Tag Archives: epoch IV

Fixing the Underframes on Brawa Era IV Models

Brawa has been producing some of the best German freight car models in the last few years. I’ve purchased a number of these models not knowing that a rather big detail had been overlooked on the era IV versions of these cars. A FREMO:87 colleague made me aware of the fact that German era IV freight car underframes were painted in the same color as the car body: RAL 8012 and not black as seen on the Brawa models.

Repainting Era IV Underframes

The solution is of course quite simple. All it takes is stripping the lettering off the underframes and repainting them. It does require extra time, though. When one doesn’t have much time for modeling to begin with, it becomes quite annoying especially because one has to reletter the frame.

To get rid of the lettering, I bathe the underframe in isopropyl alcohol. Five minutes is about the right length of time to get the fine lettering off these parts. Then, I carefully wash them with warm soapy water and put them out to dry.

Adding Custom Details

This is also a good moment to add any extra details to the already wonderfully detailed models. In the example of the Brawa Omm52/E037 open hopper seen below, I added custom brake system piping and axle holders that are from a Fränkische Modellbahn-Spezialitäten kit along with cast roller bearings and safety brake slings. One could even go further and replace the entire brake linkage and cylinders, but I didn’t want to overdo it on these models.

When everything is in place and secured with CA, it’s time for another bath and then it’s off to the paint booth. That’s exactly where I’m heading this weekend to complete this set of three Brawa hoppers along with a Tms851 and a Gls205 underframe.

Details of the Brawa E037/Omm52 underframes before and after repainting them.

Modeling the underdog

Back in my Märklin days, I was aware of the distinctions between epochs, but my rolling stock was a hodgepodge of steam engines, diesels, electrics and cars from epochs III and IV.  When I became serious about model railroading again, I decided to strictly model epoch IV and in particular the time between 1980 and 1990. For me, it was a natural thing because I grew up during the 80s and first discovered the love for trains during that decade.

Unfortunately, it turns out that epoch IV seems to be the underdog in German model railroading and especially in FREMO. Many members of the club are modeling epoch III and there is a growing number of epoch V enthusiasts, but epoch IV people are few and far between. To make matters worse, there are even fewer epoch IV folks in FREMO:87, which makes the goal of a pure epoch IV operating session seem unattainable for years to come.

This lack of critical mass also has a direct impact on the availability of custom parts for rolling stock. I hope that I will able to contribute to improving the circumstances in the future, and by doing so, inspire others to model the underdog as well.