Archive for the ‘Germany’ Category

I’ve been out and about a bit this week and therefore away from my modelling bench but still managed to work a bit on some of my more ambitious ideas.

One is that the model of the Körschtalbahn will be at least partly electrified, because the one thing I need in my model making life is another layer of complication.

This week, finding myself at the local tram stop with time, & a camera, if not decent weather, I decided to take a couple of pictures of the wires there for ‘research’…

The trams in Stuttgart work using a a 750v DC system, which seems to have been pretty normal for German urban and rural tramways back in the day when AC electrification was newfangled technology requiring components as big as a house. As the KÖB would probably be classified as an ‘overland tram’ this is a likely system. So far so good.

On the other hand, every now and again something like this happens:

That’s some serious knitting right there. Those lumpy black cables are power supply to the overhead. Clever types who understand electricity have tried to explain why this and I got as far as understanding that DC systems have pretty rapid voltage drop unless you make the cables the size of drain pipes, so you need to keep boosting the power. According to my entirely unscientific survey,in this case this happens every twelve masts or so.

Which is all well and good but it’ll be a bit awkward to make models of.

At this point sensible people point out that really, no-one will notice if I don’t have the extra details,in fact a lot of model makers take the pragmatic approach of leaving overhead wires off their models altogether and just having uprights, pointing out that wires are obvious to us because we see them silhouetted against the sky, and from above they’re pretty invisible. Either way, I could ignore the need for the power supply.

Well, possibly.

As the Körschtalbahn currently consists of a railcar, still in primer, a van and an as yet unfinished diesel, this is not going to be a decision I need to take for a while anyway.

Probably should spend more time building models and less running about taking pictures…


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Some kind person posted this on the NGRM Forum. It features one of the many narrow gauge railways that used to serve small towns all over Germany.

The Plettenberger Kleinbahn, was a freight and passenger carrying tramway in Plettenberg in the North West of the country. Its purpose was to get products from the factories of Plettenberg for a few kilometres to the standard gauge line, and it expanded up the valley as industry increased, eventually having an impressive 71 connections to factories

By the time this video as made in 1962 a standard gauge railway parallel to the line had reduced services and the increased road traffic was getting in the way. As usual politicians blamed the railway and refused to renew the company’s concession to operate it.

If I magine a red Krokodil running down those streets, I can tell myself the Höfelbachbahn is will have the same sort of atmosphere.

At the very least I can now justify the apallingly tight curves on my model.

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On the farm

This is frankly a morale boosting exercise as much as anything.

I’m working on point control for the ‘Kreisbahn’, and although my soldering is improving slowly it still isn’t pretty. I don’t think electronics will become my favourite part of making a model railway. I also reckon a quantum physicist would have something to say about the goings on in some parts of the circuitry.

So to keep myself motivated, I had a look around for some prototype buildings I could model. With the murderous curves on the line, I wasn’t sure what to put in the ‘village’ side of the layout, as I hadn’t seen many curved buildings in villages. There is no shortage of them in cities where buildings tend to be tightly packed together and follow the line of the street, but I needed rural buildings, like farms.

This week The Elder Son and I went for a moderately epic bike ride up a valley we can see from our apartment to a village called Gutenberg. We turned around there because it is the last village before the road climbs  up into the hills, and I’m far to lazy to indulge in any of that climbing nonsense.


It occurred to me that Gutenberg is pretty well the sort of village that our railway would serve, so I confused the locals for a bit by wandering about taking pictures of vaguely interesting buildings.

After a couple of minutes of random wandering I came across this farm, squeezed into a curved patch of land between the river and a largish open space which probably was once a gathering point for more attractive vehicles than overdone compact cars.


Imagine a small narrow gauge railway running along the front of the building, with a loop and a siding, an you’ve pretty well got what I’m aiming for. It will need a fair bit of squeezing into the gap, of course, but I’ll work on that as I need to.

The half-wooden shed was interesting too. It was clearly home-made, but whoever built it clearly invested a lot of time and effort into making it neat and tidy. A low-relief version could well become a small industry or locomotive shed.

On the way we passed several station buildings that would be perfect for the Körschtalbahn and which I’ll write about in due course.

You’re excited, I can tell.

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Big green Krokodile

I apologise for the lateness of this blog post, but I had to go and take pictures of trains.

After ten years here I’m finally able to hear in advance when an unusual train is coming through our local station, and last week an occasionally updated website claimed there would be something to see on Sunday involving a class E94 electric locomotive and possibly a steam locomotive as well. Maybe. It was a big vague on that part.

We missed the morning trip -I’d blame the boys for this but they woke up before me- so at about six in the evening Eldest Son and I got on the bus and bounced our way to Esslingen, where we faffed about trying to guess which platform the train would come on, or if it would come at all.


If this was the UK, there would have been people all over the platform, on the bridges, and often on the track itself, but the place was deserted except for a handful of commuters. Eventually someone wandered down the platform with a massive camera, and shortly afterwards the train turned up, with E94 on the front, the steam locomotive having apparently failed somewhere between here and Ulm.

It was also hauling the most ramschackle coaches in Germany. I’m not sure how they managed to make it all the way from Ulm, or why anyone would pay good money to sit in them.E94_02

Being a nerd I was more interested in E94 than a steam train anyway, as this is one of the remaining ‘German Krokodiles’, electric locomotives with the traction motors in the nose and articulated on the centre section. This was probably easier than messing about with all that complicated business with bogies in the early days of electric locomotives.


The artuculated join between motors and body. Take heart all those who have had a big gap in their models…

After waiting in the station long enough for yours truly to get to the front and take another picture, the train ambled off into the sunset…

E94_06Blocking the fast line all the way into Stuttgart.


Three minutes later this came through on the way to Ulm. You can complain about how trains have less character now, but that is a far more comfortable way to travel.

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A seasonal return to the Öchsle Railway for a ‘Santa Special’ train, although being in the depths of Catholic Bavaria, it’s a “St. Nikolaus Special”, hence the well dressed bishop joining the train at the first stop instead of a fat man in red.

They are as popular here as in the UK judging by the eleven coach train, not bad for a tiny preserved railway, or an 87-year-old 0-5-0 for that matter. I really like the brass band on the station at the end of the video: only in Bavaria would people consider Oompah music to be part of a train ride.

I lived four happy years in Bavaria not too far from this railway. Watching this video makes me wonder why I left.

For my Christmas present, I want a bell like the ones on these locomotives when they run around the train…

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‘Ostalgie’ is the German term for people getting nostalgic for the ‘good old days’ of East Germany, aka the German Democratic Republic or DDR, and the secure way of life in a socialist country*, and as October is the month of reunification, (actually it is celebrated on the 3rd, late as usual) it seems appropriate to have a look at the railway system in the former DDR.

The video is taken in 1990, so the two systems would still be operating separately, although there was freedom of movement between the two countries. The west German coaches in Oberhof train still stand out in their turquoise colour scheme.

I am the sort of person that finds it interesting how many of the locomotive classes still operate, variations on the DR class 130 variants (built in the Ukrainian October Revolution Locomotive Works, no less) are still used in Germany and abroad in DB and private ownership, while many small railways and track maintenance companies depend on rebuilt V100 locomotives. On the other hand the Class 119/229 were absolute puddings and were known as U-Boats, partly because of the porthole like windows, but mostly because they spent most of their life submerged in the workshops.

*Forgetting of course the state surveillance of citizens, repression of dissent, imprisonment without trial, unaccountable government and illegal invasions of other countries for spurious reasons… hang on a minute…

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The 750mm Ochsenhausen-Warthausen railway is a few kilometres from where I lived for about four years before coming to our current home. Typically, I didn’t go there when I lived close by.

The line was built in 1899 from Warthausen on the standard gauge main line between Ulm and Memmingen, to Ochsenhausen and then extended alongside the main line for a few kilometers to Biberach an der Riß. It crossed the main line on the level, like the Welsh Highland in Porthmadog, but that was removed after the war and the line now stops in Warthausen again, making it about 19km or 11.8 miles.

The line survived the war despite some bombing in Ochsenhausen and a severe accident on the crossing with the main line when a train travelling to Ulm ran through a signal set at danger and ploughed through the narrow gauge train at speed killing 12 and injuring a lot more.

The newly formed Deutsche Bahn took over in 1945 and did what they usually did with narrow gauge railways: ran down services while running busses in competition. To be fair this must have seemed a sensible option as the railway makes a large ‘U’ and the road was straight, but still. A preservation group took over in 1985, and had to close the line in 1991. A consortium of shareholders, mainly local governments and a bank, ran services again from 1996 until the line was closed by the transport ministry in 2000 because the track was such a mess. The local governments stepped in again, kicked the bankers out, and reopened in 2001, which shows the financial clout of local governments in Germany. In the UK it would be a cycleway by now.

The video shows 2-10-2 Class 99 tank locomotive number 99 788 bought in 2001 from Deutsche Bahn, who presumably were keeping it on the off-chance they might need it. Part two is here.

Information from Wikipedia Germany.

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