Monday, March 20, 2017

Local train swap meeting

Last weekend, the local train swap meeting was held in Zutphen. They even advertised for it in my street... as if I wouldn't know it yet. Anyway, there was some toddler musical of a fat red cat in the neighbouring theater so we had to walk 10 minutes to park the car. And even in the hall it was crowded.
There were several different children activities, loads of traders and a dozen or so layouts. Sufficient for me, for sure.

Besides Blik en Speelgoed which had sufficient goodies for me, there were only a few traders that offered scale zero. One bloke had a box full of old train cars and commanded ridiculous prices of 150 Euro for each car. I reckon that's why it is still the same box as last year. But for half zero and scale N there were plenty of deals to be made.

The guy of 'patience used to be dead normal' was pleasingly narrative in explaining how he used every day objects to scratch build trains with. He uses drinking straws as chimneys and cheap women's jewelry as front lights.

Anyway after we did our shopping, ate our fries and chatted with several new on-line model train stuff dealers that desperately tried to get acquainted, we thought that it was about time to visit the local operators open day. In their cactus oasis we looked at cheerful LGB trains puffing away through the barren landscape.

It was pleasant for us and particularly good for the cacti that it rained outside and that we were save and dry in a glass house with plenty of trains.

Saturday, March 04, 2017


Last Friday, we were in the southern town of Heerlen and we had a spare hour. I knew there was a model train shop, so I searched the web and found it: Linden Modelspoorcentrum in the Jongmansweg. In this part of the country you can still see where the old mine pits were; as they usually are the large patches of rough land and scrubs between the old streets with cramped houses. The street is single lane now and runs up one of the many hills here. In the middle of the street between the residential houses is the model train shop.

We walked to the door and had to wait for the furry dog to move a bit so we could enter. The owner welcomed us and turned on the light. He had quiet a lot of Märklin, Fleischmann, Roco, Kibri and Pola. He explained that he is 73 of age and has in 2017 a continuous clearance sale with multiple objects for 50%, 30% and 30%. His goal is to sell the lot in the coming months and doing so will be able to say farewell to his working life as a model train shopkeeper. We collected multiple objects; replacement knives, hand planer, trees and lots of small model train objects. For my own layout, I bought a Beli modern double street light. The only scale 0 object that I spotted. Now I only have to find a nice place for it between the tracks. Well lets hope this gentleman will have a smooth clearance sale and a pleasant retirement.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A fence too far

A few years ago, I acquired a Dutch post-war toy Bailey bridge. It was composed of soft-metal side panels painted green and small wooden planks and small metal pins. The brownish discoloured instruction paper was written in Dutch language that predates 1953 as is obvious from the old spelling form. So, it must have been produced directly after WWII. I wasn't sure what to do with. For some time I decided to leave it as is. As a distant memory of the troublesome liberation of this flat land with its rivers and canals. A toy that was played with to reenact the temporary bridges which were laid to move the tanks and trucks over those rivers and canals. A few weeks ago, I finally decided to do something with it and create a fence from the soft metal side panels. I will keep all the items unaltered, so it can be restored to a toy Bailey bridge at any time. But in the meantime the panels can function as a fence; a fence too far. Now, the whole shape is still rough and I still need to paint the wooden connectors, but nevertheless, I like to have re-purposed this old toy on my layout with old trains.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Toy auction at Bouwman and son

Last Saturday, the bimonthly toy auction was held at Bouwman and Bouwman in Brummen. I was curious about this auction and wanted it to visit for quiet some time, but since Saturdays are busy days I rarely had the opportunity. Nevertheless, last Saturday we went to visit it. We arrived half an hour prior to the start and that gave us the time to register and get an auction number and to walk down the alley and see the items in the display cabinets. We knew why we were coming and we verified the visual quality of the items we were interested in.
At about 11 hours in the morning the roughly 35 men and 5 women sat down on folding chairs and were waiting for the auctioneer to start. Unfortunately the blue Windows screen was stuck and they were busy for another 20 minutes to fix it. Then it finally started. There were 430-something lots and it went pretty fast. First, the lot was crudely described, then the amount was named that was already 'on the table' due to internet bidders. Then the amount was repeated and they asked if someone was willing to bid more on the table, etc etc. Anyway, I was waiting for lot 188, two Paya luggage cars: 1359 and 1362. There were no internet bids, but someone else in the room overbid me, so in the end I got them for 50 Euro. We had to wait through all the lots. And there were so many Dinky toys cars, dolls, VW Bansai vans etc. Anyway, around 15:00 hours the auction was finished. The chairs were folded. The folks lined up and our bidding numbers were called and we had to pay. The total costs were the bid plus 30% provision and VAT. Surprisingly most paid cash. Then we got a receipt and we could form a second queue for the goods and then finally we got the Paya luggage cars. We got them straight from the cabinets and we were allowed to inspect them and pack them back in the original boxes.

These Paya luggage cars are reproductions from the eighties as is clear from the Märklin couplers and their shining mint condition. On Historytoy website the original version from the interbellum can be seen. They are beautifully made and highly detailed. The dark blue carriage with a dark grey roof has CIWL emblems and is named baggage car, PH 1362. The doors open, the two sliding doors slide, it has internal lightening and sprung buffers.

The sea-green luggage car Paya PH 1359 has texts "equipajes" and "correos" on the sides. It has a light-grey roof, opening doors, internal lights and larger unsprung buffers. Additionally curious, the 1362 cars navigates my Merkur curves with ease, but the 1359 car doesn't. Apparently the trucks can hardly rotate since the base plate sidings are much too close to the trucks. So the latter car will probably remain to be a display piece.

In the end we had a great day and found ourselves two beautiful Paya luggage and post cars. I do not think that I want to visit these auctions regularly, since I do need to witness two blokes up-bidding on twenty varieties of VW beetle toy cars again. But it was fun for one time.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

ARS Technica

On a snowy mountain ridge in the Ardennes lies the small village of Losheim. The slow cold wind turns the wind mills slowly overhead. Which feet can be seen, the rest is obscured by fog. The over-snowed war graves on the ground can occasionally be seen in this cold and silent village. In the former custom offices of the Belgian-German border a strange mixture of a model train shop, museum and impressive railroad layout has emerged. You enter a model train shop, which is fairly impressive in size, gauges and accessories. Then you walk up a set of stairs, pass the tourniquet with your entrance ticket and you are in a toy train museum.
The exhibition has many interesting layouts and toy trains. Although my interest was focused on the prewar Fandor, Märklin, Bing and Krauss trains. But I did appreciate to learn from gauge TT Rokal and gauge S Bub and Stadtilm as well.
The West-German made toy train of Bub in scale S.
And the East-German made toy train of Stadtilm in scale S.
A beautiful gantry crane of Krauss toy trains.
And loads of prewar tin-plate train cars.
Sufficient cheerfully coloured cars to make you happy on such a cold winters day.
There is not just a few display cabinets, but rather many dozens. Obviously I restrained myself to prewar tinplate.
After the museum part with the old trains, there are multiple layouts. Fortunately most layouts and displays are meant for toy trains, but some local bloke went bazerk on modelling a Roman settlement, which is beyond prewar, in fact beyond pretrain. Then they have a small Laurel and Hardy cinema and many more operated toy train layouts.
Well, I took too many pictures, anyway, I reckon you get the message, whenever you are passing a mountain ridge between Belgium and Germany and you fancy seeing some toy trains, then you better stop at the Ardenner Culture Boulevard in Losheim to visit the ARS Technica. And no, I do not grasp the name of the facility either, but it is a nice display, for sure.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Tin-plate hopper

Last month on the 17th of December, we had the local swap model train meeting in Zutphen, which I crash-visited between several appointments, but that gave me just enough time to find a nice modern tin-plate hopper.

The hall was packed with toy trains, but the general atmosphere was a bit more optimistic than the last swap meeting in March. There was simply more trade. I obviously spend most of my time at the train table of Blik en Speelgoed.
Now I was looking for a tin-plate hopper for quiet some time. I had a Lionel 816 hopper on my wish list for a few years. But those that surfaced here in Europe, were either far beyond restoration or extremely over-valued. So, I was happy to see that Merkur released a full metal modern-tin plate hopper, no. 9416

It is a true modern European hopper (Facss type) and very well made for a full metal train car. Although the chutes cannot be opened, it is still a beauty, which runs and looks great. Finally the tin-plate has arrived. Although, I never practice new years resolutions, I do have figure out what will be next. Perhaps wiring some additional lamps and signals. One of the recent surprises is the re-erection of the Czech top train company named Tioka-Ikaria, which apparently is also planning to release a metal hopper car in the coming year. Well I am anxious to see what they will produce.

By the way, I was given four scratch-built scale 0 train cars a few months ago (they are in the middle of the pictures). They are interesting folk art objects. They are made from cheap wood (cigar boxes) and soldered metal wires. Given the type and grey colour of the paint, I would reckon that they were build in the late forties to early fifties of the last century. Somebody must have spend many evenings making those. The wheels are common bub wheels, which were most likely salvaged from wind-up cars. The couplers are Märklin type. They do not have buffers, as that would probably have been to complicated to self-fabricate in the shed. They have a special appeal to them, which is difficult to comprehend and explain. Anyway, I will sure that they will be kept in good running order for the coming decades.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Merkur passenger service

The night express was running through the train room this night. Now the nights are getting longer and colder, the lighted coaches are a wonderful sight in the train room. Awesome metal coarse scale trains!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Last run of the season

Last Sunday, the local heritage railroad company MBS ran the last trains for the season. It was a quiet autumn day. The sun just gave sufficient heat to vapourise the fog away and to reveal the red leaves. From a distance the steady white plume of smoke of the small black Swiss steamer could already be discerned and whistle broke the silence in sleepy Haaksbergen.

The newly placed pedestrian bridge from 1888 fits nicely in the scenery.

In the open engine house, a small rail bus is standing idle. This German pig's snout is shining beautifully. The proud volunteer kindly speaks of his double engine. It has to be double clutched to change gears. A skill that not many of us have acquired. And of the new upholstery with old fabric from an old English textile mill.

The Swiss steamer passes the Austrian coaches and is hooked on with the cab reversed, ready for the short leg to Boekelo.
In Boekelo there is plenty of warm coffee in the engine house, which helps to warm the cold fingers.

Within the engine house, many finished and restored coaches can be enjoyed, as well as the many restoration projects for the near future. And just to be clear: no trespassing! The small black steamer is a mighty engine.

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.