NLMS - Dutch ModelRailroad -

Canal bridge.


In the ninety's Pola released, in the master model line, a model of a Dutch canal bridge. Too build the bridge as shown on this picture, you need two of those kits.

Unfortunately Pola made a small number of the kits.

Scratch building became a necessity.


In 2007 (?) Faller reproduced some of the Dutch Pola structures, including the canal bridge. I was fortunate that their was a nationwide sale on those models during my 2007 vacation.

I could not leave the store without them, so I am now the proud owner of 2 real canal bridges. A nice opportunity to compare the two bridges.

Click on the photo's for a high resolution image, if available.


This photo is from the original Pola box, which I received from Mr. R. Loos.

After receiving this box, I studied the model, and brought a visit to the local hobby shop. With this box as a reference, I browsed to the aisles with building materials.
To imitate the wooden roadway, I purchased a sheet styrene. For the top and railing I purchased strip styrene, square and round.

To make the gate I purchased a set with four walls from DPM. Two have a round opening, but not long enough, and two have square opening with the same depth.

At the arts and crafts store I found the other materials needed.

The ornaments on top of the gate, a bird and the necklace are from this arts and craft store, and meant to be decoration for clothes. The bird is originally meant for a necklace.
The necklace will be used as the chains for the bridge. After 2 hours shopping, I got it all for about 25 bucks.

For this amount I have enough material to build 2 bridges, and left over material for other projects.

On this photo you see the parts straight out the box. In the middle the styrene sheets with grooves, on top left and right the chains, ornaments, bird and gate.

As you can see the red brown brick walls have the perfect shape to make the gate.
First I make the gates. From a white sheet of styrene I cut a piece with the same size as the red brown walls, except a little longer, see 1.

By gluing both the round and squire shaped wall on to the styrene base, on opposite sides, see 2. I get the right height for the gate by offsetting the two walls.

The little piece of wall that extends beyond the white styrene base is cut off. This will then be glued on to the other side, see 3.

Next I saw the inside of the gate and file the edges even with the rounded wall as a template. From the ornament, see 4, I cut 4 corners. These corners will be glued on to the gate as shown in the picture below. It new looks like the red brown gate.
At both ends I glue a strip styrene, which extends 1 mm. beyond the gate at each end.

On the top is a 6-mm. square strip styrene, which will carry the rotating top of the bridge. With 1.5 and 1.0 mm. square strip styrene, I decorate this square.

On the top of the 6-mm. square I glue a tube with a 2 mm. inside diameter. Through this tube I later install a rod to operate the top.

New the last thing to do is to superglue the bird in the center on top of the gate opening.
With 4 mm. square strip of styrene. I make the top of the bridge as shown on the picture at right. The inside beams are made from rectangle, 4x2-mm. strip of styrene.

The road surface is made from a sheet of styrene, with linear grooves, and while softly moving fine sandpaper in linear motion and the direction of the grooves, you can imitate the wood structure.

With H pillar, again 4 mm., I make the frame and carriers for the road surface. I glue them on the bottom side of the bridge, when placing this bridge on the layout, over water; you will see reflections of the bottom in the water. Since this bridge is operational, I also make a hinge. This is accomplished with a 2mm metal rod (clothes hanger) and styrene tube with an inner diameter of 2mm.

This tube I cut in three parts, the center being twice as tall as the ends. By gluing this in the center of the two road surfaces it becomes operational. On the photo's below you can see the hinge.


Since the bridge spans water, on my layout, this will reflect the bottom of the bridge, and therefore I detailed the bottom with beams which carry's the road surface. This does not need a lot of detail since the reflection in the water won't show much anyhow. The photo above right shows the beams made out of 2x4-millimeter strip styrene.
For the bridge to be operational I also made a hinge on top off the gate. This is done the same way as on the road surface.

This photo shows the hinge. On the left bridge she is installed, and on the right bridge halves you can see the metal rod in position.

Later when the whole bridge is finished and painted I glue this rod in place with a drip of superglue.

When all the parts are finished I assemble the bridge. Each hinge has to turn smoothly without binding. Later when it is painted it might go rough, so a little bit of play new is not too bad.

I don't want my Preiser people to fall of the bridge, so I like to make a railing. After all Pola has one and in reality there is one too.

In the stores I was not able to find a suitable railing.

On the next photo's you can see the result of the railing I made. I used 2.5-millimeter square strip styrene for the poles. The top railing is a 1-millimeter rod, also styrene. Also styrene is the lower rod, but knew 0.5-millimeter in diameter. This is actually to thin, since the glue started to dissolve the styrene. It becomes very fragile, better is to make this from brass. That will make it a lot stronger.
On the photo at right you see the front of the bridge with the bird. After a search in the arts and craft shop I found this bird, which is meant to be worn on a necklace. I thought it would be nice to install this at the top of the gate representing an ornament.

At last I mount two rod's at each side of the road to support the gate. I used a stronger plastic for this, which was left over out of a Walthers kit. This rod is 2 millimeter round. I thought styrene might be too weak for this purpose.

I almost forgot to tell that I have removed the brick from the gate by filling the surface with putty and sanding it flat. Some bridges are detailed with wood; this one has a smooth surface. I have not seen a canal bridge like this with brick.
New the time has come to paint the model. First I clean it in water with a drip of dishwasher detergent, to remove grease from the surface, so the paint will attach better.

After drying I spray it with gray primer. Since I like the color to be "dirty" white, I spray white paint on this gray background.

If it really makes a different I don't know, but the white did appear to be a little "dirty"

So far I used spray paint. For the remaining of the bridge I used Tamiya paint, which works great with water. I first painted the road surface flat earth. With only a little bit of paint on the brush, I painted part of the surface, and then I dipped the brush in water, mixing it with the layer of paint on the surface. This allow me to paint with the surface in an uneven color, which makes it look used, weathered.

After this dried, I did the same, but new with red brown. The result is slightly visible at the photo below. As you can see I painted the railing white and black. First I painted the railing only in white, but this gave the entire bridge a to light color, so I painted the railings in black, just like the supporting gate rods.

After the all the parts are painted I assemble the bridge, moving parts. I superglue the metal rods, for the pivot on top of the gate, after checking the free movements. Some paint might have to be removed for this.

New I install the chain. On the road surface that is to be lifted up, I have installed two small poles, and drilled a 1.5-millimeter hole in it. In the top of the bridge, that makes the whole thing work, I also drilled a 1.5-millimeter hole.

The chain I bought was long enough to make two pieces of chain, so I cut it in halve. The chain is attached trough the holes and fixed with a tiny bit of superglue, as shown on the photo at left.

I use a toothpick with some superglue, because too much superglue will drain down the links from the chain and result in a welded non-operating chain. First I glue both chains at the gate, near the ornaments. Next I work both the chains trough the road surface pole and the top. The biggest problem is to make sure the chains don't twist or turn, since that will make them smaller, and course one chain to be tight, while the other hang loose. I used a small rod trough a link of the chain as to test the proper length.

When both the chains look all right I glue them with superglue as shown on the photo above. I hold the bridge upside down, so the glue does not drain down the links. After this dried I cut the chain and file it flush. Some paint will finish it up.


The back of the bridge opens...

...And viewed from the front...

...Down from back...

... And in front.

In the future I mount a motor to operate the bridge, so it remotely opens and closes. I installed two hooks, which are so small that the photo won't show them. How exactly I am going to do this I don't know yet, either with a rod mechanism or a rope, which turns on a spool. New I am working on the canal walls and supporting poles in the water that carry, support, the bridge, but this is an other story.

So far this article about the self-made bridge.


The Faller canal bridge:


This page is last updated on 15 July 2012

NLMS - Dutch ModelRailroad -