Back to the present: the Ougrée rolling stock workshop.

After yesterday’s trip down memory lane it’s now time to write a bit about the project I’m currently working on: the Ougrée rolling stock workshop.

It would have been nice to flex some knowledge here, like build dates etc, but sadly all I know is that it is already on a 1950 aerial view of ougree, lurking in the background. It started out as a fairly simple rectangular building, about 25 m wide, 140 m in length, with 3 tracks running most of the length of it, partly fitted with inspection pits.

1950 aerial view of the ateliers centraux in ougree. Arrow marks the rolling stock workshop.

Later (some time between 1954 and 1963) the building was enlarged by adding a saw-tooth roof extension on the western side of it, resulting in the L-shape it still has today. As both parts of the building have more recent looking ceilings in the workshop area and the overhead cranes in the original part of the building were made in 1982, my guess is the whole building was modernised around that time. Below a google maps screenshot from a similar viewpoint

same place, around 2018. google maps screenshot.
a plan of the “halle a wagons” and surrounding open-air storage. (wheels, bogies and perhaps other large parts as well used to be stored outside. A narrow gauge track, marked “decauville” was built to transport these parts) This plan is dated may 1976.

As far as I know this building was originally only for wagon repairs and maintenance, but as large parts of the cockerill sambre railway network were disappearing in the 1980’s and 1990’s locomotives were also serviced here, right until the end, as evidenced by a partly overhauled GE 110 ton switcher still sitting there after the place was abandoned, looking rather smart in mittal orange livery.

Sadly I haven’t been able to take decent pictures of this building as I was there on the evening of a very dark winter day, so for my model I had to rely on other explorers. Some really nice interior shots can be found here for example:

And now on to the model…

This workshop is going to be a quite prominent feature on the layout, as it is situated on the front, cut longitudinally revealing full interior detail. Even though its a fairly straightforward building and I’ve reduced the length of the building quite a lot (it’s about 110 cm, full length it would have been over 2 m) to make sure it fits on a single baseboard to save some of the headache of having to make a split building line up nicely, it’s been a considerable amount of work so far.

Work started on the floors, as these would determine the location of the tracks and would be needed when track laying was going on on the layout. Some 1mm plasticard did the trick, with some chunkier bits underneath to make up for track height. Walls were constructed using resin castings. Some care had to be taken because these fairly big pieces tend to be slightly different in size, as the silicone moulds used tend to grow slightly after each casting as a little bit of resin penetrates the silicone, increasing the volume a tiny bit. pairing up adjacent castings is quite important.
When assembled, the walls were not glued to the floor, but fitted in place using bits of brass rod that fit in holes in the floor, so the building can be disassembled for further construction work and painting.

After the walls were done, the later part of the workshop got a ceiling with some built in floodlights, made using some very bright LEDs I found in an ikea LED light bulb. These will work fine on 16V, some fiddling with various resistors to determine the right amount of light, a bit of dodgy wiring and job’s a good one. After this, the saw-tooth roof was built on top of the ceiling. As the roof girders would still be partly visible through the windows on the roof, these had to be made as well. Because I was too lazy to make this all by hand with a load of evergreen strip I cut out the most important pieces on the CNC milling machine at work.

After all this frankly not very inspiring work it was time for something a bit more interesting as it actually did involve detail: the overhead crane with associated rails and girders.

I did find a few pictures showing this crane, enough to make a reasonably accurate interpretation of it, unknown details, (mostly the travelling crab) were made using pictures of similar cranes around the area. A cad design was drawn up, a paper mockup printed and assembled to see if it looked about right, the cad-design was reworked to some cnc-milling drawings and I had my own crane model kit. I think I’ll do a separate post on overhead cranes in the future, as these things are actually quite interesting to model and just about every steel industry building has at least one.

After the crane was largely finished, attention was diverted to the other part of the workshop, which has a rounded ceiling, quite a pig to make, though it also lends the roof a bit of rigidity once finished. The middle of the ceiling contains some clear panels to make use of the skylight in the roof. This meant parts of the roof had to be transparent, or at least let some light pass through. Part of the roof has to be constructed using acrylic sheets, my favourite material *cough*. Well, in the end it wasn’t so bad actually. The strips in between the individual bits of glass were imitated by scoring the acrylic surface using a stanley knife with 2 blades in it. This double cut line will later retain quite some paint when you paint the surface and then wipe the paint off again. After the frame of the roof was put together, LED floodlights were added like in the other part of the workshop and inspection pits were made in the floor, very well lit by some very cheap hacked up led light chains. fingers crossed these things will still work in a couple of years… Then the roof was closed off using resin castings of corrugated iron roofing and work on the building stalled for quite some time as pipe bridges slowly entangled it like industrial jungle vegetation…

About a month ago, after the new models for the nurnberg toy fair were finished, I decided it was time to get this building finished as it is basically the last big job on the Ougrée part of the layout. It’s now sitting on a wooden frame on my workshop table, so I can move it around without it all falling apart as it still consists of many separate parts, making up something only slightly more solid than a house of cards. I’m already looking forward to the day I am able to put some paint on it so I can actually glue things together. Lately I have been adding detail all around the building. Some roll-up doors and plumbing in the newer part, overhead crane rails and overhead cranes in the old part, some more leds and wiring, well, the usual. As work continues I’ll post short updates on this blog from time to time.

That’s it for now,



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