004 GOING UNDERGROUND
006 IS IT REAL? RAPIDO'S BUDD RDC
008 JAPANESE SPEEDER
010 ITALIAN MODELS!
100 YOUTUBE TRAIN WATCH
090 DB IN HO GERMAN MODEL RAILWAY
102 WESTMILLS YARD 00 BRITISH OUTLINE
016 KYOTO RAILROAD MUSEUM
063 RIDING THE REUNIFICATION LINE
800 JACK'S TRAIN GUIDE
020 ZZZ IT'S ELECTRIC EARLY AC/DC ENGINES
052 IF TRAINS COULD TALK
054 CHASING STEAM IN THE US
068 AUSSIE RAILS
092 EXPORAIL CANADA
106 BATTLE OF BRITAIN MEMORIAL FLIGHT
OFF THE TRACKS
ON THE COVER
Well, it's taken some time but here is Off the Tracks issue 3. It's probably taken so much time as I had a lot more material to pull together into the page layouts. We had articles and images from all over the world on an array of different railway related and non-related subject matter.
We even have a poem... What if trains could talk? - see page 52. One of the great things about this project is the "talking" through words and images that you our readers do and it's been a pleasure to correspond with so many of you virtually. The content you create is inspiring, informative and educational.
The aim of Off the Tracks is to act as a kind of conduit for railway & train related content that's residing in every increasing quantities on the web. Mainstream magazines whatever their subject-matter, are perhaps missing out on connecting with this material and the people that crate it. Content is produced hoping that people will buy it and that advertisers will pay to go onto their pages. I know as a former print magazine editor how difficult it is to sustain a magazine using this model. Magazines need to connect with their readers and showcase their readers' talents and to not be afraid of in someways handing over the reigns in terms to their readers much more directly. Connectivity is also crucial through social media. This is what Off the Tracks is attempting to do.
Let us know what you think and do support the project by following our Instagram and Facebook pages and our newly created go-fundme page, set up just to cover the cost of keeping the website and software packages going.
John Shepherd aka modelrailroaderUK
If you'd like to contribute to our gofund me account click HERE
Off the Tracks is a FREE digital distribution magazine
USE THE LINK FOR THE MAGAZINE TO SPREAD THE WORD
YOU CAN ALSO DOWNLOAD AS A PDF
The images and text belong to their creators and should not be re-produced without prior consent. The publisher has tried to ensure the accuracy of all content, but cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies. Reproduction (other than digital distribution by the official link) is not allowed. Off the Tracks accepts no liability for any products or services directly or indirectly promoted. This was a fun project to promote railroading. model railways and its derivatives worldwide from instagram inspiration. Links from articles are independent of this magazine and are commonly discoverable on-line. No intent is made to take ownership of these materials.
ON & OFF TRACKS
Paddington underground station serves the railway station of the same name and the District, Circle & Bakerloo tube lines in London. Trains first arrived at the station in 1863.
Picture: Anthony Pease
Modelrailroader UK's Rapido RDC certainly caused a stir when posted on his page
Picture: Yoich Uzeki
186MPH DUCK BILLED PLATYPUSES
These trains work the high speed line between Shin-Osaka (Osaka) with Hakata Station (Fukuoka). These are the two largest cities in western Japan.
LA DOLCE VITA
DA TRAINS NO FROST aka instagram datrains
We've posted a number of other shots of this great Italian layout on our instagram page. It is one of the best we've seen. As you would expect from the layout the datrains website is as well designed... you need to speak Italian though, or just look at the great pics! See, datrains.eu
PICTURE: DA TRAINS NO FROST
JACK LONDON SQUARE STATION OAKLAND CALIFORNIA
The station was opened in May 1995, replacing the 16th street station. The station is owned by the Port of Oakland. You can catch trains such as the Coast Starlight toward Los Angeles & Seattle.
JJapanese Mikado runs onto the museum's turntable
KYOTO RAILROAD MUSEUM
Tony Thompson travels to Japan from California in search of a Mikado at a great railroad theatre
Words and Pictures Tony Thompson
Recently, my wife Mary and I were travelling through central Japan. This involved a lot of train travel. The trip also involved the discovery of a superb new railway museum at Kyoto. The museum opened quite recently in April 2015, as a major renovation and expansion of the existing museum, the Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum. The Umekoji already held an extensive collection of railroad equipment, including many steam locomotives, and the Osaka Museum collection was added to it, as the aging Osaka facility was closed.
I have been to many railway museums around the world, and the Kyoto Museum is absolutely top rank, certainly among the very best anywhere. I might position the UK’s National railway Museum in York above it, and the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento as its equal, but Kyoto is definitely in that company. I’ve provided a map of the ground floor of the museum (it also has a large amount of display space on a second floor, plus a third floor with a superb viewing platform for the action in and out of the nearby main Kyoto station) - see page 17).
The 20-stall roundhouse dominates the plan. But many pieces of equipment are also displayed in the “Promenade” area. Exhibits include one of the original Shinkansen (Bullet Train) trainsets, called “Model 0”. The upper rectangle on the map is the main building, with its three floors and many pieces of equipment. In all there are 53 locomotives and cars on display. The roundhouse is full of preserved steam and deserved more time than I could spend but most of the engines were very handsome to my eye. All are 42-inch gauge. One example was the 4-6-4 or Hudson type (in American nomenclature), a C62-1 class on JNR. Very nice lines.
We even got to see some trains rolling when on the afternoon that we visited one of the excursion locomotives (there were two under steam) was being turned on the turntable, before backing onto a a garden track. It was a 2-8-2 Mikado type - in JNR classification D51-200. Again, a very handsome locomotive to my eye.
For a non-Japanese visitor, the museum does have one drawback, in that very few displays have English descriptions (beyond just the name of the item). But there is an English brochure, and for the knowledgeable railroad enthusiast, you do know what you are looking at in nearly every instance.
Though I had not planned to visit this museum as part of our group travel, a very timely free afternoon in the schedule made it possible, and it was a highlight of the entire trip for me. I hope to go back sometime and spend a full day or more!
More info, kyotorailwaymuseum.jp
Tony Thompson is a renowned N American railroad historian and modeller. He’s authored numerous articles and books, modellingthesp.blogspot.co.uk
I have been to many railway museums around the world, and the Kyoto Museum is absolutely top rank...
JNR Class D50
Off the Tracks takes a look at early electric locomotives from the US & Italy. Time to plug in and power up in those early days.
Words Francesco Bochicchio, Andrea Sosio & John Shepherd
Pictures see credits
ZZZZZ IT'S ELECTRIC
Picture: GG1 Alexmtzphotos
E.428.202 in La Spezia
In 1930 the progressive extension of electric traction in Italy
to 3,000V DC for all its railway lines began, thanks
to the positive result of the previous experimentation
E.626.185 in La Spezia
At the beginning of the 20th century Italy began experimenting with trains powered by electricity, a power source which was cheaper than coal. In 1902, the country built the world's first electric railway powered by three phase current in Valtellina, Northern Italy.
Subsequently Italian Railways (FS) built on this remarkable achievement through its motive power. In 1905 steam locomotives were much more powerful and faster than the fledgling three phase electric ones. This required a re-think and a resultant move from the three phase electrical system to the direct current one. Firstly this was necessary because three phase traction was insufficient for the needs of a modern rail network, which required increasing running speeds (see page 32 for more on AC and DC). Secondly, the three phase system was less robust than DC and more vulnerable to failure. And thirdly the complication of the power supply lines (catenary) prevented its use at too high speeds.
In 1918, the Turin–Ceres railway line became the first in the world to adopt a high voltage electric current (4000V). The Tecnomasio Italiano - Brown-Boveri factory was commissioned to carry out the works that led to the inauguration of the new traction system on 6 October 1920.
In 1930 the progressive extension of electric traction in Italy to 3000V DC for all its railway lines began, thanks to the positive result of previous experimentation. Other factors responsible included the improvement of the DC motors in the locomotives and in particular the advent of thermionic rectifiers to mercury vapor.
Following the reconstruction of the railroads, After WW2 it was necessary for Italy to proceed as far as possible with the unification of its traction systems to reduce the maintenance costs which resulted from disparate stock.
The first DC electric locomotives in Italy were the E.626 class. They were built to power the services on the Benevento - Foggia line in 1927. The strength of the E.626‘s was their ability to employ more traction motors, which contrasted greatly their three-phase forebears.
The E.626 mechanical development tested much on the work of engineer Giuseppe Bianchi an employee in “Material and Traction Service in Florence”.
With their DC adoption the E.626 class was considered to be an ideal workhorse for Italian Railways' refurbishment and continued modernisation.
In all 448 units were built. The locomotive was was conceived with simple, durable and standardised components to simplify repair in case of failure.
Another pioneer of Italian DC traction was the E.326 class. They are part of an extended family of DC locomotives built between the twenties and thirties by Italian Railways in accordance with its "interoperability philosophy". This as with the work with the E.626 class was designed to reduce locomotive costs and maintenance time. In on-railways tests, these locomotives reached 140km/h.
The E.326's were rather heavy machines due to their embryonic and unfinished technology and they proved unreliable and were ultimately used on secondary services. In all only 12 units were built.
Last but not least came the E.428 class. These machines were a product of the technology of the nineteen thirties. The locomotives were large, heavy, very powerful and fast. Initially they could reach speeds of 150kp/h.
The E.428s were only the third DC locomotives designed in Italy, and as such retained the legacy of the technologies and some of the practices typical of three-phase locomotives.
In all the class was built in four series and E428's soon became the most modern symbol of Italian railways. They were emblematic of speed and progress in an era of change from steam locomotives to the speeding electric train.
E.428 in Pietrarsa
Arma di Taggia Railway station E.428 + E.626
One of the first E.626. Unit 005 in Pietrarsa.
What's Three Phase?
Three phase electricity was used by the railways of Italy, Switzerland and the United States in the early twentieth century. Italy, as we have seen, became the major pioneer. The Great Northern Railway was one of the railroads across the Atlantic to trial the system.
Three phase power was generally disadvantageous due to having two separate overhead lines and the rail for the third phase, which made for greater complexity. Additionally, and as noted, locomotive power was relatively restricted due to the low-frequency used which required a separate generation or conversion and distribution system. Engines were restricted to one to four speeds.
However, the system is still in use to today on a few mountain rack and pinion lines where speed is of less importance, for example. Lines operating this system include: the Jungefraubhan in Switzerland and the Petit Train de la Rhune in France.
As we've seen in Italy the earliest systems used DC, as AC was not well developed. DC locomotives typically run at relatively low voltage (600v to 3,000v), this means that the conversion equipment in the locomotives is large because of the high currents needed to produce sufficient power. This is exacerbated due to the fact that power must be supplied at frequent intervals, as the high currents result in large transmission system losses.
As AC motors improved they became the er... current choice of power. This system was able to handle very high voltages running to to tens of thousands of volts which enables the use of low currents. Practically this means that high power can be conducted over long distances on lighter and cheaper wires.
Transformers in the locomotives convert the high power to a low voltage and produce a high current for the motors. A similar high voltage, low current system could not be employed with direct current locomotives because there is no easy way to do the voltage/current transformation for DC so efficiently as with AC transformers.
E.428.202 and the famous
E.626.294 + E.428.202 head the last train by the sea in Liguria
E.626.311 + E.626.223 In Tuscany Aug '15
E.626.223 in Tuscany with a goods train between Bibbiena & Arezzo
GO FASTER STRIPES
& THE POWER TO MATCH
The GE designers went for an articulated frame with a 2-C+C-2 wheel arrangement (4-6-6-4).
Many railfans have nostalgia for steam locos, especially in the UK, where this form of traction lingered on longer than, for example in the US. Paradoxically looking at the lack of high speed rail lines and electrified routes in the US now compared to the UK today, the US was in many ways light years ahead of its trans Atlantic neighbour when it came to diesel and electric traction as far back as the nineteen thirties. Thus the States had many iconic non-steam powered locomotives long before the UK railfan did. And the GG1 was one.
“Covered wagon” F units had been rolling across US States since the thirties and on the East Coast, electrification of the Pennsylvania Railroad in particular, had seen the need for high speed passenger locomotives.
Enter the GG1
With 100mph capability and a design that looked like the stuff of science fiction the GG1 engines grabbed the headlines. It's no surprise then that just like a Big Boy or an A4 (such as Mallard) on this side of the Atlantic, they've become a locomotive superstar and cort as much nostalgia - and “I wish they were still running fever” - as any great steam locomotive.
The GG1s lasted in service for over 50 years entering the Con Rail and Amtrak eras of the eighties. As we've seen in Italy the development of powerful and reliable electric locomotives was an evolution. This was especially the case when engineers and designers on both sides of the Atlantic were working with, in many cases, new and untried technology.
The GG1 lineage can be traced back through the P5 electrics on the PRR. These machines were introduced in 1931 and carried a 2-C-2 wheel arrangement (equivalent to a 4-6-4 steam engine). Their traction motors created a lot of torque and damaged the tracks they ran on. This meant particularly at high speeds they were a bit of a liability and hence they were soon relegated to freight haulage. The “Boxcabs” were further developed. The P5a was designed for 90mph running, but in service actually could only run to 75mph. It also suffered the track eating ability if its predecessor.
Although the P5s did get revised for better running it was apparent that an improved type of electric locomotive was required by the PRR. Work started on a new thoroughbred in the thirties. Westinghouse and General Electric were asked to submit ideas. Both commercial companies had their own ideas on what this new locomotive should look like and run like. General Electric had a much more innovative approach - Westinghouse basically dressed up a P5 in a modern streamlined body shell but it had a rigid frame. The GE designers went for an articulated frame with a 2-C+C-2 wheel arrangement (4-6-6-4). Their prototype GG1 was delivered in August 1934 and the Westinghouse engine an R1 a month later. Both designs were tested and it seems that there was not really much difference in terms of performance between the two. What swayed the PR decision-makes was the articulated frames of the GG1 which allowed it to traverse tighter curves and switches without derailment issues which the R1 suffered from. (Incidentally the R1 was not disposed of and ran in service until 1951. Carefully, we suppose!). The PRR placed an order for 57 GG1s (the prototype making the initial fleet number 58). In remarkably quick time the railroad had these engines in operation from 1935. Further engines were subsequently ordered and in all there were 139 class members. These being constructed up until 1942.
The GG1s were a great success and they proved their capabilities during the Second World War especially toward the end of the conflict when they were pressed into service to haul the troop and military hardware needed for the invasion of Europe in readiness for transport by sea across the Atlantic on the East Coast.
The GG1s continued to do what they were designed for post WW2, although with the decline in passenger traffic from the fifties in particular meant that some were re-geared to make them more freight friendly. It was not until 1966 when the GG1 fleet began to be reduced. They ran through the Penn Central and ConRail years and 30 were used by Amtrak. In 1983 the last GG1 was taken out of service
A body to die for…
So where did the iconic styling of the GG1 come from? Looking at the cult status of the engines now its odd to note that the sleek lines were actually a bit of an afterthought. The original design casing was box-like. This was not surprising as the designer Donald R Dohner had worked on the P5a class.
Would you believe that the GG1 design was developed by a man who started his design career as a fashion illustrator? Raymond F Lowey certainly did give the GG1 a pretty frock. The story has it that Lowey - who went onto deign so many iconic products of the modernist era - got the gig by muscling in on the GG1 project whilst working on a small commission to design the rubbish bins at Penn station! After being asked to submit a design the PRR big-wigs actually accepted his innovative design. The curves and elongated noses crested a sleek yet powerful design that probably looked to many in the thirties like nothing else. Lowey was also responsible for the paint scheme of the locos with their initial gold lining that swoops down at both ends to the frames (The "speed whiskers" have themselves become iconic, and have featured on numerous other engines).
The thirties were a very innovative period when utilitarian design began to be, if not replaced, at least challenged by a more aesthetic modernist approach. This was the era when, also in the States,
the renowned architect Frank Lloyd-Wright was dreaming up his plans and implementing them in such iconic structures at Fallingwater. This house built around a waterfall was constructed at a similar time to the GG1s in 1937 and was oddly also created in Pennsylvania.
Lowey is seen as being the originator of streamlining - which turned into a movement - with fins even being addded to refridgerators. Indeed Lowey managed to streamline everything from postage stamps to spacecraft! For those looking to find out more about the man behind the coca-cola bottle, Lucky Strike cigarette packaging and some NASA spacecraft and the GG1 see, https://www.raymondloewy.com
HAPPY CHRISTMAS & HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR!
The thirties were a very innovative period when utilitarian design began to be, if not replaced, at least challenged by a more aesthetic modernist approach
4893 Age of Steam Museum Dallas
Sixteen of the class remain including the prototype nick-named “Old Rivets”, number 4800, at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania http://rrmuseumpa.org/ The photos used to support this article feature some of these great machines as taken by you our reader-instagrammers around the US.
4859 Harrisburg Station PA
4859 RR Museum of Pennsylvania
PRR Film: Wheels of Steel
Click to see GG1's in action!
Philbell4022's pic of class originator 4800 "Old Rivets". The engine is located at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.
The first of the class were painted brunswick green, although in reality this was more black than green. GG1s sported various paint schemes throughout their lives as shown in some of the photos with this article. Our favourite: tuscan red with gold stripes.
CLASS PIONEER 4800 "Old Rivets"
PRR DD-1 RR Museum of Pennsylvania - pic Philbell4022
These engines used 3rd rail power and were in use before the P5's and GG1s. Built 1911, 650v DC by contact shoe
Top speed 85mph
Check out the RR Museum
WOULD THOUGHTS BE TO THEM LIKE THE STEAM CLOUDS THEY PRODUCE...
Words Rebekah Hamilton aka instagram writemyheadofff
what IF TRAINS
What if trains could think?
Would thoughts to them be like the steam clouds they produce, which drift from their funnels, to shift and change and blow in the wind.
Never to stay in one place.
Never the same.
Sometimes dark, and sometimes light, and sometimes big or small, until they vanish in the air.
Or would they be as the silver rails they travel on, which lead them to many places.
If trains could think, I'm sure their thoughts would be as many and varied as the things they pass.
Nolan Kascur is a Junior in high school who has enjoyed railfanning and photography his whole life.
Words & Pictures NOLAN KACSUR AKA instagram ns8104
I live on the NS Reading Line located in Eastern Pennsylvania. I've been all over the East Coast chasing steam and modern diesels. One day I hope to work for the Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad, I would also like to learn how to operate and fire a steam locomotive. While I have a genuine respect for steam locomotives and the work that goes into them, I am also in school for Mechanical Engineering, so I am also very interested in the modern technologies that go into the new diesel locomotives. I also collect and model HO trains. I can use my skills learned from school to design and 3D print models and parts that would be needed for a project.
Strasburg Railroad # 475 (page 54)
Originally built by the Norfolk and Western Railroad in the Roanoke Eastend Shops as an "M" class locomotive 475 now has a second life on the Strasburg Railroad in Lancaster County Pennsylvania hauling passengers on the famous tourist line in the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch country. Number 475 was returned to her original N&W paint on the weekend of July 15th for the Norfolk and Western Railroad Historical Society's photo Charter. 475 is seen here pushing the photo freight back to Ronks Crossing to pick up the photographers from the N&WRHS. Number 475 will be heading in for her mandatory FRA 1,452 day inspection at the end of the 2017 season.
Engineer Chuck takes his turn to pull the throttle of 425
Reading Blue Mountain and Northern's Light Pacific # 425 (page 56)
425 is seen on July 1 2017 pushing back her train at the Jim Thorpe Station on the Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad. 425 ran trips from Jim Thorpe into the Lehigh Gorge the entire 4th of July Weekend, each roundtrip totals out at about 70 minutes and includes narrations as the beautiful Pennsylvania mountain scenery drifts by. 425 might be the one of, if not the loudest steam locomotive in the US (unless you know different). She is also the only Royal blue pacific in operation today in the States. 425 was originally built for the Gulf Mobile and Ohio Railroad but was then sold and went through the hands of a few owners before being bought by Andy Muller Jr, now the president of the RBM&N. The loco's paint scheme is very close to her original GM&O one, with the large circular logo on the tender with the railroad name and slogan inside the circle, but when working for the GM&O she was not blue and wore a standard black paint scheme. Today RBM&N 425 operates her Pennsylvania Railroad three chime passenger whistle, one of many in the collection of the Reading and Northern. She is the pride of the Reading and Northern's fleet but she's not the only steam locomotive; they're also are working on restoring a Reading 4-8-4 T1 2102 and a CP 2-6-0 "Ten Wheeler" number 225. If you're ever in eastern Pennsylvania be sure to check out the Reading and Northern Railroad, they won't disappoint!
THAT RAILWAY GIRL
RIDING THE REUNIFICATION LINE
I have a confession: I took the sleeper bus in Vietnam. I honestly can’t tell you why. I must have gone mad - it’s the only reason I can think that I would have even entertained the idea of abandoning my beloved train travel. I mean, my friend and I had already gone from York, UK to Hong- Kong entirely by train, and loved every second.
The bus ride which departed from Hanoi at around 11pm was hell. Four hours into the journey - where I was on a cramped bunk above the rancid smelling toilet, and below the speakers which blared out some kind of incessant and ear piercingly shrill Vietnam’s Got Talent kind of show, and later into the night/early morning psychedelic rave music ... we ran over a motorcyclist. After about three hours of trying to find his helmet (which for a period of time I thought was his severed head), we had to turn around and go back to Hanoi which took four hours. Luckily the motorcyclist was fine - head intact. I won't go into anymore detail than that. But rest assured, we came to our senses and booked a train ticket immediately. Now I’ve got my confession out of the way, we can all move on from that dark moment in my life: to the Reunification Express...
As you most likely know, the Reunification Express isn’t a single train, but the name given to the many trains that run along the 1,072-mile line built in 1936, which was severed during the Vietnam War (or the "American War", as the Vietnamese call it), thus dividing north from south. After the war ended the line was reopened, unifying the country once more. We would be riding it from Hanoi to Hue, then on to Saigon.
Hanoi Railway Station is the northern most station, and has an odd look about it: French colonial on either side straddling an almost Brutalist structure smack-bang in the middle. I learned that this was due to the fact that only the middle section of the station was bombed during the war. As a result that middle section was rebuilt in a more modern style in 1976.
The 7.30pm train rolled into Hanoi station in the evening darkness and my friend and I easily found our soft sleeper cabin. We had booked the upper berths - which I prefer because it means you don’t have to awkwardly wait for the other passenger to get off your bed when you to want to go to sleep. Also, usually the controls for the speaker system and aircon are within easy reach from the top bunk. Believe me, you don’t want someone with an aversion (or over enthusiasm) to air conditioning and/or who loves the speakers set to full volume to be in control of those dials! Especially as “music” (much similar to that which played on the sleeper bus) gets blared out over the loudspeakers when the train arrives at each station… regardless of the time of day (or night).
The cabin was very basic and very dirty - hands down the grossest we’d experienced so far on our around the world trip. The mattresses were ripped and yellowed with stains, the sheets on the bed were damp from the sweat of the last passenger who used them, and my pillow had drool and hair on it; thank goodness I had a sleep sheet! Despite all this the beds were the softest we'd had on any train so far and we had little trouble relaxing and, eventually, as the train rolled through the streets of Hanoi in the darkness, falling asleep.
We arrived into Hue, the former capital of the country the following morning. Hue train station is utterly charming. The salmon pink bricks, yellow window frames, and French style, make it look like it was designed for a Wes Anderson film.
Unlike the Hanoi to Hue leg of the journey, which was during the night, the journey from Hue to Saigon departed in the morning, and would arrive in the early hours of the next day. We didn’t bring any food with us: we’d grown tired of lugging it around and decided that on this journey we would splash out and treat ourselves to onboard provision. The train moved at an almost lazy pace, and the hypnotic-, rhythmic-chugging lulled me into a state of relaxed contentment. The warm sun beamed through the windows. We saw distant misty mountains and the turquoise South China Sea crashing on the rocks below; stunning beaches and bays; and patchworks of soggy paddy fields. We passed tiny railway guard huts with flag holding guards standing almost ceremoniously as we went by. Lunchtime soon came and we still hadn't seen a food trolley go past. As we didn't want to leave our bags unattended, my friend volunteered to venture to the buffet car (mostly because I refused to go). He came back with two beers, popcorn, peanuts and a packet of Werther’s Originals... along with an explanation that they were the only things available. He also explained how he didn't want to go there again as it was a very long and unpleasant walk.
The snacks didn't really fill us so by the time night fell we were extremely hungry. We had correctly deduced that this train didn't have a food trolley. The lady we were sharing our cabin with was eating the most delicious smelling food which made our stomachs grumble and taste buds tingle with hunger. We assessed the situation and decided that as the woman didn't look dodgy, and that there was nothing of value in our backpacks, this time we would both go to the buffet car. It didn’t take long for me to see why my friend was reluctant to make the journey again. The walk to the buffet car was indeed a long one, during which we were thrown down the dirty corridors and bounced from one side of the train to the other. I had to squeeze past and constantly shake off the barrage of groping hands trying to grab me and pull me onto their laps - touching me curiously and sleazily calling “Helloooooooo”.
After the long and uncomfortable walk we finally made it to the buffet car. It was closed.
Back at our cabin we decided we wouldn't venture to the buffet car again but would just try to sleep to forget our hunger. The hunger kept us awake. We played games in an effort to take our minds off it but that didn't work either. My friend suddenly got up and put his shoes on and said that the next time we stopped at a station with food stalls he was going to make a run for it. I didn't like this idea one bit! The train had stopped a couple of times so far and there seemed to be no warning as to when it would depart again, there was no whistle or timetable that we were aware of. We agreed that if we did stop, he would just grab something edible as quickly as he could then leg it back to the train. We also nervously agreed that if the train left without him then I would go all the way to Saigon and wait for him there. I was not feeling good about this.
At 2.20am the train pulled into Binh Thuan station and when we looked out the window we saw food stalls across the tracks. My friend jumped down off his bunk, and off the train, and ran across the tracks to the other side of the station. I could see him head for a stall and quickly pick something up. Then a lady came up to him and casually started chatting to him. I could see he was trying to tell her to go away but she wouldn't leave him alone. Soon all the passengers had boarded our train. I was sure it was going to leave. I was willing him to just drop whatever he had and come back, but he waited to pay. My heart was pounding...my anxiety was through the roof.
I was about to run to the coach door to yell at him to come back, then I saw him pay. He sprinted back across the tracks and onto the train moments before it pulled away. I breathed a sigh of relief. What he’d managed to buy was a box of 24 individually wrapped sponge cakes. Not exactly nutritious, but very delicious. Five minutes later we had eaten them all and eventually, with our hunger abated, we fell asleep.
About 2.5 hours later the train pulled into Saigon station, the largest and most important railway hub in the country (and the least inspiring building, in my opinion). It took us a while to wake up enough to realise we had arrived.
In our sleepy confusion we gathered our stuff, got off the train, and headed into the morning darkness of Saigon.
More on Amy Heywood aka That Railway Girl
The old proverb "everything happens for a reason" is quite apt in regard to the this article, but in the case of railway preservation in Victoria it came at a very high and saddening loss.
Victoria is the southernmost state on mainland Australia and in 1954 that loss came at the cost of the scrapping of the four S class steam locomotives - also known as the "Spirit of Progress" locomotives. There were only four S class locomotives produced here at the Victorian Railways' Newport workshop. All that remains today are three of the loco's tenders.
Rail enthusiasts at the time were outraged that all S classes were scrapped and not one example retained for preservation for future generations.
The Australian Railway Historical Society, who at the time were relatively small, then pushed to have at least one locomotive from each class preserved from then on, so that history would not repeat itself as it did with the demise of the S class.
Fast forward 63 years and here in Victoria we have a thriving heritage tourist railway industry, most likely only thanks to the demise of those beautiful S class steam locomotives.
From broad gauge to narrow, volunteer- based organisations such as Steamrail, Puffing Billy Railway and Victorian Goldfield Railway to name a few. We are fortunate to have an abundance of both steam and diesel heritage locomotives.
During the cooler winter months steam train trips occur on a weekly basis on weekends on the main lines and some tourist railways also run during the week.
Steamrail Victoria is one of the larger organisations and run trips on both mainline and branch lines. Steamrail is a non-profit volunteer group established in 1965 to restore and operate historic locomotives and rolling stock once used on the Victorian Railways. They are based at the Newport workshops - which is the main depot.
The Newport Railway Workshops were built in the 1880s and were actually the birthplace of many of the locomotives and carriages that Steamrail uses. These facilities enable them to keep the historic fleet in operational condition and to carry out restoration projects such as on the precious A2 steam locomotive and vintage diesel B72.
The group has custody of a large range of both steam and diesel locomotives including the R, D3 and K classes; in addition they also have varied suburban electric rolling stock. Their Heritage carriages include the wooden E and 'W carriages; steel air-conditioned S type carriages; and South Australian K type carriages.
It's good to see many young members in Steamrail and many other of the heritage railways, as it shows that the tradition is being passed on and taken up by the younger member era and that our future generations will see and cherish these beautiful works of engineering
The "Spirit of Progress" engines may now be long gone, but the spirit of railway preservation is now strong in Australia and will hopefully continue to grow in strength.
Out of the loss of an entire class of Australian steam engines grew a strong preservation movement.
Regan Leslie aka instagrammer vicrailhistorical tells the story and illustrates it with many great pictures.
Words & pictures Regan Leslie
A2 986 steam loco owned & operated by Steamrail Victoria
R 707 owned & operated by 707 Operations in Victoria. These Hudson locomotives were originally built in Glasgow, Scotland
The Italian Pietrarsa railway museum is located on the eastern outskirts of Naples, in the San Giovanni neighborhood, bordering the towns of Portici and San Giorgio a Cremano. It is located adjacent to the Pietrarsa train station. Francesco Bochicchio has a look around
Words & pictures Francesco Bochicchio
K190 operated by Steamrail Victoria
Y112 owned & operated by Steamrail Victoria
Y63RM Derm railmotor owned & operated by the Daylesford Spa Railway
Train Adventures with Jack’s Train Guide
Words & pictures Victoria Stanbach
Jack’s mum here. I am let’s say, the administrator of Jack’s Train Guide. Jack is my thirteen-year-old son, and he has been obsessed with trains since he was two years old. I am sure many rail fans can relate. I however had no idea what HO scale was or what the difference was between narrow gauge and standard gauge. Over the years though, I have learned a lot as Jack and I have travelled near and far to visit train museums, check out train depos, ride scenic trains, and travel on public transit and Amtrak.
Santa Cruz, California is our current home, but Jack’s first was in San Mateo, California, just one block from the CalTrain tracks. We would sit on our front porch and watch the local commuter train travel past all day long, and watch the freight train clank past at night just before bedtime. We also often jumped on CalTrain to take quick trips to Palo Alto, Burlingame, San Francisco and San Jose.
Before Jack was even 10, we made many trips to Felton, California to ride on Roaring Camp Railroad’s steam excursions up Bear Mountain. We rode any area trains we could find: Tilden Park’s ¼ scale steam engines; Vasona Park’s ¼ scale steam engines on Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad; Ardenwood Farms' steam engine ride; and Niles Canyon Railroad’s steam and diesel trains... these are just a few of our favorites.
One trip we started to make a yearly birthday event was taking the Amtrak Capital Corridor line from the SF Bay Area to Sacramento, California. Sacramento is home to the California State Railroad Museum, and it is a short walk from the Sacramento Valley train station. Located in Old Town Sacramento, the museum houses some wonderful historic trains from steam to diesel as well as a great toy train exhibit and play space. We have been going to this museum for the last 11 years, and it never gets old. The California State Railroad Museum also runs excursion trains on the scenic Sacramento Southern Railway pulled by historic diesels and steam engines. The approximately 5-mile route along the Sacramento River is a fun ride for the whole family. This historic railway passes many popular sites including the California State Capital building, river boats, and the Tower Bridge with its vertical lift built in 1934.
As Jack has grown, our train adventures have expanded. In the winter of 2015 we took our first sleeper car aboard the Amtrak Coast Starlight from San Jose to Seattle. This trip took us through northern California’s Mt. Shasta Dunsmir station, past snowy Crater Lake and along the coast of Oregon. Near the end of the route is the Washington State’s beautiful Cascade Mountains, and of course, while in Seattle we rode the Space Needle’s 1960’s World’s Fair monorail train, a classic!
In the fall of 2016, we went on our first great train adventure to ride as many trains as we could as well visit as many US National Parks as we could. What a great way to celebrate 100 years of the US National Parks Service. We started our train adventure in Skagway, Alaska, home to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park and rode the historic White Pass & Yukon Route. We rode all three White Pass excursion trains, even the one that took us past Bennet Lake, BC and into Carcross, YT. We then went on to Anchorage, AK and rode aboard the famous Alaska Railroad north to Denali National Park. An amazingly vast and diverse national park, where we saw bears and the park’s sledding dogs! Our next stop was Mt.Rainier National Park of Washington State, where we rode a historic logging steam engine on the Mt. Rainier Railroad. Back in Seattle, we boarded Amtrak’s Empire Builder and headed East to Glacier National Park. After a 16-hour, overnight sleeper car ride, we hopped off at West Glacier Station in Montana. Glacier National Park is a national treasure. We rode buses and hiked through the park past crystal blue lakes, amazing mountain vistas and beautiful diverse foliage and wildlife, including the cutest ground squirrels ever! We ended our adventure by getting back on Amtrak and riding to the end of the line in Chicago for two fun filled days of exploration – which included a visit to the Pullman National Monument, home to the Pullman factory community where the first Pullman sleeper cars were constructed in 1864.
As we embark on our many adventures, we have met many parents with train-obsessed children, and we often trade information and reviews of train rides, books, shows, stores, and parks. This led Jack and I to the idea that we would not only share our train adventures on social media but we could put together a guide book about train adventures, so other families could have as much fun as we have had. We have gathered photos, compiled our most favorite train adventures and are putting together a guide book with graphic illustrations, beautiful photography and information that is geared toward parents with kids who love trains, but I am sure anyone will find it useful. Our first guidebook covers the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, but we hope to expand to Southern California and onward.
Jack’s Train Guide - Train Adventures of the Greater San Francisco Bay Area covers various train adventures from ¼ train rides in parks to steam train adventures through historic redwood forests. It takes you on short and long train adventures; we visit Roaring Camp Railroad to experience the historic Shay steam locomotives; ride historic streetcars all day long up and down San Francisco’s Market Street and take Amtrak’s Capital Corridor from the Bay Area to Sacramento to explore the California State Railroad Museum.
More info Jacks Train Guide
Adventure, one train at a time...
Jack, as many little boys (and grown men and women) do, loves trains. His mum now does too as she has taken the train and rode the rails around the west coast of the US as Jack has grown up. From heritage to Amtrak to quarter-scale, to steam to diesel. The trains and the places visited inspired Jack's Train Guide.
JACK'S TRAIN GUIDE
"We have gathered photos, compiled our most favorite train adventures and are putting together a guide book... "
"In the fall of 2016, we went on our first great train adventure to ride as many trains as we could..."
Doug Wallace popped down to Petaluma California and serendipitously came across this Northwestern Pacific baggage car no. 605, which was built in 1892 being restored.
IT'S NOT THE END OF THE LINE...
READY FOR MODELLING?
Last issue we profiled street artist Joshua Smith
Apparently he's planning to model this building
Pic our very own street artist Doug Walalce aka la_vida_rhombi
We find out about Modelrailroad0's layout. It all began many years a go with an engine that was run with Playmobile toys... it's now a digitally controlled wonder!
DB in HO
In the Schwarzwald region in Germany you can spot some of the most beautiful landscapes and for me they act as a perfect inspiration for railway modelling. With all the vineyards, little hills, stone bridges, old tunnels and old-fashioned signals, you can see why so many manufacturers take their inspiration from this region. Travelling along the Rhine is highly recommended by the guidebooks and websites and by me! For the rail fan there are a lot of railways where modern engines and new railway buildings sit next to old abandoned buildings and closed tracks.
I rediscovered railroad modeling after almost 30 years. When I was a small boy I sometimes went to the central station at the town I was born and raised in and watched the real big engines - my favorite was the BR103, a classic of my childhood. Later I got my first model train, it was a quite big Faller 1:32 scale model that fitted perfectly to my Playmobil toys. A bit later I got first Märklin model train. My uncle gave me a bunch of used tracks and a little diesel cargo engine. Can you guess what my first engine was that I bought from the money I saved in my piggy bank? Yes, it was the BR103 in H0. Thirty years later I ventured back into the hobby. How things had changed; we now had direct digital control. So taking advantage of this opportunity I brought myself Märklin’s ICE Train – the first in H0. My layout runs a fully digital Märklin system. The model train I had as a child was more like a toy to me, but the layout I’m building now is more like a challenge to me. With no special DIY or modelling skills it was hard to start from scratch. And learning to control a digital model railway with decoders everywhere - inside my engines, turnouts, signals and even wagons was totally new to me. I think building a model railway is a dozen of hobbies at the same time. And that’s what I love about it. At the moment I enjoy building the mountains and the basic landscape and figuring out how to use plaster and different materials to build the surfaces for my landscapes or trying to “plant” static grass. Of course I often like to sit back and watch the trains roll by and then... argh, something happens, my train stops and nothing is working any more. This is the moment when I want to quit my hobby or sometimes I want to start from scratch with a whole new layout. However, I then watch my YouTube videos or Instagram pics and think, wow, that is just beautiful, I should keep going with the current layout and landscape and make the best out of my wrong planning from the past. I guess all us modellers may feel the same from time to time and of course there is plenty of work to do, it’s never done.
I really enjoy trying different control systems. I started with Märklin’s mobile station as part of a starter kit but realised quickly that Märklin’s central station is more what I wanted. In the meantime I control a smaller layout with my Märklin CS2 and my main layout with the new Märklin CS3. The next thing I want to try is is to connect this to a computer and use the software Rocrail. I’ve also started to collect some other brands - Roco being my second favorite manufacturer. This company build a great Austrian Railjet engine with a built-in videocamera. That is one of my favorite piece of rolling stock. I love the train conductor’s view and uploaded a lot of videos to YouTube and instagram.
When I see the comments of my subscribers and see the thousands of my followers on Instagram (which grew really big last year) I see that this great hobby is still alive, although it’s perhaps very niche.
Model railroading is making its way into the digital age. We control our layouts with the same computers that we use for the internet and with augmented reality in apps, like the one Roco produced for the camera loco. I certainly hope our hobby might be interesting for both the young and us not quite so young ones!
The model train I had as a child was more like a toy to me, but the layout I’m building now is more like a challenge to me
Pictures PETER NAGY AKA Captain_p.daddy
Take a photographic & video journey around one of the world's great railroad museums
Sydney Collieries 2-4-0 #25 has a very rare wheel arrangement. It was built by Baldwin Locomotive Works and greets visitors to Exporail at the front of the parking lot.
Ken Patterson What's Neat this Week
Ken will be well-known to many N American (and worldwide model train fans). He's now producing a weekly VLOG with his train buddies. It's real model railroad fan gold. And they keep going when there's a powercut and Stripe the cat jumps on the table.
Toy Man TV's filming of the return of UP944 to steam
Toyman uploads regular well-researched and edited videos on a weekly basis. As he says, he's always "screwing around". Dale's content is superbly produced and this following of 844 is one of his finest offerings.
Off the Tracks goes to the Nene Valley Railway
We thought we'd make a video of our trip to one of the UK's finest heritage lines. It's a journey through the British countryside behind recently restored Battle of Britain class locomotive, 92 Squadron. 007 also gets a mention!
Our friends at TSG Multimedia (as featured in issue 2 of Off the Tracks) produce great prototypical, model railroad and fun train content. This Layout Tour video of Jack Burgess's Yosemite Valley Railroad is one not to miss. We watched it from start to finish (twice) and Jack's attention to detail is incredible. The trackside buildings have fully detailed interiors, for example, and the model is as lifelike a representation of a prototype as you will find.
What to watch on youtube? There's a plethora of great content but what should you be clicking on?
Off the Tracks has tried to take away some of that wasted scrolling and millisecond viewing. Check out these great shows (and our own, which may not be so great!)
All the Stations (right)
Vicki and Geoff have been visiting all of the UK's railway stations and documenting their journey through social media. They've become a bit of a hit both on and off the tracks. They recently finished their epic journey. So sit back and enjoy a rather long train journey around the UK.
Westmills Yard is a fictional modern diesel depot (TMD) and is a small exhibition layout approximately 5ft Long by 1.5 feet wide and operated by DC. Built and owned by Ben Catling
The layout has been built in just under three months and is 99% completed, however, other little things may be added over time. So far, Westmills has gone to two small events and the response has been incredible.
Much of the scenery is constructed from bought kits, such as the retaining walls, bridge and Wills lineside kits, however, other items, such as the locomotive shed and low relief factories on the backscene have been scratch built by myself using Metcalfe Textures. Lots of the finer details are pre-made items from Bachmann Branchline, Model Scene accessories and Hornby Scaledale items which require some work to get them looking prototypical in a certain scene or environment.
My main focus of the TMD was to get the track and lineside details as accurate as I could to the real-thing, in order to do this I have used mixtures of different items; black wire for the track cabling, orange wire to replicate when the wires pass underneath the rails, Wills kit's cable trunking and lineside boxes, along with Bachmann lineside boxes. This was all toned down along with the track to give the scene a very realistic look using a mixtures of weathering washes, weathering powders and paints. However, I did produce some track side details myself, such as a line side fence. This was created by painting cocktail sticks yellow and using yellow cotton, as well as making speed signs from grey painted BBQ skewers with printed out speed signs layered on 1mm card.
The latest and most modern section of the layout, the Industrial area uses a range of products to achieve its final look. The Tarmac surfaces are from Model Railway Scenery, whilst vehicles are from Oxford Diecast/Corgi; buildings are from Metcalfe and Bachmann; and finer details come from Model Scene, Bachmann, and stuff I have scratch built.
One of the most important features on the layout is the use of a variety of modern day rolling stock that has been detailed. However, often rolling stock from my friends commonly feature on Westmills Yard which can be seen at exhibitions.
I plan to finish my new layout Hertford Lane and complete Westmills Yard. I also plan to share my future projects on both Instagram - @bens_model_railways and Youtube - @Bens Model Railways.
Off the Tracks....
This is no ordinary museum. It's a working RAF airbase, with exhibits that fly.
The one US plane at the BBMF. It was imported by the RAF as they had no similar aircraft at the start of WW2. It's the only plane that still flies in regular traffic today (As the DC3) and that parts are still commercially made for.
BATTLE OF BRITAIN
Off the Tracks visited the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight in Lincolnshire, England.
The museum which features aircraft from the Second World War is actually based at an operational RAF Airfield, RAF Conningsby.
When we arrived we were greeted by the roar of Typhoon fighter jets roaring overhead. So, we immediately knew this was not your "normal' museum. As befits a working airfield security is key and you have to take a guided tour of the hanger where the aircraft are located (it's an original, not changed much since the days of the conflict). In fact it's also a working hanger as RAF technicians work on and service the BBMF's aircraft on site. All these aircraft, for example, Sptifires and Hurricanes of various marks fly.
The RAF personnel working on them are specially seconded and during their stay at the BBMF they need to maintain their ability to service modern jets too.
RAF pilots who fly these warbirds seek this role with passion and reverence for the service personnel who fought in WW2.
Learning to fly one of the machines also takes time as they are "tail draggers" (tail wheels don't exist on modern planes) and, although basic, when compared to modern jets, are idiosyncratic.
We could not help being moved by the stories of the men behind these great machines, those who serviced them and of course, those that flew them. These aircraft serve as an honour to them.
More info, CLICK
There are only two Lancaster bombers that still fly worldwide and this is one of them. (the other is based in Canada). In all 7,700 "Lancs" were built and they saw service in all theatres of the war. PA474 never saw active service and was destined for the Far East Theatre in 1944, but the end of the war thankfully came.
RAF pilots who fly these warbirds seek this role with passion and reverence for the service personnel who fought in WW2.
This is a late mark Spitfire and looks very different to the first variants with their sweeping airframe beyond the canopy. This Mark LF XVIE has a bubble canopy and is very much a nod to the later variants of the USAF's Mustangs. The canopy afforded all round visibility. This Spitfire variant was used for ground attack duties post D-day. It has cannons and clipped, straight-edged wings to allow it to provide a stable firing platform.
This machine was really a parts donor but it's been brought back painstakingly to flying condition by the RAF. It's restoration took 11 years.
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Left by Alexmtzphotos
Right by vicrailhistorical
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