The Dream and the Wheel

It is now almost nine years since I officially declared my first scratchbuilt engine done (See the post “Mission accomplished”). But that second engine is still only a dream. Last year the only progress was this “Proof of concept” for a wheel based on a brass center made by Shapeways and threads made by yours truly. Not much, but enough to keep the dream alive!

Trackside details: Wooden gates at grade crossings

Grade crosssings make for great scenes. I love them all, from dirt roads crossing the track with just the help of a few roughly hewn planks to crossings protected by bells, flashing lights and automatic gates.
In this post we will take a look at the wooden gates used on most railroads here in Norway from the first railways was built in the 19th century. On branchlines they could last well into to the seventies. Their design is fairly standard as the pictures show.
This type of gate blocks either the track or the road. It is a design that was first used in England from 1839 and onwards.

Grade corssings adds interest to any model scene. A crossing with gates should be a nice project for a couple of evenings, but you could of course go totally overboard and make working gates. Personnally, I would settle for gates that can be operated manually.

Wooden gates at grade crossings are as old as the railroads themselves. This picture from 1897 was taken on the narrow gauge line from Trondheim to Støren.


On branch lines, the wooden gates survived intothe seventies. Here we also see the classic paint scheme for such gate: white with red warning discs.


1914 drawing of a standard Norwegian State Railways (NSB) gate. (Click on image for downloadable PDF-version)


Drawing of standard type of gate used on the Thamshavn Railway (Click on image for downloadable PDF-version)

A magazine for all model builders

I have an affection for paper based magazines, and The Narrow Gauge & Industrial Railway Modelling Review is an absolute favorite. The latest issue, 111 is a Locomotive Building Special, and it is an adrenaline shot of inspiration for this modeller. The pages are packed with scratch built models. Most of them in 0-scale and larger. All of them in metal. The editorial praises a book on scratchbuilding published in 1948. An article on a manual pantograph milling machine rounds of the issue. Wonderfully archaic, much like scratch building railway models in itself.

The magazine is strongly devoted to building models, and focuses on modeling techniques and fine craftsmanship.

But do not take my word for it. Order your copy today, or even better, sign up for a subscription!
The Narrow Gauge & Industrial Railway Modelling Review

A prototype someone should model

wild blue younder

One of the things that puzzles me is that so many modellers follow the same protoypes, and that so few find truly original subjects for their models. Even average skills can result in an interesting model if the prototype is chosen with some care. What people find inspiring waries wildly, of course. Myself, I tend to fall for buildings that might be labeled “vernacular exoticism”.  Buildings and sites that I come across along backroads here in the middle of Norway.  This little blue gem just cries out to be modeled. But if you beat me to it, I promise to find me another subject.

Mystery Train

Mystery TrainAs far as I know, I am the only person modelling the Thamshavn Railway in 0-scale. But this interesting model is solid proof that I am not the first. This model of TB engine no. 7 was part of the estate after one of Norways most profilic modellers. But he is not the builder, he had himself inherited the model from an unknown modeller. So it is a complete mystery who built this model. It is probably built in the sixties or seventies. Even in the unfinished state the craftsmanship is very impressing. I am suspecting that the builder had a professional background in machining. The standard of the work is so high that I considered buying the model and completing it. But in the end I concluded that the model should be left as it is out of respect for our unknown collegue.

A little distraction

A couple of posts back I showed a recently finished wooden mineral wagon. I have two of them, but I am still a few wagons short of a train.
It might be a bit strange then to build a maintenance wagon on one of the precious underframes I have completed. Would it not make more sense to concentrate on finishing a whole train?

The Thamshavn Railway reused this type of underframe for several mainance wagon projects. But this was done after WWII, and my period of interest is really 1930-35. So this project is quite “useless”. But then, what is the use of model trains? If it gives you enjoyment, build it. It is absurd to build something out of duty if you are a hobbyist. And the model looks darn good to me, and thats all the justification I really need.

Distant cousins (4)


Model railroading is said to be a hobby in decline, but there seems to be more quality modelling going on than ever.
The topic for this post is the fine 0-scale (1/45) model by Stig Bergstrøm. Stig changed from H0 to 0 in late 2006. Since then he has scratch built more than 17 engines and several pieces of rolling stock.
He designs his own etchings, and the actual etching is done by the Scottish company PPD ltd. This company offers and excellent service, and for me they are the difference between daydreaming and actually getting models built.
Of course, it still takes a skilled craftsman to achieve models as good as the ones Stig builds.

Unfortunately, Stig passed away recently, but his webpage “Lokputsaren” is still accessible.  Hopefully it will be available for a long time. It is a legacy that should be an inspiration to all serious modellers. 


I never really finish my models to every last detail, but my wooden mineral wagons are now as complete as they will probably get.

So here is the offical “delivery photo”.

As usual, I loose direction and momentum when I finish a project. It will take some time until I gain direction again. So for the time being I am fiddlign with several projects. Among them are a shadowbox workshop diorama, a diorama with a underpass, a steel mineral wagon and the most ambitious of them all, a new engine. Only time will tell which one I will pursue.

Time to launch another project

As the wooden mineral wagon is drawing to a conclusion, it is time to launch another project.
The subject this time is a steel mineral wagon from our favorite meter gauge railway. These steel wagons are sort of the signature wagons for this railway and I sometimes wonder why I did not tackle them first.

Many years ago (note the yelllowing styrene!) I tried to scratchbuild one, but this is as far as I got:

The hopper is not too shabby, but the underframe leaves something to be desired. And a competely scratchbuilt wagon is not the way to go as I (the superoptimist as always) want an entire train of them. At least 10 wagons.

So I am contemplating a resing casting for the hopper. The underframe will be etched parts as for the wooden wagon, but I will design a few brass castings to speed up construction.

If anyone have opinions on how to make a kit for this wagon, please feel free to comment!