Ron’s Rambles #2

More of Ron’s pictures, this time from Leipzig.  First, the railways.  Seeing the ‘McCafe’ reminds me that the inventor of the Big Mac died this week, age 93.  Perhaps he never ate his own invention to get to that age!  How do you invent a burger?  The paper said that the original version didn’t have that piece of bread between the two bits of meat, and it was too ‘sloppy’.  My (not altogether limited) experiences that all bits of a Big Mac slide in all directions even with the bread divider.





Then the trams.  Attractive designs, with an equally attractive livery…..




And finally, the markets.  That reminds me, better start shopping.  And very soon Maxine will say to me, ‘Isn’t it time WE wrote the Christmas cards’, meaning, ‘It’s time YOU got on with it’….




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Ron’s Rambles #1

A new contributor to the blog for the next couple of days – Ron Dawes, brother of Allan.  Ron is on safari in deepest Germany, around Leipzig and Hanover, I think, visiting an eclectic mix of Christmas markets and stations.  So welcome, Ron, and thanks for the photographs!

We start on the Harz metre gauge lines – at least I think that’s where Ron is looking on the map!



My German is so good that I thought ‘Gleis’ is a place – not Platform 1.  I do like the trains, but Ron is welcome to the weather.  Is there on a Christmas market in June for me?



What a handsome brute – of a loco, I mean….


The Harz website is an interesting read.  The key figures it gives are:

  • 25 steam locomotives
  • 16 diesel engines
  • 48 train stations
  • 140.4 km of tracks
  • 1,000 mm gauge network

An extensive system, as this map shows:


Next three shots from a ‘cold and damp’ Goslar.


Ron must have been shivering taking this one – or perhaps it was late afternoon and just getting dark!


I like the semaphore signal still in use.


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ESNG meeting – 1 December 2016

Well, it was the post-Stuttgart blues tonight.  The Cha(I)rman was at home, suffering from the pre-Christmas milk round blues.  By 7:45pm, the three of us who were there were seriously considering going home.  We did have a look at Martin’s N-club Ford layout, to see how we could get rid of the high points causing occasional derailments and decoupling.  But two more arrived, then a couple more, so we quickly put up a small circuit and got things running.

Running was a bit erratic at first, till we cleaned the track.  After all, the layout had more running time at Stuttgart, than for the rest of the year here in the UK.  Only the one train in the fiddle yard so far, but Graham is looking to get something going….


Paul had a Japanese breakdown train in action….


My birthday present (today).  A bargain from Rails of Sheffield, and I took the opportunity to run it in.  I do like the bright National Coal Board livery, and it would look great heavily weathered, but it is earmarked for a coat of black paint and side-skirts (in the post from Etched Pixels) to be a Wisbech and Upwell tram locomotive.  And possible reworked windows if I am feeling brave!


Rather like this, in 1966….


Derek was running one of Martin’s old trains, a Farish class 40 and sleeping car train.  A lovely model, although the new Farish 40 due out next year will be even better, at least from the photos of the model to date.




And on a different note, what did I do right last month?  Same old rubbish witty comments on modelling and railways in general, but nearly 3,000 reads, 50% more than usual!  No answers, please, and no doubt December will be a disaster, since pride cometh before a fall…..


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Back to my childhood haunts

The day before going to Stuttgart, Maxine and I had the privilege of going to the wedding of a Chinese friend of ours.  An interesting experience, with the church service in Mandarin, translated back into English for the few English guests.  At one point, the translator slipped up and translated Mandarin into Mandarin, to everyone’s amusement.  It was also a fun afternoon, perhaps made more relaxed by all four parents still being in China.  And the reception had a lot of very good oriental food!!!


But the real, railway, point of this post is that the wedding was held in Petts Wood, 2o miles from our home, and where I was brought up from the age of two until after university.  I had never been inside the Methodist Church, but it is just next to the shops and Petts Wood station, one of my early trainspotting locations.

Petts Wood was built as a temporary wooden station by the (real) Southern Railway in the 1930’s, as the suburbs, and electrification, spread out from central London.  The station has never been rebuilt, although the goods yard has disappeared under a supermarket.  In the photograph below, the footbridge is just as I remember it (but it was SR green), as is the right hand half of the building.  The station has, however, been extended to the left, and more than doubled in size beyond the footbridge.


Looking up towards London and Chiselhurst Junction, a major junction where the 4-track Victoria-Kent Coast Lines are crossed by the 4-track Charing Cross-Tonbridge lines.  This gives Petts Wood excellent links to all the southern London Termini – Victoria, Charing Cross, Cannon Street, Holborn Viaduct, Waterloo (Eastern) and London Bridge (Eastern).  I remember the ‘new’ footbridge being constructed in the 1960’s.


Looking towards Orpington, the station has hardly changed, apart from the platform furniture and the paintwork.


A South-Eastern ‘Networker’ approaches on a through working.  In my day, the staple diet was 4EPB and 2EPB suburban EMU’s, and 4CEP fast workings.  Treats if you were patient were 6-car Hastings DEMU’s, and twice a day the ‘Golden Arrow’.  I can remember seeing it head south as I came home from infants school for lunch – must have been a Britannia Pacific on the front, but it was still worth spotting in later years with a Class 71 Bo-Bo electric on the front.  A limited amount of goods traffic and engineers trains passed through in off-peak hours.


Finally, a view of the shopping street.  In one sense hardly changed from the 1930’s, with the ‘Brewers Tudor’ shops.  But none of the shops seem to be as they were in the 1960’s.  Food shops have disappeared – replaced by the supermarkets – and there are a lot of restaurants and beauty salons, and ‘Card Factory’ and ‘Costa Coffee’.  An interesting social comment on changing times!


All in all, it was a very pleasant afternoon, attending an excellent wedding and stirring up a few old memories.

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Stuttgart 2016 #3 – Other views

A final post from Stuttgart (unless anyone else sends me some photographs.)  Just a random selection, once again, of scenes that caught my eye.

The Hungarian branch of INGA-net attended the meet for the first time, and their simple, single track, oval, set at high level, was very impressive.  Their grass and embankment slopes were some of the best small scale undergrowth that I have seen….





The German N-Trak group had some contrasting, but still impressive, USA cityscapes on show….


The next few are a random selection from a variety of modules….







Two ways to fill an end loop.  I still can’t work out what is meant to be happening in the first scene.  The second is a very nicely observed nature reserve, with a board-walk and wetland for twitchers birdwatchers.



Finally three views of a fully-lit town and station…..




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Stuttgart 2016 #2 – ESNG at play

The ESNG contribution looked, in part, much as a normal club night, with a procession of trains of varying parentage taking to the tracks.  The Farish Blue Pullman deserves a mention as it ran faultlessly for all four days.


‘ERIC’ went Network Southeast for the show, giving Sean an opportunity to show off all his models.  The stripy blue livery was one of the better on to grace UK rails in recent years, although it was possibly subliminal advertisement for a well known brand of toothpaste.  We cheated a bit and split up the multiple units to fill two of the roundhouse tracks….




After the 4-track N-mod sections, the main line dropped to N-club 2-track modules.  Martin’s model of Ford station is a nicely compressed model of a real location on the south coast, and the Gaugemaster shop can be seen in the background.  Last year, we found that the dummy outside 3rd rail was set a little high and tended to lift locomotives off the track.  That was solved, but this year we found a few dips in the trackwork that need attention.


The modular setup was in the form of a U, with 4-track N-mod along one side, 2-track N-club along the end, and then 2-track N-club fronting the Konigshaven layout along the other leg of the U.  Konigshaven exhibited at Stuttgart 10 years ago, and the owners took the opportunity for a 10th anniversary return.  All ran well for all four days, a complement to the builders of what is now a 20-year old layout.  The only disaster was a train of wagons that found their way to the floor.  Fortunately most survived, and the others can be renovated with new bogies.



Thursday night was, as usual, lock-in party night at the show venue, with each club bringing national food (and drink).  Here’s the ESNG contribution with items such as clotted crème scones, a range of British cheeses, and delicacies such as Walkers Crisps, mince pies and Twiglets.


And of course the ever popular barrel of Sussex bitter.  The club members are shown in characteristic poses (sorry about the fade in the photos – my phone couldn’t cope with such photogenic objects….)





Back at the show, one stand had a series of amazing dioramas, including this one of the Tour de France.  I just don’t know how many figures were used in this wonderful model….




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Stuttgart 2016 #1 – Stuttgart itself

Last week, ESNG completed its annual pilgrimage to the Stuttgart N-Club meet and show.  I went for the full four days this year, for the first time.  My impressions of the whole thing – four days is great fun, but not twice as good as two days (work that one out if you can) – and that the full show is exhausting.  I did very little on Monday, the day after I got back.  A model railway show doesn’t seem hard work, but you’re always active, operating and just putting things back on the track.

We also had plenty of discussions as to ESNG’s direction, but more of that another time.

Of course, one benefit of spending four days in Stuttgart was the chance to take a train down town, and see the town centre for the first time in seven years!  So we’ll start this year’s review with a few photographs of the real thing.  The views from the observation platform on the top of  the station tower are excellent – despite the rain.


The station roof is in the foreground, and the temporary platform access is to the right.


All this station area shown here, leading off to the carriage and loco yards in the far centre distance are being abandoned and redeveloped.  Trains will still run through this location though.  The station is being rebuilt underground and at 90 degrees to the existing station, so that through trains will not have to reverse when they stop at Stuttgart.  The magnitude of the project is gigantic, and will free up great areas for development and park land through the crowded river valley.  Perhaps we should have done something similar at London Bridge?  But the planning enquiries would have gone on for ever…..


In the Stuttgart show there was part of a model of the Stuttgart station as it was 20 years ago.  The owner had been building the layout for 30 years or so, and had recently died, leaving his layout to the Stuttgart club.  They managed to get part of the layout out of its room into the Messe for its first public showing ever.


All the good sidings and sheds in the background below have already been redeveloped – look at the trainspotter’s photographs that follow.



Meanwhile, back in the station, Allan, Derek and I went and stood on the end of the platform to watch the trains.  Plenty of movement to see, though being a Saturday, it wasn’t worth a trip to another station to look for goods.

These first two photos, of the same scene, are interesting in how identical reds have come out differently in photographs taken within seconds of each other.



Push-pull sets waiting to depart.  Note the redevelopment in the background….


A former East German loco and double-deck stock.  Again, interesting to see how the red loco has faded in colour…..



The station control centre….


Black is the new red…..


An ICE3 enters the platform….


And an view of the link between units.  Just like Kato…..


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