Archive for the ‘Körschtalbahn’ Category


It turns out that modern freight wagons are deceptively complicated

Having assembled the 192 tiny parts to make the uprights on this wagon, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself until someone on the NGRM Online forum pointed out that I now had to paint them all.

I really should think about these things more.

This is somewhat important on this stage, the ‘rust’ layer. Once everything visible is dark brown, I can probably get away with missing a gap or two when I add the ‘final’ colour by pretending it’s supposed to look that way. I can’t get away with that with light grey primer.

My plan was to do this in stages after work, but what you see took about 20-30 minutes of painting, rotating the wagon and trying to look at every section from any possible angle, then going back again when I inevitably found a bit I’d missed.

That’ll teach me to get all excited about a wagon in a photograph and start building with no plan whatsoever…



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Slow progress at the moment due to because of a combination of general festivities, a final dissertation that I promised myself I’d try to get mostly finished by the end of the holidays, and applying for work after my current contract expires at the end of April 2019

Nonetheless, this is progress. Now I have to work out how to make plastic and acrylic paint look like aluminium. Any ideas?



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This project seemed such a good idea at the time: it’s a flat wagon, with pointy bits on each side. That was it: dead simple. What could go wrong?

I never learn.

Remember the model is loosely based on this wagon. Very loosely, admittedly, but it still needs to have enough of the features of the real thing to be vaguely recognisable as the same type of wagon. This means I need to make some vague representation of those double uprights and the big bolts holding them in place.

So I made a sketch, and used this to build a ‘prototype’. It looked awful. I scrapped this and tried again, this time looking much more at the photographs as I worked.

This one was much better, the only problem was that having finished I realised I’d have sixteen parts for each upright. Sixteen. And 12 uprights.

I did some sums…

I repeated the sums because I’m rubbish at maths…

I gave up and did the sums on a calculator*: 16 x 12 = 192 little bits of plastic, which need to be the same, or at least close enough that they appear the same.

Something tells me I may end up putting this off for a while.

*Yes, really that rubbish, or out of practice. On the other hand I can design a quite complex project in my head and see it in 3d from any angle: swings and roundabouts.


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Huzzah and three rousing cheers, the deck is completed.

The boredom factor was dealt with by the discovery of the excellent “Revolutions Podcast” which I recommend to anyone with a long and repetitive job to do. As an added positive I learned a lot of new things about the revolutions of 1848 and 1871, which I’m sure will guarantee me plenty of personal space at any future parties.

During the celebrations* surrounding the final decking piece being fitted I remembered that this was supposed to be an operational model, and that I therefore needed to fit bogies that could rotate. This caused an extra problem: I use nylon press studs as pivots, and I needed a good three millimetres clearance above the hole. This wasn’t a problem on the van because you basically have the entire van interior to hide the stud, but on this wagon I’d forgotten to take that 3mm into account.

Adding 3mm below the frame made the wagon sit too high.

Eventually brain engaged and I realised that if I made the connector for the stud 1mm from the underside of the deck, I could make a recess in the deck itself to give the required clearance for the bogie to turn.

This being a high precision engineering job I used the digital method: I put my finger on the top of the deck and twisted a drill bit from the other side until I could just feel the movement through the plastic.

This is why I will never be an engineer.

I tested the theory by stealing the bogies off the big van. The turn all right but then I discovered the bogies will be trapped between the side bars. It looks like I’ll have to use large radius curves, or possibly smaller bogies.

*One large glass of Ginger Ale and a whole slice of cake: Never let it be said I can’t have fun.

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I really need to think up more original blog titles.

I wanted to double check some details on the wood wagon I’m building, and I remembered photographing the original in Breisach,on the German/French border.

The last time we went to Breisach was probably about 2012/13. This raises the question of why I can remember useless information like this for years but instantly forget important stuff like where I just put my boots.

Anyway, I not only remembered this, but even managed to find the pictures on the hard drive, so there.

These wagons are pretty well used. Looking at the load they were carrying and the loading methods, I can see why they look so hammered. This being Germany I could wander right up to the wagons and have a good look about, I suspect they figure no-one is about to walk off with one of those logs.

The locomotive is from the Südwest Eisenbahn Gruppe or South west railway group, who are owned by the state government. They own and/or operate a few local railways in this part of Germany, including the line from Breisach to Freiburg.


By a rather wonderful coincidence someone on the NGRM forum posted a link to the German railways wagon catalogue just as I was writing this entry, so I now know this is a type ‘Snps (typ179)’ heavy duty wagon for timber, pipes, and other thumping great big objects. They are equipped with Extra wide stanchions, and inbuilt ratchet systems with rollers in the stanchions themselves, so loads can be fastened down by one operator. The wagons have wooden bolsters for each pair of stanchions and extra slightly lower bolsters in between so the loads doesn’t sag while being carried.


Re-reading that last paragraph makes me realise why I’m rarely invited to parties.

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Here’s a blast from the past. The beginnings of a heavily used timber wagon found lurking at the bottom of a box. This dates from the time when I first started making models again, and planned to build my models in 1:43 scale. Apart from this I’d started a couple of other wagons and a railcar, and they all looked pretty awful. Partly this was a lack of experience and partly because no matter how much I tried the mahoosive models I was making just didn’t fit the tiny wheel sets available, so I changed to 1:55 scale.

It shows how easily I can be distracted, that I’m only just getting round to making replacements for these models in 1:55. I was actually planning to make a second van but I was finding the prospect a bit daunting and when I found this I decided to go with the flow

I remember carefully making the original out o fairly thin plastic sheet so I wouldn’t make the frame too thick. This is probably why the old model is now the shape of a banana.

The new version is a bit more pragmatic, made of several 0.5mm thick sections glued together, partly for strength and partly because that way I could use up the offcuts of 0.5mm thick plastic I had kicking about. I’m hoping the over scale thickness will be made up for by the model lasting a bit longer.

Besides, I can hide everything with weathering, right?

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I’ve been out and about a bit this week and therefore away from my modelling bench but still managed to work a bit on some of my more ambitious ideas.

One is that the model of the Körschtalbahn will be at least partly electrified, because the one thing I need in my model making life is another layer of complication.

This week, finding myself at the local tram stop with time, & a camera, if not decent weather, I decided to take a couple of pictures of the wires there for ‘research’…

The trams in Stuttgart work using a a 750v DC system, which seems to have been pretty normal for German urban and rural tramways back in the day when AC electrification was newfangled technology requiring components as big as a house. As the KÖB would probably be classified as an ‘overland tram’ this is a likely system. So far so good.

On the other hand, every now and again something like this happens:

That’s some serious knitting right there. Those lumpy black cables are power supply to the overhead. Clever types who understand electricity have tried to explain why this and I got as far as understanding that DC systems have pretty rapid voltage drop unless you make the cables the size of drain pipes, so you need to keep boosting the power. According to my entirely unscientific survey,in this case this happens every twelve masts or so.

Which is all well and good but it’ll be a bit awkward to make models of.

At this point sensible people point out that really, no-one will notice if I don’t have the extra details,in fact a lot of model makers take the pragmatic approach of leaving overhead wires off their models altogether and just having uprights, pointing out that wires are obvious to us because we see them silhouetted against the sky, and from above they’re pretty invisible. Either way, I could ignore the need for the power supply.

Well, possibly.

As the Körschtalbahn currently consists of a railcar, still in primer, a van and an as yet unfinished diesel, this is not going to be a decision I need to take for a while anyway.

Probably should spend more time building models and less running about taking pictures…

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