No. 123: Modelbautag at the Feldbahn Museum, Frankfurt


Last weekend I drove to Frankfurt to visit the Frankfurt Feldbahn Museum for Modelbautag

Feldbahn means “Field Railway”, and is a term used to describe German narrow-gauge industrial railroading.  The Feldbahn Museum just west of downtown Frankfurt is the largest operating museum of it’s kind in Europe; they maintain a large stable of equipment and a giant mainline loop in nearby Rebstockpark.

Last Sunday was a great day to visit, as this day was also Modelbautag, or Modeler’s Day, at the museum.  I expected a train show with vendors and models but there were only a few modular layouts and a couple other things on display, and that was it.  More on that later. 


Though Modelbautag was a disappointment, I was happy to find a number of the little engines steamed up and moving trains happily about.  

After being there about 10 minutes, I had a goofy smile on my face and kept saying to myself “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!” 


After another 10 minutes, I texted my wife and wrote “This is a life-changing event.  I’m not coming home.”


This gauge of this railroad is 600mm, which was something of a standard in Germany.  600mm works out to just under 23-1/2 inches, or what we would consider in America as “two foot gauge”.

Below.  The museum probably has about 35 or 40 locomotives, but here’s the star of the show—a Jung 0-6-0 built in 1952.  If I am translating the technical sheet correctly…the type was originally designed for the Wehrmacht in 1944.  This engine is heavy compared to the other engines and it’s really got some get-up-and-go.

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There are diesels too, some with side rods like this one.  I understand these engines are very loud when operating.


This engine, below, is also a diesel.  There are a half-dozen like it around the museum.  


I’m not sure about interesting little this engine.  I think it is battery-powered.


Inside one of the two locomotive shops was this very unique engine.  This is a Benzollokomotive, or oil locomotive, built in 1905.  It is the oldest of its type in the world.


Here’s a view of some of the 600mm trackwork.  Yep, there’s a three-way switch and a double slip right together, plus a crossover up ahead on the left.  How cool is that?


I found the trackwork on this turnout to be very interesting.  There is different size rail, and some of the railhead appears to be different widths, hence the multiple fishplates.  The ties interlace.  The rail is held to the ties by bolts, not spikes.  And some ties are metal, while some are wood.


There are two car shops.  The track in this smaller shop, below, is very-small-radius industrial track, but still 600 mm, with what I call “kick-switches”.  There’s no switch stand or linkage–you just kick the points over.


Here’s a pile of panel track, or what perhaps the Brits would call “set-track”.  Like a model train set, you can set up a Feldbahn anywhere.  They’ve got straights, curves, turnouts and bumper tracks, all secured by metal ties.


Above.  Near the back of the small car shop is this miniature wye.  I estimated the whole wye takes up about 20 feet.  I like the picnic car too…


Here’s an example of the utility of these little railroads.  This photo below was on display in one of the engine shops.  After the terrible war, tracks were easily laid right in the streets to aid cleanup and reconstruction.

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Also on these side tracks is this 1950-built electric Eimerkettenbagger, which my wife translated as a “bucket, tracked, excavator”.  The buckets at the far end of the machine scoop up dirt and dump it into the tipper car in front.  While I was standing here a museum worker came over and cranked it up.  It was noisy but the cool factor was huge.


There was a larger car shop building nearby with a few dozen freight and passenger cars inside under construction or restoration.  I thought you might enjoy this photo of the trackwork inside the shop.


Back inside the main locomotive shed, there was the obligatory German meal with fest tables set up everywhere.  It was a super-hot day and the beer was flowing freely.  I had a good laugh when I saw one of the engineers up in the cab of an engine drinking a glass of beer.  


The rest of this building is full of every kind of 600mm locomotive —diesels, steam, you name it.


The other locomotive shed included a very small model railroad exhibition.  The models were small but backdrop was priceless!


The fellow on the left set up a very nice modular narrow gauge layout, about 1:24th scale or so.


Here’s another view of his nice layout, which ran very well and included s small stable of sound-equipped locomotives.


This guy and his dad had a great display of G scale Feldbahn models.  They both spoke excellent English and we had a nice conversation.  He is definitely an RPM-er and I told him so.


This guy does nice work.  The little engines had sound and DCC and ran very well.



Above and Below.  These nice Feldbahn dioramas are on display in the museum. Obviously teh Germans are very serious about the little trains.  There’s a lotta love here.


It was a great day of train watching and learning all about the Feldbahn.  Here’s one last photo…of one of the little trains, heading off for a short run around Rebstockpark.


How can you NOT love this stuff!  – John G




2 thoughts on “No. 123: Modelbautag at the Feldbahn Museum, Frankfurt

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