have a look back at the goals of last year and set a few more for 2021.

As it turned out I’ve been relatively successful with last years goals; I decided to finish of the half built projects kicking around, and I mostly did; this either shows I’ve been more disciplined this year or maybe that the secret to success is having lower standards.

The main unfinished project was the Big Henschel diesel which at one point acquired the nickname of “Moby Dick” as it looked like a white whale and I wasn’t sure which of us would win the battle to finish it off. Completion of this provided motivation to make a train for it to pull, in the form of the two extra wood wagons currently awaiting a day of good weather so I can prime them, and the sliding door vans which are a bit closer to being finished than when last seen here.

These are part of a vague project that has been in my head for some time, known as the ERAG, or “Entirely Random Arbitrary Goal”. In this case my ERAG is eight freight wagons, three locomotives (Large freight loco, railcar, and shunter) and one or two carriages before making any serious moves on building a layout.

As the name suggests, there’s no real reason for these numbers, they just seemed a good idea at the time.

I’m still moving at a speed that would make a glacier complain bitterly at the hold up, so this years goal is essentially to complete the ERAG. So far we have:

Big freight Loco (complete)

Railcar (Complete)

Shunter (Drawing board stage)

Wood wagons x 3 (One complete, two ready to paint)

Vans x 3 (One complete, two under construction)

Other wagons x 2 (Drawing board)

Coaches x 2 (Thinking hard about these, occasionally.)

It’ll keep me busy in the long lock-down evenings…

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas and thank you for coming along on the journey this year.

The awkward stage.

This is the sort of problem you encounter when exploring the limits of nerdiness.

The battle with the complex design of modern rail vehicles continues. I mentioned last week that the doors on the vans I’m building run along half of the side to allow for unloading, and that the clever engineers who designed the original made this possible by designing the doors to apparently drop down slightly, then slide along parallel to the other door, Apparently this requires a sizeable gap above the door to allow it to move, which is all very well but a right pain to make fifty-five times smaller.

This means the roof has to be made in two sections, rather in the manner of a clerestory, then add an extension later.

I’m making the curved roof by laminating thin pieces of plastic. The first roof developed a dip on the middle and needed some extra support, so this one has a massive substructure that would do credit to a Zeppelin.

So the ends are now fitted, notably before the floor, because I can’t do anything the simple way. The vans I’m attampting to make a model of don’t have a nice easy design like a door hanging off the outside, but two doors each side, each one of which is half the length of the wagon. These apparently drop away from the frame of the wagon and slide away, presumably so they can be loaded by that servant of capitalism, the fork lift truck.

This makes for some complicated shapes, especially on the ends.

After thinking things through putting it off for a while I eventually decided it would be easier to glue the ends to the doors so they lined up properly, and add the floor and roof later.

In theory that will mean these parts go onto a square frame and the result will be a complex but strong structure with no annoying gaps showing where I got my sums wrong.

If the theory doesn’t work, there’s always weathering…

*Really need to put more thought into post titles…