Ramp it up…


So I may not have got moving on the model making bench but I have built a ramp.

I know, I can’t stand the excitement either.

Things at work and the apartment are gradually getting into a routine meaning that I have a bit more time and energy to spare, while a combination of introversion and a certain virus means my social life consists of Internet forums, building chicken runs and visits from the Landlady’s dog. I decided it was about time to make something interesting and use some of the machines being used for boring stuff like making pallets. I was also fed up with lifting the bike up the step outside the apartment.

Which is all fine, but brought up the question of how I was going to get it back to said apartment. For the last decade the answer to this would be a choice between using the Xtracycle or the Bakfiets*, either of which could have hauled this quite handily. Unfortunately both are still in Stuttgart.

Plan ‘A’, making some kind of cunning system to make the ramp fold down or assemble simply on arrival was rejected in the initial enthusiasm to make stuff, so now I had a 1 metre (3’3 5/8″) long wooden frame and a standard luggage rack.


In the end I added two wooden cross pieces to the bottom of the construction whose main purpose was to fit snugly around the sides of the rack and survive for the fifteen minute ride. I backed this up with two trekking straps so the whole thing didn’t fly off at the blistering speeds I expected to achieve, and declared it good to go.

To my surprise this actually worked pretty well. I had to remember not to try riding through any narrow gaps and the weather was thoroughly uncooperative by sending a headwind, but on the other hand cars gave me a nice wide gap, and I didn’t get airborne.

Even better, it actually fitted my step. Plans to hold a proper opening ceremony were ruined because the Landlady’s Dog claimed a prior appointment.

Still had fun ‘testing’ it for a bit in front of an audience of bemused chickens…

Okay, now I’ll get focused and make the model making bench…

Moving in…


To my complete lack of surprise, getting back to model making in the new apartment is taking longer than planned.

Part of the problem is that I’m a bit concerned about damaging furniture that doesn’t belong to me, and there’s no way to keep all those (sharp) tools organised properly at the moment.

And if I’m honest, also because there’s really so much of this to explore…


…but we’ll ignore that for now.

In Stuttgart I worked on a desk-inna-cupboard type arrangement which could be closed to hide the mess when members of the family wanted to use the living room, so I don’t have any portable toolbox for model making. Now I’m settled into work and have all kinds of helpful machines at my disposal it is time to do something about this.

I’m currently planning on a cabinet design, with vertically hinged doors so I can open it and reach most of the tools from my seat, and also because even though I’m the only person in this apartment, I’m a bit fussy about seeing a mess every day in the place.

I will now spend some time scribbling designs for this over the next week, quite possibly to the exclusion of any real progress…

It turns out that moving house and starting a new job takes up a fair bit of time and energy, leaving not much motivation to make models and things.

Still, I’ve discovered that my local station in Emmendingen is not only just off the route from work to my apartment, but also rather busy, being on the main freight route from places like Germany to Switzerland and Italy, as well as one of the main national and international passenger lines in the region. This means that about fifteen minutes on the platform can yield about five trains thundering through.

This probably won’t yield much detailed information on container design or similar but it is a good way to wind down at the end of a day.

Meanwhile I’m organising the workbench and trying to get some model making done. I’ll get back to you on that…


Much frenzied activity in the carriage and wagon department has resulted in the basic form of Wood Wagon 2.0 taking shape.

The idea is to make a slightly simpler and theoretically lighter wood wagon than the original fleet member* for items such as cut wood or lighter uncut wood such as pine, but with the addition of twistlock attachments, for carrying standard shipping containers.

The story is that the Körschtalbahn won a contract with a local company to transport containers carrying… something. I’ll get back to you when I know what, but the favourite at the moment is some kind of dry bulk goods like sawdust, heating pellets or animal feed. The idea is based on a similar one used by the Rhaetian Bahn in Switzerland. They use roller containers, but the Brohltalbahn uses ISO containers so I reckon I can get away with it.


The plan is to make two wagons, which seemed a great idea until I went slightly potty making eight of those those twistlocks, and realised I now need to make eight more…

*Which does now have wheels, honest.

Finally, the loco is pretty much done. Probably.

I’m now fretting that I overdid the crud factor and considering cleaning the ends up a bit, but I’ll leave it and see what I think. Unfortunately the windows got gummed up when building the loco and the masking tape left some residue that has proven impossible to shift, so I’ll have to come up with a better solution next time, or possibly better masking tape…

Transfers will have to wait until I’ve made a few more items: the sheets cost about €1 each so I don’t want to waste them.

On the other hand, it’s finished, and didn’t end up in an encounter with a size 41 boot, which was a great surprise. I’m reasonably happy with it, and I think it’ll look okay on the front of a freight train, just as soon as I’ve finished building one…



Looking at some pictures of the original D5 it seems it has a rusty exhaust area.I’m not sure why; at a guess there’s some kind of weatherproof treatment but it has flaked in the heat from the gases coming out. Either way, I decided I wanted the same, which meant using the “hairspray method”, last seen here on a steam powered tank, of all things.

The problem here was that I wanted to achieve the same on a roof that would have a very different finish.


The best method seemed to be to make a basic finish on the rest of the roof, add a dark brown “rust base” on the exhaust cover, then cut a hole in a piece of paper a bit larger than the cover and spray matt varnish through that. This was allowed to dry over night and the next morning the same happened again, using hairspray. That evening your correspondent mixed some grey and painted over the lot, said some rude words, mixed a different shade of grey, and painted over the cover again.


The next morning the result was dry brushed and weathered.

If nothing else is apparent from this process, it will be clear that I don’t have a social life.

After another night to allow everything to dry properly, I dabbed water onto the cover, let it soak in a bit, then scrubbed the area carefully with a wet paintbrush.

Instead of all the paint coming off to the plastic, as I rather expected, I had a rusty exhaust cover.


As you can imagine I was insufferably smug for several hours, much to the bemusement of anyone nearby.

This is the other reason I don’t have a social life…


Spent a bit of time making the underframe on the big diesel looking vaguely presentable; or unpresentable, depending on your point of view…


I was asked how I weather models elsewhere, and as  I’m easily flattered, I wrote it up on the NGRM Website.I’m putting it here because I’m lazy and I don’t see why you should get away without having to read about it.

 1. Paint underframe medium grey. This provides a base but is not that obvious by the time I’ve finished with it, so I don’t worry over much about the exact colour.

2. Goop watered down black ink into the cracks. Worry that I’ve overdone it.

3: Black ink is less visible when it dries. Why do I always forget this?

4: Drybrush light grey over visible areas, fairly liberally.

5: Decide I overdid it and dry brush dark grey.

6: D*mn, overdid the dark, dry brush light grey again.

7: With a smaller brush, very lightly dry brush “almost white grey” over the whole chassis.

8: Final dry brushing: very light dusting of silver. This will only show where the “almost” white grey has caught.

9: Make “scuff marks” on prominent corners with pencil (Now I write that I realise I forgot it. Will rectify)

11: Dust dark brown chalk pastels over the underframe, working it into the cracks to simulate rail dirt, an idea stolen adapted from an NGRM member who uses chalk pastels to great effect on model buildings. As he did, I crush them in jars and apply with a brush.

12: Repeat with black powder.

The snowplough is pretty much the same process, except for the added entertainment of the stripes, and finishing with stippled dark brown ‘rust’ using the mankiest brush in the world.

Next up, the body of the locomotive, which should look “well used but cared for”…


Big_Diesel_88.JPGStill a long way o go, but this is a big step. I’m currently dithering about the shade of green. Perhaps it’ll look okay after weathering. Yeah, that sounds good.

Also, it turns out that you can’t mask the roofline very easily if it is on a compound curve. The line you can see was made using a pencil and then painted very, very carefully.

Still, it isn’t looking too out of place on the front of a train, so I’ll keep going.


The moment had come.

It was time to add stripes to the snowplough on the Big Diesel.

Several projects ago I finally realised what you all know already: grey covers yellow better than the other way around so when painting for buzzbee stripes, it’s best to start with yellow.

So far so good, but how to achieve the masking with a curved plough?

It would make for a better story if I could saw this was using a method handed down by craftsmen, or at least by looking at YouTube videos, but it turns out that it wasn’t that much more difficult than the method used for straight ploughs. Normally I stick the tape on one end, and line it up by eye with the other, and I could do the same here with an extra point in the middle, stuck down using the round end of a paintbrush handle. It took about ten minutes to apply tape onto one end, and another five to paint two coats of grey -acrylic paint dries fast- and then a couple more to pull the tape off.


All that remained was to get the world’s mankiest brush, stipple light and  dark brown “rust” across the bottom of the snowploughs, and finish off with a dusting of dark brown pastel powder.

Well, that and spend another ten minutes tidying up the wobbly bits and blotches where the paint went under the tape, but we’ll pretend that didn’t happen…


Big_Diesel_Revised blue

While working on the different possible colour schemes for the diesel last week, I got a little silly and decided to try it out in revised blue which is one of my favourite colour schemes from my childhood days of watching trains go by. I allocated it to Inverness, assuming it was used on the legendary 3′ gauge line to Ullapool. Or something.

Meanwhile in the real world:


There were still some dings in the model which the primer showed up quite clearly, so it was back to more sanding and filling again…