A few weeks before starting the new job I got a bit distracted, which is why model making slowed down and you’re getting this picture instead of another thrilling instalment of wagon construction.

One long running project, by which I mean I started it about six years ago then put it off for ages, was a painting for our dining room. I’d planned it to feature a post van approaching a ferry, and it had essentially become a series of false starts, with just a (very) a rough version hanging in our dining room, much to the annoyance of my long suffering wife. This hadn’t been annoying me as much because I currently have to live in another town for work but every weekend I’d come back, see it, and vow to make a start, then forget all about it when I left.

While tidying up the ‘work” apartment a few weeks ago in an heroic attempt to rediscover my dining room table, I found a photo that I’d planned to base the picture on, and decided that I was going to finally get on with it, not only that, but I was going to get it finished before returning to the family for a two week holiday.

The last paint was applied 2 hours before leaving, but hey, finished is finished…

The next question was how to get it to the family, as I don’t own a car. Fortunately I do own a long cargo bike.

Equally fortunately German Railways don’t object to me taking it in their trains:

Ironically for someone who works in social care I generally turn into a hermit if left to my own devices, and end up reading or making stuff and generally avoiding any social interaction whatsoever. This week I found myself focusing on the three container wagons, trying to get them past the point where I had to restart the project due to unauthorised curvature on the part of the previous wagons. I’m always happier when I’ve caught up with myself on an abandoned project and sorted out the previous mistakes.

Of course, this only shows how many projects I’ve abandoned over the years, but I can live with that.

I’m aware I’ll probably make several more mistakes as well, but I remain hopeful they won’t be too serious. I managed to put the brake handle in the wrong place already, but I solved that one by snagging the handle on an errant sleeve, and breaking it sufficiently that rebuilding it in the proper place was the only option.

I really need to learn to solder.

What with breaking bits and inventing new ways to make mistakes, I’ve now run out of brass and it’ll be a while before I get any more; I have to order online so I’ll wait until I need a few more bits so it’s worth paying the shipping fee. This means the wagons and the other detailed parts I’ve not attached as yet will go into storage and I’ll focus on the next project for a bit. This was originally supposed to be a replacement shunter but I’d also like to make a start on some coaches, and I did say I’d make a building at some point…

I’ve left the wagons on a shelf for a few days, and there’s still no apparent inclination to bend in the middle.

One still managed to warp at the angle where the frame goes down from the end platforms. I seem to remember a similar problem on some of the wood wagons I built a few months ago, and solved it as I did then by cutting through most of the frame with a hacksaw, then gluing the join and leaving the resulting mess to set solid overnight, sitting on a piece of glass with a pile of books on top. I’ve never really taken a subtle approach to model making.

Another then decided to twist slightly end to end, I’ve managed to reduce this by cutting and re-gluing but there’s still a tiny difference which I now intend to solve by pretending it isn’t there.

Both methods seem to have been effective so far. Assuming the model shows no further flexous tendencies I’ll get on with some of the detailing next week…

Well solid…

Container wagon version 2.0 is progressing. After the problems of the first version I’m following the “Brick Bog” school of construction in the hope this reduces any tendency to gain additional corners…

I did promise it would be pretty tatty.

So alongside the rebuilding, I’ve completed the prototype container, and it isn’t looking too bad considering it’s essentially a drainpipe wrapped in paper. The paper came close to causing a lot of trouble this time; glue only takes so long to dry after all, and it managed to dry quicker than I could pull all the awkward bits through the various gaps in the frame. As usual I’m relying on my readers to be too unobservant or polite to comment on the way the writing and hazard symbols are at slightly different heights on each side. I’m also not even going to show you the underside of the tank.

Current plans include some kind of detachable frame for version 2.0. so it can go on after the tank covering is completed. Somehow.

Obsession with rust continues: I used the stippling method previously seen on a railcars some years back, as the hairspray method would risk damaging the paper on the tank. I think there’s possibly a bit too much stipple; it’s very hard to know when to stop.

Still, now I’ve got a passable container to lurk in the background occasionally, now all I have to do is finish a non-bendy wagon for it to travel on…

I’ve got a sort of production line running to make the new generation of low loader container/swap body wagons. They are somewhat heavier than the previous versions to avoid banana wagon syndrome and made them a tad longer while I was at it.

Observant readers will have noticed that there are three instead of the two I was building earlier. I think the railway would be into containers in a big way so an extra wagon won’t hurt. And if the first one doesn’t work very well I can always call it a “prototype” and build the other two differently.

After previous attempts cutting the frames around a template resulted in something that looked like a piece of badly cut cheese I used a jig this time, which sounds fancy but basically was a few bits of card to hold the plastic bits in place while I glued them together. Even that description makes it sound more complex than it was.

The result isn’t that pretty, as the two bits on the bottom of the picture show, Unfortunately it was also not entirely accurate, but I laminated them onto other bits of plastic (middle) on either side to add strength and hide the worst of the gaps. Now I’ll add bits on the top and bottom to make them into rather substantial I-beam girders.

Then if they aren’t shaped like something an orangutan would eat next week, I’ll add the cross pieces.

There’s always an awkward stage, and in my case it seems to be the start of painting a model, when the basic colour is there but the shading and weathering isn’t. Instead of the model taking in the form of “reality in miniature” it looks like a badly painted concoction of bits of pipe and wire. In this instance forgetting to take a picture until I’d made the first attempts at a black wash didn’t help either. Fortunately this swap body is supposed to be fairly tatty so I have a fair bit of freedom to hide this.

it is also the point where I start to try and add the details and other bits in the hope that it will gradually look less like a badly painted concoction and more like a part of the story I’m trying to create, or at least distract the eye from the worst of the problems. To this end I’ve spent a couple of evenings finding out more than a same person would want to know about tanker chemical codes and hazard warning symbols.

Also, notice the thrilling debut of a colour other than green.

There have been sinister goings on up on the workbench shelf while your correspondent was innocently working on the overly complicated swap body; the two well wagons made a conspiracy to go all banana shaped. I’d wondered why the clearance above the rails was so small, until I looked lengthways and realised they were quietly turning into something that only Robin hood could find a use for.

It the bend above isn’t obvious, here’s a straight line in comparison:

It’s not just scraping the rails, it’s dragging along in the ballast…

Enquiries online revealed this was a common problem with well wagons. Now I think about it, there was a similar issue with the original wood wagon, but this was solved on the second incarnation by the addition of some truly massive side frames . The current issue is rather more serious and the general opinion seems to be that it is best solved with a brass rod along the inside of the lower part of the frame, glue, lots of clamps, and hope.

On the other hand, since I started building these wagons, more information has come in showing that not only are the originals considerably more substantial than I previously thought, but they are also somewhat longer, so I think it’s time to cut my losses and start again.

After some discussions with people that know what they are doing: this seems to be the way to go forward…

Here we go again…

As the title suggests, the swapbody is now in grey primer.

Try to contain* your excitement.

*See what I did there?

The Swap body prototype is now structurally complete, which has answered a few questions about the sizes and general dimensions, but opens a couple more such as “What will it carry?” and “Why on earth didn’t I just make something simple like a parcel container?”

I’m leaving the second question as it is impossible to answer, but the container will be a rather nondescript carrier of “diesel fuel” operated by a company contracted by the Körschtalbahn. Like a lot of German railways, he KÖB will have a small maintenance and fuel facility at the distant end of the line, rather than at the connection with the national network as was more common in the UK. This is because a lot of these lines are paid for by the local authorities which generally prefer to bring as much maintenance in house as possible, on the basis it brings employment and keeps money in circulation.

This means that this container will make occasional appearances when the shed needs a delivery, and will probably find itself probably tacked onto a regular freight or passenger train as required. Other than that it will be kept well hidden so as not to disturb the public…