Train enthusiast creates his own world on rails

Published 30.07.2018 23:00
Updated 30.07.2018 23:03
Since 2015, Şenturan has worked on a prototype of the “Baureihe 56 569,” a train that was produced in Germany between 1934-1941.
Since 2015, Şenturan has worked on a prototype of the “Baureihe 56 569,” a train that was produced in Germany between 1934-1941.

A personal interest in trains has turned into a full time hobby for an Istanbul architect who is famous for his model trains that function like real trains and are similar to them down to the last detail

Şenturan dedicated the last 50 years of his life to building model trains that look exactly like the originals.

Three little girls, waiting in the dark, heard the sound: "chuff chuff!" The train was coming behind a big green mountain, curling up into a tunnel. The steaming train was passing through little villages on the rocky railways and its light was shining on the silver rails, big green oaks and miniature people along the way.

It was so realistic that my mind as a child had a hard time to comprehend that the train model was not real but a toy. But was it just a toy? I had trains and a Lego railway but this one was a lot bigger than I could have imagined and it was way too real, like the ones that we rode on to go home between Haydarpaşa Train Station and the train station in Bostancı. We wanted to watch it again and again, until someone turned the lights on and washed away the magic of the train journey for me and my friends.

Today, as I grow up, every time I visit the dear architect Sami Şenturan and his family, I cannot take my eyes of the railway he built that circulates through his home. I have always been curious about how he became a train spotter. His elbow grease can be seen in every detail of the trains. He has devoted himself to his trains and is one of a kind.

Şenturan is a locomotive enthusiast who dedicated the last 50 years of his life to building model trains that look exactly like the originals. Şenturan's locomotives are modeled with details and advanced functionality and he uses incredible materials to create actual trains, from the mechanism to each tiny detail. He sizes each part; each material, from the tiniest hole to the steaming, until they fit together. Each part of the trains is handmade and genuine. In fact, Şenturan is the first official architectural model designer of Turkey.

Sami Şenturan was born in 1957, Turkey and graduated from Istanbul Technical University's Department of Architecture. Once he became familiar with the steam train, he was impressed by its power. His admiration for trains dates back to his childhood, when he went on his first train journey from Diyarbakir to Erzurum.

"The train was going past Lake Keban, I was watching from the window looking outside. Then it went into a tunnel and people closed the windows. The sound was so strong. The wagon was pulled by the most powerful thing I had ever seen; for a child that had only seen a taxi, the camels of those times. Its aesthetic mesmerized [me] and that was how I fall in love with trains," recalled Şenturan.

After years, he understood that he had been taken in by the trains' aesthetics, and began to learn of the role of trains in the Industrial Revolution, and has devoted his life to steam locomotives and trains since.

Şenturan said: "As the German-born architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe said, 'God is in the detail.' I devoted myself to this dream. You can see it in every part of the pieces. They make me hold on to my life."

Şenturan has not only collected many parts for his model trains but also many memories of his train trips around the world. In my recent visit to his house, Şenturan told me that his favorite train trip was the one he took in 2005 to London. "It was the day when my daughters and I took the 'Harry Potter' train, the original Hogwarts Express," said Şenturan.

Şenturan, who is also the founder of the first architectural modelling company, has taken on many model train projects and diorama works in the last 50 years. And a few years back he started his own train model hobby group " Loco-S" with his daughter.

Since 2015, he has worked on the prototype of "Baureihe 56 569" a train was produced in Germany between 1934-1941, by planning, modelling and revising the working principles of the "Steam Machine driven by Air-Pump."

As he works on the project "56 569," he takes help from Soner Açıkel, an electrical engineer from Istanbul Technical University for the ideas of electronic projects and also improvements.

After approximately 10 years of research and development and prototyping, the process for Loco-S' first sample "No 56 569" is continuing full steam ahead and it will be on the track for Q3, 2018.

Loco-S, aims to use products authentically; along with top-quality hardware and labor with state of the art technology, while staying loyal to the genuine model. All products are formed by metal and metal-derived components, furthermore they are assembled by hand, and consist of more than a thousand pieces. These models are getting ready to become unique pieces all around the world, and collectors are holding their breath to see these masterpieces. Once you see how devoted the Şenturan is and hear more about his stories, the trains begin to gain more meaning.

He works with his daughter Şebnem Şenturan, interior architect, in the modelling and production process, and they are planning to carry out the current projects as "professional partners." He devotes himself to his dream and one day wants to hand down his masterpieces to his daughter. He says that these trains are healing him as he is gets old. At the same time, Şebnem has been writing her university thesis about this meticulous duty and says she carries her father's works of art and his dream as her inheritance.

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