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Schienenwunder

Wonders of the rails

Album, printed by Carl Werner, Reichenbach i Vogtl

Issued by: Garbaty, Berlin
No. in set: 300
Year of issue: 1934

I am grateful to Herr Thomas Noßke who informed me that the express locomotive 03 154 shown on cards 22 and 23 and described as the most modern German express locomotive was delivered in May 1934. However other spectacular engines such as the BR05, 61 001 and EIT1998 which were delivered in 1935 are not mentioned in the album. Therefore we can assume that the album was produced in the second half of 1934 or the beginning of 1935. Köberich lists it as 1934. Incidentally Herr Noßke's site also contains other images from this album as well as other interesting information for those who can read German.

French rail bus This album illustrates rail travel of the 1930s. It is divided into groups of six or twelve pictures, each dealing with a different aspect. The album starts off with various steam passenger, express and goods locomotives from around the world. There are locomotives from China to Columbia along with views of the driver's cabin and on card 21 one of those classic views of a man standing next to a driving wheel to show how big it is. In those days, going fast meant big wheels. Nowadays modern technology means we can go faster with smaller wheels, although having seen what a broken tyre on an ICE can do, I'm not absolutely convinced.

Under goods locomotives are illustrated some Garratt locomotives - those wierd things that look like two self-propelled tenders with a boiler slung in between them. I always thought that was the name of the builders, but the Siamese version was built by Henschel & Sohn AG in Kassel.

Turbine express locomotive of the German Reichsbahn The fourth group shows turbine locomotives. Now I must confess that I don't know what a turbine locomotive is. I assume it must be driven by a steam turbine in some way. They all seem to have some wierd shaped things between the boiler and the driving wheels. Card 40 shows a turbine express locomotive of the German Reichsbahn. On a good day it could manage 115 km/h which is about 70mph. England had one as well, built by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow. Curiously, according to the album, this engine had a gauge of 5 feet 3 inches which is 1600mm compared with the normal gauge of 4 feet 8.5 inches (1435mm). I wonder where it was used.

Actually, reading through the album, it seems that a variety of different gauges were in use in the 1930s. Narrow gauges were quite common for small railways, but it seems there were several broad gauges as well. Card 33 shows a Holland-Java goods engine with a gauge of 1760mm (5 feet 9.25 inches) whereas Russia seemed to use 1524mm (5 feet). One French express locomotive is shown with a gauge 5mm wider than the standard, although the rest of the French engines seem to be normal. Japan on the other hand apparently used a narrow gauge of 1067mm (3 feet 6 inches).

German steam tram The second section of the book deals with electric locomotives. Card 50 shows an American electric express locomotive from Chicago. This was another broad gauge engine with a gauge of 1676mm (5 feet 6 inches), but despite being an express could apparently only manage 98 km/h (61 mph). The Germans had an electric express locomotive shown on card 53 which could do 151.5 km/h (94 mph).

Section three deals with diesel locomotives and secion four with special locomotives. The latter is mainly industrial locomotives and those used on cog-wheel railways, along with a few mobile cranes.

Section 5 of the album deals with trams (street cars). This includes steam trams. Although I had heard of steam trains being used on the London underground, I had never heard of a steam tram. I thought they were all electric. Actually, the steam ones don't seem to have any space for passengers, so I presume they are just engines, and the passengers travelled in carriages pulled behind.

Section 6 deals with "motor locomotives". This includes " torpedo busses" of the "rail autobahns" and "schienenzepps". The album cover in fact shows a schienenzepp of the union pacific railway - top speed 166 km/h (104 mph). One thing which this section in particular illustrates is how much the language has changed. I had not heard of any of the above expressions, and neither had anyone else I asked. Not only are there types of train which donīt exist any more, but no-one has even heard of them. "Schienenzepp" means "rail zepp". According to Herr Noßke, Schienenzepp is an abbreviation of "Schienen Zeppelin". In the railway literature, the word is used exclusively for the Krukenberg rail car. This was streamlined somewhat like a zeppelin air ship and powered by a BMW aero engine. Garbaty seem to use the word more generally.

Interior of an American Pullman car Back to more familiar things. Section 7 shows coaches and gives an idea of the sort of rail travel that finally came to an end when British Rail scrapped the "Brighton Belle". The card illustrated shows the interior of an American Pullman car. Actually it is a sleeping car in its daytime configuration with the beds stowed. Various other sleeping cars are illustrated. Card 212 shows an American one in nighttime configuration with three young women resident, all carefully covering their knees. Other cards show the kitchens and bars on board luxury trains. Some of them would put the Ritz to shame. On the flying Scotsman it was possible to get your hair cut while you travelled, as illustrated on card 192. The set even illustrates what the toilets looked like. Cigarette cards of toilets might not be everyone's cup of tea but the ones belonging to the Mitropa Gesellschaft look a lot better than the one I have at home.

These weren't the only types of coaches. A lot of post travelled by rail and there is a section showing mail coaches and mobile sorting offices. Following on from these are various goods wagons. In fact quite a lot of them.

Russian sleeper-impregnating train The final section of the album deals with special wagons. Curiously this section includes several tunnels and bridges as well as a ship. Well I suppose they had to put them somewhere. Several types of snow plough are illustrated. Some of them are fairly conventional with a normal plough on the front. Two of them have large propellor type things on the front which are supposed to sling the snow to the side of the tracks. A Canadian train tackles the problem of snow from a different angle. It dispenses with rails altogether and drives over the snow on caterpillar tracks. It is steered by means of a sledge arrangement at the front and drags a row of sledges behind it. The card illustrated is a Russian self-propelled sleeper-impregnating train. I presume it is used for track maintenance to impregnate sleepers in situ as otherwise it would be easier to do it in a workshop and take the finished sleepers to wherever you needed them. Also shown is a mobile school and a mobile hospital.

Despite the luxurious aura of the times, the world was only five years away from being plunged into the most destructive war it had ever known. This is foreshadowed by group 31 showing military vehicles. Most of these are large calibre guns designed to enable heavy firepower to be moved around easily. These were enormous guns. The card illustrated shows a French gun, calibre 52cm (over 20") weighing 275 tons. French 52cm rail gun

Altogether, this is a fascinating set giving a broad look at the rail travel of a bygone age. It is the most expensive of the Garbaty sets and well worth a place in any collection if you can get hold of one.

Errors and variations.

The album also contains several errors which are noted by Herr Noßke.
• The engine shown on card 10 is a goods locomotive rather than a passenger one.
• The wheel arrangement shown on card 55 is B+B and not B1
• The wheel arrangement shown on card 63 is 2D2 and not 1G1. (My version of the album lists it as 2G2 so apparently some sort of corection was made, although it appears not the right one.)
• The wheel arrangement given on card 84 does not make sense.
• Some versions of the album list the Oberweißbacher Bergbahn (card 87) as a cogwheel railway whereas it is a cable railway. Herr Noßke informs me that this railway still exists (1999) and is a popular tourist attraction.
•The Argentinian crane show on card 109 had a wheel arrangement D and not D1
•The Kruckenberg "Schienenzepp" (card 145) set a record of 230km/h in 1931.

It also appears that the pictures used for the cards were originally black and white and have been coloured by hand. The colouring used is not always completely accurate.

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