Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

About a week ago I was pretending to have a social life in the local city of Esslingen, while doing a bit more research. Esslingen is known for its medieval city centre and gates, and I was looking for something to adapt to make an entrance for trains to run through and hopefully distract people from the fact they were really running around in circles.

First, because it was nearest the bus stop, is the  Pliensauturm, once one of the most important gates as it guarded the bridge over the river.

Then in what is now the centre, the Schelztor. I’m not sure what it used to guard but it is currently hosting an italian ice cream shop, and as long as I have known it, sported a metal person balancing on a pole. I’m not sure why either.

Someone wasn’t measuring that carefully here, judging by the way all the windows are spaced, and the city crest is anything but central.

On the other end of the city is the Wolf’s gate, still my favourite since I wandered under it as a twenty year old on my first trip ‘abroad’.

Not named for a fearsome winter when the city was invaded by wolves, but a nickname that came about because the two lion statures on the outside were eroded over the years and look like wolves, apparently.

They must have had some very strange wolves locally, that’s all I can say.

It seems that the method for building these was pretty standardized: a three-sided stone box and filling the inside bits with a wooden building, which was probably cheaper than using stone for everything.

On Wornritzhausen, the gate is viewed from the outside, so it’ll be stone faced. The village is too small for anything as grand as Esslingen, but I’m assuming that it needed some security in the golden era when it was a trading point for the area.

So far we have a basic form:

That spindly support will get bigger and the arch will shrink when I add clay to represent the stone covering. Remembering to make sure I had 5mm clearance for the clay was more confusing than I expected.



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Your opinion, dear reader, is required.

Obviously, as you are reading this blog, you are a person of exquisite aesthetic taste and style and I require some feedback on the latest addition to the HBB’s railcar, namely the luggage rack on the roof.

The idea is that this gives some much needed overflow to the luggage compartment on peak services, especially on market days, when customers have a tendency to bring purchases on board that try to move of their own accord, so the Hofelbachbahn (or more accurately, the company that bought the railcar in the first place, decided it wasn’t big enough and sold it to the Hofelbachbahn, it makes sense to me so don’t argue) ordered the version with the extra rack.

Trouble is, now I’ve come to actually fit the rack, it looks a bit big and obtrusive. I can’t work out if this is because I’m used to seeing a dip in the roof or because it just doesn’t work.

And if it doesn’t work, why not? Is it too high, too wide?


From track level it doesn’t look that far out of place, so maybe I just need to get used to it.

What do you think?

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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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This is a railcar with issues. The sides are too flimsy and the construction wasn’t that well thought through. the glazing is a nightmare, and when I tried to glue the side in I found it has a twisted chassis.

Incidentally, “Twisted Chassis” would be a stonking good name for a heavy metal group*.

Apart from that there were all kinds of little bodges to cover up for my lack of planning, so this week I’ll be starting again; again, which seems to have become a sort of tradition for my model making. I’ll be starting with a chassis that has more strength than a deflated balloon, and this time I’ll try to remember to make it narrow enough to avoid Tubby Railcar Syndrome. The thicker sides are partly for strength and partly because I’m incapable of painting around windows that neatly, so I prefer to make a sandwich with gaps in the middle and put all the clear bits in after I’ve finish ed slopping paint about.

I still have the spare sides: they survived being dropped, buried, lost under a laptop for two days and found by Beautiful Daughter who being two years old naturally used them as a camera. At least having them ready saves me some time as I can use those for the inside with a little work, and make a new set (with doors attached this time) for the outer skin, meaning that I may be able to catch up with myself faster than usual and fool people into thinking I know what I’m doing as well.

I’ll admit the last goal is a little optimistic.

*Which would of course be a support band…

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The metre gauge Kirnitzschtalbahn is a tramway running from Bad Schandau to the Lichtenhainer Wasserfall (Lichtenhain Waterfall) Originally planned to go from the town centre to a village now beyond the Czech border, it stopped at the waterfalls and wasn’t even allowed into the town because of protests from local shopkeepers and guesthouse owners who hadn’t twigged that having a way to transport people to their business would be a handy thing.

The remaining line is about 8 kilometres long and has the interesting feature for a bidirectional single track line of running along the roadway, so drivers approaching the waterfall can be confronted with a tram coming from the opposite direction. The trams run as pairs with a driving motorised unit pulling a trailer, which they have to run round at each terminus. This opens the intriguing possibility that they could just as easily haul freight wagons, although I’m not sure what they would carry, so maybe scratch that idea.

The first train ran on the 27th of May 1898 and was late because it kept falling off the track,  The service trains had a similar tendency to nosedive into the road causing damage to the traction motors and the stereotype of perfect German engineering.

The tramway survived derailments, dodgy current collectors and a fire in 1927 that wrote off all six of the original trams, which arguably solved the other problems in one fell swoop. They struggled on with borrowed stock but would have been closed down if it wasn’t for the Second World War. As it was the Bad Schandau end was cut short by another 450 metres in the fifties, as it was getting in the way of the glorious motorised socialist future.

After a head-on collision 1972 some bright spark came up with the idea of dividing the line into sections with a baton giving drivers authority to cover a section of the line, which still works today. The transport authority tried to close the line in 1986 but after much protesting they were persuaded to renovate the railway instead, and after the reunification the state government invested in the infrastructure and modernisation of the now rather elderly trams. There has been a trial run with a more modern low floor tram but the whole route would need aligning for it to fit, so that idea was forgotten.

Then in 2010 much of the rainwater from the western Czech Republic came down the Elbe at once, as well as the road, tramway and depot alongside. Thankfully attitudes have changed from the past and not only will the system be repaired, but there are plans to extend the line beyond the waterfall into the national park, and through Bad Schandau to meet the ferry across the river to connect with the Dresden S-Bahn system, still with the original four-wheeled trams, and I am delighted to report, still down the ‘wrong’ side of the road.

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Life is intervening, again. The last few weeks have been a right thumper of an exam session because all the tutors decided that with the half-year report due very soon, they need to have a test at the same time, so I’ve been doing lots of revision, amongst other things about an hour of maths each night which is not very exciting blogging material, hence lack of posts, and replies to comments.

I’ve been feeling slightly guilty for a while about this post giving the impression that our local transport system was run by incompetents or possibly monkeys and that isn’t the case. (Having grown up in the UK I have experience of a transport system run by incompetents, or as they are known ‘politicians’. I think monkeys could do better) so in the interests of balance here is a ‘normal’ commute home.


When things are working, the last lesson finishes about ten minutes before the train and gives plenty of time to walk to he station. Even better the German rail system runs proper trains with class 143 locomtives with double deck push-pull trains made by (I think) Bombardier.


The novelty of being on a top deck coach will never wear off. Bay seating fortunately hasn’t gone out of fashion in Germany.


Large amounts of bike space and a massive disabled privy downstairs. The things I photograph for you, honestly. This is in the driving coach (Driving Van Trailer in UK parlance). In the UK these are kept as luggage vans but in Germany they are a bit more relaxed about this.


Cavernous bike and push chair (stroller) friendly doors. Loco hauled trains have a future here: DB has ordered some sets of double deck coaches and locomotives to work local services as push-pull trains, so hopefully there will be real trains around for some time yet.


Off train and on to bus which leaves exactly six minutes later. The bus takes longer to cover the next five kilometres than the train needed for 20, but saves me cycling 200 vertical metres so we’ll gloss over that. I can get off at the next village to ours and comfortably ride the last few kilometres straight over the fields, while the bus goes off on a tour of local landmarks, so I save about ten to fifteen minutes and I can start on assignments fresh and awake from the ride.

I don’t of course: I faff about and end up trying to solve maths problems when I’m half asleep before rushing to get ready for the next day, but never mind.

Half year reports are coming next week, so the pressure should let off for a bit.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo here it is, 2014, and I still haven’t built a model railway, which is why the header picture for this post is from my weekly commute to college.

Nor have I been posting particularly regularly on here according to the WordPress annual report. I doubt that many people anyone is waiting for my posts with excited anticipation*, but I’d like to be writing here more often.

Some model making stuff is slowly working its way to the top of the jobs list though: watch this space, but don’t hold your breath.

In the thing called ‘normal’ life, 2014 means the beginning of the end of the carpentry apprenticeship. From the beginning in 2012 until last week, the end date seemed far, far, off, safely tucked away in the distant future of 2015.

From today, graduation is ‘next year’, and people can reasonably ask what we plan to do ‘next’, meaning, of course, after the apprenticeship is over and I’m a state-registered cabinet maker.

To the surprise of no-one who has known our chaotic way of life, we haven’t a clue, except to say it probably won’t involve settling down to a normal middle-class German lifestyle.

I would like to make some models though.

What are your resolutions and plans for the year?

*In the unlikely even that this is so, I post a lot more regularly here.

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