European trains and more

I spent a good chunk of last night — at least the part after Survivor — noodling around Euro Rail Hobbies’s web site. They’re an importer of European model trains, and their site is one big magnificent catalogue.

I enjoyed clicking through the site and recognizing various locomotives. I spent quite a bit of time on trains in Europe: more individual trips, though, since the North American trips have been longer (and slower), I’ve accumulated more hours here. It got me thinking: if model railroaders in North America model the stuff they’re nostalgic about, why shouldn’t I do the same with what I remember fondly about trains — the European rail network?

Jen noticed that I was lighting up more over this stuff than I had over the usual late-steam-era stuff that is most popular in the hobby, or even the narrow-gauge geared steam (Shays, Heislers, Climaxes) that has been the focus of my attention. No, it seems that what I want is funky-looking electric trains from the SNCF, SBB and DB. Especially the Swiss ones. With model catenaries — the site is full of model catenaries. Neato.

But the European trains are different. Märklin’s got some digital AC locomotives that appear to run on a proprietary powered third rail, and I’m not sure whether the DC locos are adaptable to the NMRA’s DCC standards, to say nothing of being able to run on North American track. HO is a scale (1:87), not necessarily a set of operating standards. As I’m prone to say, Must Investigate Further.

Other rail links that have been accumulating:

  • Very big model trains: the White Creek Railroad — 1:8 scale, 7½-inch gauge layout that has 6½ miles of track on 120 acres in Michigan. Magnificent. Huge. (See previous entry.)
  • Very small trains: Ztrack Magazine, for Z (1:220) scale, the smallest commercial scale. A few European manufacturers mentioned above (especially Märklin) produce Z scale stuff.
  • More Mac model railroading software (see previous entry), from Softrack Systems: a Filemaker Pro based inventory program (Mac and Windows), and a fast clock program (OS 9 only).
  • Strangest club I’ve ever stumbled across: Model Railroad Nudists.