Friday, March 25, 2011

Steam in Roumania August 1969 DVD

I have recently acquired a very interesting DVD: "Steam in Roumania August 1969". It contains 57 minutes of footage filmed in Romania in 1969, the last year when the steam locomotives handled the largest share of rail traffic in this country. The video was filmed by none other than Ton Pruissen, the famous producer of historical railway films who has dedicated his life to filming steam locomotives. His passion began when he was only 16 years old and as the years passed, he created unparalleled quality films about steam locomotives. In 1969 he took a "steam trip" to Romania, where he found friendly people and cooperative railway men, and, in spite of the odds of being arrested, he succeeded in producing high-quality footage about the magnificent CFR steam locomotives, with their unique polished brass embellishment.
The film starts off by presenting some interesting facts about the Romanian steamers, such as they used a system of dual firing (coal and oil), because Romania had plenty of oil but no coal, or such as the fact that Romanian steam locomotive series were numbered according to the French system, where the wheel arrangement (according to Whyte notation) was divided by two, the leading zeros omitted and so the class number was obtained (for example a 4-6-2 was included in the 231.000 series and a 2-8-4 was in the 142.000 series). Also at the beginning of the film some main classes of the CFR steam locomotives are enumerated and presented: the Prussian P8, Prussian G10, Prussian G81, 2-6-0 and 2-6-2 steam locos, 2-8-2 rack locos, the 2-10-0 locos based on the German class 50, the magnificent 2-8-4s based on Austrian design and the elegant Pacifics.
The trip begins at Timisoara. It continues with images of the Subcetate-Boutari rack line. After that comes the station of Cluj, where a considerable amount of the footage was filmed. Next is Sibiu and the narrow gauge line to Agnita. Finally, it ends with Bucuresti (Bucharest), home of the Romanian Pacifics.
The film is tightly packed with important historical shots, it contains rare images of important types of Romanian steam locomotives, many of which are the few such steamers that have escaped scrapping and can be seen exhibited today. It is a pleasant, enjoyable film, with well organized content. Most of it (about 90%) is in black and white and it is obvious that the used filming equipment is what was available over 40 years ago, but that does not spoil the fun at all. The commentary is in English and is very good (but I've heard that versions with German commentary are also available).
Here is a short teaser of the DVD:

The short clip was made available by Camden Miniature Steam Services, which is where I ordered the DVD from: Steam in Roumania August 1969 at Camden Miniature Steam Services.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Revell BR 232 "Ludmilla"

The BR 232 is part of a wider family of heavy diesel locomotives built in the USSR between 1970 and 1982 and used mostly by the Deutsche Bahn. This family of locomotives was made up of the following classes:
- BR 130/230 (DR 130, DBAG 230)
- BR 131/231 (DR 131, DBAG 231)
- BR 132/232 (DR 132, DBAG 232, 233, 234 and 241)
- BR 142/242 (DR 142, DBAG 242)

More than 700 such machines were built in Lugansk and imported into Germany. The Deutsche Bahn (in all its forms) has used them extensively and is still using them today, especially for cargo transport, but also for fast passenger trains. The Ludmillas are robust, powerful and heavy diesel locomotives. Due to the heavy axle load (20.3 t), the BR 232 can mostly be used only on main lines.

The locomotives of this family were born out of the desire of East Germany to focus on diesel traction after 1960. The first class designed and built at Lugansk was the BR 130/230. Its main limitation was the lack of an electric heating system. This not only resulted in these locos being restricted to freight traffic, but also helped them being the first of their kind to be retired. The BR 131/231 was pretty much the same and suffered the same fate, but it also had its top speed reduced from 140 km/h to only 100 km/h due to poor track conditions. The improved descendant, the BR 132/232, was first built in 1972, with electric heating system and these locos were longer by 0.2 m. Their top speed was limited to 120 km/h. They are still used today, mostly in Germany, but in other countries too.
The Ludmillas have Co-Co wheel arrangement, with two bogies , each pivoting around a central pin. They are powered by 16- or 12-cylinder turbo-charged diesel engines and the transmission is electrical.

The H0 model seen in the pictures is a beautiful Revell model of the BR 232 locomotive with serial number 800-3.

Facts (BR 232 / other classes of the same family):
ID: BR 232 800-3
Wheel arrangement: Co-Co
Builder: October Revolution Locomotive Works (Lugansk)
Built: 1975 (1970-1982)
Top speed: 120 km/h (100 km/h, 140 km/h)
Power: 2208 kW (2206 kW, 2940 kW)
Length: 20.82 m (20.62 m)
Wheel diameter: 1050 mm
Engine: Kolomna 5 D 49 / 16 Tsch N26/26
Gauge: Standard (1435 mm)


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

H0 Locomotives in Wooden and Glass Vitrine

I have finally found a solution for storing my H0 locomotives in a way that can protect them from the dust and also let them be admired: in a vitrine especially made for 6 H0 locomotives. The vitrine's frame is built of wood, the back panel is a mirror, and it has a large glass door through which the locos can be seen. The glass door's corners and knob are made of metal covered with chrome. Five glass shelves separate the interior space into 6 compartments, at the bottom of each there is a piece of H0 track, on which the locomotives rest. And the whole cabinet hangs on the wall. Perfect!
I've put in it a 4 German steam locomotives: BR 01, BR 41, BR 43, BR 50, the wreck of a BR 86 (just to occupy the space until I put together my second BR 01 kit) and a class 232 diesel locomotive ("Ludmilla"), all built from Revell kits.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

MÁV 275.118 at the Train Station in Cegléd, Hungary

After the First World War, MÁV needed to update its repertoire of steam locomotives. On the main lines two major classes were introduced: 328 and 424. On the secondary lines there was a need for a smaller, lighter type of steam locomotive and so was the class 22 born. Designed and built by MÁVAG, the first 5 locomotives of the 22.000 series saw the light in 1928. After a short period, seeing that these locos were a success, MÁVAG has ordered another 20 pieces, but this time the suspension was redesigned and improved. In 1929 a third order was placed and another set of class 22 locomotives were produced, with the boiler pressure increased from 13 to 14 atm. In the same year another set of 26 locomotives were built with even more improvements. In 1930 15 and in 1931 12 more such steam locomotives were assembled and so the total number of locomotives in the 22.000 series built for MÁV was 148. Also, there were 13 pieces built for Yugoslavia by MÁVAG, after which Yugoslavia has purchased the blueprints and they've built another 22 pieces of their own.

In 1956 the 22.000 series was renamed to 275.00. MÁV 275.118 is a fine example of the 275.000 (ex 22.000) series. It is currently exhibited in the front of the Cegléd train station, where many such steam locomotives used to do service in the steam age (see below).

ID: MÁV 275.118
Wheel arrangement: 2-4-2T
Built: 1938
Builder: MÁVAG (Budapest)
Length: 8670/8860 mm
Height: 3865 mm
Width: 3000 mm
Leading wheel diameter: 875 mm
Driving wheel diameter: 1220 mm
Trailing wheel diameter: 875 mm
Empty weight: 28.55 t
Service weight: 35.9 t
Axle load: 10.1 t
Top speed: 65 km/h
Boiler pressure: 13/14 atm
Power: 290 HP (230.7 kW)
Gauge: Standard (1435 mm)
Location: Cegléd, Hungary (train station)


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Homemade PWM Power Supply for H0 Locomotives

As I wrote a while ago, I received a very nice little H0 steam locomotive for my birthday from my friends, the American 4-4-0 Baltimore & Ohio no. 822, manufactured by Mehano. I soon bought some H0 tracks and a Piko speed and direction controller and started testing the locomotive. To my great disappointment, as seen here, there were two main problems generated by the incompatibility between the locomotive and the power supply (the Piko speed and direction controller):

1. The locomotive produced a pretty bothering buzz, especially at low speeds.
2. The locomotive seemed to run strangely at low speeds, more like jumping on the tracks instead of rolling continuously.

At the time I had no idea what the problem was, but with a lot of help from my friends at the railway forum, I soon understood that they were caused by this incompatibility between the locomotive and the power supply. They explained to me that the buzz was produced by the engine because the Piko power supply was giving it PWM current at very low frequency (around 170 Hz). So I set out to build a homemade power supply that could supply PWM current at a frequency higher than the human ear can perceive (higher than 20 KHz). The other option would have been to just use normal DC, but the advantage of PWM current is that the maneuverability is greatly increased when the locomotive is running at low speeds, making operations like shunting possible.

I built my homemade PWM power supply based on the following circuit diagram:

Homemade PWM power supply

Additionally, I added a diode bridge (rectifier) and a 4700 microF 25V capacitor to the input to transform the AC input into DC (I did this because I used the AC power supply that came with the Piko speed and direction controller, but this can be omitted if the input power is DC). I also added two colored LEDs, connected in parallel with the tracks (in serial with a 1 KOhm resistor) to indicate the output current's polarity and the locomotive's running direction and a 4.7 nF capacitor connected in parallel to the 0.1 microF capacitor to switch between buzz-free mode and greater maneuverability mode. The parts not present on the circuit diagram are listed with non-bold (regular) font below.

Used parts:

IC1: CD4093 (using 2 gates with NAND-Schmidt trigger from it - contains 4 such gates)
IC2: LM7809 (voltage regulator)
Q1: BD651 transistor
Q2: BC547 or BC172 transistor
C1: 1nF capacitor
C2: 0.33 microF capacitor
C3: 0.1 microF capacitor
C4: 4.7 nF capacitor
C5: 4700 microF 25V capacitor
D1 and D2: 1N4148 diodes
D3: 1N4007 general usage diode
DB1: diode bridge (rectifier) for about 12-15V
R1: 2.2 KOhm resistor
R2: 2.7 KOhm resistor
R3: 0.68 Ohm resistor
R4: 1 KOhm resistor
P1: 100 KOhm potentiometer (linear or logarithmic are both fine)
LED1, LED2: different color, standard 3mm LEDs (any standard LEDs will do) to indicate direction
SW1: direction switch - double switch to inverse output current polarity with a single move
SW2: maneuverability switch - any kind of switch to couple/decouple C4 in parallel with C3

After about two weeks of work, my power supply was finished. I wrapped everything into a nice plastic box, leaving only a few things out: the direction switch, the maneuverability switch, the direction indicator LEDs, the speed controller potentiometer, the input jack and the output cable. The input is AC 12V (theoretically DC is also OK and voltage values close to but not exactly 12V should also be fine), the output is PWM current. The direction switch is used to change the polarity of the output current, thus making the locomotive change its running direction. For visualizing the output current's polarity (the locomotive's running direction) I coupled a blue and a yellow LED in parallel with the tracks (serial connection with a 1 KOhm resistor). As I found out during the making of the power supply, there is no golden solution which makes the buzz go away and also offers great maneuverability, only compromises. This is why I introduced the maneuverability switch, which couples/decouples a second capacitor (of 4.7 nF) in parallel with capacitor C3. When the second capacitor is on (coupled), the locomotive can be controlled very precisely but the frequency of the output PWM current drops below 20 KHz and becomes audible. When this second capacitor is off, the buzz cannot be herd but the maneuverability is affected (however it's still better than with the Piko speed and direction controller!).

So here is a video which demonstrates the differences between the Piko speed and direction controller and my own homemade PWM power supply:

And a few pictures of how it looks on the inside:

Home made PWM power supply

Home made PWM power supply

Home made PWM power supply

Home made PWM power supply

Home made PWM power supply

Special thanks to mpursu and dac members of the railway forum! Without their help this project would have not been completed.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Revell BR 50

One of the most successful classes of German steam locomotives is/was the BR 50. Designed to haul goods trains, the BR 50 locos were built as standard locomotives (Einheitsdampflokomotive) between 1939 and 1948 by almost all major locomotive factories. A total of 3164 pieces were produced for the Deutsche Reichsbahn and they received IDs between 50 001 and 50 3171. One of the important advantages of the BR 50 design was the low axle load (15.2 t), which even permitted the use on branch lines with light track beds. The Br 50’s wheel configuration is 2-10-0 and total weight is 86.9 t. The locos were originally fitted with Wagner smoke deflectors but some of them later received Witte smoke deflectors. They were coupled to tenders of type 2'2' T 26 or 2'2' T 30.

The BR 50 locos were part of the war preparation effort and the ones that were built later were called provisional war locomotives (Übergangskriegslokomotiven) and classified as 50 ÜK. Also, class 52 (BR 52) was derived from BR 50 by omitting all possible components, making the locomotives as cheap to produce as possible. Some BR 50 tenders were fitted with a front shield, to protect the crew and some were also equipped with a driver’s cab, thus reducing the volume of carried coal.

After the war a large number of BR 50 locomotives were taken over by the Deutsche Reichsbahn (2159) and together with class 44 they took care of most of the goods hauling operations. About 1000 of them had boilers made of ST 47 K steel, which was not very resistant to ageing, so many of these locomotives were given the boilers of scrapped BR 52s. Most BR 50 locomotives were retired up to 1977. A few remained in service until 1989. Towards the end of their service they were used for pulling both goods and passenger trains.

ID: BR 50 519
Wheel arrangement: 2-10-0
Built: 1939-1948
Builder: Henschel & Sohn/Hohenzollern/Krupp/BMAG/etc.
Top speed: 80 km/h (both directions)
Power: 1195 kW
Gauge: Standard (1435 mm)
Length: 22.94 m
Weight: 86.9 t
Axle load: 15.2 t
Couped wheel diamater: 1400 mm
Driving wheel diamater: 1400 mm
Leading wheel diameter: 850 mm

A few days ago I assembled Revell's BR 50 static steam locomotive, which contains a beautiful H0 scale model of the famous original locomotive. The kit was produced in 2002 and has item number 02165. It wasn't hard to assemble, the 41-step instructions were pretty clear and contained enough detail, but it required a lot of work, especially the painting of the parts. It took me about 10 days and a total of over 30 hours of work to complete the locomotive. Most of the time was spent on painting and repainting the parts (some of them require two layers of paint to look really nice and the paints need to dry for 4 to 6 hours before a second layer can be applied). Some spots require a steady and precise hand, to paint adjacent areas of the same part with different colors. In contrast with Revell's Big Boy steam locomotive that I assembled over a year ago, this kit contained some water slide decals that were surprisingly easy to apply. They adhered to the plastic with ease and did not dry off at all.

Used colors (in order of importance):
- 302 - black, silky-matt (used extensively)
- 330 - fiery red, silky-matt (used extensively)
- 91 - iron, metalic (used moderately)
- 301 - white, silky-matt (used only for a few surfaces)
- 93 - brass, metalic (used only for the bell in the cab)
- 87 - eart brown, matt (used only on the tracks)
- 83 - rust, matt (used only on the tracks)


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

100 trains de légende - 100 legendás vonat

Somebody dear to me, who knows my passion for trains, has given me, not so long ago, a very nice gift: a book that describes the evolution of the railroads from the first steam locomotives to the super-fast trains of today, all through the most famous pieces of railway history: locomotives of great innovation, like Richard Trevithick's first steam locomotive, Stephenson's "Rocket", the first German steamer, the "Adler", the Crampton locomotives, special luxurious train cars like the Pullman coaches, the first Diesel locomotives, the first electrics, the "Crocodile", the "Ice", the "Thalys" bullet, the TGV, the Taurus locomotives, the Siemens Desiro, african locomotives, rail motor coaches, the famous Hungarian 424.000 series and many others.

The original book was written in French by André Papazian and is entitled "100 trains de légende". My book is the Hungarian version: "100 legendás vonat", published in 2008 by Aréna 2000 Kiadó, Budapest. The book is not only a well-structured overview of the most famous locomotives and railroad inventions, but it also contains lots of beautiful images.