Sunday, October 28, 2007

9 999 to go?

Thomas Edison was heard to say “If I find 10 000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward...” I’m trying to see my first attempt at a baseboard in this er… light.

Not counting my attempt last year, It’s about 15 years since I last built a baseboard, and that was in the days when everyone knew chipboard and pine were the way to go. As a result the baseboards I made could double up as armour plate in the event of a national emergency. This time around I'm going for cardboard- lighter, easier to work with for a non-carpenter, and above all, free.

For the first attempt, I planned to start with three sheets of cardboard glued together to make a solid base, and then to build up from there with a track bed and landscape. Unfortunately things didn’t go exactly as planned, and what I got was a fairly bendy slab of cardboard that looked like it was just waiting for some track to be glued onto it before warping hideously.

Attempt one will soon be consigned to the recycling pile and I’ll set to making a more solid version, with masses of cross bracing to discourage warping. The problem is that there’s a fairly shallow space between the shelf the KÖB is to be built on and the one above, which doesn’t leave a lot of space for a deep frame, so I’ll have to make up for this with lots of cross bracing, and then more cross bracing in between… I’ll keep you posted on this. Hopefully the second version will work a bit better so I can start thinking about track and wiring soon. If it looks like I'll have to make 9 998 more before I get it right, I think I’ll go back to the armour plating.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sägewerk Pfeifle

The change of plan I hinted at in the last post is now in full swing: I'm putting "Spitzenwald" on the back burner for a bit, a and I'm going to attempt a basic two-siding affair, which will give me some experience and allow me to test out some ideas and relearn how to make scenery. A couple of nights ago I cut out a basic shape from a sheet of cardboard and fiddled with a set of points to see what I could do with it. Now I've trimmed the cardboard back to the shape I'd like, which just fits onto the shelves I'm using, and sent a copy to a couple of friends to make sure I wasn't making a horrendous mistake. So far I've had positive feedback, so I'll carry on...

The subtitle of the model is 'One of those days': several storms over the night have made both the road and railway almost impassable to Spitzenwald. Clearance teams have been removing felled trees since the dawn, and by now (about 0800) they have managed to clear the line as far as Sägewerk Pfeifle, (Pfeifle's Sawmill) about 3 KM from Spitzenwald, just before the line makes the final curve to the terminus. Here, however, they've found a lot of trees down on this section, all mixed up together especially where the line crosses the valley, and it's taking a lot longer than anyone would like. Trains are currently terminating at the halt by the mill, which usually is only a request stop catering for walkers and mill employees. The sawmill is working at fill tilt: It's not the biggest mill in the Körschtal, but the only plant this close to the damaged area, and the railway is running wagons up from Dachsburg to take wood from the cutting area itself and from the mill, as well as dealing with the regular output- and wouldn't you know it but the sawdust and a load of finished product was scheduled to be shifted today…

Monday, October 22, 2007

Here Endeth the silence…


The “Big” project that I’ve been eating, breathing and sleeping for the last few weeks- “Baroness Isabella von Katzenberg’s evil and despicable plans for world domination” -finished last night with a pretty successful show. The team I work with dealt with all the last minute glitches and problems that beset these things with a level of patience and flexibility that would give some professional companies pause for thought and I’m really pleased with them, but I’m also rather glad it’s over and I have a bit of time to relax before the next one starts...

While I was working on that my shopkeeper friend has been stockpiling cardboard boxes. Lots and lots of them This means I can very probably make the baseboard for the model, so I expect this will take priority over the next week or so, although I hope I’ll be able to keep building stock. To give an idea of what can be done with a cardboard baseboard, here's an example built by Michael Mott in Canada, which he very kindly allowed me to reproduce here.

Having seen this I’m having second thoughts about starting with “Spitzenwald”, and wondering about a simple model with the railway running through a more undulating landscape: my thinking being that I’m trying out a lot of new methods, so having a simpler model is better if things really go poop. Possibly a bit pessimistic of me, but if it all goes swimmingly and works like a dream, I’ll have learnt a lot and have a nice model in the bargain. Either way I’ll be happy.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Corporate Blue

I'm still moving a the speed of a geriatric tortiose but this weekend I finally managed to fix the couplings and get some paint on the bonnet.

The cab will either be bauxite or grey. I don't know which...

The story is that Meik and Jan, who represent the islands entire railway staff, kept sending requests to head office for ply and metal for rebuilding the loco shed, which were repeatedly ignored. The flimsy structure finally blew down in a storm last year, knocking a big hole in the cab of the one remaining serviceable loco.

Jan and Meik were told off for not repairing the shed and instructed to make a temporary cab from whatever was to hand, and that an insurance assessor would come as soon as possible to approve funds for permanent repairs.

Three months later head office sent an assessor to check that the shed really needed repairing, but his instructions didn’t mention the loco, so he refused to authorise a payment for it. When Meik picked up the ply and steel for the roof, he “accidentally” took a tin of primer and they built a temporary cab out of the two locos and some bits of sheet steel.

Six months later another assessor came. He reported that the locomotive cab was undamaged and cancelled the request for parts to rebuild it.

After I finished painting last night I realised that there's more than a hint of Corporate Blue there... Maybe I sould accept the inevitable and make a 1980's era British rail Narrow gauge 'Might have been': Welsh highland 3' gauge perhaps, or a connon carrier to Ullapool which has to be kept under Brirish Rail because it's an 'essential service'?

I need to get back to the Körschtalbahn brfore I have any more ideas.

Friday, October 12, 2007

1:1 Modelmaking

There's been another long break between posts: modelmaking has been focused on making props for the next major production of our youth theatre company. I took a picture of the (almost) finished result in the workshops before I came home from work last night...

The whole story has a strong steampunk flavour, and this is the weapon for the heroine to use when she goes into the secret lair of the Evil Baroness Who Is Trying To Take Over The World. There's a short silent movie sequence where she blows up an evil machine with it too...

The whole thing is from recycled materials scrounged from local electricians and plumbers, and masses of laminated cardboard in the main box. It had to be obviously overdone and fake as it's an outdoor theatre piece so we don't want people panicking and calling the police- it has happened before. I also had to make it left handed, which is why the sights are on the other side and the "access" panel is visible in the picture. The heroine is very happy with it: since she got hold of the thing, she won't even let the props manager touch it...

Next week I'll be working on the "Self-reciprocating Salamanca four-way impenetrable death trap" with some of the team.

The show opens on Sunday the 21st...

Friday, October 05, 2007

Flying Bricks

East meets West. Former East German class 143 (L) and DB class 111 (R) together in Stuttgart main station, Sept 24th 2007

October the 3rd was German unification day, to commemorate the time when Germany was finally reunited in 1989-1990. This seemed a good time to make poignant comparisons between locomotive design in the two Germanys (and thereby cunningly mask my complete lack of model making progress).

During the years Germany was divided, the two nations’ locomotives developed in different ways: the west bought locos from the Likes of Siemens and Krupp, like the class 111 in the foreground, whereas the DDR (East Germany) was supplied by centralised locomotive works in Eastern Europe whose policy seemed to be that styling was for the Western Imperialists. In some cases it seems that locos able to start, stop, or pull the skin off a rice pudding were considered suspect as well, judging by some of the less successful clunkers that were built.

Some did work though. This class 143, previously East German Railways (DR) class 243, is one of several hundred capable units that were made more or less redundant after the DDR was brought into the Federal Republic, and freight on the former DR dropped faster than a barometer in a hurricane. The class was successful enough that the first locomotives built by after reunification were of this type, althought that was a was a political move: the locomotives became a symbol of reunification, but German railways would really have preferred a loco capable of 200kmh, not 120.

'Aerodynamic' cab?

Apparently the cab is supposed to be aerodynamic. I can’t say that’s how I'd describe it, but I do like these locos. I could see a model version running on the KÖB one day, under the scenario that they were subsidised to help production in an east German locomotive factory. In fact I could end up building a whole fleet of flying bricks if I'm not careful -partly because I like them, or more likely because I’m too much of a coward to try difficult-to-make compound curves like those on the front of the 111 class...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Works...

Time is very short in this season, but I’ve managed to build the cab on the little Westerooge diesel. I’m trying to use lots of different methods in this project to see what works, so I made the cab as a home-made riveted job to protect Jan and Meik from the elements. Jan is already complaining at the gaps around the door…

To supplement this I’ve been working on a background for taking pictures of locomotives and stock made by the “Maschinenfabrik Ostfildern”, partly to learn how to make printed backgrounds and buildings, but also so that I’m able to keep doing some model making. This is a (heavily scaled down) version:

I figure that I can make this into a back wall, with the end turned so the track goes in front of the wall, and through the blue door, and maybe even set the track into concrete. At the very least it’ll make a nice display for the shelf by my desk…