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

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)


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, part 2


I was happily banging rocks together, but then I heard the sound of the symphony orchestra… If Attilio Maris work is not the gold standard of scratch building, it is most certainly the nickel-silver standard. But seriously, if anyone can point me to better work in any scale, I would love to see it.
His models of Italian vintage electric engines are built to 1:32 scale and, and they are built in series of around 20. So you could perhaps argue that this is small-scale manufacturing by a professional and not scratch building by a hobbyist. Not that it matters in any way, the models speak for themselves.
The techniques and materials are quite conventional. Etchings, lost wax castings and machined parts. No CNC tools are used, but the etching artwork is CAD.
Mari is one of those modellers whose work is flawless, and even if I will never achieve this quality myself, his work is a great inspiration. My dream is to be able to build pantographs as detailed as these! In fact, after I discovered Maris models I began toying with the idea of moving up to 1/32 or 1/35 scale for my own modelling
I recommend anyone interested in high-octane modelling to watch the videos Mari has made available on YouTube.




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!


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.)

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.