All Photographs By Wolfgang Bauer
Herr Bauer, of Leipzig, Germany, is an “Arts & Crafts-Restorer” who is known for his beautiful, faithful restorations and reproductions of antique European trains and accessories. Since 1974, Bauer has been restoring rare Marklin trains in Gauges 0, 1, 2, and 3 from the period 1885 to 1920. In recent years he has expanded his work into the restoration and reconstruction of Marklin’s ornate, and highly sought after, train stations.
The Tinplate Times recently discovered Herr Bauer and his work when Editor Jim Kelly-Evans was searching for toy etched glass windows to replace those missing from a Marklin station (ca. 1903) he had purchased at York. Jim’s “network” of train sources pointed him to Leipzig and Herr Bauer. Jim was highly impressed with the work of Herr Bauer and an article which addressed early Marklin and European trains and their restoration by the craftsman Wolfgang Bauer seemed like a natural fit for the Tinplate Times.
Wolfgang Bauer was born in 1943 near Leipzig and has lived in Leipzig his entire life. Leipzig is a large city located in the eastern part of Germany about 90 miles south of Berlin. During World War II Allied bombing heavily damaged the city destroying over 15,000 buildings, killing nearly 6,000, and leaving 140,000 people homeless. But the city did not suffer the same fate as neighboring city of Dresden which was destroyed by incendiary bombs. Today Leipzig has a population of over a half million.
Trains and toy trains were part of Wolfgang’s early life. He recalls a railway line that had a stop at the end of the family garden and he was fascinated by the large steam locomotives that traveled the line. At age 4 his grandfather gave him for Christmas, his “old” Marklin ‘0’ gauge train set (that had somehow survived the war). Later at Christmas of 1950 his father was released from the Russian POW camps and returned to Leipzig. His father gave Wolfgang his 1 gauge train set. He spent many years playing with the trains and learning from his grandfather who repaired the train when it broke down.
In the years following World War II toys and toy trains were very hard to come by in the new, communist German Democratic Republic and Wolfgang built many of his own accessories for his miniature railroad. After completing 10 years of vocational school Wolfgang did his apprenticeship in “Mechanical Engineering” and worked for several years as a machinist, working with the tools of that trade such as lathes, radial drilling and grinding machines, milling machines, and other specialized metal working machines. At the same time he attended high school at night and earned his qualifications to attend college. Following 18 months of compulsory military service, he attended the Martin-Luther-University of Halle-Wittenberg in a practical course of study that produced teachers of multi-industry technologies. As a teacher he taught a variety of technical subjects in machine engineering, electrical engineering, engineering drawing, including 20 years of teaching computer science and related subjects such as Computer Aided Design (CAD), and Computer Numerical Control (CNC – the computer automation of machines.) Herr Bauer retired from teaching in 2004.
Like most of us, the development of his career, home, and family absorbed most of Wolfgang’s time and energy as a young adult and little was left to pursue his interests in toy trains. However in the early 1970s he, and his wife Birgit, began to restore Marklin trains, first as a hobby and then, from 1990 as a part time family business while teaching. Initially they were able to earn some money from their efforts and started to acquire a small collection of early Marklin trains. The fall of the Iron Curtain and the reunification of Germany in 1990 opened new opportunities for the people of East Germany including the Bauers. Their new business “BAUER Restaurierungen” acquired many new customers from within Europe and abroad.
Wolfgang and his wife were the only “employees” of the business. Their specialty was the restoration of rare antique Marklin trains and their accessories in Gauge 0/1/2/3 from the period 1895 to 1920. In recent years the Bauers also restored antique train stations, and produced some of their own trains “in the style of Marklin”. All the items were unique, sometimes only manufactured as a single piece or a few copies. They were completely handmade in their own workshop which actually consists of two, cramped work spaces. In the house there is a small “Winter Workshop” including several small metal working machines and a small CNC machine. In the garden shed there is the “Summer Workshop” which includes a work table that can also be set up outside near the garden.
This article displays only a small sample of the works of “BAUER Restaurierungen”. I have tried to provide the reader with a good overview of range Herr Bauer’s projects and the craftsmanship that went into his work. Click on the links below to view additional sections of this article including:
- Bauer Restorations
- Bauer Replicas and Reproductions
- Bauer New Creations “In the style of Marklin”
- The Bauer’s Personal Toy Train Collection
- Contact Information
Next: Bauer Restorations
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