Archive for the ‘Hofelbachbahn’ Category

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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Suboptimization. That’s what is going on here. a “Situation where a process, procedure, or system yields less than the best possible outcome or output, caused by a lack of best possible coordination between different components, elements, parts, etc.

In this case the components called ‘stupidly tight curves’ and the snowploughs for the railcar have led to a lack of best possible coordination between the two. And I’m making it harder because I’m plain fussy.

The easiest way to fit a snowplough on a model train is to glue it nice and solid onto the coupling bar. This way it can waggle about with the coupling when the railcar goes around the track. Unfortunately in this case it would wave about more uselessly than a minor royal at a public occasion, and look almost as ridiculous.

Sensible people who know when to give up would have either ignored this: or left the snowploughs off entirely, but this would mean there was nowhere to paint the buzzbee stripes, so it wasn’t going to happen.

After ignoring the problem for a while, I decided that if I stuck the snowploughs on a pair of brass rods which went into the chassis at the exact point where they didn’t mess up the coupling bar, then they would stay nice and straight and the coupling could waggle about as much as it liked. Hooray.

I got there eventually and probably suboptimally, after the some bending of wire and a certain amount of ancient Anglo-Saxon.


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While I fret about the roof rack  I’ve been adding seats and passengers to the railcar so it looks like it is doing something useful rather than trundling around in circles. I say seats, they’re more pieces of plasticard glued down at odd angles and some 1:50 figures who were chopped down until they fitted, leaving a rather gruesome collection of legs and arms on the cutting board.

I made the seating sections on little modules of plasticard so I can take them out for painting instead of fighting to get the paintbrush into position through a window or something. Very occasionally I manage to think ahead far enough to avoid it all going to pieces.

Real modellers would have made a sort of clip in system to hold the modules down. I used Blu-tack.

I’ve also started to fit the LED’s into the model, but I won’t bother wiring them up just yet. I’ve got enough to worry about trying to make it all work without adding more complications.

I Also notice I’m beginning to get a bit fed up with the project, so I dread to think how my readers are feeling. I think I need to kick the post office project up a gear to get some variety.

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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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