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Die Ercallbahn - Fulfilling a childhood dream.


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On 25/04/2021 at 16:18, ian said:

210425-1.jpg

 

The possession continues. The towers and cross-spans have reappeared and Gleis 3 is regaining its catenary. Obviously its removal was a gross waste of money and irate letters are in the process of being penned to the local newspaper.

 

 

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This is the reason for re-stringing the wires - I have added the ability for main line trains to run into Gleis 3 from the east end allowing them to be passed by a following one. (Mind you, I haven't quite given up hope of getting an ET 420 up the hill from Maifeld either...)

I'm glad you re-added the extra catenary. Ignoring whether it was used or not, the station just looks better with the headspans

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On 27/07/2021 at 12:58, ian said:

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Herr B. is still telling anyone who will listen about the strange noises.
"Honestly, last might it sounded like there was a bus in the cellar!"

 

210727-2.jpg

 

That Br38 is a most attractive loco! 

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210729.jpg
Fortunately for Herr B. electrical knitting is mainly silent.

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6 minutes ago, ian said:

210729.jpg
Fortunately for Herr B. electrical knitting is mainly silent.


I don’t know anything about wiring (I do like the phrase ‘electric knitting’ - especially given this photo), but I’ve always thought it was often accompanied by occasional and sudden rather loud “Bleeps!”

 

What I’ve been wondering, and I may have missed something, is whether there will be a way for trains to get from the lower level to the upper level - even with the gradients you’ve shown us the trains can climb, the gap between levels looks quite significant?  Just wondered, Keith.

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10 hours ago, Keith Addenbrooke said:


I don’t know anything about wiring (I do like the phrase ‘electric knitting’ - especially given this photo), but I’ve always thought it was often accompanied by occasional and sudden rather loud “Bleeps!”

 

What I’ve been wondering, and I may have missed something, is whether there will be a way for trains to get from the lower level to the upper level - even with the gradients you’ve shown us the trains can climb, the gap between levels looks quite significant?  Just wondered, Keith.

 

The bleeps will come later when I test it... :angry:

 

At the moment this doesn't connect to anything - just like the undercroft below the site for Maifeld Hbf but one day it will all link up. This is actually nominally on the mid level - about the same elevation as the temporary return loop - although in fact it is actually a couple of inches lower in order to make room for the scenics, such as they will be. Or, in more understandable terms this baseboard's track levelis about 8" below Schwarzfelsen's.

 

 

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The new board got moved onto trestles for track-laying, hole drilling and catenary stringing due to the lack of headroom under Schwarzfelsen.

 

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Still, at least the test running won't keep Herr B. awake!

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2108A.jpg
For those struggling to keep up with the trackwork this shows the connected parts. The big loop lower right is only temporary and occupies the site for Maifeld Hbf.

 

2108B.jpg
These are the bits that aren't connected yet in their correct relative positions. The terminus is under Schwarzfelsen and the loop is under the temporary loop.

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Posted (edited)

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No trains on the branch this weekend as some S&T work is underway. The DB has provided a bus replacement service using one of its own buses that would be otherwise unemployed over the weekend.

 

Now usually the residents of Schonblick and Schwarzfelsen don't see eye to eye on anything however when it comes to the railway they are, on occasions, grudgingly willing to co-operate. The possibility that a successful bus replacement service might cause someone in a distant office to wonder how much could be saved by making it permanent caused much disquiet in both camps.

 

Just after 7am the bus arrived at Schwazfelsen on the first trip of the day and after discharging the passengers the driver intended to turn round in the goods yard. A lorry left blocking the narrow entrance has put paid to that idea. The bus driver asked Herr B. if the lorry could be moved and was offered Here Rothe's 'phone number. It looks like he will have a white knuckle reversing manoeuver to get back out on the road.

 

Even worse, it looks like there are more passengers waiting than the bus can carry - and they are milling about on the station forecourt blocking his way back...

Edited by ian
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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, Jon Gwinnett said:

This thread is dangerous, my delight in the story telling and the sheer fun on show, made me inadvertently (:no:) take a look at models by the big M on eBay… I’ve not succumbed yet, but it’s a slippery slope.

 

Mother M won't necessarily make you happy. This layout ticks sufficient boxes for me that combine to make the whole thing great fun.

  • I can realise those childhood dreams looking at all the goodies in those precious catalogues and going I want that.
  • I have always wanted a 'system' layout where trains had a reason to run and could complete their journey on the layout.
  • It is sufficiently reliable - on the whole trains move, points throw, wagons couple and things stay on the track - and if they don't it is usually a simple fix.
  • It isn't too delicate - thous really don't matter here,
  • It isn't too expensive. New Marklin, Faller, Kibri and so on is eye-wateringly expensive. The secondhand stuff can, with pateince, be found for much less.
  • It doesn't have to look real. It may be a simulation of a railway but I don't want people to look at a photo and think "that looks real". This makes things much easier - no weathering, agonising over the correct colour of ballast,...
  • It is easy. Sectional track limits what can be done but does allow track to be laid quickly. Points, signals and lights are all part of the system and can easily be wired in. Even the catenary is a breeze.

It took a lot of playing with Anyrail to arrive at the basic plan (there were 8 or 9 completely different versions plus innumerable tweaks of each version) and this has continued to evolve both as the track goes down and after trains have been run. (Another advantage of sectional track.)

 

I already knew the basics of using Marklin components but have learnt a lot more in the past few years and don't regret forsaking such false gods as DCC and Code 40 N gauge :crazy:.

Edited by ian
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Posted (edited)

210809.jpg
After much debate amongst the potential passengers as to whose journey was more important the bus got away from Schwarzfelsen a mere ten minutes late.

 

There was one passenger for Schonblick and a gaggle waiting to board so there was the same argy-bargy about who got the coveted seat.

 

Needless to say that arrival at Neustadt was after the connecting train to Maifeld had left. As a result Neustadt's station hall was overwhelmed with people complaining. This in turn led to more complaints from all the other passengers caught up in the resultling queue. Neustadt was taken unawares by this storm and for about half an hour the station descended into chaos.

 

Once the unhappy throng at Neustadt had registered their complaints they adjourned to, and filled to capacity, the station restaurant for coffee.

 

At Schwarzfelsen and Schonblick those who had missed out on a seat on the bus registered their complaints with the station staff, who were already armed with the the necessary form, and then went back home for breakfast.

 

The solitary bus passenger who had alighted at Schonblick had travelled there just to make sure that the driver couldn't skip the stop and spent half an hour in the cafe just down the road from the station awaiting the bus's return from Neustadt.

 

Having discharged its unhappy passengers the bus made its way empty back to Schonblick where the driver's 30 minute break was trimmed to just about long enough to park up and run to the station toilet.

 

Eight o'clock and all is well!

Edited by ian
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210811-1.jpg
So why no trains? Schwarzfelsen is finally getting a replacement for the temporary control panel it has used up until now.

The panels are mounted on heavy duty drawer sliders that allow the panel part to slide out for operation, the whole panel including the wiring runs to slide out for maintenance or, in extremis, the whole kit and caboodle to be removed and taken to a workbench.


210811-2.jpg
Thw new schematic isn't ready yet but will be angled and have a hinge so that the switch wiring is accessible.

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210822-1.jpg
Easily distracted, that's me. Especially when a box of pre-loved Märklin lands on the doorstep - so here are the edited highlights.

 

The loco-hauled TEE has sprouted an extra coach to become 4 cars. This proved to be a challenge to the BR 103 so some remedial action was called for. The coaches all got oiled and one had its bogies swapped out for a different pair.


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The loco got new traction tyres and pick-up slider.


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The new member of the consist is a buffet car which is nearest the camera.


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The Eracllbahn also has one of the prototype BR103 (E03) locos on the roster (right) which was not only similarly challenged but has a number of chips on one side. I had hoped that the E03 in the box would be better; the chassis was but the body wasn't so there was a chassis transplant and remedial work is underway.


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This beastie has Telex (remote control) couplings and I am sorely tempted to let it loose on the branch but sadly it would involve too much distortion of space and time. It was given a spin on the main line and it can't half shift!


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This BR 110 (E10) was added to the fleet: oiling and new traction tyres got it romping around the main line like a spring lamb.


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That completes the family of Märklin BR 110/140/141 locos. The blue ones are the passenger locos and the green ones are the freight versions.


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Whilst commissioning the E10 the standard main line coaches had a spin and I was reminded of another job that is under consideration - adding interior details to the main line coaches. The branch line ones won't get any as they stand in a carriage siding for part of the day and having passengers in them would look wrong, especially as they are right in front of the Schonblick control panel.

 

Stop it. Must not get distracted.


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Possibly my favourite item emerged from a box that had at one time held a CKD bogie open wagon: a Tri-ang Transcontinental track cleaning wagon that had been converted to an overhead line cleaner. Brilliant!


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Sadly some things went straight to the tip (sorry, domestic recycling facility). Plugging these in could be fatal. Remember kids, if anyone offers you a Märklin controller in a blue metal case just say 'No'.

 

Now, what was I doing before I opened that box?

 

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1 hour ago, Jon Gwinnett said:

What’s the story with the deadly blue boxes? 
 

Also, is CKD short for Completely Knocked Down or is it an obscure Eastern European rail company I’ve not heard of before?

 

Whilst the idea of CKD being an obscure railway, rather like the US 'Undec' is very appealing it is indeed an abbreviation for completely knocked down.

 

The 1960s Marklin controllers had a metal case and rubber coated power cables. The rubber can perish over the years and internally the insulation between the business parts and the case can degrade leading to various unpleasant possibilities. Mother M did offer a swap for new units for a while, but that was many years ago.

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210825-1.jpg
Dr. Frankenstein has finished with his latest victim. The dings in the cream paintwork were touched in with Revell 314 Beige acrylic which, according to its RAL number should be spot on for the TEE colour. Needless to say it wasn't quite but a wipe over with a dirty finger whilst it was still wet toned it in nicely.


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The new station building has been test fitted. It is an old Vollmer model.


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The matching platforms are a little narrower than the Faller examples at Neustadt which saves a useful couple of mm on the station's overall width.


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Of course I have added lights. The photo shows up a glow on the station building's end wall which will have to be rectified.

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On occasions work continues on the new station. Two more signals have been installed. The shunting signal at the back is partially suspended over the void caised by the shelving system - still it saved drilling holes for the wires - whilst the colour light signal is a deviation from the Marklin norm. It is a standard 7188 unit that has had the mast separated from the solenoid housing, which is glued underneath the baseboard. I told you that things were squeezed in here!


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The LED lights that I installed in the garage provide plenty of light in most places so Schwarzfelsen no longer needs its strip of LEDS. These have been shortened and installed under Schwarzfelsen to illuminate the back of the new station which is in permanent shadow.


210830-3.jpg
A view of part of the new station along with the control panels.

 

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Due to a number of non-railway related but domestically essential projects suggested by Mrs Woody (so they must be essential for my well being)  I am sorry to say that I have missed much of the progress you have recently made on the layout Ian. Coming back after some time away really does highlight just how much you have achieved and just how this project has developed from what was a packed garage to a fully functional railway system. It must take incredible vision to even develop the overall concept of for the railway let alone the skill to build it. Interesting how you say you are continuing to learn about the Marklin system. It does make you wonder how far the system could have gone if DCC had not come along. Guess we will never know but it sounds as though you are making the most of what it does do. Sometimes technology can just go too far though. Mrs W is after a new kitchen to replace the 1992 one I last put in. Looked at a place today where I was proudly told by the salesman that their ovens had webcams so that you could remotely cook by using an app on your phone! I made excuses and left.

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Now ain't that a coincidence. Our kitchen is undergoing the same process. One of the showrooms we visited had a cupboard with an electrically operated folding door. Why?

 

The 'grand plan' took many (very many) iterations, developments and blind alleys to get to this stage and is still evolving. One of the great appeals of the Marklin system is that if I decide to change something it is a lot easier with sectional track than flexible or handbuilt. There are compromises of course, there always are, the biggest being that it will never make anyone look twice to check if it is real or a model! This is very much in the Edward Beal mould rather than finescale.

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Electrically operated cupboard door! What ever next? Reciprocating snatch back action toilet roll holders? As an old and somewhat now overweight racing cyclist it amazes me you can now get battery operated derailleur years! I think I must be getting old not to appreciate this giant step forward in cycling technology!

 

It took me many years to both understand and appreciate the concept of a railway system. I can recall buying one of my first Railway Modellers (other magazines are available) where the Sherwood Lines were Railway of the month. At the time I think the whole idea of a clock work system was somewhat alien to me and it probably took me another 30 years to fully appreciate and understand the concept. 

 

It may not be fine scale modelling Ian, but boy does it evoke some fantastic nostalgia and fond memories of times when we all aspired in our own ways  to your reality!

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Here's a little something I penned a decade or so ago. Still true:

 

Back in the days of yore there were model railways that put the emphasis on the railways rather than the model. This is something that is still big in the US - models of large sections of railway systems rather than a single station, or part of one. Currently the UK hobby seems to be concentrated on producing rather nice models of a specific location (be it real or imagined) rather than portraying how a chunk of the rail network works and interacts.


Those of you of a certain age, or more, will remember layouts like Jack Ray's Crewchester, Norman Eagles' Sherwood Section and Peter Denny's Buckingham - all of which were models of railway systems where trains went from place to place, in some cases with intermediate stops or alternative routes. Whilst the models were all individually built, rather than taken out of a box, none the less they weren't the stars of the show, instead they were just actors in the show that was operating the layout like the real thing.

Many people hold up John Ahern's Madder Valley, now preserved at Pendon Museum, as the first true scenic layout but overlook the fact that it was designed to be interesting to operate as well. The various industries gave a purpose to the freight movements and the various modelled communities gave a reason for the passenger operations.

The 'grand-daddy' of UK 4mm operations was Edward Beal. During the 50s and 60s he published a stream of articles and books about building 4mm models and how to use them to portray real operations. If you come across a copy of his book WEST MIDLAND: A Railway in Miniature I'd strongly advise sitting down with it. It is a fascinating read and whilst much of its content is dated it still provides much food for thought.


bealwm.jpg

 

 

Today we are fortunate in that we can sit at a computer screen and order finely-detailed locomotives that run smoothly, accurate coaches and freight wagons to a constant scale and scale miles of track at the wave of a plastic card. We can add virtually any type of scenic embellishment we like, all without raising a sweat if we so choose. So where are the operating empires of today? Where are the layouts with four or five stations with freight terminals, branches and visibly different types of traffic?

 

 

bealwm2.jpg



Maybe it is just me, but the layouts I remember reading about in my youth that left the biggest impression were not the large 'railway in a landscape' single (or no) station scenic spectaculars, but the ones that replicated a significant slice of railway. Good narrow gauge does this - after all you can model a whole line and often get the spectacular scenery thrown in, US outline layouts (in the US) have it down to a fine art. Perhaps it is time for a few more of us in the UK to think about using the current crop of ready-to-play products to create models railways rather than model stations?

Edited by ian
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3 hours ago, ian said:

Here's a little something I penned a decade or so ago. Still true:

 

Back in the days of yore there were model railways that put the emphasis on the railways rather than the model. This is something that is still big in the US - models of large sections of railway systems rather than a single station, or part of one. Currently the UK hobby seems to be concentrated on producing rather nice models of a specific location (be it real or imagined) rather than portraying how a chunk of the rail network works and interacts.


Those of you of a certain age, or more, will remember layouts like Jack Ray's Crewchester, Norman Eagles' Sherwood Section and Peter Denny's Buckingham - all of which were models of railway systems where trains went from place to place, in some cases with intermediate stops or alternative routes. Whilst the models were all individually built, rather than taken out of a box, none the less they weren't the stars of the show, instead they were just actors in the show that was operating the layout like the real thing.

Many people hold up John Ahern's Madder Valley, now preserved at Pendon Museum, as the first true scenic layout but overlook the fact that it was designed to be interesting to operate as well. The various industries gave a purpose to the freight movements and the various modelled communities gave a reason for the passenger operations.

The 'grand-daddy' of UK 4mm operations was Edward Beal. During the 50s and 60s he published a stream of articles and books about building 4mm models and how to use them to portray real operations. If you come across a copy of his book WEST MIDLAND: A Railway in Miniature I'd strongly advise sitting down with it. It is a fascinating read and whilst much of its content is dated it still provides much food for thought.


bealwm.jpg

 

 

Today we are fortunate in that we can sit at a computer screen and order finely-detailed locomotives that run smoothly, accurate coaches and freight wagons to a constant scale and scale miles of track at the wave of a plastic card. We can add virtually any type of scenic embellishment we like, all without raising a sweat if we so choose. So where are the operating empires of today? Where are the layouts with four or five stations with freight terminals, branches and visibly different types of traffic?

 

 

bealwm2.jpg



Maybe it is just me, but the layouts I remember reading about in my youth that left the biggest impression were not the large 'railway in a landscape' single (or no) station scenic spectaculars, but the ones that replicated a significant slice of railway. Good narrow gauge does this - after all you can model a whole line and often get the spectacular scenery thrown in, US outline layouts (in the US) have it down to a fine art. Perhaps it is time for a few more of us in the UK to think about using the current crop of ready-to-play products to create models railways rather than model stations?


Hi Ian, this could start quite a discussion!  Like yourself I guess, I grew up enthralled by the basement empires in my Dad’s American Model Railroader magazines.  Regular appearances by Peter Denny’s Buckingham in Railway Modeller, and Edward Beal books to read between the monthly digest of magazine articles, showed system layouts were possible in the UK (Beal I think used attic rooms for later versions of the West Midlands?).

 

I became interested in N-gauge, which also introduced me to European railways, and what I saw of Marklin, Faller, Fleischmann et al rather blew me away, but the prices were so far out of reach they stayed that way, for me at least.

 

I realised recently however that I never imagined back in those days that I wouldn’t one day build a big system layout - even in a space no bigger than 2’2” x 3’8” (in N Gauge) I was working on the beginnings of a system layout philosophy (there’s a copy of the track plan I had currently on the Track Planning Forum at the moment, here).  But when I go back and re-read those articles that so inspired me, I now notice how often these great modellers devoted years to getting to the point of having a system.  New layouts were a development of older ones (and reused a lot of bits in them).  And it was that long term vision that was the bit I missed.  And it was also why I wandered off and did other things for a few decades too.

 

So maybe the first step is to do what your thread title does - to reawaken the dreams, and start from there.  Keith.

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
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