Tag Archives: PROTO:87

Pictures from the Zunsweier 2011 FREMO:87 Meeting

Earlier this month, FREMO:87 enthusiasts organized the first regional meeting in Southern Germany. The meeting in the quaint village of Zunsweier situated in the foothills of the Black Forest near Offenburg featured a layout with stations from Baden, Bavaria and Württemberg with a timetable set in era III. A workshop on supering the Brawa Omm52/E37 open hopper rounded out the program.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to fly in for this meeting so I am going to share a few photos taken by a friend of mine. It looks like the meeting was a success and will hopefully be repeated in 2013.

 

Zunsweier 2011 FREMO:87 layout

Zunsweier 2011 FREMO:87 layout

Signal at Fornsbach

Signal at Fornsbach

A passenger train makes a stop in Gutach

A passenger train makes a stop in Gutach

Lumber from the local saw mill ready to be hauled away

Lumber from the local saw mill ready to be hauled away

2010 Glottertal FREMO:87 Meet

I just returned from a very nice visit to Germany, where I stopped by the 2010 Glottertal FREMO:87 meet. Even though I didn’t run a single train during the operating sessions, it was great to be back, talk shop and catch up with friends and fellow modelers from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The modular Proto:87 community seems to be growing quite nicely in Europe and I hope that we US modelers can soon start our own Proto modular system.

ETA 515 makes a quick stop in Seeburg

An ETA 515 makes a quick stop in Seeburg (click to enlarge)

The layout was compact but offered a few interesting features including a short narrow gauge set-up that crossed the standard gauge line on a few dual gauge modules. A completely separate test layout with two fiddle yards allowed for running unfinished projects, locos and cars from other eras/continents including my just completed Penn Central X58.

My Penn Central X58 361825 on a test drive

My Penn Central X58 361825 on a test drive

The new coupling tool from Dutch Werps Modelbouw was in wide use and seemed to help speed up coupling and uncoupling – otherwise quite tedious tasks, which tend to slow down switching and lead to time-crunches during operating sessions.

The new coupling tool from Dutch Werps Modelbouw speeds up switching

The new coupling tool from Dutch Werps Modelbouw speeds up switching

I left the meet inspired to pick up the pace on my modeling projects including a few converted Proto:87 engines. My goal is to help prepare enough era 4 German rolling stock to allow for an operating session with more modern material by 2012.

Below are a few more scenes along the right of way taken with my new DSLR. Enjoy!

Taking a breather on the front porch - a popular scene on the FREMO:87 layout

Taking a breather on the front porch – a popular scene on the FREMO:87 layout

VT 95 in the colorful fiddle yard Rambach

VT 95 in the colorful fiddle yard Rambach

Missed photo op at a level crossing

Missed photo op at a level crossing

A local freight train on the way to Gutach

A local freight train on the way to Gutach

Getting milled lumber ready for pick-up in Gutach

Getting milled lumber ready for pick-up in Gutach

The local freight train arrives in Heiligenthal

The local freight train arrives in Heiligenthal

93 1099 with an afternoon freight train on the way from Fornsbach to Iserlohn

93 1099 with an afternoon freight train on the way from Fornsbach to Iserlohn

A VT 95 and ETA 515 meet in Heiligenthal

A VT 95 and ETA 515 meet in Heiligenthal

Building that PROTO Layout

In last week’s post, I suggested that more modelers build PROTO layouts. Today, I want to explore two ways to build that layout.

Building a model train layout is a big task to begin with and something that’s never really finished – at least in my experience. There are always things to add, improve or change.

Building a PROTO layout is an even bigger task, because PROTO modelers love details and have to build many parts from scratch. Just converting and supering a car or engine can turn into a major undertaking. Thus, the building process takes much longer.

So how am I supposed to build an entire layout in PROTO:87?

Going micro

Over the last few weeks, I have been following The Protocrastinator blog and love his musings about building a PROTO:87 micro layout. I think this is the perfect approach to fine scale modeling: Choose a scene that is manageable in size and tell a story.

When we first moved to Manhattan last year, I was thinking about building a micro layout, too. I did some research and found Carl Arendt’s Micro/Small Layouts for Model Railroads website, which contains over 1,500 ideas, track plans and photos on micro layouts. Whether you are looking for an Inglenook or Timesaver, single level or multi level, a track plan with or without switches – Carl’s got you covered.

Going micro is definitely a good plan, but for me it seems somewhat limiting and that’s not because of the size. What I am missing the most is context. Micro layouts are great for operating alone or with a buddy and are certainly terrific as exhibition layouts to show off your craft. But at the end of the day, you are confined to your scene on a two by four.

Going modular

When you turn your micro layout into a module that connects to other modules with matching end plates, you are literally able to connect to the great wide world. Your scene is now one of many along a (model) railroad line with a new story to tell every time it is set up. Your short story suddenly turned into a novel – now here is the context I was looking for.

If PROTO modeling is supposed to gain more traction in the U.S. (which I hope it will), I firmly believe that starting a modular PROTO:87 group is the way to go.

This not only allows you to connect to other modules. More importantly, it connects you to like-minded modelers who pursue a common goal. Individuals can further develop their specialties and help out fellow modelers in areas where they may lack expertise and vice versa. It’s a win-win situation.

Your turn

Interested in starting a PROTO:87 modular group? Want to take the Free-mo or the FREMO-USA route?

Leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.

PROTO works – Let’s build more layouts

Andy Reichert shared a YouTube video on the PROTO:87 Yahoo! Group the other day. It shows a P:76 modular layout with a train running at increasing speeds. I must say, it’s impressive. Have a look for yourself.

The system clearly works, so let’s get cracking and build more PROTO layouts. Fellow modelers will follow suit, publications will cover it, more parts will become available and so on.

Are you on board?

A PROTO:87 quality score for rolling stock

It is customary that FREMO groups keep inventory of engines and cars. The main reason being that each piece of rolling stock needs to have a unique number. This is not only true to the prototype but also avoids confusion during operating sessions. When a member wants to register a newly acquired model, he emails the particular number to the list keeper.

The list keeper of the FREMO:87 group recently changed and the new admin suggested a few additional data sets including a quality score to added to the list.

Introducing a quality score

This quality score, which is assigned by the rolling stock owners themselves, is supposed to encourage the continued improvement of models and has three levels:

  • Ready to run model with spring-loaded buffers, PROTO:87 wheels and original coupler
  • Ready to run model with details such as wire grab handles or etched steps
  • Ready to run model with etched axle holders, brake lines and cylinders or brass model kit

I think introducing a quality score is a great idea but I am not sure if three levels are enough to accurately represent the varying degrees of detailing.

My proposed scoring system

Instead, I am proposing a 10 point system in which a point is awarded for each addition.

  • Spring-loaded buffers, basic PROTO:87 wheels, unique number and original couplers (the bare minimum)
  • Brake hose
  • Etched or wire grab handles
  • Cast or echted steps
  • Brake lines and cylinder
  • Brake shoes with hanging gear
  • Etched axle holders with cast bearings or scale bogie/truck
  • Scale frame
  • PROTO:87 wheels with prototypical wheel contour
  • Weathering

Looking at my current PIKO Tds926 project it would score six out of ten once it is weathered. A fully assembled and weathered brass kit would most likely score ten out of ten.

Summary

I think my system has three distinct advantages:

  • It makes less of a distinction between ready to run models that have been supered and complete brass kits.
  • It focuses more on the effort of the modeler who spend a considerable amount of time and money on detailing their rolling stock.
  • It is flexible and can be easily adapted because it doesn’t try to categorize models by attributes.

Your turn

What do you think about my system? Do you have suggestions for improvement? I am looking forward to your comments.