The Modellbahntreff Diaries

The Modellbahntreff Diary (cont'd)

Day 2:  The first day of the Modellbahntreff

The bells of an Esslingen cathedral brought me out of a sound sleep at seven, and less than twenty minutes later I was enjoying a wonderful breakfast of German cheeses, sausage and smoked ham, hard-boiled eggs, still warm in their insulated "cozies", and best of all, Brötchen (rolls) still warm from the bakery. I savored every bite, and I wasn't the only one. This was Carol's first visit to Europe, and Stretch was quick to point out the difference between an American continental breakfast and a German one.

The view (no kidding!) from my hotel room window...

When we had filled ourselves to the gills, we headed off to the train station. The sun was bright and the temperatures were climbing into the high seventies, so Stretch and I were in shorts. With our backpacks over our backs the three of us made the short walk to the Esslingen station. We stood admiring the passing traffic and were delighted to see the "Idee und Spiel" engine flash by on its way to Göppingen. A BR294 was shunting in Esslingen's freight yard, which distracted us until our Regional Express arrived to take us to Göppingen. 

Click here for a short video of the "Idee und Spiel" BR152 flashing through Esslingen

The train was quite full, with bicyclists and "Wanderer" (hikers) taking full advantage of the warm, sunny weather, not to mention the scores of train enthusiasts on their way to the Treff. We pulled into Göppingen at 10:00 a.m., an hour after the show had opened, to find the platforms already crowded and the sidings filled with rolling stock. A trio of 60's era passenger cars sat across from us on track 7, complete with a (repainted in blue) Kakadu dining car. Across the way on track 3 sat the BR75 of the Ulmer Eisenbahnfreunde, having recently returned from its overhaul in Meiningen, and certified for another ten years of service. The DB had brought an ICE3 to track 2, which unfortunately served to block the gathering of special trains and cars on track 1. Hidden from view were the Prussian P8 and the Idee und Spiel engine. The BR01, BR 103 and Rheingold S3/6 had yet to make their journeys to the show, but were scheduled to arrive later that morning. A ways up the line sat a pair of Reichsbahn V60's, one of which was making runs up and down the Göppingen station area with its cab full of delighted youngsters.

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The V60s, still in regular service today...

Uli Schweickhardt had asked me to drop off some brochures at the Hohenstaufenhalle, the hall containing the H.O. rolling stock, so I wasted no time and boarded the bus to that hall. Stretch and Carol joined me. We arrived at the hall to find quite a line of patrons out front, but the line moved quickly and it wasn't long before we were inside the tremendous hall, looking down on the mass of layouts, booths, and people below. I realized quite quickly that the hall was simply too crowded to tape in, so I stowed the video camera. Historically, the Treff is emptier on Sundays, so I decided to film on Sunday and enjoyed what I could of the hall before it was time to return to Göppingen station. The "lady of the hour" was to arrive shortly before noon, and I was not going to miss that!

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Some pictures of the rolling stock at Göppingen station

Instead of standing with the crowds on the platform, I took off down the road next to the station towards Plochingen to find a better, less crowded vantage point for my videotaping. Marklin and the DB did a great job in printing out the arrival and departure schedules for the special trains, so I had a rough idea of what was arriving when, and after asking a question or two, I knew from which direction. If all went well, I would be able to tape the return of the BR75 and its excursion train, then have time to find a good vantage point to film the S3/6 and Rheingold consist, both of which were coming from direction Stuttgart. I had time, and ended up walking nearly two miles out of town, past the Marklin factory (the *real* factory) and to a spot where I could see the tracks from Stuttgart clearly. 

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The "real" Marklin factory, just west of downtown Göppingen

No sooner had I gotten the camera out of the backpack when the BR75, thunderboxes in tow, appeared in the distance. Huffing and chuffing, the train passed me on its way up towards Göppingen. I had a decent perch for the video camera, and filmed her go by. 

Here is the video of the BR75 passing outside of Göppingen

Content, I picked up my gear and headed back the way I had come, towards a pedestrian bridge some distance from the station. When I arrived I realized that I was not the only one with the idea, and there were three photographers already planted on the bridge, tripods out, cameras at the ready. I set up next to the group, and we waited. Like Captain Ahab when he hears "Thar she blows!", my heart pounded when one of the photographers called out, "There she is!" Sure enough, his telephoto lens had picked up the S3/6, still a good two kilometers in the distance. My hands were trembling as I began filming. The S3/6, still far off, slowed and stopped. From the station came the blare of the whistle of the BR75, which pulled out of Göppingen on its next excursion to Plochingen, direction Stuttgart. She pulled past underneath us and continued towards the S3/6. I can imagine the delight on the faces of those standing on the rear platform outside the last thunderbox as they passed the S3/6 and Rheingold cars, one steam locomotive waiting for another to pass before proceeding into the station. It was like a dream!

The S3/6, still a kilometer away, belched smoke into the blue sky, letting us know she was underway again. With hands trembling I followed the engine with the camera, trying to concentrate on getting "the right shot", but staring in amazement at this beautiful locomotive at the same time. Then she was upon us, and, belching smoke and steam, she passed below the footbridge. I marveled at the Rheingold cars, as this was the first time I had ever seen them in use. The BR103 in 80's Rheingold livery helped push the three-car train into the station. As quickly as she had come she was gone, now pulling into Göppingen station a half kilometer distant. 

The S3/6 makes her triumphant debut...

Quickly the video and camera crews packed up their gear and headed back towards the station or their cars. I had befriended one videographer, who told me that a trip to Geislingen and Amstetten would be a great place to film, but I considered the time involved (2 hours) for the video shot (about thirty seconds). Still, the idea of seeing E50 locomotives pleased me. We would just have to see.

Now, I have had a lucky streak when it comes to trains for about five years. Although you never know what you may have just missed, I do know that I have had opportunities and coincidences that many train fans can only dream about. I was given a jerk back to reality that afternoon. Once the S3/6 had passed and the crowds had dispersed, I found myself alone. This was A Good Thing, since I had been delaying a trip to the bathroom for about two hours, and it was high time for me to take care of business. I found a convenient bush and went about my business. No sooner had I started urinating when I heard the unmistakable "tshh-tshh-tshh" sound of a fast-approaching steam engine. Sure enough, the BR01, which I had expected to come from the other direction, passed no more than ten feet from me! There was no time to do anything but sigh and finish what I had started. But wait- there was another sound coming from the station! Sure enough, the Prussian P8 came past not fifteen seconds later, having pulled out of the station to let the 01 into her "slot". This time I was able to finish going and did get this beautiful olive-colored engine on video as she returned to Göppingen station. I also headed back, as we were scheduled to meet up at 1:00 p.m. with anyone from the MML in attendance. When I arrived, Martin Brandt was already waiting. Stretch and Carol arrived shortly thereafter, and Nigel Packer and Chris Baines were only steps behind. We waited until about 1:20, then decided it was time for a beer. As the Kakadu was parked right next to us, it seemed the logical choice, and soon we were in 1960's FS-train comfort enjoying a cool beer and some delightful conversation.

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The BR01, P8, and the six of us in the Kakadu...

We could have chatted all afternoon, but there was much more to see, and I had recruited Stretch Tucker to film the 1-scale high-speed races for me at the Eissporthalle, or skating rink, which was the venue for 1-scale trains. When we reached the hall, I realized that my plan to use Stretch to film over the heads of everyone standing in front of the high-speed track was not without flaws. The mass of people stood four deep, and it wasn't long before Stretch's arm got tired of holding the camera over everyone's head. I thanked him profusely for his help (he did tape one train going 74 km/hr!), and he and Carol headed off. I decided to spend some quality time in the hall to get my fill of my new passion, 1 scale. First stop was the Marklin booth. Rumors had been flying that Marklin would be revealing the BR01 Insider locomotive, and sure enough, one of the display cases held one of only two prototypes in the world of this beautiful engine. The model appeared to be well detailed, with many pieces separately attached to the boiler. 

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Here she is!  The Marklin BR01, scheduled to ship Q1 2004...

Marklin had also brought both of their one-scale layouts from the previous Messen and a pair of Maxi layouts. I saw the E44 running for the first time, and I must say, the Maxi models are starting to blur the line between Maxi and "profi 1". I continued around the hall, looking at a wonderful floor-level layout of Marklin pre-war O-gauge trains running effortlessly despite their age. 

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Some additional pictures from the "Eissporthalle" and the trains displayed there...

The 1-scale club from Hagen had brought their modular layout, and I was amazed to find a BR01, very similar to the one in the Marklin display case, pulling a quartet of Marklin D-zug cars around the outside track. I asked the question that had surely been asked dozens of times already: Was this another Marklin prototype? Yes, came the reply. Marklin has completed two prototypes, one with a sound decoder, one without. The one running in front of me was indeed one with a decoder, and the operator was kind enough to stop the engine in front of me for a "photo halt". It wasn't long before a dozen photographers were huddled around this beautiful model, with shutters clicking and bulbs flashing. When we were finished the engine continued on its way.

I also continued on my way, and after marveling at a long freight train on another modular layout pulled by a Huebner E94 it was time to head back out into the warmth and sunshine. I briefly considered a visit to the Stadthalle where the N and Z scale displays were, but instead I chose to head back to the station. You see, the E50 locomotive has always fascinated me. In case you aren't familiar with this engine, it is very similar in appearance to the BR140, just a bit longer, and with six axles instead of four. It seemed worth the twenty-minute trip to see them, as several were parked in Geislingen to help push freight trains up the Geislinger Steige. I hopped on an east-bound passenger train for the short journey.

Outside of Geislingen is a long horseshoe curve, offering a great view of the station beyond. It's something to consider as a future vantage point. I watched an ICE pull around the curve as we were coming the other way, enjoying a look at the full train snaking along the hillside. There wasn't anything going on at Geislingen (it was a Saturday, after all), but I did enjoy the view of the "Steige", the Geislingen signal tower (a long-time Kibri kit), and the trio of BR150 engines in front of it. I walked along the old abandoned freight depot and back to the station, and caught the next train back to Göppingen. 

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Some pictures from Geislingen

The group of us wasn't scheduled to meet up for another hour, so I took some video at Göppingen station before heading to the Hotel Hohenstaufen for dinner. I was the last to arrive, and we quickly ordered. It's asparagus time in Germany, and we enjoyed a delicious asparagus cream soup along with various main dishes. I ordered a Jaegerschnitzel, a pork cutlet bathed in mushrooms and hearty, rich brown sauce. We sampled some delicious regional red wine, and continued our conversations from earlier that afternoon. Everyone shared their purchases, passing around their loot like a grown-up version of show-and-tell. I had picked up a new Schiffmanns catalog (Koll's for 1-scale) and a puzzle for Kate that, at 1000 pieces strong, will spend a few years in storage first!

My tired legs gave out the moment I entered my hotel room at shortly before midnight, and I slumped onto the bed and under the goose-down-filled duvet. I knew my plan to meet up with Nigel at 7:00 a.m. in Göppingen to take train pictures would be a wash-out, but dinner had been well worth it. I was worried that the excitement of the day, the things I had seen both in models and real trains would keep me up, but the relaxing tone of dinner and soothing effect of red wine had been more than enough to compensate. Sleep came quickly...

Ready for day 3?  Here we go...