These pages comprise articles from the 'Notebooks' compiled by Charlie Hulme in the 1990s, mostly translated and edited articles from Swiss books and magazines.

They appeared in printed, and latterly also e-mailed form, as the Web hardly existed at the time. We have converted them to this format, as they chronicle an especially interesting period in railway history, and also include useful histories of various lines.

SRS Manchester Notebook March 1990

Closed Swiss Lines: Brunnen - Morschach - Axenstein (BrMB)

adapted from Schweers/Wall: Schmalspurparadies Schweiz.

The terrace of Morschach, lying 200m above Lake Lucerne, has an impressive outlook and was developed early as a tourist attraction. A road was built in the 1860s from Brunnen steamer landing, with a connection also to the then-new Axenstrasse road, but it was very steep and narrow and soon became inadequate for the traffic to the Grand Hotels which were built, the "Axenstein" in 1868 and the "Axenfels" in 1873. Plans were made in the 1890s for a rack railway, and the 2047m long line was opened in 1905. The community of Brunnen refused permission for the line to run through the town to the steamer quay, so the lower terminal had to be built at the south end of the town near the beginning of the Axenstrasse. The line climbed out of Brunnen at 17 per cent, tunneling through the Wasiband ridge by a 292m tunnel to Morschach station at km 1.4. From here the line turned north through a 180 degree curve, terminating a few hundred metres below the Axenstein Hotel.

The three-road depot and works, with a passing loop, was at km 1.6
on a wider part of the Morschach terrace. There was another crossing point near km 0.7; a 15-minute frequency service was run in high season.  The metre gauge line was electrified from the beginning at 750 V, 50 Hz three-phase (hence the trolleybus-like twin overhead wire) and used the Strub rack system. Three He 2/2 locos, similar to those on the Schynige Platte,  were built by SLM in 1905; normal train was a loco at the lower end of one of the line's four coaches, a spare coach being kept in a siding at Brunnen to be added at busy times. Photographs show that this siding was not wired, so manpower must have been used for any shunting!

The original equipment continued in use until March 1969, when the
line was closed and replaced by a bus service on the by-then much
improved road. By the late sixties summer-only resorts like Brunnen
and their old hotels were losing trade, and the line's out-of-the
way lower terminus could not compete with the bus which runs to the station and steamer pier. At Brunnen today one can still see the formation climbing up to the tunnel mouth, and not far away another abandoned line in the form of the SBB siding which once took coal wagons to the steamer pier.

Modelling RhB Centre-Entrance Coaches B2321 - 2333

from Die Modell-Eisenbahn, 1/1990

A problem for modellers of the RhB of the 1950s and 60s is the lack
of any ready-to-run model of the centre-entrance lightweight steel
coach, particularly since these were the only modern-style coaches
to wear the green and cream livery. This colour scheme was introduced in 1942 for all railcars and coaches except lightweight railcars. Of the lightweight steel coaches, only A1221/2 and B2321-33 of 1948 received the livery; the next deliveries in 1956 were painted allover green. After 1972/73, all coaches were repainted green on overhaul, and more recently the new red scheme has been used.

This article shows how to modify the Bemo model of an RhB standard coach. If you have already built a driving trailer from our article in issue 6/88 you will be able to use some of the left-over body parts; the roof, underframe and corridor connections can be ordered as spares from Bemo. This article, however, assumes that you are starting with a complete Bemo coach. The Bemo bogies represent an SWS-built type, but they look fairly similiar to the SIG bogies of the centre-entrance cars, so we suggest a compromise here.

First, completely dismantle the model, including removal of the corridor connections and end doors which will be used later in the project. Begin the rebuild by shortening the roof by 7mm; this must be from the middle, as the shape of the ends must be preserved. Remove all the roof vents and put them aside for later use - the drawing shows the final positions. Rejoin the two parts of the roof, strengthening the joint inside with a piece of 0.5 mm plastic card. When it has set, file and sand off all the corrugations on the roof; this is the coarsest part of the whole rebuild. Before finally sanding smooth, fill the ventilator holes with filler.

Next, turn to the body. If you have a red Bemo model  it is best to
remove the paint with a suitable stripper to leave the green plastic.
Cut through the whole body with a saw at the three positions shown in our sketch to produce the two four-window sections to be re-used. Take great care to make your cuts exactly square; Use fine sandpaper stuck to a piece of plywood for the finishing. Check that the four-window sections will fit to the roof correctly, following our drawing, and make from plastic card the various body parts shown in our sketches. These are four parts to complete the sides, including small windows; four pieces of 0.5 mm plastic to complete the roof edging; both ends of the body; two "inner doors" and the four angled panels to go either side of the centre doors.

When all these parts are ready, construction of the body can begin.
First, add some filler to the ends of the roof sides to fill in the
places where the doors were, and complete the roof edge strips with plastic card. When this has set, glue all the body parts to the roof, and when set, fill and sand the various joints as required to match the curve of the roof.

The next step is to build the new entrance area. First, we fill the
space between the two bodyside parts under the roof edge with a piece of plastic card which acts as a base to which the new parts can be glued. Represent the roof edging across the entrance with a 1 x 1 mm brass angle, attached to the filling piece. Before attaching the angle pieces, test them against the brass angle to get a good fit. Much sanding is necessary to achieve a good transition curve between the angle pieces and the sides. The fixing of the actual doors onto the "inner doors" should be left until the body has been painted, as the body livery can be seen between the two doors.

The underframe must now be shortened; both ends must be removed, and also a section from the middle. A recess also needs to be cut for the centre entrance steps - see the drawing. The reassembled underframe should be strengthened; a heavy metal such as 1 mm brass sheet should be used. Remove all the equipment boxes, working carefully so they can be replaced in their new positions as shown in the drawing. All the body fixing tags must be removed as they would not fit the modified body.  When the glue has set, test the chassis for fit in the body, and adjust the ends and doorways as required. The body fixing should be left until the body has been painted, as the window inserts play an important part. If an allover green coach is wanted, painting is simple: spray the body RhB green, then paint the roof aluminium. The stripe along the body is white. For the two-colour scheme, spray the body first in BT beige, and when dry, cover the upper part with masking
tape and spray the Green. Finally, paint the roof as above. For both
liveries, include the "inner door" in the painting. Paints used: RhB
Green and (for the two-colour version) BT Beige: WABU spray. Aluminium and matt varnish: Humbrol spray. Dark grey: Humbrol no. 29.

Cut the Bemo glazing into four groups of four windows and stick them in position.  Make the small windows from clear plastic; the original toilet window can be re-used. Because the original body fixing clips have been removed, a new fixing must be made. Make two crosspieces from 2 mm thick plastic sheet (see drawing) which will are glued across the bottoms of opposite window inserts. Put the underframe in position and drill 1.7 mm holes though both the floor and the crosspieces, then remove the underframe, tap the holes in the crosspieces with a M2 thread, and enlarge the holes in the floor with a 2mm drill.

Detailing can now begin.  Remove the fixing clips from the Bemo corridor connections and glue them to the ends, using another Bemo coach to measure the right height. Attach the Bemo connecting door. The new centre doors are made from 0.5 mm thick aluminium, the small window openings being made by drilling and filing. [This article is obviously written by a Swiss watch maker - I think I might try to build up the doors by sticking thin plastic strip on to, or even painting them on to, transparent sheet - C.H.] A craft knife is used to score a line to simulate the three folds of the door; these are picked out with a fibre-tip pen after painting. The doors are glazed with clear plastic, and attached to the body. Fit the seating unit, and add handrails around the doors as shown on the drawing. Brackets for the doorsteps are made from 1 x 0.3 mm brass as shown in the sketch, and the steps themselves from brass sheet.

Letter the model with WABU transfers (WABU 1mm letters and RhB logos. For the green version, Bemo white stripe, part no. 0915), and you have an ideal vehicle to run with your original-style Ge 4/4 I to
make an authentic 1950s train.

News Items from Eisenbahn Zeitschrift 10/89

SBB does well

The SBB's provisional accounts for the first half of 1989 show an
operating surplus of 70 million francs. Passenger revenue increased
by 6.9%, both international and internal traffic increasing. The half-price pass is proving very popular; one million were sold in the first half of 1989, 10% more than the same period of 1988. Freight revenue is up 8.5%.

Chemin de Fer Jura (CJ)

Tramelan works of the CJ has overhauled and modernised Diesel locomotive Gm 4/4 508. It was built in 1950 by Brissoneau and Lotz of Creil, France for the Dauphiné Railway (VFD), and purchased by the CJ in 1979. A new red livery replaces the original VFD green, and rheostatic brakes fitted to assist braking down the lines 50 per mille gradients. A dead-man's device has been fitted to permit single manning, and the Renault engine overhauled with the help of spares supplied by the SNCF Le Mans works. The overhauled locomotive will be available for use in the forthcoming engineering projects: track realignment at La Cibourg and the rebuilding of Pré-Petitjean station.

Sensetalbahn (STB)

The STB has obtained, initially on hire, a DB diesel shunter of class
360 (ex-260, originally V60) for shunting at Laupen. 1969-built tractor Tm2/2 11 has been transferred to Neuenegg for shunting duties. The Tm 2/2 unnumbered tractor previously used by the Wander company at this station (photo page 9 centre) is therefore no longer needed and has been sold.

Recent Publications

A new guide to Switzerland in English is always worth a read, and
Off the Beaten Track: Switzerland, newly published by Moorland Publishing Co. is no exception. Part of a series covering various countries, it covers most of the country in 9 areas shared among 3 authors, including John Marshall, author of Metre Gauge Railways of South East Switzerland, etc. Particularly interesting to me are the sections about towns such as Baden, Aarau and Winterthur which have plenty of olde-world charm and would seem to be worth an occasional trip out of the station. Like almost all guide books, however, it strangely assumes that you always go by car, or perhaps the occasional bus if you are desperate.

The maps ignore railways and, for example, Richard Sale manages to
cover the area around Zweisimmen and Gstaad without a single mention of the MOB. John Marshall does mention railways more in his chapters, however, and the cover features an excellent colour shot of the Appenzeller Bahn. Recommended.

In the March 1990 Modern Railways there is a very detailed feature on the Rhaetian Railway written by G.F. Allen (son of C.J.) with superb colour photos and full of fascinating technical info: did you know that those bogie refrigerator vans also have a heating system to prevent fruit etc. from being damaged by cold during the winter? There are also quite a few mistakes which are always fun to spot - question: the top photograph on p.132 is definitely not Alp Grüm, so where is it?

The March 1990 issue of "Scale Model Trains" also contains an article by Peter Marriott on Modelling Swiss Railways, which tells readers some elementary things about the Swiss railway network, and promises some track plans in the next issue. - C.H.

First published 1990. This page edited April 2009