Archive for August, 2017

So, the ugly end of the model is now complete, and the Hofelbahbahn has somewhere to fix what the management laughingly refers to as its ‘motive power fleet’.

Both this and what is now the post office were the main buildings in the local filling station, garage and dealership, a sizable business owned by no less a personage than the local mayor, who pushed through planning permission to expand and renovate the buildings, before going bankrupt and having to sell everything off. Since then not a lot has been done. The old sign was removed before it fell on anyone and goodness knows who took the wires out of the junction box, and of course Frau Schmidt took over the old showroom and opened the post office, but everyone had more important things to do than tidy up an abandoned garage, so that was about it.

Then the Mayor was finally outvoted and the railway came, and the company rented the garage. The Mayor still hasn’t forgiven them for that.

It doesn’t look like the air conditioner works any more, but it is probably more trouble than it is worth to take it down. Hopefully it won’t fall off, or Frau Schmidt will have something to say to the railway.

Of course in ‘real life’ this is a concoction of old packaging, bits of wire and guitar strings, and corrugated card from the remains of one of those institutional leaving presents you get when you’ve worked somewhere long enough that people feel guilty for not giving you a leaving present. Even the air conditioner is mostly card and a little piece of mesh which made me quite ridiculously smug. Yes, I know the real thing has a bigger hole at the front but that’s how big a hole punch is. What do you want, blood?

Now that is sorted out, I only need to make a town gate and I can start to think about the ground cover for this side of the track.


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For various reasons that I’ll drone on about at a later date, I’d decided that the railcar needed to be a bit more ‘used’ than the model I built earlier in the year. Having managed, to my rather great surprise, to actually make some convincing looking rust in my experiments I got all motivated to try it on the real thing, as it were.

I wonder if I may have got a bit too enthusiastic.

I’m choosing to think the dystopian look is at least partly because of the blanked out windows, whose purpose is to make sure that even I can’t mess up the inside while painting the outside. Once it has things like passengers and see-through windows, it should look like a somewhat well used, careworn, but working railcar. Hopefully.

There is also the factor of the buzzbee stripes:

These will need some weathering as they should look like they’ve cleared the track of various unauthorised obstacles from snow to large domestic animals. This is purely to aid realism and make a complete uniform appearance and most certainly not because I painted them slightly off centre and need to hide this behind some muck.

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Fresh air, or not.

We live next to the town of Esslingen-am-Neckar. It’s an attractive city with lots of pretty old timber framed houses, the largest Roman built bridge north of the Alps, and a town hall designed like a wedding cake.

Last time I went I joined the camera carrying tourists, but when I looked at the images they mostly looked like this:

There is a perfectly good reason for this. I need a 1:55 scale air conditioner for the model, and I wanted to see what one looked like.

Stop looking at me like that.

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Just occasionally I manage to be moderately organised.

I’ve got a couple of projects coming along that mean I need to know how to make rust and weathering effects. Some concerted googling brought up a lot of sites and YouTube tutorials but most assume the use of airbrushes or quite smelly chemicals, neither of which are a good idea when making models in our living room.

Eventually I found some ideas how to get usable results that I could try without inadvertently redecorating the wall or causing an evacuation of the apartment, and these can be seen above. I’m not going to detail everything you can see on the basis that although I’m not paid to write it, neither are you paid to read it, so there are limits to even how boring I can be on here.

The main methods are pastels, drybrushing and the ‘Hairspray method’ which was a new one to me, but which I was astonished to find actually works even though I wasn’t using the ‘proper’ materials. I’m sure I’m the very last person in the model making world to hear about this one, but in case I’m not, the trick is to paint a rust coloured base coat, let it dry and spray hairspray over the top, return the hairspray to the bathroom before anyone misses it and leave the model to dry overnight. The next morning you paint over the hairspray with acrylics, and when that has dried, scrub away at the surface with a wet brush, and hey presto the top colour rubs off and leaves a realistic chipped rust finish. I got a bit overenthusiastic and ended up going down to the primer, but the principle works. There are expensive model makers sprays for this, but hairspray works just as well, costs a fraction of the price, and leaves you smelling better.

The other rust was made using a variation of this method I found on YouTube:

Don’t worry too much about the bits where he’s painting on black plasticard: I just watched where he is working on the railings themselves.

I also have no idea where to get hold of the paint he is using, but normal artists acrylics worked perfectly well for me.

You can also ignore the labels on my test sheet: it seems I’m still not organised enough to match the labels to the methods I was actually using in the squares.

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Well, here’s an ugly building, the sort of thing that makes you wonder why we bother having planning laws if something like this can get through.

The Post Office used to be part of a garage/filling station, and this was a workshop and TÜV (German motor vehicle exam) centre. Like most such buildings it was built quickly and with rather more concern for a quick return on investment than aesthetics. Its purpose on the model is help set the scene and make a minor eyesore at one end of the model to contrast with the other more attractive buildings, and prevent the rest of the layout descending into narrow gauge cuteness*. It would also hide the end of the siding and represent the Höfelbachbahn’s repair centre, the logic being that a car workshop should be fairly simple to convert to fixing trains.

Then I drew up a possible timetable for the Höfelbachbahn with a route diagram** it became obvious that the original story would require several more locomotives and railcars than is feasible, and I wasn’t sure they could all be maintained in a small maintenance shed. Unless I claim it is the entrance to a ten road roundhouse, and even I can’t say that with a straight face. It would be more sensible if I say the HHB is a short feeder line running into the hills, with Wörnritzhausen being the last large town, or at least the last town with more people than cows. Some trains would continue and some would stop here and turn around after being recharged or refueled.

On the other hand, if the garage is rented by the post office instead of the railway,  then it could be the local distribution centre and I could run extra vans on the back of the railcars or add them to freight trains. The siding in front could still be used for locomotives to layover or for recharging batteries on the railcar, so I could have the best of both worlds.

While I decide, I’ll work on adding more (ugly) details to the garage and try to find a way to hide the gap between the corrugated walls and the post office.

*Not that there is anything wrong with narrow gauge cuteness, just not here…

**Look, lunch breaks at college get pretty boring, okay?

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