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Posts Tagged ‘narrow gauge’

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’m thinking of calling this loco ‘Moby Dick’: right now it looks like a great white whale and I’m not sure who will win the struggle to finish it off. I’m moving at a speed that a glacier would probably consider tardy, but I have finally managed to complete the sides and even attach them to the frame.

Appropriately, I’ve built the sides thick enough to be an ice breaker, partly for strength and partly because it made it easier to be sure the angled sides would be the same on both sides of the locomotive. I tend to think this is even more critical than getting the ends perfectly identical because it is relatively difficult to see both ends for comparison when the loco is on a model, whereas it’s quite common to see it end on.

The thick sides also made things like the steps and handrails easier to fit. I used recessed handlebars on this model, not because I’m such a model making genius but because I thought it may be easier to get them straight, or if I didn’t I could hide the fact more easily with some weathering.

It’s worked for the most part, just about. Although somehow the body has managed to twist a small amount, it isn’t noticeable if you squint…

I think I’m slow with these models because the Körschtalbahn was my ‘baby’ for many years now, with the original sketches dating from when I was in High School. Whenever I start a project I have a sudden need to think through everything half a dozen times before committing to building anything.

The current problem is a case in point. The original Henschel locomotives have a slight horizontal curve on the lower and upper parts of the nose which I’d like to repeat on the model, but I’m spending ages worrying about it instead of just getting on with the job. It would probably be more sensible to just make a straight end like the Bulgarian Railway locomotives I started with, so I can finish the model and then build the second example as a more ‘pure’ Henschel, giving me two similar but not identical locomotives with slightly different capabilities.

Either way, it’s about time I stopped messing about and got on with it…

 

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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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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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Here’s an idea I’ve been working on for a while but apparently forgot to blog about.

Regular readers will know that I have a habit of making model trains that most people would regard as decidedly obese. This is fine until I then try and run them on tiny layouts with stupidly tight curves, whereupon all kinds of problems ensue. On the current model this has reached the point I can’t pretend it isn’t happening any more so I have to make some changes.

After several minutes of applying the remaining spare brain cell to the problem, two possibilities emerged. The easiest would be to recast the model as an industrial scene, with little locomotives and short wagons. This had a certain appeal, but frankly there are loads of people making these already and doing it with far more skill than I ever hope to have.

Plan ‘B’ would be to downscale. Halve the scale and you have twice the apparent space, well, sort of. If I use the same track and build to British TT scale (1:101.6) for example, the current track would work out at about three foot gauge or metre gauge given my usual optimistic approach to these things. This means I can make a largeish type model without the huge overhangs and ensuing tendency of rolling stock to wallop buildings, scenery and other trains.

While I’m at it, I decided to try making a loco with some of the features of the large diesel, like sloping sides and other frivolous additions that were giving me trouble, on the basis that if I can make them this small I should be able to achieve them in a larger scale.

We shall see where it leads over the next weeks.

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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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