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Big Diesel moment

 

I sometimes wonder if being more focused would mean I could get more done. I mean, here I am in the middle of making a model of a village, and I’m drawing ideas for a big diesel locomotive that won’t fit on it at all.

On the other hand, this way I get lots more experience than if I was just working on one project: problems solved in one area suggest new solutions for another and I learn faster because of the broader range of experience.

That sounds almost plausible, so I’ll quit thinking while I’m ahead.

The next project, then, is for a B-B locomotive based on the DH 1500 class from Henschel (German text, but the pictures enlarge nicely). These were narrow gauge locomotives, in turn based on the standard gauge Br 218 of similar design which are still running on German Railways. The narrow gauge versions were offered from 1963 and sold to railways in Spain, Bulgaria, Thailand and Togo,  so it would be reasonable to expect the KÖB to have a couple, as they would be replacing their steam locomotives at this time.

The real reason of course, is that I think they look cool. I’ve travelled behind a lot of Br218’s and this is a great excuse to have one of my own. Even better, no-one can say it is wrong.

The Bulgarian examples are still running -along with a rather smart Romanian version- on the 760mm Septemvri-Dobrinishte railway:

 

 

The Henschel machines are the more rounded looking ones with a small grille on the front.

The Spanish locomotives were used by the metre gauge FEVE. When they were replaced one was repatriated to Germany and now runs on the Brohltalbahn, having been rebuilt to look like a Br218 itself. This video shows it hauling a container train.

The most likely version is probably the Bulgarian one, because straight sides are far easier to make.

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Even though I’m back in Germany and sitting at my workbench, things are slowing down because of the joy of sending out CV’s to possible employers ready for next April when I finish my course (hooray) but then have to decide what to do with my shiny new qualification.

In theory I have lots of choice because I’m trained to work with people with disabilities and without, but also people with Pscychological Psychological illness and addictions, or in general education in a tech college or a training centre. The reality is that there are dozens of places out there that I could apply to, but only a few actually want anyone, and there’s no central clearing house so I’m having to search very carefully which takes ages. At the moment I’m putting a pin in a map somewhere that looks nice (Personal criteria being “is it outside of the city?” and “Does it have a railway station (Preferably with trains coming more than once a month)” and then searching for “Protected workshop” or “Integration workshop”, or something to do with education.

I’m not complaining as this is kind of a nice situation to be in: I can look for a pleasant place to live and for a job I enjoy, but it takes ages and it is nerve racking because my CV is rather long and rather unusual so people will either love it or chuck it in the bin, and there isn’t a lot I can do to change this. My solution is to say make it the way I want it to look on the possibly rather cocky basis that if they don’t like it, I wouldn’t be happy working for them anyway.

I seem to have collected certificates like model makers collect unmade kits, so I now have a good ten pages worth and that’s with the British ones reduced to A5 size and two a page: when I went to school they seemed to give us a certificate for every subject, which confuses German employers used to see one from your school, and ask why on earth I have a certificate from the ‘Northern examining board’ and also the ‘Southern examining board’. They brighten up when they see ‘Oxford and Cambridge’ but are inevitably disappointed when I explain. On the other hand the carpentry apprenticeship has to be accredited by the state and for some reason I need a separate one from the carpenters guild, and there are four for my machine operators licence alone which seems a bit excessive. But in Germany, I have a Certificate, therefore I am, so I’m not leaving any out.

My German is fluent but not perfect so I need to get it checked, which takes longer and much goodwill from kind friends, and there there are references…

Anyway, the goal is twenty packages, which isn’t cheap but it means I can say I tried, all going off to various places near and far in the hope of landing somewhere where someone wants an Occupational Therapist or carpentry trainer, refugee tutor, theatre coach or museum interpreter. The last one is a long shot I know but here’s a really nice open air museum up in the hills where they demonstrate traditional crafts like carpentry and woodturning.

Ah, for a working day wearing a smock, and making chair legs in a traditional barn…

Making an entrance

About a week ago I was pretending to have a social life in the local city of Esslingen, while doing a bit more research. Esslingen is known for its medieval city centre and gates, and I was looking for something to adapt to make an entrance for trains to run through and hopefully distract people from the fact they were really running around in circles.

First, because it was nearest the bus stop, is the  Pliensauturm, once one of the most important gates as it guarded the bridge over the river.

Then in what is now the centre, the Schelztor. I’m not sure what it used to guard but it is currently hosting an italian ice cream shop, and as long as I have known it, sported a metal person balancing on a pole. I’m not sure why either.

Someone wasn’t measuring that carefully here, judging by the way all the windows are spaced, and the city crest is anything but central.

On the other end of the city is the Wolf’s gate, still my favourite since I wandered under it as a twenty year old on my first trip ‘abroad’.

Not named for a fearsome winter when the city was invaded by wolves, but a nickname that came about because the two lion statures on the outside were eroded over the years and look like wolves, apparently.

They must have had some very strange wolves locally, that’s all I can say.

It seems that the method for building these was pretty standardized: a three-sided stone box and filling the inside bits with a wooden building, which was probably cheaper than using stone for everything.

On Wornritzhausen, the gate is viewed from the outside, so it’ll be stone faced. The village is too small for anything as grand as Esslingen, but I’m assuming that it needed some security in the golden era when it was a trading point for the area.

So far we have a basic form:


That spindly support will get bigger and the arch will shrink when I add clay to represent the stone covering. Remembering to make sure I had 5mm clearance for the clay was more confusing than I expected.

 


Finally got myself into gear to finish the railcar, or at least finish it to a point where I can start the next project with a clear conscience. There’s a couple of things will need doing at some point but I’ll worry about them if they annoy me. I’m not building for a museum here.

I’m generally pleased with the model, although I am a bit annoyed with those handrails on the front, as they took ages to fix and they are still wonky. I can’t think how to get them off without damaging the model now so I just patched up the paint and weathered the lot with chalk pastels, the bodgers friend. I’ll probably just leave them off in future or maybe not try and make such a complex shape without a jig.

On the other hand. the method of stippling rust really works well especially combined with drybrushing, so I’ll be repeating those, and the railcar generally has the feel I imagined, of a heavily used hand-me-down that has seen better days and really, really needs some paint. Or a clean at least.

 


In my slightly overactive imagination, the railcar was inherited from the Reutlinger Kreisbahn which rather sensibly upgraded from 600mm gauge to metre gauge fairly quickly,  leaving local lines with less enthusiastic local governments to pick up the now surplus stock on the cheap. This type of railcar was built as a cheap short-term solution in the first place and is already working beyond the makers intended lifespan, but the Höfelbachbahn was desperate and the Bürgermeister is still convinced the railway will not be needed in a few years so he vetoed anything more expensive. The railcar will probably rattle along the Höfelbach valley until it expires, or until the other towns finally persuade the Bürgermeister at Wornritzhausen that it needs replacing.

At some point I’ll probably add windscreen wipers -mirrors will have to wait for a layout with less curves or bigger clearances- and I really need to sort out the glazing in the centre windows which seems to have slipped downwards, but it works,  looks the part, and doesn’t fall off the track, so I’m happy.

Recycled garage

So, the ugly end of the model is now complete, and the Hofelbahbahn has somewhere to fix what the management laughingly refers to as its ‘motive power fleet’.

Both this and what is now the post office were the main buildings in the local filling station, garage and dealership, a sizable business owned by no less a personage than the local mayor, who pushed through planning permission to expand and renovate the buildings, before going bankrupt and having to sell everything off. Since then not a lot has been done. The old sign was removed before it fell on anyone and goodness knows who took the wires out of the junction box, and of course Frau Schmidt took over the old showroom and opened the post office, but everyone had more important things to do than tidy up an abandoned garage, so that was about it.

Then the Mayor was finally outvoted and the railway came, and the company rented the garage. The Mayor still hasn’t forgiven them for that.

It doesn’t look like the air conditioner works any more, but it is probably more trouble than it is worth to take it down. Hopefully it won’t fall off, or Frau Schmidt will have something to say to the railway.

Of course in ‘real life’ this is a concoction of old packaging, bits of wire and guitar strings, and corrugated card from the remains of one of those institutional leaving presents you get when you’ve worked somewhere long enough that people feel guilty for not giving you a leaving present. Even the air conditioner is mostly card and a little piece of mesh which made me quite ridiculously smug. Yes, I know the real thing has a bigger hole at the front but that’s how big a hole punch is. What do you want, blood?

Now that is sorted out, I only need to make a town gate and I can start to think about the ground cover for this side of the track.

For various reasons that I’ll drone on about at a later date, I’d decided that the railcar needed to be a bit more ‘used’ than the model I built earlier in the year. Having managed, to my rather great surprise, to actually make some convincing looking rust in my experiments I got all motivated to try it on the real thing, as it were.

I wonder if I may have got a bit too enthusiastic.

I’m choosing to think the dystopian look is at least partly because of the blanked out windows, whose purpose is to make sure that even I can’t mess up the inside while painting the outside. Once it has things like passengers and see-through windows, it should look like a somewhat well used, careworn, but working railcar. Hopefully.

There is also the factor of the buzzbee stripes:

These will need some weathering as they should look like they’ve cleared the track of various unauthorised obstacles from snow to large domestic animals. This is purely to aid realism and make a complete uniform appearance and most certainly not because I painted them slightly off centre and need to hide this behind some muck.

We live next to the town of Esslingen-am-Neckar. It’s an attractive city with lots of pretty old timber framed houses, the largest Roman built bridge north of the Alps, and a town hall designed like a wedding cake.

Last time I went I joined the camera carrying tourists, but when I looked at the images they mostly looked like this:

There is a perfectly good reason for this. I need a 1:55 scale air conditioner for the model, and I wanted to see what one looked like.

Stop looking at me like that.