Saturday, May 27, 2017

FREMO FiNescale Meet in Waiblingen

It's the weekend of the spring FREMO FiNescale meet in Waiblingen, Germany, and I happen to be visiting my parents this week. A lucky coincidence. I was able to join the meet for a day. The gym is a good size, 3 standard basketball courts side-by-side. There were two module arrangements, a large FiNescale arrangement with Belgian and German modules with operations across the border, as well as a Fremo N-RE arrangement operating a rather dense branch line schedule.

Fremo arrangements are operated with scheduled trains following prototype practices and a fast clock. The schedule is created for each meet based on the modules that have signed up. Here's an example schedule from a few years ago.

I spent most of the day operating on the FiNescale arrangement. My first assignment was a railbus out of Wasserburg am InN. The module is an exact to scale rendition of the Wasserburg/Stadt station, obviously a work in progress, but looking great already and it operates well, too. A little while later I brought a local passenger train back to Wasserburg.

Engineers work with the local station personnel to decide what to do with trains that end at the station. For stations with no local personnel, you do what makes sense, e.g. in this case, I knew from the schedule that there will be a local passenger train from Wasserburg back to Testa soonish, so I ran the engine around the cars, got water, and readied the train for departure before I called this assignment done.

By the luck of the draw, all my assignments in the morning session were passenger trains. Here's the long distance passenger train from Schwenkheim to Montzen leaving Waimes on the Belgian part of the arrangement.

In the afternoon session I picked up a local freight on the Belgian side of the layout and got lost switching cars at the Splitveld factory complex. What a treat!

Beautiful track work is a given on a FiNescale layout, but this maze of switches blew me away.

To reach facing point industries, a local switcher can be used to shuffle cars to the right places. I blew way beyond my scheduled one hour (fast time) stop here and left Splitveld 3 hours late. Yes, I spent almost an hour real time here.

Almost done. Just need to deliver the apples to the packing house.
At Waimes I picked up a couple more cars, and ran the locomotive around the train. Ready for departure to Montzen staging. Note how the slight curve of the tracks really adds to the realism.

Rosenheim station is built to work with N-scale and FiNescale.

I usually operate in HO, so going down to N was a bit of a challenge. However, the real operations challenge with FiNescale are the magnetic field couplers. Thankfully, Jens and Gerd made me practice before the day began for real. Couplers in FiNescale closely resemble the standard European prototype coupler. A magnet is used to direct a finely etched loop over the scale-sized coupling hook.

N-scale cars are small, the grey box is a strong magnet to align the coupler loop between the two coal gondolas
A coupling loop hangs from the hook at the gondola on the right.
Note how this approach allows for fully detailed coupler bar and buffers that are actually used when pushing cars during operations
As the day went on, the sun was shining directly into the gym leading to some very nice light and shadow effects on the layout. I tried to capture the atmosphere mostly on the Stork module, which was basked in light for a while so I could capture several different trains there without holding up traffic too much.

Cars in Montzen staging
The local freight in Stork, shortly before Montzen staging
A VT12.5 in Stork
A Belgian Nohab locomotive ("Kartoffelkaefer") in Stork with a passenger local
My last train of the day, a Belgian railbus near Splitveld

This was a lot of fun. I enjoyed the company and the opportunity to try something different.

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