Nuremberg Site Visit 3 – The big move!

So, after our last visit we were all ready to get going on the big move. We had already recovered all of the documentation back to the UK on the last visit and we had the ramp constructed which would enable reasonably smooth removal of the machine from the building.

Chris and I departed for London Stansted in the late afternoon of the Wednesday (15th of May) with cabin bags containing our clothes and 2x 20kg suitcases full of things we thought we might need (e.g. ratchet straps, cloths, lights, tools etc.). We got settled into our flight and soon enough we had touched down at Nuremberg. We briefly debated taking the U-Bahn and a tram to our AirBNB but soon decided against it as we didn’t much fancy lugging the suitcases up and down all of the stairs, and as such we grabbed a taxi. We were greeted at our AirBNB very warmly by Mark the host who showed us to our newly refurbished apartment and kindly provided us with a couple of local red beers – something that was much appreciated! We hit the hay knowing that the next day was going to be rather long and difficult!

We awoke at 6am the next day to get ready and by 7am we were out of the door headed to Sixt to collect the rental truck. We had hired a 3.5t Luton Box van with a Tail Lift – apparently to be a VW crafter or similar. The price was reasonable, and Sixt seemed to be the only local company who actually specified that their trucks would definitely come with a tail lift. We arrived, checked in and I was handed a key – I wasn’t shown to the truck or anything, just handed a key. We wandered outside and after a bit of wandering around managed to find the truck. We checked the operation of the tail lift, loaded our bags and hopped in. As soon as I started the engine I had a warning light for coolant and another for the headlight bulb being out. Great. I went back into the office and explained the issue. The woman came out and had a look herself, left, and then re-appeared with a Sixt branded watering can full of water to top up the coolant with. Wonderful. She opened the bonnet and attempted to pour the coolant into the brake fluid reservoir! After Chris pointed her in the correct direction she poured 4 Litres (!) of water into the reservoir. Oh this is going to be fun! She completely ignored the headlight issue.

Beggars can’t be choosers and we needed to get the IBM moved so we took the truck anyway. Luckily all we had to do was lots of short journeys so it would hopefully not be too bad. We headed off to Bauhaus to obtain more P3 rated dust masks and gloves for some people who were coming along to help us and grabbed a quick breakfast in the onsite Bäckerei.

We departed Bauhaus and headed to the building where our Auction House contact and Photographer extraordinaire Günter was waiting for us. We had to wait for a few minutes around the corner whilst the glazier next door was sorting out their vans for the day. Once this was done we pulled up outside and re-gained entry to the building:

We dived straight in headfirst into getting things moved – we had no time to spare! I had some friends coming up from Switzerland to assist us with the move – Lawrence Wilkinson whom I know from the 2010 VCF at TNMoC, and his friend Jan Jaeger. Both of them are very knowledgeable about IBM’s and particularly 360’s so their insight into this project will no-doubt be of great value. They were planning to arrive around 10am.

Chris and I set to moving the smaller stuff to the front of the building ready to start loading the truck. The first up were the disk drives and the smaller punched card reader:

We also loaded the punched card library. We decided at this point that since A) We couldn’t easily move anything else, and B) We had reserved but hadn’t actually visited nor signed for the storage yet, it would be pertinent to take this small batch of items to the storage facility to sort everything out and get the lie of the land; as such Chris and I headed off to the storage place whilst Günter stayed behind and awaited Lawrence and Jan’s arrival.

We got the storage sorted out, unloaded the stuff, and headed back to the building where Lawrence and Jan were awaiting our arrival. We had a look around and a discussion as to what to move next and decided on moving the second processor (the blue one) next as it was blocking our ability to move the tape drives or the 370. Rather annoyingly the printer and the processor were wedged fairly hard between the internal column and the wall so we had quite a job to wiggle them out.

We managed to free the processor and started the careful process of removing it from the building. For those who don’t know, one of these processors weighs between 520kg and 600kg – all nicely concentrated on 4 wheels, one at each corner. We managed to manhandle it out of the building, down the ramp and onto the truck:

We got it strapped in and headed off to the storage unit, but not before filling Jan’s Audi with some disk packs and other bits. We got the machine and the other bits unloaded at the other end and into the storage:

We headed back to the building and loaded up with the 370 Processor, the Slave tape drive, and the large printer. Unfortunately at this point Lawrence and Jan had to head back to Switzerland as it’s a 4 hour drive for them to get home so we said our thanks and our goodbyes and they departed. Chris and I headed off to the storage and unloaded the items:

It was getting now quite late in the day so we headed back to the building knowing that our access through the Glazier next door ends at between 17:30 and 18:00 and we would likely have to make sure our truck wasn’t blocking their entrance so their vans could return by 17:30 at the latest.

Arriving back we decided to get one more load on the truck and head back to the AirBNB leaving the load in the truck. We loaded up the half of an IBM 370 card reader and the card punch machine, along with a bunch of random components like spare motors and power supplies. Here are some photos of the inside of the building after day 1:

We had arranged to go for dinner with Günter and Olga from the Auction House. Olga had been the original person who wrote the eBay listing and I had initially conversed with after winning the auction so it would be nice to put a name to a face.

We got back to the AirBNB, dumped our stuff, got changed and had a quick wash before heading into town to meet them. We had a nice meal and a couple of beers before heading back to the AirBNB and crashing.

The next morning we got up bright and early, got ready and headed to the Storage place to unload the stuff from the previous night. This took a little longer than we would have liked due to various traffic issues. Oh, did I mention that by this point we’ve had to put around 12 litres of water in the van cooling system?

After this we headed to Bauhaus to grab some more ratchet straps as it had become apparent the day before that we didn’t have enough. We also grabbed some food whilst we were there, and then we headed back to the building.

This day was going to be the fun day. Everything left was, in some way, wired into each other under the false floor. The cables have been under there for over 37 years. We didn’t think they were going to be very flexible (hint: they weren’t!).

Theres only one way to start a project like this, and that’s just to get stuck in, so that’s what we did. Firstly by starting to unwire the teleprinter station:

That being done, we started looking at how to remove the master tape drive. The power cable was the only thing stopping us being able to move this and so we had to trace the power cable all the way through the floor to figure out where it was going. This was easier said than done and involved pulling up most of the floor tiles:

Eventually we traced all of the cables and managed to get the tape drive disconnected. We then decided to get the tape drive on the truck, figuring it would be as heavy as the other one, or perhaps more but certainly not as much as the processor. Oh how wrong we were! We got it outside and onto the tail lift, but pushing the up button on the tail lift produced nothing but some groaning noises from the hydraulics. Crap. If we couldn’t get this thing into the truck we were in REAL trouble. We pushed the tape drive as close to the fulcrum of the lever as we could and I grabbed the bottom of the tail lift and using every ounce of strength I had pulled upwards. Despite some more groaning from the hydraulic pump we just about managed to nurse the tail lift up to the top. Phew! We got the tape drive into the truck and secured:

We then managed to get the teleprinter and the printer un-cabled and moved those out onto the truck as well:

We headed to the storage unit again, and upon arrival decided that we probably didn’t have enough space in our original storage unit, and as such we quickly rented another one. We set about unloading the items again:

And of course, the van lost all of it’s coolant again and required another couple of litres of water:

We headed back to the building again to begin un-cabling the last two big items, the Multifunction Card Machine and the Processor.

We decided to start trying to disconnect everything that wasn’t hard wired into the processor first, but this proved difficult due to access restrictions caused by the proximity of the MFCM, as such we took the decision to disconnect and move that first. This proved challenging due to the internal cable routing of this machine and the fact that the cables are connected using cards that are plugged directly into the backplane. These aren’t usually too bad if you’re careful, but these ran through the entire length of the machine through multiple obstacles that you can’t see or guide them through. We managed it after a lot of fiddling:

So, with that out of the way, next up was the processor. This took us several hours to sort out due to the complexity of the cabling, it’s difficult location under a low floor, and the age of the cables. We think we managed to extract everything without damaging it but only time will tell!

Luckily a couple of the chaps from the Glazier next door were willing to come and help us shift the processor so we managed to get it moved out with relative ease and onto the truck (the tail lift was fine with this one!) we also loaded up the other remaining items like disk packs and machine panels:

And heres a few pictures of the building after extraction:

After securing the building we headed to the storage place for the final unload, Günter helpfully came with us to give us a hand as we would have struggled with a lot of this stuff without some help!

We breathed a heavy sigh of relief and went back to the AirBNB for a shower before heading out for something to eat and a few drinks.

The next day (Saturday) our flight was quite late in the evening, so we rented a car and headed back to check out a few bits on the machine. Here are just a few more pictures:

Here are a couple of time lapse videos we made, we tried to time lapse the whole thing but unfortunately the GoPro ran out of battery:

We’re planning to head back in a few weeks to document the machine more throughly and hopefully figure out the specifications of exactly what it is we have. We’re currently in the planning stages of how to get it back to the UK from Nuremberg so if anybody reading this has any haulier friends who are coming back empty from Nuremberg please give us a shout!

Adam Bradley

About Adam Bradley

Adam is multi-talented engineer who's been involved in the computer history field for over a decade at The National Museum of Computing. Adam is a Railway Software Engineer day to day, and when he's not playing with computers he's probably under the bonnet of a car or making something vehicle related.
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