Om / About / BMÅS

BMÅS the history

The 7¼" railway in Sweden is still alive in Borås.

An idea from Rustan Lange to BMÅS today — 50 years of Live Steam history.

 

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Drawing by Rustan Lange.

The history of the model railway hobby is as old as the railway itself. The earliest models of locomotives are the same age as Stephenson's The Rocket. As with a lot of mechanical hobbies, these are originated in England.

The scale of our club track is 1:8 and the gauge is 7¼" (184 mm). The locos are usually models built the same way as the original engines in full scale. Even the models are fired with coal and in every other way treated as the larger locos. The younger generations that see a steam loco for the first time usually think of it as a fun thing. For the elder ones these small locos mean much more. Steam, smoke, sound and smell remind us of the train journeys in our childhood. We have steam locos in our society and also electrically and IC engine driven locos as well.

We feel that one of the reasons our track is so nice, is the fact that we have tried to create an environment in both full size and scale with fantasy and reality. The track is located in a small forest but still close enough to the city. We run the railway traffic according to the established rules of a railroad. People with lots of different interests are always of great help for us. This is probably the reason why this hobby fascinates so many.

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Drawing by Rustan Lange.

Playing with trains of this size is what we in BMÅS like best and we look forward to many interesting years ahead as Live Steamers.

 

This is how it started.

Rustan Lange was one of the young enthusiasts who in 1945 started the Model Railway Club of Gothenburg (GMJS) and he had membership number 1. His interest is well known among older enthusiasts. Tabletop railway in gauge 0, 00 and 1 did not give him the real railway feeling, he was looking for something that was more real train. For a while he was interested in the activities of Östra Södermanlands Järnväg. This preserved railway has a gauge of 600 mm and is situated in Mariefred near Stockholm. He was present at the foundation of this association in 1958. The smaller live steam gauges 3½" and 5" was not to his liking, as they needed an elevated track. A 7¼" track in scale 1:8 could be built at ground level with real ballast and be sufficiently safe for passenger traffic. Locos and wagons were not too big and could easily be handled and the cost could be kept down.

Rustan had during a long period of time, without success, tried to construct a track somewhere in Sweden. During 1957 he bought the Duchess of Buccleuh from England. An English model engineer during the latter part of the 1940s started to build the loco but he was forced to abandon the project due to illness. Only the chassis, cylinders and tender was constructed. Rustan did the remaining in cooperation with British Rail and apprentices at the workshop of Husqvarna Vapenfabrik AB (HVA). The finished loco was given the pet name Hertiginnan (The Duchess).

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The Duchess.

The famous English model engineer Sir William Stanier constructed the full size prototype. During the trial run with a fully loaded train a speed of 100 mph (160 km/hour) was achieved. Most experts consider this to be one of the most beautiful locos ever built. A loco of this type was sent to U.S.A. and was the first loco all by itself to pull an American standard train over the Rocky Mountains. Only three of the ten full size locos built remain today.

 

The exhibition in Gothenburg — Train 62.

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Drawing by Rustan Lange.

In 1962 Rustan Lange found out that a railway exhibition was planned by Statens Järnvägar (SJ – Swedish Rail), as the main line between Gothenburg and Stockholm was celebrating their 100 year jubilee. He contacted the district manager Per Svartling for talks with a view to merge their exhibition and a 7¼" exhibition with a railway track. The apprentice workshops at HVA were involved and manufactured the carriages needed for the exhibition track. The carriages had to be sufficiently strong and stable to carry both adults and children and could therefore not be exactly to scale.

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One of the original passenger carriages still in traffic at BMÅS.

Two such carriages and two box cars were made. An exact copy of an existing wagon was not built, but SJ's open box car type I3 was probably the inspiration for the construction, as Rustan found this type to be very beautiful and well proportioned.

A test track, 100 meter long, was laid out in Husqvarna (probably 1961). The apprentices at HVA did this work in their spare time so that locos and carriages could be tested prior to their baptism of fire during the exhibition.

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The Royal Scot.

The Royal Scot loco was purchased from England at the beginning of 1962. The loco had a wheel pattern of 4 6 0 and was an old veteran, which according to Rustan, had travelled thousands of miles carrying lots of passengers on a commercial 7¼" track. The loco was very much worn out and could barely travel under its own steam. After adjustments and repairs it was used as a reserve loco during the exhibition. This type of loco is one of the most popular amongst railway enthusiasts, and many models of this type have been built over the years.

For the exhibition Tåg 62 in Gothenburg May 10th to July 15th, a 250 meter long oval track was built. The lightest decauville rail available was a portable 600 mm track with a height of 50 mm and a weight of about 4,5 kilogram per meter. The rail was fastened by 5 mm Gunnebo spikes on 50 × 50 × 400 mm impregnated pine sleepers. At one end, points were leading into the depot, passing a model of a water tower, as used by SJ, but built to scale. The track continued over a slag pit and forward to a turntable. Connected to the turntable was a loco shed with space for two steam locos. A specially built miniature Gunnebo wire fence surrounded the station.

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Prince Bertil of Sweden in the light-coloured coat, with Rustan Lange to the left of the loco.

Rustan must have felt very proud when he, during the inauguration, was able to show his railway to Prince Bertil of Sweden and the general manager of SJ, Erik Uppmark. During the duration of the exhibition the Duchess travelled without any problem a distance equivalent of the distance between Gothenburg and Stockholm.

 

The time of Galtarö and the new track in Hulsingstorp.

At the end of the summer 1962, the building of Galtarö Railway was started on a site belonging to a charitable organisation called The May-Day flower Children's Holiday Camp, located outside the town Stenungsund at the west coast of Sweden. Rustan arranged so that the children could ride on the trains if he could use the site to build the railway. He was able to purchase new rail, made of aluminium by a Swedish company SAPA. They had an extruding tool with a suitable profile, left over from an earlier order from U.S.A. The aluminium rail was only used at the station and for the first 50 m of the track. During the summer of 1963, the track was built long enough for the 200 children from the camp to have a ride. It took a whole day to allow them all to have a ride, which they thoroughly enjoyed. 

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Our present chairman Karl-Gustav Ryberg to the right in his younger days, bending over the trolley on the turntable.

In the spring of 1964, Rustan had a trolley made. But the first motor, a 20 cc clearing saw motor was not strong enough and a new motor had to be fitted. As this was considerably stronger, the trolley could now be fitted with a towing hook and came to be a very useful tool for the gang of navvies. During this period of construction, two open box cars modelled on the type used by Göteborg-Dalarna-Gävle Järnvägar (GDG). The full size cars were purchased from Belgium in 1939. China had originally ordered these cars, but with the invasion by Japan the order was cancelled. The box cars were often called China-cars by the staff of SJ.

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The Duchess and the Royal Scot.

At the start of the season 1966 the Royal Scot (the reserve loco for exhibition Tåg 62) was back in action after substantial repairs. Apart from engine overhauls, the loco was given a new boiler, new boiler cladding and a new structure on the tender. It was now an almost new engine suitable for traffic.

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From the track at Galtarö.

Summer 1968 after five years of work the new 500 meter long railway was ready for use. The traffic was run by steam, usually two engines during the summers of 1968 until 1974, while the camp was open.

During 1975 Rustan moved the depot and the part of the track that was built of aluminium, to a new site at Hulsingstorp outside Husqvarna. The building of Ramsjö Lillesjö Railway (RLJ) had now begun. The whole track was now built with aluminium rails.

A petrol engine train was left as a compensation and payment to the May-Day flower Camp, so that they could continue with their own railway traffic on the remaining track at Galtarö.

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The new train for the kids at the Galtarö camp.

The plans for a big inauguration of RLJ were conceived in 1978. A loop by Lillesjö stop was completed one year later, and RLJ was then ready for traffic. Rustan, together with his like-minded friends, decided to arrange The Grand Opening of the railway in august 1980. The gang helping him to accomplish this was Nils Jansson, Bengt Jansson, Börje Johansson, Gunnar Lindberg, Sten Lorick, Jan Carlsson (now Bragée), Bengt Johansson and Karl-Gustav Ryberg. A vast amount of work now had to be done to be ready for the event in August 23–24.

During the final days of work, Rustan tragically died. The committee now had to dismantle the whole railway instead of preparing for a Grand Opening. Before this happened Bengt Jansson had the possibility to test drive his newly built loco Black Five, a model of London Midlands and Scottish Railway Class 5.

Dismantling the railway that took five years to build, took only one day for a couple of men. Track, wagons, trolleys, loco shed, water tower and turntable were donated by Rustan's family to his live steam friends, while the Duchess of Buccleuch was put up for sale in England.

 

The Club track in Borås.

One day in 1980, Börje Hedberg had a call from his friend and engine driver Nils Jansson. During their conversation Nils asked Börje if he was interested in the building of a live steam club track in Borås. A lot of experienced model engineers already lived in this part of the country and they would probably be interested. This sounded very tempting and a constituent meeting was called. Eleven interested people accepted the invitation. Among those present were Bengt and Nils Jansson, Jan Carlsson, Gunnar Lindberg and Karl-Gustav Ryberg. They had all previously been engaged in Rustan Langes projects, Karl-Gustav right from the very start at Galtarö, so they all had good experience of this hobby. Börje presented two application forms that, thanks to him, had been handed to the company LM Ericsson and to the City Council of Borås. This was an application for a permission to use a piece of land at Sandlid in Borås. This site was deemed very suitable as it was secluded and had the real Gothenburg Borås track as a border line on one side. Those present at the meeting on the 22 November 1980 founded BMÅS — BORÅS MINIATYRÅNGLOKSSÄLSKAPBORÅS MINIATURE STEAM LOCOMOTIVE SOCIETY. This was the first club of this kind in Sweden.

 

Citation from the BMÅS' rulebook: §1. Purpose of the Society. The society is a sheer hobby club striving to continue their friend Rustan Lange's idea of a club owned miniature railway to carry traffic by steam engines, and other trains owned by individual members.

 

On the 9th of January 1981 a contract was signed with LM Ericsson and on the 1st March, one with the City Council of Borås. The chairman at the time Gunnar Lindberg and vice chairman Börje Hedberg signed the above contracts. We were now able to transport track and wagons to the site at Borås, and preparations for a miniature railway was under way. With levelling instrument, measuring stick and tape we went to work.

Some track and wagons were packed and sent to Gävle to be erected and included in the 125 year celebration of the Railway Museum. The driving of the small trains was done by members from Borås with the locos Black Five, Royal Scot and the smaller loco Fristedt, owned by Anders Hässler from Stockholm. After the event in Gävle the Royal Scot was sold to England. The new owner, exhibited the loco 1993 in a glass case at the entrance to Wellington Country Park, Riseley.

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Anders Hässler behind a young live steamer driving the loco Fristedt and Gunnar Lindberg on the Royal Scot in Gävle.


After the jubilee in Gävle an exciting time began and we were looking at the future with great enthusiasm.
In 1981 we planned for coming working days over 19 weekends. But these days stretched into working weeks almost all spare-time. A handful of workers spent all their time at the track in sunshine and rain through spring, summer and autumn. We must here recognise that the busy bees Gunnar Lindberg and Bengt Jansson, really showed their true colours. Together with Sten Lorick they managed to procure both an old digger and a dumper as well as repairing these to working condition. Many things were needed such as a storage shed, filling materials, sleepers, tools etc., not to mention ready cash for the purchase of different odds and ends. Luckily one of our members, Gösta Carlsson father of Jan Carlsson, had a great ability to find different sponsors.

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The heavy machines at work during the long construction of our track.

We planned to construct the track in 2 or 3 years, but it wasn't until 1986 that the last spikes could be driven in place at the double track over the bridge by the depot. On the last day of May in 1986, Gösta Carlsson and Bengt Jansson, drove a golden spike each in the track at the viaduct. After five years of hard labour we now had a track of nearly 1 kilometre.

During the Steam Days in August the track had its inauguration with guests from England and Denmark. The club flag, designed by Liselott Mitlöhner, was hoisted for the first time and Kristina Pedersen, daughter of one our Danish guests, cut the blue and yellow ribbon, The track was now officially opened. Before railway service begun, a parade of vehicles from the smallest trolley to the largest steam engine was held. In the evening the guests and members were treated to pickled herring and potatoes in the specially erected party tent.

 

The future of the track and club.

BMÅS was founded over 30 years ago and thousands of man-hours have been spent to improve, develop and maintain the railway track. Loco shed, turntable, water tower and wagons, which were used for the exhibition TÅG 62 are still in good repair. We drive our trains on tracks and points that came from Rustan Lange, but of course some sleepers have been replaced over the years. We were eleven enthusiasts who started BMÅS. We now have 130 members, but the number of really active members has hardly changed at all.

Nobody knows what will happen to our railway in the future, but it still needs a lot of work to be maintained and to be kept as nice and clean as it is at present. For this we need a lot of younger new members in the club. The new members that have joined us up till now are usually at the same age as the pioneers. At present we are a few old men young at heart, but interested, willing and still able to do most of the work. The nucleuses of the club are all from the time period when children wanted to be engine drivers. The games of children have always reflected the times and we know that at present the computers are the favourite pastimes. Computers and IT are also part of today's railway and will probably be incorporated in a nostalgic preserved club, such as ours.

We know that we can look forward to many new vehicles on our track. Models are being built in workshops and basements. Some are building miniatures as close to the originals as possible, while others are creating vehicles from odds and ends that are readily available.

The members of BMÅS are both active and supportive. They have taken on the responsibility to develop the idea of a club owned 7¼" track with real railway traffic.

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Rustan Lange with his loco.

One man, Rustan Lange, with a great idea and a capability to carry out his idea, has made it possible for us at BMÅS to drive steam engines on a real live steam track in Borås. We are able to use the material from Rustan's original constructions. Many people, active with trains of this size, have probably been inspired by the enthusiasm that Rustan had for his hobby.

BMÅS continues to arrange vivid and public meetings each month between May to September. We celebrated 30 years in 2010 with a big meeting. Many locos together with their owners arrived from several countries in Europe. During one day we even had sixteen locos under steam and in traffic at the same time.

If you are interested in our club please make your way to our track and speak to any of our members. At the bulletin board we show our activities for the coming year. You can of course also use this web site for information, just look under activities.

 

Börje Hedberg
Honorary member

Karl-Gustav Ryberg
Chairman and honorary member

 


UPP