Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Big Hector

Last Saturday, we visited the toy train swap meeting in Houten. This proved to be an excellent location to find myself a present; big Hector. In other words, Merkur's 9171 diesel electric locomotive T458 of the CSD. The model is available in s few different liveries, a blue-white one can also be found on the web. The originals were built in the sixties in Czechoslovakia, but their design crudely resembles diesel electric switchers running in other countries. Personally, I find it perfect for running Lionel tinplate rolling stock with. But I am sure others will disagree.

The model train has two engines, directional lightening and a sound generator, which generates a diesel rumble and additionally produces horn blasts at random intervals. It is a relative strong engine and it can pull a longer string of railroad cars. I received the engine with Merkur couplers, which I swapped for Bing style hook couplers. This is quiet easy, especially in case the skirts are loosened (but do not completely unscrew them, since you will need much more time to screw them back on again) and tilted to enlarge the room for unscrewing the retaining nylon metal nut.

Several web-videos show the original engine and one striking feature is different, to resemble the original even better, a smoke generator needs to be installed, which is able to belch out tar black smoke during operation. Furthermore, the original Hector in the blue-white livery has a red star on the front, as a scar from the past. Personally I am a bit allergic to red stars, so I am quiet pleased with star-less Hector in red and grey.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Lego NS train

Yesterday, the weather forecaster expected some heavy showers, but instead we got a beautiful sunny day. So, it was an excellent day for running some trains in the garden. A younger member of the family decided that we were going to run some self-built Lego trains. The engine is styled according to the Dutch NS 1600 rectifier serie. The motor and the control unit were taken from a standard Lego 7939 train set. Which was completely distroyed in the process of making this NS train, obviously.

To make this ride a bit more interesting,we laid the tracks through some wood stumbs to give it an undutch canyon-like experience.

The passenger coach is also styled in NS livery, although perhaps a bit short for the real thing, still a stunning beauty. The trucks (bogies if you are British) were purchased at a German Lego swap meeting.

Personally I was quiet pleased with this contribution.

One of the main benefits of Lego trains, is that they come and go. A few months ago, a small switcher was built with the same bricks. But this 'sik' (NS 300 series) has also disappeared  in the process of constructing the NS 1600.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Eisenbahnmuseum Bochum

A few days ago we visited the largest German train museum. It is situated in the 'Ruhrgebiet' and lies in between Essen, Wattenscheid, Bochum and the river Ruhr.Once you leave the motorway 40, you will drive through residential areas for 15 minutes and then finally a few hairpin bends and you are in the Ruhr-valley in front of the entrance of the train museum.
It is a large terrain and used to be the steam depot of the German railroad in Bochum, including turntable and semicircular engine house. It has also two large rectangular engine houses, a station building. It is a rather different train museum than the Dutch Spoorwegmuseum. Since this train museum displays trains and has not be changed-over into 'an experience and children-playground'.
Not just a few trains, but loads of them to be more precise.
It is fairly difficult to make good photo's in the engine house, since the sun light brightly shines through the upper windows and make the trains reflect in all directions.
Several types of rail buses were displayed. Here a regular bus on train trucks as it operated in the fifties and sixties on remote branch lines.
But also the earlier pig's face from the twenties and thirties.
And some regular passenger coaches for the high speed trains of that era.
Luckily you can enter a few steamer cabins and respect the jungle of valves and pressure displays.
They have several steam engines that are tested and railroad-worthy, which are used for occasional trips. But they also have many steamers and coaches in urgent demand of restoration.
The oldest train car on display is a closed goods car from the 1850's. They estimated the age on several marks on the iron work. The wood side panels and the roof is in dilapidated condition, but it shows how small these early boxcars were.
Here an example of positive discrimination for women; a separate coach department on the high speed coach for women. Why? Smokers and non-smokers as division I understand. Prudery, curiosity or simply a way to avoid harassment? One wonders.
Here the logo of the Royal Prussian railroad company, hand painted on the side of a passenger coach. They needed a few well-trained painters back them to do all the coaches...
A general advice for all persons that try performing on stage without talent. Still relevant in the age of 'the Voice', etc.
And then there was the German crocodile E94 an impressive beauty.
In the end there were too many trains to be photographed. I reckon that they will spend the coming century to restore the rest of the trains that need TLC. There were many nice details to be seen, like the following shots:

In the wealth of train cars that require restoration, they choose to restore a train car that was used by Hitler. This came as a shock. The train car was beautiful restored and shined brightly. The swastika and eagle were prominently visible on the side of the car. Although they explained the historic significance of this train car, I would have preferred to let this car rot and instead restore the orient express sleeping car for instance. Although this is our shared history, it is still discomforting.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Lightening the Merkur combined luggage passenger coach

The green passenger coach 9330 and restaurant coach 9331 were already lit. So only the combined luggage passenger coach 9751 still had to be equipped with some internal lights.
Merkur sells two types of interiors for 42 cm (17 inch) long coaches.The 8961 for regular coaches and the 8962 for dining cars. The latter comes with grey tables. Only the 8962 is suitable, but needs a small modification. Two seats need to cut of, to avoid them of obstructing the sliding doors.
After all the screws were loosened to allow the side panel to tilt, the seats would fit in.
Then all the screws and nuts could be tightened again.
The LED strips of Hufing Tronic were glued to the roof and the leads were soldered.
Two blue paper strips were attached with sticky tape to the blue roof line to create a ridge to avoid light shining under the roof slit.The self-made electrical pick-ups were connected and soldered on and then we could let it run.

These passenger coaches are great and just make me happy to see them shine.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Marx lights

Marx was a great American toy company. They were specialised in mass-produced toys with lots of play-value. Although the name amuses me in the sense that it was a toy-manufacturer in a country were McCarthy lived. The geezer that hunted anybody down that only vaguely smelled like a communist. But that is forgotten by most, as is the wall, etc. But some pretty good toys remain. Funny when you think of it; toys out-live ideologies.  Anyway, for some unclear reasons, some great Marx toy train accessories became available on my local market and I was fortunate to get a hold on three items. And since these items were not manufactured by Märklin or Lionel, they were cheap and value for money.
I already wired a Marx 416 Floodlight tower from 1938. The patina on the reflectors was so aged (black) that it hardly functioned as a reflector, so I gave it a thorough rub and polish. Since, these were mass-produced I do not mind anyway about patina.
The Marx 436 Searchlight tower is a truly tall structure and once wired on, it lights up the room as a true searchlight should. Unfortunately the glass lens has a crack, but perhaps I can find a replacement somewhere.

And then the Marx 404 automatic block signal with a lever to control the lights and a rheostat to control the light strength. Pretty damn old as well and hence very welcome indeed.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Spring swap meeting in Zutphen

Last weekend we had our local toy train swap meeting in Zutphen. They even placed bill boards in my street, so I had to go. It is basically a large sport hall, filled with toy trains and toy train enthusiasts.

On top of that, I made an appointment to run a few colourful Lionel trains on Sunday morning on the Merkur layout of Blik en Speelgoed.
So I unpacked my Lionel B&O train and let it run. Obviously the horn made a lasting impression on a few unwary youngsters.
It was nice to let the Lionel trains to blend in on the Merkur layout.

Later we changed back to DC operation and ran a few Merkur trains. This green tank engine is one of my favorites. The new red German rectifier switcher was also present. It was also really nicely made.

There was a nicely made American layout in half zero, which caught my attention. Nice folks with beautiful trains.
For the rest there was the usual trade from the usual suspects. Well hidden we found a few treasures.
Here a wind-up scale zero tinplate train from the fifties, probably commissioned by the German toy trade house Vedes. Anyway, I made myself happy with Marx search light tower and a Merkur lamp post. All in all a beautiful Sunday morning indeed.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Lego swap meeting

Last Sunday, we visited the "Lego und Playmobilbörse" in Hattingen. Although one might argue that Lego swap meeting would be a better name, since there were only a few Playmobil dealers and many Lego dealers.
Well Hattingen is near by and we have never visited such a happening, so went there to see and experience the lot.
There were plenty of bricks in all colours, sorts and shapes. Some were traded by the kilogram, others per piece. Some pieces were only a few eurocents, whiles others had a few Euro's price tag.
There were a few 'professional Lego hoarders' or should we name them addicts that searched for that one rare brick in a sea of bricks.
And then there were the historically interesting 'vintage Lego sets from the seventies'. As toy train collector that seemed a bit odd; seventies and vintage in one sentence, but there was a clear appreciation for rare and early pieces by a few brick-hunters.
For some unclear reason Star Wars Lego from the eighties, which was also considered vintage, was also regarded as highly collectible and some steep prices were commanded for a few space ships from the past.

Although I admired the enthusiasm of the frenzy collectors and the traders, I must admit that I was pleased to notice that this convention was held in an old foundry. The Heinrich Hütte. So, after Lego-over saturation kicked in, we visited the museum. Apparently, some locals discovered iron ore 1 meter under the ground here in 1851 and the first foundry was established here.
We made a walking tour over the train yard and saw some old beauties. A bit more vintage than what we saw earlier.
So much detail visible everywhere.
No humping!
The iron works was closed in the late eighties and although it is now an official museum and the have some pretty good displays of the ore quality control laboratory, the dump pits and the actual ovens, it breathes rust and decay .
Which is partially well understandable and partially regretful. Such a beautiful patina on this pre-war riveted tank car.
Nevertheless, although we embarked on a Lego trip, it became a quiet interesting, historically correct trip in the end, with a sufficiently high train content.

Well it was an enjoyable sunday afternoon with a slight drizzle and abundant trains.