Tuesday 31 October 2023

Is It A Bus : Is Ir A Car? Is It A Train (2)

 Weird Rail Bus Types

fbb suspects that both of the above were more about staff transport than public passenger use. If they were real trains, the income would not be viable, surely?

But is the Parry People Mover a Rail Bus?
This and its twin trundle happily up and down the short branch from Stourbridge Junction to Stourbridge Town. They are powered by energy stored in a huge flywheel below the floor. Although Mr Parry worked tirelessly to promote his environmentally friendly "invention", nobody wanted to buy and he company went bust when the piggy bank was finally found to be empty.

At about the same time as the BR Railbus project was beginning to fail, the Stadler Pacerail appeared.
It seemed a good idea at the time and was proposed for the Ryde Newport Cowes line on the Isle of Wight.

It failed, sadly

But the Pacer part of its name was to re-appear!

So What Is A Rail Car?
Difficult to say.? The description is usually reserved foe one car bogie passenger trains, usually diesel. The Great Westen Railway was an enthusiastic operator of various types on quieter branch lines.
They were strong enough to haul an extra carriage!
Like rail buses, rail cars were common throughout the rail networks of the world.
In GB one-car diesels were developed as part of the modernisation plan to get rid of steam. For mysterious reasons they are nicknamed "bubble" cars.
Later, BT split two car "Sprinter" units apart, added a second cab and, tada, thus appeared TWO class 123s.

Rail Bus Attempt 2
Take a Leyland National bus and plonk it on a four wheel chassis plus engine. It gained an odd non-bus bulge early on ...
... and the prototype later begat the two-car Pacer.
These were, originally, just what it said on the tin - a bus on rail wheels.
Only fbb liked them, apparently! But the all round visibility was superb and spoiled when they were upgraded with high backed seats. The ride was similar to a boat on fairly rough seas - which added to the fun!

The Hornby OO gauge Pacer ...

... enters the tale of the Park Royal Rail Bus advertised by Hattons on their second hand lists; a tale which fbb will complete as part of tomorrow's posting.

More Railbus stuff tomorrow.


Halloween; Happy ...

... Or Horrible?

In European Christian culture, November 1st (or the nearest Sunday) is celebrated at "All Saints Day", a title which can be confusing even for some believers. A better title is "All Hallows Day" whee "hallows" is a way of expressing "Holy People".

The holy people are those from the congregation or from history who have had their wrongs forgiven vis the shed blood of Christ and now inhabit the joys of eternity, sometimes called Heaven.

The Church Fathers who defined the "festival" encouraged participants to use various techniques to scare away the forces on evil on the previous evening (All Hallows Even); to leave the day purified of evil and fit for the solemnly of the remembrance. Hence versions of scary pumpkins.
So by embracing the symbols of witchcraft and evil "for fun" we have reversed the whole idea of All Hallows Eve completely. Instead of warding off the forces of evil we now treat them as some kind of joke.

There is so much evil and nastiness in our sadly broken world that it seems so very unwise to treat the nasties as a subject for light heartedness.

From very early in the Biblical narrative we read of the dangers of dabbling with the diabolical.  Here, as the Israelites were being prepared for the transition from a nomadic life to a settled existence we read wise words from Bible book of Deuteronomy.

When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, don't follow the disgusting practices of the nations that are there. Don't sacrifice your children in the fires on your altars; and don't let your people practise divination or look for omens or use spells or charms, and don't let them consult the spirits of the dead.  The Lord your God hates people who do these disgusting things. [Deuteronomy Chapter 19 verse 10 to 12]

Many churches will be holding a "LIGHT" party tonight for their young people and friends.

Now that IS better.

Jesus spoke again. “I am the light of the world,” he said. “Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness.”  [John Chapter 8 verse 12]

Whatever our beliefs, surely it is better to walk in the light rather than to "have a good time" dabbling with the forces of darkness.

The commercialism of Halloween gets very pathetic!


 Next Rail Bus blog : Wednesday 1st November 

Monday 30 October 2023

Is It A Bus : Is Ir A Car? Is It A Train (1)

Nothing New Under The Sun?

This is from a new company as per its promo video.

Lets go back to the 1930s. Rail vehicles that worked much like a bus with a driver and a diesel engine, began to spread throughout the world's rail networks.


and, slightly more recently than any of the the above ...


The Uerdingen railbus is the common term for the multiple units which were developed by the German firm of Waggonfabrik Uerdingen for the Deutsche Bundesbahn and private railways after the Second World War. These vehicles were diesel-powered, twin-axle railbuses of light construction. The diesel motors were built into the chassis underneath the vehicle. The Class 795 Class 798  in particular, are associated with this concept. These vehicles were employed in passenger train duties on branch lines where steam or diesel train operations were less profitable. Including the units built under licence, a total of 1,492 power cars were built from 1950 to 1971.

The railbus, much loved by passengers, was also nicknamed the Rote Brummer (Red Buzzer) because of the loud noise it made when driving. In North Germany the railbus was also often known as the Ferkeltaxe (Piglet Taxi). Amongst railway fans it was also called the Retter der Nebenbahnen (Branch Line Saviour).

They tended to run with an unpowered trailer to give extra capacity.

So why did the railbus idea succeed in Germany but was a dismal flop in GB?

1. Weak Technology - The GB railbuses didn't actually work very well. The German Red Buzzers were reliable if a bit noisy.

2. Weak Finances - When fbb ran a coach company, folk would seek a booking for "twenty five people". fbb had to point out that the cost of running a coach was the same for 25 as for 55. Most GB rail buses served staffed stations and that meant at least two staff and two shifts seven days a week. Very expensive and no saving using the rail bus.

3. Inflexible - They were not capable of hauling a trailer - even if they could be upgraded, no trailers were ever ordered.

GB rail buses arrived in 1958 and by 1966 they had all gone. It was later that the Eastern Region of BR pioneered the "Paytrain" concept serving unstaffed stations and selling tickets on the trains..

fbb's Favourite Railbus

The above is seen outside Bedford Midland station operating a service to Northampton. It was built by Park Royal and, in fbb's humble estimation (fbb, humble?), was the best looking of the panoply of rail buses
To his utter shame, fbb never took a rail bus ride despite the service being local. They did not last long. Most moved to Scotland but didn't last long there either; here is one on the Craigendoran service.
Soon after marrying Mrs fbb, your cheery blogger decided to rejuvenate his model railway interest. Money was extremely short so the idea was to buy an Airfix (now Dapol) Railbus kit ...
... and using easy to understand instructions ...
... glue the bits together ...
... and fit a motor.

It would be a simple to and fro "shelf" layout, somehing like this:-

While fbb gave the problem some thought, the unmade kit languished on a drawer. fbb still has the drawer but the kit evaporated or was transported to the planet Zog. The sad fact was that such a gargantuan motorising task was well beyond fbb's capabilities - then as now.

So our readers can imagine the excitement when the old blogger spotted an item on Hattons web site ...

... advertising an Airfix (now Dapol) second hand Park Royal rail bus all made up and motorised..
So fbb took a close look at the detailed description of this model. He had bought a couple of second hand duds before; and did not want to waste his pension money on a failure, mirroring the full sized originals.

More on this tomorrow.

And A New Feature From fbb
An eye opening video showing what is in a Railbus kit.
But not how to make it. We must wait for part two!

Meanwhile : How Much? 

Coaches At Over £120 each.

O.K. one of the coaches has a motor in it. Note that, if you want electronic digital control and sound, the cost per coach rises to £138.

You can see why fbb buys second hand. Even if it doesn't work very well it can be parked in a siding as a static exhibit of a work in progress.

It happens in real life!

More, as they say, on ths story later.

The Intruder Sleeps

Big Ginge, who pops into fbb mansions occasionally to pinch Mr Tubble's grubbles, has begun to make himself a bit more at home. As he is often locked out of his home residence at night, he has begun to take a short nap (e.g. 2300 to 0600) c/o the fbbs.

He usually leaves when discovered.

Two nights back he slept soundly in the front bedroom.

He is nothing if not persistent.


P.S. "Nothing new under the sun" is a direct quote from the Bible book of Ecclesiastes, not a book for Biblical beginners.

 Next Railbus blog : Tuesday 31st October 

Sunday 29 October 2023

Sunday Variety

Noo Yoik, Noo Yoik

It is very unlikely that fbb will ever travel to the Big Apple but, occasionally, public transport stuff crops up on-line which sets the old man's "leedle grey cells" jangling. 

A twitterer called Matt posted a picture of a model bus he had bought, reposted on the Best Impressions Twittering site. (Do you now have to write or send an "X" and when you do are you an Xer ot an Xerer?) 

Here are his pictures.
As with all on-line Twits, the information with the pictures is sparse. But Matt had been up the Empire State Building at night ...
... and taken some stunning pictures.
And fbb mens stunning stunning!
Matt bought his buses from one of the three New York Transit Museum shops, and that involved going into the shop and giving the man some money. How quaint!

In fact, Matt went to the Grand Central station branch office and made his purchase for the equivalent of £29.
Cheap as expensive chips by UK model bus model standards.

The museum has a  range of open/fun days as here under the Brooklyn Bridge.

The old double decker is particularly interesting as such beasts no long ply the street of the town which is, in many ways, a helluva pity!
Double deck sightseeing buses do, however, proliferate.
The subway trains (Underground to you and me) are displayed in a no longer used subway station.
There is plenty to see and plenty to climb on and  explore.

Back to the model bus which is HO scale (1:87 instead of OO, 1:76). The M106 is a famous NY bus route serving Broadway (of Lullaby fame!) and other notable sites.
On line you can find a route map ...
... and 19 pages of PDF timetables.
The buses are relatively recent replacements for old models ...
... but also on the electric! Even earlier vehicles were more conventional, like this (not on the M106)..
The city sounds fun, transport-wise. fbb is really too old and definitely lacking in funding to contemplate a trip.


398 - Whee! : Fine : Great
Many many moons ago Glasgow's inter station bus from Queen Street to Central was briefly operated by electric minibuses. Only it wasn't. They were a failure and spent most of their brief Glaswegian life parked up at Buchanan Bus Station.

A variety of operators and vehicles ...
... have appeared on this under-used service which is FREE for through rail passengers needing to cross between the two termini. It was once numbered in the Glasgow Corporation series as 98 but became 398 under the Strathclyde PTE numbering non-system.

Most recently shiny buses in Scotrail "measles" livery have been used.
The latest arrival is a "back to the future" ELECTRIC BUS. Hopefully such vehicles will actually work. Here the 398 is seen entering the 'porte cochere' on Gordon Street, the main entrance to Central.
Needless to say its environmental credentials are well displayed.
No doubt crowds will flock to use the buses now that they are so environmentally whizzo.

fbb has travelled on this route many times, but has rarely been accompanied by more than a handful of other passengers. Whilst there are plenty of signs at both stations, details of the service are quite difficult to find unless you are an expert at negotiating Scotrail's publicity.

So off it goes, sparsely loaded, back to Queen Street.

Knees Up The Knostrils?
How low can you go?
fbb has written before about his exciting (?) ride from Nottingham to Derby on Barton's fleet number 561. It was a Dennis Loline chassis with a low height body stuck on. It was doubly low. A singe deck bus would almost reach the bottom of the top deck windows.

This paste-up (although not entirely accurate) shows how low it went. 561 is on the left.
Although fbb enjoyed his ride top deck front offside, he discovered that the driver's cab protruded into the upper deck space, leaving little height for the chubby legs of your youthful and student blogger.

The bus was unique in Barton's fleet ( in anybody's fleet) but, way back then, fbb never expected to discover anything similar in the future, let alone in 2023.

But users of the brand new Yutong electric double decker ...
... now plying its trade on route 51 in Sheffield, found something rather silly on the lower deck.
Here are the rearmost two nearside "seats" - if that is what you can call them.
Definitely knees up the knostrils!

It is so good to see that the designers of new buses are taking the comfort needs of the passenger into their design thought processes.

And ignoring them!

Did You Remember?

 Next Historic British Railways blog : Monday 30th Oct