Go figure

I’m currently working through final exams for my Arbeitserzieher (Occupational therapist) qualification, which means most of my time is taken up with trying to remember information long enough to write it down again next week, leaving very little spare for doing anything useful.

In an attempt to do something creative I started painting some model figures. This has the advantage that I can pick it up for a few minutes between revising without it taking over the desk. It also doesn’t require me to think too much, and frankly at the moment brain capacity for anything is running at a minimum.

Even better, Youngest Son was sufficiently intrigued to have a go, and has now become quite enthusiastic. I don’t know how long this will keep him away from his smart phone, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts.



Don’t Panic

After all, what can possibly go wrong?

More to come after exams have calmed down a bit…

(For the start of the story, go here)


Just Say No…

Panel surrounds on locomotives: is there any reason for them? This is the eighth attempt at making a straight surround to match the one I’d already cemented to the side of the big diesel. A few earlier attempts can be seen in the background of the not at all set up photo…

The trouble is it becomes addictive, like pulling the lever on a slot machine: I think I’ll just have one more try, because after all I was so close last time, it was nearly there and this time I’m sure I’ll get that edge just right… and then five minutes later I look up and realise it’s nearly midnight and I’ve got a cutting mat covered with bent plastic squares.

Sensible people would have given up, bought an etched brass version, or possibly have made both frames together.

At the very least they wouldn’t have glued the first frame onto the model so they had no alternative but to make three more…

I’ve finally managed to get the big diesel project moving. again. Why I chose a complex locomotive with curved ends and sloping sides is open to question but it seemed a good idea at the time.

I was feeling pretty pleased with progress but when I held up the locomotive next to the chassis earlier this week, I realised I’d designed the model about 10mm longer than it needed to be.

I’d claim I was trying to make the locomotive sleek and purposeful, but I probably just got carried away and added a bit here and a bit there, and ended up with a loco that looks sleek and purposeful but will go around corners like a tram.

After thinking about this*, I worked out four places I could make the locomotive 10mm shorter:

1: Remove 10mm between the drivers door and the two lower grilles on the bodyside (Compare with the top image, there is a difference).

2: Remove one drivers door on each side. The locomotives supplied to the Bulgarian railways only have one door per side, so I can claim it’s prototypical, and it would mean less cutting to go wrong, although it would be good if I can make sure each cab has at least one door.

3: I could just make the window in the bodyside 10mm shorter, but that makes it rather a strange shape:

4: On the other hand, removing 5mm from the window and another 5mm between grilles and door, a combination of 1 and 3, would have the same effect with less of a visual change, and the fuel cap would still be central on the side of the loco.

The disadvantage of this is that I’d have to make four cuts into the bodyside, which knowing me is four cuts to get wrong and make a wonky locomotive…

Thoughts and ideas are welcome. I’ve even made a poll, tech savvy modeller that I am, although I don’t promise I’ll follow the result.

*During a sociology lecture. That’s what sociology lectures are for isn’t it?

Getting a handle.

Once I found a way to stop trains wobbling about, I was much more motivated to build things. I could claim this was part of a grand plan to build a realistic operating system but if I’m honest it’s because I like watching the trains rattle round and round, and I wanted a few more wagons on mine.

When I’d nearly finished the second van, I noticed that neither van had a handle for the door. As both of the vans are full of card and fishing weights, this is a not going to make a great difference to their capabilities, but I’m trying to at least pretend that they are there to carry general merchandise this detail is somewhat significant,

I started looking through pictures of real narrow gauge vans. Of course one thing led to another and I ended up adding bits of wire all over the model in the hope it would then look all fine scale* and detailed.

The standard way to ventilate vans here seems to be a sliding panel which I assume is operated by staff unclipping and sliding the metal rods underneath. On the original van I made the panel from card, but on the new version this didn’t seem to work so I gave up and used the evil plastic.

The picture shows some of the problems that I’m causing myself with this model. The van in the background is a long way onto the other track, but still overhangs the main line** by some way. In fact the van in the foreground is probably on the one place on the loop that I can get another train past it.

This is one of several reasons why the Höfelbachbahn will now disappear at least until after exams, until I can make it a more sensible shape.

*I can dream…

**’Main line’ in the same way that my model making is ‘Fine scale’


This is what happens when I just make stuff with no planning whatsoever.  Again.

Much as I’m happy to have a railway where I can run trains round and round, I was getting a bit fed up of looking at a badly painted cork surface and odd wires whenever I use it, so the plan was to move along and get some ground cover down.

Then I remembered that I couldn’t do start on the ground cover before all the buildings were in place, if I wanted the buildings to be properly embedded into the earth with no annoying gaps.

Then I realised that before I started gluing buildings into place some pretty serious thought would have to be given to a back scene, so out came the paintbrushes and thick paper…

We live very close to the region of Germany where they put huge great copper onion domes on the tops of church towers. This always seemed odd to me in a region known for massive lightning storms, but those churches are several hundred years old and still standing so I’m assuming these people know what they’re doing.

Obviously Wörnritzhausen would have to have just such a church tower so I played about with Google Earth until I found a couple of villages with churches the shape I wanted and not the size of cathedrals, which was surprisingly difficult: people around here seem to have taken their ecclesiastical buildings very seriously.

The three houses on the other side are to balance the scene out a bit, as the wall should theoretically continue off into the distance. I considered adding trees and a few more buildings but the perspective was awkward enough as it was without making more lines in different directions, and  I wanted the backscene to be understated and not dominate the model.

Besides, I needed to tidy up and clean the floor before the family came back…

Test fitting on Wörnritzhausen. I’m still wondering what to do on the corner where the roof meets the sky, but apart from that and a nagging feeling that I made it all a bit too understated, reckoned it went okay.

I was going to leave it for a while and decide if I liked it or not, but I’ve since decided that you can have too much testing and the point of making a small model is that I can finish it sometime, so the backscene is now glued down.

Roofs like buses.

Roofs are like buses with me. Nothing happens for ages, then two turn up one after the other.

Here’s roof 1.0. with all the right ingredients except that I went and made the tiles on the roof too small. The idea behind this was to make these tiles  slightly different to the post office/Cartoon Gate, giving a smug glow and the impression I might actually know what I’m doing.

Unfortunately they came out looking like they were an entirely different scale.

As the most visible end of the farmhouse isn’t that easy for the eye to scale in any case what with having odd windows and a strangely arched double door, it gave the overall effect that this was a very large building in a smaller scale than the rest of the models.

I’m somewhat fussy about this building because it will be in the centre of the scene, so after looking at it for a couple of days I went and raided a cornflake box in the kitchen cupboard. Then I spent several hours marking up larger tiles to make roof MkII.

This is not a very exciting past time.

On the other hand, I can see a difference: the building looks more in scale with the others to my eye and I fully intend to ignore anyone who says otherwise.

The overall impression isn’t too bad either, although it really is time to make a back scene.