General assembly and excursion of the SGEG on March 4, 2023 in Winterthur
04.03.2023: visit of the Nagelfabrik Winterthur “Nagli”
A good-humored group of SGEG members met shortly after nine in Winterthur Grüze to visit the last active nail factory in Switzerland. In an entertaining introduction, Herrmann Binder from inbahn, the association for industrial and railway culture in Winterthur, explained the history of nail manufacture and the different types of nails and their purpose. The profane all-purpose object received completely new facets. Who would have had tinned brass nails for electronics production, marking nails with date and inspector’s initials for wooden utility poles, or double-headed nails for simple customs control on their radar…?
Then we went to production, where Mr. Binder showed us in the forge how nails were made by hand in the 19th century, which, with experienced craftsmen, took a good minute per nail. At the same time, several iron rods were preheated in the forge and alternately beaten into shape. This would explain the expression “he has several irons in the fire”…
This manual production was replaced by machine production, which can also be shown in the „Nagli“ using historical, operational machines. The oldest five machines are driven by fully functional transmission belt drives. It is fascinating to watch how a nail is created in a matter of seconds. The wire is unwound from a roll, straightened using deflection rollers and cut at an angle to the desired length, which immediately results in the tip. The piece of wire is placed in clamps alternately to the left or right and compressed from above with a hammer to form a nail head. Needless to say, there is a lot of noise created. All movements are made with purely mechanical eccentrics, guide links, levers, weights and wooden springs. Thanks to the mechanical settings, almost any type of nail (length, thickness, head size) can be produced on one and the same machine! One marvels at the creativity and ingenuity of the designers of the time! Today, small batches of special nails are still manufactured on these historical machines.
Then it was tob e shown on to the newer systems, which manage the same production steps several times faster.
It’s great that these veteran machines are producing commercially competitively together with the newer plants and can hopefully be viewed in operation for a long time to come.
general assembly in the Restaurant Äusserer Lindhof
Then we took public transport to the Äusserer Lindhof restaurant, one of the few remaining workers’ pubs in Winterthur. There was a hearty lunch with a delicious dessert. Since the restaurant is closed from 2 p.m. on Saturday, the entire restaurant was available to us undisturbed for the General Assembly – even with drinks served. The course of the AGM is recorded in the minutes. With Andreas Hurt, a new board member was elected and Peter Hürzeler was made an honorary member in view of his services to the association.
04.03.2023: Besuch der Historic Rail Services GmbH
fter the end of the statutory part of the AGM, the word went to our new member René Brassel, who explained to us with passion and enthusiasm the origin and purpose of his company „Historic Rail Services GmbH“. The impetus for founding the company was the project “Restoration of the dynamometer measuring car Xd4ü 99701”, for which the sponsoring association around the railway workers’ family was looking for a realiser. Apparently, René Brassel has found a niche in the market by offering complete restorations, but also work with the participation of external helpers, mostly members of the association. In any case, he cannot complain about a lack of work. After the introduction, we went to the factory tour of the old depot in Winterthur Lindstrasse, where the Seetaler ABi 4418 waited on jacks up for the next work steps and the CGTE C4 363 of the Association Genevoise du Musée des Tramways AGMT, as well as other vehicles in progress could be admired. A number of dismounted wooden benches awaited the carpenters’ skills.
Finally we were allowed to board the aforementioned Xd4ü 99701 and were driven quite exclusively back to Winterthur station, where we could see a track renewal train in full work to get used to it – exceptionally in daylight.
Many thanks to the organizers and all partners who made this great day possible.
- general assembly 2023 agenda item (in German)
- general assembly 2023 excursions programm (in German)
- invitation letter for the general assembly 2023 (in German)