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Thread: Trackside in the Harz - again

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    Default Trackside in the Harz - again

    As I mentioned recently in a weekly update thread, I once again went to the Harz in Germany on vacation.

    The Harzer Schmalspurbahnen - HSB or the Harz Narrow Gauge Railways - are basically three metre-gauge lines that are connected, and where a lot of trains are steam hauled every day all year round. For steam fans such as myself, it's a paradise.

    Last year i visited the Harzquerbahn and the Brockenbahn, but for various reasons steam was cancelled on the Selketalbahn during my stay, so I didn't go there. That turned out to be a good decision, because the Selketalbahn certainly deserves more than just a few days of attention. The long grade to the Brocken summit may be impressive, but what the Selketal line does not have in oomph, it makes up for in sheer charm.
    And in fact, the steepest grade on the entire HSB is on the Selketal line - the 4% grade on the section from Mägdesprung to Ramberg.

    A very short historical overview:
    The Selketalbahn started in 1887 with the line from Gernrode to Mägdesprung. Soon after followed gradual extensions through Alexisbad to Harzgerode (hence the name Gernroder - Harzgeroder Eisenbahn or GHE) and from Alexisbad to Hasselfelde which was reached in 1892. The line follows the river Selke from Mägdesprung almost all the way to Hasselfelde, which is why it soon got the popular name Selketalbahn (the Selke Valley Railway).
    The Harzquerbahn from Nordhausen up to Wernigerode opened in 1899 as the NWE, which in 1905 built the connecting line from Eisfelder Talmühle to Stiege on the Selketalbahn. This section is today considered part of the Selketalbahn. Skipping ahead past a lot of turbulent years, in 2004 the state-owned railway through Gernrode was closed, leaving the Selketalbahn without a connection to the national normal gauge network.
    However, in 2005 the HSB used the newly abandoned right-of-way from Gernrode to Quedlinburg to extend the Selketalbahn through Gernrode, so the line now ends at Quedlinburg. As shown in the map below the video, the HSB then has connections to the normal gauge network at all three major end points at Wernigerode, Nordhausen and Quedlinburg.

    I spent four full days and a few hours during the following days along the Selketal line. I have a new mic that I used for the first time, so while wind noise was no longer an issue, I didn't always have full control of the sound levels. Bear with me
    Usually the steam train in Selketal is pulled by 99 6001 which is a 2-6-2 tank engine. For whatever reason 6001 was unavailable, and instead the Brocken engine 99 7240 was on duty during my stay. Getting a lot of good shots require some planning, because there is only one steamer in Selketal. It spends the morning on a few runs north of Alexisbad and doesn't venture south towards Eisfelder Talmühle until a single round trip in the afternoon. While I did get many of the shots I had planned, some places turned out to be rubbish, and some places that I never considered turned out to be quite good. Still, there are lots of places along the line that I still want to go to ... some day ... maybe.

    Here's what I got. Enjoy




    Map of the HSB:

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    Default Bonus feature ;-)

    The Harz is not exclusively narrow gauge territory, so if you haven't had enough of 2-10-2 tank engines, here's momma bear - 95 027 aka "The Mountain Queen".

    95 027 is based in Blankenburg on the northern edge of the Harz mountains, and the home turf for her is the Rübeland line. She was out and about during the weekend of my stay in the Harz, but only for a single round trip each day.
    With roads that resemble corkscrews and a short haul over the mountain, I had done some planning ahead, but most places I'd picked turned out to be rubbish, and not knowing the terrain at all, I ended up mostly staying around Rübeland. Also, I'm sorry to say I blew a few shots and I intentionally skipped the return run on Saturday and instead went to Eisfelder Talmühle for a possible double departure ... that didn't happen.

    Oh well ... maybe some other day.

    Here's what I got from Rübeland:



    The Rübeland line is a fairly short line serving the limestone quarries around Rübeland and Elbingerode. It has some interesting features, such as 6% grades (yes, six percent) and the catenary voltage is 25 kV where the rest of Germany is 15 kV. Midway up the grade from Blankenburg to Hüttenrode there's a backshunt called Michaelstein where all trains reverse, which is why the limestone shuttles have a locomotive in both ends.

    The line was built between 1880 and 1886 as the Harzbahn or simply the Harz Railway with the steepest grades being rack and pinion sections. When more power and capacity was needed in the 1920s, four 2-10-2 adhesion locomotives were ordered. These four engines were later designated class 95.66 and you see one of them in the video at the old depot at Rübeland. At delivery they were known as the "Tierklasse" or "animal class" with the names Mammut, Wisent, Büffel and Elch. Translated that is Mammut, Bison, Buffalo and ... Moose.

    The two first were delivered with cog wheels to keep them from sliding during downhill runs, but it turned out these were not needed, and the cog systems were removed. The last two engines never had them installed. Test runs showed that the engines were capable of hauling 260t trains on 6% grades with a speed of 12 km/h. That capacity made them the model for the Prussian class T20 tank engines which later became the class 95.
    So, in fact the old Mammut is the direct ancestor of 95 027, which in turn is very much at home on the steep grades.
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    Incidently, the class 95 has dynamic brakes, would you believe it ...
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteamPower4ever View Post
    and ... Moose.
    How appropriate. Perhaps they might consider a special fan trip for @Moose2013 exclusively.

    I sure am intrigued by big 2-10-2Ts working up 6% grades! Hmmm, might make a nice theme for an N scale layout.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Schmidt View Post
    I sure am intrigued by big 2-10-2Ts working up 6% grades! Hmmm, might make a nice theme for an N scale layout.
    The '95s are made by Arnold. You may find a decent one on eBay.
    New release coming up I think ... but European pricing, of course.
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    Default Outtakes from the Harz vacations in 2019 and 2020

    For various reasons a lot of video recordings from my trips to the Harz didn't make it into the three main videos.
    They're too good to throw away though, so I've compiled an "outtakes" video. No really obvious bloopers, just redundant shots, leftovers and clips that didn't fit anywhere else.

    Enjoy.

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    Backtracking a bit here ... CNN has published a nice article about the Harz narrow gauge railways.
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    Great article and photos!

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteamPower4ever View Post
    New release coming up I think ... but European pricing, of course.
    If will came with pizza cutter, not RP25, will be useless on code 55, just run well on code 80 or Peco abracadabra which is code 55 outside and 80 from inside track. I grow up in end of steam era in 70. I still remember the mighty German locomotives pulling and sorting cars in a large transit area, 100m from my house. I still like them, nice black&red contrast with a lot of shiny bras accesories and plate. Noisy, a lot of smoke and steam. One is stil preserved in the front of train station. Picture with loco:
    https://images.app.goo.gl/rxrq9VCdGxxFvrAw9
    I LIKE TO WORK WITH BIG SHIP ENGINES BUT I SPEND MY FREE TIME AROUND N SCALE TRAIN MODELS.

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    Actually I think I somehow got the info wrong about the upcoming release. Could be I misread a TT scale release.

    The last Arnold BR95 N release was apparently in 2018 (catalog # HN2419 - HN 2421), which is the ones you'd want to go for, and while the wheels are not RP25 I would certainly not think twice about using them on Peco code 55.
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