Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Kurve: Connecting Slim Staging and Untergroeningen (3)

I mentioned yesterday that I'm reusing old track for this project. That includes the turnout which was involved in some surgery several years ago. Then I needed the turnout to be shorter. Now I needed it to be longer. The solution was to cut away more of the turnout ties, and modify a piece of flex track to fit. The Dremel got quite a workout here until everything fit together. It's not perfect, but good enough for now. Operations with real trains will show if I need to put more work into this.

All the track planned for this module is spiked down. I do have to find a bumper for the sawmill spur on the right.

All the wiring is done, too. Almost ready for Phase 1 to be operational.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Kurve: Connecting Slim Staging and Untergroeningen (2)

Today I turned my attention back to Kurve. I continued arranging track on the transition segment I started yesterday, and connected the segment to the larger box.

Kurve is a fairly large module. The extension segment is removable, so that it fits under the Welztalbahn for storage.

I continued to lay out the curve towards the Untergroeningen side and cut the curve piece I removed from the Welztalbahn last April so that the turnout comes off the curve at an angle that allows a gentle counter-curve to the edge. Except for the three 2241 curves I'm reusing track from other projects.

The roadbed is installed and painted. I'm done for tonight.

Sim Staging: Tracks Down and Wired

I glued the servo mounts under the yard throat and aligned the servos to their respective throws. Next up was aligning the track at the Fremo-Puko modular faceplate to the Kurve module which doesn't have a laser-cut faceplate.

I turned Slim Staging around, and started laying track.

Done. The two outer tracks have just under 60 inches usable length. The two inner tracks even 65 inches, which is well beyond the ruling Welztalbahn train length of 45 inches.

I finished wiring power for the tracks in the morning.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Point Lobos Bliss

Hanging out on the coast at Point Lobos.
There were tons of people here and we didn't stay long, but the view was worth the hassle.

We finished the day at Carmel River State Beach.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Slim Staging: Turnout control

I'm using Micro RC-Servos for turnout control in Slim Staging.  The hook reaches into the Maerklin throwbar from underneath the layout. This technique does not require any modifications to the turnout. The servo is screwed to a wooden base which I will glue under the module. This allows me to replace the servo if needed, hopefully without much realignment work. I'm considering using the same approach for Gaildorf/West, hence this is my experimental setup before I splurge on the electronics for the much larger station.

A little while later I had fabricated the needed turnout throws. The zig-zag is important for small adjustments of length and to protect the turnout throw if the servo ever loses its programming.

I connected the power module and test drove a servo with the Tam Valley Depot QuadLN_S decoder. The Remote Aligner is really neat, even though it's overkill for this use case.

I'm thinking about building a small control panel for the yard including route control through the turnout ladder and turnout position indicators, if I can manage. However, for now I'll start with simple toggle switches to get the yard into a functional state.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas

Welztalbahn 2019 - Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year

... and a Happy New Year.

This year I started on a substantial modular adventure, extending the Welztalbahn into the garage. I'm following the Draft FREMO Puko module standard, converted Peco turnouts for use with Maerklin rolling stock, and started building a length-compressed rendition of Untergroeningen station. I did more research into freight operations at Deutsche Bundesbahn in the 1970's and gave a talk at Eurowest.
Of course, I also participated in operations sessions at Silicon Valley Lines, La Mesa, Cumberland West, and in Germany.

A busy year.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Und ich wandre aus den Mauern
Bis hinaus in’s freie Feld,
Hehres Glänzen, heil’ges Schauern!
Wie so weit und still die Welt!
Joseph von Eichendorff 

Kurve: Thoughts on Scenery

Kurve: Scenery outline
When I planned the arrangement in the garage, module "Kurve" was intended as a temporary filler module that would eventually be thrown out and halfway through its lifetime would even see a substantial reconfiguration. Hence I planned to keep it flat, maybe paint it brown and call it a day.

However -- as usual -- once the module existed and I connected it to the Untergroeningen module my brain brought earlier thoughts back to the surface. Which areas of the module would be untouched during the reconfiguration? Can I do something "interesting" with the extra space I created by accident? Do I really need to keep this a straight track and a curve as in the plan? ... Can I arrange tracks so that the module fits both locations, and reconfiguration becomes unnecessary? Since it is still a throw-away module what new techniques can I try with it?

After an hour moving tracks around on the module and playing with the track planning software, I came to an arrangement that brings all ideas together with some compromises.

Kurve: Arrangement in Phase 1 of Welztalbahn Extension
I introduced a turnout. That allowed me to create two spur tracks to the sides of the module. During Phase 1, Spur 1 will be used as loading track of a sawmill, while Spur 2 is the mainline track connecting to Untergroeningen (shown on the left in the photo above). In Phase 2, Spur 1 will become the mainline track completing a 180 degree turnback curve from staging to Gaildorf/West. If this paragraph doesn't make sense to you, dear reader, take a look at this post from October that gives an overview of what I'm planning to do here.

Kurve: Arrangement in Phase 2 of Welztalbahn extension
I really liked the wide curve that I had planned for Kurve in Phase 1. I even named the module for it. The compromise is to use a 55cm radius curve instead of a 61cm radius curve, and combine that with a tight 42.5cm curve to forming Spur 1. The turnout sits at a 15 degree angle to allow a visually appealing curvature of Spur 2 to the left edge of the module with a large radius curve. 

From a scenery perspective the module is rather flat on the left-hand side and develops into a hillside on the right-hand side. A cut, flanked by step sides maybe with rock outcroppings and bushes, carries the track into staging.

While the track connections on the module edge will follow the FREMO-Puko norm, the radius of track is much too tight to be useful in larger arrangements, not that anyone in my vicinity is building Maerklin compatible modules with single track mainline -- if you do, we should talk! However, maybe I will find additional uses for this module. In any case, this is a good opportunity for experiments.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Kurve: Connecting Slim Staging and Untergroeningen

For Phase 1 of the Welztalbahn extension, the plan includes a fairly large module that spans the work table in the garage and connects Untergroeningen to the Staging Yard module along the garage door. In Phase 2, after Gaildorf/West station exists, the module would be moved and rebuilt to connect Gaildorf/West to the Staging Yard.

I'm calling this large module "Kurve" (curve). I had cut the plywood for the module in October when I started building Slim Staging and built most of the box yesterday. Unfortunately, the sides had warped and it took some effort to align them into their respective proper place.

The box needs legs, so I built pockets that allow clamping a leg at any height within a range of about 2 inches. I also added height adjustable feet to the legs, just in case.

As always, the idea is to make adjustments without tools as much as possible. I'm using bolts and wing nuts to hold everything in place. The leg pockets are a bit longer than the module sides to allow for more height adjustment range.

Putting it all together: Kurve set up and leveled.

Untergroeningen Segment 1 is attached between the stationary segments 2 and 3, and Kurve in the background.

While looking at what I had, I had an idea that would divert from the original plan a bit: Add a turnout and build the tracks needed for both Phase 1 and Phase 2 now. The respective unused track is another industry to be serviced from one of the surrounding stations.

Now I just need to figure out whether the track and module geometry will actually work for either arrangement. While looking at the plan more closely, I realized that I had accidentally built Kurve wider than planned, since the plywood on the top actually had not been cut to the intended size yet. Whoops. Thankfully it's only 4 inches too wide and should still fit for Phase 2.

Here's an illustration how the connection from Kurve to Slim Staging will line up with the garage infrastructure in Phase 1. All of this is modular and will be set up only when I'm planning to run an operations session.

Friday, December 20, 2019

FREMO-Treffen St. Valentin in Eisenbahn Romantik

A very nice report about a FREMO meet in St. Valentin, Austria, celebrating 10 years of FREMO-E. A modular arrangement with 400 meters of mainline with catenary (!)

Adventures in Old Freight Paperwork: Germany, Car 841 3032-9 Bremerhaven - Berlin

I received some original paperwork that came off a freight car numbered 841 3032-9 in Berlin-Lichterfelde West in the summer of 1980.

According to the number range table in Stefan Carstens' book "Gueterwagen Band 1", car number 841 3 032-9 is UIC type Ichs377. It's an insulated refrigerator car (I), with meat hooks (c), heavy insulation (h), and permitted to run at speeds of up to 100 km/h (s). Deutsche Bundesbahn apparently had 29 of these cars.
According to "Gueterwagen Band 2", these cars were introduced in 1956 as German class Tmehs50 with electrical heating and steam heating for use in passenger trains. In 1968, the cars were relabeled to UIC class Ichqrs377. Later, the heating connections -- (q)=electrical, (r)=steam -- were removed, and the cars became class Ichs377. The last cars went out of service in 1985. This was a common car in the 60's and 70's for transporting goods that needed to be kept frozen.

I have a couple of these cars in service on the Welztalbahn. The Maerklin model of this car is a bit shortened and lacks the fine details of other models, but gives an idea what the car looked like.

The trip I'd like to focus on for the rest of this post started on July 29th, 1980 in Bremerhaven-Geestemünde, where car 841 3032-9 was cleaned inside out. This was recorded with a "Gewaschen"-Zettel on the car.

The next day, car 841 3032-9 was spotted at the Transthermos icing facility in Geestemünde. The loading doors to the ice bunkers at the ends of the car were opened and water ice loaded. Overnight, the car was put on a transfer run to Bremerhaven-Kaiserhafen and spotted at the Frigus cold storage facility on the banks of the Weser river, so that it was ready for loading by 6:00am on July 31st. By that time the ice loaded the previous day had cooled the car down to about 4 degree Celsius.

Frigus cold storage was built in 1920 and was powered by a huge steam engine. KKA has an interesting article about the facility, including photos of the building and the cooling machinery. By 1980, Frigus was used by the U.S. Army for transloading frozen meat from ships into train cars.

Here is the Hauptzettel, moving the loaded car to Berlin. The car weighs 14 tons. It's loaded with 11 tons of meat, for a total weight of 25 tons. The car is treated as a regular freight car, but gets special routing in the vicinity of Bremerhaven, hence the use of Hauptzettel for "Sonderplanwagen".

The car is switched from the Frigus facility to transfer run 66497 Bremerhaven-Kaiserhafen to Bremerhaven-Lehe. In Lehe, the car is put on train 38045. Note how the names of cities are stamped onto the Hauptzettel.

At first I thought that the car would simply enter the regular car routing system of Deutsche Bundesbahn. Maybe be routed from Lehe to Bremen Rbf and on to the border at Helmstedt via Braunschweig. However, upon further reflection that doesn't make much sense. The Allied Forces occupied Germany. This was a movement to resupply military installations in technically enemy country. It was important to protect military supply lines. The 38... number range was used for military movements. Hence 38045 was likely Dm38045 and ran directly from Bremerhaven-Lehe to Berlin Lichterfelde West as "Interzonenzug". It was not integrated with regular car routing.

There were also regular military passenger movements between West Germany and Berlin. Germans were not allowed to use these military trains. Verbotene Zuege has more information.

Here is some additional paperwork. As I pointed out earlier this car was loaded in a facility used by the U.S. Army. I'm not sure what the purpose of this sheet is and whether it traveled with the Hauptzettel on the car or was kept with waybills. The form shows weight information, origin and destination, as well as where the car enters the GDR on it's way to Berlin: Helmstedt. The car was sealed while in transit, and was to be delivered to TSA EURSO BERLIN WK4TC8 . Maybe one of my American friends with army background can make more sense of this.

From 1947 to 1994 Berlin Lichterfelde West station was used by the Berlin Brigade of the U.S. Army for military traffic with West Germany. 

Once again, this was a fun exercise and I learned quite a few things just from trying to understand almost 40 year old paperwork. 

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Third Sunday of Advent

An den Fenstern haben Frauen
buntes Spielzeug fromm geschmückt,
Tausend Kindlein stehn und schauen,
sind so wunderstill beglückt.
- Joseph von Eichendorff

Thursday, December 12, 2019


I got to the airport a bit early and hung out in the quite comfy living room style waiting area at Paine Field. As is appropriate for the time of year, it has been raining pretty much all day.

The inbound flight for AS2742 is 20 minutes delayed. Let's see how quickly they'll turn it around and get us going towards SJC. Looks like we'll be almost on time by the time we get to California.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Room with a View

My hotel room has an excellent view of the transit hub in downtown Kirkland.
Sadly, only busses stop here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Eastside Trains

I've been visiting Kirkland for business on and off for close to 15 years now. A stop at Eastside Trains is on the schedule if I could manage.


Let's try Everett Paine Field for a change for this trip to the Seattle area. Due to overcast skies there was some really weird light over Seattle during the approach to Paine Field.

Mukilteo from above with the ferry to Whidbey Island, the BNSF mainline to Vancouver, the Sounder station next to the under construction new ferry terminal, some airplane parts freight cars on the siding at the station, and the curve to the steep incline leading up to the Boeing factory at Paine Field. For safety, the tracks to Boeing require locomotives specially equipped for operating on steep grades. As far as I remember, at least an additional independent brake system.

Arrival at gate 2, one of the two gates at Everett airport.

What a cute and comfortable airport terminal.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Something New

I'm trying out something different: Building a car kit. This is Bowser #60205, 70 ton wood chip hopper with extension. This is an easy build out of the box, and it comes with metal wheels and knuckle couplers. I'm considering replacing the molded ladders with finer metal wire, and then apply some weathering.

Second Sunday of Advent

Markt und Straßen stehn verlassen,
Still erleuchtet jedes Haus,
Sinnend geh’ ich durch die Gassen,
Alles sieht so festlich aus.
- Joseph von Eichendorff

Roller Stand Case (2)

I built a case for my KPF Zeller roller stand earlier this year from 5mm MDF. Today I added miniature hinges, clasps, and a carrying handle so that I can store the roller stand away from my work bench when it's not in use.