Friday, 5 September 2008

Where can I get one of these?

I really want to find out who makes something like this (above). I don't know what it's called. A pedal train? A handcar?

I have an idea for a use in the UK. I have been looking for months and I have been sending this image to UK narrow gauge railway suppliers but no one, including the editor of Garden Railway magazine, apparently knows who makes this. 

In the 1950's, well-off children could have a Doepke Yardbird which later evolved into a gasoline powered locomotive. Long gone out of business now, they're worth a fortune today. 

These American pedal trains look promising. They are made for amusement park and hire use but they cost nearly a thousand dollars. I actually want something much simpler. 

They also come with a loco body and are available in the UK from Cromar White.

Another commercial model I have seen (bottom photo) is made by Cromar's sister company Complete Minature Railways but it just seems too heavy duty. This hand-car cost £350 last time I asked.

All I really need is the source of the parts, the crank mechanism for a start, so I can build it myself. The 'carriages' look easy enough to build at home and a decent welding shop could make the track (what I saw was portable and had switches and cross-overs) if I can't find a stock item. Heck, I've built camera dolly tracks more complicated than this myself. 

I saw the one at the top of the page in Basel. It was part of a exhibition promoting rail transport in the Alps instead of the heavy trucks that tranport 90% of the goods moving between Italy and France. I wrote to them first to ask who made it but I didn't hear back. What the photo doesn't show is the inflatable Matterhorn that the track passed through and the queues waiting to play on it. At the time I had a look on the bottom and there was a French phone number but I lost that bit of paper. (I know, I should have taken a picture).

As no one seems to be in the business of making them (it did seem a 'one off') there's likely real potential in these for a quality manufacturer like Berg Toys to get into the garden railway business. One manufacturer said the rig above wouldn't be legal in the UK. I wonder why not? Are Swiss health and safety laws more lax than the EN71?  I doubt it.

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