The Steampunk World

Being the continued explorations of a living steampunk.

The steampunk world is all around us, lying just out of sight, in a continuous thread of steampunk builders and culture that extends from the Victorian era to the present. You'll find no science fiction here: This is real life steampunk.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tank Boneyard

Location: Murrayville, Victoria

I found these stripped and dismantled tanks on the side of the road in Murrayville, Victoria.  Tank treads and parts lay everywhere as well as old cars, heavy machinery, and even some wooden horse-drawn wagons.  The last picture is of the wooden body of an old bus.

The Russians called this tank "coffin for seven brothers" due to its unfortunate tendency to spall its rivets when hit.

Visit it!

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Friday, July 24, 2009

El Dorado Gold Sledge

Location: El Dorado, Victoria

The largest mobile machine ever made is Bagger 288, a bucket excavator in Germany. Australia used many bucket-dredge style excavators to mine riverbanks for gold during the 1900s. Most ended up scrapped or dismantled and shipped to China. El Dorado, Victoria, briefly installed walkways to make their massive dredge into a tourist attraction, but then closed it due to liability concerns sometime before 2009.

Visit it!

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

DC ++ Garratt Locomotive Restoration

Location: Canberra, Australia

One of my goals for this trip to Australia was to be able to work on this Garratt steam locomotive restoration project. It's just an interesting locomotive, being articulated and having the water tank ahead of the boiler and the coal tender behind.

At the moment it's in bits but it's looking great and has good bones. Today we began to reassemble the superheader and the bits inside the steam dome.

The boiler had been chopped off its base in a timber mill, which meant all the bolts had to be drilled out and re-tapped. Fun!

A locomotive grillout.

Would you trust this man with your locomotive?

Work days are the first Saturday and the third Sunday of the month. Click here for more information on the locomotive and the project.

Visit it!

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Mad Max Model A


The Australians have a noun, "cocky", which might be translated as "practical country bloke who can make anything out of anything."  I met two dairy farmer cockies named Leslie and Bob, about 80 and 90 respectively, who (for example) still drive their parents' 1929 Model A Ford.  Their parents bought it new for their honeymoon;  now Leslie and Bob use it as their daily driver.  At one point Ford offered them a brand new Ford in trade for it (would you take that offer?)  "Naw, we wouldn't know how to fix it!" was the reply.  A cocky would keep a car like this running for 80 years not because they were vintage car enthusiasts, but simply because it works just fine so why replace it?

Well, round about 1949 they decided they needed a tractor.  They got ahold of another Model A (production stopped in 1932 so presumably it was a used car) and the rear differential of some sort of Ford tracked gun tractor and slapped them together.  The engine was the original 4-cylinder (Leslie says it puts out 24 hp) so how to get tractor torque out of it?  Why, just link two gearboxes together!  They put tractor tires on the rear and added a crane boom and the result is some sort of Mad-max ute, fast enough to go to town on but able to do all the work around the farm.  They've never needed a tractor since.

Here you can see the power take-off.  You can attach something directly to the shaft or run it from the V-belt pulley.  At the moment they've got a big ole alternator attached, so the whole thing becomes a generator.  To the left is the crane's winch.  You can also see the vehicle's four gear shifts:  The original, 3-speed Ford's transmission, the one on the left to control the speed of the PTO, the one on the right to control the second transmission (some sort of tractor crashbox), and the little guy down low to engage or disengage the PTO.  This would presumably give the vehicle about 12 different gear combinations when driving and about 24 possible gear selections overall.  Top speed is around 50 mph but I bet it's hairy!

The ole original motor has had some carb and exhaust modifications but is essentially the same the Model A was sold with.

Here you can see the tractor seat and original Model A dash.  Passengers just sit on the PTO tranny and hold on!

I only hope I can live long enough to be just like this guy.

Bonus Model A trivia:

The Model A was licensed to be copied in the Soviet Union, which produced a car called the GAZ.  This, in turn, was made into an armored car called the FAI:

Then, the FAI's slightly improved successor the BA-20 was modified to be driven on rails!

Ford also experimented with a tracked version of the Model T:

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Saturday, March 07, 2009


Location: Corinbank, Corin Forest Australia

I was at a festival called Corinbank in the ACT when I was pleasantly surprised to see this whale roll up.  Called "Humpback Gunship" and created by Benjamin Gilbert, this whalecopter has been recommissioned from military to air freight use.

This thing was of course loaded with kids all weekend.  At night some parents started pushing it around, and so standing around a fire with this thing whizzing past full of screaming kids was a surreal and wonderful experience.

The wheels are old hand-valves.  Ben said his goal was to give kids the feeling of a whale, so that they could sympathize with their plight.

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