Friday, September 28, 2007

Stuttgarter 'Zacke'

Marienplatz: lower terminus of the Stuttgart funicular railway

Amongst its other charms, Stuttgart is the only city in Germany with a funicular railway. This line is metre gauge, and has connected Stuttgart centre and the town of Degerloch, 2,2km away and 205m up the hill, since 1884. It used to be steam operated, and follows the “Alte Weinsteige”, which was the only rail or road connection to the city for anyone living in the eastern suburbs until 1904, when a more direct, easier graded route -and tramline- replaced it. Now it is an isolated metre gauge railway in the standard gauge system and I happen to like it very much. It is slower than my usual route home, but it has a very nice laid-back independent feel, it runs along, or across the street with great views across Stuttgart; and it will always carry your bike (uphill) for free, every 20 minutes if you feel inclined.

I happened to be in the centre last week with a bit of time and a desire to travel above ground, so I went along to the Marienplatz and boosted the ridership figures. At no extra charge to you, I even took a few pictures before I got on to show what a modern narrow gauge system could look like.

1001 Approaches the platform (where I'm standing) over the Bridge.

Cyclists dream: Trolley for bikes to help get up the 17.5% Alte Weinsteige.

Quick shot of the catenary for a certain future project...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Why I have dual gauge track.

Minimum gauge "Critter 01" with Jan trying the motor block out for size.

Alert readers may have noticed a reference to some kits from Black Dog Mining, well… ages ago. I’ve been adding to this over the weekend with a handful of scrap plasticard and a 9mm gauge Bachmann chassis I’ve had kicking about for ages. The main point of the loco is to try out a few ideas for making different doors and other small features that I can then make use of on Spitzenwald, but I’ve also got an idea of making a really small micro based on the narrow gauge lines in the extreme north of Germany, like the Halligbahnen at Dagebüll and at Lüttmoorsiel, or the costal protection line on the uninhabited Minsiner Oog. All are still working, so this can still be said to be a 'modern image' project

It’ll not be a scale model by any means: there are no 15 inch/381mm lines on the German islands, so it will be more of a sketch loosely based on some of the features of some of the lines.
It’ll also be a long term thing which I’ll work on as and when I can, as a change from work, which is heavy at this time of year, Spitzenwald, and another project that I’m keeping under wraps for the moment, but I’ll tell you about a bit later… Watch this space.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Lokalbahn Mixnitz-St. Erhardt

Another video, and some great evidence for the premise behind the Körschtalbahn, that narrow gauge railways can effectively transport goods and people. Longer suffering readers will know this is a regular theme for this blog, and the line looks a lot like the imaginary KÖB, even down to the track gauge and electrification. The commentary is in (Austrian) German, but it’s worth watching for the pictures, and I can give a rough idea of the history of the line and current status thanks to Wikipedia Germany .

The 760mm gauge 800v DC line is in the state of Steiermark in southeast Austria. There used to be passenger services but they were withdrawn on the 31st of July 1966. The Steiermark government railways, (You'll hear more about them sometime) and run the remaining section from the Austrian federal railways (ÖBB) system at Mixnitz-Bärenschützklamm to the magnesite works in Breitenau. It seems the line has a future: After major flooding in August 2005, it was rebuilt by mid-October, and the stations in the video are recently reinstated, mostly for charter trains.

All of which is good news, but what if the investment could be extended to high-capacity bogie wagons which could move at more than 20kmh, and modern, low floor coaching stock similar to the standard gauge ‘Desiro’ seen at the start of the video?

Is this a dream, or an eco-friendly rural transport solution for the future?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Recently, I was running an errand and I passed a factory that uses a lot of roll-on containers, and very obligingly stores them next to the cycle path. So I took some photos in preparation for the skip-building project. This one shows the variety in these ‘standard’ designs. I know I should start by making a square-cornered version like that on the right, but something tells me I’m going to have a go at chamfered corners at some point… By the way, the fabric covering seems to be unique to this company. Any ideas why it is used and how would be gratefully received…

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Getting Ambitious.

The Maschienenfabrik Ostfildern have been working on the third wood wagon. This is going to be slightly different from the first batch with deeper side frames and wider uprights to give the impression of an altogether heavier unit. This one will also be less flexible with an open frame designed to take wood or pipes but not the containers. I figure the KÖB will have a fairly heavy wood traffic so some more specialised wagons could be justified.

This marks a new first, because I’m basing the model on a standard gauge wagon, rather than a narrow gauge, and I’m modelling a prototype I’ve been able to photograph myself rather than one off the internet. Here’s a (battered) example of the original, awaiting departure from Breisach in behind a MaK B-B unit owned by the Südwest Eisenbahngesellschaft (SWEG) on a damp day in January this year.

I cut most of the pieces for the wagon on Saturday afternoon. I debated making the frame from sections, but eventually I went for making the whole lot from one piece, on the basis it would hopefully be a bit stronger, as it is fairly thin: 0.5mm plasticard. Because of this, I made the bracing pieces deliberately heavy-duty to compensate.

By the time we had to get ready to go out for the evening -there was a festival in the local town and the boys wanted to see fire-eaters and other mesmerising things- the wagon looked like this:

Then today, I took a deep breath and made the usually fatal step of trying to stick it together.
Remarkably, it worked, mostly.

I had a couple of “Did you spot the deliberate mistake?” moments, notably when I realised one of the cross-beams was right where the bogies (trucks) were supposed to go, but a bit of cutting made the beam high enough that it didn’t foul the wheels and all was well…

If things go on like this I may reach 8 wagons within the year…

I really have to build the layout now.

[Update: Tues 11th. I have now corrected most of the typos and put the correct code in for the pictures, so now whan you click on them you get a bigger version instead of the Photobucket front page. Sorry about that.]

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Wood (and other things) wagon

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The Maschienenfabrik Ostfildern has managed to gear up production and is now finishing two wagons for wood and other items. They now promise that they will be working on the van soon, and the third wood wagon will be started as soon as the bits are delivered. The couplings are still a minor difficulty, but I’m looking for some softer wire to make loops with.

The wagons started out as a rough copy of these, but I quickly realised that my skill is at a level where I will have to content myself with a more generic design. I’m not too worried though: it’s likely the KÖB would have a variety of designs in its stock list, and the wagons can take a roll-on container like the RHB prototype, (although it's under scale length so it can only take one at a time). Besides, after the long saga of the first van, it came as rather a shock to find myself finishing so soon after I started. Now I’m already beginning to get dangerously ambitious: getting stuff together for the third wood wagon and sketching out the design for the second van. I’m also thinking of a set of roll-on containers for the and even having thoughts of an eventual well wagon for swap-bodies, or maybe a coach…

[Update: Finally got the link in... Sorry about that...]

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Killisberg Parkeisenbahn: now with Steam...

I did promise/threaten to return to the Killisberg Parkeisenbahn on a steam day and inflict more pictures on you. I've even got some videos as well, Just scroll down a bit for those...

Top: 'Classic' view: Train passing the fountains by the main entrance.
Above Springerle, one of two locomotives built by Kraus-Maffei of Munich and delivered on 30th of May 1950, in the sunshine at the station.

Low shot. The brolley is to keep the sun off the crew, but it makes a mess of photography.

Close up of the smokebox

Makers plate: Apparently three locomotives were built, one was sent as a gift to Delhi in India, and the other two are still in Stuttgart.

"Weight: 6,5t" "Weight in service: 8,6t" "Coal: 0,3t" "Water: 1,0m3" "Tested: 4.03" "Brakes: 4.03"

Out and about: on the downhill section approaching the station again

Motion close up, in B+W in an attempt to look artsy.

And a couple of videos of 'Springerle' powering up the hill at the top of the park. Notice the wheelslip in the second shot as she negotiates a sharp curve at the top of the hill...

Full speed ahead:
On the crossing: