Archive for the ‘Hofelbachbahn’ Category

I am a pretty extreme introvert who works with people all the time, so come this weekend I really needed a little down time.

Ironic then, that I spent a chunk of it painting some 1:50 scale  people.

This motley crew got their primer coat back in August of last year and I have managed to put off the next stage ever since, partly because I didn’t really know how to even start painting figures, but I realised that the post office needed a customer or two so I found this method which I reckoned even I couldn’t entirely mess up, and set to work…

After painting everything (everyone?) black all over with artists acrylics, I left them to dry overnight. This morning, before any of my family were awake, I attacked the figures with white paint and a manky brush.

After this I concentrated on the postmaster and his solitary customer, on the basis that they will be inside the post office and therefore most of my mistakes will hopefully be hidden.

The reason the postman is apparently sinking into the ground is that he had to be cut to fit behind the post office counter, which is cunningly hiding the switch for the points outside.

His customer is a bit more fortunate, if you can call being glued permanently into a cardboard box ‘fortunate’.

After a couple of attempts and some rather rigorous cleaning with an old paintbrush and some alcohol, (someone needs to explain to the makers of “Acrylic Matt Varnish” that ‘Matt’ generally doesn’t reflect light like a chrome hub cap…) this is the result.

Now all I need to do is finish the rest of the interior…

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Your opinion, dear reader, is required.

Obviously, as you are reading this blog, you are a person of exquisite aesthetic taste and style and I require some feedback on the latest addition to the HBB’s railcar, namely the luggage rack on the roof.

The idea is that this gives some much needed overflow to the luggage compartment on peak services, especially on market days, when customers have a tendency to bring purchases on board that try to move of their own accord, so the Hofelbachbahn (or more accurately, the company that bought the railcar in the first place, decided it wasn’t big enough and sold it to the Hofelbachbahn, it makes sense to me so don’t argue) ordered the version with the extra rack.

Trouble is, now I’ve come to actually fit the rack, it looks a bit big and obtrusive. I can’t work out if this is because I’m used to seeing a dip in the roof or because it just doesn’t work.

And if it doesn’t work, why not? Is it too high, too wide?


From track level it doesn’t look that far out of place, so maybe I just need to get used to it.

What do you think?

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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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HBB 5 at Hofelstetten, where the Höfelbachbahn meets its southern neighbour, the Ehninger Kreisbahn (EKB). The Kreis (county) of Ehningen adopted the idea of a railway later but more enthusiastically then the nothern villages, and electrified their railway from the start. Construction stalled at Hofelstetten because a line over the county border to link with the HBB would have to use part of the road for about two kilometres, including a 150m long tunnel, and the Ministry of Roads refused to allow this.

Rather surprisingly the solution came from the Bürgermeister of Wörnritzhausen, who got involved with a sand quarry scheme which would need rail transport south. Suddenly the railway went from ‘getting in the way of traffic’ to being ‘a vital transport link’ which “had to be completed for future prosperity”. The Ministry of Roads mysteriously dropped all objections, and a fleet of six bogie wagons like the ones seen above was ordered to keep the sand dry in transit.

Trains were hauled from the quarry by the HBB and handed over to an electric EKB Locomotive in Hofelstetten. The traffic flow didn’t last long as  the scheme collapsed within a year. There have been mutterings around the Stammtisch that the scheme was never in fact a serious proposition, although the Burgomeister has so far avoided legal proceedings.

He blames the failure of the scheme on the railway companies.

Once again this was drawn to survive a boring lecture. in fact it lasted several lectures while I messed about trying to get the perspective right. I tried to include more details to hint at the time and situation the railway is built in, rather than just focussing on locomotives. If I could achieve this with my modelmaking I’d probably have a more complete layout by now…

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I just couldn’t let it go, and made Underframe 3.0 on when I probably should have been preparing for the end of year exams.

As usual I’ve gone for the opposite extreme: great slabs of plastic, each one laminated from three sheets of 0.75mm plastic card. It even feels heavy.

There are several immediate improvements; I actually remembered to make it a bit narrower for one. This means I can make the sandwich arrangement I need to use for the windows.

Also the chassis has survived a week without turning into a banana, and the whole thing also manages to be perfectly level to the track, which was the cause of much rejoicing, even if it was by accident.

Unfortunately, even I can’t fill an entire blog post writing about a railcar underframe, so here’s another sketch to fill the space:


I posted this on the NGRM online forum some time ago and I don’t see why you should get away with not having to look at it. Besides, if I don’t push it online the drawing will disappear into my notebook because no-one here is interested in a sketch of a railway that doesn’t exist.

Artists always suffer.

This is a journey by the HBB’s works train, pulled by the original diesel (and never mind that this was actually built at 1:43 scale) into and through the parts of Wörnritzhausen that I’ll probably never get around to modelling, but which appear in sketches during the less exciting lectures at college.

Starting at the top left, the train passes through a gap in the fence alongside the old bypass and descends a very steep gradient to the town. The original plan was to have the line run on the route of the main road, but the Bürgermeister objected and was backed up by the Ministry of Roads who were determined not to give any territory to the railway, so the train runs along an embankment of wooden logs (picture 2) and around a spiral to drop down into the town.

The main picture is meeting the railcar in the town centre* where much shunting will happen, probably cluttering up the old market place, but there’s time enough until the afternoon school service comes along. This is the southern hill country known as the Schwäbisch Alb, and contrary to stereotypes people are generally pretty relaxed here.

After leaving the square the train will run through the city gate and new market (which is the bit that fits on the baseboard) and then veer off through the fields and across the main road again. It looks like I was in a hurry when I did that one.

The tear in the bottom is not due to a deranged art critic, but my daughter attempting to turn the page while sitting on the book…

*Yes, the old railcar design, but it’s all free…

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Having made the ugliest chassis in Christendom, something to cover the thing became an urgent priority.

My plan was to make four sides and build a sandwich arrangement. The neatest two sides would go on the outside, and the less well made sides would go on the inside. There would be a bit of space in bewteen for clear plastic glazing.

I really hadn’t expected all of them to come out this neatly.

While basking in the warm smug glow created by being able to cut in a straight line, the working part of the brain came along and pointed out that I’d got the maths wrong. Again.

I built the chassis 34mm wide, on the basis that the railcar will end up being 36mm wide. This is fine if the sides are of one milimetre thick, but now I’d messed that one up properly. The sandwich of two sides plus glazing would work out at between 2 and three milimetres wide, and the already tubby railcar was looking decidedly obese.

The smug glow wilted under the intense glare of maths.

That’s okay, said a couple of previously dormant neurons, because the inside, er, sides, can be replaced with a simple simple insert that fits above the frame, and as a bonus, we’ve got the sides for a second railcar. Nyah nyah…*

Okay, said the sceptical brain cells, but what about the doors

What? said the rest, through a new fog of smugness.

The double doors for the luggage compartment open outwards, don’t they? so what’s with making them inset into the bodywork? Hello? now you need to make some kind of internal sliding arrangement and hope no-one will notice, or try and make doors that will fit. We look forward to seeing how you manage that one.


Hmmm… time to look for a prototype with inset doors…

*Anyone searching for evidence that I’ve never grown up need look no further…

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Much capacity in the remaining brain cells has  been taken up trying to make a working frame on which I can build the Höfelbachbahn Railcar. Having two bogies of entirely different dimensions seemed a cool kind of quirky idea at the time, but but they are a pain in the backside when it comes to making something that doesn’t look like a cliff railway car.

I stopped counting rebuilds after the fifth attempt, because then it finally dawned on the great brain that if I parked the bogies on the display plank, then used a slide rule to measure the height from the top of the press-stud on each unit to the bottom of the plank, then I’d have a reasonably accurate idea of how much height difference there was.


It came to 7.8mm, because nothing can be simple in this world.

I decided to build the chassis with 8mm difference between the two bogies: with all the mistakes I’m likely to make a gradient of 0.2mm is likely to be the least of my worries.

With the chassis level, the next big challenge was to get it around corners which I managed after some considerable hacking of plastic.  Thoughtful readers will consider the consequences of using stupidly tight curves on your model railway.

I have a feeling that I’ll make the sides quickly. The sheer ugliness of the chassis is quite enough motivation to make something to cover it…

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