…and a bit in the middle…


There’s a fine balance on these articulated locomotives between allowing enough space between cab and power units to get arond curves and landing myself with a mahoosive great hole in the locomotive. Still, it’s all a learning experience and this week I learned that if you make the cab unit slightly off square, then there will be gap that looks like the air intake on a muscle car between the hood of the power units and the cab cowling, large enough to allow a view of the screws holding the two together.

As the whole point of the cowling was to hide these screws, this clearly would not do. I pulled the cab unit to bits again and rebuilt it, a bit more square this time.

Then I learned the next lesson, namely that while making a smaller gap is good, making it too small means the locomotive can’t get around curves, and you’ll spend half an hour filing the sides down to get it to work properly.

I think it’s about fixed now. The loco still occasionally drops a wheel on the tighter curves, and worryingly on some random point on the bridge, but it generally runs around the whole layout most of the time without doing anything too embarassing.

Now all I need to do is figure how to make the couplings work and I can start work on the fun part of detailing the model, fretting about what colour to paint it. German narrow gauge diesels seem to come in various shades of red or green, but I’m not sure if I want to conform to that too carefully.

As I’m undecided what to go for, I’ll throw it over to my loyal readers. Let me know what you think below:


Here’s the basic form of the power units for Krokodil 2.0, with my 1:55 scale figure apparently walking off in disgust, but at least giving some idea of the size of the things.

The locomotive will be loosely based on the V29 locomotive that ran on the Altensteig line in the Black Forest, although after I’ve finished shoehorning the design into a track gauge half the scale width of the original and put in a bit here and a bit there to make up for my model making shortcomings, I doubt it will have more than a passing resemblance to the original.

The big cut outs on the top of the hoods are a case in point. I want to make the locomotive easy to dismantle in case something goes wrong, as I’m firmly convinced that the chances of something going boink are twice as high in a locomotive glued together, so I had to make those holes to give me access to the screws that will hold the power units onto the cab, and in order to cover those massive great holes, I’ll have to add some very unprototypical details.

On the other hand I’m pleased with how the grille worked out on the ends, especially as I actually remembered to put a background in and paint it black before I glued the unit together.

It seems the secret to satisfaction in this sort of thing is having very low standards.

Baby Krokodil


As the holidays are over the roundy-roundy layout has gone into the cellar until I can make a box, and my modelmaking has shrunk to my cutting mat until Christmas. Remarkably, I’d actually planned things this way instead of simply running out of time.

My long suffering reader will have noticed I have a liking for Krokodil locomotives, and I’ve been hoarding two Kato chassis to build one. Of course, as soon as I started I found someone on the NGRM forum had done exactly the same thing, and very handily too, but that at least meant I could ‘adapt’ (i.e. ‘steal’) their method for connecting the two units, and actually make a chassis without fretting about it for weeks.

This is a prototype, or to put it another way it contains so many mistakes it isn’t worth carrying on, so I’ll start again and build a new, more solid version using what I’ve learned.


So, back to ballasting.

I’ve established that sand makes passable ballast in my strange scale of 1:55, and putting black paint in the glue so it comes out grey makes it the right colour.

It would have been better to work this out at the beginning of the ballasting, not halfway through, but I had to paint the track and ballast together because it was the best way to hide the inappropriately underscaled track I was using.

I wasn’t that sure how to do this bit. Asking online brought lots of advice, some of it contradicting other advice, so in the end I sprayed the whole lot with primer and cleaned the rail tops with cleaning spirits.

The trains worked afterwards. This made me very happy, although that may have been that I’d forgotten to open a window when spraying.

The next day Eldest Son and I washed grubby grey-black acrylic over the primer, and spent three times as long cleaning up the resulting mess, then wiped the railhead down with thinners again.
I am a natural pessimist. So I fully expected it when the train stopped suddenly on some points. After some determined digging and scraping with a steel rule the trains ran smoothly for a couple of hours while we worked on other bits and pieces, stopping occasionally to change the points.


I may decide to change the colour in a couple of places, but as this is what I was aiming to do by the end of the holidays, I’m pretty happy. The layout is now safe in our cellar waiting for me to get myself into gear and make some kind of box to cover it.

In the meantime, I’ll work on smaller bits and pieces. More on that next week…

Field trip.

Model making is slowing, as I’ve started work at my training placement, a workshop that takes people with light to medium level disabilities leaving school and help them adjust to a work environment, and run all kinds of education projects alongside. I get to spend all day doing creative stuff that helps people: it’s a bit like being a kid in a sweet shop.

So to give me a time to develop a couple of projects on Wörnritzhausen, I’m taking you on a ‘field trip’ today.

I’ve long been an admirer of Ted Polet’s Craigcorrie and Dunalistair Railway, and I recently contacted him on the NGRM forum asking if he had any videos of his diesel fleet, whereupon he very kindly dug up a film he’d made several years ago and put it on-line. He claims the quality ‘is not so great’ but it is still far better than anything I’ve ever managed.

Still, it gives me something to aim for.

Back to my own bodging next week…

Planning committee

Last month we found a village a few kilometres away that isn’t there any more. There’s a reference on an old map, but no evidence except a mill that shares the name. No-one even knows where the village was supposed to be: a place where several generations lived, had children, and died, seems to have vanished without trace.

Or maybe a map maker got bored.

Either way, I’m taking the name, so  welcome to Wörnitzhausen, population one. And he isn’t very talkative.

As you can see, the planning committee has been to visit.


The challenge is to make this flat bit of cork into a convincing german village with railway accessories, and incidentally hide the fact it’s a circle of out of scale track. To start with I needed to get a feel for how big a building is, and in 1:55 scale you can’t exactly go out and get a ready to plonk building.

Further along from the alleged site of Wörnitshausen We passed this farm, now surrounded by foul and ugly buildings:

I’m quite aware that this isn’t the best picture, but I only had my little ‘point and hope’ camera with me and I was struggling to keep up with the Elder Son as it was.

German doors are usually two metres tall, and I took that as my starting point and worked out the rest by eye, then Youngest Son and I cut up some paper to make the version in the top picture. I don’t intend to use this as a design for the layout, just to see how big a ‘typical’ farmhouse would be.

The scenic break will be a city gate. Because I like city gates.

Baeckertor_Landsberg-2(Image source: Wikipedia)

This is the Bäckertor or ‘Bakers gate’ in Landsberg am Lech in Bavaria, which was once our local big town. I’ll make my own version but it shows that city gates can be fairly small. I’ve occasionally come across villages near here which have the remains of a wall so I don’t think it will look out of place.

The paper model to the right of my gate is supposed to be a garage, repurposed as a maintenance shed for the railway. I’ll need to work on that one; I wanted something modern and unsympathetic to its surroundings, but you can have too much ugly.

I’ve had a few more ideas since then, but first I needed to get the track ballasted and painted, a job I was frankly terrified of, but I manned up and went to the local chemist to get a syringe to put the glue down with. I did ask for the biggest one they had, but I wasn’t quite expecting this.


I’ve used something similar, but only administering medicines to farm animals.

If you know what sort of human ailments require such a thing for treatment, please keep it to yourself…

Having spent a ridiculous amount of time soldering up bits of wire,I finally had a chance to run some trains on the ‘Kreisbahn’. Of course, being me I’d not used it for five minutes when I decided some things could be improved.

The first thing which irritated me was that I couldn’t put a locomotive in the bottom part of the loop (shown with the red arrow below) and still have another locomotive run into the siding.


While I was deciding if I could be bothered to do anything about this, one of the wagons started to drop of the rails with annoying regularity. Closer inspection revealed this:


Every time the train went around that sharp curve as the track ran onto the ‘viaduct’ the loco coupling yanked it off the rails.

This is not something I wish to encourage.

The simplest answer to this, I was assured by some helpful people who actually know that they’re doing, was to replace the track on the ‘viaduct’ with a longer piece, and while I was at it to move two of the insulating joiners over to the end of the points to the siding.

I dithered about the insulating section because I could see it was going to be a royal pain in the backside to persuade that bit of track to go where it was told, and also because I’d lost the insulating rail joiners, so if the ones on the track broke I’d have no model railway.

On the other hand. I knew this would annoy me whenever I ran the railway, and I found a spare set of rail joiners. So I got myself into gear and got on with it.

Old track removed, I then managed to pointlessly solder a wire in the wrong place and nearly wreck the points, then nearly wreck them again trying to get the wire off again.

Then I discovered my ‘spare’ rail joiners were the wrong size.

A word about plastic rail joiners: don’t use them on a slightly off-grey surface unless you want to spend five minutes looking for the things every time you put them down.

Eventually I managed to get them to stay in place for long enough to join the track, and went to subdue the other end

The ‘viaduct’ was like a dream in comparison.


The revised track plan, with a couple of other awkward kinks straightened out.

The wagon that came off the track before and started this process now throws a wobbly somewhere else, but that is one of those things that has to be, and an example of the unfairness of the universe.