Posts Tagged ‘DH 1500 Locomotive’

When I last wrote about the Big Diesel (aka ‘Moby Dick‘) I was dithering about how to make the ends, because as usual I was overthinking everything about the project, imagining a dozen different ways to make the curve on the nose and how they could all go horribly wrong.

Eventually I decided that it would be better to actually finish the model at some point and reverted to plan ‘A’.

The problem was that despite my early sketches of the loco I really wanted the distinctive chromed light clusters on the the Brohltalbahn’s D5 or its standard gauge cousin, the Deutsche Bahn type 218. It identifies the locomotive immediately and hopefully makes it clear that the model is in Germany as opposed to Austria or Switzerland. As this will be a somewhat unusual model I wanted to have as many of these visual cues as possible to set the scene quickly in viewers minds.

More to the point I really like the class 218.

For some reason I’d got stuck on the idea that if I didn’t make the nose curved I couldn’t have the 218 styled light bar because… um… Reasons. so I’d followed the idea down the rabbit hole and was looking at the headlight designs on the similar Bulgarian railways type 77 when I happened to come across a type 218 picture and noticed that it has flat ends. Of course it does. I’ve travelled behind class 218’s for hundreds of kilometres and every one of them had an absolute lack of curve on the ends. I’d just… missed it somehow.


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I still haven’t give up on the idea of having headlights on the the Henschel diesel for the Körschtalbahn. While working on the cab I realised the various essential electrical bits I’d need for this wouldn’t fit in the ends of the locomotive. Instead I’d have to put them in the relatively generous space in the body, with wires running to the LED’s in the ends.

In a rare flash of forward planning, I decided to make sure there was a route for these wire to run from the ends of the locomotive to the middle so I could put the LED’s in place, finish the locomotive, and then connect the other complex but essential components when I had the money and inclination to add them.

The only problem is that the chassis unit I’m using is rather large, and based around a block of very solid metal, so the wires have to be threaded along a gap between the motor and sides. Then the wires needed to come up in the middle of the locomotive so they could eventually be added to the other bits of electrical gubbins, and the gap was deep down below the substantial bits of plastic that would be used to glue the sides to the chassis.

Above is my solution. When the wires are pushed from the ends down the gap, they should turn along the curved plastic and poke up through a gap, right next to the space where the rest of the circuitry will be kept.

That’s the theory anyway; we shall see if it works in a few weeks…


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Remarkably, the project to shorten the Big Diesel seems to have worked out with minimal problems requiring the use of swearing. One of the window frames in the cab windows vanished mysteriously, and the sides are a little bendy, but overall they’re as square as anything else I’ve made and they’re the right shape to fit the chassis, so I’m calling that a positive result.

First lessons learned with the amazing shrinking loco (which will reappear at some point, rest assured) is that a locomotive with sloping sides needs tough bracing to keep it from warping and similar mischief, so I wasn’t sure the original chassis I’d built was going to be up to the job of holding the recently butchered sides straight, so the next job was making a fresh frame. This time I followed the Brick Privvy school of model making and built up the base and sides from laminated plastic card until they were several millimetres thick. In a rare flash of forward planning I even remembered to make the ends angled ready to hold the ends in place.

It may be too much to hope that I actually got the angle right, but allow me some smugness for actually managing to think slightly ahead anyway.

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After all, what can possibly go wrong?

More to come after exams have calmed down a bit…

(For the start of the story, go here)


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Panel surrounds on locomotives: is there any reason for them? This is the eighth attempt at making a straight surround to match the one I’d already cemented to the side of the big diesel. A few earlier attempts can be seen in the background of the not at all set up photo…

The trouble is it becomes addictive, like pulling the lever on a slot machine: I think I’ll just have one more try, because after all I was so close last time, it was nearly there and this time I’m sure I’ll get that edge just right… and then five minutes later I look up and realise it’s nearly midnight and I’ve got a cutting mat covered with bent plastic squares.

Sensible people would have given up, bought an etched brass version, or possibly have made both frames together.

At the very least they wouldn’t have glued the first frame onto the model so they had no alternative but to make three more…

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I’ve finally managed to get the big diesel project moving. again. Why I chose a complex locomotive with curved ends and sloping sides is open to question but it seemed a good idea at the time.

I was feeling pretty pleased with progress but when I held up the locomotive next to the chassis earlier this week, I realised I’d designed the model about 10mm longer than it needed to be.

I’d claim I was trying to make the locomotive sleek and purposeful, but I probably just got carried away and added a bit here and a bit there, and ended up with a loco that looks sleek and purposeful but will go around corners like a tram.

After thinking about this*, I worked out four places I could make the locomotive 10mm shorter:

1: Remove 10mm between the drivers door and the two lower grilles on the bodyside (Compare with the top image, there is a difference).

2: Remove one drivers door on each side. The locomotives supplied to the Bulgarian railways only have one door per side, so I can claim it’s prototypical, and it would mean less cutting to go wrong, although it would be good if I can make sure each cab has at least one door.

3: I could just make the window in the bodyside 10mm shorter, but that makes it rather a strange shape:

4: On the other hand, removing 5mm from the window and another 5mm between grilles and door, a combination of 1 and 3, would have the same effect with less of a visual change, and the fuel cap would still be central on the side of the loco.

The disadvantage of this is that I’d have to make four cuts into the bodyside, which knowing me is four cuts to get wrong and make a wonky locomotive…

Thoughts and ideas are welcome. I’ve even made a poll, tech savvy modeller that I am, although I don’t promise I’ll follow the result.

*During a sociology lecture. That’s what sociology lectures are for isn’t it?

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One of these days, I really might manage to make a locomotive on the first attempt instead of getting fed up and starting again.

Not this time around though. After cutting out all the holes I put the finished sides away with a nice smug feeling which promptly vanished when I took them out again a few days later to find that several of the pieces were not even pretending to be the shape I planned.

On top of this, I wasn’t happy with the ends of version 1: they looked, well, ugly. Worse, the locomotive had the feel of a home made miniature railway locomotive. Nothing against miniature locomotives you understand, but I wanted a heavy freight diesel on a go-getting modern transport organisation that happened to use a narrow gauge railway, and this wasn’t really giving that impression.

So I started redesigning. Here’s version 2:

There is a marked similarity to Brohltalbahn D5, formerly working in Spain, now hauling trains up murderous gradients south of Bonn, but it includes a few details from different versions, on the basis that that Henschel made the locomotives slightly differently for all their customers so no-one can say I’ve got it wrong. Having tried to ignore the slight tilt to the sides on most of the Henschel locomotives I’ve given in and added one on this, which makes a massive improvement to the profile view.

the drawback is I actually have to build the thing like this now.

I’m still not entirely sure about the light clusters. The locomotives would have been refurbished recently so a more modern light cluster may be more appropriate, and make the loco look a bit less like a D5 clone. Will have to think about this…

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