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.

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!

Almost done!

My main project for the last two years has been a wooden mineral wagon to go with my Westinghouse engines. Two of  the wagons are now about 95% ready except painting, lettering and final weathering. Here is one of them:

The underframe is mainly built from etched parts, with some brass castings for the leaf springs and  journal boxes:

I really dread the painting of the underframe, but I just have to muster the courage…

Bumping the blog

With no posts in nearly two years and seven views the last week, it might seem a bit pointless to try and relaunch the blog, but  here we go anyway!

The lack of postings doesn’t mean I have given up on modelling, far from it. But my time has been been divided between working on my 0m models and publishing the members magazine for the Norwegian society of model railroaders, MJ-Bladet.  I have also spent more time on forum postings instead of the blog. You just can’t beat the instant feedback of the forums, and I can really reccommend the RMweb forums  and the Narrow Gauge Modelling Online forums.

when it comes to Modelling I have divided my time between my meter-gauge models in 1/45 scale, and standard gauge models in H0. But it is more and more clear to me that it is the 0-scale models that are closests to my heart, and if it had not been for the camaraderie of the local model railway club, I would have dropped H0 scale entirely.

So be warned, what you are likely to encounter on this blog is scratchbuilt models of a rather obscure character. With the occasional digressions, of course!

Distant cousins (3)

bo_bo

In this instalment of our little series we can present a very fine 7mm scale model of one of the Metropolitan Railway´s Bo-Bo electric engines. It was built by Ken de Groome from a kit that he designed himself. It is available from his company, Ken´s Profiles. The kit consists of etched brass, resin and brass castings.
The prototype was put into service in 1907, and operated in regular service until 1961. A preserved engine of this class can be seen at the London Transport Museum. A museum that is well worth a visit, by the way.

Photo: Barry Norman

Distant cousins

I feel that there is a kind of common denominator between all vintage railroad equipment running under overhead wire, regardless if the equipment operated in downtown Chicago or the middle of Norway.

I love all sorts of modeling, regardless of scale and prototype, but there is something special about 0-scale equipment with trolley poles or pantographs!

Clouser-ITS-1595-w

A very fine example is this scratchbuilt 4-truck articulated trolley freight locomotive. The model was built by William J. Clouser in the sixties. Clouser was a fine-scale pioneer, and the model is built to Proto:48 standards. It stands up to the best of today’s models, and it is a good reminder that even with all our high-tech tools, there is really no substitute for good craftsmanship.

(William J. Clouser photo, Eric Bronsky Collection.)

Thamshavnbanen: A Railroad You Can Model

lok_7_w

One regular feature in Model Railroader is the presentation of a prototype railroad under the banner “a railroad you can model”. In my time as a regular MR reader, I read those articles with great interest, and a couple of times I even started model railroads based on them. The interest did not last though, possible because of a lack of any deeper interest in the railroads described. I feel that to get any serious Modelling done, you need a genuine interest in the modeled topics, and a personal connection. To me things did not really click until I developed an interest in the Thamshavn Railroad located just 35 km from my home town of Trondheim. In hindsight, it is hard to understand that it took me so long to discover the qualities of this Railroad as a prototype for my modeling. What follows is an article first published some 12 years ago in the Swedish magazine “Smalspårigt”. I hope that I can convince a fem mote modereres that this is indeed a railroad you can model!
Continue reading

Still Life With Rejected Body Parts

Still Life With Rejected Body Parts

In an earlier post I wrote about how I finally reached the conclusion that my mineral wagon bodies should be made of wood and brass.

It took me some time to get to that conclusion, and believe me, it wasn’t just a mental process. The pile of rejected body parts in the picture should be proof enough of that!

At the beginning of this project I cajoled a good friend into laser-cutting parts for the wagon body in thin plywood. The parts came out crisp and with very little black crud (or ash you might say) at the edges, but they had a two-dimensional feel that I did not care for. I thought about laminating two layers to build up more bulk, but as the edges of the ends and top of the sides are visible, it did not seem like a very satisfying solution. So those plywood pieces became the foundation of the still life.

The longest detour was due to a hang-up on 3D-printing. Several test parts were printed. First, I had a lot of very promising prints made by the pioneer company Print-A-Part. Print-A-part did unfortunately go out of business, and I have a sneaking feeling that demanding and rather uninformed customers like me were at least partly responsible for this. As amateurs, we demand the best, but are not willing to pay more than peanuts. Most frustrating, because when all the planets aligned correctly, the PAP parts came out almost perfect. But the results were not consistent. This led to a lot of frustating email exchanges about things like part orientation and other remedies to get consistent results. I fully understand that the parent company of PAP, Fine Line Prototyping, decided to concentrate on the professional market! So the PAP turned out to be a dead end in more than one way.

With PAP no longer an option, I decided to try Shapeways services. Shapeways has built their whole infrastructure to serve amateurs and semi-professionals, and they seem to have managed the challenge of creating a 3D-printing service for the masses. I have nothing but praise for the speed and reliability of Shapeways services. Their web-shop is excellent, it is very simple to upload .STL files and order prints. A lot of modellers use Shapeways with excellent results. The results you can get with their best material for detailed scale model parts, FUD (Frosted Ultra Detail) is almost, but only almost good enough for even the most critical modeller. So my test prints for sides and ends were reject for three reasons. First, the detail was not quite crisp enough. Second, they were not solid enough. And last, FUD parts has a sticky residue that is a pain in the proverbial to remove. So the parts ended up in the still life. But there will be some SW parts on the wagons, the coupler pockets are printed in wax and cast in brass by SW. This is a very interesting service that is totally dispruptive for traditional lost wax casting services. I can not wait for the next generation of Shapeways printing services!

The last of the 3D-printing test-matches involved a 3D printing service provider in Seoul that due to the wonders of Google translate ended up printing six wax masters for brass test castings of entire wagon sides. The results were again promising, but the Solidscape printer did not have good enough resolution for the cracks between the boards to show up. And a wagon completely out of brass would be rather massive. Heavy metal, indeed. Another very costly lemon for the still life.

I admit to having a CNC-hang-up as well. This hang-up is fuelled by the extremely good results modelers like Fridtjof (Check out his work on the Westlake modellers forum or Buntbahn.de) cranks out using hobbyists CNC-routers. This is pure modelling pornography, and it is impossible not to be inspired. So when I got access to a High-Z s-400 router I immediately started to mill profiles in brass for the frame. I did not quite get the results I had hoped for, so even if etched & folded profiles are not quite as crisp as milled brass profiles, I settled for this compromise as the etched profiles are much cheaper and simpler to make. Milling brass on light CNC-routers is quite nerve-wrecking and rather frustrating. I will probably try again, but for now the milled end beams belongs in the still life. Even if strictly speaking, they are not body parts.

I hope that this little tale does not come across as complaining. Quite the opposite, I really enjoy experiments like this. Every piece of the still life is a lesson learnt, and I really needed the reality check on 3D-printing and CNC-everything. But receiving all these little packages in the mail is better than most Christmas and birthday gifts. They really add a little excitement to checking the mail box. Even if the gift in the end turns out to be a trinket for a still life.

The tale of the accidental collector

I have never been a collector of model railway equipment. Or anything else for that matter. This is not because I do not find pleasure in vintage objects. Quite the contrary. In fact, I try to avoid becoming a collector because I fear that I can become quite obsessed, and develop a habit. (I also regard myself a smoker that never have started smoking. I guess you could say that I do not trust myself when it comes to certain things. )

But this is the tale of when I almost became a tinplate collector by accident. At our local model railway club every now an then people stop by carrying boxes of what they think are remarkable antique models. At best, it is Märklin equipment from the seventies, at worst it is plastic junk of dubious heritage. More than often the models are impregnated with an ugly smell of sigarette smoke. I never knew that the smell of nicotine sticks so well to plastic models!

So when I received a call from an elderly gentleman that said he had some old Märklin model trains that might be of interest to our club I was not too thrilled. I repeated our standard reply that we appreciated the donation, and would accept it if it was OK to sell it to raise funds for the club. Our benefactor had no problems with this, so I went to collect the loot.

To my big surprise this was not the usual Märklin H0 stuff. This was something far more rare; it was in fact Märklin, but 0 scale pre-war tin-plate models. I was not immediately thrilled by this, I had never seen models like this at Norwegian swap meets, and I my first thought was that it would be very hard to sell something like this in Norway. Almost out of politeness and not wanting to disappoint the gentleman I accepted the gift after admitting that I had absolutely no idea how much the models might be worth.

Back home I started to examine the models more closely. They were in remarkable good condition considering that they had been used as toys by generations of kids. The engines had working headlights and they ran fairly well right out of the box. Not mint condition, but definitively well-kept.

Märkin tinplate 0-scale model (anno 1936)

To get an idea of the value I turned to eBay. My pulse increased a notch or two when I saw what prices this kind of models fetched. We had been donated a little pot of gold!

But I did not only discover the monetary value of the models. During the cleaning and sorting of the models I started to take a liking to them that I had not expected. And after photographing the models I started to wonder if I should buy the models myself and start a little collection. There were something with the size of the models and their ruggedness that was very appealing. It was easy to imagine the joy these models must have caused when they were unwrapped that Christmas eve back in 1936. And that resonated well with my own experience of receiving a Märklin trainset for Christmas when I was a kid. To put it sort, the models gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Märklin steam engine, anno 1936
Märklin steam engine, anno 1936

In the end I came to my senses and decided that I just could not afford to start a tinplate collection.  Fortunately, a Norwegian collector gave us an offer for the lot that we simply could not refuse.  The contribution to the club´s coffers was bigger than all membership fees that year.

But I really enjoyed my few weeks as a collector. And I know that I will get a little bit more excited the next time I get one of those calls from people with trainsets they want to get rid of!

Märklin steam engine, anno 1936
Märklin 0-scale tank car (anno 1936)