About me

As you have to do for introductions like this, I selected some pictures suggesting an exciting lifestyle doing questionable things around old industrial buildings.

Of course most of the time this is greatly inaccurate as I am a modeller before everything else, so usually you’ll find me in front of a desk covered in dust, paint and glue. I would even describe myself as a passionate modeller (which sounds nice but mostly means I will yell vulgar things loudly when things refuse to go as planned) and have been since primary school days, since then it has been gradually getting worse, through a steadily growing skillset, vocabulary and budget. After some maniacal revell and airfix glue sniffing I got my hands on some flea market treasures on 16.5mm-track and after these had been modified plenty of times things got serious when I started building my own cardboard models of dutch steam locomotives, later switching to plasticard.

As meanwhile the rest of life had pretty much come to a standstill it was really pleasant I found a job at Miniworld Rotterdam (called RailZ miniworld at the time), recreating quite a number of rotterdam landmarks in miniature, getting a proper taste for broodjes akong with sambal and learning the first steps of 2D CAD and CNC milling. Also, it’s really interesting to see what happens to model trains when they run 60 hours every week.

As the work at miniworld was mostly buildings, so relatively coarse, the hobby stuff concentrated on rolling stock, first still dutch, later switching to indonesian and polish. Also, a friend got me into urban exploration around that time, it’s always been a secondary hobby for me but a very interesting one.

After 5 years at miniworld I got the opportunity to switch to Artitec, where at the moment I write this I’ve been working for about 7 years now? maybe 8. don’t know. It’s fun so I haven’t been counting the days. Since the work at artitec is mostly on small really accurate stuff, the buildings-and-layouts-part of me started getting itchy again, well, basically that landed me this project. More about that below.

How I got into this mess….

I first visited the seraing area around 2008, and was highly impressed. A lot of old stuff was still there, blast furnace 6 blew some impressive orange clouds right in the middle of town, and there were many intriguing open spaces surrounded by crumbling factory walls. Sadly, at that point, because everything was still more or less active there was no point trying to give it a closer look and circumstances and budget prevented further visits for a while. In late 2013 we went to chertal for the first time and that was where things seriously started going wrong.

During the following years the more often I went there on urban exploration missions with 2 friends, the more we got hooked on seraing steelworks and we visited many sites, like the two remaining blast furnaces, the steelworks at chertal, the coking plant, the forge and electric arc furnace in seraing and many smaller buildings like workshops, pumping stations, offices…

Meanwhile, we did some attempts to find out more about the area but publications about the industry in the area are surprisingly scarce, especially considering how important this industry has been in Belgian history. The lack of publications meant a new hobby was rapidly born to fill the time we were not in seraing risking life and limb with the camera: finding scans of old postcards and other old pictures from the area on online auction websites and bickering about where exactly the picture had been taken, using an ever growing collection of pictures and maps. Slowly this started escalating towards ideas for a group modelling project, as not only urban exploration was a common hobby, we had all originally met through railway modelling.

After some brainstorming the plan finally stabilized on 3 scenes:

  • The ateliers centraux/rolling stock workshop with the unused liquid iron railway through downtown Ougrée, with level crossings and pipe bridge in between houses. We really wanted to model the level crossings and the rolling stock workshop would be a nice excuse to have basically every type of rolling stock on the cockerill sambre network on the layout
  • The old Cockerill blast furnace department as it looked like in 1988, partly demolished but blast furnace 5 and 7 and the charge silo still standing, with the adjacent power plant and forge.
    We had been able to explore the last Ougree blast furnace and the last Esperance-Longdoz blast furnace but the last Cockerill furnace had been gone since 1988. After finding a series of really awesome photos taken during demolition I figured making a model would be a nice chance to explore it anyway. (yes, I will be all cheesy and model our little urbex team on one of those blast furnaces.)
  • The dead end of Rue Philippe de Marnix north of the state railway tracks. I’ll leave it to the reader to find out why that part has to be built.

It was already clear this would be a rather serious undertaking (understatement) even between the three of us, as I was the only one who had built full layouts before. Standards were set suitably high, all buildings homemade and rolling stock as accurate as possible, bought when available (which of course means at least half of it at least partly handmade as well)

As I was already working for Artitec at the time I could make use of the company facilities so serious amounts of resin and etched brass parts could be made for the project without becoming excessively expensive, greatly reducing the amount of work, making the whole thing seem slightly less impossible. (only slightly, though) In return, some project parts have made it into the artitec catalogue.

At this point one friend already started to feel a bit shaky about the whole thing and decided to quit. Well, a most sensible thing to do I’d say, and as said friend still offered to help hauling layout woodwork around the country, who am I to complain.

Meanwhile me and the other mate soldiered on, I started designing and making masters for all resin facades and after castings were made mate started on the buildings for the ougree part while I had a go at the cockerill part and some locomotives.

After a while progress on the ougree bit slowed more and more as my mate was going through some unpleasant times, so we decided I would just continue the build on my own to relieve him of the constant feeling of impending doom such a project instills in sensible people. He would still help me with all sorts of side jobs like being chief layout crew at shows, donate free opinions, brainstorm about all sorts of light and sound related stuff, organising show visits, designing Le Bassin stickers, successfully ordering things that actually get delivered and that sort of thing that would just not happen if left to me. Some day I might even trick him into some miniature gardening.

So… that leaves me here merrily slogging on, strangely somehow enjoying the ever growing endless project just as much as I did years ago when we started! I guess Seraing syndrome is like Stockholm syndrome but slightly worse.



Paint special!

Just some random warblings about how I abuse various types of paint.
Not a how-to paint-by-numbers recipe that you should follow dilligently to get a guaranteed nice result, more a description of a chaotic process as it usually plays out here, some reasons why I do things the way I do and a lot of jumping off points to go make a mess of your desk yourself.

I may keep adding odds and ends to this post in response to questions I get, so if you’d like to know something, dump it in the comment section! I regulalry get paint questions so it would be nice to have a sort of FAQ here.

Part 1: Stuff I use.


Let’s start with the basics: paint. I mostly use humbrol and revell enamels, because that’s the stuff I’ve used for years (and we have a ton of the stuff at work.)

Humbrol paint used to be really good as evidenced by some 40 year old cans my dad used back in the day, but sadly quality (coverage, drying time, drying oil) and consistency (two cans of the same number can have very different colours) have gone down the drain considerably. Not sure why, environmental regulations? At the moment I pretty much gave up on gloss or satin humbrol paint as it seems to be generally hopeless.

A general rule with matt humbrol paint: ignore the oil on top, only use the chunky stuff from the bottom and thin it down yourself, The oil will make it dry extremely slowly and the result will often be glossy. Yes it says on the can you should mix the oil in. They lied to you. Only when using humbrol in an airbrush it’s sometimes good to add in a little bit of the oil to get a slightly smoother result.

To make up for this, I use Revell satin paint. It’s good stuff, just seems like humbrol sticks a bit better to your model.

Here’s a list of colours I (should) always have in stock:


  • 33 black
  • 28 warm light grey
  • 62 orange brown
  • 63 sand yellow
  • 60 red
  • 29 earth
  • 72 khaki
  • 98 dark brown
  • 100 dark orange
  • 56 aluminium
  • 70 brick red
  • 117 green
  • 109 blue
  • 30 dark green
  • 101 bright green
  • 82 orange
  • 35 gloss varnish


  • 2 matt varnish (doesn’t go white. The humbrol equivalent does)
  • 5 white (better coverage compared to humbrol white)
  • 301 satin white
  • 302 satin black
  • 310 satin yellow
  • 330 satin red
  • 350 satin dark blue

model master

  • chrome (alternatively humbrol 191 is ok-ish)

artist’s oil paint (brand doesn’t matter all that much I believe, I use Rembrandt)

  • vandyke brown
  • burnt sienna
  • raw sienna
  • chromium oxide green

This list is just a start of course, these are just the colours I use the most for mixing. Yup, that’s right, from now on: nothing straight from the can. Mix that stuff. Use your eyes.

Dump all these paint cans into a random drawer like I do and you’re living the professional modeller life. bonus points for half of them having the lid barely on and having leaked all over the drawer and/or just being completely bone dry.


  • games workshop chaos black primer (sticks. excellent coverage.)
  • some cheapo primer (I found out the cheapes hardware store stuff actually sticks better to brass etchings than all sorts of expensive stuff)

I keep these rattlecans for models with loads of metal bits where humbrol won’t stick all that well, but for most applications humbrol sticks better than the vast majority of purpose-made rattlecan primers. When using enamel paint, in general I’d say avoid using primer on resin or styrene, it’s not really necessary and it can go spectacularly wrong.


Then, get some solvents. Those bloody things seem to have different names all over the place, so I’ll just use the dutch names here, will add the correct names in other languages later as hopefully you’ll put them in the comments

  • terpentine (smells nice. Not very volatile. doesnt strip off dried paint.)
  • wasbenzine (more smelly. more volatile. otherwise kind of similar to terpentine) (ge: waschbenzin)
  • (cellulose) thinner (angry stuff that glues styrene, very volatile, strips dried paint. Also, I always use it when thinning paint for airbrushing)


Also, get an airbrush. Doesnt really cost more than a nice locomotive and you already have at least 25 of those, so the 26th one can wait. I’ve had a badger 150 ever since I turned 18, wrecked the first one by storing it dry while not cleaning it meticulously every time so you have to take it apart with a certain amount of violence, the second one got a different treatment: It lives in a jam jar full of thinner.

The good thing about a badger is that only the air valve is not thinner-proof so that part stays attached to the air hose, the rest of the airbrush seems quite happy after a couple of years submerged in thinner. I later improved the jam-jar by adding a sort of deep-fryer-basket floor to it so the tip of the airbrush is a bit above the sediment at the bottom of the jar.

When the airbrush is not in use the lid of the jar is my oil paint mixing surface, because of why not.



Just look at this sorry lot and uh yeah. Isis treats their POW’s better than I treat my brushes, so please don’t do as I do. anyway. Get some nice small ones but not only small ones as usually the biggest brush that will only just still do the job will actually get you the nicest smoothest result.

Part 2: What to do with all this stuff.

In the past I have already written about painting stuff in the context of a single model. Here’s a list of some projects that had some stuff about paint that may be useful:

So… I’ll quickly go over the process again and tell some reasons behind it and some experiences I’ve had that may be useful:


Most models, both vehicles and buildings, start with a black or dark brown basecoat. This works very well to make sure the surface of the model is not translucent anymore, lending the model a much better, more solid appearance. Just blast it on with the airbrush, full coverage, especially in all the hard to reach places. After this you can spray the final colour with only partial coverage, simulating some shadows, giving the model more depth.

So, what base colour to use? well, most top colours work fine on a black basecoat (humbrol 33 with some cellulose thinner), but very light colours, especially white, yellow, light grey, cream etc will not react well at all to a black basecoat, as the black will turn them very cold blue-grey-ish. In these cases use dark brown. Just add some orange-brown (62) and/or red (60) to the basecoat.

For a model with a nice satin finish, don’t use matt humbrol but satin revell (302 for a black basecoat, add a bit of red 330 for yellow/white top coats.) Spray the satin basecoat and top coat a bit “wetter” (less air, more paint) than you’d do with matt paint.

In case the colour of the model needs to be really bright, use a light grey basecoat.

where not to use a basecoat: fresh wood, or wooden stuff where you’ll use oil paints for nice wood effects.


Well, just throw the right colour in the airbrush and go at it over that basecoat you just laid on, right? Well, pretty much. Some things to take into account when mixing the colour:

  • generally, it’s much easier to make a model darker than lighter. Take this into account when mixing your colour, go a bit light.
  • even on a dark brown basecoat, the chalky light brick and concrete colours on a lot of industrial buildings on le bassin tend to get “pulled around” by the dark base coat quite a bit. You might want to make colours like that a fair bit “warmer” than you’d want the end result to be, as in, almost a skin tone to get a warm grey result.
  • for red brick buildings, humbrol 70 brick red can be a quite useful colour. Do note there’s a lot of blue in it though, so on black it tends to go quite purple. Add some humbrol 100 to compensate.
  • when spraying the brick walls of the Ougree houses I basically sprayed several parts of a house with a certain colour, added a splash of another colour to whatever was in the cup of the airbrush, wen spraying bits of another house, addes another splash of another colour to the cup etc. This way all colours tie into each other, yet there are a lot of subtle differences and it works quite conveniently.
  • Something to plan beforehand: which colour will you actually spray? mostly, the one that will guaranteed look like shit when brush-painted. So what to do with a house with a nice white gutter on top of a brick facade? well. Spray the brick, then spray as much as you can of the gutter white, without masking (because lazy and dont want to wait for the brick to dry) and without too much overspray. Basically, spray as many colours as you can. This row of houses is a good example of how much I usually do by airbrush, without masking tape.
  • I’m not going to write a lot about spraying trains and vehicles, as I’m not particularly good at it. My methods work for weathered stuff, but pristine models require more cleanliness and organisation than I’m willing to invest. Basically, it’s the same as everything else, basecoat (mostly matt, sometimes satin) and then just throw on a layer of satin yellow (well, most of my vehicles are yellow anyway). Same as with the light bricks: make the colour a bit lighter and warmer and things will mostly be fine.
  • When painting models with weathered/bleached paint, spray the model in its original colour, mix up the bleached version, spray on the bleached bits.
  • Seriously dirty steam trains with red wheels and frames (german stuff): spray it all dirty black (humbrol 33 and 29). Add the red later using drybrush. This works much nicer than having everything bright red and then trying to cover 90% of it again. Mentioning this here and not in the weathering section in case of homebuilt locomotives like my PKP stuff.
  • finally, a list of colours that I found work pretty well:
    – Rust: humbrol 70 and 62, just mist it over a mat black basecoat.
    – Wood: humbrol 28 and 63, no basecoat. After drying, wash humbrol 62 for fresh wood, add a bit of black to the wash for older more weathered wood.

Oh no! it looks all wrong!

this is entirely normal, you need to gain some experience how different colours react to each other, or your paint mojo has just taken a long weekend off. It regularly happens to me as well. No panic though, now comes the fun bit: launching a rescue mission to fix your bricked model. For example: I had been airbrushing just about most of a day and then realised those chalky brick walls of the ateliers centraux were…. well… far too yellow. I sort of ignored it at first, already started painting details on those walls (not the smartest thing perhaps), still hated the walls, then just gave the walls a wash with some humbrol 28. fixed.

Those walls went very yellow… Pretty Vollmerish I’d say.
wash with humbrol 28 to the rescue. Toned down nicely.

The opposite happened here, on my first building with those pesky white bricks: it went all greenish. This is actually a bigger problem…

but some washes containing quite some humbrol 62 and various grime turned it around quite well. Had something similar with some yellow trains, a raw sienna oil paint wash fixed that quite effectively

Where a wash won’t do the trick is when a model turned out too dark. The best course of action is just to spray it with a lighter colour….


After you got the model sprayed in the main colours it’s detail time. Just some good ol’ brush painting, nothing special. When using mat humbrol colours, watch out with the oil getting you nice shiny spots, keep digging the stuff from the bottom of the can, thin it down with some terpentine. You can go properly artistic and use a wooden palette, which works because the wood and layers of old paint absorb the unwanted oil from the fresh paint you’re working with, but for those less sophisticated like me a bit of cardboard works just about as well. I use it in the same way as a palette though, just have blobs of various colours on it and I keep mixing all the time.

It does pay off to already do some weathering at this stage, like imitate damaged paint (chipping) by taking a small, wrecked brush dipped in some thick half-dried humbrol 98 dark brown (its basically manhole cover brown, perfect for bare metal) and running it along all sorts of edges and do some random stippling in larger areas. Basically like sloppy poorly executed drybrushing. You can do this with lots of care on trains or just go at it like a mildly rabid baboon like I did on this blast furnace frame.

blast furnace 7 frame. First sprayed black (humbrol 33), then a mix of 70 and 62 all over to get the whole thing looking rusty. After that sprayed the light grey 28 slightly from below, so the floors are still rust colour without having to do any masking. After that the 98 drybrush as mentioned above. This is just about the only decent picture I have of a model at this stage… apparently painting is more fun that taking photos. Below some counterweights of the same blast furnace. The counterweights got a wash to separate the concrete from the grey metal frame a bit.


The main method I use to get pretty much everything that’s seriously grimy up to standard was concocted while painting some old Espérance-longdoz ore cars that had been repurposed for coke traffic and were painted bright yellow.

I wanted some nice high-contrast weathering, lots of dust in all the corners, bigger surfaces occasionally cleaned by the weather, some traces of water running down the sides, taking dust with it… In the end this turned oud to be relatively uncomplicated: just grab an old brush, humbrol 33 with a bit of 29 and paint the edges of some of the panels on the wagon body, then get some clean wasbenzine, a somewhat stiff brush and start washing the paint off the middle of the panels again in vertical motions to simulate rain streaking. I used wasbenzine because terpentine will stay wet forever, disolving the paint and letting it flow freely all over the wagon. I wanted the paint to stay pretty much where the brush left it, so wasbenzine did the trick because it evaporates much more quickly. Do help the drying a bit with a hairdryer, this reduces the risk of unplanned paint flows and annoying shiny spots in case there was a bit of oil in the paint.

This same trick can be done in a much more subtle manner when you put much smaller amounts of paint in place using the airbrush, then working with that still wet paint in much the same way using the wet wasbenzine brush. Here some work in progress on fauvet girell 73. Put some sort of “airbrush beginner’s weathering” on the loco, then started to play with it with it on the frame and the long hood. Cab and short hood still as airbrushed.

And a close-up of that same cab and short hood after brush treatment (didn’t really do much else on the yellow) Note: I added the number decal after weathering the loco. This prevents the decal from interfering with the weathering, I later blend in the decal by just brush-painting it with revell 2 matt varnish and if needed a bit of humbrol 72 drybrush.

On the top of a steelworks loco you’ll find plenty of dust, so after making some streaks and doing some stippling with the wasbenzine brush in the paint on top of the loco I added another mist of the same colour with the airbrush. As a finishing tough I added a mix of water, white wood glue (PVA) and real steelworks dust to all horizontal surfaces. (just brushed it on, then immediately dried it with a hairdryer to prevent it from making glossy water stains)

Blast furnace 7 also got a far bit of this type of weathering, putting paint in place with both a brush and the airbrush, then lots of wasbenzine-brushing. A lot more dirt near the bottom, somewhat cleaner near the top.

This same trick of dropping some paint on the model and then streaking it out works very nicely with oil paint as well.

You can do it the other way around as well, especially on larger rusty surfaces like the cowpers of blast furnace 5. Wet the surface with terpentine, make various rust streaks with vandyke brown and raw and burnt sienna. The oil paint effects look much stronger when wet, so if it looks a bit scary at first, you’ll notice it all disappears mostly by the time it’s all dry.

Highlighting details

As described above, you can use a wash to adjust the colour of a model, but of course it’s also important to add a bit of depth to a model. When choosing the appropriate colour to use as a wash, read the bit about the basecoat again, as it basically works the same, you can thoroughly brick some yellow/white/cream model with a “cold” black wash.

You can use a wash to cover a large area, but also do small very local things like picking out individual bricks in a brick wall. Doing this randomly enough to get a natural look can be surprisingly hard! It usually takes a bit of time to get into the right state of mind and then it just goes automatically. I tend to go ovwer the whole wall, sporadically picking out bricks, then getting denser and denser. Meanwhile the wash is changing a bit as I add paint and/or terpentine, so at times you’ll darken bricks a lot, then after the wash waters down not so much anymore. This gives some nice variation, but will not look good if you systematically work your way over a wall from left to right. Of course you can do the same with light colours as well, or rooftiles etc…

As the wash creates the shadows, you create the light with some drybrushing. My go-to colour for drybrushing anything a bit darker coloured is humbrol 72, as it is a nice sort of grimy-dusty coulour that also has something “metallic” to it, works excellently on black train bogies, al sorts of rusty stuff etc… On lighter colours 28 works well, or a mix of both. White tends to be a bit aggressive, but it has its place, for example on lead covers on roofs etc.

a little example, click on the pic for a larger version:

This row of houses shows many of the techniques mentioned above.

  • a normal wash on the storefront shutters
  • oil paint streaks above the storefront and on the alley-door on the right
  • black-ish industry dust under the gutters done by painting these areas with the good old 33+29-mix, then feathering it out with a wet wasbenzine brush.
  • highlighting individual bricks (well, darkening them actually) with a black was on the red brick houses. The yellow brick house got the same treatment but note the different wash colour used: don’t remember exactly what I used but probably something humbrol 62-based.
  • drybrush is not very prominent here, but it’s very much there! 28 on the brick bits white on the shingles on the house on the right and the bluestone decorations.

Some very unspectacular vehicles. You’ll see the chipped paint (98 drybrush) on the crates in the truck and on the forklift. Some fresher damage is actually still shiny. (pencil and/or a drybrush with a bit of silver). Some washes put a bit more emphasis in panel lines and other details and of course there’s the usual rust streak here and there. a humbrol 72 drybrush always works great on tyres. The chains of the forklift hoist mechanism have some shiny grease on them (humbrol 35 gloss varnish with some dark brown/black)

More of the same, basically, see what you spot for yourself. Some fuel spillage streaking below the fuel filler cap of any vehicle will make it instantly life draining.

Well. with these examples I’ll end this paint special for now, in case you have more questions, please let me know in the comments!

Now, go and mess up your hobby desk!



New fleet additions

After finishing blast furnace 5 it was time for something a bit different. As I already have more engines than I can use on the layout, well, why not make 3 more? So, here we go.

See? no such thing as having too many locomotives.

Fauvet Girel

Espérance-Longdoz had 4 locomotives made by the french company Fauvet-Girel, 72 ton diesel electric engines that look unmistakably French, sort of like a stubby version of the SNCF BB63000 class. After the merger in 1970 these locomotives ended up with Cockerill, numbered 70-73.

In their Cockerill days these engines were mostly used around their old home in seraing, serving at the old esperance blast furnace department, unloading ore and coke trains. Some pictures of the era can be found here and here.
It seems during the 1990’s they were no longer needed, 70 and 73 ended up in a scrap line at cockerill, 71 was rented out to Usines Gustave Boël in La Louviere while 72 found a similar job at Forges de Clabecq.

The story didn’t end there though, as two engines of this series were refurbished by Cockerill and went to La louviëre as well, where they still run. Looking at specific details like bogies and bufferbeam shapes (none of these 4 engines were exactly the same) I believe the post-cockerill-careers of these engines were like this:

  • 70 ended up being scrapped at cockerill a little after the year 2000
  • 72 returned to Cockerill after its service at Clabecq, was rebuilt by Cockerill and went to Boël, La Louvière, where it still runs as number 701
  • 73 somehow escaped the scrap line and now lives on rebuilt into number 702, also at la louviëre.

Enough anorakking. On to the model.

First: find a drawing. Then poke around the internet looking for suitable locomotives to scavenge parts from. In this case a Roco DB V100 seemed to supply a nice pair of bogies and a good motor. After that was sorted the usual oldschool 2D cad design started, then figuring out all the subtle differences between the original 4 locomotives etc, deciding which ones to build, I chose 71 and 73, as 71 ran at Boël and 73 was the only one featuring the white and green fronts used for radio controlled locomotives at cockerill, so it would look a bit more interesting. Also, 73 seemed to be different from all the other engines (different bogies, different engine compartment, slightly lower cab) to keep the build a bit more interesting… Well, now that matter was settled, turn the drawings into a cnc-milled model kit with some photoetched bits (engine compartiment doors and railings mostly)

bogie sides. Left the normal version as found on 70-72, right the special version for 73. Bogie sides would be cast in resin to save some hours.
71 and 73 in front of the ougree workshop
Roco V100-bogies and motor crammed into a much shorter cnc-milled plastic chassis. ESU lokpilot decoder in the engine compartment, stay alive capacitor in the cab, stay alive circuit in the short hood. Note how all electronics go into the body, a 4 pin plug connects track power and motor wires to the chassis. Very convenient for analog test driving the chassis.

Then some paint. Both engines got a coat of dark brown, then yellow, both engines a slightly different tone. After this lots of fun™ with 1mm black line decals to create the black body line and warning stripes on the buffer beams. Of course both engines had those at a different angle.


71 has a slightly higher engine compartment so there is a bit more space for wiring, so it got an instrument panel with lit gauges. The lights on the cab side are radio control indicator lights

Then some more detail painting and here they are, all fresh and shiny.

Then a bit of weathering. I sprayed the horizontal surfaces and areas that looked dirty on pictures with a mixture of humbrol 29 and 33, then before the paint was dry I started cleaning it off, wiping it away in vertical motions with a brush dipped in a white-spirit-like substance we call wasbenzine, it’s a bit more volatile than the turpentine I use mostly for this kind of thing, so the paint gets streaked out rather than just getting washed away.

weathering in progress: cab and short hood still with untouched paint, engine compartment and frame already cleaned off

Then a long wait for number decals. As usual the folks at the workshop once again did a delightful job, aligning the blue sticker neatly under the center of the cab, then also aligning the number nicely under the center of….. the window.

Undoubtedly because of Reasons, 71 does have the number centered on the cab. Note the delightful font called masking tape and some newspapers used for the 1.

And now some fun with Fauvets (back then still without numbers) on the layout with sound of the real thing, mixed in by Rocco Roberto, who took many videos of similar engines around Hayange

real 80´s vibes:

80 ton Cockerill

During the 1960’s Cockerill wanted a heavier shunting engine for jobs where the usual 2 and 3 axle rigid frame engines could no longer manage on their own. To save on maintenance costs many parts of the existing locomotives were used, so the new locomotive was basically a frame with a big engine placed on top of two frames of the well-known cockerill 2 axle shunters. The engine powered two hydraulic drives, each driving one bogie. Cockerill built 7 of these engines in a very heavy 80 ton variant powered by a 625 hp engine for use around their new LDAC steel plant in seraing, another lighter (68 t) but more powerful (890 hp) locomotive of this type was then built for the dutch Oranje-Nassau mining company, who returned it after about a year of service, indicating performance was less than stellar.

Meanwhile Cockerill’s own 7 engines seemed to have done a little better, being in service for about a decade (there is a picture of 84 in service in 1975, it seems they were all gone by 1977), it seems Cockerill quickly realised a locomotive sharing some running gear parts with the smaller engines was less efficient than just using two of the small locomotives as 1 big one by removing the cab from one of the pair and controlling both from the remaining cab. As my layout is situated in 1988, I clearly needed one of those locomotives that had already gone for over a decade by then. I don’t care, they’re cool.

Because of their short careers there are hardly any pictures of these engines it seems (I assume there must be something more lurking in an archive somewhere), so I had to draw up my design based on a simple drawing of the one dutch engine and 3 photos of the cockerill engines.

To power the locomotive I used some roco bogies of some cheap german diesel, 215 maybe? I had to shift around the axles a little and fiddle with the gears a bit to make that work, it’s all a bit sketchy but seems to work so far. As the bogies are for a mainline engine the gearbox ratio is a bit tall, so despite two fat flywheels slow running is a bit jerky at times. Oh well, for an engine I don’t need at all that’s plenty good enough. Surprisingly for an engine this size there was absolutely zero room for lead in this locomotive, the fauvets are real heavy bricks but this one… not so much. Still pulls decently.

The workshop crew doesn’t seem particularly impressed with the idea of having to keep thins thing going…
especially the lack of coupling rods seems concerning.

….and a little video of this one as well:

Some work for the workshop

As by now I already had three new engines, why not just keep going? So I reworked the drawings I had for the Cockerill cow-calf-pairs into a suitable design to make a dummy cow and calf for the workshop, with all doors open (cow) or the entire hood lifted off (calf). The cow has working couplers so it can be shunted around like a wagon.

cow (left) and calf (right)
because you’ll never see it anyway a lot of time had to be wasted on the cab interior

….and after a splash of paint…. I have to admit it felt very weird not to weather a loco!

well, there was a bit of weathering, to be honest. On the right the engine hood of the calf unit.
cow interior.

In a classic moment of planning, I’d call this the Pro Modeler Move™ (being a pro modeler I feel I have the authority to do this), after finishing the models I went to Flémalle where one of these cow/calf pairs is rotting on a siding to take pictures, then never checked those pictures with the model and just assumed I had done everything right without the extra info. In case you want to check, go ahead. 😉

Well, that’s it for now,



Blast furnace 5 part 2

So, here we are two and a half months later, with blast furnace 5 more or less finished, for now at least. Time to show the second half of the build and think about what project to attack next, go right ahead with blast furnace 7 or first some trains, or a smaller building? Maybe build some pipework? We’ll see in a while.

For now, let’s continue with the story of BF5. At the end of the previous post the main shape was mostly there and I pretty much ran out of CNC-milled parts, so from then on it was mostly good old time-consuming hand made stuff and sprinkling the whole thing in photo etched railings, ladders and stairs (I designed a bunch of standard stairs and railings for this project)
Meanwhile some cnc-stuff was designed to finally turn those drain pipes into actual cowper stoves, fairly straightforward stuff but involving a lot of rivets (punched in some evergreen 0.13mm styrene sheet or paper).

The cowper stoves have some hardware installed so they can be fixed to the layout using some threaded rods
Note the different stove tops: the one on the right got a new top as the inside was entirely replaced during the last furnace rebuild, the other two have their original big riveted tops.
adding some detail to the casting floor
the furnace top got some extra detail, a crane boom was liberated from the artitec etched parts archive
everything pretty much complete

Then, finally, paint! I could have been sensible and painted it at a sort of pre-planned date so I could actually make sure I had the paint I needed, but I could also paint everything a week earlier, rush things, discover I forgot to add some detail I had planned while painting stuff, run out of paint halfway as these open frame things require a ridiculous amount of paint to get decent coverage etc… Of course, the second option was wildly more attractive, so here we go.

I felt a bit sorry having to take this guy apart again. I feel he could be the protagonist of some weird movie I’d like to see.

The next day some colour was added, mostly standard rust mix (humbrol 70 with some 62) and grey (humbrol 28) on the frame. The casting floor got a bit of a concrete flavour with some cream/buff tone mixed from whatever leftovers I found on my desk. Then assembled the thing with most of the paint still kinda wet to take some pictures, because one has to live dangerously.

well… one of those pictures that made me realise my life may have gone off the tracks a little. Oh well, just pretend we didn’t see that and keep going!

Then start some detail painting and weathering. First a very simple but effective damaged paint-effect on the grey bits: just do a spotty wet drybrush with some lumpy half dried out humbrol 98 dark brown. The rusty floors got some burnt and raw sienna oil paint.

Then the casting floor got a good layer of dust and rubble using real dust scraped off a wall in ougree, mixed with water and pva glue and basically just painted on, with some loose dust thrown in for good measure. Then some drybrush on the gnawed-off edges of the concrete and some oil paint (mostly burnt sienna) on the rebar ends.

the top floor of the furnace got a similar dust treatment, though it was kept a bit cleaner.

The cowper stoves first got some spotty rust effect by applying some humbrol 100, 62, 33 and 98 with a sponge, then the usual dirt wash (humbrol black and 29), then got soaked in turpentine and I applied streaks of raw and burnt sienna oil paint and smaller streaks of black and white. Then a fairly neutral drybrush with humbrol 72 to tie everything together again and highlight the rivets and panel lines an finally some more detailed rust with colouring pencils. All very much done in a yeah lets slap this on, see how it turns out kinda way.

Then to top it off some green garnishing on top. Look mom. vitamins. mmmm. Veggies provided by martin welberg: http://www.martinwelberg.nl/

So, that wraps up blast furnace 5 for now. It’s been a really fun project, although it’s been a serious amount of work I’m sort of surprised how quickly it all came together (well, still about 3 months.)

That’s it for now,

Blast furnace 5 part 1

Finally getting back on topic…. real steel mill stuff!

Well, it’s been a while, as usual. With Ougree mostly finished, time to turn my attention back to Cockerill. A part of the layout I had been working on when the project was started but was then put on hold to finish Ougree, so I could have a sort of finished working layout for shows. Well, if there would have been any shows, but that’s another matter.

Anyway, Cockerill. After the usual redesign of that part of the layout (well, nothing too radical, more like refining the old design using snippets of information that I found while working on Ougree) and laying some track it was finally time for one of the more glamorous jobs of a steel mill layout: making a blast furnace!

Don’t get excited now, it’s still Le Bassin, so it will be a very dead half-demolished one.

something about the real thing

It would have been nice to have the usual row of dates and numbers as to build year, production capacity and all that, but actually I don’t have a terrible lot of information on that. Cockerill had built a row of 4 blast furnaces of a design very similar to the blast furnaces seen around middlesbrough in 1872, around 15 years later 2 additional bigger, more modern furnaces were added, number 5 and 6.

The oldest picture I know of BF 5 (left) and BF 6 (right)
My guess as to the date of this picture would be 1890’s, as BF5 is clearly upgraded quite a bit, BF6 still looks original. To the right the old power plant, a new power plant was built in 1901.
nice view of BF 5, same era as the previous picture.
BF 5 and 6 in 1900/1901 (note the new power plant being built at the right)
To the left in the background BF 1-4
In the meantime BF5 and 6 had received a skip hoist (“monte charge americain”)
BF5, again around 1900

After this, at some point between 1900 and 1912 BF 7 got added to the east of BF5. Helpfully, my 1912 cockerill book doesn’t mention any dates here, so I’ll have to go by pictures. This BF 7 will also be featured on the layout.
During world war 1 the germans quite comprehensively wrecked the place and a lot of rebuilding was required, but it seems BF5 and 6 were relatively unchanged.

The state of affairs between the wars: Left to right BF7 all the way in front, then at the back BF 1-4 and then BF5 and 6.BF5 once again a little ahead of the pack in terms of upgrades. The ore bunkers have also been modernised, the northern wall of the bunker is still there to this day (2021)

After the second world war BF 1-4 were deemed antiquated and were demolished, a sinter plant was built and the blast furnaces were from now on fed by conveyor belts. in 1950 a new more modern american style blast furnace was built at the spot of the old furnaces, in 1952 a second one was added.

Meanwhile 5 and 7 were upgraded, around 1960 BF 6 was demolished so 5 could be enlarged (6 was never hooked up to the conveyor charge system)

Plan of BF5 in its final form. Thanks to Eddy Aerts for sending me this!

During the latter half of the 1970’s the cockerill blast furnaces were gradually shut down as the Cockerill company had in the meantime merged with Ougree-marihaye and esperance longdoz who had considerably more modern blast furnaces (in a german report from the first world war (!) the cockerill blast furnace department had already been described as hopelessly cramped and antiquated) and in the late 1980’s large parts of the old cockerill works in seraing were demolished, including all remaining blast furnaces.

For those who own the Hochöfen book by Bernd and Hilla Becher, go to page 128 and 129 for some very nice portraits of BF 5 and 7. Makes you wonder what else there may be in their archive.

A very nice picture of BF5 and 7 shortly before final demolition can be found here: http://balat.kikirpa.be/obj/10043895/img/N007480
My model will represent this state of affairs.

…and now on to the model!

Well, with a plan and no less than two decent photographs to work with, let’s get going!
First, let’s bash the whole thing in 2D cad. Yep, that’s a phone screenshot as my screenshot-button on my keyboard is broken and shops are closed so I can’t get a new one. Lockdown-life….
To make the blast furnace fit better with the stuff I had already built (which is all compressed at least a bit) I reduced the scale to 1:95. This also has some convenient side effects, like the cowpers now suddenly having a diameter that fits readily available plastic pipe.

Then do a looong day of CNC-plastic-munching…

Do some serious curfew-dodging to get home afterwards… but hey, a cockerill BF5 model kit, then it’s all worth it, right?

time for glue-sniffing!

furnace armour
of course had to do some rivet detail on the girder stuff….
frame getting there….
support ring
Natural habitat. BF 6 used to be at the spot where the train is standing. On the left, at the back the drawing of BF 7, still to be built.. Remember kids, if you have a bad idea, always try it at least twice.

By now I had mostly ran out of cnc-milled parts so progress slowed down a bit, as now a new round of studying the two pictures I had was necessary to start the long haul of making loads of detail by hand. A little bit of additional computer design went into drawing up the cooler plates on the furnace armour and the complicated bits on the gas uptakes so they could be 3d-printed. Then it was just a matter of casting loads of resin cooler plates, adding those to the furnace armour and realising how much cooling water piping and other mysterious stuff such a relatively small simple furnace has, even though half of the stuff was already missing.
My respect to some german madmen who make properly big furnaces.

Current state of affairs
metal tap hole in the middle, slag tap holes to the sides
kindasorta the view as in the Becher book

Sometimes projects really have a soundtrack, this is one of those projects, so why not include that soundtrack here:
(thanks to haiko for providing me with “music for grownups”)

And while dropping links, here’s the whole 1988 photo set, still love it.

So, that’s it for now,


weekend update 8: no pigeons were harmed…

Well, it’s been a while, but now we got rid of the old fridge, time for another odds and ends-post! In the meantime there have been many hours of just being around the layout, not doing all that much but nonetheless continuously adding detail bits, tufts of grass and as of this weekend, pigeons!

most green stuff on the layout is of martin welberg origin (http://www.martinwelberg.nl/), but a while ago I had made some buddleia bushes as they are everywhere in that area. Now the first ones officially rooted in ougree.
finally got around to put some interior stuff in this empty doorway…
with a light because why not…
Since I had part of the back boards removed, why not take a picture from the back of the layout? A view you’d ordinarily never get! (and in this case, I sort of regret that)
another view from the other side
to prevent me wrecking the things all the time while working on the layut, I had been withstanding the temptation of putting tv and radio aerials on the houses for a long time. Now I finally added them, and have wrecked a few already since. I am not very good at life.

So, that’s been some of the usual… now on to the bit you’ve all been waiting for!


The pigeons were made using some photo-etched parts I drew up a while ago, theoretically the pigeons would look just about like this

a bit low-res admittedly, but some paint would round out the shapes a bit and well, let’s face it, they are tiny. (about 3.5-4 mm)

pigeon assembly line
first layer of paint
more paint

Seems like they feel quite at home…

ready to give every passing urbexer a heart attack
that plastic bag smells extremely tempting apparently

so, that’s it for now! hope you all like pigeons.


poking gravel

Well, it’s been a while, but here I am again! Custom plague-mask and all!

Lately work on the layout itself pretty much came to a halt as I was mostly busy working on the most important part of any steelworks layout fleet: the ballast tamper. Indeed, priorities-wise I have not learned a single thing after the electronics store.

A while ago I stumbled upon a picture of Cockerill-Sambre’s own ballast tamper, a plasser & theurer plassermatic 07-275 turnout tamper. It looked rather similar to an old Liliput model although that’s a mainline machine (the difference being mostly in the actual machinery, a mainline machine would work 2 sleepers at a time with somewhat simplified machinery to speed up progress while a turnout machine does 1 sleeper but with a lot more bells and whistles. Cockerill-sambre opted for the latter, which I think makes sense for industrial trackwork with lots of curves and turnouts)

Initially the idea was for a quick rebuild of one of those delicious bits of yellow liliput plastic. Anyone with some degree of modelling experience can already see where this is going.

The original delicious liliput plastic. Little did I know what was to come. Well, actually I did.

After a quick round of googling for plassermatics it became clear they were of course all different (who could have seen that coming) and after a bit more poking around I found some pictures of the actual Cockerill-Sambre machine, which was apparently still around and ended up at the chemin de fer du Bocq, a rather lovely museum railway in the south of belgium. http://www.cfbocq.be

I got in contact with some folks from this museum railway, got told it was possible to come and take some pictures of the machine, so after a roadtrip with Daniel (of Grube Carolus Magnus fame, do check out his stuff if you don’t know it already: https://www.facebook.com/carolusmagnus1911) we arrived in Spontin where the machine was put outside of the shed for me and I could take all the pictures I wanted. Thanks again to all involved!

So there it was, in all its glory! Click the pic for my flickr album.

Cleverly I didn’t take the opportunity for taking some measurements as I figured the dimensions of the liliput model would be mostly correct (of course this was not the case, the liliput model being about 9 mm too long) and it would just be a matter of changing the middle bit and adding loads of detail. Wellll, let’s say, after some cad-work trying to figure the thing out it was soon clear this would be one of “those” projects and the quick modification of some cheap old liliput would actually turn into scratchbuilding the whole thing, keeping cabs and bogies of the liliput model so I could later be a smartass at shows when people ask about this model “oh, uh, yeah, just a modified liliput, you probably got one sitting in a box somewhere as well” but actually it would have made more sense to just make these new anyway. Oh well.

Meanwhile CAD-work on everything in between the cabs continued… Blue parts 3D-prints, white parts cnc-milled styrene sheet

Oh, did I mention the model was just going to be a rolling model to be shifted around with one of the locomotives of which I have too many anyway and it would have only a few lights on it to spice it up a bit?

Oh no.

Well, now with some sketchy 1 powered axle drive mechanism whistled together (I couldn’t fit some proper power since on the cockerill machine most of the engine covers are missing, making it very much a see through thing with about zero space to hide anything) work could start in earnest. First I assembled the cnc-milled frame parts and got to enjoy hiding a ton of wiring for all the LEDs in this very open structure and then caused some diplomatic trouble with the southern neighbours by treating myself to a completely inappropriate combination of beer (in the wrong kind of glass) and snacks.

Now all of this seemed to be working fine it was just a matter of uh… adding stuff, basically. It’s pretty much impossible to figure out every single hydraulic pipe but I sure made an attempt at a lot of them. I drew up some etched steps, ladders and other stuff to finish it all off…

Then splashed some paint on…

Then after some weathering I pretty much considered it finished for now. Still needs some decals which will be added in the future, along with some additional tools and junk and maybe more figures (it does have a driver but that’s all)

And some videos of the thing having a little run around ougree

So… hopefully, with this project mostly out of the way, normal layout work will resume!

that’s it for now, hope you enjoyed it!


weekend update 7

Well, the last couple of weeks has mostly been about making little detail bits, adding them to the layout, designing and making more detail bits, waiting for resin castings or etched parts for those detail bits and generally not feeling like there is heaps of progress, for lack of big projects. So, this time just a little tour around the layout, starting at the workshop we know so well and then venturing into the great outdoors!

steelworks layout problems

When modelling steel industry you need quite some background knowledge of many things, like for example price tags of consumer electronics in belgium in 1988.

Well, as I had no idea about that, I first made a pile of washing machines, tv sets (with led inside of course) etc…

Then flooded several people with questions… well, got some answers, so good enough for some signs that nobody will ever read…

and then put the building back in it’s spot. Still work in progress, but as I keep telling myself, slooowly getting there!

So, that’s it for today,



weekend update 6

Well, it’s not a weekend, but here’s an update anyway, and since I once called them weekend updates, why not stick to the tradition. Also, I get to drink a bit while writing this, so yeah. Some heavy belgian craft beers this time. not complaining.

So, on to the more interesting stuff: progress on the layout! Last time I reported having all pipes painted, so now time for finishing touches. There’s an awful lot of those, as I had basically done all buildings to about halfway in terms of weathering and specific detail, leaving some room for a final round of detail and weathering making sure it all matches nicely when it all comes together.

Also, it’s now time for some green stuff. A moment I had been dreading a bit since it’s a long time ago I did that sort of thing… luckily the products of martin welberg make it all quite a bit easier, basically just rip and glue. I especially like his layered tufts.
You can find it all here: http://www.martinwelberg.nl/

Ok, so, on to the pictures!

First going over this row of houses again, highlighting individual bricks with several washes to liven up the brickwork a little, add additional rust and grime, especially the locally very common black dust at spots where the rain will never wash it away, and further cheerful details like bin bags, a ropey moped, some old planks etc.

So, time for more of this sort of thing on the layout itself, like livening up the factory gate a bit with a bunch of signs, adding some extra grime and union posters to the concrete walls etc…

Meanwhile I had been looking at some pictures I took a few years ago and I figured the roofs still looked too bright. Had a go at the next row of houses and I think I’m getting there. Surely makes things look less appealing, which is a good thing in this case. Oh and yes that buffer stop still needs a bit of attention. It’s all still on the civilised side compared to actual belgian prototype, so who knows what else I might try.

So, that’s it for today,



it’s all painted!

This time, a little milestone!

But first things first: wrapping up work on the rolling stock workshop for now. Things were mostly there already, so sticking random decals on things, then add dirt of various kinds. After adding a light to the hydraulic press I decided the whole thing was officially good enough for now and the workshop could be moved to the layout.

It did even sort of fit in place and required only minor surgery. Good times!

Well, with the rolling stock workshop mostly done and back on the layout, it’s time for the last major job on the ougree part: finally painting all those gas pipes! These were the last major bits of unpainted eyesore in ougree, now they are a painted eyesore. While planning the layout (most of that happened while I was building it, so don’t get tricked into thinking I indulge in weird activities like thinking ahead) I mocked up pretty much everything, but carefully ignored those pipes, as they will just be there, blocking the view on everything I made during the last couple of years, strongly discouraging track cleaning and making sure the trains are mostly hidden in shadows. So much for a layout as a theatre for trains, well, no spotlights for my engines.

To celebrate this milestone some pictures for you and a glass of whisky for me!

So, that’s it for this week. Meanwhile I’ll have another glass while enjoying the cheerful view.