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Irony in action

Shunting locomotives have a tough life bashing into heavy lumps of metal, so it’s not surprising they have to be pretty rugged contraptions. Of course, they also have to be as cheap as possible, because if a company director announced they’ve spent lots of money on a deluxe, traditionally riveted shunting locomotive built by master craftsman who bend each piece using specialised tools and only the finest steel, hand forged using organic charcoal fed furnaces, the shareholders are not likely to be impressed, so the shunter I’m basing this model on is clearly made using mass produced sections that are welded or at least bolted together in seconds and use modular construction so they can make variations cheaply and efficiently.

The irony of this extreme efficiency is that as I’ve complained before, they turn out to be rather time consuming to make in model form.

All of this is a rather long winded way of excusing the rather slow building process this week, which has resulted in no more than two sides and the end completed in the time available.

On the other hand, I did at least remember to build the two sides in a mirror of one another, which has not only meant an increased efficiency but less swearing…

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First End

Modern locomotives are complicated; you’d think I’d have worked this out by now, but I seem to need to relearn this lesson every time I start a new project.

Also, because of the above, it always takes longer to make a model than I optimistically plan for.

This example is theoretically based on a shunting locomotive by the German company of Vossloh, who are based in Kiel, so far up yonder in the frozen north that there are ferry services to Norway. Their “G6” shunter is a fairly popular design for private companies, so I’m assuming they may make a “narrow gauge” version if requested. Their designers seem do delight in making all manner of corners, interesting angles and random hatches and access points, not to mention several different variations of the same model, so the result will be my usual “sort of” model, as in: it sort of looks like the original. Seen from a distance.

As usual my careful measuring and planning worked to a point, and I ended up with the nose being a bit too tall for the cab, leaving me with a choice of rebuilding the nose or raising the cab by about 1.5mm.

As can be seen from the gap under the cab sides I went for the easier option.

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Extra bits…

Much spare time this week was spent filing and cutting tiny pieces of plastic and wire then gluing them to my fingers, the workbench and eventually to the chassis of the KÖB’s shunting locomotive; it took a certain amount of swearing to get everything attached and aligned properly, and then a few dodges to hide where they didn’t. Of course I invested time making tiny “cables” from some parts only to find that they are entirely hidden from all angles except directly below, such is life.

Also after nearly destroying the chassis removing a spacer that raised it up by about 2mm I decided I would have been better to leave it there, so it was replaced and after some more advanced swearing some more steps added instead.

Still, that’s the mysterious mechanical bits largely completed and now I can get on with making the upper part which will hopefully be a little quicker. Of course this means I’m just getting closer to the dreaded soldering of the handrails, which I’m trying not to think about just yet…

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Technicolour Dream Train.

After nearly 20 years of bright red everything, Germany is getting all technicolour with lots of private operators, and there are all kinds of interesting colour schemes turning up.

These are Siemens Vectron locomotives, electric versions of the diesel locomotive I photographed earlier. Try to ignore the signal apparently mounted on the roof.

Mind you, if the Körschtalbahn ordered a “Small” version of this, maybe they’d have an equally bright colour scheme. Better still, I could declare it to be a “Hybrid” locomotive with appropriate branding, the ultimate excuse for having a model electric locomotive without overhead wires…

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Steps at a time

One major feature for modern shunting locomotives seems to be steps and walkways for the crew to get on and off the locomotive, and generally walk all around it. This is obviously a safety matter: it’s better to have your staff safely protected by nice solid buffer beams and railings than clinging to the side of the locomotive where they are vulnerable to bridges, other vehicles, or simply falling off. The other reason is that on a modern German railway the driver often controls the locomotive via a control box which he carries strapped to his shoulder, and can be frequently seen standing at the front to get a better view of shunting operations.

Therefore this week has been a week of making steps. As usual, it began with the best of intentions and as usual it ended up with plastic being cut haphazardly, shoved into place, wiggled about until it looked half right, then filed down to fit. There’s a reason I never became an engineer.

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Don’t ask me…

When I left you last week it was with some apprehension that I’d have to make representations of the mysterious technical bits that modern locomotives seem to leave in full view of the travelling public.

This is made much harder by my coming into contact with real model makers on various internet forums who have been indirectly encouraging me to attempt ever more detail in the hope of making models as good as theirs. Therein lies the danger of social media: just say “no” kids…

Here’s the first attempt at um… something. They may be axle boxes, possibly electrical motors, or for all I know, quantum accelerators. Whatever they do, one covers the ends of each axle on the original locomotives. These are pretty rough, but those squares on the cutting board are 1 cm each so the finished …items… are probably small enough that I can get away with it, especially as they’re going to be well under the side frames and painted dark grey.

This is one of those times I’m going to be hard pressed to find an answer if someone asks “what did you do this weekend?”

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Frames, again…

A rather poorly executed image of the frames, inevitably the second attempt.

Less obvious is that I finally built up the courage to remove the original side frames on the chassis, as one obvious feature of the prototype is open wheels, and I think I should at least try and make this look like the original.

Another feature of the original is that the wheels aren’t equally spaced along the underframe but I’m afraid my fidelity to the prototype only goes so far, and in this case it’s as far as I can change things before I have to cut up the entire motor, because I view the inner electrical workings of locomotives as akin to black magic. It will have equally distanced wheels and like it, and if anyone asks it’s one of those things that had to change to make the design fit into a narrow gauge locomotive, because um… reasons.

Now I’ve removed the original parts I realise I have no excuses left and need to make all the various bits of undercarriage that is now exposed on a modern locomotive…

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For readers who are new to the blog, or who haven’t been taking notes, Some time ago I set myself the goal of having eight wagons, a “railcar”; a large “main line” locomotive, and a shunter, before attempting to build anything as exciting as a railway for them to play on.

Since then the entirely fictional Körschtalbahn has gained three vans, three wood wagons and and three container low loaders, meaning that for once I’ve actually had enough self discipline to keep working on a long term project. When I realised this I got all excited and started working on the carriages, forgetting that really they’re planned for the next stage of the project (E.R.A.G 2.0, watch this blog; if you think you can handle the excitement).

My excuse for this sudden burst of frivolity is that I do have a shunter, built over a decade ago when I thought the Körschtalbahn would be built to British “O” gauge, or 1:43.5 scale (I’m not sue why the 0.5 is important either). As this was was my first model making project, it has a number of issues, not least that I really didn’t know how big I should build the model and aimed high. It’s massively over scale for 1:43, let alone my current scale of 1:55, as demonstrated by the loco on a low leader:

time to start on Version 2.0…

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Tool haul…

One thing I’ve discovered in my new job: people will try and donate anything to a charity shop.

As a result the organisation I now work for has a warehouse full of furniture, shelves of pictures, boxes of records, and whole rooms full of tools.

It also has a recycling centre that would do justice to a small town. It’s not that we’re ungrateful, but there’s a limit to how many art deco lampshades, Oompah band records, and amusingly shaped clown vases you can sell to a populace.

Last month it was decided that we should try to sell off some of the thousands of tools that had accumulated over the years. Someone unaware of the danger of this policy put me in charge of the operation. Having organised everything I concluded that if ever there’s world 19mm ring spanner shortage, we’d make a fortune.

I also found a variety of odd shaped pliers that were deemed unsellable, so I rescued them from the skip. I’m not sure what some were designed for, especially the curious item on the extreme right end, but I’m sure I’ll find a purpose for them in time, assuming I actually get some time for model making in the near future…

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I’m finally getting on with the body of the wagons; as usual I keep trying new methods in the optimistic hope I’ll improve. The foremost wagon has had some carefully added wash painting to give it a bit of rust around the container anchor points and around a few of the details; the middle wagon started the same colour with a more liberally applied dark wash.

The third one is… green.

I’ll keep weathering the foremost two but just add a fairly subtle finish to the green one, so it hopefully gives the impression that this one is fresh out of the works, while the other two are really due for overhaul…

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