More exams loom. This has cut into modelmaking. This week we have ‘Rechtskunde’ or law. We need to know the law for working with people with disabilities/psychological issues/refugees/young offenders et c,, what rights they have, including extra rights to protect them, and how to deal with different situations.Of course to do this we need to have a working knowledge of the law for everyone else.

It is very boring.

The picture above is my attempt at making it a bit more interesting and rearranging the information to help me remember it.

German speakers: I know “Rectskunde” should be “Rechtskunde”. Pencils don’t have a spellchecker, and by the time I noticed I’d filled in all the gaps…


By dint of great effort I’ve managed to reach two weeks ago. Again. We have a set of new sides, laminated from three thicknesses of plasticard this time and two millimetres thick in total. In theory this means the sides are more solid than before and the gaps will mean I can slide glazing  into the body after I’m done painting. resulting in clean windows and a smug glow visible from space. We shall see.

The sides are not leaning because I can’t glue anything on straight but because they are currently held on with the local equivalent of Blu-tack while I find a way to clip body to chassis. I continue to think any model glued irreversibly together will immediately develop a fault that can only be repaired by the use of violence and extremely foul language. Much better to clip everything together and keep that smug glow. I’ve even managed to add the five doors for battery lockers on the side and a strip of beading just under the windows which I am assured is standard on such units where the panels for the bodyside meet. I’m also working on the theory that if I build it as an upside down box I can avoid embarrassing gaps between roof and sides, and clip the body onto the base when I’m finished with the interior.

On the subject of he interior, I now have a dozen seated figures from Preiser’s 1:50 range. These are actually intended for architects, which I assume is why they are actually three sets of the same people. Figures in my rather obscure scale of 1:55 are pretty hard to come by, so they will have to do. They are a bit too tall of course, but by the time I’ve cut them off at about the knees and painted them, that will be the least of their worries…

On the Level


I just couldn’t let it go, and made Underframe 3.0 on when I probably should have been preparing for the end of year exams.

As usual I’ve gone for the opposite extreme: great slabs of plastic, each one laminated from three sheets of 0.75mm plastic card. It even feels heavy.

There are several immediate improvements; I actually remembered to make it a bit narrower for one. This means I can make the sandwich arrangement I need to use for the windows.

Also the chassis has survived a week without turning into a banana, and the whole thing also manages to be perfectly level to the track, which was the cause of much rejoicing, even if it was by accident.

Unfortunately, even I can’t fill an entire blog post writing about a railcar underframe, so here’s another sketch to fill the space:


I posted this on the NGRM online forum some time ago and I don’t see why you should get away with not having to look at it. Besides, if I don’t push it online the drawing will disappear into my notebook because no-one here is interested in a sketch of a railway that doesn’t exist.

Artists always suffer.

This is a journey by the HBB’s works train, pulled by the original diesel (and never mind that this was actually built at 1:43 scale) into and through the parts of Wörnritzhausen that I’ll probably never get around to modelling, but which appear in sketches during the less exciting lectures at college.

Starting at the top left, the train passes through a gap in the fence alongside the old bypass and descends a very steep gradient to the town. The original plan was to have the line run on the route of the main road, but the Bürgermeister objected and was backed up by the Ministry of Roads who were determined not to give any territory to the railway, so the train runs along an embankment of wooden logs (picture 2) and around a spiral to drop down into the town.

The main picture is meeting the railcar in the town centre* where much shunting will happen, probably cluttering up the old market place, but there’s time enough until the afternoon school service comes along. This is the southern hill country known as the Schwäbisch Alb, and contrary to stereotypes people are generally pretty relaxed here.

After leaving the square the train will run through the city gate and new market (which is the bit that fits on the baseboard) and then veer off through the fields and across the main road again. It looks like I was in a hurry when I did that one.

The tear in the bottom is not due to a deranged art critic, but my daughter attempting to turn the page while sitting on the book…

*Yes, the old railcar design, but it’s all free…


This is a railcar with issues. The sides are too flimsy and the construction wasn’t that well thought through. the glazing is a nightmare, and when I tried to glue the side in I found it has a twisted chassis.

Incidentally, “Twisted Chassis” would be a stonking good name for a heavy metal group*.

Apart from that there were all kinds of little bodges to cover up for my lack of planning, so this week I’ll be starting again; again, which seems to have become a sort of tradition for my model making. I’ll be starting with a chassis that has more strength than a deflated balloon, and this time I’ll try to remember to make it narrow enough to avoid Tubby Railcar Syndrome. The thicker sides are partly for strength and partly because I’m incapable of painting around windows that neatly, so I prefer to make a sandwich with gaps in the middle and put all the clear bits in after I’ve finish ed slopping paint about.

I still have the spare sides: they survived being dropped, buried, lost under a laptop for two days and found by Beautiful Daughter who being two years old naturally used them as a camera. At least having them ready saves me some time as I can use those for the inside with a little work, and make a new set (with doors attached this time) for the outer skin, meaning that I may be able to catch up with myself faster than usual and fool people into thinking I know what I’m doing as well.

I’ll admit the last goal is a little optimistic.

*Which would of course be a support band…


Having made the ugliest chassis in Christendom, something to cover the thing became an urgent priority.

My plan was to make four sides and build a sandwich arrangement. The neatest two sides would go on the outside, and the less well made sides would go on the inside. There would be a bit of space in bewteen for clear plastic glazing.

I really hadn’t expected all of them to come out this neatly.

While basking in the warm smug glow created by being able to cut in a straight line, the working part of the brain came along and pointed out that I’d got the maths wrong. Again.

I built the chassis 34mm wide, on the basis that the railcar will end up being 36mm wide. This is fine if the sides are of one milimetre thick, but now I’d messed that one up properly. The sandwich of two sides plus glazing would work out at between 2 and three milimetres wide, and the already tubby railcar was looking decidedly obese.

The smug glow wilted under the intense glare of maths.

That’s okay, said a couple of previously dormant neurons, because the inside, er, sides, can be replaced with a simple simple insert that fits above the frame, and as a bonus, we’ve got the sides for a second railcar. Nyah nyah…*

Okay, said the sceptical brain cells, but what about the doors

What? said the rest, through a new fog of smugness.

The double doors for the luggage compartment open outwards, don’t they? so what’s with making them inset into the bodywork? Hello? now you need to make some kind of internal sliding arrangement and hope no-one will notice, or try and make doors that will fit. We look forward to seeing how you manage that one.


Hmmm… time to look for a prototype with inset doors…

*Anyone searching for evidence that I’ve never grown up need look no further…

Ugly duckling

Much capacity in the remaining brain cells has  been taken up trying to make a working frame on which I can build the Höfelbachbahn Railcar. Having two bogies of entirely different dimensions seemed a cool kind of quirky idea at the time, but but they are a pain in the backside when it comes to making something that doesn’t look like a cliff railway car.

I stopped counting rebuilds after the fifth attempt, because then it finally dawned on the great brain that if I parked the bogies on the display plank, then used a slide rule to measure the height from the top of the press-stud on each unit to the bottom of the plank, then I’d have a reasonably accurate idea of how much height difference there was.


It came to 7.8mm, because nothing can be simple in this world.

I decided to build the chassis with 8mm difference between the two bogies: with all the mistakes I’m likely to make a gradient of 0.2mm is likely to be the least of my worries.

With the chassis level, the next big challenge was to get it around corners which I managed after some considerable hacking of plastic.  Thoughtful readers will consider the consequences of using stupidly tight curves on your model railway.

I have a feeling that I’ll make the sides quickly. The sheer ugliness of the chassis is quite enough motivation to make something to cover it…

Market day


Midday at Wörnritzhausen. The Railcars are recharged during the midday lull, one here and one at the junction with the standard gauge at Rietheim. Such passengers as there are at this time travel on the mixed train seen arriving behind the Krokodil. Today is a Thursday, so the mixed will be longer than usual as Thursday is market day.

This will cause all kinds of problems for the railcar crew later because the market is held right next to the track and inevitably spills out onto the railcar siding, frequently obliterating it completely under stalls, crowds and quite stubborn livestock. Pigs in particular tend to sit wherever they want to, and get quite upset at being prodded for something as trivial as a railway timetable. On the other hand passengers in the opposite railcar coming the other way dislike having to wait halfway down the line because of stubborn bacon.

What with this and the increased road traffic coming into the town, children running about the place in all directions, and the possibility of an extra van to shunt and pull, conscientious railcar crews have learned to start a good twenty minutes early to reach the main line in time for a punctual start up the valley.

Or to put it another way, I’ve got an exam this week and I don’t have any time for making things. Hopefully I’ll be able to recreate this scene on the model at some point. Don’t hold your breath though.