Hogwarts Express - The world's biggest model train?

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bob

Administrator
Staff member
#1
A joking comment to a new member reminded me of this train ride at Universal Studios. The Hogwarts Express is a shuttle that runs between two of the Universal Studio parks in Orlando, Florida. It is an amazing bit of theater. There are no windows on the train, instead, what look like windows are actually video screens that simulate a trip to Hogwarts as you ride the shuttle through the backlots. This does two things, it gets you in the mood for Harry Potter Land, and it hides the behind the scenes stuff like parking lots that they don't want you to see.

Here's the official video

 
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bob

Administrator
Staff member
#3
So, you may have guessed that it's not a real steam locomotive. (it is a really good replica of one though). But here's something you might not know. The locomotive's wheel's don't even touch the track. It's mounted on a modern vehicle, like a light rail train, and the big drive wheels are just for decoration. Look closely in the following video and you'll see they aren't on the track except in the station where they run on fake rails. That allows for sharper curves and less wear and tear on all the moving parts that replicate a steam locomotive.

 
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bob

Administrator
Staff member
#4
Found a video that shows how it works really nicely. Notice the four rails. The good bit starts at about 1:23

The center rails are the guide rails that actually carry the train. It's pulled along on a cable, being basically a horizontal elevator. The two outside rails, at a really wide track gauge, are what the engine wheels run on when it enters the station. That makes it look like it's running on the track and syncs up the motion of the wheels. Unless you view it from this angle, you don't catch on to the trick.

 

bob

Administrator
Staff member
#5
I have to give them credit, the steam and smoke effects are good, really good. They look very close the real thing, nicely done. Amazing what a budget in the millions can do for authenticity on your train layout.
 
#7
Kids don't care but the "model" which is actually physically larger than the prototype equipment is based on the preserved Great Western Railway 1930's design Manor Class 4-6-0 locomotive that was used in the UK for filming the Harry Potter Series. And the coaches are based on British Railways Mark 1 design from the 1950's. The color scheme the film producers used is loosely based on the nationalized British Railways 1950's crimson scheme which in turn somewhat resembled the 1930's London Midland and Scotland Railway colors.
 
#9
That gives me sort of mixed feelings. Glad to see it's preserved and has a good home, sad that it won't run again.
Correction to my earlier post it is a Hall Class (GWR 49xx) not a Manor (GWR 38xx). I apparently was not "to the manor borne" but then my UK interest these days is the Southern Railway not the Great Western Railway.

There are many similar Hall's preserved in running order in the UK (10 according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GWR_4900_Class.) In real life the color would have been painted in GWR Green, GWR Wartime (WW 2) Black or British Railways black or green livery. The maroon red livery on what was originally #5972 named Olton Hall was strictly movie land fiction for the Harry Potter series filming. When interest in Harry Potter stuff dies down to the point that Warner Bros. cancels their lease to have it on display it could have its boiler ticket re-certified and return to some sort of tourist line service.
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#10
So, you may have guessed that it's not a real steam locomotive. (it is a really good replica of one though). But here's something you might not know. The locomotive's wheel's don't even touch the track. It's mounted on a modern vehicle, like a light rail train, and the big drive wheels are just for decoration. Look closely in the following video and you'll see they aren't on the track except in the station where they run on fake rails. That allows for sharper curves and less wear and tear on all the moving parts that replicate a steam locomotive.
No crew in the locomotive cab either.
 
#11
No crew in the locomotive cab either.
There's a supplier in the UK ModelU3D.co.uk who will scan live people in costume at train trade shows and create 3D printed versions. He does something proprietary to make the scanned images suitable for printing and prints them on his own printer(s) not Shapeways. He does N, 4 mm(OO), O and G as standards. Perhaps he could print 1:1 figures like these for the amusement park:

Hattons Modelu figures for P.jpg


These are a 4 mm set (HO is 3.5 mm scale)This was after priming but before painting specially created to go with a Hattons 4 mm SECR Class P 0-6-0 tank engine I recently purchased for my UK modeling side.
 
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bob

Administrator
Staff member
#12
No crew in the locomotive cab either.
Seems like a rather odd omission, doesn't it? On the other hand, if they did have them, people would expect them to wave and respond as the train pulled in. Maybe they'd better call Disney and get an Animitronic. :) Not sure Disney would sell them one though since they're the biggest competitor. "For you, we have a special price... $25 million..."
 



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