Sunday, April 30, 2017

ET 420 312 (Maerklin 37501)

Maerklin's 37501 is a model of the ET 420/421 3-car unit as it ran at the start of the Stuttgart S-Bahn service in 1979. While I will set my planned rendition of the Murrbahn in 1972, the ET 420 will have a place on the layout and during operations. I spent way too much time in this train type during my college years to not model it.

I especially appreciated the pocket doors on the early train sets, which closed with a lovely "swooosh ... click" sound. The later series train sets used roller doors which closed with a "rrrrrrr BANG!", waking me up at every station stop. 10 times on the ride from Ludwigsburg to Stuttgart Vaihingen with a change of trains at Stadtmitte.
The roller doors replaced the pocket doors because the door pockets collected dust, grime, dirt, and in winter ice, making the doors prone to failure.

What did I do to myself ... ?

... Nothing yet, but this is going to be a fun exercise.

The challenge is to built T04 of the Wuerttembergische Eisenbahngesellschaft (weg), as it looked in the early 1970's. T04 is a diesel-propelled railcar built in 1926 and ran from 1954 until 1975 on the Kochertalbahn from Gaildorf West to Untergröningen. As such, it's a signature element of the Gaildorf West station on the Murrbahn.
Fun fact: Until its retirement in 2002 T04 was the oldest passenger equipment in regular revenue service in Germany. 

I ordered the kit from Lok Schlosserei, a small German company known for excellent brass kits. I've never built a brass kit like this before. Thankfully, the frame with wheel sets and motors comes pre-mounted ready to run, so I "just" need to build the body and the interior. This is going to take some time and I will take this slowly. ... Now I just need to work up the courage to start.

Friday, April 28, 2017


Franziska wanted to make Lasagna tonight. We winged it.
Behold! The first lasagna I participated in making with no other adult around.

It was surprisingly good...

Good Morning!

I just love the morning sun on the morning walks with our dog.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The next victim

Maerklin's 46301 "Schwenkdachwagen" Tdgs-z is a nice looking car, but suffers from two fatal flaws for my purposes. It's Epoch V (i.e. after the merger of DB and DR to DB AG), and my layout is set in Epoch IV.
And the color. No life and looks totally plastic.  Which it is, of course.

These cars were used for transporting a variety of aggregate goods that should not get wet while in transit such as grain, sugar, or limestone. The roof swings open to the side for easy loading. The cars are unloaded using the chutes on the side. Since such cars are still quite new in the 1970's,  I'm planning to apply only light weathering, as well as some dirt and rain effect.

To fix the epoch, I will replace the DB AG logo with the Deutsche Bundesbahn "DB cookie". Since I have two cars, one will get a different number as well. I'm not planning to do other fixups, such as inspection dates. They are barely readable with a magnifying glass, it's not worth the trouble.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


I had to drive to the office during commute hours today. A mere 22 miles took me over 1.5 hours.
I hate driving in stop-and-go traffic.
However, what put a smile on my face was the music selection on Radio Paradise and the license plate of the car in front of me.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Banana Slug

Lots of Banana Slugs at Butano State Park.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Poppies on the Patio

Taking a moment to enjoy the patio and backyard.

Monday, April 17, 2017

California Poppies

On the way from the bus stop to my desk right next to the side walk. In the photo you can't see the parking lot just outside the frame to the right, nor the street to the left.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


Fresh strawberries in puff pastry, and coffee with trains.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Coyote Creek

Coyote Creek at Bernal Road still carries a lot more water than normal as the water district draws down the water level at Anderson Lake. A year ago the creek bed was almost completely dry. It will be interesting to see how this changes over the next few months.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

It's a "Winter Storm"

We don't have these ominous clouds hanging over the valley that often. Blue skies and sunshine all day long is much more common. I enjoy the clouds and the light on the hills when we have it. The light was gone a minute later, so you get to see it with ... ahem ... the not so interesting foreground scenery.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Fallen Tree

More fallout from the rainy season. Tree roots along soaked creek embankments are weakened. Add some wind like we had over the weekend and the whole tree topples over.
Coyote Creek Trail between Silver Creek Valley Rd and Silicon Valley Blvd.

Fancy Bread Pudding

I wonder what happened in the pastry kitchen this morning ... 
"That cinnamon dulce bread pudding looks boring. What can we do to make it look more interesting? ... Uuuh, I know! Gold!"
Occasionally, they add flower buds, too.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Swiss Narrow Gauge Operations at Hiller Aviation Museum

Just as in previous years there are several modular model train layouts on display at Hiller Aviation Museum the week before Easter. David invited me to help operate the swiss narrow gauge layout I wrote a post about a couple years ago. An opportunity I didn't want to miss!

Shortly after I showed up and David had shown me around the layout, I sat down at my assigned position at Chamby station.

This is a truly gorgeous module representing a small station near Montreux in the swiss alps.

The combination of trains and planes is cool.

The crew rotated positions every now and then, so I got to run the staging yard for a while, as well as man Surava station.

Update 2017/04/10:
David took this action shot of me at the controls of the staging yard. Yes, I'm having fun.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Sunol Regional Wilderness

Today we went on a stroll to the Little Yosemite Area at Sunol Regional Wilderness. The place was packed. Either because it was mentioned in today's San Jose Mercury News, or simply because it was such a nice spring day. Either way, the falls are an easy hike from the parking lot on a dirt road. Taking a photo without people here was a challenge...

The Alameda Creek watershed above Little Yosemite Falls had a lot less people and is beautiful. Especially with the abundant water we have right now.

We cooled our feet and took the Canyon View Trail back to the parking lot. The trail along the edge of the canyon and over the hills is a lot nicer than the dirt road, and less people, too.