I have spent far more time than is good for me wandering about looking at old buildings I can adapt for Wörnritzhausen, and typically after taking photos all over the place I suddenly remembered this fine example just around the corner from our apartment.

All around the village older buildings are being demolished to make way for ugly but lucrative apartments, but apparently this is under some kind of legal protection as an important structure, so it can’t just be torn down.

It used to be used for student flats but it has been empty for several years now. Maybe it is just too cold in winter.


I’m guessing that it was once a farm because of the barn next door. The cellar looks like it it has a big solid stone wall. Maybe that is from an older house, that happened quite a bit around these parts.

Steps up to the front door. When this was a student residence it was usually open with some interesting and on occasion probably quite illegal fragrances coming out of it.

Mysterious door behind the steps. The cellar looks too small to me for keeping animals in, so what is this about?

It’d make one heck of a model railway room.

After waving a tape measure around a bit and doing some seriously wooly maths, I decided that this will fit nicely on the model. Only thing is, it needs to be the other way around, so I flipped the image over the get an idea of what it will look like.

Now I’m feeling slightly disorientated.



Testing times

Sometimes I wish I could be like those people who stop bothering about making trains and build beautiful dioramas instead. I’d get all the fun of making something and adding lots of details without all that pesky electrical jiggerypokery with attendant swearing and surreptitious prodding to make things work. I can’t though: for me the railway is the reason for the rest: the thread that holds the story together. Besides, I couldn’t make dioramas that well so I need something to distract people.

This means a large chunk of model making time this week was used up testing out various second hand chassis of questionable heritage that I’ve been amassing over the last few years, to decide which one should go under the big diesel.

It would have been a bit faster if I hadn’t stolen some of the connectors from my test track to make wiring for “Wörnritzhausen”, probably because I’d lost the others, so I had to find the other one and fix everything back together. Then I had to dig up a 3.5mm jack socket which I was really quite startled to find. Once all this was together, I placed one of the chassis of questionable heritage -originally intended, I think for a HO model of an EMD F7– and turned on the power.


Out came the super-dooper all singing all dancing voltmeter. This showed nothing was getting through to the track.

I reached back to turn off the controller, and jogged the 3.5mm jack connection. The chassis shot towards the distant end of the track before being rugby tackled by Youngest Son.

Having established that the chassis could move under power, we spent a bit of time making sure it runs at more sensible speeds, which it managed remarkably well considering it’s languished in a box for several years.

Finally, to my rather great relief, we found that the railcar chassis works. I’m sure I’ve tested this before but I can’t remember doing it.

Cartoon gate

I got fed up with the gate looking like the backdrop for a cheap Gothic novel and decided to brighten things up a bit. It went surprisingly quickly, just thirty minutes to make it look a bit more like weathered limestone, then 10 minutes to tone it down, and another 45 to get it back to how it was in the first place.

I’m not bad at painting, just really indecisive.

I’m generally happy now. The stones are highlighted using a method I learned many years ago in theatre: the top and left of the blocks are painted cream and the bottom ans right grey/brown to emphasise the depth. I fretted for a bit about it being cartoon-like but I worried about that when I weathered the Post Office and now I can hardly see the weathering so I’ll leave it as it is for now.

I’ll leave the panel for the crest as well, at least until I can think of an idiot-proof way of making the a crest that works. Wörnritzhausen is supposed to be near Münsingen, but I think it would have had its own crest representing the rivers or the trade that would have paid for the city wall. Will have to think about that.

It needs a roof as well. Unfortunately I forgot that with the thick walls the roof will come over the top of the windows, making shutters unlikely, so it will have to do without. Gutters and drainpipes will have to wait until I’ve worked out how the farmhouse next door should look.

Still, the trains now run onto the scene through a real gate. It looks like we are getting somewhere, slowly.

Liquorice Allsorts

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…

Bijou Dark Tower

We have pleasure in presenting our latest Executive Bijou Dark Tower, the ideal starter home or secret laboratory for the aspiring ‘Mad’ Professor or Dark Lord.

This compact residence comes complete with pitchfork-proof door (choice of ominous creaks), gloomy archway, and this years must-have feature, an upper storey designed to lean in a threatening manner for the general intimidation of passers-by, and dropping large objects on pitchfork wielding mobs. The tower also features en-suite secret passage in all rooms and small cupboard for your Igor.

Optional extras include deluxe cobwebs, brass lightning conductors for all those nefarious experiments, and for the security conscious evil tyrant, a dragon resistant roof.

The tower is excellently situated with your very own village to terrorise, and a handy rail connection for those essential visits to far-flung minions and the supermarket.

Apply to Agents De Evil, the Estate Agent for the discerning megalomaniac.

Hmm…. Anyway. Here’s the tower halfway through painting, white drybrushed over dark grey.

It’s the second attempt using clay on card and worked surprisingly well except that it really does lean threateningly: when I pushed the post office building into the wet clay so the two buildings fitted snugly together, I managed to tip the tower forward and didn’t notice until everything dried off. At least it is a building not a locomotive so I can hide the gap with a tree.  Locomotives look a bit silly with foliage.

The ‘stones’ are score lines using a piece of wire, and probably a bit too neat. I learned this time that the clay dries slowly. Very. Very. Slowly. I’ll take my time and make nice interesting shapes in future.

And I really need to paint it a lighter colour.

Big Diesel moment


I sometimes wonder if being more focused would mean I could get more done. I mean, here I am in the middle of making a model of a village, and I’m drawing ideas for a big diesel locomotive that won’t fit on it at all.

On the other hand, this way I get lots more experience than if I was just working on one project: problems solved in one area suggest new solutions for another and I learn faster because of the broader range of experience.

That sounds almost plausible, so I’ll quit thinking while I’m ahead.

The next project, then, is for a B-B locomotive based on the DH 1500 class from Henschel (German text, but the pictures enlarge nicely). These were narrow gauge locomotives, in turn based on the standard gauge Br 218 of similar design which are still running on German Railways. The narrow gauge versions were offered from 1963 and sold to railways in Spain, Bulgaria, Thailand and Togo,  so it would be reasonable to expect the KÖB to have a couple, as they would be replacing their steam locomotives at this time.

The real reason of course, is that I think they look cool. I’ve travelled behind a lot of Br218’s and this is a great excuse to have one of my own. Even better, no-one can say it is wrong.

The Bulgarian examples are still running -along with a rather smart Romanian version- on the 760mm Septemvri-Dobrinishte railway:



The Henschel machines are the more rounded looking ones with a small grille on the front.

The Spanish locomotives were used by the metre gauge FEVE. When they were replaced one was repatriated to Germany and now runs on the Brohltalbahn, having been rebuilt to look like a Br218 itself. This video shows it hauling a container train.

The most likely version is probably the Bulgarian one, because straight sides are far easier to make.

Even though I’m back in Germany and sitting at my workbench, things are slowing down because of the joy of sending out CV’s to possible employers ready for next April when I finish my course (hooray) but then have to decide what to do with my shiny new qualification.

In theory I have lots of choice because I’m trained to work with people with disabilities and without, but also people with Pscychological Psychological illness and addictions, or in general education in a tech college or a training centre. The reality is that there are dozens of places out there that I could apply to, but only a few actually want anyone, and there’s no central clearing house so I’m having to search very carefully which takes ages. At the moment I’m putting a pin in a map somewhere that looks nice (Personal criteria being “is it outside of the city?” and “Does it have a railway station (Preferably with trains coming more than once a month)” and then searching for “Protected workshop” or “Integration workshop”, or something to do with education.

I’m not complaining as this is kind of a nice situation to be in: I can look for a pleasant place to live and for a job I enjoy, but it takes ages and it is nerve racking because my CV is rather long and rather unusual so people will either love it or chuck it in the bin, and there isn’t a lot I can do to change this. My solution is to say make it the way I want it to look on the possibly rather cocky basis that if they don’t like it, I wouldn’t be happy working for them anyway.

I seem to have collected certificates like model makers collect unmade kits, so I now have a good ten pages worth and that’s with the British ones reduced to A5 size and two a page: when I went to school they seemed to give us a certificate for every subject, which confuses German employers used to see one from your school, and ask why on earth I have a certificate from the ‘Northern examining board’ and also the ‘Southern examining board’. They brighten up when they see ‘Oxford and Cambridge’ but are inevitably disappointed when I explain. On the other hand the carpentry apprenticeship has to be accredited by the state and for some reason I need a separate one from the carpenters guild, and there are four for my machine operators licence alone which seems a bit excessive. But in Germany, I have a Certificate, therefore I am, so I’m not leaving any out.

My German is fluent but not perfect so I need to get it checked, which takes longer and much goodwill from kind friends, and there there are references…

Anyway, the goal is twenty packages, which isn’t cheap but it means I can say I tried, all going off to various places near and far in the hope of landing somewhere where someone wants an Occupational Therapist or carpentry trainer, refugee tutor, theatre coach or museum interpreter. The last one is a long shot I know but here’s a really nice open air museum up in the hills where they demonstrate traditional crafts like carpentry and woodturning.

Ah, for a working day wearing a smock, and making chair legs in a traditional barn…