Thursday, May 08, 2008

New project, new platform...

So, I'm starting a new project, and on top of this, I'll be moving to a new blog. I seem to do strange things to most technical things, and I manage to mangle blogger fairly frequently. I found a service I seem to get on with, and which has a couple of nice little extra features as well. I've been blogging here and there for a few weeks, which is a bit wearing, but as it hasn't crashed yet, I'll be moving over there around Monday the 12th. If you subscribe to this blog -and remarkably a couple of tolerant souls do- you shouldn't notice anything different: in fact you should have got the last few updates from the new blog feed already. When you go there, however, you'll hopefully like the new look, and continue to be astounded at the addition of things like extra pages and other wonderfulness. I'm afraid it's unlikely to magically improve my writing, but at least it seems to be immune to my technology destroying tendencies...

There should be final entry on Westerooge before I go, so this is more of an advance warning. If you are one of the kind people who has a link to this blog, can you please change it to there?

In case you missed all the links above, then the place to go is almost the same as here:

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Nearly there...

Less than a week to go, but Westerooge is almost complete. The scenery is down and the track works- most of the time. It isn't as smooth as I'd like but better than I thought I'd manage, so that's not too bad. Even the bit that went wrong is working this time around. The remaining jobs are to repaint the overly vivid sky, (maybe with a representation of some houses in the distance, and the road continuing, but only if I'm feeling brave), add some bushes and a small 'shed' to hide the points switch, paint the black band on the lighthouse and maybe add a crossing sign. On the other hand, I do have a heck of a lot to do before we get on that train on Monday, so I'm not sure I'll even have five minutes to stick things together, and of course I now have a distraction: I want to just play trains...

Even the track join of doom works, most of the time...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Well, it can't always work...

So I started to make the scenery: newspaper all around and in between the rails. After everything had dried, on goes the diesel, and it ran fine except for one little section of track on the end of the sector plate. I suspect I broke a wire when building and painting the scenery. Off came the newspaper, and yes, there was the broken wire. It was a choice of digging up all the scenery until I exposed enough wire to cut back to, or running a fresh wire under the sector plate to power the line directly. I opted for the latter. So, in theory what I needed to do was de-solder the wires on the track, run the fresh wire into place, and resolder. What happened was that the soldering iron was too hot and heated the rails, melting the sleepers and eventually causing the whole lot to fall of in mangled mess.

Well, I wasn't totally happy with the way it was stuck down anyway, and at least on something so small, it isn't too much to replace. It still slows me down a bit though which isn't helpful when I'm so close to the deadline...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Railcar ideas- Class 650

Westerooge is currently a gooey mess: I've added some form to the basic board, especially around the lighthouse base and the track, and I've covered the lot with grass and other bits. I'm now hoping that it sticks to the baseboard and not to the track. I'll get back to you on that.

This weekend I had to go and pick someone up from the station in Metzingen, so naturally I went early to take a few pictures. Metzingen is a junction on the railway between Stuttgart and Tübingen: German railways are often rather picturesquely known by the places they run through rather than the places they connect, so this route is called the Neckar-Alb-Bahn, after a river and range of hills.

Most trains are class 143 locomotives hauling double deck stock and this blog already has lots of pictures of these, so I won't bore you with them, but I also got the chance to photograph a these railcars. DB calls them class 650, although the many private railways using them call them Regio-Shuttle's, the name given to them by Stadler, their maker. There is a branch line from Metzingen to Bad Urach (the Ermstalbahn, if you're taking notes) operated is DB ZugBus.

650 012-8, the rear of the pair seen above. Notice the buffers.

I've wanted to make a narrow gauge version of one of these for ages. RS1's have a fair bit of power and the ones with conventional buffers have been known to haul the odd freight wagon, which I imagine would make them popular with the accountants of the Körschtalbahn- especially as mixed trains are common on other modern narrow gauge lines. I could well see one of those pulling a couple of vans into the hills. The only problem is that they'd be hard to build: I think I could get away with having tinted glass, which would let me put a normal motor inside and avoid making loads of tiny seats, but The question is how I can find a way to make those angled window struts and compound curves on the ends work.

I'm open to ideas. In the meantime Westerooge will hopefully be a lot less gooey and I can post some pictures...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dark art of the sector plate -2

It works...

After some fairly intense bodging, filing, soldering, and at least one length of mangled track, the first train on 'Westerooge' wobbled and lurched its way onto the sector plate this weekend. This in itself was good, but that it managed this without spilling itself onto the desk in an unpleasant mess was a real surprise.

In the event, the biggest problem wasn't the sector plate but the join with the scenic section I made last week: the rear track goes up dramatically as it approaches the edge. As I'd already managed to melt rails off their sleepers in a previous soldering attempt I went for the bodger option and filed down the top of the rail a bit so it doesn't make the train wobble quite so dramatically, and decided to ignore the rest.

Extensive 'testing' (playing) by daddy and eldest son have got most of the bugs out of the system, although although the mess van has a habit of clouting the side of the box file when I pull it out of the middle siding. Never mind: I can finally get on with the fun part: scenery.

And I've got two weeks to do it...


I am still here, and working on Westerooge. However, during a coffee break last week I came across 'Behind the Water Tower' , which describes itself as “An Anglo-Polish railway blog” but which manages to squeeze in a lot of useful information on railways in general. Right now they are concentrating on the campaign to save the narrow gauge railway in Krosniewice which was running freight and passenger until it had the temerity to get in the way of a local politician's pet town centre redevelopment project, and had its operating licence summarily revoked. As the blog puts it:

"The Krosniewice Railway, one of the most interesting Polish narrow gauge railways - which operated regular passenger services and carried a substantial freight traffic - is closing because the Mayor of Krosniewice has teamed up with a property developer. Krosniewice Coucil is in the process of acquiring the railway land from PKP, the Polish State Railway Company, for transport purposes. But the Mayor is planning a big property development and the railway workshops are in her way. SKPL, the operator of the line, opposed the demolition of the workshops and, for their pains, have had their operator’s licence terminated by the Mayor."

Behind the water tower want us to join them in a letter-writing campaign to the local and national politicians responsible for the decision, pointing out that it would be better for the town to run the railway and reap the tourist income, and incidentally keep a useful transport link which will keep traffic off local roads. As this blog is partially based on the idea that narrow gauge railways can be a useful link in a modern transport network, I'm joining in. If you feel the desire to help, they have all the details that you would need like addresses for the Mayor, the Polish transport minister and others, and a sample letter to use as a basis.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


If you've been following my mutterings long enough, you'll know that I originally set out to make a modern narrow gauge line in the Black Forest in 1:43 scale, using 16.5mm (HO) track. In theory this scale is great for making making narrow gauge trains: you get hold of old HO/OO scale models: you take the top off, build your own slightly larger superstructure on the chassis, and you have a narrow gauge locomotive (and if you chose the right model, a body you can hack up for later projects as well) This is fine as far as it goes, but small HO/OO wheels can look a bit silly under a big locomotive, and with my grandiose designs, the Körschtalbahn's locomotives tend to be pretty big. (they are the same scale size as trains on the Zillertalbahn railway, although I don't think any of you believe me) One solution to this would be bigger chassis, from places like 'Hollywood Foundry'. Hopefully I'll be able to save up and get one soon, but until then I'll have to keep getting second hand models from places like Ebay or similar, so the wheel problem remains -especially with bogie chassis.

I reckon I've found a solution though. If I go down a bit in scale to 1:55, it brings everything down to a manageable size and things which are huge in the larger scale, suddenly look more reasonable, so I'm going to try building a couple of of 1:55 scale models and see how they turn out. 1:55 has been around for a very long time, and is often called "The Ffestiniog Scale" because it started with a series of kits from GEM based on the Ffestiniog and Talyllyn railways.

1:55 scale version: suddenly it fits...

Once I can play trains on 'Westerooge' I'll make a start on this Rhaetian Bahn-esque motor luggage van, a model I've wanted to make since my first attempts at scratchbuilding in the 1990's. I eventually gave up because it always looked terrible in 1:43 scale when squeezed on to a HO gauge chassis, but when I tried it out in 1:55 I found that it fits rather well. Running on HO track, this would scale up at about 3 feet or 914mm. This is a bit small for metre gauge, but there are a few 900mm gauge railways around Germany, and anyway, I'm not going to worry about it too much- for some reason it bothers me less than tiny wheels.

I've been dithering about this for a while- building 'Westerooge' was partly to gain some experience in 1:43 so I have something to compare the result with (and also as an excuse for procrastination), but I did join the 5,5mm Association a while back, and they haven't thrown me out yet, despite my lack of interest in all things Ffestiniog. They are running a competition to build a micro layout this year, which I may just enter when I come back from the UK...

What happened to the weekend?

Well, I was working most of it so there wasn't much time to work on 'Westerooge', but there were some compensations like this artwork created by one of the teenagers I work with for a project focusing on abuse and forgiveness...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Head of Steel

If I seem a bit excited today, its because a couple of nights ago I finally laid the track in the scenic section of 'Westerooge', making it not only the first model railway I've owned in the last 16 years, but also my first successful attempt at soldering in at least that time. I've decided I like variable temperature soldering irons.

I also moved into uncharted territory by using electrofrog points which have the advantage that they are live everywhere so your locomotives don't stall and embarrass you, but the disadvantage that if you don't wire them up the right way then they short-circuit the whole model and and embarrass you. After drilling a hole through the switch to take the brass rod, I wired it up to the track and turned the power on in the confident expectation of seeing the layout disappear behind a cloud of blue smoke. Remarkably, not only did that not happen, but the blue diesel moved, and in the right direction as well...
Point control and baseboard join: Not pretty, but it works...

So, having conquered this mountain, we can now start adding the ground cover and adding the bits and pieces that will hopefully make this look less like a box file and more like a model railway, and move onto the brave new world of the sector plate fiddle yard.

32 days to go.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Big Black Engine.

I've finished the baseboard for Westerooge, but three sheets of card stuck together are not that visually interesting, so thanks to the wonders of digital cameras, here's a couple of pictures I took in Stuttgart station earlier today.

101 141-0 is one of DB's crack express engines, and is currently in a black advertising livery as part of a nationwide campaign against hate and violence. I saw it as it entered the station and scuttled around with my camera. The things I do for you, honestly.

Deutsche Bahn is one of the enlightened administrations that still runs trains behind locomotives, and they often change them here, which is why 101 141-0 is is uncoupled from its train. This operation is quite common in Termini like Stuttgart where it's as easy to put an engine on the back and pull the train out again on the next leg of its journey. They are pretty slick at it too, with the new engine following the train into the platform as it arrives, an interesting spectacle for those of us used to 'only one train in section' working. One of these fine days I'll post a video of this.

As I was going to the S-bahn (Interurban/rapid transit) train anyway I wandered along the ends of the platforms and took some pictures. There were the usual locomotives for Stuttgart: a smattering of units, and a few local trains with class 146 units and the class 143 'Einheitsloks' pulling them. For some reason I really like the class 143 locomotives so despite having loads of pictures of them already, I added this shot of 143 963-7 to the collection.

Now to go and see if the glue dried on those sheets of card. If it has, and they don't warp overnight, I may even get some track laid tomorrow...

Monday, March 31, 2008

Unterfeuer Westerooge

While I wait for the electrical gubbins to arrive I've been working on the lighthouse that will hopefully set the scene and hide the fiddleyard a bit. Actually the model is not of a traditional lighthouse as much as an 'Unterfeuer' which I think translates as a 'Navigation light'. An Unterfeuer tends to be smaller than a lighthouse, and works with an 'Oberfeuer', which is much taller and usually further inland, so that ships can line up the towers or lights to guide themselves through river or sea channels. The model is based on an Unterfeuer at Baumrönne, one of several which work in conjunction with the Altenbruch Oberfeuer, and is not too far from where Westerooge is supposed to be. As an added advantage the height of the Baumronne Unterfeuer in 1:43 scale is almost exactly the length of a standard tube from a roll of kitchen towels.

I'm debating if I should have the windows clear or of they should have a card backing, as the picture of the original seems to show the windows being largely shuttered. I know I could make a detailed interior, but 'Westerooge' is supposed to be a short-term project and I'd like to finish it before we go to visit my family in mid-May. This isn't as ambitious as it sounds: I've ordered the remaining electrical parts so they will arrive any day now, and I already have all the track and scenic bits for finishing off what will be a fairly flat model, so I think things will speed up now, as long as I don't keep procrastinating.

I'm already planning the summer project: I'll tell you about it in the next blog entry.

[Update: Just as I was about to publish this entry, DHL delivered a box of electrical goodies]

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Here's a free travel tip: next time you want to plan a train journey, use the Deutsche Bahn website. Seriously. Even if you're travelling entirely in the UK. It is more accurate than the National Rail enquiries website, as I discovered when planning a journey from London to Northallerton today. the British website suggested we take a train leaving 5 minutes before our Eurostar arrived, or offered the attractive option of waiting in the station until early the next morning. I had a sneaking suspicion that even in the UK trains leave the capital more than twice a day. A quick look on the DB site showed one running about an hour after we arrived. I called National Rail Enquiries with some trepidation (In Germany I call helplines as a last resort: they take ages to pick up the phone, operators are frequently unpleasant and unhelpful, and they charge premium rates) But the person on the other end was very friendly and confirmed this train was running. Perhaps they use DB too. I'm told British station staff often do.

This being the brave new world of the privatised rail network, National Rail Enquiries couldn't reserve a seat so I was connected to the train operating company help desk and I had a nice chat with 'Norman', who was very apologetic but said to reserve seats with a Britrail pass like the one we are travelling with, you have to go to London Kings Cross ticket office in person. Now call me awkward if you will, but this seems an odd requirement for a ticket which is not available to residents of the UK.

Norman was as helpful as he could be, and suggested we go to coaches 'G' and 'H', because of there is space it will usually be there, and that we talk to the conductor to find where there are some free seats.

So it seems that UK officialdom (as represented by the NR website and rules) is its usual haphazard self, but the people on the end of the phone are friendly and efficient. It will be interesting to see how this works over the three weeks of fairly extensive train travel while we are in the UK.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sinsheim 2008

To one used to British model railway exhibitions, the 'Faszination Modelbau' in Sinsheim is immense. It covers just about everything: model railways, trucks, diggers, planes, boats, racing cars, and tanks. Eldest Son and I were going to meet Alexander Rainer and see his 'Rittigsmühle' model, but it took 20 minutes for us to even find the model railway section, and even then finding a shoebox-sized layout in the huge hall proved difficult. Eventually we stumbled across it by accident while craning to see around the back of a well made N scale model:

Rittigsmühle: The new circular section with incline.
Track going off bottom right leads to the mill itself.

The Mill yard with Alexander's diesel shunting.

Wood delivery waits to be unloaded.

I'll admit I went a bit overboard with pictures- but It's been so long since I went to an exhibition, Alexander's scenery was really nice, and besides, I'd been invited to take my little diesel and mess van to do a guest turn, and despite them being far too big for the tunnels, I wanted to take pictures of them on a real railway as well. I've tried to keep down the pictures here, instead putting most of them in a new album on my fotopic gallery

My loco in the yard at Rittigsmühl,
pretending it is small enough to go through the archway.

The one place the diesel could run: on top of the incline.

Diesel in the trees.

The mess wagon spent the day exiled on here with the workman vainly trying to push it.

Of the other layouts, the majority seemed either to be in the 'Overgrown train set' style, with lots of automation but rabbit warren tunnels and carpet-like grass, or very, very big (although very beautiful) modular layouts based on German and American prototypes. Fortunately, around 'Rittigsmühle' there were a couple of other small models which not only looked as if they would fit into a normal house, but were also very well built and presented.

'Blockstelle Eselsbrücke'

One of these was 'Blockstelle Eselsbrücke' in 'N' gauge, which looked like you could hang it up in the living room. Maybe that's what the owners do when at home. It was backed by a massive sandstone cliff, with a double track main line running along the bottom, along which trains ran every few seconds.

Freight bursts out of the tunnel.

View of the slipway to the river. Another freight passes.

The cliff fronted by a double-track electrified main line is probably based on a famous section along the Rhine between Frankfurt and Köln, and like that line, trains ran past every few seconds. It was also carefully detailed without being overdone, with some German details like the cliff top viewpoint and the cross on an overhanging rock. The model had sound, but this was confined to a CD of birdsong playing on a continuous loop. Very nice. On second thoughts, I wouldn't hang it on the wall, I'd put it where the TV usually stands.

Weimar railcar on the Döppenauer Kreisbahn,
complete with the drivers bike.

The other layout I found myself repeatedly looking at was the 'Döppenauer Kreisbahn', a narrow gauge local government railway in 1950's West Germany. It took me a while to figure why it looks so open, but I think it was the way the track is angled to the front of the model, and the scene rises gradually towards the rear, rather like a stage in the older, grander theatres.

This model also had a lot of Cameo scenes, but what I really liked was the way the line and station was part of the landscape, and the separate scenes were linked by the railway. I guess I'm also biased because it had some nice big diesels as well...

Diesel-hauled train running into the station at Döppenau.

Freight yard at Döppenau

Of the larger layouts, my favourite was 'Balen', a visiting model from the Netherlands which included this Dutch street and fortress. The townscape had a boat running past through the canal.

Further along it had this realistic modern double junction, with a large construction site behind.

American outline models aren't really my thing, but this little scene caught my eye, and appealed to my dark sense of humour

One of those days...

I think I'm failing in my education of eldest son though. As we came into the hall for the first time, he saw these and fell in love, and all the rest of the time he kept asking me to take him back for another look:

Oil rig supply ship and fire launch on the boating lake.

All the way home he was talking about radio controlled boats.

I think a new project is coming soon...

Monday, March 10, 2008


I'm stuck. It's inevitable when working in a different country where things aren't always the same as you are used to: Sometimes there is an annoying delay while you hunt for bits. This time, the bits in question are electrical -an area I'm not too confident in. I've found a shop on the internet that sells what I'm after: plugs, and slider switches, which is a step forward in that I know what to ask for, (Thanks to Zabdiel for the Wiki tip) but lack of knowledge makes me a bit cautious about forking out €20 in one go, which is the minimum for an online purchase. I'm searching for a local electrical shop where I can have a good look at the components first.

Which is a bit frustrating, so let's talk about something more interesting. I've got a train ticket to go to a model railway and toy exhibition with Eldest Son this weekend, where I'll hopefully be able to meet Alexander Rainer, a German member of the Gnatterbox, who will be exhibiting an model railway in a shoe box. He wants me to take my mess car along for a visit. I just hope it fits on his model.

Meanwhile I'm still hoping to get this model done by May, after which we will go to visit my family in the UK. After we come back, I've got another idea for a project, which is just a few sketches and a vague idea at the moment. I'll give more details as I know them. It is another attempt at the Körschtalbahn, although Sägewerk Pfeifle will have to wait still longer until my boys desist from climbing up the furniture.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The dark art of the sector plate -1

Ever since I started Westerooge I've had the same nagging thought at the back of my mind, namely that I hadn't a clue how to make the offstage area, usually called the 'fiddle yard', which represents the rest of the Island. I knew I would have to attempt a sector plate, a sort of sliding table for trains to save space offstage, but sector plates always seemed to be a dark art: a mysterious knowledge knowledge passed down to the initiated, but never divulged to the masses. That's why I've been putting off working on the fiddle yard in Westerooge for ages now, but the trouble with that is it became even more of a barrier in my mind, so yesterday I decided it was time to have a go.

The box 'closed' with the cutout fitting into the same attachment as the fiddle yard.

Remarkably, it seems to be working so far: the base fits into the side of the board and hasn't warped, sagged, or fallen off.. I'd hoped to get the deck for the track completed before posting this, Next job is working on a deck for the track and hopefully getting the electrics sorted out, and I can finally play trains and start the creative scenery bit.

On the subject of electrics, if anyone out there knows the name of DPDT switches (Seen here on 'Plankerton Wharf') in German, and where to get them, Please let me know...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

How 'narrow gauge' can work.

In case you think I've forgotten about modern image narrow gauge, here's a short (90 second) impression of the Matterhorn-Gotthardbahn in Switzerland, showing how effective a narrow gauge railway can be if we just give it the chance. It's not trying to restore something from the past, laudable though this is, but it is a modern, if small railway serving the local area. The passenger trains and 'Glacier Express' in the video are just a part of their traffic: they carry a lot of freight and even have motorail services on one section of the network.

I like the covered bridge that opens onto the railway shown in the video. I'm fortunate as well that the Schwarzwald has a lot of these all over the place. I think a smaller version may turn up one day. Those B-B electrics look good too.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Industrial Archaeology.

Yesterday I was in a warehouse visiting the location shooting of a film project I'd helped out on last week. This isn't half as glamorous as it sounds, but while I was there and everyone else was busy doing important technical stuff I don't understand, I happened to see a wagon turntable in the ground, which turned out to be part of a small system which I estimate to be 50-60cm gauge. The track looked pretty old and clapped out, but then so did much of the warehouse, and one of the staff said that they still use it regularly. He also said I could take pictures, so I ran off and did before someone else came along who thought otherwise.

The back of the works, looking out of the hall pictured above: disused track and chimney.

The only wagon I could find, lurking at one end of the warehouse.

Fairly heavy-duty cast turntable

View out of the front door. The tree is at the edge of the former standard gauge goods yard. The narrow gaige track is very close to the door and further along the street there are the remains of some standard gauge wagon turntables opposite similar factory doors. I did wonder if a standard gauge siding once came through the doors.

Overhead view showing the scales in the background. The disused track dissapearing bottom right goes into the offices where it runs along a corridor

I wanted to take a picture of the standard gauge turntables but unfortunately when I went back someone had parked on them in defiance of several 'no parking' signs. I'll try another day.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Spot the difference.

On the face of it, there seems to be little change since the last time I posted, but the track is here, giving a far better idea of clearances and radii, while a friend who is a carpenters apprentice has carefully cut the front and sides of the box file out, I've built up the ground level inside the box, giving an eye-level, rather than 'lighthouse keeper's' view. The front folds back up, allowing the box to close normally.

I'm also working on a mock-up for the detachable fiddle yard, made from the usual cornflake packets of which I have an inexhaustible supply. This is proving to be the tricky part of the design, partly because I've never built anything like it before, but with work finally beginning to calm down a bit I'm really hoping to get the design together in the next week.

I'm planning to use plastic card as my construction material, which may seem odd but I want to keep weight down, and with such a tiny fiddle yard, (about the same length as the big freight wagons on the Körschtalbahn) I don't think it will cause too many problems. We shall see. All thoughts, feedback, etc, welcome.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

This has been a very quiet blog for the last week, partly because of pressures of work which kept increasing since January, but also but also because of a severe cold/flu attack which kept me firmly horizontal for a while.

‘Westerooge’ is actually progressing faster than it would seem from the lack of updates here. I have been able to get track and a few other essential bits and I’ll get some pictures up as soon as I'm able to take them.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

No news then good news

Stuttgart-St. Pancras return tickets...

This blog has experienced a rather long silence, mostly because of time pressure from work and because Michi's sister and brother in law came with our two lovely little nieces. We’ve been showing them around Stuttgart for the bare five days they were able to be with us.

Today we dropped them off at Stuttgart main station on a train for Frankfurt, and at the same time we were able to finally get tickets so we can come to the UK by rail
from May the 12th to June the 9th. We also have a ‘Britrail’ pass to travel within the country so hopefully we can get to a couple of places and see people, although the 7mmnga meeting in Burton won't be possible.

We've wanted to go by rail and the recent announcement by the local airport ("We need more money, so we're going to take more land and build another runway") made us only more determined not to fly. Besides, the airline industry is very creative imagining up extra ways to make life more miserable, like determining that you can only carry 100ml of water, shouting at you at every opportunity, and dreaming up lots of extra 'costs' so after you've booked your flight they add things like 'Airport Tax', 'Service charge', 'Administration charges', 'fuel surcharge', 'security costs', 'runway toll', and 'Mandatory Insurance'.

I may have got a bit confused with some of those costs as the list is very long and in very small print, but with these little extras and the overnight stop in a hotel because the plane lands in Manchester just before ten, and the taxi fare to and from the hotel, the train actually looks reasonable in comparison: it is definitely quicker door-to-door,
and that at 10% of the emissions, much less noise, no massive runways, and no-one shouting at us about how much water we can carry.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Going up in the world.

Westerooge takes shape. The unfinished lighthouse
lends a distinctly 'Steampunk' feel to the model.

If this entry seems even more disjointed than normal it’s because I’m writing it between dealing with a wriggly toddler and getting ready for the evening meal: life is hectic and doesn’t show any sign of slowing down for a while.

However, on Sunday I had a few moments to spare and it dawned on me that I can still work on the few structures which will be on the layout and the plan, so here is a progress shot showing how things are developing.

The two sidings are an attempt at an 'Inglenook' shunting puzzle (look here if you're wondering what that is): it looks a bit crowded though so perhaps I should remove the points and just have one siding to avoid cluttering the model. The 'main line' theoretically crosses the only road on the island (where the locomotive and wagon are sitting) and continues to the next clutch of houses. In fact, of course, it will drop off the front of the model.

It has dawned on me that I can squeeze one building on the model, and that is a lighthouse. This would not only set the scene as most definitely coastal, but also distract the eye away from the hole in the side of the box where trains will enter and exit the model. The excellent website at has lots of different designs and is packed full of information about the different types, colours and purposes of lighthouses which I'll ramble on about that when the model is more complete. for now suffice to say that the lighthouse will be a modern design, partly to place the model firmly in the present day, and also for other reasons too long to bore you with right now but which will become clear as the model progresses. It is about 11 scale metres at the moment, quite respectable for a small lighthouse, but I'm wondering if artistic licence requires it to be a tad smaller. I expect I'll have to build it to find out, but any thoughts are welcome.

And on that thought, I'll be off to make the tea.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Small Steps

Current progress is slow, frustratingly so, but I’ve at least managed to paint the wagons so they look a bit more like the real thing. I’ve managed to get a bit of weathering and texture on a couple as well, but they are crying out for some rust to be added at some point.

As there is unlikely to be any progress on the box file this week the MFO staff say they'll try and get the couplings fitted and the Körschtalbahn wood wagon finished. Don’t hold your breath...

Storage Problems

With Westerooge falling behind schedule the test track at the Maschinenfabrik Ostfildern is getting severely cluttered at the moment, so the staff are having to adopt new storage methods to fit everything in.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The High Tech MFO spray shop

Newly installed painting equipment at MFO.
Heady stuff, especially before someone opened a window...

The Maschienenfabrik Ostfildern is proud to announce the opening of a new high-tech eco-friendly spray booth, made entirely of recycled materials found lying around the workbench. The wagon seen resting on the paint stand (found after a long search in the wood bin) is the high-capacity wood wagon being built for the Körschtalbahn. This has waited for about two months for the MFO staff to finally get organised, and had to be dusted before it was painted…

The stock for Westerooge is also primed and ready for painting up into their future work-worn state, so construction could finally commence.

Meik said it was the wrong shade of grey.

The wagons on Monday evening.
The MFO say they 'got a bit more done'
since then and promise to post pictures
as soon as possible...