Archive for the ‘Körschtalbahn’ Category

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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I am a terrible hoarder when it comes to model making. After all, if I don’t carefully store that vital part I’ve just found/been offered, I probably won’t have it to hand when I need it for a project.

I’m probably worse than most because I’m not working in a normal scale so I can’t rely on big companies and supply chains, so lot of what I use is hard to get or ‘found’ stuff, like guitar strings and bits of Chinese takeaway boxes- I even have some fine veneer scrounged from the packaging a long forgotten meal eaten in a Japanese hotel, but which will one day reappear as the side of a van or something. Probably.

In the meantime I’ve labelled things carefully in a random set of (also scrounged) containers and squirrelled my treasures away in a growing stack of cardboard boxes in the loft.

Unfortunately I then promptly forget where I’ve put everything.

So imagine the excitement this week when I went up to the ever growing pile and found a carefully labelled box of ancient bogies*. In fact, I discovered two boxes of ancient bogies, some equally ancient HO scale coaches and wagons, a lot of er… bits, about three miles of guitar wire (never refuse it), and some 12mm gauge track which I vaguely remember ordering by mistake about a decade ago.

The bogies worked on the goldilocks principle. One set too big, one set too modern, and the other set just right, or as near as made no difference with a hacksaw. The white area on the top of the bogie is a thin strip of plastic to hide the crude surgery and support the almost invisible press stud that forms the bogie pivot itself.

Now all I need to do is dig in the Box Pile until I find the coupling parts hoarded in there some years ago, and I’ll nearly be done.

If anyone wants a few 12mm gauge points let me know. No guarantees how fast I’ll find them, mind you.

*I briefly considered “a box of ancient bogies” as the title of this post but I decided I didn’t want hits that much…

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This is the bit in a project where a proper model maker would add all the details, the exact details mark you,after looking at every available image or designers drawing that can be found, sometimes specific to an individual item of rolling stock.

I tend to take a slightly more pragmatic approach. I have pictures of what I’m building of course, but quite often I (whisper it) make things up a bit besides.

My excuse is that as the fictional Körschtalbahn would be an independent railway, it follows that the needs of this line would be different and the locomotives, carriages and wagons would be built or adapted to reflect that need.

OF course the real reason is often a combination of laziness, lack of skill and a need to move interesting details to hide mistakes I made earlier.

For example, the original vans on the Rhaetian Railway have a different railing to the one I’ve used, but until I get around to learning to solder properly and drill and bend wire much more accurately, I’ll have to keep using plastic and superglue, and add little extra sections to make sure it stays straight, or at least that a casual viewer doesn’t notice that it’s a bit wonky.

Anyway, I’m trying to be a bit more disciplined on projects so I had a good look at the tubes and flexible bits hanging off the end of the prototype vans, and this week I spent a bit of time cutting up old guitar strings and bits of brass to make reproductions of them here.

To be honest I’m not entirely sure about that long cable nearest the camera is supposed to be. It looks like an electrical cable, but I’m not sure why the wagon needs one: the doors seem to be manually operated, and there aren’t any obvious marker lights in the bodywork. I know the RHB often run wagons as part of passenger trains so I’m wondering if it is a through cable to allow the locomotive to power or communicate with the carriages… Any thoughts?

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This week I’ve been working on all the lumpy bits of the newly covered wagon, and my goodness but there are a lot of them. The fascinating thing to me (and it’s my blog so you’re getting this too) is that the lumpy bits act as a frame holding the entire wagon together.

This is probably obvious to people who understand these things but it was only this week that I realised that it is not simply that the sides don’t hold up the roof: the rest of the van has to handle the not insignificant forces of the entire door sliding along the length of the van and slamming against the other end, again and again and again.

My word but that’s awful grammar. Keep up at the back there.

I’m guessing that while the Complicated Van sliding Door Department were at work, in the office next door the Mahoosive Frame Design Committee were scribbling away at ideas to make the rest of the van solid enough to work without it sinking through the track. The wagon is essentially a thumping big frame with the chassis, ends and central pillar taking all the stresses of the load. Even the roof is a bit of an afterthought between the load bearing girders. And I thought they were just big gutters.

All of which makes this nondescript van a very impressive bit of design, especially when you consider that a set of curtain sides would have been a far simpler solution.

Which leads to another thought: all the pictures I can find of these vans shows them trundling through alpine meadows and past the occasional happy cow, so why the heavy security? What do the designers know about rural Switzerland that we don’t? I think we should be told.

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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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