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30 Oct, 2019 10:42

The little Russian engine that could: Villager spends decade building own railway, complete with steampunky locomotive (VIDEO)

The little Russian engine that could: Villager spends decade building own railway, complete with steampunky locomotive (VIDEO)

This little engine may look rusty and rugged, but it probably choo-choos ‘I can, I can’ when it runs around the tiny private railway line built by this enthusiast in Russia.

Pavel Chilin started building a narrow-gauge railroad on his land over a decade ago, initially as part a hobby project and part a purely utilitarian undertaking: carting things around seemed easier than carrying them.

A few years into it, he decided it made sense to complement the railway with an actual engine. It took eight years, lots of metal scraps and help from fellow tinkerer Sergey Trekhov to complete, but now it’s up and running.

“We had to rebuild a lot,” Pavel told RT, when it went to see his creation in action. “Friends and neighbors helped a lot. One would bring parts we could use, another some material for a bridge. People seem to like what we do here a lot.”

The small steam locomotive is meant as a tribute to World War I trench engines, Pavel said. The gauge of the railway itself is 300mm (just under 12 inches, but it counts as a different gauge), exactly half of what Russia used a century ago to supply its troops on the frontline and to evacuate the wounded. The engine that Pavel and Sergey built is mostly used to give joyrides to local kids.

Pavel, a retired mechanic and pipe-organ-maker, lives in a small town about 30km (19 miles) southeast of St. Petersburg. His personal railway is about 1.3km (0.8 miles) long, if you count all the branches, and has three bridges over creeks, the longest of which crosses a gap of eight meters.

The little engine is an original design rather than a copy of a professional locomotive of old. It measures about three meters (10 feet) long, weighs just over 800kg (1,800 pounds) and takes two-to-three hours to build up enough pressure to roll.

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