I’ve been overthinking again, or as I call it: “planning ahead”.

I have a vague idea about developing an operating system for the Körschtalbahn using dice to simulate many of the things that crop up on a real railway to bring an element of the unknown into operating the layout as there is in the real thing. I know others doing this already, notably Ian Thompson who runs epic “24 hour” sessions on his “Altonian Complimentary Railways” (AFK) with things like weather and traffic levels decided by  the sort of dice used in tabletop games.

On the other hand the AFK is a mahoosive great system with a dozen or more stations, two branch lines, port, and over a hundred items of stock filling a moderately sized room on three levels, while the Körschtalbahn, is destined to be a plank, or if I get ambitious, a shelf, with one terminus, short trains and not much else, so I’ll adapt the idea to focus on  individual locomotives stock and things that can affect a days running in an admittedly rather ridiculously intensely operated rural terminus.

For example, the railcar I finished earlier this year is assumed to be for working passenger trains with the occasional freight wagon attached. It has to be capable of running with anything, hence the mass of cables that hang off the front end, so it can supply electricity to the train, power push-pull services and operate in multiple, although I admit the last one may be a bit over the top.


The big diesel is mainly a freight locomotive, but will also be a ‘backup’ for the passenger services; if a die roll or chance card shows the railcar as ‘failed’ then the diesel has to come to the rescue. To make life more “interesting” I’m assuming that the big diesel, being a freight locomotive, has no push-pull connection, so wherever the passenger train is, the diesel has to pull it.

Which is a rather long convoluted way of saying why the diesel has a lot less cables hanging off it than the railcar does.

Of course, even with a lot less bits, I managed to make things complicated: I tried making the ‘power’ cable from guitar strings, but after three failed attempts and messing up the front end I swapped to using the thinnest electrical cable I could find. I keep thinking it looks too fat but I’ll leave it until the loco is painted and see how it looks then.



After the recent near-disaster with this project I was a bit more motivated to get it finished before something else broke, so this week I pushed it a bit to finish the roof and main bodywork.

As usual I completely overthought the whole construction thing and carefully made a set of exactly shaped and graded plastic sheets, then realised that they were largely the wrong shape, and that it doesn’t make a great deal of difference when you attack it with 80 grit sandpaper anyway, to the final stage was made using scrap bits stuck on any old how.


Having let everything dry solidly, I buried the desk with plastic dust while making the roof vaguely rounded. Of course I ended up taking too much off and had to repeat this process a couple of times and eventually gave up and made a “feature” out of the mistake.

Big_Diesel_72The dark patches,especially those around the roof lights, are a sticky gooey mix of offcuts melted in dregs of plastic cement. The resulting goop is probably best used in a very well ventilated room but it meant I could make the complex shapes around the lights, and of course hide the worst of my mistakes elsewhere which would otherwise come back to bite me…

Nearly the end


Here’s a handy tip: when making moderately streamlined ends on a two-ended locomotive, make sure both of them are the same angle. Failure to do so can result in much cutting, gluing, unglueing, painstaking separation of fingers from delicate parts of model; repairing the same delicate and now broken parts; the appearance of large gaps where no large gaps should be, filing, and not unreasonably in the circumstances I think; some quite foul language.

There was also occasional speculation whether the locomotive would be most improved by the application of a size 41 boot.

Eventually I managed to remove the incorrectly applied windscreen frames, and by a combination of cutting and forcing the plastic, got them at an angle that looked more similar to the opposite end, whereupon I glued them to the sides frames.

All feelings of triumph faded as one of the side frames promptly snapped under the pressure. This was solved by fitting the false roof you can see above the frames and leaving it to dry overnight.

Of course this then left the small matter of a massive great gap under the window frame, caused by tipping it backwards. Not for the first time I wondered why I’d decided to make a curved cab front. Ultimately I solved this by gluing all kinds of scrap under the gap, letting that set for another 24h and filing/sanding it all back to shape afterwards. Any smaller holes were stopped up with a home made filler; scraps of plastic allowed to melt in the dregs of a glue jar. This worked but it is very, very smelly.

If you look really carefully you can probably see some differences between the ends, but I think I’ll get away with it once the corners are properly rounded off, so I’m happier than I expected I would be, although that may just be the fumes from that home made filler.



Snowploughs 2.0


Wherein your correspondent gets somewhat ambitious.

You’re probably noticing a pattern here: my locomotives generally feature snowploughs. This is of course entirely appropriate in the high uplands of the Black Forest. It also gives a realistic reason for the hefty lump under the locomotive made to fit couplings onto, but mainly because it’s my railway, and buzzbee stripes. Gotta have buzzbee stripes.

This time I got a bit more ambitious and decided that instead of using straight ploughs like I had on the Railcar, it was time to try curves. Because I like them.

This involved some tricky engineering, calculating the correct radius of the snowplough and accurate profile taking into account… okay I admit it, I cut a bit of plastic tube in half and squished it with my thumb until it looked about right.

Then I cut it and filed it in the middle until the two sides met up reasonably well, glued them together and squeezed until the gaps disappeared.

Once they were glued on and in position, I added what is technically known as a great dollop of superglue along the bottom, and glued the lot to the locomotive before it all fell to bits.

The next morning it had all set nicely solid, so I cut and rounded the ends of the snowploughs, inevitably I cut one too short but managed to fix it: you can’t see the join now and I’m not telling…

This success brought a brief moment of smugness, before the realisation hit: How am I going to paint the stripes on this?

Mundane Hut


With the mess hut finished it was time to tackle the next building. This one was considerably simpler, and probably appeared in the makers catalogue as “Ministry of Supply standard issue 0815 mundane hut”.



In the game I’m building up, characters need to achieve tasks which are judged to have succeeded or failed based on a dice roll. These would be things like finding new information, stealing vital plans or switching off the nefarious doomsday machine et c. Hence the cupboard at the back of the hut that could contain these plans/part of doomsday machine, meaning a character has to get there, roll the dice and get away unscathed. The red box on the front would form a similar purpose and be a switch for a radio transmitter or something.

Hmm, a radio transmitter: I wonder if I could put something together out of old kit parts?

Must focus on building a railway…

Start at the bottom

Having formed the rounded nose on the big diesel, the next step was to work on the Chassis, because I can’t do anything the simple way.


There is a reason for this: I tried to make the drivers windows but they came out too big or too small. In the end I decided the loco could be looking unbalanced because I needed the bits at the bottom to balance things out.

I don’t know if this is the case but it sounded plausible at the time.

Pictures of the prototype locomotives show one side being a thumping big box. I’m not sure why and to be honest I’m not entirely sold on the thing. It may well change to a more “normal” style as seen on the standard gauge version. We shall see.


The other side is the usual collection of bits and pieces to give a vague and probably incorrect impression of an air pump and reservoir. This sentence makes it almost sound like I know that I’m doing, but really it’s only because I was given a book explaining what the lumpy bits on locomotives actually do.

Behold, the value of literature.

Complete mess

This project has appropriately moved at the speed of a government contract, but It’s finally ready for use. The “Water tank” has finally been primed, painted dark brown and given a topcoat, then scrubbed down to give  a slightly rusty finished; twice, because for some reason it went weird the first time, but who is counting?

The paint didn’t chip as much as expected, probably because it is fairly smooth, so I added lots of black pastel on top to give the impression of a fairly inaccessible surface open to some very nasty weather. I’m still not sure if I should add a few more steps the that ladder, but overall it’s usable,so I’m calling it done.

Even I can’t quite fill an entire blog post out of a fake water tank, so here’s the completed motorcycle and sidecar so that when our hero jumps off the water tower in a shower of bullets, he has a suitable vehicle to make a fast getaway.


After a certain amount of dithering I painted the motorbike in army(ish) colours but didn’t bother to add any military markings. It’s probably obvious to anyone in the know, but I’ll live with it. It’s army surplus. Or something.


Anyway, another job to tick off the new years resolutions…