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.

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Vintage U.S. Augur Drive

From Shusharmor:

In the winter of 1941-42, the Americans began feverishly to increase fleet that can move through the snow - it seemed that at the Alaskan base should not encroach mad samurai, not the Kremlin's man-eater, not a madman Fuhrer, and then all together. Has not spared it the urgent creation of snow machines and party shnekohody. In particular, a farm tractor was equipped with two screws and started testing, but soon he was gone so quickly that not even left behind no evidence of TTX ...

Galloping Bobiks!

The Galloping Geese were a series of road-rail conversion vehicles run on the Rio Grand Southern Railroad. A bobik is a Russian improvised factory vehicle that is so beloved by the workers that the ZIL factory put theirs on a pedestal outside the factory. has posted these pictures of improvised road-rail construction vehicles used in the maintenance of the Kiev subway. For lack of a better term I'll call them "Galloping Bobiks".

Land Yachts

Glenn Curtis, of Curtis-Wright aircraft, developed the "motor bungalow" beginning in 1919 after the failure of his flying car at the 1917 Pan-American Exhibition.


This ultra-streamline Reo tractor was specially built to tow a Curtiss Aerocar, on of the earliest production fifth-wheel trailers. Custom built for Dr. Hubert Eaton of the Forest Lawn Memorial Parks, its innovative cab-forward aluminum and leatherette body was constructed by Standard Carriage Works of Low Angeles, a coachbuilder that specialized in bodies for trucks and other commercial vehicles. It featured a large storage area, sleeping quarters for the driver, and a separate four-cylinder engine for auxilliary power. A Williams air-brake an dual rear-wheels accommodate the permanently attachehed 10,000 pound trailer. First equipped with a flat-12 White truck engine, the Reo tractor was fitted with a 300-horsepower Cummins 6-cylinder diesel in 1953 when the original engine wore out after more than 250,000 miles of use.

The luxurious and expensive Aerocar trailer was built by Curtiss of Coral Gables, Florida, a firm also known for motorcycles and pioneering aircraft. Nicknamed "Vagabond" by Dr. Eaton, it was outfitted for hunting excursions and to transport company executives on trips to inspect various real-estate holdings. Special features include a self-contained restroom and kitchen, comfortable seating for eight, cup holders, and an observation deck equipped with a speedometer, compass, and intercom for communication with the driver. Though currently set up for day travel, the interior can be modified to sleep up to six passengers. The dramatically styled rig was in regular use until retired by Forest Lawn Memorial Parks in 1991 - Peterson Automotive Museum

The aerocar was meant to be ridden in, so that the owner and pals could have a swingin cocktail party on the road while the driver even slept in the cab! Twelve cylinder engine with four-cylinder generator!

Apparently the observatory model was too expensive, because Curtiss dialed it back a bit with the economy model:

This one started life as a LA hotel's Tijuana excursion vehicle and then a rodeo rider toured in it for 30 years. It's now owned by Henry Wallace.

The sedan pictured towing the Aerocar quickly proved too underpowered for the busy traveler. Most owners had a custom 5th-wheel tractor built:

This International is owned by Hindley's Garage.

The African explorer Attilio Gatti built two of these Jungle Yachts to explore the Belgian Congo. You can read more about them here.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Steampunk Motorcycles


Thursday, January 07, 2010

Improvised Rail of Negros Occidental

Location: Negros Occidental, Philippines

When a railway company ceases to run trains on a line, oftentimes some local will make money off of the tracks by making their own train. The finest of these are made of buses, and the most humble stretch the limits of the word "train". From Railroads and Ships of the Philippines come these pictures of various modes of improvised public transit:

You can almost see the 60's vision of the future hidden somewhere in these trolley cars.

The remains of a bus-to-rail conversion.

Horse drawn service in Victorias:


Panay Island... is this one powered Flinstones-style?

This guy's got endless locomotive graveyard pictures. The site is entirely in Japanese but it's very pithy!

Negros Occidental even has an Iron Dinosaurs tour of rotting locomotives.

Visit it!

View Larger Map

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Galloping Geese!

As rail lines become less profitable, the railroad company must pull service on otherwise functional rail. Sometimes, an interim service is established using a short train or trolley, and a road vehicle is modified to serve that purpose. They delivered mail, carried passengers, were used by inspection crews, or served as the payroll vehicle.

The most famous example is probably the Rio Grande Southern Railway's "Galloping Goose":

6-06-1913 RGS Motor #1 derails and rolls into the Dolores River. Superintendent W.D. Lee and his wife jumped before it hit the water, but Roadmaster Gilland didn't and was seriously hurt. Mrs. Lee refused to ride in the car after this mishap, saying it "bounced too much".

The second Goose #1 was built in 1931, based on a Buick Master Six sedan, converted to rail operation and fitted with an open platform on the rear to carry mail.

Professor Fzz writes:

What wonderful hackery!

Back in the early 90's, I traveled around Ecuador (amongst other places).  These Geese remind me of the "trains" I rode there, on the line from Ibarra down to the northern coast at San Lorenzo.  What really amused me was seeing the driver sitting at the steering wheel, and steering furiously every time we came to a bend.  It took me a while to realize that the old bus steering wheel had been reconnected to activate the brakes.  Truly ingenious. 

These are not quite as steampunk as the Geese, but pretty wacky nonetheless.

Doesn't look like the highest quality engineering, considering the line climbs over 10,000 feet, but it seemed to do the job.

Inspector Car, Jamestown CA

An inspection car on display at Jamestown, Ca. I also spotted this bobbed caboose:

I found this beautiful example in the Adelaide Rail Museum.  Check out the safari windows and bush-rail luggage racks on the fenders:

Underneath you can see its built-in turntable:

There was a picture of a nice Dodge one:

And here you can see the turntable in operation:

Ten Steampunk points to whoever can tell me why they didn't just drive the thing home backwards.

Dark Roasted Blend has a wonderful collection of road-rail vehicles:

Including these rather delectable examples:

This family takes trips around Canada in this 1957 Chieftan.  The views are nice.

I encourage you to visit these two fine sites on rail cars:

The RGS Galloping Geese

Railcars on the Little River RR

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