Monday, December 26, 2016

My Mazerati Does 185, I Lost My License And Now I Don't Drive

I hope everyone had a good Christmas holiday! This was one of my better ones. I got a Ferrari LaFerrari and a McLaren P1.

That's a bit misleading. They're built out of Legos. But still! They're neat little models, for minifig-scale supercars. Lego has a new theme called Speed Champions (which the Ferrari and McLaren belong to) that's actually pretty nice. All the cars are real, and very good likenesses for the size and using preexisting Lego pieces. I learned about it by stopping into a Toys 'R Us with my sister's friends one day; they had the mustang, and I liked the look of it enough to say hell with it and pick it up. I've built the LaFerrari already and it was a pretty clever build.

But while building it, I noticed something interesting on the back of the second (yes, there's enough steps involded that the LaFerrari needs two booklets) manual. Look at the lineup of the three cars - middle row, right side.

Ha ha! All the engine blocks are the same size! Get it? GET IT!?
They are, from left to right, the Lego versions of the Porsche 918, the McLaren P1, and the Ferrari LaFerrari. Hmmm... Where have I seen such a lineup before?




Oh. Right. 

Yes, Clarkson, May, and Hammond were working on an epic shootout between these three incredible cars on the Top Gear track, but as Ferrari and McLaren were coming around to the idea, Clarkson was booted and May and Hammond elected to follow. As they have a new show of their own on Amazon TV called The Grand Tour, I'm told they managed to organize the competition in their first episode. Still haven't seen it, or have any idea which car won. Even so... 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Flying Machines In Pieces On The Ground

Maybe I'm just being mean, but there's something I find endlessly amusing about this warning label I saw at work.


Right in the face!

Just as good is this one from my friend Mike. It's out of a power plant he did some contractor work at. At which he did some contractor work. 


Sproing, motherfucker!

She Spread Her Wings, And Then She Was Gone

Various times and places. 

I've no idea what possessed me to assemble this collection. 





















Friday, July 8, 2016

Some Girls They Like Fried Green Tomatoes

Really? Fifteen years ago Kings' food was good. Not great, but good. Five years ago, it was kind of mediocre. These days it roils my stomach, and it all has the same aftertaste, which tastes like failure. I have no idea why my grandfather likes the place so much.

But this?


This is a new low. Is Kings' marketing department just whatever second-grade class is nearest? Is this an April Fools' prank that got lost in the shuffle until now? Why, oh why, does the placard say "Money Back Guaranteed" at the bottom? What a terrible restaurant. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Running Blue, Going So Fast, What'll I Do?

I had a stroke of luck on Sunday. While my grandfather and I were at breakfast that morning, I checked the Heritage Units website to see if anything interesting was in the area. It turned out that we'd missed the Interstate unit while we were eating; but the site also revealed that the Conrail unit was on its way west at the point of an intermodal train!


Before anything else, I happened to catch this intermodal train eastbound.


The trailing units were of note; a shiny, freshly rebuilt SD60E and an uncommon standard-cab C44-9. The standard-cab Dash-9s will likely be getting rare soon, as Norfolk Southern will use them as the basis for DC-to-AC rebuilds, including new wide cabs. I also made a couple new friends - Phil (pictured) and Victoria. They live downtown. I'm a bit jealous.


Then a couple of autorack trains came by.


Strangely, my best shot of this one was a going-away shot.


I actually ended up waiting about an hour and a half for the Conrail unit to arrive, and here she is! I'd seen her previously with NKP 765 and the Pennsy unit on that horseshoe curve excursion a few years back, but seeing her on the road and on the point was a perfect catch.


I don't know why, but seeing the Heritage units start to get a little weathered, a little dusty makes seeing them more interesting. And after all, NS didn't buy them just for show - they're stock locomotives just like their more drab cousins and NS is gonna work them just as hard! 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Platform Ticket, Restless Diesels, Goodbye Windows

I received something in my Christmas stocking this past holiday that threw me for a bit of a loop. It's this train pull-back toy.


The reason I did a double-take when I saw it was its uncanny - and as we will see, surprisingly accurate - resemblance to an EMD SDP35. For a cheap kids' toy, it's a most irregular choice of subject. I say this chiefly because the SDP35 was not widely produced; intended to replace older passenger locomotives and still run as a freight unit if necessary, it only sold 35 units during 1964 and '65. Meanwhile, the standard SD35 sold 360 units in a similar timeframe. (The successive SDP40 and SDP45 models only sold 20 and 18 each, respectively; the 34 'SDP45s' sold to Erie Lackawanna were without steam generators, in order to equip a larger fuel tank than the standard SD45.) Union Pacific ordered ten; finding them inadequate for passenger train service, they used them for freight until their retirement and kept their fleet of EMD E8 passenger locomotives in use until all passenger services were assumed by Amtrak in 1971.

George Elwood

I mention UP's locomotives because this toy is painted reminiscent of UP's color scheme. While logos, lettering and numbering are all a work of fiction, the gray top portion and yellow body are correct, even to the red stripe that separates them (it should, however, be a single stripe, not the paired one on the toy). And 'Power Pacific'? They got it three-quarters right, actually! I count 'Power' for partial credit since Union Pacific was once the buyer of many imposingly massive and powerful locomotives, both steam and diesel.


But better yet is how closely this toy actually matches the real SDP35. Starting with the wheels, it has the early Flexicoil 'C' trucks, and heavy braking option (with one cylinder for each axle on each side - correct for the UP units); while the nose and cab aren't perfect, they are identifiably EMD designs; the traction motor blower duct and hood bulge, as well as the bulge in the steam generator compartment at rear are all present on the fireman's side; and the air intakes, dynamic brake blister at the top center of the hood, radiator shutters and vents for the steam generator at the top rear are all correct as well. The only real glaring error I can see is the radiator fans. The prototype had two larger fans with one smaller fan between them; this has three large fans like the SD40 was built with. The two dynamic brake fans are correct.


Of course, only a complete nerd like me would even notice, but I do find it very interesting that such an obscure prototype was picked for such a relatively unimportant-seeming kid's toy. I know I've seen more than a few based on EMD's much more widely produced F-unit locomotives, which makes more sense - with over 7000 of all F-unit models built, they were a much more common sight on the American railroad scene well into the 1980's. The SDP35 is all but extinct by comparison.