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Archive for the ‘1:55 scale’ Category

Sometimes I wish I could be like those people who stop bothering about making trains and build beautiful dioramas instead. I’d get all the fun of making something and adding lots of details without all that pesky electrical jiggerypokery with attendant swearing and surreptitious prodding to make things work. I can’t though: for me the railway is the reason for the rest: the thread that holds the story together. Besides, I couldn’t make dioramas that well so I need something to distract people.

This means a large chunk of model making time this week was used up testing out various second hand chassis of questionable heritage that I’ve been amassing over the last few years, to decide which one should go under the big diesel.

It would have been a bit faster if I hadn’t stolen some of the connectors from my test track to make wiring for “Wörnritzhausen”, probably because I’d lost the others, so I had to find the other one and fix everything back together. Then I had to dig up a 3.5mm jack socket which I was really quite startled to find. Once all this was together, I placed one of the chassis of questionable heritage -originally intended, I think for a HO model of an EMD F7– and turned on the power.

Nothing.

Out came the super-dooper all singing all dancing voltmeter. This showed nothing was getting through to the track.

I reached back to turn off the controller, and jogged the 3.5mm jack connection. The chassis shot towards the distant end of the track before being rugby tackled by Youngest Son.

Having established that the chassis could move under power, we spent a bit of time making sure it runs at more sensible speeds, which it managed remarkably well considering it’s languished in a box for several years.

Finally, to my rather great relief, we found that the railcar chassis works. I’m sure I’ve tested this before but I can’t remember doing it.

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I got fed up with the gate looking like the backdrop for a cheap Gothic novel and decided to brighten things up a bit. It went surprisingly quickly, just thirty minutes to make it look a bit more like weathered limestone, then 10 minutes to tone it down, and another 45 to get it back to how it was in the first place.

I’m not bad at painting, just really indecisive.

I’m generally happy now. The stones are highlighted using a method I learned many years ago in theatre: the top and left of the blocks are painted cream and the bottom ans right grey/brown to emphasise the depth. I fretted for a bit about it being cartoon-like but I worried about that when I weathered the Post Office and now I can hardly see the weathering so I’ll leave it as it is for now.

I’ll leave the panel for the crest as well, at least until I can think of an idiot-proof way of making the a crest that works. Wörnritzhausen is supposed to be near Münsingen, but I think it would have had its own crest representing the rivers or the trade that would have paid for the city wall. Will have to think about that.

It needs a roof as well. Unfortunately I forgot that with the thick walls the roof will come over the top of the windows, making shutters unlikely, so it will have to do without. Gutters and drainpipes will have to wait until I’ve worked out how the farmhouse next door should look.

Still, the trains now run onto the scene through a real gate. It looks like we are getting somewhere, slowly.

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Regular readers, assuming they have been following this blog with the care it deserves, will have noticed that most pretty well all of my projects need about half a dozen false starts as I make something, decide it could be done better/isn’t working, scrap it and start again. In a probably futile effort to avoid doing this yet again, I made a prototype for the cab ends on the not quite a Henschel diesel.

The Liquorice allsort appearance is because I made the corners out of black and white pieces of plasticard, the idea being that it helped me to see how deep and/or straight I was filing.

This worked but it  didn’t look so good, so in a fit of enthusiasm I primed it to see what it looked like.

Remarkably it wasn’t so bad. There were a few rough bits but nothing that I couldn’t deal with next time around. As it was just a prototype I took the lazy option and tried out a colour scheme.

The badge in the middle is was a random idea to try and break up the blank end. I doubt I’ll need this on the production model, because the locomotive is supposed to be a relief passenger locomotive so it will need to have the same connectors as the railcar hanging off the front, a lot of this blank space will be covered by Guitar strings pretending to be connector pipes.

Once again I’m making life more difficult for myself. Just as well I have lot of friends who are musicians…

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We have pleasure in presenting our latest Executive Bijou Dark Tower, the ideal starter home or secret laboratory for the aspiring ‘Mad’ Professor or Dark Lord.

This compact residence comes complete with pitchfork-proof door (choice of ominous creaks), gloomy archway, and this years must-have feature, an upper storey designed to lean in a threatening manner for the general intimidation of passers-by, and dropping large objects on pitchfork wielding mobs. The tower also features en-suite secret passage in all rooms and small cupboard for your Igor.

Optional extras include deluxe cobwebs, brass lightning conductors for all those nefarious experiments, and for the security conscious evil tyrant, a dragon resistant roof.

The tower is excellently situated with your very own village to terrorise, and a handy rail connection for those essential visits to far-flung minions and the supermarket.

Apply to Agents De Evil, the Estate Agent for the discerning megalomaniac.

Hmm…. Anyway. Here’s the tower halfway through painting, white drybrushed over dark grey.

It’s the second attempt using clay on card and worked surprisingly well except that it really does lean threateningly: when I pushed the post office building into the wet clay so the two buildings fitted snugly together, I managed to tip the tower forward and didn’t notice until everything dried off. At least it is a building not a locomotive so I can hide the gap with a tree.  Locomotives look a bit silly with foliage.

The ‘stones’ are score lines using a piece of wire, and probably a bit too neat. I learned this time that the clay dries slowly. Very. Very. Slowly. I’ll take my time and make nice interesting shapes in future.

And I really need to paint it a lighter colour.

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I sometimes wonder if being more focused would mean I could get more done. I mean, here I am in the middle of making a model of a village, and I’m drawing ideas for a big diesel locomotive that won’t fit on it at all.

On the other hand, this way I get lots more experience than if I was just working on one project: problems solved in one area suggest new solutions for another and I learn faster because of the broader range of experience.

That sounds almost plausible, so I’ll quit thinking while I’m ahead.

The next project, then, is for a B-B locomotive based on the DH 1500 class from Henschel (German text, but the pictures enlarge nicely). These were narrow gauge locomotives, in turn based on the standard gauge Br 218 of similar design which are still running on German Railways. The narrow gauge versions were offered from 1963 and sold to railways in Spain, Bulgaria, Thailand and Togo,  so it would be reasonable to expect the KÖB to have a couple, as they would be replacing their steam locomotives at this time.

The real reason of course, is that I think they look cool. I’ve travelled behind a lot of Br218’s and this is a great excuse to have one of my own. Even better, no-one can say it is wrong.

The Bulgarian examples are still running -along with a rather smart Romanian version- on the 760mm Septemvri-Dobrinishte railway:

 

 

The Henschel machines are the more rounded looking ones with a small grille on the front.

The Spanish locomotives were used by the metre gauge FEVE. When they were replaced one was repatriated to Germany and now runs on the Brohltalbahn, having been rebuilt to look like a Br218 itself. This video shows it hauling a container train.

The most likely version is probably the Bulgarian one, because straight sides are far easier to make.

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About a week ago I was pretending to have a social life in the local city of Esslingen, while doing a bit more research. Esslingen is known for its medieval city centre and gates, and I was looking for something to adapt to make an entrance for trains to run through and hopefully distract people from the fact they were really running around in circles.

First, because it was nearest the bus stop, is the  Pliensauturm, once one of the most important gates as it guarded the bridge over the river.

Then in what is now the centre, the Schelztor. I’m not sure what it used to guard but it is currently hosting an italian ice cream shop, and as long as I have known it, sported a metal person balancing on a pole. I’m not sure why either.

Someone wasn’t measuring that carefully here, judging by the way all the windows are spaced, and the city crest is anything but central.

On the other end of the city is the Wolf’s gate, still my favourite since I wandered under it as a twenty year old on my first trip ‘abroad’.

Not named for a fearsome winter when the city was invaded by wolves, but a nickname that came about because the two lion statures on the outside were eroded over the years and look like wolves, apparently.

They must have had some very strange wolves locally, that’s all I can say.

It seems that the method for building these was pretty standardized: a three-sided stone box and filling the inside bits with a wooden building, which was probably cheaper than using stone for everything.

On Wornritzhausen, the gate is viewed from the outside, so it’ll be stone faced. The village is too small for anything as grand as Esslingen, but I’m assuming that it needed some security in the golden era when it was a trading point for the area.

So far we have a basic form:


That spindly support will get bigger and the arch will shrink when I add clay to represent the stone covering. Remembering to make sure I had 5mm clearance for the clay was more confusing than I expected.

 

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Finally got myself into gear to finish the railcar, or at least finish it to a point where I can start the next project with a clear conscience. There’s a couple of things will need doing at some point but I’ll worry about them if they annoy me. I’m not building for a museum here.

I’m generally pleased with the model, although I am a bit annoyed with those handrails on the front, as they took ages to fix and they are still wonky. I can’t think how to get them off without damaging the model now so I just patched up the paint and weathered the lot with chalk pastels, the bodgers friend. I’ll probably just leave them off in future or maybe not try and make such a complex shape without a jig.

On the other hand. the method of stippling rust really works well especially combined with drybrushing, so I’ll be repeating those, and the railcar generally has the feel I imagined, of a heavily used hand-me-down that has seen better days and really, really needs some paint. Or a clean at least.

 


In my slightly overactive imagination, the railcar was inherited from the Reutlinger Kreisbahn which rather sensibly upgraded from 600mm gauge to metre gauge fairly quickly,  leaving local lines with less enthusiastic local governments to pick up the now surplus stock on the cheap. This type of railcar was built as a cheap short-term solution in the first place and is already working beyond the makers intended lifespan, but the Höfelbachbahn was desperate and the Bürgermeister is still convinced the railway will not be needed in a few years so he vetoed anything more expensive. The railcar will probably rattle along the Höfelbach valley until it expires, or until the other towns finally persuade the Bürgermeister at Wornritzhausen that it needs replacing.

At some point I’ll probably add windscreen wipers -mirrors will have to wait for a layout with less curves or bigger clearances- and I really need to sort out the glazing in the centre windows which seems to have slipped downwards, but it works,  looks the part, and doesn’t fall off the track, so I’m happy.

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