The International Steam Pages

The Frankfurter Feldbahn Museum, 2009

For other reports on the FFM see:

James Waite reports on a June 2009 visit. There is a further June 2012 report from Chris Yapp and another from Thomas Kautzor in June 2014 available.

The Frankfurter Feldbahn Museum was set up in 1975 to provide a home for 600mm gauge light railway equipment. It's clearly a prosperous place with many excellently restored locos and carriages - it's probably rather outgrown its depot accommodation but there's a plan to provide a new, larger building. The line runs through a public park for most of its distance, probably between two and three km long altogether. It's "T" shaped with the crossbar part through the park much longer than the vertical bit which has the depot and museum buildings at its foot and which runs through something akin to a British allotment site though many of the plots have summerhouses on them and are used for relaxation rather than for growing vegetables.

The museum has sixteen steam locos, about half of which are currently runners and with at least three restoration or repair projects currently in progress. There are also numerous diesels and a few electric and battery locos. There are two principal passenger trains, one formed of restored or replica WW1-era carriages (including a replica of a vehicle which ran in South West Africa) and the other formed of two German-built carriages rescued from the Bulgarian narrow gauge. There are also numerous freight cars including a train of skip wagons.

We visited during the railway's 2009 gala weekend. It turned out that the event was to celebrate the 100th birthday of the ex-Gending Mallet loco which for many people must be the star exhibit. The railway acquired it in 1997 with the assistance of Helmut Kohl, then the German chancellor, who was presented with it as part of a visit to Indonesia. It was a major coup at the time to persuade the Indonesian authorities to allow its export but fortunately the then Indonesian agricultural minister had studied in Germany. Nine years of restoration followed including the construction of a new boiler and the restoration of the chassis units and cylinders at Meiningen Works (alas when I last saw a photograph of the locomotive it had acquired the wrong style of OK worksplate for its delivery date, the original having vanished long before any enthusiast recorded it in Java. RD).

As part of the event there were Indonesian food stands (delicious!) and a gamelan group though the latter's offerings seemed to owe more to the bierkeller oom-pah school of music than the usual mellifluous SE Asian style! There was a surprising number of Indonesian families there not dressed up in any fancy gear and not obviously connected to either the cooks or the band. An extra train was put on in the afternoon with the Gending loco and the Bulgarian coaches mainly for their benefit. Maybe Frankfurt has a large ex-pat Indonesian population.

The other locos were no. 6, a Henschel 0-4-0T built in 1939 for the German army and no. 1, a Heilbronn-built 0-4-0T with outside Allan motion. This was a fascinating machine to see in action - all moving rods and eccentrics. During the afternoon the railway's no. 14 or no. 1 "Jakobi" from the Mecklenburg Pommersche Schmalspurbahn in the north-eastern corner of East Germany, a Jung 0-4-0T+T, another fascinating-looking loco, was lit up and was due to run the following day. Right at the start of the day a Deutz diesel made a run with a skip train but apart from this only passenger trains were running, at roughly 45-minute intervals.

The museum is about 3km west of Frankfurt city centre and close to the motorway from the airport which is about 5km away. The journey from the airport by public transport is not at all easy and involves taking the S-Bahn to the Hauptbahnhof, the number 17 tram to the route's western terminus and then the number 50 bus which has a stop at the museum gate. Compared to this it's little more than a five minute ride by taxi. Incidentally don't be fooled by the airport which Ryanair fly into from the UK and which they call Frankfurt Hahn - this is 100km or so away from the city and not viable for a day trip.

Another excellent museum and railway run by very helpful and welcoming people.

Frankfurt Feldbahnmuseum steam locomotive, as of 13th June 2009

0-4-0T No. 1 Besigheim (Maschinenbau-Gesellschaft Heilbronn 393/1900). Originally a 720mm gauge loco and converted to 600mm gauge in 1939, it had a new boiler from Loos/Gunzenhausen a few years ago, in steam.

0-4-0T no. 2 'Fabian' (Henschel 20517/1925) Arrived at FFM in April 1977. Serviceable but not running.

0-4-0T no. 3 'Dimitrias' (Decauville 648/1912). Delivered new to the Thessaly Railway, Volos, Greece. Arrived at FFM September 1993. Serviceable, cosmetic overhaul, new boiler from Meiningen a few years ago.

0-4-0T no. 4 (OK 2053/1906). Fitted with new boiler built by Tamer Fors, Finland, in 1935 and a new boiler from Meiningen a few years ago. Serviceable but not running.

0-4-0T no. 5 (Jung 9295/1941). The builders' Hilax class. Arrived at FFM December 1980, new boiler from Meiningen a few years ago. Serviceable but not running.

0-4-0T no. 6 (Henschel 24011/1939). The builders' Fabia class. Built for the Heeresfeldbahn and their no. HF5026. In steam.

0-6-0T no. 7 (Decauville 1593/1915). Built for the French Ministry of Munitions and worked in Greece where it remained for many years after the end of the war. Serviceable but not running.

0-8-0T no. 8 (Borsig 8836/1914). Built for the Heeresfeldbahn as their no. HF312. Acquired by the Waldeisenbahn Muskau in 1921 and remained there until the closure of the railway in 1978, latterly running as DR 99 3313. The loco runs with tender no. HF 426 (Borsig 9344/1915) acquired from Bulgaria. Boiler currently being overhauled.

0-6-0T+T no. 9 (Chrzanow 3812/1958) PKP no. Ty 3812. Ran at Annopolu and since 1961 at Lipa. Awaiting overhaul. I didn't see this loco as it was stored in a third non-public shed awaiting overhaul.

Nos. 10 and 11. Two identical Jung 0-6-0T's imported from Orissa in India. (James originally said from a sugar mill, but it now seems likely that they came from Dalmia Cement in that state. RD) One (10) is currently being restored, these are 10137 and 10142, they went to India some time between 1950 and 1952, it is possible that they were actually built up to 10 years earlier.

0-4-0 no. 12 (Hohenzollern 1705/1903) The builders' Kauz class loco. This 500mm locomotive is kept in a non-public area and a geared fireless machine which needs a 'boiler' overhaul.

0-4-4-0 Mallet tank no. 13 (OK 3902/1909). Spent its working life at Gending sugar factory near Probolinggo in eastern Java, their no. 4. Acquired for the FFM in 1997 and first ran after restoration with a new boiler from Meiningen in 2007. In steam.

0-6-0T+T no. 14 'Jacobi' (Jung 989/1906). Built for the Mecklenburg Pommersche Schmalspurbahn and later ran as DR no 99 3351. Withdrawn on 21st January 1969 and shipped to San Francisco 1973. Exhibited at the Mohun Outdoor Steam Museum in San Francisco, moved in 1985 to the La Porte Railroad Museum in Chicago and was later at the Edaville Railroad near Boston. Acquired for the FFM in 1998. Still carries its DR numberplate on the back of its tender which looks very similar to the tender running with the SPSB loco on the Brecon Mountain Railway. In steam.

0-4-0T no. 15 (Henschel 25180/1942). Built as a 700mm gauge loco, it is currently dismantled in the new shed awaiting restoration.

0-10-0T no. 16 (OK 11073/1925). A Luttermöller loco built for the Japanese army and later preserved in Japan. Arrived at the FFM in 2002 in very poor condition, currently due to return from "Bruecke" works at Blankenburg/Harz from a cosmetic overhaul, but it does need a new boiler. 

From left to right these are Henschel no. 6, the Gending Mallet, the Jung MPSB loco and no. 7, the Decauville 0-6-0T.

The Jung MPSB loco and the Decauiville 0-6-0T.

Heilbronn no. 1 outside the engine shed.

Jung no. 5 inside the depot.

One of the two Indian Jung 0-6-0T's.

One of the Bulgarian coaches.

A Deutz diesel with a skip train.

Henschel no. 6 running through the allotments.

Heilbronn no. 1.

No. 13, the Gending Mallet, with the WW1 train.

Rob Dickinson