My name is Hagen Langbartels, built in 1980, living in a small town 40 minutes to the lower right of Hamburg, Germany and I play with trains.
How it all began
Resurrecting a hobby
Technology had made quite some progress during my hiatus. Digital control was relatively new when I left the hobby and I wanted to give it a try. I ordered parts to convert my locomotives. That includes replacing most of the motor and adding a decoder. I used Märklin conversion kits. I had four locomotives – a V100/BR212, two V200 and the good old BR 24. I was able to convert the diesel engines, but the conversion kit did not fit into the steam locomotive.
For Christmas I got myself two new locomotives – a branch line steam locomotive (BR 50) and a switcher, the V60 with remote controlled couplers (Telex). And lots of modern Märklin C-Track.
Plans and Doubts
Somehow I stumbled across an american railroading magazine. Model Railroad Hobbyist. It’s free, so I made an effort to get all issues and read through most of them. I was not used to american locomotives. To my eyes they looked awkward. I really didn’t like them. At first. But the more I looked at them, the more I liked them. It was around 2014 when I read articles written by Lance Mindheim. And I saw his photographs of his layouts, dirty locomotives and rolling stock. And I started to like it.
There is not enough Prototype
A Question of Scale
But which scale? I had experiences with H0 and I thought, N-Scale would be too small for my tactile capabilities. So I decided to start in H0 scale. In late 2014 I bought my first H0 US locomotive: An Athearn Genesis MP15AC in CSX yn3 paint scheme, with sound. At a german hobby store I ordered some track and cars and other accessories and started my first tests. I really loved this locomotive.
Planning for Operations
After spending about a year on drawing plans, buying supplies and working on a concept, I thought it might be a good idea to get in concat with other modellers, in person.
So I contacted the local US-Group of the FREMO. They have their regular’s table every month in Hamburg, a 45 minutes drive away. I drove to Hamburg, parked my car and walked to the restaurant. Pitch black. The location was closed. So, I was nervously going to meet some people I didn’t know and just before the first contact hit this roadblock.
I found the telephone number of one of the groups members and called him. That evening he wasn’t attending himself, but he read the message in the WhatsApp-Group that the location was closed and the group had moved to an alternative location. The new location was about 10 minutes of walk away.
I had no idea whom to expect and how to identify the group, but when I entered the restaurant I heard someone talking about ballasting track. Normal people don’t do that in public. So I asked if they belong the the club and they did. There were three of them: Dirk, Wolfgang and Robin. All were N-Scale guys. I introduced my self and my plans and got some helpful feedback. Even better: They invited me and my kids to visit them at their next meeting. It was a small meeting in the workshop of a fellow model kit manufacturer. After that evening, I immediately joined the club.
Sell all your H0 Stuff!
On the way home my son told me, as wisely as he is, to get rid of my H0 stuff and convert to N-Scale. You can run more trains in the same space, he said. That’s what I did.
Live changing moment
That happened in February 2016. I got rid of my H0 Stuff (not as fast as I wished, but eventually it was all gone) and replaced it by even more N-Scale stuff. My daughter liked running steam engines – mainly because we had to use hourglasses for getting water and keeping track of the water level – and my son liked operating road switchers. At that time I had little knowledge about the prototype and thought choosing Union Pacific would make things easy, because they didn’t change their paint scheme. Little did I know.
I do not regret choosing N-Scale and joining this group. I met so many kind people that I can share my interests with, learn new things and can have fun.