Archive for the ‘Körschtalbahn’ Category

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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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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The Körschtalbahn’s railcar in the process of being primed, which is something of a milestone as the half finished body spent nearly five years lurking on my desk, gathering dust and generally making me feel guilty whenever I looked at it.

After several weeks months putting off the spray painting on the basis it made sense to have more than one model ready before bothering with all the faff of spraying, the actual job took about fifteen minutes to do everything, plus another thirty to tidy up the mess on the balcony. At least this time I remembered to cover the tiles on the floor: there’s still a faint line of overspray from last time, where I learned that our tiles are slightly porous and no matter how hard you try to scrub them, you can’t quite get rid of all the paint in there. fortunately this is only visible if you know what to look for and I’m not telling anyone.

As usual I discovered pretty quickly that spray painting is better done in thin layers rather than one great thick one, although this time I at least managed to remember this before doing too much damage.

I also learned the trying to take pictures of models in primer can be a right pain, hence the lack of them in this post, so you’ll have to trust me when I say that the Höfelbachbahn railcar is also primed and ready to be painted and thoroughly weathered.

Now all I have to do is decide what colours to use.



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A combination of conveniently warm weather and the HBB railcar looking vaguely finished had me getting all motivated to spray primer on the backlog of projects. This is a pain to set up as I have to use the balcony, but I found the spray box, bought some fresh primer -I’ve been building one of these models for at least eight years so I don’t want to muck up the finish- and got everything together for the weekend.

On Saturday we had wind, heavy rain, and quite unnecessarily, snow.

Sometimes being badly organised is an advantage: I’d forgotten that the KÖB railcar needed a beefed up central block between bogies. Nothing drastic, just a bit more of a lump to suggest things like a fuel tank and other vital undergubbins that I don’t really know anything about. This is probably why I was ignoring its absence, but I figured that making something was better than sitting on my hands while the wind howled outside, so I measured the existing box on the original chassis and made another box to fit around it. Then made another one as I’d managed to measure it wrongly. And measured that one wrongly too.

It eventually took three attempts and a fair bit of bodging to make a box that fitted. I’m not sure why, but it was probably being distracted by conversations/train videos/shiny things. As usual.

Anyway. A couple of evenings and I had something presentable. I’m quite pleased with the steps although it would have been nice if they’d aligned better with the ‘step’ in the bodywork. I’m not sure that the ‘fuel tank’ is really big enough though. Perhaps it extends behind the steps and locker. Yes, that sounds good.

That, you’d think, was that, but then I decided I wanted sand boxes. Our local trams pour so much sand onto the track that by the time spring comes you could play beach volleyball on the steeper sections. The Körschtalbahn is higher than where I live so I imagine it would be very icy in winter.

Now that’s ready, I just have to add all the bits I forgot on the other railcar…

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This could get confusing. I seem to have managed to end up building one railcar while designing another. unusually for me there also seems to be some remote chance of them being finished.
Just to make is clear, this railcar is the metre(ish) gauge model I’ve been working on for so long I may be able to auction it off for its antique value. The Elder son and I are adding details, which is to say, I’m adding details and he joins in when not concentrating on coursework/phone/girlfriend, although not usually in that order.

The railcar started out as a loose model of the MGB class Deh 4/4 II, because I’ve wanted to make one of these since I came across one in a book when I was about fourteen. It didn’t work out that way though, because I couldn’t get the angles on the front end to work so I changed direction and based the ends on the Rhaetian Railway ABe 4/4 II instead.  And then I realised that the door in the side couldn’t be an inset sliding door because there are air vents for large lumps of machinery on each side, so I had to add runners on the outside instead, and it is taking on a life of its own and becoming something completely different.

It’ll be interesting to find out what…

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This may well qualify as the slowest model construction ever: the most recent blog entry I can find of the build is in summer 2011. Considering that it was supposed to be entered in a competition for the 5.5mm scale association in October of that year, I’m running a little behind.

Of course, in those five years I managed to start and graduate a cabinet makers course, take a supporting role in the birth of our fourth child, get diagnosed with Asthma and start an  Occupational Therapist course, but still.

Anyway, the elder son is showing an interest in making stuff; when he can fit it in around his social life that is, so this is going to be a starting project.

So far we’ve braced the sides so they don’t look like they were made from damp cardboard, and added the roof and exhaust pipe. Astonishingly, with my track record of losing anything smaller than a bicycle if I put it down for more than ten minutes, I managed to keep the roof and exhaust in a place that was safe, and to remember where it was when I needed it, instead of having to remake the parts like I usually do.

There isn’t that much left to do: add pipes, handrails, glazing and a few other details, including a driver if we can work out how, and then paint it on the KÖB’s colour scheme. There are LED’s in there but for now they will remain unlit for a while as I’ve had enough of electronics in the last few weeks.

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The last instalment of the Körschtalbahn’s ‘history’ was so long ago I had to back and read it. I left the line in a bit of a mess, with Deutsche Bahn trying to shut it down and increasing road transport competition.

This is of course a rather typical scenario: so many books on Narrow Gauge history describe it as ‘inevitable’ that this or that railway closed because of “Economics”. Economics has become a dogma, an excuse for anything that corporations and governments want to push through against the will of normal people, but just occasionally, if there’s enough people, and they’re properly organised, they can change things.

Let’s assume this happened. The local government was planning a major road building project, which would cut through the heart of several villages in the Körschtal,Of course, this would render the railway ‘obsolete’. A similar scheme had just finished off the Altensteig line, but whereas the road that replaced that line had crossed the Nagold valley on a graceful viaduct, this plan would mean destroying the historic centre of Wildberg.

Coming so soon after the oil crisis, and at a time when tourism was really beginning to kick off in the Black Forest, the citizens of Wildberg and the Körsch valley revolted and elected a new council opposed to the scheme. Much muttering and negotiating later, the Körschtalbahn, track stock and buildings and the power plants on the river were bought from Deutsche Bahn who valued it at one German Mark: the Tax Department demanded twenty Pfennigs extra.

It was quickly realised that the summer tourist season would contribute the most revenue but also that tourists would be the least inclined to make allowances for the state of the track and overhead wiring. Over the winter of 1979-1980 therefore, passenger trains were replaced by buses and the track was entirely replaced. There was some discussion about making the line diesel operated throughout but this was rejected: oil prices hadn’t settled down yet, and there were plenty of metre gauge trams on the market which would provide a cheap, rapid passenger service. For greater capacity and through trains the newly formed “Körschtalbahn Limited” (KÖB) refurbished their fleet of ageing bogie passenger coaches: these and what freight was still running were handled by a motley collection of diesel locomotives until such a time as the railway could afford more powerful electric rail cars in the mid 1980’s.

By 1985 the line was running several passenger trains a day plus tourist trains in the summer and winter peak seasons: the trams had proved a success, and several new stops had been integrated into the system. The maintenance sheds ad Dachsburg were extended and upgraded to handle major repairs, and a new railcar shed was built in Spitzenwald which could handle day-to-day maintenance on diesel locomotives. I’ll explain why that isn’t pie-in-the-sky in another post.

School traffic provided a regular steady income outside of the holiday season and there was a small but growing number of commuters who had moved out to the Körsch valley and worked in Wildberg, Nagold or even Pforzheim, but the railway was still handling but a tiny percentage of the freight traffic which was booming in the Körsch valley: timber, the traditional staple of the railway was moving to road as fast as the swamills were growing, and as new industries came to the valley they were often adding more and larger trucks to the already congested roads, damaging the very fabric of the villages and driving away tourists.

It was time for the Körschtalbahn to re-enter the freight transport market.

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