Posts Tagged ‘Krokodil Locomotive’

A big part of making the downscaled locomotive was trying out those distinctly awkward angles on the ends, where the sloping windscreen had to match up with the sloping sides at an angle hitherto unknown to geometry.

After wondering briefly why I do this sort of thing in my spare time instead of something more sensible like amateur quantum physics, I decided that instead of trying to figure the angle out mathematically and then messing about putting it right when that didn’t work, I’d go straight to the messing about stage and do it by eye: it’d save time in the long run.

So far it seems to have worked, taking ‘worked’ to mean “close enough that I could hide the problems with a fair bit of bodging.”

*The ‘Amazing Shrinking Loco‘.


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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.

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HBB 5 at Hofelstetten, where the Höfelbachbahn meets its southern neighbour, the Ehninger Kreisbahn (EKB). The Kreis (county) of Ehningen adopted the idea of a railway later but more enthusiastically then the nothern villages, and electrified their railway from the start. Construction stalled at Hofelstetten because a line over the county border to link with the HBB would have to use part of the road for about two kilometres, including a 150m long tunnel, and the Ministry of Roads refused to allow this.

Rather surprisingly the solution came from the Bürgermeister of Wörnritzhausen, who got involved with a sand quarry scheme which would need rail transport south. Suddenly the railway went from ‘getting in the way of traffic’ to being ‘a vital transport link’ which “had to be completed for future prosperity”. The Ministry of Roads mysteriously dropped all objections, and a fleet of six bogie wagons like the ones seen above was ordered to keep the sand dry in transit.

Trains were hauled from the quarry by the HBB and handed over to an electric EKB Locomotive in Hofelstetten. The traffic flow didn’t last long as  the scheme collapsed within a year. There have been mutterings around the Stammtisch that the scheme was never in fact a serious proposition, although the Burgomeister has so far avoided legal proceedings.

He blames the failure of the scheme on the railway companies.

Once again this was drawn to survive a boring lecture. in fact it lasted several lectures while I messed about trying to get the perspective right. I tried to include more details to hint at the time and situation the railway is built in, rather than just focussing on locomotives. If I could achieve this with my modelmaking I’d probably have a more complete layout by now…

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One complete Krokodil. This is quite startling.

I even remmbered to include all the small details I usually intend to add and then forget in my impatience to get finished. Details like the air hoses, although as usual I managed to lose one in the process and had to make a replacement -I think next time I’ll just make lots of spares straight off and save myself the bother-  and handles on the doors and inspection covers.

Of course it would have been better to have remembered those handles before painting the whole locomotive, but you can’t have everything and I knew their absence would annoy me. Now they are attached they are practically invisible, but I know they are there.


I’ve mixed feelings about the driver. On the one hand I need to have one, but on the other it is a bit obvious that he is missing legs and most of his torso, although that doesn’t look quite as bad now the glazing is in.

After faffing about and trying to find a supplier of white number transfers, finding one in the UK that wouldn’t accept my German debit card (Brexit began several years ago according to most UK banks) and then finding a German supplier, I realised I wasn’t going to be able to apply them better than a printed white-on-black square. I probably should have used printable transfers  but it seemed a lot of effort and money for such a small number, so it is normal computer paper and I suspect 80% of people won’t notice. I used a water based glue so I can take them off and do it ‘properly’ if it annoys me.

Complete and weathered it doesn’t look half bad, not as good as I’d have liked, but better than I’d dared hope I could manage, so I’m, happy.

I even managed to finish on time, so it can trundle round (under) our Christmas “tree” to the amusement of all.

Which seems an excellent moment to wish everyone a happy Christmas and new year, and go and play trains…

See you on the other side…

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I finally got myself into gear long enough to start painting the Krokodil. In the story I have for this railway, the track runs along the main road in most of the towns it serves, and the streets, for various reasons, won’t be terribly well lit. This is only one of several railways with this challenge, so I decided that the newly reopened Maschienenfabrik Esslingen have cannily devised a policy of painting their locomotives in bright orange/red, instead of the more easily achieved, but rather less visible greys and blues of other manufacturers would use. Therefore I needed a bright livery.

I think I achieved that. Never mind being able to see it when you cross the road, this locomotive will be visible from the next town and possibly frighten horses from behind buildings.

The photograph doesn’t really do the colour justice, as it is more of an orange/red, but unfortunately I can’t stop the camera from panicking when confronted with a white background. I’m working on an alternative, possibly involving low relief factories made from the Very Useful Cardboard Box I was given as a gift when I finished my training placement*.

While I plot and muse on that, I can work on the cab outside and inside, and the driver, who after some work with a hacksaw can stand tall in the cab, sort of, and it occurred to me the other day that if this locomotive is going to pull anything, couplings would be a good idea too.

*Even better, someone had wrapped the box up and put chocolate inside. Modelling supplies don’t come better than this.

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I’m trying to go against my usual impatience to get a model finished, and instead take the time to add as many details as imagination, plasticard, bits of brass, and picture nails will allow. After some discussion on the NGRM forum, I decided I could probably justify air brakes and thus add a compressor, and having found photographs of the East German KOK/EPG V30 locomotives, (Ironically on a website offering models for upwards of 300 euros) I had a few extra ideas for things to put on the otherwise rather empty bonnet.

The steps required a certain amount of thought, due to my usual lack of planning. A combination of tight curves and short cab meant that the base of the power units would bump into the steps whenever the loco went around the circuit. The only way around this was to have nothing holding the top step to the cab on the side nearest the power unit, which will hopefully be less obvious when the locomotive is painted.

Some bent brass and rolled up plasticard will hopefully look like exhaust pipes when painted, while the cab now has a representation of basic controls, and even a roof. Anyone who has spent any time in south Germany over winter will agree that this is a rather important component.

All I need to do now is add hoses, connectors and door handles, and double the population of Wörnritzhausen  by adding a driver. Then I can think about painting the thing.


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Because of the unreasonable expectations of society that I do something called ‘work’ I’m unable to make models all day*, but somehow this doesn’t seem to stop some part of my brain trundling away and making models while the rest is concentrating on what is going on outside. One particularly boring lunch break I got out my notebook and scribbled my idea of how the Krokodil would look as it went down the streets of Wörnritzhausen on a rake of vans.

Probably sometime I’ll try and draw a more detailed version.

Of course, finishing the actual model quicker would be preferred, but unfortunately not practical from the next town. This lack of progress also hasn’t stopped me having other ideas…


The story behind this is as follows:

The HBB was originally thought of as a temporary measure for carrying essential freight and agricultural produce, using an old locomotive and wagons rented from a local company. In fact, the Bürgermeister** only agreed to building the railway on the basis it would exist for a maximum of five years.

It was soon obvious that the line had become the main form of transport in the valley and would have to be permanent. Everyone except the Bürgermeister also recognised an urgent need for passenger and mail services.  originally passengers had to use a home-made coach added to the freight trains, but this caused problems, especially as the schools open long before most companies were ready to take deliveries, so Number 2 currently pulls a single coach up the valley, which costs far too much.

Several designs are available from different builders, among the theme of ‘wooden box with motor and windows’. Some are diesel, and some run on batteries, some are even streamlined for reasons that are unclear, but basically they are all the same idea. They can generally pull a couple of coaches or vans, so they are more economical to run than a locomotive and coach combination, and will be partly financed by carrying post as well as passengers.

The Bürgermeister maintains that any extra trains will get in the way of traffic. It remains to be seen if he can persuade the council to agree with him, esoecially as no-one else is sure what traffic he is talking about…

As you can tell, there isn’t a lot to do at college/work during the lunch break…

*Yeah, okay, I can’t really complain as my job based in a workshop where I’m er, doing creative things and making stuff all day instead…

**Mayor. In Germany mayors doesn’t get the nearly gold chain of office of a their British colleagues, but make up for this be having a lot more authority in the day-to-day running of his town(s), and a much bigger budget. The Mayor of Wörnritzhausen mainly uses his to try and stop the railway being built past his house…

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