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Over on the Lead Adventure Forum there are a number of people making very cool stuff out of cereal packets, cocktail sticks and assorted random odds and ends. This appeals to your correspondent, mainly because I am a tree-hugging bicycle riding hippy, and also because, being a tree-hugging bicycle riding hippy I’m generally short on money to fund any model making.

So when someone pointed me at a thread showing how to make a rather spiffy Fokker Trimotor from cornflake packets, handily in my scale of 1:55 or what tabletop gamers call ’28mm scale’, I got all enthusiastic about trying something like it.

Lacking the space for something as huge as an aeroplane, I decided to go for a 1930’s styled three-wheeled sports car. This could be useful in dashing tabletop adventures and would be exotic enough to appeal to my boys. At least that’s my excuse…

So far the ‘chassis’ is a cereal box card, with a piece of loo roll pretending to be a canvas radiator cover. The headlights gave me some trouble before I found that Middle Son had a bottle full of air gun pellets he thankfully wasn’t going to use, and was happy for me to take a handful. I drilled a hole in the pellets, superglued a pin in them, and sanded down the other side to make passable main lights. The sidelights are from round-headed dressmakers pins, treated the same way.

The wheels are made by sandwiching lots of bits of wire between several pieces of card, filing the result round and gluing a spliced piece of electrical wire insulation around it.

You can buy white metal castings for wheels. And having made two using my method I can see why…


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A combination of conveniently warm weather and the HBB railcar looking vaguely finished had me getting all motivated to spray primer on the backlog of projects. This is a pain to set up as I have to use the balcony, but I found the spray box, bought some fresh primer -I’ve been building one of these models for at least eight years so I don’t want to muck up the finish- and got everything together for the weekend.

On Saturday we had wind, heavy rain, and quite unnecessarily, snow.

Sometimes being badly organised is an advantage: I’d forgotten that the KÖB railcar needed a beefed up central block between bogies. Nothing drastic, just a bit more of a lump to suggest things like a fuel tank and other vital undergubbins that I don’t really know anything about. This is probably why I was ignoring its absence, but I figured that making something was better than sitting on my hands while the wind howled outside, so I measured the existing box on the original chassis and made another box to fit around it. Then made another one as I’d managed to measure it wrongly. And measured that one wrongly too.

It eventually took three attempts and a fair bit of bodging to make a box that fitted. I’m not sure why, but it was probably being distracted by conversations/train videos/shiny things. As usual.

Anyway. A couple of evenings and I had something presentable. I’m quite pleased with the steps although it would have been nice if they’d aligned better with the ‘step’ in the bodywork. I’m not sure that the ‘fuel tank’ is really big enough though. Perhaps it extends behind the steps and locker. Yes, that sounds good.

That, you’d think, was that, but then I decided I wanted sand boxes. Our local trams pour so much sand onto the track that by the time spring comes you could play beach volleyball on the steeper sections. The Körschtalbahn is higher than where I live so I imagine it would be very icy in winter.

Now that’s ready, I just have to add all the bits I forgot on the other railcar…

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This is a railcar with issues. The sides are too flimsy and the construction wasn’t that well thought through. the glazing is a nightmare, and when I tried to glue the side in I found it has a twisted chassis.

Incidentally, “Twisted Chassis” would be a stonking good name for a heavy metal group*.

Apart from that there were all kinds of little bodges to cover up for my lack of planning, so this week I’ll be starting again; again, which seems to have become a sort of tradition for my model making. I’ll be starting with a chassis that has more strength than a deflated balloon, and this time I’ll try to remember to make it narrow enough to avoid Tubby Railcar Syndrome. The thicker sides are partly for strength and partly because I’m incapable of painting around windows that neatly, so I prefer to make a sandwich with gaps in the middle and put all the clear bits in after I’ve finish ed slopping paint about.

I still have the spare sides: they survived being dropped, buried, lost under a laptop for two days and found by Beautiful Daughter who being two years old naturally used them as a camera. At least having them ready saves me some time as I can use those for the inside with a little work, and make a new set (with doors attached this time) for the outer skin, meaning that I may be able to catch up with myself faster than usual and fool people into thinking I know what I’m doing as well.

I’ll admit the last goal is a little optimistic.

*Which would of course be a support band…

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There is always a silver lining. Having restarted this project several times over, I found myself in possesion of several half built locomotive bodies, and this week I decided to find something useful to do with them, namely figure out what colour this locomotive should be. I also wanted to play about a bit and see what effects I could produce.

The Hofelbachbahn like to think of itself as a pretty go-ahead, professional organisation, which looks after its locomotives pretty well. It is also just this side of broke, and run by some local authorities that are watching its every move. This Krokodil is supposed to be about a year old, generally looked after though heavily used, as it is the main heavy freight locomotive and also probably the fastest loco in the fleet. Maintenance facilities are adequate, but not lavish, and there isn’t a lot of spare time or money for luxuries like cleaning.

This means I can have a generally clean locomotive, but gives enough leeway to weather it enough to hide my mistakes.

I’ve been experimenting a bit. The spare hoods were primed in the high tech paintshop* and then painted with acrylics, because that’s what I had. On the left, I painted the hood black first**, then aded the red, whereas on the right I just painted straight over the white primer.

I leave it to my readers to decide on the better result.

Weathering will be attempted soon.

*A cardboard box and a spray can.

** Okay, I painted it green, but the green didn’t cover well then dried gloss, so I painted over that with black and started again…

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1:1 Modelmaking.


Work station prepared for client.

Posting has been pretty slow of late as I’m about to do my next practical exam for my Occupational Therapist training, but finally after a lot of proofreading by my mentor at my internship placement, I’ve sent off my 3000 word report for the first read through by my tutor at college. Now all have to do is prepare the instructions for my client and I’m ready, with two weeks still to go.

I’ve even managed to get the new workstation ready. I still can’t get used to the idea that I can make this sort of thing and call it work…

Even better, thanks to my mentor at my placement spending several hours working on the grammar and spelling, I know the report isn’t complete drivel.

And the best part is that I have a long four-day weekend and I don’t have to use it for the report. I can’t do any more until my tutor gets back to me, and he has the weekend off too, so I can forget it until next week with a clear conscience and spend time with my family.

There may even be more blog entries. Perhaps. If a certain toddler lets me have fine minutes break…

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Last month we found a village a few kilometres away that isn’t there any more. There’s a reference on an old map, but no evidence except a mill that shares the name. No-one even knows where the village was supposed to be: a place where several generations lived, had children, and died, seems to have vanished without trace.

Or maybe a map maker got bored.

Either way, I’m taking the name, so  welcome to Wörnitzhausen, population one. And he isn’t very talkative.

As you can see, the planning committee has been to visit.


The challenge is to make this flat bit of cork into a convincing german village with railway accessories, and incidentally hide the fact it’s a circle of out of scale track. To start with I needed to get a feel for how big a building is, and in 1:55 scale you can’t exactly go out and get a ready to plonk building.

Further along from the alleged site of Wörnitshausen We passed this farm, now surrounded by foul and ugly buildings:

I’m quite aware that this isn’t the best picture, but I only had my little ‘point and hope’ camera with me and I was struggling to keep up with the Elder Son as it was.

German doors are usually two metres tall, and I took that as my starting point and worked out the rest by eye, then Youngest Son and I cut up some paper to make the version in the top picture. I don’t intend to use this as a design for the layout, just to see how big a ‘typical’ farmhouse would be.

The scenic break will be a city gate. Because I like city gates.

Baeckertor_Landsberg-2(Image source: Wikipedia)

This is the Bäckertor or ‘Bakers gate’ in Landsberg am Lech in Bavaria, which was once our local big town. I’ll make my own version but it shows that city gates can be fairly small. I’ve occasionally come across villages near here which have the remains of a wall so I don’t think it will look out of place.

The paper model to the right of my gate is supposed to be a garage, repurposed as a maintenance shed for the railway. I’ll need to work on that one; I wanted something modern and unsympathetic to its surroundings, but you can have too much ugly.

I’ve had a few more ideas since then, but first I needed to get the track ballasted and painted, a job I was frankly terrified of, but I manned up and went to the local chemist to get a syringe to put the glue down with. I did ask for the biggest one they had, but I wasn’t quite expecting this.


I’ve used something similar, but only administering medicines to farm animals.

If you know what sort of human ailments require such a thing for treatment, please keep it to yourself…

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Red Trains


Every day I get on a train pulled by one of these locomotives to get me to college and back. I won’t claim they are 100% punctual but I’m usually where I need to be on time. The coaches you can’t see in the picture have two decks and the train is a push-pull set. I would have taken more pictures but it was a couple of degrees below freezing and my commitment to blogging only goes so far when it is a choice between taking pictures and being warm.


Every week a couple of trains run from a steel wholesaler near my college to a large exchange yard in Plochingen. It’s easy to forget that operations like this with short trains and a small locomotive may be normal in Germany but are pretty rare in some parts of the world. The passenger train on the platform is from a small company that runs services on branch lines locally.

There are lots of interesting railway related things happening on the daily commute to and from college, and at some point when it isn’t cloudy and cold enough to freeze my fingers to the camera, I’ll take more pictures.

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