Friday, July 27, 2007

Nothing happens for ages…

…Then two entries turn up together. Just like busses.

Now you know what it would look like if Mercedes made trains.

It’s probably good that I don’t live in this town judging by the drivers face when I took this. He seemed to think that photographing a bus in the rain was somehow odd.

One of the fantastic things about Germany is that the public transport systems in different cities are usually very different from each other. Come to think of it, there are sometimes multiple systems in one city. Essen has a dual gauge light-rail system: metre gauge trams which run on dual gauge track with the standard gauge U-bahn.

Incidentally, if the U-bahn units have a slightly familiar look about them, theres a good reason…
A sister unit in original colours gives the game away.

Ex London-docklands stock is the mainstay of the line, rebuilt for driver operation and overhead current collection, which would seem to be a rather expensive way to get second hand stock.

Our nearest rail connection in Essen was with the high-floor metre gauge trams which are a pig to get a baby push chair into. There’s no way a wheelchair user could get in unless they are fortunate enough to live by a stop with a platform. This used to be an acceptable state of affairs all over Germany but I was surprised to see a city as big and wealthy as Essen dragging their feet on accessibility.

On the other hand passengers can get off the tram, and a low-floor bus comes along a few minutes later to take them onward on one ticket. It’s that simple. It’s the norm in Stuttgart as well, so much so that I never bothered to even blog about it -so why is it that when we travel in the UK we have to get off the train, drag luggage and three tired boys 100 metres, and up a flight of steps, across a busy road and wait at a shelter less bus stop for half an hour, and then to pay for another ticket (with exact change) when it arrives?

A hint of politics coming in, so I’ll change subject with this shot of the miniature railway in the Gruga Park in Essen. I’ll tell you all about it later (i.e when I’ve found out more…)


Last week (While we were in Essen) The Works received a package of 7mm stock very kindly sent by John Teal as they are now surplus to his requirements since changing to “00” gauge. The workbenc… my desk… I meant my desk, looks like a very small outpost of the Interlok workshops.

I'm still looking through them, but so far I've found this this nice flat wagon with Land Rover Defender- the wagon is a tiny bit narrower than my usual loading gauge, but can take the swapbody comfortably. Just as well as the Landy is likely to gain a new identity as a KÖB maintenance vehicle. The tanker behind unfortunately lost an end in transit (as did its 2 identical siblings) and will probably be used for parts.

There were loads of other bits, including several vans of different descriptions and a rake of coaches which I think I can adapt (I'll post pictures when the sun comes out again) and a few other bits that I reckon will probably live in the spares box and until I start working in Gn15. One suprise find was two shunters, built on old Hornby class 08 chassis. I have wondered about using them together and making a diesel Krokodil like this one which lives in the hills near here, possibly even strengthening the rods and taking out that missle wheel, but unfortunately I think the motors may be too unreliable for a tiny layout. Maybe when I have my outdoor model…

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Back Streets

In our local shopping centre of Esslingen I took a short cut behind the local "SektKellerei" or Champagne factory, Sekt being German Champagne. I doubt I'd ever try something so huge, but it gives exactly the feel I'm after, of being old and there for a long time before these new-fangled cars came along...

The Champagne factory is the half-timbered building. Local church behind...

Looking into "Zehentgasse" ("Tithe Alley") Complete with illegaly parked BMW

Further along "Tithe Alley"

The Main delivery doors and loading bay

Deliver door detail. Remarkably still used regularly for "Sekt" deliveries.

I could see this being part of a future project (ie when I know how to make stonework) It would makd a very attractive subject for an 09 model. I can just see a small critter pullinf a rake of flats out of the alley and curving into a cellar through the big red doors...

I'm getting tempted again...

By the way, this blog is going to be a bit quiet for a couple of days as we will be visiting a friend in Essen, but I'll be back with pictures and ideas, so watch this space...

Friday, July 13, 2007

White Van Man...

I promised that the van wouldn't be shown again until it was at least in primer, so here's a quick progress snapshot on my temporarily tidy desk. I had a go at painting it green but the colour shade was far too dark, so it's back to the drawing board...

I'd use the normal background but a white van dissapears in a white photobox.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

No more Bannister Hall.

I’ve just heard that Dave Balcombe, of “Teetering Hall” fame passed away this week due to lung cancer. Although we never met, I enjoyed several Email discussions with him, on the subject of modelmaking and related matters, and appreciated his humour and out-of-the-box way of thinking. I knew he was going for more treatment, but he made it sound like a routine event, so it was a shock to hear of his death.

My thoughts and prayers are with Dave's family.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Das Alternstigerle

Here’s my favourite story (so far) from the history book about the old railways between Nagold and Altensteig:

It seems that by the village or Rohrdorf there was a small fabric mill, and the apprentice from this mill was sent every day to stand at the gate and give the post to the train as it rumbled over the entrance.
Of course, apprentices sometimes have other things to attend to, and it happened “occasionally” that the train had passed before the duty apprentice had chance to make the gate with postbag. However, all was not lost: speed was not top priority on this line, and anyway, there were some sharp curves here so the train was not rushing. The tardy apprentice would leap upon his bike and pedal after the train.
Once level, the apprentice would throw his bag over to the Post Wagon. The guard was of course ready, and would catch, empty and return the bag in the same manner. Job done, the apprentice was able to return whence he came.

I wonder how often his “mates” would delay him deliberately…

Where the rails were...

Altensteig railway station
from the track side (See below)
Water is from the fire practice.

My memory of Altensteig railway station was a large wooden shed with the station building at one end. Imagine my surprise then, on finding this building stranded between a Supermarket car park and the Feuerwehr practice area.

The Feuerwehr training: Lights and everything, to the delight of the oldest boys.

No big shed to be seen. I just shoved that into my subconscious and took pictures, assuming that memory was playing up.
So I was quite relieved to find a picture dated 1996 clearly showing a very big wooden shed to the profile of the frame on the bakery wall. Another picture, taken from about the same place as the one at the top of this entry, showed that the track came in front of the building here, with the freight road stopping just before where where the black car is parked, and other lines coming out as far as the fireman's elbow visible extreme right. I have a possible prototype if I feel foolhardy enough to make a 7mm scale version...

No promises.