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Archive for February, 2011

Life intervenes.

One of the reasons I didn’t get much modelling done this week: a cross posting from my other blog. I have more model related posts ready for next week:

Travelling from Stuttgart to Freiburg is a bit like going on a bear hunt: The Black Forest is in the way, and we can’t go under it, we can’t go over it, and if we go through it, it’ll take half a day because the railways all go north to south, so we have to go around it and down the Rhine valley, which takes almost as long. So when I found myself with the Xtracycle in the outer suburbs of Freiburg and utterly unable to find the venue for the Permaculture/Permakultur course I was attending, I’d already been sitting on various trains since the small hours.

I asked for directions from a local* and they pointed beyond the town where a pine forest rose into the clouds like the gates of Mordor. “You see that hotel up there?” They asked as said clouds parted to show a building perched high up on the hillside. “Well, the road you want starts there.”

One long, winding climb later I was up in the clouds and surprised to note that my legs hadn’t fallen off, so all those hills around Stuttgart have obviously done me some good. I could still have done with some sleep before starting the course, but we had eighteen hours of lectures to get through before Sunday afternoon so what I got was shovel-loads of information about how we’re living like someone paying off debts with credit cards, and in urgent need of a reset of priorities, along with a drastic reduction in energy consumption. As agriculture uses more energy (often supplied by oil) to grow food than we get from eating it, this is a problem even for weirdo car-free types like us.

Permaculture is a sort of toolbox for a more sustainable lifestyle, which plugs into natural cycles that are already there instead of relying on oil. By the end of the four weekends we’ll have had 72 hours of this and we’ll be all set to design our own permaculture farms, gardens, or in my case balcony. I can also try and carve a niche out as a permaculture designer which is arguably a bit academic in the absence of clients or land, but all my rambling here about bicycles and simple living is a part of a bigger goal for our family to live more sustainably and start a small scale arts centre. The Permaculture training means that when we do manage to get (access to) some land, we’ll be a tiny bit more ready.
Hopefully; in theory.

*I know blokes should never do this, but it was that or ride around Freiburg for a week.

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By the time you read this I’ll be in Freiburg for the weekend, learning about Permaculture. I’ll be doing this four times over the next few months and I reckon it will cut down on model making time severely, so on the weekends I’ll away I’ll prepare some videos to avoid blank space syndrome. To start with, a couple of videos of the Japan Railways M250 Freight multiple unit (FMU). FMU’s were tried in Germany as well, but they don’t seem to have worked very well and are now ‘in storage’ which probably means ‘dumped behind a depot somewhere’. Japan seems to be having a lot more success with them -although these are operated exclusively for one large company.

Considering that they’re running on 3’6″ gauge they don’t hang about either. Bearing in mind the road system in Japan is pretty slow and and the highway system is all toll roads and (theoretically) limited to 80km/h I reckon they could give  trucking firms some serious competition:

I wonder it the KÖB would use a smaller version? On second thoughts, better not: I’d never fit it on the layout…

I’ll be back soon with hopefully not too harrowing stories about traveling by rail and bike to Freiburg im Breisgau.

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My dad is trained as a draughtsman. I am not. This is why his drawings and designs come looking very neat and detailed with notations, and mine always come looking like a sketch on the back of an envelope. So far, I’ve been okay with that.
The trouble with the ‘back-of-an-envelope’ method is that I’d save time making the diagram, but then I’d have to go back and re-measure the whole thing to make the design into a model. Often I’d not even draw the design accurately enough and I’d end up having to down tools* while I re-drew some detail I’d forgotten. This is part of what scuppered previous Railcar 1.1.
For Railcar 1.3** I went for overkill and added dimensions to everything. The results will provide much mirth to any real draughtspersons reading this, but It gives me the information I need, sort of, which will hopefully save time. I’ll probably end up using that time searching for tools, but it’s a step forwards. I drew out the ‘other’ side of the railcar as well, because the sides won’t be the same: the Körschtalbahn is a steeply graded line and this railcar is a locomotive that carries parcels, so one end of the will be filled with an ‘above floor’ engine to provide sufficient levels of what I believe is technically called ‘oompf’ for pulling or pushing trains.
Railcar 1.1 was fairly closely based on an MGB Motor luggage van, but I realised this was beyond my capabilities so far so Railcar 1.3 is a mix of RHB railcar ends and MGB Baggage car sides with bits and bobs added because I thought they may look good. Hopefully that will mean making a big simple box, which even I can manage without too much trouble, and then making it look realistic, which will hopefully work better this time.
We shall see, as soon as I find all my tools.

*whereupon I’d lose them

** Railcar 1.2 was too small, if you’re wondering.

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I think it’s high time I set some goals for the new year*, to keep me focused. My model making seems to have faded into the background a bit lately with things like ‘life’ generally getting in the way.

Right then.

My goals for model making in 2011 are:

1: Lay track on Spitzenwald, paint and ballast same, and wire up.
2: Build Railcar 2.1 in time to send pictures in the 55mm Associations competition in October.
3: Post on railway forums a bit more often.

Which on the face of it, is pretty small fry, but as I said, life has a habit of intervening: there’s a lot of that stuff called ‘work’ to get through and when I’m not working then  I find being with my beautiful wife is generally more attractive than making things in the loft, and there’s three small boys who are growing fast and I don’t want to miss a minute of that if I don’t have to, so model making time would be at a premium even if we were not going to Japan in summer. This is just one more reason I’m not making a loft-sized layout.

I think that once the track is ready to go, I’ll be more motivated to make stock, and I’ll be able to make scenery a bit quicker, but still, I don’t want to get over ambitious.

After seeing last years entries in the 5.5mm Assoc. competition I’m aware ‘winning’ is seriously out of my league., but it’s a bit more motivating than an arbitrary deadline.

*As it’s already the second month

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