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Posts Tagged ‘Scratchbuilding’

After sides, the other feature people tend to expect on a van is a roof, so that was this weeks project.

As seems to be normal on this project, this proved to be complicated.

The clever designers of the original vans -presumably from the Complicated Sliding Van Door Department- had a problem. The sides have to slide right out of the way to give free access to the open side of the van and allow the loading of palettes with forklift trucks and other evil machines of global capitalism.

I’m guessing those clever designers solved this with a cunning dropping down sliding mechanism so the door can move away from the main body of the van, and then slide parallel to the other door. This is a very practical solution; the closed door is secure, watertight, and as these vans have been used by the Rhaetian Bahn in Switzerland since 1984, apparently robust.

Unfortunately they are a pain in the bottom to build in 1:55 scale.

It isn’t just the funky angle at the top of the door, it’s also that there’s supposed to be a large ‘gap’ between door and roof, which is essential to capture the character of the van, although I appreciate I could be going down a bit of a rabbit hole here.

So I came up with a plan: I’d make the roof in two 0.5mm layers, one smaller than the other. The inner roof will be covered by a slightly wider outer roof which will hide all my mistakes, strengthen the roof and create the impression of that thumping great gap. So far the van just has the inner roof -don’t ask about the fun and games and bits of plastic I ended up adding there to make it straight, I really need a better way of making formers.

Unfortunately things like real life got in the way after that, so I’m going to have to see if this works as well as I’m hoping next week…

Remind me again how a creative hobby is good for reducing stress levels and getting yourself into a more relaxed state of mind?

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One important, indeed essential feature of the covered van, is that they are enclosed on both sides, so this week was pretty much a repeat of last week with a new set of mistakes. I think I got away with most of them but it’s probably good that you can’t see both sides of the van at once.

I’m also glad that the sister van to this one will be to a different design.

Still, it’s a learning experience. Up until now I’ve always been a bit sniffy about buying strips of plastic for things, assuming that I can cut plastic pretty straight, so why would I need someone else to do it for me at five times the cost? I realised on this model that while I can cut straight to within half a millimetre or so, having several pieces slightly too narrow or wide adds up. One or two of the panels had to be glued in by eye  because even though I went from the side to the middle each time I’d end up with one gap that was bigger than the rest.

Ah, well,  interesting details, paint and weathering can hide a lot of things. I think I may be testing that theory to destruction when I finish this model…

 

 

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So having decided to build an unnecessarily complicated model, the first problem was how wide to build the chassis. This you’ll appreciate is rather important.

The problem is that those elaborate doors and associated strange shaped bits make this rather difficult. On this version of the van the original designer saw fit to make recess in the central pillar between the two doors, so instead of making a nice simple side with a couple of lines scored in the middle to suggest a join, I had to add all kinds of additional jiggerypokery with braces behind to hold it all together, and I needed to know how wide these were going to be before I made the chassis to fit.

This is  long way of explaining why I’m now making the sides and ends of a van, and not the bottom, like more sensible people would.

In a rare moment of practical forward planning I’ve even taken pictures of the construction process so I can remember how I made this model.

That way if I’m overcome by the desire to make a second version I’ll hopefully be able to do it slightly faster than a poorly motivated sloth.

 

[Some early risers may have seen this post last week. I tend to write posts a week or so ahead in case something comes up on the weekend, and I went and pressed the wrong button. Still, now you get to read it all again...]

 

 

 

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Attempts at self discipline continue. This weeks project is an endeavour to kick start some freight wagons for the Körschtalbahn, on the basis that the big diesel really should have something to pull. Admittedly I don’t have a diesel as yet, nor do I have a layout for this hypothetical train to run along, but hey, never let facts get in the way of an interesting project.

The mythical and somewhat optimistic traffic flows of the Körschtalbahn which I will bore you with at some point will require vans to keep the products carried safe and dry in transit. To be viable they will need to be high capacity vans which can take standard Euro palettes and be loaded and unloaded with a forklift truck to keep costs down, so we’re talking large capacity vans with big sliding doors. These are pretty commonplace on modern European railways and fortunately I even found that the metre gauge Rhaetian Railway have a fleet. Readers with a long memory and an extremely high boredom threshold will recall that in the early years of this blog I tried to make a 1:43 scale model of one of these, which shows just how very slowly I work.

The RHB have two types of van at the moment. I’m building the more complex one, less because I have ideas of genius in the model making department, more because the more complex vans are an older batch, so I have a bit more leeway to hide my mistakes by weathering the dodgy bits.

Which is all very well, but we are currently in one of the busiest seasons at work, as we are taking part in a big summer festival this weekend so work may well be even slower than normal. Still, that design is completed, which is the really tough bit finished: after all, the rest is just cutting bits out and sticking them together…

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After the almost-intellectual activity that took place last week, it was back to making things out of cardboard for a bit. After ignoring the advice not to bother priming cardboard, I decided to use a variation of the ‘hair spray‘ method, using silver as an undercoat instead of dark brown ‘rust’.  Normally I’d apply light coloured highlights by dry brushing, but the point of this model is to just try things without getting all precious about it.

In theory the top coat will come off on exposed corners showing slight variations in the silver, which will increase the illusion of a vehicle made of metal and slightly battered in use. We shall see…

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As expected, determined procrastination has ensured little progress on the Great White Whale so the focus has returned to the Cardboard Rocket, especially as I’d already come to the fun part where I get to add all kinds of bits and pieces which somehow make it look less like a few bits of milk carton gobbed together with superglue and more like a car. At least I think it does. Don’t mess up my reality.

So far the model has cost a grand total of nothing, unless you count superglue. Even the figure is recycled from a 1:48 scale kit, after your correspondent finally realised that the difference between 1:48 and 1:55 is so small that for the most part it’s invisible. The head is nominally 1:55 and white metal, a leftover from a pack of ‘female heads’. For model railway builders I should perhaps explain that these are sold for mounting on figures to make then ‘female’ the gender being less than obvious when the figure is in a uniform. It’s handy for those of us who don’t want our female combatants to have a biologically impossible figure.

Other ‘detail parts’ consist of old guitar strings, handles from a Chinese takeaway, brass offcuts (the over large buckle on the ‘strap’ wouldn’t have worked with steel), dressmakers pins, (side and rear lights), electrical wire, a filed down nail head, (radiator cap), a cut off picture nail head (fuel cap) and an exhaust from copier paper wrapped around some metal of unknown origin that’s been kicking about the workbench for years.

The general idea is that after painting this will all somehow fit together and look like it’s made of metal and leather instead of cardboard and oddments. We shall see…

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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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