Archive for the ‘Körschtalbahn’ Category

Attempts at self discipline continue. This weeks project is an endeavour to kick start some freight wagons for the Körschtalbahn, on the basis that the big diesel really should have something to pull. Admittedly I don’t have a diesel as yet, nor do I have a layout for this hypothetical train to run along, but hey, never let facts get in the way of an interesting project.

The mythical and somewhat optimistic traffic flows of the Körschtalbahn which I will bore you with at some point will require vans to keep the products carried safe and dry in transit. To be viable they will need to be high capacity vans which can take standard Euro palettes and be loaded and unloaded with a forklift truck to keep costs down, so we’re talking large capacity vans with big sliding doors. These are pretty commonplace on modern European railways and fortunately I even found that the metre gauge Rhaetian Railway have a fleet. Readers with a long memory and an extremely high boredom threshold will recall that in the early years of this blog I tried to make a 1:43 scale model of one of these, which shows just how very slowly I work.

The RHB have two types of van at the moment. I’m building the more complex one, less because I have ideas of genius in the model making department, more because the more complex vans are an older batch, so I have a bit more leeway to hide my mistakes by weathering the dodgy bits.

Which is all very well, but we are currently in one of the busiest seasons at work, as we are taking part in a big summer festival this weekend so work may well be even slower than normal. Still, that design is completed, which is the really tough bit finished: after all, the rest is just cutting bits out and sticking them together…


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All this trying stuff out is very important and useful, but if I don’t get moving on the main model there isn’t going to be one, so I’ve been trying to get myself focused. The arrival of this package is another step in that direction.

For people with a normal life I should explain that this is a ‘simulator’ controller, which is designed to operate like a real train: when you turn the electricity on it starts the train gently, accelerates to the set speed, and then slows it down with momentum like a real train. Of course you can make it look like a real train to other people, but this way you have to learn how to drive the train into the platform or stop at signals etc, which is obviously much cooler.

I’ve liked simulator controllers ever since I saw one as a child, so much, in fact that I saved my pocket money for a Gaugemaster unit (“With Brake”) in the 1990’s which turned out to be everything I’d hoped for, just not in combination with the ‘pancake’ motors in models at the time. Frequently the train would sulk in the platform for several seconds then lurch forward at high speed and, because mine was rather short model, crash into the buffers about three seconds later. On at least one occasion the train went clean off the end in a dramatic recreation of the Montparnasse derailment.

I also managed to find the least ergonomic position on the model I was building and give myself a repetitive strain injury using it, although I notice the company has since changed designs so it may not have just been me.

Twenty years later and modern motors have flywheels and weight, and the ability to stop, go, and pull the skin off’f a rice pudding. When I got the chance to buy a used panel mounted unit for a very low price I sent an offer before the owner changed their mind, and this week the unit arrived.

Now I need to find a transformer and build a case, which shouldn’t be difficult, and may even get me back into making things out of wood again.

The seller had brought the controller with him on holiday to northern Germany and packaged it in a newspaper at his hotel, so I even had an instructive five minutes reading the Bad Doberan Advertiser. I am now up to date on the goings on of the East Coast Sailing club and the summer theatre scene on the Baltic coast.

So there, bilingualism pays.

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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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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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Something I’ve noticed over this year: projects go through phases, and a lot of them make for pretty boring photographs.

Take this picture of the outer and inner sides of the big diesel I’m working on for the Körschtalbahn. Try as I might there is no exciting way to take pictures of a sheet of plastic with holes in it. Trying to take a picture on a filthy wet day doesn’t help either but needs must.

Why did I decide that lots of holes in the side of a model locomotive would be a good idea anyway? It’s not like I enjoy trying to cut straight lines in plasticard.

This is the bit of the project where I just have to keep reminding myself that eventually, there will be a fun but, where all the bits come together, and I can add on details and decide what colour to paint the model, and I’ll generally enjoy myself. This is especially important because when I took those pictures I realised that a couple of those windows are too big: not enough that anyone else will see it probably, but just enough to irritate me.

As I am very keen to break with my tradition of making at least two starts on every model, I’ve tried to repair the damage by welding extra bits of plastic inside the frames, leaving it to set very solidly, and filing and sanding away on the next model making session. We shall see if this works…

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There’s a point at the beginning of any project when I really wonder why I bother. It’s the point where I’m trying to do all the boring engineering type stuff to make things fit. If I get this wrong nothing will fit together and the locomotive, wagon, or whatever wobbles about or falls off the track in an embarrassing manner, so I have to just grit my teeth, remind myself that this means there will be fun detailing and weathering to be done later.

It’s a bit like eating your vegetables in the hope there will be a nice dessert.

Anyway. After a certain amount of measuring and false starts, this is the result, a box that fits an old chassis from my stockpile. The gap I the casing is for wires to come through in case I get all enthusiastic about electricity and wire up the LED lights.

It might happen, you never know.

Of course, having done this I realised I’d gone end made life difficult for myself, again because now I can’t just glue everything together: I need to make the outer body clip onto this, just in case I decide one day that I want the lights to work.

Once again I’ve followed a brilliant plan without thinking it through and I’m now dealing with the consequences.

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