Ready to post

The post office is complete and open for business, even if it is looking a bit tatty. At some point Frau Schmidt the post mistress will nag her husband into taking down the framing from the old garage sign, but there’s nothing that is likely to fall on anyone and there are rather more urgent jobs needing attention so it will have to wait, and so will pinning down the wire from the solar panel to the attic window.

I am quite ridiculously pleased with this project, not just because it is the first vaguely succesful scratch built house I’ve managed in any scale but also at how inexpensive this was: almost everything in the picture is made from bits of card and wire. The clay and figures cost a few Euro, but apart from that and a sheet of card from the news agents in the village everything else came free. Even the card is the stuff I use for a photographic background.

That’s recycling, that is. Sort of.

Self-indulgent picture from a slightly higher angle which makes the door look even more wonky than it really is, but at least giving a better view of the solar panel and the lightning conductor running along the ridge.  Lots of buildings have these because of the massive electrical storms we get up in the hills.

Our apartment doesn’t, but it is right next to a church with a huge copper covered spire, so it probably doesn’t need it.

Now that’s done I can make a start on the garage next door…

Ramp it up

So, Middle Son has decided he’s into fingerboards, and wanted to buy a skateboard ramp to use his with.  It looked very expensive for a tacky bit of plastic that would travel thousands of miles on a ship towards its destiny as landfill so I suggested we make one, and to my surprise he was excited at the prospect.

So this week I made a prototype to see if such a thing is possible using card, which he is very excited about:

So there you are. far from being a pointless activity for nerds with no use in the real world, Model making can be helpful in the family, and also Very Cool, apparently.

Any one else have any examples?

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…

In the post

I would be the first to admit that I probably got a bit carried away with this scene. It isn’t like anyone will see most of it when it is on the layout, after all. On the other hand, this meant no-one could see my mistakes which meant I could try out lots of different ideas and it wouldn’t matter if they went wrong.

This is as close as I usually get to optimism.

I discovered that the method I’ve learned for figures does not seem to produce great result on other things, like the post boxes in the background but that dry brushing can make up for a lot of mistakes and can work on surprisingly small objects.

Hopefully the post from a couple of weeks ago showing the postmaster apparently cut in half makes a bit more sense now that he is in his permanent position behind the counter interminably selling stamps to Frau Bauer. These figures and the cash register are just visible through the front windows, but the rest will be a hint of a shape in the background, or downright invisible in the deep shadow.

Which is why I’m inflicting one more image on you, in the basis it took me ages to make it and this is my blog.
Now I can glue this into the building and work on the outside with a clear conscience.

While I fret about the roof rack  I’ve been adding seats and passengers to the railcar so it looks like it is doing something useful rather than trundling around in circles. I say seats, they’re more pieces of plasticard glued down at odd angles and some 1:50 figures who were chopped down until they fitted, leaving a rather gruesome collection of legs and arms on the cutting board.

I made the seating sections on little modules of plasticard so I can take them out for painting instead of fighting to get the paintbrush into position through a window or something. Very occasionally I manage to think ahead far enough to avoid it all going to pieces.

Real modellers would have made a sort of clip in system to hold the modules down. I used Blu-tack.

I’ve also started to fit the LED’s into the model, but I won’t bother wiring them up just yet. I’ve got enough to worry about trying to make it all work without adding more complications.

I Also notice I’m beginning to get a bit fed up with the project, so I dread to think how my readers are feeling. I think I need to kick the post office project up a gear to get some variety.

Peopled out

I am a pretty extreme introvert who works with people all the time, so come this weekend I really needed a little down time.

Ironic then, that I spent a chunk of it painting some 1:50 scale  people.

This motley crew got their primer coat back in August of last year and I have managed to put off the next stage ever since, partly because I didn’t really know how to even start painting figures, but I realised that the post office needed a customer or two so I found this method which I reckoned even I couldn’t entirely mess up, and set to work…

After painting everything (everyone?) black all over with artists acrylics, I left them to dry overnight. This morning, before any of my family were awake, I attacked the figures with white paint and a manky brush.

After this I concentrated on the postmaster and his solitary customer, on the basis that they will be inside the post office and therefore most of my mistakes will hopefully be hidden.

The reason the postman is apparently sinking into the ground is that he had to be cut to fit behind the post office counter, which is cunningly hiding the switch for the points outside.

His customer is a bit more fortunate, if you can call being glued permanently into a cardboard box ‘fortunate’.

After a couple of attempts and some rather rigorous cleaning with an old paintbrush and some alcohol, (someone needs to explain to the makers of “Acrylic Matt Varnish” that ‘Matt’ generally doesn’t reflect light like a chrome hub cap…) this is the result.

Now all I need to do is finish the rest of the interior…

Basket case?


Your opinion, dear reader, is required.

Obviously, as you are reading this blog, you are a person of exquisite aesthetic taste and style and I require some feedback on the latest addition to the HBB’s railcar, namely the luggage rack on the roof.

The idea is that this gives some much needed overflow to the luggage compartment on peak services, especially on market days, when customers have a tendency to bring purchases on board that try to move of their own accord, so the Hofelbachbahn (or more accurately, the company that bought the railcar in the first place, decided it wasn’t big enough and sold it to the Hofelbachbahn, it makes sense to me so don’t argue) ordered the version with the extra rack.

Trouble is, now I’ve come to actually fit the rack, it looks a bit big and obtrusive. I can’t work out if this is because I’m used to seeing a dip in the roof or because it just doesn’t work.

And if it doesn’t work, why not? Is it too high, too wide?


From track level it doesn’t look that far out of place, so maybe I just need to get used to it.

What do you think?