Erik Olsen - who am I?

Erik Olsen

I was born in 1954 in Copenhagen and I have lived my entire childhood and youth in Copenhagen. First in Vesterbro in a long demolished house on Halmtorvet; I started 1st class in school in Gasværksvejen Skole. Just before the summer holiday the following year my family and I moved to Nørrebro, and I started 2nd class in Hellig Kors Skole. When I was 12 years of age, I started supplementing my sparse pocket money as an errand boy at the local grocer's store. Back then many people used kerosene for heating, and the beer cases contained 50 bottles, not 30 as today, so it could be quite an exhausting job.

After school I became an engineering apprentice at Valby Maskinfabrik (F. L. Smidth & Co.). I was there for four years and got my certificate, and I started in 1975 on a preliminary engineering course at Københavns Teknikum (Copenhagen Engineering School) in Trekronergade. The following year I continued on 1st part of the mechanical engineering study, and concluded my education there in 1979. I started my own firm as a consulting engineer and for the following almost 9 years I worked for among others DSB Elektrotjenesten (Danish State Railways, Signal dep.) in Vanløse. Subsequently followed two years at DSB Komponentværksted Vest (maintenance of locomotive and rolling stock) in Århus, half a year at Flškt Danmark in Skovlunde and then three-and-a-half years at Rockwool International in Hedehusene. In 1993 I came to Vølund Ecology System (now Babcock & Wilcox Vølund) who design and construct waste-to-energy and biomass power plants.

When we lived in Vesterbro, my father frequently took my brother and me for a walk to Dybbølsbroen or the main sheds at Otto Bussesvej. We went mostly when he worked the evening shift as he then had time for us during the day. We enjoyed those walks very much as he was not as tired as when he worked the day or night shift. My father also built a little model railway in H0 gauge, it was all home-built, the track and turnouts using fibre sleeper band and brass rail. The wagons was built from EGC kits or ready-to-run underframes with home-built bodies. He had just one lokomotive, it was the cheapest tender locomotive from Fleischmann, actually not a model of a real locomotive, but it could run by itself! My interest in real and model railways no doubt was founded at that time.

Then i was 13 years old, I started building a small model railway in N gauge. It was gradually enlarged, and I even built a few wagon and locomotive models using as many bought parts as I could lay my hands on. "Adam" wrote about some of my models in Signalposten 1972 no. 2. I wanted to built my models more detailed but it was difficult due to their small size. I remember that I was building a model of an IVM-type van with underframe from milled brass profiles and spoked wheels. I was so frustrated over this difficult model that I actually stopped building for a while. About the same time I became a member of the DMJK (Danish Model Railway Club) and became so fascinated by the big 0 gauge models that I just had to try building a model in 0. I chose a four-wheeled coach KSB C52 and built it completeley from metal; I finished it in october 1973. I enjoyed building it very much and subsequently I was hooked on 1:45!

In 1969, I became a member of Helsingør Jernbaneklub (Elsinore Railway Club) and participated in repairing and restoring some of the first coaches and the locomotive ØSJS no. 7. We began running regular steam trains on the private railway HHGB (Elsinore-Hornbæk-Gilleleje Railway) on sundays in the summer of 1971. It was an exciting time, but also occasionally rough work as there was not that many members participating in the restoration work when the summer had ended. I was an active member of that club until 1984 when I had met Bente and we expected our first daughter, Sanne. 2 years later we had another daughter, Gitte. Gradually they have grown up to be sensible young girls even though they are not bitten by the model railway bug.

Working in the railway club and the family life for a period put severe limitations on my model building activity. For a couple of years I was active in DMJK building the layout on Godsbanegården (Copenhagen Goods Station), especially constructing and laying track and turnouts. Due to internal disagreement on which quality level we should aim at, I quitted the work and my membership in DMJK. I was now free to build models as I pleased; I still wanted to build in 1:45 scale, but the NEM standards and its wide wheels and big flanges put me off. I like the old stock from around the century; it is more delicately built than modern stock so that wheels to NEM standards are quite predominant. So I developed the Proto:45 standards, rebuilt a cattle van and began building more models to this concept.

It does'nt go fast at all, I must admit. Through the years I have developed my building methods, made casting masters etc. so that now it is less work to build the models. It also takes time to write articles, first to "Signalposten" and later to "Lokomotivet" and "Modelhjul", as well as designing and maintaining this website. But I have fun, and that is the most important, is'nt it?

Early in the morning of December 11th, 2004, I suffered a stroke in the right side of my brain. I felt uneasy and slept until the afternoon; first then I felt that my left arm and leg had become weaker. I called the doctor and was brought to the hospital. During the following night my left arm and leg became weaker until eventually they were completly paralyzed. I was at the hospital for five weeks and started rehabilitation; when I left hospital I was able to walk slowly using an arm crutch. I continued rehabilitation as a day patient, and since then at a private physiotherapy clinique and a municipal occupational therapy clinique.

Now I walk reasonably well using a cane, and indoors I usually get along without. My left arm and hand is also improving, allthough slowly. It is a struggle and I don't know if I ever get the full use of it back; only time will show.

My model building work of course ceased to a halt, and it is still so with my 0 scale models. Luckily I am still able to work on a computer and I have been able to keep my job. My general strenght has returned and the desire to take up the hobby again also. I've started a working a little in N scale but the plans have of course had to be altered. With time I will tell more about this on my home page.

Updated 2010-01-13