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A snapshot in time. A glimpse of the Plettenberger Kleinbahn in 1/22.5 scale.

Started by Hydrostat, September 27, 2013, 01:48:57 PM

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Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

sometimes I feel some kind of painful sorrow about how traceless things disappear, except a few pieces, standing alone like baffled witnesses of a long gone era. This may have been the impetus for my interest in modeling a small part of the Plettenberger Kleinbahn. My friend Wolf Groote has written a book about the railway and knows it from own sight. His huge archive of pictures, plans and documents is my cornerstone - as I did not experience neither place nor time.

During work at the Exercise module I started with research, plans, sketches, CAD's and development of single pieces for this project. Please let me show you some pics of my favorite prototype situation. The railway ran on top of the Mühlendamm with a siding along Oester brook and mill race in front of a rather industrial backdrop. The tracks turned with a tight curve to a small bridge over Oester brook and to the Maiplatz, which is the central urban square.

First of all the plan of site. Trackage is red. I added the post office:

View towards Mühlendamm with siding:

Foto: Gerd Wolff

Foto: Albert Middermann, Slg. W. Groote

Oesterbrücke, left hand section of the post office:

Foto: W. Biedenkopf, 03.04.1954

Running over the bridge to Maiplatz:

Foto: G. Wolff

In the very beginning it was clear that modeling the trackage would be the biggest challenge as there's no suitable material available in 1:22.5 scale at all. I needed (and still need) a lot of support for that project, as I don't have all the technical possibilities that are needed. A few people helped and help to build parts I can't do myself. My part was to convince those guys. Nutballs like me. It helps to talk the same language. No, not German. Thank you, guys!

I'll make it. If I have to fly the five feet like a birdie.
I'll fly it. I'll make it.

The comprehensive book about my work: "Vollendete Baukunst"

Ray Dunakin

Neat little railroad! Is that "boxcab" an enclosed steam loco?

Visit my website to see pics of the rugged and rocky In-ko-pah Railroad!

Ray Dunakin's World


That post office looks vaguely familiar. Perhaps the guys here will recognize it when the new Modelers' Annual comes out. -- Russ


A wonderful subject. So much character, with great views, details, structures, etc. Building this to the level that you did on the exercise module will result in a truly fantastic and stunning layout.

So very much look forward to learning and seeing more of the history of this line, and how you will go about building it.
I am an unreliable witness to my own existence.

In the corners of my mind there is a circus....




yes, they were enclosed 0-2-0 superheated steam locos, 6 of them in the last years of the railway and all built by Henschel between 1913 and 1927. Weight was between 20 and 22.7 to. The wheel base was 1.50 m so they were able to manage the tight curves down to 12 m radius. One of those locos survived at the DEV historical railway in northern Germany. This year, 50 years after the farewell ride, it returned for a few weeks to Plettenberg and ran on the Sauerländer Kleinbahn, which is situated close to Plettenberg, but unfortunately doesn't use any of the former embankments of the Kleinbahn, but a former standard gauge line. See a video of the loco running at this museum:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_kWVkHVZc8.


you should trust your forum members' apprehension. It rather depends on the print quality of your book :D.


I learned a lot during my time with the exercise module and by participating in this forum. I hope not to disappoint your expectations. They are mine, too. :)

Maybe there'll be some repetition from other posts. Please don't mind. It belongs here.

One of my first attempts was to do some reverse engineering for the bridge. Fortunately there are a few vertical shots with good objects of comparison and - even better - some pics of dismantling the bridge. At this time one year ago I didn't know too much about CAD and so I made all drawings 2D with Macromedia Freehand.

Next step was to "translate" those 2D drawings of a 3D object into 2D Drawings for milling the different material thicknesses. Helmut and Frithjof did several attempts to use them, but the milling software has a lot of problems to translate it.

So I decided to redo everything in CAD, which I command now. I'm not too far with this. There were some other challenges.

My very first 3D object was a steel sleeper, that I had drawn once with SketchUp and then redone in CAD. As mentioned in the exercise module thread I'm going to build the trackage to scale. So my gauge isn't 45 mm but 44.5 mm. The groove width of the rails is 1.7 mm.

The siding on the Mühlendamm had those steel sleepers. The track height of "Preußen Form 6" corresponds roughly to Code 250. But the rail base is far to thick, as you can see in this comparison of Code 250 and a conversion to scale (in the background).

That's what the sleeper finally looked like in CAD:

The sleeper is the German "Form SW50 mit Haarmann'scher Hakenplatte". All pieces are exactly constructed to scale. But there were more difficulties with the rails: Helmut helps and mills down the rail base to scale.

Next step was a cheap low resolution print, colored with water color:

And this is what it looks like with Helmut's milled rails. Apart from the far too thick rail web (which you don't see when built in) this looks like a rail for me.

The surface recalls strong corrosion, but the details were not clear enough. Printing all 100 sleepers was no financial option anyways. So I had another high resolution print.

This print has been slightly smoothened with an exacto and some sanding as there were some layer lines on the slopes. This master form then has been casted 100 times with resin by the company, which had done the high res print.

All sleepers were a bit warped but I could fix that easily with a hair dryer.

Next step were the rail joints.

Combined with some other pieces like fish plates, joints for grooved rail, gauge bars and brake blocks (what? Brake blocks?) I had those items printed via shapeways.

That's the result in FUD:

After I had removed some wax stains with warm water and detergent all parts were clear and sharp, apart from the printing lines, that one can remove easily on even surfaces. Did some more at the master forms for the brass castings after I had seen the pics:

The biggest problem of all was the grooved rail. Of course I had done the CAD, but there was no way for an affordable production. There's no possibility to pull or press those profiles. I had some offers for eroding; costs 13.000,- € for 6 meters.

Good to have friends:

This is from a guy who works with a five axle CNC mill. It's the transition of the Plettenberg rail profile NP4a to scale, apart from the web, which is 0.3 mm too thick (0.8 instead of 0.5). Otherwise he could not have done it. Believe me: We fought for every tenth. The material is steel CK45, an easily millable sort.

Please compare with standard trackage:

From left to right: Peco nickel silver silver code 250, Miha/Llagas Creek stainless steel code 250, Peco nickel silver code 250 with soldered angle section for grooved rail (in the next post I'll continue with that), "my" rail, LGB brass code 332.

Have fun.

I'll make it. If I have to fly the five feet like a birdie.
I'll fly it. I'll make it.

The comprehensive book about my work: "Vollendete Baukunst"


I am an unreliable witness to my own existence.

In the corners of my mind there is a circus....


Chuck Doan

Outstanding! I am a bit jealous too! That's the best way to use the 3D printing.
"They're most important to me. Most important. All the little details." -Joseph Cotten, Shadow of a Doubt


Ray Dunakin

Marvelous work, especially those high resolution sleepers! It's amazing how much realism and detail one can achieve by this method.

Visit my website to see pics of the rugged and rocky In-ko-pah Railroad!

Ray Dunakin's World


jim s-w

Looks great but are you sure the rails are vertical?  Most rails should be set at an angle to match the wheels.
Jim Smith-Wright



yes, I am sure. And you're right, too. Prototype vignol (flat bottom) rails are laid with an angle corresponding to the wheels' tread to avoid sine running of the wheels, at least in Europe. The rail itself doesn't have that angle. Does anybody know how it is in the States? If you look carefully at the steel sleepers you'll see the sloped rail beds. Not so with grooved rails, where the flanges only have a few mm for side movement: Those are mounted rectangular. They are laid down to the ground without sleepers if mounted in tarmac or cobblestone.

I'll make it. If I have to fly the five feet like a birdie.
I'll fly it. I'll make it.

The comprehensive book about my work: "Vollendete Baukunst"


Hi Volker

Awsome your grooved rails and your 3D objects! (Kompromissloser Modellbau!!!).
There would be some subjects in my neighborhood too for such marvelous rails...

... but the scale ist too large for me! Huh, good excuse not to start with model trains also  ;D

Seriously, I like a lot such modelling subjects with regional roots as you are doing!

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" -Leonardo Da Vinci-



Gidday Volker

I love the rail. What length of rail is your friend able to mill and how long does it take to produce each length? Can he mill a complete piece of rail in one set up?
Kevin Crosado

"Caroline Wheeler's birthday present was made from the skins of dead Jim Morrisons
That's why it smelt so bad"



glad you like it! The rail length is 533,3 mm which is 12 meters at the prototype. 600 mm is the maximum length for the mill. Next week I'll get the first full length piece. It takes an estimated time of 2 to 3 hours to mill one piece and he does it in one set up.


thanks for the interesting pics! I'll use those detailed grooved rails only where they are completely visible (on the bridge). There's another solution for the parts in the streets. As long as you don't plan to create a complete layout this scale doesn't have to be too large ...

Marc, Ray and Russ,

thank you for your nice words and, um, sounds.


I don't get the point concerning your jealousy. You do a very good job in 3D construction with even better results.

I'll make it. If I have to fly the five feet like a birdie.
I'll fly it. I'll make it.

The comprehensive book about my work: "Vollendete Baukunst"


Very interesting thread!
That custom milled rail is really something.

regards, Hauk
Regards, Hauk
"Yet for better or for worse we do love things that bear the marks of grime, soot, and weather, and we love the colors and the sheen that call to mind the past that made them"  -Junichiro Tanizaki

Remembrance Of Trains Past