Archive for May, 2017


Railcar on a test run along the future Wörnritzhausen high street. Hopefully.

To my rather great surprise the railcar actually managed to explore the whole of the layout without falling off the track, hitting anything, comically trying to go two ways at once or stopping for no apparent reason.

It did however, make it clear this is a railcar with an identity crisis.

For reasons which now escape me but undoubtedly seemed very important at the time, I built the motorised bogie some distance back under the body. I think it was to allow some space to make a reliably tough connection for the coupling, which meant shoving the front of the bogie back to fit it behind the cowling, and this meant the pivot disappeared somewhere below the luggage compartment.

That’s my excuse anyway, and I’m sticking to it.

Anyway, this makes the motorised end run around corners like a Blackpool tram, with a big overhang on the curves. I suspect this is why a lot of European trams taper at the ends, to avoid taking chunks off ancient monuments whose medieval builders inexplicably neglected to take tramways into consideration.

On the other end, I have a fairly normal Kato bogie, a good ten millimetres closer to the buffer beam, which gives a much more conventional movement. Like a train, in fact.

The overall effect is quite unusual, rather like a design committee couldn’t make their mind up on what they wanted. It looks a lot less silly than I feared, but I think the MkII version may well be slightly different in this area.


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First thing to remember for next time: When adding 5mm of clay to a building, this makes it a bigger building. By about 5mm in each direction. How did I not think of this? fortunately I think I got away with it, and I’m sure you won’t tell anyone.

Apart from this things went reasonably well. Next time I’ll let the clay dry out a bit longer before cutting out the windows, and there needs to be a lot more bracing on the card carcass, but nothing broke too much, and what did was fixable. I added a bit of texture by pressing the building into some 120 grit sandpaper, an operation that would have worked better if I hadn’t had a very inquisitive two year old on my knee at the time. Two year old children, incidentally,  are magnetically attracted to damp clay: this applies even if they are in a different room of the building when you start work. They also don’t understand why boring grown ups insist on keeping the clay in one place.

Anyway, after we’d scraped the clay fingerprints off the furniture, I tried painting the model. Most buildings locally are a sort of off-white colour, which looks strange in model form, so I went looking for buildings that showed a bit more ‘character, or to put it another way, ‘dirt’, like this old farm in the centre of our village.

Time and weather and probably a lot of road dirt, have left their mark:

Recreating this in model form took some experimentation, and the discovery that washes of colour don’t really work on such a porous surface. At one point I thought I was about to add a couple more millimetres in paint, but after a considerable amount of time drybrushing I eventually ran out of mistakes to make and got something presentable, so I claimed that was the effect I was aiming for all the time.

The building should look a bit tatty as: it was part of a garage until a few years ago and hasn’t had a lot of maintenance since, but I’m still not sure if I’ve overdone it a bit.

We shall see after I’ve added a bit more detail.

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So, several weeks have gone without me deciding to start the railcar project again which at the moment is possibly some kind of record, although it has to be said I had a couple of false starts on the roof. Oh, and I had to redesign the ends to make it all work.

This is because I started out with the silly idea that the roof would be easy. I’m not sure why.

Some time ago I blithely scribbled a design that loosely resembled a Polish Mbxd2, at least viewed by a generous person with not much attention to detail on a dark night while wearing sunglasses. What I didn’t do was think about how I’d make this happen, so when I started to actually form the thing, I came to a grinding halt.

Eventually I decided to laminate several sheets of 0.75mm plasticard and file them down later. For some reason I suddenly decided that the luggage rack, which I’ve always drawn over the luggage compartment, would be much better in the middle of the roof. This would make the railcar look practical and hard working.

It didn’t work of course: it just looked strange, which most people could have told me without making the roof the wrong shape. In the end I cut one of the laminated slabs in half with a hacksaw and glued it to the other section. Observant readers will notice a remarkably indistinct line on the longer roof section.

Much filing and sanding of the sides later, it is passable. The sides aren’t exactly the same angle but I doubt anyone will notice unless they look closely with their head on the track and one eye right in front of the railcar.

And if I catch them doing that, I’ll run them over.

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or: Further attempts to get my boys away from a computer….

I was looking through some videos on making walls for my buildings -I’ve never seen any reason not to get ideas from other modelmaking hobbies for use on the railway- and came across this one showing how to make stonework on wargaming boards. Now I’m wondering if this could be a way to get the boys interested in creative building.

At the moment they’re a bit daunted by the scope of model railways: the Eldest Son is interested in stuff like painting and weathering, but finds the whole creative building from scratch a bit overpowering, especially with electrical challenges added. The other two are strategists but could probably get interested in the creative side if the have an idea of what they are doing.

All three love playing strategy games online, and are variously interested in military things, steampunk and anime. Being boys this partly comes with the territory.

For obvious reasons, in a British/Japanese family in Germany, it seems a bit tasteless to do either of the World Wars, so I’ve cut a deal that we could try Napoleonic or Steampunk, or some kind of self-made scenario like Bavaria attacking Württemberg, or possibly something involving orcs.

I have done some wargaming in the past, and my idea was to try skirmish style wargaming using 28mm figures (so I can use them and any scenic materials for 1:55 scale railways if they lose interest) on small boards like the ones suggested towards the end of the video above. This way there’s painting and weathering but not too much, and we can quickly have strategy for the two more interested in gaming.

Now, where do we start? there seem to be books of rules and all kinds of opportunities to spend money. We’ll decline most of these as we can build them, but I’m guessing some people here know what the essentials are, or at least know the right questions to work it out.

Any thoughts welcome…

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Running toy trains round a circle of track is only exciting for so long, so this week I finally got on with making the first building for the model railway.

In my fevered imagination, this side of the model will look like a fairly typical village with a cluster of buildings and a narrow gauge railway that happens to run along the main road. It all works very well in my head, as long as I ignore my complete ignorance about how I was going to make them.

Optimism is a wonderful thing, and denial of the facts can look almost as good if you squint.

I decided to make a start on the Post Office. The original plan was for it to be parallel to the track but this lasted until the moment I put it on the model and realised it would mess up just about everything else in that corner. Some bodging later it looked like this:

I’m not entirely happy with this new position but I’ve convinced myself it will work a bit better when the other buildings are added. Hopefully.

The ‘city gate’ will probably follow the line of the post office wall, so it isn’t perfectly in line with the track. Hopefully this will give the impression that the railway came much later than the buildings, and the train is running onto the scene from another part of the village, rather than trundling around in endless circles…

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Some kind person posted this on the NGRM Forum. It features one of the many narrow gauge railways that used to serve small towns all over Germany.

The Plettenberger Kleinbahn, was a freight and passenger carrying tramway in Plettenberg in the North West of the country. Its purpose was to get products from the factories of Plettenberg for a few kilometres to the standard gauge line, and it expanded up the valley as industry increased, eventually having an impressive 71 connections to factories

By the time this video as made in 1962 a standard gauge railway parallel to the line had reduced services and the increased road traffic was getting in the way. As usual politicians blamed the railway and refused to renew the company’s concession to operate it.

If I magine a red Krokodil running down those streets, I can tell myself the Höfelbachbahn is will have the same sort of atmosphere.

At the very least I can now justify the apallingly tight curves on my model.

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