Monday, October 16, 2017

Hello again SJC


Off to Seattle.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Making more car cards


New car cards for the Welztalbahn follow the design I laid out in January. A key part of the new design is a good photo of the car that belongs to the card. I took some of the photos on current cards  with my smart phone camera. While decent, the photos are no match for properly lighted photos taken with a DSLR.

And I'm making progress on the new paperwork for the Welztalbahn. If only I wouldn't get lost in the original paperwork all the time ...


Just for fun, I wrote out the schedule the way you'd find it in DB's Kursbuch. This arrangement looks neat, but isn't particularly practical for operational purposes.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Murrbahn in HO: First draft of upper level

Murrbahn Upper Level. 1box=10x10cm
I continued with the plan I started last week. Gaildorf West is along the bottom edge of the room with the helix down to staging in the lower right corner. The middle of the room has the weg branch line to Untergroeningen on a pensinsula. I very intentionally only included the two end-points of that line to allow for branch line trains to run through some scenery along the way.
The main line from Gaildorf West towards Backnang runs through the Kappelestunnel and on a narrow shelf around the room with the town of Murrhardt modeled in the upper right corner.

The maximum train length I'm shooting for is 180 cm (5x 26.4m passenger carriages + locomotive), so each station should have at least one siding that fits a maximum length train, and there needs to be at least 5m distance between the first turnouts of neighboring stations to leave space for the appropriate entry signals.

I want to run operations on this layout. Passenger trains and freight trains. Through trains and local trains. Switching jobs and transfer runs. Someone has to run the trains. Fremo-style station agents ("Fahrdienstleiter") control the flow of trains through the stations. I need room for all these people, so aisle space is important and I'm trying to maintain 1m (3 ft) aisle width.

I currently have the upper level at 150cm rail-height, and the lower level at 110cm. The room entrance is a duck-under under the Gaildorf West freight yard at 140cm (~55in). That's already a compromise. Fremo modules are set at 130cm rail height and module duck-unders were manageable at module meets I've been to, so I'm hoping that 20cm more headroom works well enough for everybody. The lower level will cross the entrance on a gate or movable bridge.

Overall I'm not happy with the arrangement in this plan.

Contrary to reality, Murrhardt is set in a curve in order to fit between the wall and the helix. Major industries are Lederfabrik Schweitzer and the city gas works. Because of the curved arrangement, I needed to use several Peco and Roco 2-rail turnouts that require conversion to work with Maerklin rolling stock. Quite some effort, but feasible. Just like Gaildorf West, Murrhardt is very compressed, on top of that mirrored and flipped. The track connection to Schweitzer and the gas works is different, too, but it doesn't matter that much. At this point my version is so different, that it's at most "inspired by Murrhardt", and I'm missing several defining features of the station (e.g. the bridge over the Dentelbach and Siegelsberger Strasse).

The helix in the corner works ok for Gaildorf West, but collides badly with Murrhardt. I either need to get rid of the helix or move it somewhere else in the room. Using the peninsula might be an option, but I suspect that will be problematic with Backnang on the lower level.

I realize more and more how hard it is to create prototype-oriented track plans with the space normal model railroaders have, and this room is already a very generous space. Of course, I'm also trying to cram a lot of features into this layout. Three stations (Gaildorf West, Murrhardt, and Backnang), plus staging under the lower level, and I still want some distance between stations. At various points I have also considered including Sulzbach, Fichtenberg, or Backnang-Spinnerei, for operational variety.

Back to the drawing board...

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Greenly Northern In the office


The Greenly Northern has moved back to the office and for now occupies an empty desk next to me.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Gaildorf West in HO


At some point in the far future, I might be able to turn one of the larger rooms in the house into a model train empire. While that is still quite some time away, it doesn't stop me from thinking about how to squeeze a prototype-oriented rendition of the Murrbahn into a ~12x16ft room.

I intend to build Gaildorf West in sections. The single track ends might be built to a modular standard (e.g. Fremo Puko, or Minimax), though it is much more likely that I build this in sections tailored to my needs and available space (similar to the ideas of TOMA).

Model railroaders never have enough space. The prototype Gaildorf West station stretches 950 meters from first turnout to last. Even with a slight length compression at 1:100 that's still double the length of available room width, and I need to add the approach tracks too, reducing the available length even more. Selective compression and compressive selection are necessary tools to make this work.

The track plan retains the Kappelesbergtunnel south of the station, as well as the general arrangement of tracks, platforms, and major buildings. Due to space limitations sadly the freight yard is heavily compressed.


Gaildorf West had an unique freight yard track plan, with the former branch line of Wuerttembergische Eisenbahngesellschaft (weg) to Untergroeningen cutting through the yard tracks and past the front of the station building for many years. As much as I wanted to model this arrangement, leaving it out allowed me to dramatically reduce the required length of the station. I tried to retain as many of the other track features as possible. A section boundary could be inserted at the bottom of the two yard ladders and an additional section inserted in case I'd end up with much more room than what I'm planning for.
The track around the front of the station was removed at some point well before the 1970's and instead the branch line merged into track 1 on the south end of the station similar to the model plan.

On my Murrbahn, Gaildorf West will be the northernmost point modeled. Trains enter staging after this station via a 10 turn helix from staging under the lower level. Or maybe I keep going up and build a staging yard above the upper level.

Because my model of Gaildorf West is basically a shelf along one of the room walls, the weg line curves to the right "behind" the DB main line, instead of curving left into the Kocher valley as it does on the prototype. I will use this arrangement for the weg branch line to "disappear" behind trees and reemerge across the aisle on its way to Untergroeningen. 

I'm trying to adhere to a minimum radius of 60cm in visible sections (90cm preferred) and 42.5cm (Maerklin Normalkreis II) in hidden sections. While most European rolling stock has no issues navigating curves as tight as 36cm, of course long cars look rather terrible on such curves. The selected minimum radius for visible sections is a compromise between available space and the look of standard DB passenger cars with 26.4 meters length in a curve.

Above plan is drawn with Peco Streamline Code 100 turnouts SL-95 and SL-96 (radius 912mm, 12 degree) for main line turnouts and Maerklin K-Track "slim turnouts" (radius 902,4mm, 14.26 degree) for the freight switching area. The Peco turnouts need to be modified for Maerklin-style power pickup. I'm using Code 100 Peco track for easy mixing and matching with Maerklin K-Track.

On the Coast

At Davenport Beach near Davenport, CA

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Evening Ride Home


I got out of the office a bit later than usual today. Very nice sunset.
On the Bernal Road bridge, I see a light in the distance. It's Caltrain 274, almost on time.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Tdgs-z weathered


I did a first pass to lightly weather the car on the left with PanPastels. I like the subtle weathering effect I get from using PanPastels. It jumps out only in direct comparison to the unweathered car on the right.


These cars are rather new in the 1970's, and that's the look I'm after. There will be other cars on the Welztalbahn that will get to look worn out and patched up close the end of their useful life.