Friday, September 30, 2011

early Milwaukee Road electric locomotive, Cascade Mountains, Washington

The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, better known as The Milwaukee Road, was a pioneer of mainline railway electrification in North America.  Its initial experiments on mountainous sections in Montana were followed by extensive electrification on its mountainous sections generally in the 1910s and 1920s.

Trains 15 and 16, the Olympian ran from 1911 to 1961 and the route traversed the Milwaukee Road mainline from Chicago, Illinois west to Seattle/Tacoma, Washington.  This General Electric issued postcard, undated, shows a GE locomotive in the Cascade Mountains with an Olympian.

Vulcan at Hokitika, 1949

A Vulcan railcar (see earlier posts) at Hokitika Station on the West Coast of the South Island in 1949.  And not only that, some normal locomotive hauled passenger cars are on the sidings, as well as some La wagons with sawn timber overhanging one end. 

Everything in this view has gone except a track for the mainline which is used for trains from the nearby dairy factory.

survey - Britain worst country to live in Europe

It's a nice place to visit but you don't want to live there, if you go by a new survey.

Britain came 10th out of the 10 European countries in a Quality of Life Index due to high living costs, below average government spending on health and education, short holidays and late retirement.

France topped the Index for the second year in a row, with the French enjoying the highest quality of life, closely followed by Spain and Denmark.

In fact, in the UK, people pay the highest prices for food and diesel, yet the government spends below European average on health and education. Britons also work longer hours, retire later, receive less annual leave than most of our European counterparts and get less sunshine along the way. And, their life expectancy is below the European average of 79.3.

On the other hand, France enjoys the earliest retirement age, spends the most on healthcare and has the longest life expectancy in Europe. Its workers also benefit from 36 days holiday a year, compared with just 28 in the UK, and it comes only behind Spain and Italy for sunshine hours.

Spain has the most sunshine, the lowest prices for alcohol and the highest number of days holiday in Europe at 43 days a year. However, the Spanish government spends the least on education, according to the Quality of Life Index., which organised the Index, compared 16 factors in 10 European countries.  "Last year Brits were miserable but rich. This year we're miserable and poor. Whereas some countries work to live, in the UK consumers live to work," spokeswoman Ann Robinson was quoted by the British media as saying.

Interesting and relevant here is the Human Development Index, a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living for countries worldwide. It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. The top ten country rankings for 2010 are below. France came in 14th place and the UK at 26th.
  1.  Norway 0.938 
  2.  Australia 0.937
  3.  New Zealand 0.907 
  4.  United States 0.902
  5.  Ireland 0.895 
  6.  Liechtenstein 0.891 
  7.  Netherlands 0.890 
  8.  Canada 0.888 
  9.  Sweden 0.885 
  10.  Germany 0.885 

rail only to the Island of Sylt

A postcard from the time of the 1927 opening
Yeah right. A popular postcard theme, but clearly fake
Steam and diesel hauled trains but with more fakery
The Hindenburgdamm i.e. Hindenburg causeway was built in 1927 to provide a railway connection from the mainland of Germany to this nearby offshore island in the North Sea (Nordsee) at the top of the country, very close to the border with Denmark.  The sea is quite tidal and at low tide the surrounding mudflats are exposed while at high tide all you see is the causeway.  You can take a car to Sylt but it has to go on a railway wagon car transporter between Niebüll on the mainland and Westerland on Sylt.  You can also cycle along the footpath if you want to.

The causeway is 11 km long, 8 metres high and 11 metres wide, enough to accommodate double track and is diesel operated.

New York graffiti

Thursday, September 29, 2011

early American electric streetcar (tram) designs

Advertisements of the Standard Motor Truck Company which may have been based in this now abandoned building in Detroit.

Somehow we doubt that passengers would like to have been conveyed at the speeds stated in the specifications, especially the first one claiming it "can be safely operated at a speed of 75 miles per hour" (120 km/h)!

an historic Basin Reserve improvement plan

This intriguing diagram by G.E. Humphries dates from 1907 and proposed raising the surface level of the ground to allow trams to run straight underneath it instead of around it which they did on the eastern side until 1964 (for pictures see the book Wellington Transport Memories).  One proposed use of the substantial extra space available underground not needed by the trams was for a shooting gallery.  Today's vast underground shopping malls didn't exist in those days.

There was no road tunnel through Mt Victoria at that time and the notion of going to an airport to fly in a plane somewhere would have been greeted with incredulity. The grandstand is on the other side of the ground to where it was built;  the domed memorial to Wakefield was built there instead. Today the name Sussex is only applied to the western side and called a Street not a square, the eastern side is Paterson and Dufferin Streets.

Texaco, the Texas Company

A Texaco tank wagon at Hutt Workshops photographed by Percy Godber in 1930, probably containing petrol rather than oil.  The brand was sold as such until 1942 in both Australia and NZ when the name Caltex was introduced as a regional merger of Texaco and Standard Oil of California. Caltex had actually begun in 1936 as the California Texas Oil Company, a joint venture between the two to market oil from newly gained concessions in Saudi Arabia. The two parent companies merged in 2001 to form ChevronTexaco (renamed just Chevron in 2005).

A 1937 Ford van of Texaco in Oriental Bay.

saving the Basin Reserve

Wellington's Basin Reserve is the country's best known cricket ground which it has been for a very long time.  And Steven Joyce, the Minister of Tar, wants to put a flyover for one of his motorways through it.

However, this week's issue of Capital Times reports that after months of ignoring it, the NZ Transport Agency is now considering the alternative design proposed by the Wellington Architectural Centre which puts a tunnel under the National War Memorial Park at a cost of up to $165 million.  The paper reports that most Wellington City Councillors support this option. website

Does the fact that the general election is in two months, and having two major city councils in opposition to his Minister of Tar is not a good look for PM John Key, have anything to do with this change of heart?  Of course, if John Key wins the election this ray of hope for aesthetics (and cricket) may be short lived.

Clyde Quay boat harbour Wellington

If you look for Clyde Quay on a Wellington map nowadays you won't find it; it is now Oriental Parade.  However, one remnant of the name, Clyde Quay School, still exists, although it was moved from its location from where the Fire Station was built in 1937 by a km or so further south to Elizabeth Street.

The Clyde Quay boat harbour is now the grandly named Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club.

This old postcard is another illustration that was considered for but not used in the book Wellington: a Capital century.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

the Dx

An NZR photo of Dx 2615 in December 1975 at Marton upon its introduction - one possibly two Bedford trucks can be seen further down the platform.
The 50 members of Co-Co type DX class (the next logical alphabetical designation available at the time was DK so maybe the X stood for extra big?) were introduced on NZR between 1972 and 1976. They are based on the General Electric U26C, a narrow-gauge version of the GE U23C model, which is also used in South Africa, Brazil, Kenya, and, in modified form, in Tanzania/Zambia.

The locomotives were initially confined to the NIMT and the Marton - New Plymouth Line, due to their high axle loading, and a need for the extra power on these lines. The electrification of the central section of the North Island Main Trunk in 1988 saw DXs redistributed, including to the South Island.

Upon introduction, all the DXs were painted in "clockwork orange" livery as in the example above. Between 1977 and 1986 they were all repainted in the "fruit salad" livery - red, grey, and yellow, which most of the class wore until the end of the decade. This livery had the road numbers displayed on the sides of the locomotives in large white numbers. The first to be painted as such was DX 2612. Since then, members of the DX class have received liveries including "Cato Blue" (fruit salad with blue instead of red), "Bumble Bee" (black and yellow), "Corn Cob" (green and yellow) and KiwiRail (grey, orange, and yellow).

Only one has so far been written off, 2639 following a crash at Newmarket in March 1977, details of which are in the book Danger Ahead: NZ railway accidents in the modern era.  Two have had a thorough rebuilding, now called DXR and the rest have had various other modifications including prime mover power output upgrades and are known as DXB or DXC..

is it a skiplane or a snowmobile?

This was one of the exhibits in a show held over 15-18 September 2011 at the Crocus Expo International Exhibition Center in Moscow devoted to the theme of self-made cars collected on the whole territory of the former USSR.  This was concocted from various truck and other parts to make a vehicle to go over snow covered roads.

Cass in 1911

A picture that appeared in The Weekly Press in 1911 showing the Cass settlement when it still had huts (it's hard to call them houses) for construction workers on the Midland Line.  For more info, see the book On the TransAlpine Trail.

Imperial Airways poster, 1928

This Imperial Airways of Britain poster features the Short Brothers flying-boat the S.8 Calcutta which made its first flight on 14 February 1928, having been launched the previous day. On 15 March 1928, this aircraft (registered as G-EBVG) was delivered by Parker and Brackley to the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment, Felixstowe, for its airworthiness and sea handling checks; these were successfully completed on 27 July of the same year and the aircraft was flown back to Shorts on the same day. G-EBVG was handed over to Imperial Airways on 9 August 1928.

The S.8 Calcutta was introduced that year and was used by Imperial Airways flying the Mediterranean to Karachi leg of the Britain to India route.

A total of seven aircraft were built. A military version of the Calcutta, originally known as the Calcutta (Service type), was built as the Short Rangoon. In 1934, a Calcutta was purchased by the French Breguet Company from which they developed a military version for the French Navy known as the Breguet S.8/2, it was similar to the Rangoon version. Four aircraft were built under licence by Breguet at Le Havre. Breguet later developed an improved version the Breguet 521 Bizerte. 

Crew: 3
Capacity: 15
Length: 66 ft 9 in (20.35 metres)
Wingspan: 93 ft 0 in (28.35 metres)
Height: 23 ft 9 in (7.24 metres)
Wing area: 1,825 ft² (170 m²)
Empty weight: 13,845 lb (6,293 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 22,500 lb (10,227 kg)
Powerplant: 3 × Bristol Jupiter IXF radial engine, 540 hp (403 kW) each
Maximum speed: 118 mph (103 knots, 190 km/h)
Cruise speed: 97 mph (84 knots, 156 km/h)
Range: 650 miles (565 nautical miles, 1,046 km)
Service ceiling: 13,500 ft (4,120 metres)
Rate of climb: 750 ft/min (3.8 m/s)

vintage British poster for train services to the continent

In the UK "The Continent" is always a reference to the one across the English Channel (a.k.a. La Manche).  This is quite an effective poster presumably depicting Parisian lights from about 1930, with all four main British companies (GWR, LNER, LMS and Southern Railway) contributing. 

Reseau Ferré De France TV commercial - Tomorrow on track Today

'The railway network of France.' The trains look like the models they are, but it's quite nifty regardless. The voice-over at the end says "building tomorrow's network while running that of today".

restored 1957 Ford Country Wagon

Four guys faced with the prospect of an empty shed have created one of the coolest wagons in the country.

Alan Melody had for years nurtured the dream of owning a cool car. He wasn’t alone. His sons Craig and Mike also shared the dream, and what better way to get a great car to cruise in than by encouraging the old man to pay for it? Every car-crazed kid has probably tried that once in their time, some with more success than others.

It wasn’t the boys’ desire to get dad into a car that saw this project begin though, but the need to find alternative boat storage.

Alan happened across an old engineering workshop that would be perfect for the boat, and which would leave plenty of spare room. Enough spare room to fit an automotive treasure, as it happens.

“The boys and I had previously agreed that we wanted to do a wagon. Through a contact in Palmerston North we heard about a 1957 Ford wagon that Kev Redshaw of Timeless Auto Restorations had which he was going to do up for himself but had run out of space,” says Alan. With assurance from Kevin it was just what the Melody clan was after, a deal was essentially done on the phone and Alan made the trip from Taranaki to Palmy with the car trailer and a cheque.

“The car was as promised,” Alan says. “Kev had imported it in early 2008 from California, where it had been last registered in 1963 and hadn’t moved since then.”  The rest and more pics here

tellement francais

A 2010 Peugeot RCZ seen in Johnsonville Road last week. This model was introduced in May 2010. The RCZ is 4.287 metres (168.8 in) long, 1.845 metres (72.6 in) wide, 1.359 metres (53.5 in) in height and has a wheelbase of 2.612 metres (102.8 in).

There are three engine options for the RCZ, all with a 6-speed manual transmission and automatic available on the lower powered petrol model. The range includes a 1.6 litre petrol 156 bhp (116 kW; 158 hp) THP and a higher performance model sharing the Mini Cooper S turbocharged 1.6 litre engine producing 197 bhp (147 kW; 200 hp) THP engine (which this one has) with gives the THP 200 acceleration to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 7.6 seconds and a top speed of 147 mph (237 km/h). The 2.0 litre HDI diesel version produces163 bhp (122 kW; 165 hp).

Volkswagen Beetle cutaway, 1950s

An illustration that was considered for, but not used in the book 50 Years of Volkswagens in New Zealand.

Anklam circa 1939

A photo taken of the 30 metre high Steintor (stone tower), the central feature of this town on the Peene River in the northeast of Germany, showing a car at the Aral service station. According to a survey by the NZ Motor Trades Association at that time, Germany had the world's highest petrol prices.

A roughly equivalent view today on Google Earth.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Queen Street, Auckland, then and now

A postcard from the 1900s and the approximate equivalent location now. Only the Town Hall is a common reference point.

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Waipawa a century ago

A picture looking south of the station in the Hawke's Bay town of Waipawa.  Both the station and the building behind it are history but the goods shed may still exist, although no longer used for railway freight.

an electric train at Heidelberg, Melbourne

A photo taken at the Melbourne suburban station of Heidelberg, probably in the 1920s. For details on the electric swing door trains, see the book Railway Electrification in Australia and New Zealand. The train is on the other platform is probably also a swing door EMU although it's hard to be sure.

secure garage

If you're wealthy enough to own a Porsche Carrera, a below-garden elevator garage for it is probably not much more in proportion.  As long as it's strong enough to also raise another car that may happen to park on top of it...

the Imperial Airways 'Centaurus' in Wellington, 1937/38

One of Imperial Airways of Britain's Short Empire flying-boats, G-ADUT Centaurus (commanded by Captain John Burgess) paid a visit to Wellington on 31 December 1937; the top photo shows a group of spectators watching it taxi past Point Jerningham on Wellington Harbour. It was en route to Lyttleton Harbour.  It came back the following day, seen in the second and third photos in Evans Bay.

The S.23 was a passenger and mail flying-boat, powered by four 920-hp (686-kW) Bristol Perseus radial piston engines; 31 were built. This particular example went to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in 1939 as serial A18-10.  Eight others were acquired by QANTAS, although not all at the same time.

As those who have the book The Aircraft of Air New Zealand and affiliates since 1940 know, two of the later S.30 type were aquired by TEAL for trans-Tasman services in 1940.