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Five figures and three letters - a story of
searching and doubt
Author: Martin Silz, Essen, Germany
The telephone call has just been finished. A sheet of paper is lying in front of me: five numbers and three letters: 16 077 Köl. Something like a treasure, something you have been looking for quite some time and got it at last.
What is the story behind this number?
The whole story started 2 weeks ago. The annual meeting of the Eisenbahn Club Essen und Umgebung e.V. decided to renew the livery of their exhibition coach, their model layout coach. The coach should be painted in green, just as it always has been before. But the filler underneath the paint should be removed, too, because the filler always tended to crack. In the last years the coach always looked like, as if it just come home from the war.
It is early in the morning on a Saturday morning in January 1994. A small number of workers are standing in a loco shed in Gelsenkirchen-Hasselt staring at the many, many square meters of paint, that have to be removed. Some spots show the number of fillers and liveries: often more than 10 layers, several millimeters thick.
One question was in the air: are the different layers of paint going to release some of the history of the coach? Is there still some remain of the Reichsbahn eagle on the sides, just as with one of the coaches from the railway museum in Bochum-Dahlhausen some time ago? But nothing was found on this Saturday. Neither at the following Sunday.
Some things were already known. An express train coach was bought from the Deutsche Bundesbahn in 1962. It should house the club‘s layout. This layout still being built at that time was located in an old Prussian express coach. Unfortunately this coach was damaged and was not allowed to run on Bundesbahn tracks. So the decision was made to transport the layout as a whole from the old Prussian express coach to a new coach. One end of the old Prussian coach was cut off, some narrow gauge tracks were laid and the layout was moved to a flat wagon. Next the old Prussian coach was moved away and the new coach was moved in its place. The new coach has two big doors at one end, so that the layout could be pushed inside.
The participants of this story tell the younger members of the club, that just after having pushed the layout into the new coach, a big thunder storm, which was threatening the whole day, broke loose.
The new coach got the number 8470 Essen. One of the workshop plates was still in ist place: 17 022 Wismar 1923. The type of the coach is well known to German railroaders. The ends show the typical forms: it’s a "Pike".
Due to the big doors to move in the layout one end has been rebuilt. The ends have been arranged to a straight line. Between the windows, there are three fans. Some windows of the other side of the coach have been closed with tin plates. The current coach number is written between the windows: MEC 10. The type is given as D4ü. And there are lots of other inscriptions, such as the weight, the type of the brake etc.
But which was the original number? Which railway "Direktion" was the coach assigned to? What was the orignal type? C4ü-21? C4ü-22? C4ü-23? Or a totally different type?
Is it a German coach at all?
It is not a "Polish Pike". The form of the roof is wrong. A polish Pike has a roof with a horizontal lower edge. The roof of "our" coach is slowly rising towards the ends.
I have to admit, that I could have started a search only with the number of the workshop‘s plate. But I was not aware of such a list at that time. A journey to the Nuremberg traffic museum did not look promising. So I waited for some time, hoping that by any chance some hints appear.
And now that specific telephone call. Another member of the club had found the number on a layer of paint between the windows. It is 16 077 Köl.
Of course the first idea is to have a look at the well known H0 model from the company located in Salzburg. I once rebuilt two of these specific models myself. One of these model-"modeltrain-coaches" could be seen during a fair at the Gruga halls in Essen in 1989. So I did a look at the catalogue: coach number 16 036 Mü, type C4ü-22. The group of the numbers 16 0xx is at least partly correct. A tiny little victory, a coach from the same group of numbers. But the text in the catalog connected to this coach is raising new questions. Only 25 of these type have been built. Let’s imagine that the 16 036 was the coach with the lowest number, then the highest given number would have been 16 060! 17 numbers to low?! So it is not that easy to clear up the history of the coach. And I do have to admit, that a catalogue of a model is not a real proof of the history.
I have a look at my own railway library.
"Reisezugwagen deutscher Eisenbahnen, Eisenbahnfahrzeug-Archiv, Band 6.1, Länderbahnen und Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft". I find the types C4ü-21, C4ü-21a, C4ü-22 deescribed in that book. A short glance at the tables at the end of that books discovers horrible things: the numbers spread from 16 029 to 16 087. 50 coaches, not 25! Is the catalogue from the company from Austria correct, or the book? I take a closer look at the description of the coaches at the front of the book. 25 coaches type C4ü-22 (yep, here we are again). Plus 20 coaches C4ü-22a. Total 45, but not 50 coaches. Are there any gaps in the numbering? And if so, how confused are the numbers? A closer look at the drawings and photos in that book do not help at all. The main differences are the small vertical plates on the lower part of the side walls between the windows. Our 16 077 has those plates located just in the middle between two windows. According to the book only the C4ü-21a has those plates located next to the vertical edges of the windows. All other shown types differ slightly. Might be, that there are slight changes between the drawing and the real coach. At least I discovered the "Yellow Brick Road".
Next book: "Skizzensammlung Reisezugwagen der Reichsbahn" , edited by "Freunde der Eisenbahn e.V., Hamburg". Here we are number blocks 16 029 to 16 048 and 16 074 to 16 078 are given to the type C4ü-22. The picture is becoming clearer: 20 plus 5, that’s 25 coaches. The lowest number is 16 029, the highest number 16 078, and a large gap of numbers in between. We had all that above, too. Looking at the opposite page in this book we have the C4ü-21a, the coach with the differing plates. But only a single number? There is a short handwritten text: "Mind reading the introduction". So I go to the beginning of the book. Here it is said, that the drawings of the C4ü-21 and the C4ü-21a might have been mixed up. So again some doubt: Can you trust the official DRG dawings?
(I am using the term DRG in this context as a synonym for the time between the change from Länderbahn times till the end of the war, regardlessly of the correct Deutsche Reichsbahn or Deutsche Reichsbahn Gesellschaft or whatsoever. Just to clarify the totally correct use of the different names of "Reichsbahn" would tend to a lively evening discussion. Similarly I use the term Deutsche Bundesbahn for the railway company located in the Western part of Gemany after 1945. The Deutsche Reichsbahn of the former GDR and the Deutsche Bahn AG are not subject of this story).
Might there be different mixing ups with the C4ü-22 and C4ü-22a as well?
Last chance: "Die Reisezugwagen und Triebwagen der deutschen Reichsbahn 1930". Should have been first choice instead! This book gives all numbers of all passanger coaches (including multiple units and baggage coaches) between 1930 and 1955 ever being used by the Deutsche Reichsbahn Gesellschaft or Deutsche Bundesbahn. And the same confusion starts up again: only one single C4ü-21a. That’s quite obvious. And it occurs, that the numbers of the C4ü-21, C4ü-21a, C4ü-22, C4ü-22a und C4ü-23 are heavily mixed up. And there are only two names of the official drawings for these coaches: "Be 700" and "Be 700 second edition". In the "Skizzensammlung" given above all third class Pike’s coaches only have one number for the drawing "Be 700", even though there are slight differences.
But then the foot note on that page!
A huge surprise: here the 16 077 was being rebuilt to C4ük. So it was a coach with an additional kitchen.
Many new questions rise. Where was this kitchen? At the end with the smaller compartment? Or at the opposite end? Only parts of the original interior are left in our "model-layout-coach". And there is no sign of a kitchen whatsoever.
Was there still a kitchen, when the coach was sold to the MEC Essen? Perhaps it was one reason to sell this particular coach, because nobody wanted to remove the kitchen from the coach? A question, that still requires answers.
There is at least a hint, when the rebuilding took place. Some of the C4ü-23 coaches got a kitchen. And they got a new name for their type: C4ü-23/38. So the rebuilding of our coach certainly took place at the same time, somewhen around the middle or end of the 1930s.
Pike’s coaches with kitchen seem to have been rather common. I am counting 14 coaches of that kind. So there must be a way, to get a drawing of the rebuilt coach.
Now that we know, that there was a kitchen in that coach, we could have a look at another source of information: "75 Jahre MITROPA" by Albert Mühl.
After all the studying of sources, I know now where to start reading the book. At the end there are long tables with numbers. I get a hint again. 16 077 is given at C4ük-22. On the other hand the C4ü-23 type is denoted as C4ük-23/38 again. It might be, that the C4ü-22 was originally delievered with a kitchen. Otherwise there should be a solidus and the year of reconstruction. Or there might have been no new drawing at all.
Examining the table more in detail I find 31 coaches of the orignal types C4ü-21, C4ü-22, C4ü-22a and C4ü-23. Even the Heimatdirektion (home-department) is given: Hmb for Hamburg in our case. Slowly but carefully the haze of history vanishes.
By the way: The MITROPA did not build a single Pikes-style diner (but of course sleeping coaches) before WWII. The rebuilt Pike’s diners of the post war GDR MITROPA are not subject of this text.
There are still some questions remaining. Was the kitchen removed from the coach, and was it used as a normal third class, or later second class coach, afterwards. And if so, next question: when?
The three letters "Köl" light up one question from the beginning. Last home-department was Cologone (Köln). But which Bww (depot for coaches)?
So five figures and three letters have made me search through my library of railway books. They have given rise to many questions, and I get the idea, by answering one question, two new questions come up. We will see, what is still hidden under the layers of paint of this coach.
Again it is Saturday. The next Saturday after the well known call.
There are three young men in front of the "model-layout-coach". In the meantime some more of the old lettering has been laid open. And again there are surprises.
Next to the "Köl" in the upper line one can dimly read "Hmb". So the coach was located in Hamburg at sometime after the war, but before it was moved to Cologne. And we know from the first part, that the coach was located in Hamburg before the war as well. But did it stay there all the time till it changed to Cologne?
In a way the second line gives information as well. We read "B4üw". No "k" for kitchen, but a "w" for smooth (German weich) seats. So the coach was rebuild from old 3.class wooden seats to smooth second class seats (and there is still one row of 4 seats made of brown artifical leather in our coach). This does mean, that the kitchen had been removed, before the coach was sold to the MEC Essen. Even the major "B" is a source of information. The coach was renamed due to the cancelling of the old 1.class in 1956. At that time the old 2.class became the new 1.class, and the old 3.class became 2.class. The electric cables for heating couppled coaches as the coach has nowadays is not notified in the lettering. Otherwise I would expect "(e)" sign. Of course it is well known to the experts that this special cable was added to this special coach by the MEC Essen.
Very carefully another layer of paint is removed. The type-naming of the Hamburg times appears: again "B4üw". So the coach was handed to Cologne after 1956.
All other letterings do not carry much more new information. The type of the brake and the braking weights (Bremsgewichte) are the same as today. And the number of seats was known from other sources: 76. For young people it might be interesting, that this implies, that 4 people were sitting in a row, not 3 as it is nowadays done in a 2.class compartment. But we also might take into account, that the Pike’s coaches, due to their shorter lengthes, are slightly broader than nowadays 26.4m coaches.
Now I try to measure every single letter as exactly as possible. Again nothing is as normal as it seems at first glance. Many different fonts and thinknesses are used. The figure "4" appears in four different styles, the figure "6" appears in three different styles. Even the height of letters and figures differs within some lines. On the other hand all lines are flushed one underneath another, all "t" of the several braking-weights are one below another. When there are only given full tons, than there is always enough space to add a digit after the point. So it is a kind of systimatical setup within a chaos.
Not only the workers in the locoshed have detected parts of the history of the coach. The club’s library and archieve was questioned, too. No wonder, again some surprises.
Old files not only held the buying contract, but also the correspondence between the club and the Bundesbahn. There is even the official drawing of an Pike’s coach. And the drawing again shows up some strange things.
Everything seems normal, at least at first glance. A drawing, some handwritten marks, some sketches, how to arrange the model layout in the coach. And two coach numbers noted to one corner of the drawing. No wonder, that these numbers are written by hand to the drawing. If we take into account, when the drawing had been edited and when the coach had been build, then one quickly will remember, that the 1930 plan of numbering passanger coaches did not exist at that time. We are still in the time when the old Länderbahnen changed to Deutsche Reichsbahn Gesellschaft.
One of the coach numbers written to the drawing is 16 077 and even the name of the drawing C4ü-22 is well known by now. But the second number (16 024) is a bit strange. It belongs to a C4ü-21. On the other hand we know by now, that there only existed two drawings for all the different Pike’s coaches (till 1925).
Now I take a closer look at the drawing. One has to know, that those drawings alway show the side with the connecting walk (not the compartments!) of a coach. The drawing shows additional ventilation inlets above all windows. But German coach had these editional inlets only above the windows of the compartments. Might be, that the worker, who drew the drawing, was not 100% correct with his work.
The correspondence, which looks rather boring at first glance, is raising many questions, too. A letter dating from March 1978 states, that the coach was named (internally) B4üwe 628. No we are in era IV. The letter "e" would imply electrical heating of the coach, which is not true in our case. So it should be "(e)" only. But this is certainly a minor mistake. The type 628 of course has nothing to do with the well known branch line DMUs. It is rather a kind of file number. If it would really be the type number of the coach, our coach would have been one of the rare BC4i-35 Heidenau-Altenberg types. The Pike’s coaches got a type numbers between 341 and 353. The former C4ü-22 would be called Büe 342. I really do not know, why this number was changed to 628.
Back to the number originally given number of the coach: 8470 Esn. This number is quite a bit older than this story here. This number is mentioned in a letter by the Deutsche Bundesbahn in August 1951 and describes a C4ük coach (again a kitchen ? See below) with the number 18 487. This coach is also denoted as C4ü 18 487 K. It’s still unclear if the "K" is only deplaced at the end of number or if it’s is just a shortening for the Bundesbahndirektion Köln (Cologne). In any case this coach is not given in Mühl’s book 75 Jahre MITROPA.
Again I had a look at my library, and again there was a succes. This coach, that was always believed to be of Prussian origin, is an old Oldenburg coach, type C4ü old-15.
The number 8470 has been "recycled" by the MEC Essen quite some times for different coaches.
As far as I know, the mentioned Oldenburg coach was the second express coach with the MEC Essen. May be there is some information of the first coach? This is said to be an AB4ü pr-09a, which was heavily damaged during WWII. In this case it must have been with a number somewhere between 13 563 and 13 910 (big gaps in between). Could it be again a "single runner". This time the 13 966, ex SAAR-Eisenbahn? Was this coach also renumbered to 8470 Esn? Might there be another surprise? Unfortunately I only own a single rather dim photo.
In the meantime I acquired a Musterblatt (official drawing) of the AB4ü pr-09a. If we agree, that all informations are correct (and we saw that one has to be more than careful), it is the Musterblatt Ia 2a. 475 coaches have been built according to this Musterblatt, some 450 coaches were taken over by the DRG, not only known as AB4ü pr-09a, but also as AB4ü pr-08 and AB4ü pr-14. One of the main differences between the different types were the bogies: until 1909 standard Prussian bogies (Preußische Regeldrehgestelle), after that swan neck bogies were used.
Thanks to Joachim Deppmeyer, who kindly handed me a copy of the file of he 16 077, a bit more of the history can be told:
The number 16 077 was given to the coach in 1930. Before that the coach was first known known as 07135 Altona and then 26 508. It was part of the Prussian/Reichsbahn/Bundesbahn departments Altona, Hamburg, Frankfurt/Main and Köln.
Could one find the original numbers of the other coaches, as well?
I would be very thankful, for further information on the different coaches: historic photos, drawings etc. but also oral tradition. Perhaps one could answer one or another of the answers raised above.
Some words on pikes coaches at last:
This style of coaches with this typical inclined doors was not an invention of the Reichsbahn in the beginning of the 1920s. The Royal Prussian Railway administration (Königlich Preußische Eisenbahn Verwaltung KPEV) had similar baggage coaches. These coaches were built according to the Musterblatt Bl 134, from 1910 they were built with passanger tunnels (Faltenbalg, cf. the models made by old Piko and Sachsenmodelle), from 1916 there were also coaches without passanger tunnels. A similar situation you can find with the models of 4axle Prussian baggage coaches made by Fleischmann. Normal passanger coaches in pikes style were not built for the KPEV.
But back to the Reichsbahn pikes: first all passanger coaches got swan neck bogies. The baggage coaches had standard Prussian bogies and last not least the pikes Post coaches had a special type of bogies. Later the passanger coaches also got Görlitz bogies, e.g. the types ..-26a (cf. Lima’s models. They annonced a model with Görlitz bogies for this year). Last not least some of the last pikes sleeping coaches got the were tested with the prototype Görlitz I bogies.
I want to thank everybody, who helped to acquire information on the 16 077 coach. I especially want to thank Joachim Deppmeyer, Hermann Hoyer, Wolfgang Diener and the members of the Eisnebahn Club Essen und Umgebung e.V.
[ last updated 31st Dec 2003 ]