Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The "Molli-bahn" - a narrow gauge steam railway in north Germany

On our recent holiday in Germany Sarah and I stayed 3 nights in Bad Doberan and had a ride or two on the "Molli" bahn, a 900mm gauge railway that runs from Bad Doberan (where it connects with the main line) to Kühlungsborn on the Baltic coast. The first stage (Bad Doberan to Heiligendamm, 6.6km) dates from 1886, and the second stage (Heiligendamm to Kühlungsborn, 8.8km) from 1910. It's all single track, with passing at Heiligendamm station.

Our hotel was nice and close to the station. I recorded this video the afternoon of our arrival. Not a bad view from a hotel balcony! (Sarah was less impressed when we discovered that the first train in the morning arrives at 07:21, in similar noisy fashion.)
"Molli Bahn", Bad Doberan, Germany.

All these pictures and videos are hosted on Flickr, from where you can view or download them at full resolution.

The next day we went by train to Kühlungsborn for a day at the seaside. The first pictures are of the loco being run around at Bad Doberan.
Bad Doberan to Kühlungsborn on the "Molli Bahn", Germany
Bad Doberan to Kühlungsborn on the "Molli Bahn", Germany

We got the best seats, right at the front of the train with a good view of the engine. One of the delights of the "Molli" is its street running in Bad Doberan (with continuous bell sounding).
Bad Doberan to Kühlungsborn on the "Molli Bahn", Germany
Bad Doberan to Kühlungsborn on the "Molli Bahn", Germany

Once off the streets it can go a bit faster.
Bad Doberan to Kühlungsborn on the "Molli Bahn", Germany

I'm quite pleased with this video of it setting off from Kühlungsborn Mitte.
Bad Doberan to Kühlungsborn on the "Molli Bahn", Germany

The beach at Kühlungsborn is long and sandy, and the sea is beautifully clear. We both had a swim and then had a lunch of fish and beer.
Kühlungsborn, Germany Kühlungsborn, Germany
Lunch in Kühlungsborn, Germany Lunch in Kühlungsborn, Germany

At Kühlungsborn West station there is a small museum.
"Molli" Museum, Kühlungsborn, Germany "Molli" Museum, Kühlungsborn, Germany
"Molli" Museum, Kühlungsborn, Germany "Molli" Museum, Kühlungsborn, Germany

Among the exhibits is a 1951 loco. The ones in service date from 1932.
"Molli" Museum, Kühlungsborn, Germany "Molli" Museum, Kühlungsborn, Germany

For our return journey we got the best seats again, this time right at the back of the train.
Kühlungsborn to Bad Doberan on the "Molli Bahn", Germany Kühlungsborn to Bad Doberan on the "Molli Bahn", Germany

Passing at Heiligendamm.
Kühlungsborn to Bad Doberan on the "Molli Bahn", Germany Kühlungsborn to Bad Doberan on the "Molli Bahn", Germany

Street running in Bad Doberan.
Kühlungsborn to Bad Doberan on the "Molli Bahn", Germany Kühlungsborn to Bad Doberan on the "Molli Bahn", Germany

At Bad Doberan the last two trains of the day have 5 of the 10 carriages uncoupled and moved to a shed.
"Molli Bahn", Bad Doberan, Germany "Molli Bahn", Bad Doberan, Germany

The loco is then coupled to the remaining 5 carriages, plus saloon and luggage wagons, before leaving for Kühlungsborn where it spends the night.
"Molli Bahn", Bad Doberan, Germany

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Hungarian sour cherry soup

Fresh picked cherries

I have a Morello sour cherry tree in my front garden that, most years, produces more fruit than I know what to do with. This year I asked online for ideas to use the surplus and someone suggested sour cherry soup, a Hungarian speciality.


I searched for recipes on line and found a huge variety — whole cherries or pulverised, warm or chilled, with or without alcohol. Many of the recipes include lemon juice and/or zest, but these tend to be using sweet cherries rather then the (not often available to buy) sour cherries I have.


I combined the best elements of several recipes to come up with this:

  • 400g Morello cherries
  • 2 cloves
  • ~1cm cinnamon stick
  • 100ml red wine
  • 200-300ml water
  • 25g sugar
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 100ml crème fraîche
  1. Stone the cherries and place in a saucepan with the cloves and cinnamon. Add the red wine and water to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Blend the flour and crème fraîche in a small bowl.
  3. Work the cherries through a sieve, removing the cloves and cinnamon. Stir in the cream and flour and return to the boil. Whisk until smooth and free of lumps of cream. Simmer very gently for five minutes to thicken slightly.
  4. Stand the pan in cold water to cool the soup, then finish cooling in the fridge.
Serves 2.


The result was amazingly good. A smooth, slightly sour, soup that really got the taste buds going for the main course. I'll definitely be making it again.


Next time I'll try simmering the stones in water first, to extract some of their almond flavour. I'll also work some of the sieved cherries into the cream and flour to loosen it before adding back to the rest of the cherries.


A note about cherry stoners


For several years I used a traditional cherry / olive pitter that does one cherry at a time. This worked well, until its spring broke, but tended to spatter the kitchen with cherry juice. I now have a multi pitter from Lakeland. I can no longer find it on their web site, but it appears to be functionally identical to this "Lurch" branded one from Amazon. This does seven cherries at a time, and catches the juice, but is designed for large cherries. The thick prongs rip my small cherries apart, and the smallest cherries can get pushed through the supporting holes. Maybe I should try this "Vantiya" model instead.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Replumbing my toy traction engine

The steam valve on Wilesco toy traction engines (and steam rollers) is rather basic. It has a plastic lever, which is loose when cold, and goes from closed to fully open in less than a quarter turn, making it rather difficult to set the engine speed precisely.

I decided to replace it with a better quality "globe" valve to give finer control, and to move the valve to the driver's end of the engine. I also wanted to add a displacement lubricator to ensure the cylinder is always well oiled.

As Wilesco is a German company their models use metric threads throughout, whereas British steam models still use imperial sizes. I prefer to work in metric so bought all the metric fittings I needed from a German supplier Modellbau-Niggel. I was at least able to buy metric pipe from a British supplier, Macc Models.

Connecting the steam valve to the boiler


Rather than run a pipe from the original steam valve position to the driver's end of the engine I decided to move the whistle to the original valve position and connect the new valve to where the whistle had been. This would require quite a complicated bit of pipe bending with three 90° bends in close proximity.

I made a simple pipe bending jig out of washers, nuts and a bolt. Cutting away the side of one of the washers allows bends to be made in close proximity, as well as making it easier to remove the bent pipe from the jig.

Replacing the Wilesco steam valve

After bending the pipe and cutting it to length I soldered pipe nipples (or cones) to each end. As you can see, I used a bit too much solder on one of them.

Replacing the Wilesco steam valve

The completed globe valve connection.

Replacing the Wilesco steam valve

If you've browsed the Modellbau-Niggel web site you may have noticed that they don't sell a globe valve (or oiler) with 3mm pipe connections. I used their part number 310 425 which has an M6x0.75 threaded inlet and a 4mm pipe nipple outlet. I shortened the threaded inlet and then used a centre drill to make a seat for a 3mm pipe cone. I used a sleeve of 4mm brass tube to solder the outlet nipple to 3mm pipe.

Connecting the lubricator to the steam chest


The traction engine's "steam chest" uses a flared pipe connection with an M6x0.75 nut (or screw, as it has male threads) to clamp the flared pipe to a sealing washer. The pipe is about 3.7mm diameter, so I couldn't simply reuse the nut with my 3mm pipe.

Replacing the Wilesco steam valve

Instead I used part number 706 675 which is a good fit on 3mm pipe. I cut off one side and shortened the other, then filed off the thread at the very end so it fits the steam chest. Then I flared the end of some 3mm pipe.

Replacing the Wilesco steam valve

After bending the pipe and soldering a 3mm nipple to the other end the oiler was fitted to the traction engine.

Replacing the Wilesco steam valve

As with the steam valve, the oiler I used (part number 400 104) has M6x0.75 threaded connections on which I used a centre drill to make seats for 3mm pipe nipples.

The final connection


The last bit of pipework is much simpler, apart from sleeving one end to fit the 4mm outlet of the steam valve.

Replacing the Wilesco steam valve

Initial tests show everything is working as it should, and the new steam valve is a considerable improvement. I've yet to determine the optimum setting for the oiler's needle valve, so am erring on the generous side for now, giving it one whole turn from fully closed.