Archive for the ‘1:55 scale’ Category

When I last wrote about the Big Diesel (aka ‘Moby Dick‘) I was dithering about how to make the ends, because as usual I was overthinking everything about the project, imagining a dozen different ways to make the curve on the nose and how they could all go horribly wrong.

Eventually I decided that it would be better to actually finish the model at some point and reverted to plan ‘A’.

The problem was that despite my early sketches of the loco I really wanted the distinctive chromed light clusters on the the Brohltalbahn’s D5 or its standard gauge cousin, the Deutsche Bahn type 218. It identifies the locomotive immediately and hopefully makes it clear that the model is in Germany as opposed to Austria or Switzerland. As this will be a somewhat unusual model I wanted to have as many of these visual cues as possible to set the scene quickly in viewers minds.

More to the point I really like the class 218.

For some reason I’d got stuck on the idea that if I didn’t make the nose curved I couldn’t have the 218 styled light bar because… um… Reasons. so I’d followed the idea down the rabbit hole and was looking at the headlight designs on the similar Bulgarian railways type 77 when I happened to come across a type 218 picture and noticed that it has flat ends. Of course it does. I’ve travelled behind class 218’s for hundreds of kilometres and every one of them had an absolute lack of curve on the ends. I’d just… missed it somehow.


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As expected, determined procrastination has ensured little progress on the Great White Whale so the focus has returned to the Cardboard Rocket, especially as I’d already come to the fun part where I get to add all kinds of bits and pieces which somehow make it look less like a few bits of milk carton gobbed together with superglue and more like a car. At least I think it does. Don’t mess up my reality.

So far the model has cost a grand total of nothing, unless you count superglue. Even the figure is recycled from a 1:48 scale kit, after your correspondent finally realised that the difference between 1:48 and 1:55 is so small that for the most part it’s invisible. The head is nominally 1:55 and white metal, a leftover from a pack of ‘female heads’. For model railway builders I should perhaps explain that these are sold for mounting on figures to make then ‘female’ the gender being less than obvious when the figure is in a uniform. It’s handy for those of us who don’t want our female combatants to have a biologically impossible figure.

Other ‘detail parts’ consist of old guitar strings, handles from a Chinese takeaway, brass offcuts (the over large buckle on the ‘strap’ wouldn’t have worked with steel), dressmakers pins, (side and rear lights), electrical wire, a filed down nail head, (radiator cap), a cut off picture nail head (fuel cap) and an exhaust from copier paper wrapped around some metal of unknown origin that’s been kicking about the workbench for years.

The general idea is that after painting this will all somehow fit together and look like it’s made of metal and leather instead of cardboard and oddments. We shall see…

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I’m thinking of calling this loco ‘Moby Dick’: right now it looks like a great white whale and I’m not sure who will win the struggle to finish it off. I’m moving at a speed that a glacier would probably consider tardy, but I have finally managed to complete the sides and even attach them to the frame.

Appropriately, I’ve built the sides thick enough to be an ice breaker, partly for strength and partly because it made it easier to be sure the angled sides would be the same on both sides of the locomotive. I tend to think this is even more critical than getting the ends perfectly identical because it is relatively difficult to see both ends for comparison when the loco is on a model, whereas it’s quite common to see it end on.

The thick sides also made things like the steps and handrails easier to fit. I used recessed handlebars on this model, not because I’m such a model making genius but because I thought it may be easier to get them straight, or if I didn’t I could hide the fact more easily with some weathering.

It’s worked for the most part, just about. Although somehow the body has managed to twist a small amount, it isn’t noticeable if you squint…

I think I’m slow with these models because the Körschtalbahn was my ‘baby’ for many years now, with the original sketches dating from when I was in High School. Whenever I start a project I have a sudden need to think through everything half a dozen times before committing to building anything.

The current problem is a case in point. The original Henschel locomotives have a slight horizontal curve on the lower and upper parts of the nose which I’d like to repeat on the model, but I’m spending ages worrying about it instead of just getting on with the job. It would probably be more sensible to just make a straight end like the Bulgarian Railway locomotives I started with, so I can finish the model and then build the second example as a more ‘pure’ Henschel, giving me two similar but not identical locomotives with slightly different capabilities.

Either way, it’s about time I stopped messing about and got on with it…


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Drink more milk

More frivolity on the modelmaking front as the dashing racing car takes shape. I changed material from corn flake packets to milk cartons, mainly because we don’t eat that many cornflakes as a family, but we seem to have an astonishing appetite for milk. German milk cartons have a sort of plastic film mixed with the card which gives them a good texture as well.

Once again I’ve been making life difficult for myself with funny angles and curved body on the back end of the car. I’m sure there’s someone out there with a mathematical sort of brain that can do a few sums and come up with the best possible shape, but I just stuck a scrap piece of paper over the body and traced the shape of the bonnet on it.

Meanwhile, I decided the front end needed sorting, not least lowering to a sensible distance off the ground to make the vehicle more “sports car” and less “Landrover”, while the mudguards would be useless perched on top of the wheel as before so I moved them to a slightly more sensible position.

It would have usual been easier if I’d thought this through and added the ‘springs’ (Strips of milk carton and bits of chinese takeaway box) before gluing the ‘axle’ back on to the body of the car, but still…

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I still haven’t give up on the idea of having headlights on the the Henschel diesel for the Körschtalbahn. While working on the cab I realised the various essential electrical bits I’d need for this wouldn’t fit in the ends of the locomotive. Instead I’d have to put them in the relatively generous space in the body, with wires running to the LED’s in the ends.

In a rare flash of forward planning, I decided to make sure there was a route for these wire to run from the ends of the locomotive to the middle so I could put the LED’s in place, finish the locomotive, and then connect the other complex but essential components when I had the money and inclination to add them.

The only problem is that the chassis unit I’m using is rather large, and based around a block of very solid metal, so the wires have to be threaded along a gap between the motor and sides. Then the wires needed to come up in the middle of the locomotive so they could eventually be added to the other bits of electrical gubbins, and the gap was deep down below the substantial bits of plastic that would be used to glue the sides to the chassis.

Above is my solution. When the wires are pushed from the ends down the gap, they should turn along the curved plastic and poke up through a gap, right next to the space where the rest of the circuitry will be kept.

That’s the theory anyway; we shall see if it works in a few weeks…


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Remarkably, the project to shorten the Big Diesel seems to have worked out with minimal problems requiring the use of swearing. One of the window frames in the cab windows vanished mysteriously, and the sides are a little bendy, but overall they’re as square as anything else I’ve made and they’re the right shape to fit the chassis, so I’m calling that a positive result.

First lessons learned with the amazing shrinking loco (which will reappear at some point, rest assured) is that a locomotive with sloping sides needs tough bracing to keep it from warping and similar mischief, so I wasn’t sure the original chassis I’d built was going to be up to the job of holding the recently butchered sides straight, so the next job was making a fresh frame. This time I followed the Brick Privvy school of model making and built up the base and sides from laminated plastic card until they were several millimetres thick. In a rare flash of forward planning I even remembered to make the ends angled ready to hold the ends in place.

It may be too much to hope that I actually got the angle right, but allow me some smugness for actually managing to think slightly ahead anyway.

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I’m currently working through final exams for my Arbeitserzieher (Occupational therapist) qualification, which means most of my time is taken up with trying to remember information long enough to write it down again next week, leaving very little spare for doing anything useful.

In an attempt to do something creative I started painting some model figures. This has the advantage that I can pick it up for a few minutes between revising without it taking over the desk. It also doesn’t require me to think too much, and frankly at the moment brain capacity for anything is running at a minimum.

Even better, Youngest Son was sufficiently intrigued to have a go, and has now become quite enthusiastic. I don’t know how long this will keep him away from his smart phone, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts.


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