Weird and wonderful trains

I get sent tons and tons of videos and all kinds of stuff. Some of it weird and wonderful.

I do my best to keep the posts model train related – but as you will have found out, some time I can’t resist posting something ‘off piste’ (especially when there’s a rant brewing).

Anyhow, I came across this. I thought it too long to post, but then seeing as it grabbed me all the way through, thought I’d share.

Now, can anyone tell me what the engine is 2 mins 19 secs in?

And if anyone has any info on the jet powered trains, please share (I’d seen the propeller ones before, but jets? Wow).

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Now on to Brian:

“Hi Al,

I built a simple 00 gauge model railway for my two sons in the early 1980’s.

At the time I was photographing and writing about the colourful and interesting freight movements in the north east of England which culminated in a book published in 1989 ‘Railfreight Today’.

At the same time as building a railway for the children, I was buying odd freight wagons that interested me, with a view to one day having a layout of my own.

With other interests, that never happened, they languished in boxes, surviving a number of house moves for 30 years – until like others ‘Lockdown’ arrived.

I had decided that due to space restrictions, my layout would go in the garage partly along one wall. But with all the usual garage paraphernalia, it was not going to work. Then I hit upon an idea.

The layout would be built within my sturdy metal shelving system.

This meant a layout 3 metres long and 0.5 metres wide, with an additional temporary, one metre length of hidden sidings on the adjacent worktop!

Naturally, for me, I wanted a layout to be freight only, no passenger trains in sight! I wanted to run longish freight trains (limited space), but more important, I wanted shunting to be done.

I didn’t want the hassle (and cost) of moving to DCC. My wagons and locos were from the 1980’s ‘Speedlink’, Railfreight era. I looked at plans of end to end layouts, played about with SCARM and eventually came up with a basic layout, which inevitably was altered multiple times.

Then the penny dropped. I would create a very, very scaled down version of Tees Marshalling Yard at Middlesbrough!

The Speedlink trains would enter and leave as longish trains. These would be split and marshalled in the yard and small ‘trip’ trains would take and collect wagons from the various private sidings etc. (hidden from view), where I could load and unload commodities. This offered me plenty of different shunting puzzles – ideal.

Problem with ‘Lockdown’, the model railway shops were closed. But, I found that some online shops were open for business. I wanted the layout to work electrically and with as few joints as possible so settled on all Peco flexi streamline code 100 and kept the postman busy.

Having walked around many industrial railway settings, the track was never pristine ballast. I decided I would spray paint the baseboards (shelves) black and would not lay down any ballast. The black paint would give it the grimy conditions I wanted.

The track was glued down with dilute PVA glue and additionally pinned near the pointwork. There are just two electrical feeds and I can control two locos from my ageing late 1960’s H&M ‘Duette controller. I have included two loops, which allow for engines/wagons running around.

I was fortunate in seeing a Gaugemaster industrial backdrop that had the appearance of Teesside. One of my ‘better buys’ which work a treat are ‘Train Tech’ buffer stop lights. I have one fitted behind every buffer stop on the layout. They draw very little current. Although not authentic for my era, they let me know which track is live and where I am shunting to, particularly at night! – brilliant.

Being on a shelving system, where ‘garage items’ are stored, above and below, was going to make the layout dark. I found on the internet a string of low voltage LED strip lights with a rheostat, which I mounted under the shelf above. I can have the short trip workings operating to and from the yard in daylight and by turning the lights down, the long ‘Speedlink Services’ depart and arrive overnight, very authentic!

The hidden sidings (three) are built onto a box construction that sits on top of the adjacent work unit, I can quickly connect ‘when playing’!

These sidings are ‘hidden’ from the main layout by a modern road overbridge and a freelance through goods shed, giving access to more docks/sidings beyond. The only other building on the layout is a ‘Portakabin’ (mess room) at the opposite end of ‘the yard’.

My mint condition wagons and locos (I bought a few extra) needed an upgrade to what a working railway should look like. I set about ’destroying’ the out of the box immaculate look, by weathering them all, to something resembling Teesside in the 1980’s! Something I really enjoyed doing.

I even varied the weathering on each side of the wagons/locos to double the size of the fleet, as viewing is from one side only! Of course, it could be any fictitious place and I can run almost any freight wagons and locos I want – joy?

So now, thanks to ‘lockdown’ and after thirty years, I can now enjoy amusing myself looking back in miniature, to an era of wagon load freight.


Absolutley loved Brian’s weathering.

That’s all this time peeps

Please do keep ’em coming. Just hit reply to any of my mails if you’d like to share anything.

And if today is the day you make that start on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

68 Responses to Weird and wonderful trains

  1. Felipe Lopez says:

    FUNTASTIC !!!!

  2. SwissChris says:

    CN 55697 is a snow plough

  3. ID says:

    Your vehicle at 2.19 mins is a snow plough, a double-header prototype by the looks of it..

  4. Bill says:

    Very entertaining, thanks for sharing! If I should now feel the desire to “steam punk” something on my layout I know have a couple prototypes to point to.

  5. Douglas of Cornwall says:

    What a grand selection of designs. Terrific and I wish they were still running. Thanks to those who created this video.

  6. Russell Turner says:

    Great video. Imagine some of these in model form 🙂

  7. andy says:

    Very cool video

  8. Ol' Puffer says:

    What a video..BRILLIANT!!!!!
    Thanks for sharing it with us.

  9. ray thomason says:

    Hi Al,
    It’s not a locomotive, but an experimental snow blower.
    Ray Thomason

  10. frederick brown says:

    2.19 looks like a two way snow plough for Canadian Railways
    No turntable available. Clear one way then push back along the same line.

  11. Nitroxneal says:

    Awesome video, those were great pictures of a time not so long ago. Would have loved to see the N&W Class J thought. The only one remaining is fully restored and in Roanoke, Va at the N&W Museum, given to the people of Roanoke as a gift from N&W. Thanks again for the video!

  12. builder Kim says:

    Holly cow can you amagine how much weight is put on them track with some of those loco’s.Some had a strange oncept of a modern day bomber even before it came really injoyed seeing those monsters from the past.thanks tons going to go watch it again.thanks Al

  13. Jim Kreamer says:


  14. PETER BENSON says:

    Well worth watching,well done with thanks. Peter Benson SNETTISHAM Norfolk UK.

  15. JOHN FELTY says:


  16. Colin Pryce says:

    Thanks Al for posting this video. Fantastic machines and what imagination some people have! Well worth keeping this. Don’t feel shy to post other non model trains videos its always good to see other wierd, wonderful and bizarre things to do with trains. Just wish steam was still going!

  17. John Bos says:

    Al. No need to apologize for this video. It’s a treasure trove of locomotive history. Given the hyper-talented model railroaders whose work I have seen thanks to you I will not be surprised if one or more folks recreate one of these other worldly locomotives!!

    Keep ’em coming! And thanks.

    John Bos

  18. Peter says:

    Loved it, fantastic selection of the weird and wonderful!

  19. Emil says:

    Hi Al’ This is really cool. Too bad there isn’t some method to identify all of them. Some have captions attached but not very many.
    Did anyone notice on the segment on the PRR 4-4-4-4 that the front set of drivers at 9.05 are turning much faster than the rear set? What could cause this, the drivers are different diameter (not too logical in my old decrepit mind,) or could it be a lack of traction? It would be interesting to know.

  20. Gerry says:

    This was fantastic. Loved every minute of it. I was glued to the screen.

  21. Derek says:

    Hi Al, As above people have said, The rail vehicle at 2mins 19 in is a snow plough and here’s the official description

    Pictures of CN 55697
    Owner: Canadian National Railways
    Type: Snow Plow
    AAR Class: MWK: Snow-removing Car. A car equipped with any special device for removing snow from between or alongside of rails.
    AAR Type: M310
    Detail Info: Misc Cars

    Page Controls View: Grid List Pics Per Page: 10 20 30 40 50 100
    Title: CN 55697
    Photo Date: 3/12/2006 Upload Date: 3/16/2006 8:09:52 PM
    Location: Winnipeg, MB
    Author: ?
    Categories: RollingStock
    Views: 572 Comments: 0


    Page 1 of 1

  22. paul Otway says:

    one loco is a Fairlie’s patent. Some of the trains are converted trucks and cars. Plus early locos. some were experiments.

  23. Jim in NC says:

    Truly weird and wonderful! Great video. Had never seen most of these examples before. Very worthwhile, and a lot o fun to watch. Thanks for posting!

  24. ALI says:

    So glad you decided to post this video – wonderful! So curious about them – time to do some research 🙂

  25. THOMAS says:


  26. Michael Ankerson says:


  27. Neal says:

    Enjoyed very much, thanks Al.

  28. paul starr says:

    What a brilliant video ,crazy but awesome,love it

  29. Nice to see some of those Old beauty`s

  30. Tom Strangeway says:

    I enjoyed that very much. Keep the wierd and wonderful coming. Inspiration for things to make.

  31. Glenn Roach says:

    WOW is all I can say about most of them. The American Steam was very nice to see. But the concepts, What an imagination and thinking out of the box.

  32. Bullfrog Eh says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed this video – both times. Thanks Al – for the re-run through history. ‘Weird and WONDER-ful”. Maybe a collection of ‘speeders’ would be appreciated too ?

  33. Dave Fairfull says:

    Great decision to post the video, the music had me tapping my foot. Most of my models are replicas of the real thing. Bet many of the locomotives would sell if manufactured as models. Thanks for the post.

  34. Surely the “loco” at 2 min 19 sec is a double-ended snow plow

  35. Dick Ingraham says:

    It is not an engine. It is a double ended snow plow.

  36. Timothy says:

    I love the video it was totally cool even the music

  37. James Moe says:

    Hi, Al, Great video, a few side notes there are 2 or 3 of the Yellowstone locomotives preserved and on display in northeastern Minnesota, U. S. The one inside the railroad museum at Duluth is elevated just a hair above the track and has electric motors to turn the wheels for the display. The Union Pacific Big Boys of which 25 were built, 8 were preserved and now Union Pacific bought back the 4014 from Pomona, California and is going to restore it to operating condition. It will be amazing to see this giant locomotive run again, I work for Union Pacific as an engineer so I will keep everyone posted as to the progress of the Big Boy restoration, Jim

  38. THOMAS says:


  39. Chris says:

    That was fascinating. I had no idea that there were so many enormous ( and definitely unwieldy) engine built! I’ll bet most of them were one-onlys’!

  40. Max Dosser says:

    The McKeen railcar . Two petrol rail-motors were purchased by the Victorian Railways in Australia from the McKeen Company of Omaha U.S.A in 1911 and went into service on 13 May 1912. Each car carried 72 passengers. After about 3 years they were withdrawn from traffic. In 1919 the engines were removed and the cars converted to ordinary passenger train use. They were scrapped in the 1920’s

  41. Paul B 60 says:

    Double ended snow plough. Hitched to engine saves a lot of marshalling.

    The Swiss snow clearing/blowing engine seems not to have much protection for the driver/fireman! Especially considering the conditions it is designed to tackle.

    Thanks for the amazing compilation. It took me twice as long to get through because I had to stop an look at almost every example.


  42. Paul B 60 says:

    Has anyone photo or film of Crosti boilered class 9 locos experimented in UK towards end of steam? Would love to see with regard to adapting/modelling my own version.

  43. Ian says:

    A steam engine at 8,000 hp ? that is some awesome power!

  44. John Reynolds says:

    Some observations… Just following the snowplow is a DB switcher that I believe was used in Berlin but do not quote me on that. There is also a picture of the Fontaine locomotive that is a very curious bicycle type with a driven wheel located above the driver. As to Jet powered trains… I do not remember if this video shows the jet powered RDC car that was used for a speed run on the New York Central. M183 or something like that. It did set a record and paved the way for later and faster trains that run on standard gauge track and not Brunel gauge.

  45. John Reynolds says:

    As to the Pennsylvania 4-4-4-4, the beast was notoriously slippery. Lots of power but not so good in the traction department.

  46. jim morris says:


  47. THOMAS WALTERS says:

    I belive this is not a jet engine, but a train made by Genral Motors in 1959.
    I seen this engine at Dayton, Ohio in 1959 at a open house at Delco products
    a General Motor plant there.

  48. THOMAS WALTERS says:

    Sorry for the mistake there is a Jet engine. Lionel did make a model of one.
    But I don’t know when or what it is called or who made the real one.

  49. Lora says:

    We had ran into each other at a local Milblog conference a colpue years ago. It is a good idea though.Maybe I try and arrange something after our home search is over.

  50. george greasley says:

    Very interesting indeed. I can understand about the length of the video might being an issue but it is well worth it.

  51. Hap Cummings says:

    Wonderful! Is there nothing that hasn’t been tried?

  52. very interesting video love them old locomotive thou too bad someone no make them or them not ho scaleits the first loco i seen of back during ww1 and 2 the first one for germany tooi enjoyed watching your videos the sound was great too
    thanks for the memorys lol

  53. excuce my typing and spelling as aint the greatest at lol

  54. Larry Wagner says:

    Wonderful video. As to your jet engine question, the New York Central (NYC) experimented with using jet engines for passenger service. They mounted 2 Pratt &Whitney engines on a Budd rail diesel car some time in the late 1950s. There is an article published in the NYC historical society magazine about the experiments. I believe Boeing also installed jet turbine engines that were tested by U..S. DOT and actually saw revenue service on the East coast under Amtrak auspices. under the label Turbo train

  55. Ralph says:

    Thank you for publishing this. I couldn’t it down.

  56. MICHAEL GLASS says:


  57. David Hannan says:

    Love the investment scam train!

  58. Ramsey Arnold says:

    Great Presentation!!! Thanks for the history.

  59. Norman Rosen says:

    Outstanding, including the music! A steam electric engine; WOW!

  60. David Friar says:

    Very interesting. Love the video. Thanks for sharing.

  61. Roger Shaw says:

    “Fantastic”…Thank You so much!

  62. Will in NM says:

    Huh? I must be seeing a different video than everyone else because at 2:19 into the video is the start of the Virginian AE Class 2-10-10-2 locomotive, not a snow plow. Still I enjoyed seeing all the weird and wonderful experimental engines in this video. Thanks for sharing it Al.

  63. Great video Al I love seeing those great monsters
    Bob from florida

  64. Merrill Miller says:

    Holman: According to Richard Gladulich in BY RAIL TO THE BOARDWALK, this was a Baldwin built passenger locomotive with a Holman Speeding Truck. Beginning in July, 1897, this locomotive was run on the South Jersey Railroad for a number of months until it derailed at speed. It quickly and quietly disappeared from service. The picture in the vid is a Baldwin builder photo. There is, in the quoted book, a picture of it in service at the Cape May, NJ station. Just so happens I live in Cape May. Great show–thanks

  65. CARL ANGDAHL says:

    Great video. Stuck around and watched segments II and III also. Hope everyone did. May not have been model railroading but modeling starts somewhere. Hope to see more of this type submittals.

  66. John Z. says:

    Thanks for sending this along. God Bless.

  67. Bill Michalski says:

    I enjoy your website almost every day! Thank you!

  68. Rich Holada says:

    I was really fascinated by the video. Thanks for sharing!

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