History of gage Zm
The beginning of gage Zm goes back to the beginning of the nineties. In the area of the German cities Stuttgart/Ulm some clever home mechanics made it their objective to produce models of the rhätische narrow gage railway (which is running in Switzerland, canton Graubünden) on a scale of 1:220 by doing it themselves namely with all accessories like tracks, switches, tractive units, railway freight and passenger cars. Founder of this team of home mechanics is Mr. Ulrich Kehr (at that time living at Tuttlingen), who reproduced by using simple means like (file, fretsaw, drilling machine, Märklin-spare parts and so on) a crocodile of the rhätische railway in Switzerland (construction series Ge 6/6) so detailed during his school time that his fellow students Gunter Bürkle (Ulm) and Florian Dignath ( Stuttgart) at once were very enthusiastic, when they stumbled upon this piece of jewel five years later more or less by chance.
Together they decided to construct corresponding cars for the single, but functioning machine. In the year 1999 it was possible for the first time that a short passenger train of the gage Zm was running its rounds on the occasion of the exhibition of model railways “Modell und Hobby” at Leipzig. The team of home mechanics got the occasion of presentation by the BDEF. During the following years the rolling stock increased to two complete trains. Furthermore this miraculous train attracted one more fan. Mr. Stephan Kern from Boras (Sweden) created a small installation as a suitable home for the two trains. This installation which is constructed for demonstration has a size of 1 x 0,5 meters and consists of a simple oval of tracks executed with a crossing station of two tracks. By means of the self-produced electronic control system it is possible to effect an automatic alternation of trains. The parameters maximum speed, minimum speed (for a start without jerk) as well as a starting and braking delay are adjustable for each train. Concerning the landscape this part of the installation which is equipped with a short bridge, the obligatory tunnel, a centrally placed mountain and a small creek is very attractively adapted to the subject of a mountain railway , but not created after a special example (if you are interested please look at www.zm-bahn.de).
This model construction team (company for producing and spreading remarkable railway models on the scale of 1:220 of the car pool of the rhätische railway / Graubünden) created the first technical standards for the operating in the gage 4,5 mm. At the exhibition model construction at Bremen in the year 2000 the author of this article saw this small miracle installation of the rhätische railway for the first time. As he just created a large installation on gage Z in the basement of his house which represents the Switzerland with the station Erstfeld as centre in a size of approximately 10 qm (10 m x 1 m in the shape of an “U”), he was very enthusiastic about the possibility to extend this increasing installation by means of further components, namely by a narrow gage route of the rhätische railway. Unfortunately there was no material. There were existing neither a track system nor tractive units, railway freight and passenger cars. Furthermore the model construction team of Stuttgart informed that they wanted to create cars only for themselves. Their studies and finding their professions had absolutely priority. I could understand them.
As basic condition for the construction of a supplementary route on the Zm I considered the procurement of a rail system with a gage width of 4,5 mm. This rail system should cover: curved track parts with different radius, straight track parts as well as right and left switches which controlling should be effected by underfloor drive.
I contacted the fine model construction company “Halwa” at Stuttgart which promised to help me in prosecuring of a professional rail system. Naturally I took an important part of the construction costs of this Zm material. Thus Halwa created a complete track system on the gage Zm with code40-profile and CNC-milled real wood sleeper-rusts of the Rhätische narrow gage railway. Unfortunately the company Halwa does not exist any longer, but this track system is delivered now by the company Aspen-Model GmbH Düsseldorf.
Tractive cars, railway freight and passenger cars
Naturally the miniaturization is a big technical challenge, especially as the first cars had to be produced by the construction team of Stuttgart without any professional tools. I was sure that the team of Stuttgart did not supply any cars, so I had to look for an other producer of small series products, for I did not think me capable of constructing tractive units, railway freight and passenger cars myself and producing corresponding etching boards (as practised by the team of Stuttgart). Only the construction of corresponding etching board kits as well as the correct painting I knew from model constructions I had done before. Only the company “Freudenreich Feinwerktechnik” at Sanitz near Rostock had experiences in producing Swiss models on the gage Z. So I contacted Mr. Freudenreich. I asked him to help me and represented my ideas. Mr. Freudenreich promised to assist in constructing and producing professional etching boards. We agreed at once on my financial participation.
From 2001 on kits and models of passenger and freight cars on gage Zm were developed, but at first Mr. Freudenreich did not try to construct a Zm-engine. Planned was only the construction of the 6 axial brown Ge 4/6 of RhB. Therefore I asked the team at Stuttgart again, if they possibly could make available the Ge 4/4. One day I was pleased and much surprised when they sent me a letter in which they promised to deliver a Ge 4/4. Some weeks later Mr. Kehr and Mr. Dignath of the Stuttgart team came to see me at Bielefeld and gave me an E-engine of RhB Ge 4/4, ready for running. From that time on this engine is running its rounds on my 13 m long Zm-RhB-route without any problem.