Posts Tagged ‘railcar’


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?

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Railcar on a test run along the future Wörnritzhausen high street. Hopefully.

To my rather great surprise the railcar actually managed to explore the whole of the layout without falling off the track, hitting anything, comically trying to go two ways at once or stopping for no apparent reason.

It did however, make it clear this is a railcar with an identity crisis.

For reasons which now escape me but undoubtedly seemed very important at the time, I built the motorised bogie some distance back under the body. I think it was to allow some space to make a reliably tough connection for the coupling, which meant shoving the front of the bogie back to fit it behind the cowling, and this meant the pivot disappeared somewhere below the luggage compartment.

That’s my excuse anyway, and I’m sticking to it.

Anyway, this makes the motorised end run around corners like a Blackpool tram, with a big overhang on the curves. I suspect this is why a lot of European trams taper at the ends, to avoid taking chunks off ancient monuments whose medieval builders inexplicably neglected to take tramways into consideration.

On the other end, I have a fairly normal Kato bogie, a good ten millimetres closer to the buffer beam, which gives a much more conventional movement. Like a train, in fact.

The overall effect is quite unusual, rather like a design committee couldn’t make their mind up on what they wanted. It looks a lot less silly than I feared, but I think the MkII version may well be slightly different in this area.

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So, several weeks have gone without me deciding to start the railcar project again which at the moment is possibly some kind of record, although it has to be said I had a couple of false starts on the roof. Oh, and I had to redesign the ends to make it all work.

This is because I started out with the silly idea that the roof would be easy. I’m not sure why.

Some time ago I blithely scribbled a design that loosely resembled a Polish Mbxd2, at least viewed by a generous person with not much attention to detail on a dark night while wearing sunglasses. What I didn’t do was think about how I’d make this happen, so when I started to actually form the thing, I came to a grinding halt.

Eventually I decided to laminate several sheets of 0.75mm plasticard and file them down later. For some reason I suddenly decided that the luggage rack, which I’ve always drawn over the luggage compartment, would be much better in the middle of the roof. This would make the railcar look practical and hard working.

It didn’t work of course: it just looked strange, which most people could have told me without making the roof the wrong shape. In the end I cut one of the laminated slabs in half with a hacksaw and glued it to the other section. Observant readers will notice a remarkably indistinct line on the longer roof section.

Much filing and sanding of the sides later, it is passable. The sides aren’t exactly the same angle but I doubt anyone will notice unless they look closely with their head on the track and one eye right in front of the railcar.

And if I catch them doing that, I’ll run them over.

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This is a railcar with issues. The sides are too flimsy and the construction wasn’t that well thought through. the glazing is a nightmare, and when I tried to glue the side in I found it has a twisted chassis.

Incidentally, “Twisted Chassis” would be a stonking good name for a heavy metal group*.

Apart from that there were all kinds of little bodges to cover up for my lack of planning, so this week I’ll be starting again; again, which seems to have become a sort of tradition for my model making. I’ll be starting with a chassis that has more strength than a deflated balloon, and this time I’ll try to remember to make it narrow enough to avoid Tubby Railcar Syndrome. The thicker sides are partly for strength and partly because I’m incapable of painting around windows that neatly, so I prefer to make a sandwich with gaps in the middle and put all the clear bits in after I’ve finish ed slopping paint about.

I still have the spare sides: they survived being dropped, buried, lost under a laptop for two days and found by Beautiful Daughter who being two years old naturally used them as a camera. At least having them ready saves me some time as I can use those for the inside with a little work, and make a new set (with doors attached this time) for the outer skin, meaning that I may be able to catch up with myself faster than usual and fool people into thinking I know what I’m doing as well.

I’ll admit the last goal is a little optimistic.

*Which would of course be a support band…

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Having made the ugliest chassis in Christendom, something to cover the thing became an urgent priority.

My plan was to make four sides and build a sandwich arrangement. The neatest two sides would go on the outside, and the less well made sides would go on the inside. There would be a bit of space in bewteen for clear plastic glazing.

I really hadn’t expected all of them to come out this neatly.

While basking in the warm smug glow created by being able to cut in a straight line, the working part of the brain came along and pointed out that I’d got the maths wrong. Again.

I built the chassis 34mm wide, on the basis that the railcar will end up being 36mm wide. This is fine if the sides are of one milimetre thick, but now I’d messed that one up properly. The sandwich of two sides plus glazing would work out at between 2 and three milimetres wide, and the already tubby railcar was looking decidedly obese.

The smug glow wilted under the intense glare of maths.

That’s okay, said a couple of previously dormant neurons, because the inside, er, sides, can be replaced with a simple simple insert that fits above the frame, and as a bonus, we’ve got the sides for a second railcar. Nyah nyah…*

Okay, said the sceptical brain cells, but what about the doors

What? said the rest, through a new fog of smugness.

The double doors for the luggage compartment open outwards, don’t they? so what’s with making them inset into the bodywork? Hello? now you need to make some kind of internal sliding arrangement and hope no-one will notice, or try and make doors that will fit. We look forward to seeing how you manage that one.


Hmmm… time to look for a prototype with inset doors…

*Anyone searching for evidence that I’ve never grown up need look no further…

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Much capacity in the remaining brain cells has  been taken up trying to make a working frame on which I can build the Höfelbachbahn Railcar. Having two bogies of entirely different dimensions seemed a cool kind of quirky idea at the time, but but they are a pain in the backside when it comes to making something that doesn’t look like a cliff railway car.

I stopped counting rebuilds after the fifth attempt, because then it finally dawned on the great brain that if I parked the bogies on the display plank, then used a slide rule to measure the height from the top of the press-stud on each unit to the bottom of the plank, then I’d have a reasonably accurate idea of how much height difference there was.


It came to 7.8mm, because nothing can be simple in this world.

I decided to build the chassis with 8mm difference between the two bogies: with all the mistakes I’m likely to make a gradient of 0.2mm is likely to be the least of my worries.

With the chassis level, the next big challenge was to get it around corners which I managed after some considerable hacking of plastic.  Thoughtful readers will consider the consequences of using stupidly tight curves on your model railway.

I have a feeling that I’ll make the sides quickly. The sheer ugliness of the chassis is quite enough motivation to make something to cover it…

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This could get confusing. I seem to have managed to end up building one railcar while designing another. unusually for me there also seems to be some remote chance of them being finished.
Just to make is clear, this railcar is the metre(ish) gauge model I’ve been working on for so long I may be able to auction it off for its antique value. The Elder son and I are adding details, which is to say, I’m adding details and he joins in when not concentrating on coursework/phone/girlfriend, although not usually in that order.

The railcar started out as a loose model of the MGB class Deh 4/4 II, because I’ve wanted to make one of these since I came across one in a book when I was about fourteen. It didn’t work out that way though, because I couldn’t get the angles on the front end to work so I changed direction and based the ends on the Rhaetian Railway ABe 4/4 II instead.  And then I realised that the door in the side couldn’t be an inset sliding door because there are air vents for large lumps of machinery on each side, so I had to add runners on the outside instead, and it is taking on a life of its own and becoming something completely different.

It’ll be interesting to find out what…

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