Val Ease Central Railroad by Jeffrey MacHan

The Sinsheim Chronicles: Episode 14

Z Stammtisch München or Real men DO play with little trains

The regional train from Goeppingen made its winding way to Munich at a rather leisurely pace. We had boarded the driver's coach and the window forward had been left unscreened on a lovely early Spring afternoon. For the better part of 40 minutes Terry relaxed from the whirlwind tour of the centre of the Z universe by watching the train negociate the tight curves along the escarpment. I could only imagine what he was thinking during this quiet interlude.

The train to Munich!

I was still scribbling notes trying to capture the highlights of the past eight hours. We couldn't have had a better time and better weather to enjoy a walking tour of Goeppingen. The trees were budding and daffodils could be seen in flower beds. I was amazed to spot some narrow gauge railcars along the way. There was even one car up on conversion trucks for the standard gauge! Soon evening began to obscure the trackside and the lights of the city began to glow. The train came to a silent stop in the Munich central station and we dragged our luggage out onto the platform and looked around at the 20 tracks, most filled with ICE, RE, commuter trains and shunting engines. This was one busy station although a wee bit cold on a late March evening.

Not having a clue as to what direction to take from the station, I boldly approached a group of 4 security agents having a smoke in front of the Traveller's Aid office. A rather large policeman gave us very accurate directions to Dachaustrasse...head back to the other side of the station, turn right, at the corner turn left onto Dachaustrasse and continue to the hotel. He was absolutely correct! and in a few minutes we were trundling down the rather dimly lit thoroughfare. We noticed that a tram ran the enire lenght of the street which would come in very handy as it turned out.

We walked for at least a kilometer wondering just how far the hotel Montree could still be when we found ourselves directly in front of the Loewenbrauhaus...the meeting place of the Z Stammtisch München. No need to find the hotel now, we'd simply connect with the guys and find the hotel later.

The München Z gang. Into the noisy and crowded brewery we plunged. Within seconds we had spotted the private room with a long table surrounded by middle-aged (for the most part) men and 1 woman. The little Märklin sign sort of gave them away ;-)

Before I could say hello or sit down, Jeremy Brandon had lept to his feet and come over to greet us. When he learned that we had not yet checked into our hotel, he insisted that we get that taken care of and come back to the party. I left Terry with the group as a garantee of my return and Jeremy and I walked the extra 300 meters or so to the hotel. Checking in was simply a matter of filling in the usual register and picking up our 5th floor room key. The hotel foyer was small but inviting.

Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately, the elevator was out of order. I went back to the desk and exchanged the key for a room on the first floor. Up the dark stairs we climbed and made our way to the far end of the gloomiest hallway I had ever had the pleasure of walking.

The Hotel Montree foyer The gloomy hallway leading to our room

Of course this was before Terry later discovered the light switches along the walls that would automatically turn off the lights after 5 minutes. Cool!

Although small, the room was comfortable and had a large window that opened out onto an interior courtyard. We would definitely not be disturbed by the morning traffic or the sound of guests coming and going.

Less than 30 minutes after having left our new Z friends, I had rejoined Terry in the middle of the table alongside Jeremy and across from Manfred Joerger who was our host for the evening. The Z Stammisch meets once a month to share ideas, talk about projects, show off scratch-built items and enjoy lots of beer and pretzels. The 20 delightful Z fanatics around the table had also come for the food. The menu selection at the brauhaus was varied and the portions were generous.

Running Z train at the Stammtisch! This evening was also the official introduction of the official Z Stammisch collectible, a Halwa tank container adorned with the Z Stammisch logo. Of course Terry and I made the 25 € contribution to add this unique item to our trip memorabilia. Jeremy Brandon also had an announcement to make. He had finished beta testing his slow-speed control adapter for the Märklin 9-volt battery pack. He had a steamer running around the Märklin sign at a crawl just to demonstrate the efficiency of his computer chip controller. He mentioned that a 9-volt battery would last much longer using his adapter. He might have said 12 hours or something along that line. He'll have to correct me on this point. Terry immediately took one off Jeremy's hands. I should have done the same with hindsight. Oh well, there's always international airmail ;-)

The group was boisterous, friendly, and we got to see several magnificent super- detailed locomotives and chat about the mentality of Märklin executives and Z scale market growth. We made plans to meet Jeremy the next morning at 10am to make the pilgrimmage to Manfred's workshop where we would spend the day and then join Manfred's HO group for an evening of fun.

Terry and I had just experienced 3 adventures in one day and sleep took it's time arriving. We talked about people we had met and the sights we had seen. My notes were becoming more of a scrawl trying to keep up with the pace of our adventures. Sleep finally came to silence the question drifting through my mind, "What did tomorrow have in store?"

Stay tuned for Episode 15 of the Great European AdventureZ 2002 | Return to Sinsheim Chronicles Home.