And now back to the job I was trying to avoid by gallivanting around the countryside: wiring and point control.

Finally I trudged back to the workshop made a start on the test version.


It didn’t work very well: the brass rod bent and wobbled and generally felt thoroughly sloppy. It also tried to fall out of the useful little hole in the points and had to be held up with plasticard.

Slightly dodgy point rodding was only matched by completely awful electrics. The controller threw a fit as soon as I turned it on, and after trying several methods starting from “Look at all the wires in turn to try and find a fault” through to “Stamp around kicking the workbench”, I contemplated placing a notice in the 1:55 society magazine: “Model railway, half built, free to good home.”

Eventually I did what I should have done at first, and rewired the points with colour coded wire. I’d also spent a few moments between kicks actually thinking about how to improve things, and made the second version of the point rodding.

If you have perfect eyeesight (or elnarge the picture) you’ll notice the thin wire goes through a slightly larger tube. The breakthrough came when my remaining brain cells realised this didn’t have to be held down, but could move with the thinner wire. The only problem is when you bend the thin wire then realise you need to put the tube on, and try to straighten it and then force the tube over. This only works with much swearing.

Much better to put the tube on first, working backwards from the ‘L’ shaped hook to the omega and the next hook for the switch.

The third set of points required a bit more thought because I’d completely neglected to plan ahead, As usual.

Two pieces of scrap beechwood saved the day. I clamped them heavily and left them to dry overnight.


You shouldn’t glue wood like this, so I’m going to pretend it isn’t there. Still it works: the points change, the train moves, so far nothing has blown up.


On the farm

This is frankly a morale boosting exercise as much as anything.

I’m working on point control for the ‘Kreisbahn’, and although my soldering is improving slowly it still isn’t pretty. I don’t think electronics will become my favourite part of making a model railway. I also reckon a quantum physicist would have something to say about the goings on in some parts of the circuitry.

So to keep myself motivated, I had a look around for some prototype buildings I could model. With the murderous curves on the line, I wasn’t sure what to put in the ‘village’ side of the layout, as I hadn’t seen many curved buildings in villages. There is no shortage of them in cities where buildings tend to be tightly packed together and follow the line of the street, but I needed rural buildings, like farms.

This week The Elder Son and I went for a moderately epic bike ride up a valley we can see from our apartment to a village called Gutenberg. We turned around there because it is the last village before the road climbs  up into the hills, and I’m far to lazy to indulge in any of that climbing nonsense.


It occurred to me that Gutenberg is pretty well the sort of village that our railway would serve, so I confused the locals for a bit by wandering about taking pictures of vaguely interesting buildings.

After a couple of minutes of random wandering I came across this farm, squeezed into a curved patch of land between the river and a largish open space which probably was once a gathering point for more attractive vehicles than overdone compact cars.


Imagine a small narrow gauge railway running along the front of the building, with a loop and a siding, an you’ve pretty well got what I’m aiming for. It will need a fair bit of squeezing into the gap, of course, but I’ll work on that as I need to.

The half-wooden shed was interesting too. It was clearly home-made, but whoever built it clearly invested a lot of time and effort into making it neat and tidy. A low-relief version could well become a small industry or locomotive shed.

On the way we passed several station buildings that would be perfect for the Körschtalbahn and which I’ll write about in due course.

You’re excited, I can tell.

It has been one of those weeks where nothing works out. The original plan to make the point control began well enough with the wires all in place, but was scuppered when the drill bit I intended to use turned out to be about as sharp as a badgers bottom.Not wanting to give up I ordered three replacement 0.5mm drill bits.

The first snapped the first time I used it. I took it out of the drill I was using and squeezed the replacement into my hand-powered mini drill. This was made back in the 1960’s when men were men and apparently could force a drill to work by hand without any of that namby-pamby padding on modern drills, but eventually I made it through the switches, without snapping a second bit, and went on to drill holes in the Preiser figures I bought ages ago.

And snapped the second drill bit.

After a certain amount of descriptive commentary concerning drill bits, plastic, and the general unfairness of the universe, I started again and carefully drilled all the other figures out, then forced pins into them in the time-honoured fashion.
Then Middle Son and I sprayed them with primer. It occurred to me afterwards that two pins per figure would have been sensible, so the figures stayed still when painted, but it is too late now, and I couldn’t face using that drill again anyway.


These lot will stay on the balcony until tomorrow, and hopefully be a bit more colourful later this week…

I apologise for the lateness of this blog post, but I had to go and take pictures of trains.

After ten years here I’m finally able to hear in advance when an unusual train is coming through our local station, and last week an occasionally updated website claimed there would be something to see on Sunday involving a class E94 electric locomotive and possibly a steam locomotive as well. Maybe. It was a big vague on that part.

We missed the morning trip -I’d blame the boys for this but they woke up before me- so at about six in the evening Eldest Son and I got on the bus and bounced our way to Esslingen, where we faffed about trying to guess which platform the train would come on, or if it would come at all.


If this was the UK, there would have been people all over the platform, on the bridges, and often on the track itself, but the place was deserted except for a handful of commuters. Eventually someone wandered down the platform with a massive camera, and shortly afterwards the train turned up, with E94 on the front, the steam locomotive having apparently failed somewhere between here and Ulm.

It was also hauling the most ramschackle coaches in Germany. I’m not sure how they managed to make it all the way from Ulm, or why anyone would pay good money to sit in them.E94_02

Being a nerd I was more interested in E94 than a steam train anyway, as this is one of the remaining ‘German Krokodiles’, electric locomotives with the traction motors in the nose and articulated on the centre section. This was probably easier than messing about with all that complicated business with bogies in the early days of electric locomotives.


The artuculated join between motors and body. Take heart all those who have had a big gap in their models…

After waiting in the station long enough for yours truly to get to the front and take another picture, the train ambled off into the sunset…

E94_06Blocking the fast line all the way into Stuttgart.


Three minutes later this came through on the way to Ulm. You can complain about how trains have less character now, but that is a far more comfortable way to travel.


The end of year silliness is still upon us, so model making is stalling a bit. It doesn’t help that I’m trying to work out a method for getting point rodding to go around corners, and I still haven’t found the missing pushbutton switches.

To tide you over until next week and the summer holidays, here’s tram number two from the Esslingen-Nellingen-Denkendorf tramway, which used to run through the next village to us. The original tram is now resident in the tramway museum in Stuttgart, but sadly it is unlikely to run again as this tramway had a bigger loading gauge than Stuttgart so the clearances are too tight in the city.

Most people think of a tram as urban transport but this was nothing of the sort and even has compartments to transport animals to market.Unweaned piglets could be carried in cages provided by the tram company, but weaned pigs were not permitted.

Well, quite right too…


Wiring is taking place. Slowly

It is every bit as exciting at this picture suggests.

I have colour coded the wires so we know what goes where. We have Red for positive and black for necative, and yellow for things like insulating sections and frog switches. I was properly organised this time.

At least until it came to putting the switches in the right box. So far they’ve eluded discovery for two weeks.

The yellow wires on the siding are on the insulating sections, the idea being that we can park two locomotives in the siding at the same time. Not that we have two locomotives, but there we go. It also helps us not to send locomotives down the siding and into oblivion.

The wires nearest the camera just bridge the insulating rain joiner and are a reminder that it is a good idea to measure your locomotives before you cut the insulating sections.

Ah, well.



So, the first exam came and went, and I’m told I did reasonably well. This week I get to do it all again, graded this time, and hopefully remembering all the reccomendations the examiner made.

Oh, and now I have to go and find out what our long-term immigration status looks like thanks to a sizable minority of the UK being tricked into believing it will be a good idea to go it alone. We have a lifelong visa here so we are okay for the time being, but with everything shifting under us I feel the need to plan ahead.

Thse two are taking a lot of time and energy, hence the low posting rate at the moment….


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