Archive for the ‘Locomotive’ Category

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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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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Works train

I’m travelling a lot on the tram these days so it was only  matter of time before I came across the works train that trundles about the network making sure it is safe for citizens to travel.

Here it is coming into our local station, With the sun in entirely the wrong place for taking a photo of the front, but there we are.

SSB_Works train_01
Most networks I know use old trams for this sort of job. I’m guessing this apparently rather lavish setup is because Stuttgart converted to standard gauge a few years back and they haven’t had time to build up a stock of old units to convert.

SSB_Works train_02
after the driving cab we have the two miscellaneous wagons carrying mysterious track repairing tools.

SSB_Works train_03
And finally one of the ugliest locomotives ever to run anywhere in the world. It’s as if, having made the trams, the designer realised there was another page on the order form, and five minutes until the weekend. Or maybe they just didn’t like Stuttgart.

Or perhaps it is an off the shelf B-B industrial loco for working in tight environments.

SSB_Works train_04

Either way, there’s a face only a mother could love.

(Model making is still taking place. More soon.)

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Blue Thunder

It’s been a busy week. unfortunately I didn’t spend it building anything for the Körschtalbahn, but as readers of the other blog already know, I’m trying to get a job and collecting vital ingredients for the garden. After five years here I’d forgotten how stressful job hunting is, so I turned to YouTube for a bit of light relief.

Japan Railways decided they needed a new heavy haul electric loco, so they ordered a fleet of articulated B-B-B-B units which they classified as the EH200, and also named the  ‘Blue Thunder’. I’m not sure why. We saw several EH200’s while travelling between Nagoya and Nagano in summer, unfortunately they were all flashing past the window of our train so I have to make do with someone else’s videos. It’s probably not for extreme steam fans:

The trains seem to be a bit short in this video: the longest train is 15 tankers. I’m guessing the wheel arrangement is more to do with keeping the axle weight down than maximum power in each unit.
I could make a diesel version of this for Spitzenwald, but I’d have to forget about having trains or a station and just turn the whole model into a locomotive shed, which would be a bit boring.

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Kyoto Steam Museum.

One thing that’s fascinating (At least to me, and it’s my blog) is the massive change railways brought to Japan.

In 1867, when the last Tokugawa Shogun gave in to pressure from the western powers, returned power to the emperor and allowed foreigners into Japan, the country was run under a feudal society. For almost three hundred years the government had kept the country isolated. Swords were state of the art weapons and ninjas were still assassinating people and wearing bamboo armour. Almost no-one in rural Japan had heard of steam engines, let alone seen one. Everyone thought Japan would be a pushover and spend centuries trying to catch up with the industrial west.

It took 26 years. By 1893 Japan built its first steam locomotive, and By 1895 there were electric trams in Kyoto. Japan industrialised in a generation and began the process that unfortunately ended in Pearl Harbour in 1941.*

Early British import, apparently with towel rack.

I know this, not because I researched it (as if I’m that disciplined) but because of the excellent steam museum in Kyoto, which had amongst other exhibits, a very Beyer Peacock-like locomotive built in the UK and about a dozen others built in Japan, all parked in a working roundhouse.

They even had a steam shuttle running although they seem to have modelled the coaches on an unsuccessful fairground attraction.

Nonetheless the fact that there were coaling facilities and working locomotives and a large coal stained workshop with people dropping heavy pieces of metal on the floor did make the place feel alive. It also stopped you getting all romantic about pretty steam engines.

There were also two D51 locomotives, which was one reason I wanted to go as for some reason I have a thing about Mikado (2-8-2) locomotives. The D51 class was the mainstay of many of Japan’s freight and passenger trains until the DD51‘s came along and replaced them. The original member of the class is parked out in the yard looking a bit forlorn, but D51 200 is a working locomotive and was being maintained. Unfortunately that meant it was backwards, but you can’t have everything.

I took far more pictures than this, and I got heatstroke in the process (note to self: if the engine shed isn’t fitted with doors, it’s probably a hot country) so I’ll inflict some of them on you at a later date.

*Which was not a good thing of course, but remarkable when we remember this process was started only 74 years earlier by American ships pointing their guns at the emperors palace in Tokyo.

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So there’s at least some railway content this week, here’s some videos of narrow gauge trains hauled by Japan Railways class DD51 locomotives. Because you can’t have too many DD51 videos.

The first is a snowy day in -I think- Hokkaido in the north, and the second is a ballast train being loaded in what seems to be a very leisurely, un-Japanese manner…


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Thanks to Malcolm Savage**, I’ve now got a collection of 1:55 scale figures that I know are really, genuinely of the correct scale. 1:55 isn’t a scale where you can make crowds. Various figures that crop up from time to time on the 55NG group that are ‘about the right size’, usually from war gaming suppliers, and Preiser seems to be my best bet for some non-Edwardian female figures, but I reckon I need to get it right, definitely, on the first few at least. Malcolm is one of the pioneers of modern 1:55 scale modeling and owns the molds to the original GEM kits that started back in the 1950’s so if anyone knows how big a figure should be, it’s him.

The main surprise was that despite all my whining, the railcar is in fact the right size. It looked predictably large when I put these lads next to it, but looking at pictures of the prototype, I suspect that’s because Swiss narrow gauge trains are thumping great big things, because when I put the ‘supervisor’ next to the door on the railcar it looked about right. For once my woolly maths and guesswork seems to have worked.

I’m still working on a design for railcar 2.1 though, to deal with some of the more glaring mistakes, and to try again to design something that I can actually build…

In other news, thanks to the great online marketplace I’ve now got two large bottles of PVA glue, so now it’s time to do some more detailed planning so I can cut the cardboard and polystyrene for the baseboards.

Typical, I leave them alone for five minutes and they’re off moonlighting on Westerooge…

Mind you, with a bit of work that loco could well be developed into an industrial unit for a wood mill or something. Or maybe I’ll work on a proper 1:55 scale version…

What do you mean I’m “easily distracted”?

* I really need to figure out some more original titles.
** I’d link to him but WordPress is playing up for some reason.

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