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Steamrail Victoria, Ballarat Triple-Header – June 2017

Steamrail Victoria is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the restoration and operation of vintage steam, diesel and electric locomotives and carriages. Running out of the Newport Workshops in Melbourne, they have quite an extensive fleet of vehicles and regularly run trips throughout Victoria.

They recently put three of their steam locomotives on a trip to Ballarat. The consist then ran to Geelong where it split and ran side-by-side for the first part of the return trip to Melbourne. Due to initial delays, I only saw it on the first leg after Bacchus Marsh, but it was well worth the wait!

Climbing out of Parwan

The grade from Bacchus Marsh to Bank Box Loop is steep and so a large deviation is in place, in the shape of a horse-shoe, to spread the incline over a longer distance. From the top of the grade, you can see trains coming round the bend from quite a distance away. This made it a great viewing spot for the steam train as it approached.

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As you can see, it was a constant battle with cloud-cover, but then the heavens opened up.

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The engines were perfectly ordered, smallest to largest, and both looked and sounded great up the incline! There was quite a turnout to see them.

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Ingliston

At the top of the incline, there's a loop known as Bank Box. The consist was delayed here again whilst one of the locomotives was inspected. Due to the weather, I nearly gave up waiting... but then the unmistakable sound of steam locomotives (and a level crossing) indicated that they were en-route.

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I must admit... black is really hard to photograph!

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Other sightings on the day

Just before Bacchus Marsh, there's a great curve just off Woolpack Rd and I happened to be right in time for a down Ballarat V/Locity service.

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This would actually be a great spot to get anything Melbourne-bound in the morning. The lighting and scenery is awesome. I then managed to catch the same train (and quite a few others, due to the late running of the steamer), up off McCormacks Road.

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And then IEV100 came through! I saw mentions of it on Facebook heading through Sunshine... only to then hear a sighting in Melton. Fingers-crossed... it appeared!

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And that was it for the day... a lot of waiting in a seriously cold breeze... but great people and great trains.

20Jun/170

Aizuwakamatsu Roundhouse

I was just browsing around Aizu on google maps and came across the turntable in the north-west of the main yard. The roundhouse looks great from above [Google Maps Link], but the turntable itself wasn't clear...

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What you're seeing above is a DMU being turned on the turntable as the satellite was snapping away. Interesting to know that they took quite a few shots! Here's the same thing from side-on.

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DMU being turned and stored

And here's my 2009 Aizu album. Looking forward to creating a new one in 2 weeks!

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8Jun/170

Sony HIT BIT HB-F1XD

I've recently been playing the original A-Train on an MSX emulator and wanted to know more about the MSX world. I quickly fell in love with the Sony line of MSX products and vowed to track one down in Japan. I was successful on my most recent trip!

The hunt for retro gaming goods started in Recycle Shops in Kyushu, but there were no MSXs to be found. I actually stumbled across a Famicom Disk System for 5000yen, but stupidly passed on the offer! Once in Osaka, Den Den Town was going to be the best bet and it didn't disappoint. I'd known there was a Super Potato on the main road down the far end near Shinsekai, but upon arriving we found the sign still there but the building vacant.

Retro TV Game Revival

Fortunately, across the road, next to Burger King, was Retro TV Game Revival. Here I was to meet my first pile of MSX consoles.

There were even Sony HIT BITs! But they started at AUD$400. I noted that they had the consoles that I was looking for, and vowed to return as a last resort. The asking price was a little too high, regardless of the fully-working status.

Super Potato

If you haven't heard of this store, then you're missing out. Super Potato has stores all over Japan and is famous for selling second hand (and vintage) gaming products. Thanks to mobile international data sims, we tracked down the shop. It had moved to the following location...

Once inside, a Sony Hit Bit HB-F1XD was quickly found for the handsome sum of AUD$180. This was purchased on the spot, along with the classic 1942.

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It had a sticker on it declaring that the floppy drive didn't work. Another point to note was that, on checkout, the clerk handed over a laminated A4 page that declared that this machine would not function on LCD TVs. I didn't feel like explaining that it would indeed work, but just ... not ... retro-esque. It is good of them to avoid disappointment though. They could easily get customers coming back who just expected 30-year-old tech to work fine.

From here, I didn't have anything to plug this in to whilst in Japan. No places I stayed at had TVs, let alone CRTs!

Welcome to Australia, MSX-2

I purchased extra luggage. I didn't want Jetstar raping me at the check-in counter ... I'd worked out the math that extra luggage (purchase online, prior to check-in!) was still cheaper than posting this bad boy, and the Famicom (just a regular Famicom, from another retro store), that were obesifying my suitcase.

In the end, all made it back to Oz safely and everything was quickly checked for in-transit damage. Safe!

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Thanks to the creepy Japanese Massage Chair that I previously acquired, I had a nicely capable step-down transformer ready to go for this MSX. Of course, in the heat of the moment I accidently plugged the MSX straight in to 240v! It made a lovely humming noise; the transformer was trying to deal with cycles/current that it just wasn't meant to. I quickly corrected this mistake and all powered up perfectly well. It even worked on my crappy AUD$10 Samsung LCD TV!

I'll post again shortly on how to use this thing, the best way to hook it up to an LCD TV and flash cartridges.

Filed under: Retro No Comments