Saturday, June 08, 2019

Annweiler'19 Fremo-Puko meet

While Maerklin-compatible modular arrangements have been around for quite some time, over the last few years a group formed with the goal of bringing Fremo-style operations to 3-rail modular arrangements. Based on the Fremo HO norm, the Fremo-Puko norm was finalized in 2013 with many recommendations and a minimal set of requirements. (This Stummiforum thread gives a nice overview). I have been experimenting with Fremo-Puko modules so when I heard that there was going to be a meet of like-minded people in Annweiler am Trifels, I made arrangements to be there.

The event took place in the gym of the local elementary school, with more than enough space for the module arrangement. The modules were a mix of MIST55 and Fremo-Puko modules.

One of the operational center points of the arrangement was the terminal station Ramstein where I had the pleasure to run the station switcher for a while. I also ran the yard switcher in nearby Pfaffwerk during another session. The schedule was sufficiently complex to keep operators on their toes. A busy double-track mainline ran from Ramstein to Nord Staging. There was also a branch line connecting to Quetschebach.

Going to modular meets is a fantastic way to get to know more people with similar interests and I always find new ideas and inspiration. A good example is the row of houses in the front of above photo. They are set on the edge of the module with only the sidewalk before the "abyss". The lively scenes modeled here combined with the grey of the module sides make you forget that the road is not modeled at all.

The rear of the houses evokes the feeling of drab backyards facing the tracks that is so common around the prototype. Despite all this layering the scene doesn't consume much space.

Ramstein has five passenger tracks with an additional module under construction that will expand the station to 8 tracks.

There is a large engine facility next to the passenger station with full service facilities for steam and diesel locomotives. Rarely do model railroads show properly sized coal bunkers like this.

Behind the Betriebswerk is the central part of town.

Pfaffwerk is a rather large industry kit-bashed from several boxes of the well-known Kibri kit. However, the real fun part of this module is the hump yard on the opposite side of track used for classifying cars. While we didn't use the large hump and had to give the freight cars a light push, humping cars with the switcher set at speed step 1 felt quite right and was fun.

The Schwarzenberg modules with the narrow-gauge "Lorenbahn" are very nicely done and come with  maerklinized Code 83 Weinert track. The narrow gauge is operational and a joy to watch as it slowly makes its way from the loading area to the ore mine and back.

A confirmation that very high quality modeling with good-looking track is achievable with pukos, too.

Another module I've been following on Stummiforum not only has beautiful track work and effective scenery, but is tricked out with invisible optional mounting positions for catenary masts and a signal mast.

The masts are built into an aluminum U-profile and slide into another profile that's mounted inside the module.

Here's the module with the catenary masts popped into place. "That's where the mounting position for the signal mast is located."

Otterbach station has the generously spacious rural look and feel I'm after for my rendition of Gaildorf/West. Very inspirational to see this.

Awanst Niederweilbach is another module I've seen online before seeing it in person here. Clearly exceeding expectations. The gravel is loaded for real, so engineers better don't have an accident with that train.

Overall, a fun weekend in super-friendly company. This time I was able to stay until the end and help with teardown. It's fascinating to see how within a couple hours a large layout turns into boxes and crates that are rolled out of the gym to waiting cars and trailers.

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