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I’ve finally managed to get the big diesel project moving. again. Why I chose a complex locomotive with curved ends and sloping sides is open to question but it seemed a good idea at the time.

I was feeling pretty pleased with progress but when I held up the locomotive next to the chassis earlier this week, I realised I’d designed the model about 10mm longer than it needed to be.

I’d claim I was trying to make the locomotive sleek and purposeful, but I probably just got carried away and added a bit here and a bit there, and ended up with a loco that looks sleek and purposeful but will go around corners like a tram.

After thinking about this*, I worked out four places I could make the locomotive 10mm shorter:

1: Remove 10mm between the drivers door and the two lower grilles on the bodyside (Compare with the top image, there is a difference).

2: Remove one drivers door on each side. The locomotives supplied to the Bulgarian railways only have one door per side, so I can claim it’s prototypical, and it would mean less cutting to go wrong, although it would be good if I can make sure each cab has at least one door.

3: I could just make the window in the bodyside 10mm shorter, but that makes it rather a strange shape:

4: On the other hand, removing 5mm from the window and another 5mm between grilles and door, a combination of 1 and 3, would have the same effect with less of a visual change, and the fuel cap would still be central on the side of the loco.

The disadvantage of this is that I’d have to make four cuts into the bodyside, which knowing me is four cuts to get wrong and make a wonky locomotive…

Thoughts and ideas are welcome. I’ve even made a poll, tech savvy modeller that I am, although I don’t promise I’ll follow the result.

*During a sociology lecture. That’s what sociology lectures are for isn’t it?

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Getting a handle.

Once I found a way to stop trains wobbling about, I was much more motivated to build things. I could claim this was part of a grand plan to build a realistic operating system but if I’m honest it’s because I like watching the trains rattle round and round, and I wanted a few more wagons on mine.

When I’d nearly finished the second van, I noticed that neither van had a handle for the door. As both of the vans are full of card and fishing weights, this is a not going to make a great difference to their capabilities, but I’m trying to at least pretend that they are there to carry general merchandise this detail is somewhat significant,

I started looking through pictures of real narrow gauge vans. Of course one thing led to another and I ended up adding bits of wire all over the model in the hope it would then look all fine scale* and detailed.

The standard way to ventilate vans here seems to be a sliding panel which I assume is operated by staff unclipping and sliding the metal rods underneath. On the original van I made the panel from card, but on the new version this didn’t seem to work so I gave up and used the evil plastic.

The picture shows some of the problems that I’m causing myself with this model. The van in the background is a long way onto the other track, but still overhangs the main line** by some way. In fact the van in the foreground is probably on the one place on the loop that I can get another train past it.

This is one of several reasons why the Höfelbachbahn will now disappear at least until after exams, until I can make it a more sensible shape.

*I can dream…

**’Main line’ in the same way that my model making is ‘Fine scale’

 

This is what happens when I just make stuff with no planning whatsoever.  Again.

Much as I’m happy to have a railway where I can run trains round and round, I was getting a bit fed up of looking at a badly painted cork surface and odd wires whenever I use it, so the plan was to move along and get some ground cover down.

Then I remembered that I couldn’t do start on the ground cover before all the buildings were in place, if I wanted the buildings to be properly embedded into the earth with no annoying gaps.

Then I realised that before I started gluing buildings into place some pretty serious thought would have to be given to a back scene, so out came the paintbrushes and thick paper…

We live very close to the region of Germany where they put huge great copper onion domes on the tops of church towers. This always seemed odd to me in a region known for massive lightning storms, but those churches are several hundred years old and still standing so I’m assuming these people know what they’re doing.

Obviously Wörnritzhausen would have to have just such a church tower so I played about with Google Earth until I found a couple of villages with churches the shape I wanted and not the size of cathedrals, which was surprisingly difficult: people around here seem to have taken their ecclesiastical buildings very seriously.

The three houses on the other side are to balance the scene out a bit, as the wall should theoretically continue off into the distance. I considered adding trees and a few more buildings but the perspective was awkward enough as it was without making more lines in different directions, and  I wanted the backscene to be understated and not dominate the model.

Besides, I needed to tidy up and clean the floor before the family came back…

Test fitting on Wörnritzhausen. I’m still wondering what to do on the corner where the roof meets the sky, but apart from that and a nagging feeling that I made it all a bit too understated, reckoned it went okay.

I was going to leave it for a while and decide if I liked it or not, but I’ve since decided that you can have too much testing and the point of making a small model is that I can finish it sometime, so the backscene is now glued down.

Roofs like buses.

Roofs are like buses with me. Nothing happens for ages, then two turn up one after the other.


Here’s roof 1.0. with all the right ingredients except that I went and made the tiles on the roof too small. The idea behind this was to make these tiles  slightly different to the post office/Cartoon Gate, giving a smug glow and the impression I might actually know what I’m doing.

Unfortunately they came out looking like they were an entirely different scale.

As the most visible end of the farmhouse isn’t that easy for the eye to scale in any case what with having odd windows and a strangely arched double door, it gave the overall effect that this was a very large building in a smaller scale than the rest of the models.

I’m somewhat fussy about this building because it will be in the centre of the scene, so after looking at it for a couple of days I went and raided a cornflake box in the kitchen cupboard. Then I spent several hours marking up larger tiles to make roof MkII.

This is not a very exciting past time.


On the other hand, I can see a difference: the building looks more in scale with the others to my eye and I fully intend to ignore anyone who says otherwise.

The overall impression isn’t too bad either, although it really is time to make a back scene.

New Year 2018

We have a friend who is an artist, a proper artist who actually knows what he’s doing and earns money and everything. Every year he sends us and a lot of other people a postcard with an ink drawing on it as a new year card, and every year I told myself I’d try and do the same and promptly forgot about it.

This year I finally got myself into gear and drew a sketch of the Wolfstor in Esslingen am Neckar, then inked the lines over several lunch breaks, and possibly in the occasional dull lecture.

Click here to find the mistakes.

Last week we were given notice of about four modular tests, so I’m model making has slowed dramatically while I get on with revising. Still, at least I managed to make a drawing this year. Maybe I’ll remember to make the 2019 sketch before the year changes…

Duplicate van

In the world of Wörnritzhausen, the job of the transit van is done by bogie vans like this, with a wooden body, sliding door, and enough space inside to take a few European standard sized pallets. The sort of Really Useful wagon that can carry just about anything from groceries to finished wood products or milk containers.

This being the case, it seems a good idea to have several of them.

In an unusual outburst of self-discipline, I managed to knuckle down and start a second van instead of going all megalomaniac and dreaming up interesting different vehicles which might be nice to have but aren’t really needed as yet. This unusual event is probably due to an urgent need for a simple project that doesn’t require a lot of my rapidly diminishing brain capacity  during exam season, but it is pleasant to just be able to copy the current van with occasional changes, rather than work things out as I go along, otherwise known as making all kinds of mistakes and having to go back and correct them like I usually do.

The prototypes for these would probably be made by every workshop that could put two bits of wood together. Some would be made almost entirely locally with a few fittings bought in, or manufactured to a standard design. They’ll probably look about the same but with subtle differences depending on which option the customer chose, design development, available materials, and what mood the person building it was in, so no two would be exactly the same.

This is helpful as I’ve already had to cover up some times of ‘working things out’ on the second van.

Now that I’ve actually started this, I feel much less guilty about those megalomaniac ideas of what else I could build. According to my badly drawn train graph I’m going to need at least one coach, and maybe I could justify a snowplough, or a brake van…

I had a bit of time to think over Christmas. Wörnritzhausen is running into lots of problems, mostly related to the fact this is my first layout in ages so I’m having to (re)learn all kinds of things.

Wörnritzhausen was really an opportunistic spur of the moment idea, throwing together some leftover plywood to see what would happen, which ended up developing further because the boys wanted a roundy-roundy and to be honest I enjoy letting the trains trundle round in circles. Unfortunately, the model is bulky and awkward to store while being too small to even have two trains on the model at once without them tripping over each other sooner or later.

Putting stuff on the track*  is fiddly with the stupidly tight curves and mahoosive great overhangs. Building seriously pudgy locomotives and wagons didn’t help, of course. It is getting to the point where I have to redesign the rolling stock, track, or buildings; possibly all three.

Meanwhile life continues to race onward and the exams which were on the distant horizon when I started the model are now a matter of months away, so I’m unlikely to be able to make a new model railway from scratch for a while. I can salvage pretty well everything worth using so eventually Wörnritzhausen will reappear in a slightly better planned version. In the meantime I can use the current variation it to learn a few more things, and run the occasional train round in circles. It’s a bit like having a three-dimensional screen saver on the coffee table.

What are you thoughts? What is the point where you decide to leave a model and take what is learned to the next project?

*and then putting it back on after it has collided with another train or a building.