The Modellbahntreff Diary (cont'd)

Day 4:  Hübner, the Black Forest, and Goodbye

It had never been mentioned on the trip itinerary, but when I suggested a visit to Hübner to see their 1-scale layout, both Stretch and Carol were in total agreement.  Tuttlingen wasn't terribly far out of our way, and we would still have plenty of time to reach Basel and the Viking Danube, the Rhine cruiser that would be Stretch and Carol's home for the next five days (Nigel and Chris had to head back home due to work conflicts).

The ride to Tuttlingen was quite beautiful, with rolling hills and towns tucked into the hillsides.  The closer we got to the Black Forest, the more the houses began to sport the dark wooden facades typical of that region.  We could have taken an ICE from Stuttgart to Tuttlingen, but all three of us quickly realized how much more pleasant this journey on a secondary line would be.  Carol, an avid dog lover, was delighted when we passed through the town of Rottweil, and it wasn't long before we found ourselves in Tuttlingen.  We stowed our gear in storage lockers at the station and waited outside for Georg Müller, Hübner's V.P. of Sales.  After a short car ride we arrived at the Hübner headquarters. 

Friends, there are quite a few pictures of the Hübner layout on the internet, but none of them (and unfortunately, none of mine) can do justice to the size and beauty of this layout.  For the next hour, the three of us marveled at the details, design, track work, and rolling stock this layout showcases.  Herr Müller worked the controls the whole time, running first the V200 with its 4-axle Umbauwagen, then the red railbus, and finally the E94 and its long freight train.  Stretch was particularly taken with the narrow-gauge engine, and the interchange between standard and narrow-gauge. 

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Some pictures from the Hübner 1 scale layout in Tuttlingen

There are a few things I want to add that can't be seen in the photos, including:

* The trains on the layout run A/C digital, Motorola format via an Intellibox.

* The entire layout uses exclusively Hübner track, and more importantly, Hübner rail joiners. 

* Thanks to the excellent design of the rail joiners, the entire layout is supplied via ONE pair of feeders.

* The "Feldbahn" is fully operational.

* All figures and animals, plus most vehicles on the layout are from Hübner's production.

* The room in which the layout is housed also has a bar and booths for enjoying a beer while watching the trains.

* The layout is open on all days that the Hübner offices are open.  If anyone walks into Hübner and asks, "Can I see the layout?", one of the staff will take them down and run the layout for them as long as they wish, no appointment necessary.

* Future plans for the layout include catenary, signaling, a block system, and automated, computer-controlled operation.

In addition to the layout there are display cases featuring all Hübner's products.  I was surprised to find out that Hübner produced the Adler train as well as the "Rottenkraftwagen" for Marklin.  Hübner is also responsible for several other designs now in production by Marklin.  We really didn't get a chance to see all the items on display, as we did have a train to catch.  Herr Müller whisked us back to the station, where we found our train to Neustadt was ten minutes late arriving.  With only an eight-minute gap to make our connecting train at Neustadt, this posed me some concern.

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Some scenes from our trip through the Black Forest... 

Our train to Neustadt was filled with high-schoolers on a field trip, and I felt like a grumpy old man as I shook my head at their loud, obnoxious behavior (ignoring the fact that I, too, was once as bad, if not worse).  We arrived at Neustadt with an additional five minute delay, and sure enough, the track across the platform was empty.  Our train had gone.  A different train arrived some minutes later, and a short exchange with the engineer revealed that he could get us one station closer to Freiburg, where a connecting train would get us back on our original schedule.  We wasted no time and climbed aboard (as did the mass of schoolchildren) and proceeded six minutes up the line to Tittisee, the eastern end of the famous Höllental, or Hell's Valley. 

The valley itself isn't very long, but the valley walls tower over the train on both sides, and the scenery is breathtaking.  Filming was useless, and we kicked back and simply enjoyed the view out the window of the double-decker car in which we sat.  The valley opened up, and we were soon in Freiburg.  I'm convinced that a ride in wither an open car or the Gläserner Zug would be the only way to do this rugged section of railroad justice.  Who knows, maybe a Great Event Tour could get that done...

Freiburg was a mass of frowns and annoyed looks.  Nearly every train southbound was delayed.  We contemplated hopping an ICE to try and get back on schedule, or to catch an IR (Inter-regio) that was leaving sooner than our EC (Eurocity).  In the end, we stuck with our original plan, which ended up being the best move.  The ICE would arrive a full 45 minutes late, and the IR would end up being cancelled due to "excessive delay".  Instead, our Eurocity rolled into Basel just a few minutes behind schedule.  I had planned to take Stretch and Carol to the ship, but they felt confident they could manage on their own, so I purchased my train ticket back to Frankfurt while Stretch watched the train movements in the station.  Although I missed the earlier ICE headed back to Frankfurt, I was able to get my tour group into a cab and off to the ship for the next part of their journey, a five-day cruise past vineyard-covered hillsides and craggy outcroppings, and to such picturesque cities as Strasburg, Heidelberg, Rüdesheim, Cologne and Amsterdam.  I look forward to hearing about their trip when they return home on Sunday.

My own trip home was filled with DB snafus, delays, cancellations, and other maladies you'd expect from our own Amtrak, but not from the Deutsche Bahn.  However, that story is better told in a dining car over a cold Spatenbräu on our next Great Event.  In the end I *did* make it to Frankfurt, and I did make my flight home. 

... Now all that's left to do is make the video, publish the pictures, and prepare for the next trip.  Hope to see you there!

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Finally, some pictures from a brief stop I made at Frankfurt-Sportfeld on the day of my departure.  I tried to take some pictures of the roadbed and platforms for those of you interested in getting colors and details right...

See you next time!