Sunday, December 08, 2019

Something New

I'm trying out something different: Building a car kit. This is Bowser #60205, 70 ton wood chip hopper with extension. This is an easy build out of the box, and it comes with metal wheels and knuckle couplers. I'm considering replacing the molded ladders with finer metal wire, and then apply some weathering.

Second Sunday of Advent

Markt und Stra├čen stehn verlassen,
Still erleuchtet jedes Haus,
Sinnend geh’ ich durch die Gassen,
Alles sieht so festlich aus.
- Joseph von Eichendorff

Roller Stand Case (2)

I built a case for my KPF Zeller roller stand earlier this year from 5mm MDF. Today I added miniature hinges, clasps, and a carrying handle so that I can store the roller stand away from my work bench when it's not in use. 

Saturday, December 07, 2019

SIlicon Valley Lines Operations Session

The monthly ops session from November was delayed to the first week of December because of the Thanksgiving holiday. I picked the dispatcher position and after a somewhat slow start the session became very busy keeping me on my toes for most of the day.

Building the extension connector (5)

I put the Welztalbahn side of the extension connector back together, including cleaning up the wiring for lamps and feeders affected by the work. This took quite some time, since this undergound area of the layout is space-constrained and hard to reach. During the planning stage of the layout, I didn't really understand what I was building here, and how painful working in this area would become. Modular benchwork as I'm building now is much easier to deal with, but of course would not allow me to build the layout density I managed to accomplish here.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Building the extension connector (4)

With the turnout motorized, I turned my attention to fixing up the scenery. I filled the edge I cut away in April with a piece of  pink foam that I cut to shape through trial and error. Next I used tinted Scuptamold to align the filler with the existing scenery.

When I came back a day later, to my surprise the Scuptamold had turned white again.

Oh well... I painted the filler earth brown and got out the grassinator, static grass fibers, and Scenic Express Super Turf to blend the corner with the existing scenery. Since I was already on a roll, I ballasted the track as far as I could reach from this side of the wall.

Time to let everything dry. My back needs a rest ...

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

A Day Trip to the City

I took Caltrain to the city for meetings today. Early morning departure from Blossom Hill station while it was still dark.

1 1/2 hours later I was walking on the Embarcadero and caught some sights of the city.

For the return trip it was getting dark already.

I like the new design of the ACE cars. Here seen at San Jose Diridon station.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

First Sunday of Advent

It's the first Sunday of Advent. Outside it's raining. Inside the fireplace is keeping us warm.

Building the extension connector (3)

Back in April I installed this turnout in the south approach to Emsingen to connect the Welztalbahn to the modular extension I'm building out in the garage. The turnout has been manually operated since because I did not have a bright idea how to install an underfloor turnout motor for it. The turnout is located almost 3 ft from the layout edge, with tracks leading to staging right below it. Unless I remove tunnel portals, the underside of the turnout is accessible from the aisle only through a 5x3" opening on the side of the tunnel to staging, and barely reachable from underneath the layout.

This weekend I attacked the problem. When drilling the hole for the throwbar rod, I accidentally hit a couple feeder wires that still need to be repaired. I made a remote actuator from piano wire that runs through brass tubes installed in wood blocks.

The following photo shows  the path the actuator wire will take underneath the tracks from the edge of the second level to the turnout.

I glued the wood blocks to the plywood supporting the tracks with wood glue.

I decided to move the actuator wire with a micro servo, both because I have a few spares, and I have a Tam Valley QuadLN servo decode installed nearby that had an unused servo socket. Here's the installed servo in a somewhat accessible location.

I still need to repair the feeder wires, as well as re-route a few more wires to not interfere with the turnout rod. I also need to add another route to the Emsingen control panel soon.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Untergroeningen: Let there be ... Brown!

Today marks the end of the pink era in Untergroeningen. I filled gaps with Scuptamold and also started building up the scenery cut where the track transitions from the Untergroeningen module through the wall to the Welztalbahn from pink foam put into shape with a basket rasp. I tinted the Scuptamold with some powdered black Tempera paint.

Next I painted all three Untergroeningen segments with standard brown Latex paint. Now this is looking much more believable already.

In these photos the paint is still wet.

I need to build the remaining stub tracks, so that the station is fully operable and I can move on to work on buildings next.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

The turkey is ready. Time to eat.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Rain ... Finally.

It started raining last night. This storm finally puts an end to this unusually dry fall.

Sunday, November 24, 2019


Another early morning flight with even earlier wake-up time. A 6:00am departure implies getting up at 2:30am. At least there was no traffic through Stuttgart city center, and it was a smooth Taxi ride on this Sunday morning.

Contrary to Stuttgart it's very foggy in Paris. Planes parked at the terminals are barely visible through the fog.

It's wet and cold, but the walk to Terminal 2G isn't far.

20 minutes later I arrived at the gate in the cavernous Terminal 2E for the connecting flight to San Francisco. Not many people waiting for this flight yet ....

AF84 is ready for boarding.

After a long flight with some activities -- more about those some other time -- we arrive at SFO a few minutes early. Now I just need to last to evening before I can fall into bed.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Kein Weihnachtsmarkt

The Baroque Christmas Market in Ludwigsburg opens only on Monday, which means no Gluehwein for me on this trip. It's not quite cold enough for Gluehwein, but it would have been nice anyways.

I really like how the market spills over from the main market square into the adjoining pedestrian zone.

Friday, November 22, 2019


Our coffee on board of ICE came with Ritter Sport chocolate labeled "Lieblingsgast", favorite guest. Yes, the chocolate was good, and the coffee, too.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Moroccan Mint Tea

In a small restaurant close to the upper end of Ourika Valley in the High Atlas mountains.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Stuttgart - Duesseldorf - Marrakech

ICE 918 is ready for departure from track 8 at Stuttgaert Hbf.

Ontime arrival in Duesseldorf (that's reason to celebrate), and after a short ride on a Regional Express, we're taking the Schwebebahn to the airport terminal in Duesseldorf.

We get to enjoy the large terminal for a couple hours.

Approaching Agadir.

The sun is low already as remaining passengers are leaving the plane.

We started this journey at a train station, so we end with a train station. Here's the station in Marrakech.

Waiblingen - Stuttgart

An early morning departure from track 1 in Waiblingen (again) gets us early enough into Stuttgart Hbf to take photos and walk to the main station hall to warm up. It's freezing outside after all.

Our inbound train is already prepared for the return trip to Hessental.
An agilis Regionalbahn to Pforzheim and the tail of a Flixtrain to Berlin-Lichtenberg in the background
The Bonatz main hall will be gutted and rebuilt over the next 6 years. In the meantime this is not a nice place to hang out, but rather sad and barren.