Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Let’s face it: you can have too many pictures of a white plasticard van, so I figure it’s time to introduce my ideas for “Spitzenwald”, the layout which will hopefully soon grace the Ikea shelves in our living room. The original plan was for an inglenook-style model, but that was replaced when I tried it out- running 64mm wide stock makes for big overhangs and effectively shortened the sidings. The current plan is partly plagiarised from Bob Hughes’ N-gauge “Altgarten” model –in particular his idea of putting the station and goods shed on the siding at rear. Bob also helped me to tweak a couple of details, which I’m grateful for. You can see the original "Altgarten" here.
During operation, I’d assume the two lines exiting the scene at left would be a loop, from which there would be access to an intermodal terminal. This wouldn’t be a big operation: probably just one siding with a concrete pad and a container crane, maybe a warehouse for more specialised deliveries or palletts:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Container stacker at Nagold railway station, a few kilometres away from the Fictitious KÖB.
The "terminal" at Spitzenwald would be similar.

Of course in reality it will end in a couple of sidings or a traverser, depending on how brave I’m feeling at the time.
At the moment I’m leaning towards a wood yard as a scenic barrier in front of the fiddle yard, as wood is most likely to be the staple traffic of the line, (more on that at a later date). The road bridge may be reborn as an old city wall: this would be narrower and possibly more convenient as a scenic break, and could turn with the backscene a bit as well. It’s not unknown for railways to enter older towns this way in Germany.
The KÖB will also have a maintenance shed for railcars: This is common on the smaller independent railways here because the early commuter and school services need to start at this end of the branch. At the moment it’s one road but I may have a low relief door at the end of the middle road as well.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Small railcar fuel and maintenance point in Endingen, near Freiburg, used by road and rail vehicles. I like the pump to the right of the door...

Behind this is the general freight shed, probably used by the local farmers cooperative. It would also be a place to unload post wagons. I expect the station will have been rented or sold, so people will have to get their tickets from a machine on the platform.
That’s the plan anyway. I now hesitantly offer it up for criticism, ideas, thoughts, and suggestions before I start gluing things to other things…

Sunday, June 24, 2007

You can’t win ‘em all…

The roof is on, glued and has stayed in place. For a while it resisted the glue and one side stuck up like a geeky haircut, but I finally subdued it, only to find that I was 1mm short of the full width. Mercifully this doesn’t show so well on the pictures. I considered running the van with the messy side of the roof to the back of the layout, but decided against it: I'm thinking of having a couple of different numbers and this scheme would be totally useless if I can only have the van one way, and besides it would be too easy. Some salvage and bodging is in order before I can start painting…

The side that worked, roof flush against frame and guttering in the approved fashion

The side that didn’t: The gap will have to be filled with a piece of Plasticard or similar.

I was working today so I have tomorrow off in lieu. Hopefully I’ll manage some modelling time…

[Update: 27/06/2007 Finally fixed the guttering, now only door retails, steps, and railings to complete]

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Progress has stalled slightly because of work increasing a bit: lots of late evenings when you work with young people. I’m also stuck for a way to make the roof of my van: I can’t find a former to bend it: the only thing long enough is an aerosol can, and the mind boggles as to what that would do if put in boiling water with plasticard strapped to it… and there is a lack of support on the van itself. Next time I’ll make it differently. How many times have I said that?

However, I’ve found a video that is very interesting, and even better, largely on topic for this blog. It shows an Australian sugar train running fully loaded on a two foot right of way. Okay, so it ain’t exactly the TGV but it does show that really small gauges can carry big heavy bulk trains. Another good excuse for modern image NG…

Thursday, June 14, 2007


In this region of Germany everyone is obliged to keep the pavement clean outside of his or her house, so every Saturday we all go out in the afternoon and sweep. My eldest son’s kindergarten asked me to keep their section of pavement clean and look after the garden, and shift the snow in winter. they even offered a small retainer, and as the snow shovelling is a lot of heavy work and has to be done by seven in the morning I’d get extra for that. I agreed to do it –I’m self employed and don't have many appointments at 0600- then a couple of months ago I noticed that the hinges on the shed door had given up hope and looked likely to drop on one of the children. This is not good, so I offered to repair them and the agreed and agreed to pay me extra for that as well. Now the job is developing into general gardening/care taking. I could think of worse ways to earn pocket money.
This is a roundabout way of saying that I just got paid for the first four months of the year, plus snow, plus repairs, and they realised they hadn’t paid me for several months for last year as well, so I’ve had a bit of a windfall and things can get moving a bit faster on the model, get a new baseboard together and hopefully even get a Bullant chassis.
It all makes the early morning snow shovelling worthwhile…

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Driving to Altensteig…

Former Terminus at Altensteig, now a bakery

Long ago the people of the Nagold valley (about 20km south of the fictional Körsch valley) transported their logs in rafts on the river, in similar style to American loggers. Here, river pilots would build a wooden dam with gates, wait until there was enough water, then open the gates and ride the wave for a few kilometres until the next dam. It must have been a pretty exciting existence: the mind boggles as to what happened when several tonnes of sodden pine came shoshing around the corner and met something unyielding. Nonetheless, until about 150 years ago this was the way of shifting wood from the Nagold to the Neckar river, and on to the Rhine and Holland. And to think now people pay to do this sort of thing.
All in all I expect most people were relieved to let the railway take over. The metre gauge line from Nagold to Altensteig opened in 1891, but only lasted until 1967 before the prevailing wisdom turned to roads. This seems a great shame as the town now has all manner of industry, not to mention tourists coming to the old city, so it seems sad they didn’t keep going with rail. All that is left of the railway is a few buildings, a wagon planted alongside the road, and a cycleway.

Station detail showing the intricate shingles... Perhaps I'll just have a plain wall...

All of which doesn’t leave a lot to go on. I was hoping to have a good look at the line and the area to get some thoughts on how the Körschtalbahn (KÖB) could have been constructed, how it could look, and what it could carry. Judging by the Altensteig line, the KÖB would have followed a road most of the way with occasional short detours through villages or round hills. By the looks of it, frequently lurching across the road would be in order as well. The stations are typical European pattern: Goods shed with station alongside, the sort of thing that should fit onto the back of the layout. The low-key way the railway squeezed between buildings is very attractive although I haven’t any ideas yet how to make it happen- perhaps have all the buildings a few degrees different to the track, to give an impression of “The buildings were here first” and possibly “added-on” loading bays to take advantage of the loading possibilities. I have some pictures of local building to give me an idea: I'll post those, along with some thoughts on traffic types soon.

Now. How do I make shingles?

[Update, 13th of June 2007: Our pastor (who grew up in Altensteig) loaned me book on the line so I can actually see what it looked like and where it ran. I'll read it through -which may take time as it's in German, and inflict my thoughts on you later]

Thursday, June 07, 2007

We are Listing to Port

The van has doors- on one side at any rate. Hopefully I’ll soon have time to make the central pillar (whose absence was cunningly hidden in the picture above) and I’ll be able to start the other side: at the moment the doors are so heavy that despite a large lump of lead under the floor, it leans to one side and tips off the track, which embarrasses the company. There are a couple of bodges in the door and the central beam across the end as the pieces are not exactly square. My excuse is that having learned it on this van, I can now make an improved version next time… Unless I decide I need a break. Come to think of it, I have a couple of figures in need of painting...