Curiosities of the Railroad Age

Posted by on December 26th,2006

Odd Railroads

Mr Von Slatt very kindly thought of Brass Goggles when he found a page devoted to railroads with an Oddities and Curiosities section – and I am grateful that he did. The page, Railroad Extra, has articles reproduced from old periodicals and publications on subjects as marvelous as Elevated Railways (above image) from 1886, Gyroscopic Railroads (see the amazing image of the floating girl!) and as Mr Von Slatt said himself – a Railroad Fort not unlike the sort that we recently looked at in a Flash game. Quite impressive, really – that there was such variety in the forms taking to the tracks only helps to remind me just how utterly essential to the ‘modern’ world railroads were in those days. All too easy to forget.

Video Stereoscope

Posted by on December 26th,2006

3d video viewing stereoscope

Over at Make:Blog (and through the kind notification of Mr Josh Swinehart) we find an impressively modified antique stereoscope, changed to allow the viewing of 3d video. I do like this – it’s very much combining the ingenuity of the Victorians with the technology of today – here, the creator was gifted this stereoscope viewer, but had no media to view. They solved this by using two ‘clix‘ media players for the input – one for each eye. This required no small amount of ingenuity – requiring metalwork and creative video recording with two cameras. The result seems to be a quirky, and quite Steampunk, 3d video viewer in a Victorian style, at a not too terrible 15 frames per second. Very well done indeed!

Aeroscraft – Airship-Hybrid Hotel

Posted by on December 23rd,2006


Over at Popular Science magazine, they did an article about the future luxury hotel and cruise opportunities for the Aeroscraft. A hybrid airship, one that uses both the buoyancy of helium and conventional propulsion to get the best of both worlds, the Aeroscraft sounds like a wonderful idea (as long as the Helium shortage can be gotten around, I’m sure). From the Aeroscraft page -

“…the Aeroscraft cruise liner – an airship like those only imagined more than a century ago by adventure writers like H. G. Wells and Jules Verne but one updated with the safe technologies of today – visiting remote corners of the world in shipboard luxury that are unreachable by roads and feature no airports.”

It sounds marvelous, and they’re hoping to get a prototype flying by 2010 – which unnervingly enough is now just over three years from now. I’m keeping my eyes open for this one, although maybe I should start saving up for my aircruise instead! Thank you Ms Dawn for pointing this out!

Meinert Hansen's Jules Verne Concepts

I’m really rather honoured that Mr Meinert Hansen let me know about his webpage of artworks today, a page called Fiction Science. While I didn’t recognise the name (but I shall remember it in future) this gentleman was responsible for concept work on the television series, The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne! Above is an image from his designs of the interior of the Giant Mole vehicle, and at the page you’ll find concepts for life regenerating machines, rocket leggings, a marvelous airship and more. More than this, Mr Hansen displays a love for Steampunk in his personal work too – with a concept piece of his own version of the Nautilus.

Elsewhere, and of varying degrees of Steampunk, you too can be delighted to see tripods from War of the Worlds, level designs and concepts from the game Myst IV (a topic close to my heart) and some very impressive work on science fiction props – rocket packs, ray guns, spaceship chairs and a rather spiffy helmet with goggles! Beautiful work, Mr Hansen.

The Zeppelin Library Archive

Posted by on December 21st,2006

Zeppelin Library Archive

The Zeppelin Library Archive is a lovely page with some (small) images of zeppelins, the history behind the zeppelins (along with the Crazy Count Zeppelin himself – he showed them), and much more information about these most alphabetically tardy of lighter than air vehicles. From their use in war, to their use in civilian life – from the first stumbling starts – to their last explosive high points (and the much less advertised resurgence) – it’s got a light and informative tone, this page. It’s a little sad that the author has less time these days to update, but real life does have a fondness for interfering with such things. Quite understandable, but I’m glad the page is still there!

Tucher and Walther Flying Machine

Posted by on December 21st,2006

Steam powered flying machine toy

I’ve linked to The Great Toy Steam Engine Company before, but this little item they have surely deserves a post of its own! Kind Mr Park pointed it out, and it’s a steam powered (attach it to your handy Wilesco engine) flapping and twirling flying machine/boat model. There’s wings to flap and vertical propellers to twist, and it can be battery powered, but steam is obviously the way to go. There’s a little video of it in action too – and you can see it going like the clappers once it’s at full steam! Whoooosh!

Tem Illustrations

Posted by on December 21st,2006

Tem Illustration - Telescope

I was over reading the Steampunk forum at Nov-Net when a kind poster over there calling themselves ‘Nobody’ posted a link to a collection of illustrations that I believe are quite stylistically Steampunk. Beautifully detailed, with marvelous hats and an almost Tim Burton like lankiness to the characters. You can see the rest of them at the TemIllustration page – look there for steam trains, Turtle-style submarines, balloon-ships and dapper funerals. Apparently the lucky Nobody has the opportunity to buy some of the original prints in a local charity shop – most fortunate.

Passages – Pen and Paper RPG

Posted by on December 20th,2006


Mr. Nicodemus Mannerings kindly sends word of a roleplaying game system that he encountered at his local gaming convention – called Passages – which seems very amusingly tongue in cheek and variably Steampunk. Why variably? Well it seems to allow you to base your adventures off the most famous of Victorian era literature – thus the above image (taken from an upcoming adventure all about the Jabberwocky) is obviously inspired deeply by the Alice in Wonderland stories. Note the piece of toast in the Mad Hatters pocket. But I simply must quote some of the descriptive text, it’s really rather amusing:

“The only Game Preparation of agreeable taste to all palates, and an excellent substitute for Cod-Liver oil. Prescribed by eminent practitioners to lymphatic and scrofulous children; to adolescents for troubles associated with growth, amenorrhoea, etc.; to adults for asthma, syphilis, and female hysteria; and to all ages for chronic bouts of ennui.”

Female hysteria? chuckles Not sure a roleplay game can do much for that, but I digress – it’s a humerously written and quite appealing roleplay system, if only for the tone of the writing. It seems to be quite rule and roll light, and mentions by name the opportunity to be at the helm of the Nautilus – so our favourite authors do not seem forgotten.

Incentiary Automaton

They say that wonders will never cease – and so it seem that Doktor A is quite surely wonderous! The above is a modified vinyl toy currently being displayed in the Operation Fragmentation exhibition. To call it a toy is to almost belittle Doktor A’s efforts though, as it really is quite the work of Steampunk art. Made with vinyl, brass, lead, steel, chestnut, velvet (the case is lined), clock parts, leather and more the whole took a concerted two weeks of effort to make, at least a third of which was spent on making the presentation case. The Tiktok inspiration is clear, but Doktor A admits some similarities between his automaton and Zebedee from the Magic Roundabout. I recommend you pop over to the Kidrobot forums to see a great many more photographs of this lovely piece – including the utterly charming instructions from Professor Whistlecraft himself.

“The remarkable modern advancements in the field of clockwork mechanisms have lead to the development of this new type of automatic infantryman suitable for the dashed unsporting theatre of today’s front line conflicts. GUARANTEED 100% IMPERVIOUS TO “DEVILS ROPE””

And for those interested – yes, the moustache is articulated. chuckles Lovely work, Doktor A!

Steampunk Clock

Despairing of finding things that are suitably Steampunk for your tastes? Mr Hildebrandt most likely was, and so he went hunting for it in his very own home – and found an old clock. While initially it just looked a little worse for wear, on partial dismantlement for the timepiece he discovered that the face of the clock could be removed – allowing the beautiful escapement and parts to be visible and moving. Some time later, and with the aid of some LEDs to bring light to the internals, he was rewarded with a ticking, salt of the earth, cog-fest of a clock. A very good find, and excellent Steampunk reuse for what was probably quite a dull faced timepiece. For more photographs, please see his photoset, and you can even see the workings in action over at YouTube.

(Apparently, Mr Hildebrandt’s peers find the ticking of the clock tiresome – you have my condolences, Mr Hildebrandt. Still, as you say – even silent and stationary, it’s a nice ornament.)