Gil Fuchs’ Haifa & Jerusalem Railroad
May 18, 2019
by Marshall Abrams and Alex Belida
to Gil Fuchs’ Haifa & Jerusalem Railroad enjoyed seeing and
discussing prototypes and models not often seen in this country. Israel
Railways’ 1950s legacy roster included German rolling stock as part of
German WW II reparations, Turkish equipment from the pre-WW I Ottoman
Empire, British and other European equipment from the post-WW I Mandate,
and American exports sold worldwide.
The HO-scale model started as Märklin three-rail AC (like Lionel, except
that the center “rail” is made up of nearly-invisible metal studs in the
middle of the ties), which Gil converted to DCC (not Märklin proprietary
digital protocol). Many of Gil’s engines are Märklin models, which he
converted to DCC. Gil is on the NMRA DCC committee and can’t resist
making his own decoders. He also has a few Atlas locomotive mechanisms
where he has replaced the American-prototype plastic body shells with
suitable Israeli models that he is fabricating on his two 3D printers.
Gil’s hand-out for visitors notes the Haifa & Jerusalem Railroad is
a fictitious and freelanced representation of Israel Railways’ coastal
network during the early 1950’s. Dimensions are approx. 26' x 14’ with 2
levels. This allows Gil to mix steam and diesel.
The rolling stock of Israel Railways in its early days was unique as it
was custom built by various foreign manufacturers, mostly of British,
American and German origin, operated for a relatively long period. The
Baldwin 4-6-0s, for example, served from 1919 until 1960. By 1950 most
of the steam and rolling stock had undergone conversion and looked
nothing like its original form. This means most of the models had to be
built from scratch or kitbashed at best. Gil’s equipment is comprised
mostly of Märklin models of European prototypes, and he is gradually
adding Israeli prototypical models.
The layout is about 50% scenicked. Structures are mostly representative
of the area and period. Backdrops are a mix of airbrush drawn scenery,
cutout buildings and panoramic photographs. The view of Jerusalem is
striking, including the Dome of the Rock and the King David Hotel. (Gil
said he gave Staples a hard time getting it printed the way he wanted.)
There is a good representation of self-designed, 3D printed structures
and model cars. The layout has eight towns or locations, each with a few
industries. He uses switch lists generated by JMRI Operations software.
Most of his engines carry DCC decoders which Gil designed and built,
including several sound decoders. Turnouts are DCC controlled by
self-designed and built accessory decoders.
The command station and throttles are Digitrax Chief. Märklin universal
motors were modified to permanent magnet DC, and direction control
changed to use the decoder. As feedback from operators about the Märklin
loop coupler was not positive, all the rolling stock was upgraded with
Kadee knuckle couplers. Kadee #308 magnets for uncoupling were added at
strategic points, which required modification of the track (cuts in the
roadbed) and the magnets (milling a slot to accommodate the 3rd rail).
The aging, Märklin metal (M) track had caused poor rail contact and was
replaced with the improved, nickel silver Märklin C track. The dark grey
basalt rock ballast built into the new track did not fit the prototype,
so it was all spray-painted in tan color.
Pictures by Marshall Abrams
Last modified: November 02 2019 20:25:57.