This is way off topic but too cool not to share. From 1935. Check out the guys doing drop forging. Their goofy hats keep the sweat out of their eyes. Wait. What about gloves? Eye protection? Ear protection? Hard hats? Dust masks? Nah.


We’ve showed you ancient video of locomotives being built before but none of those films have been near as good as this one. The film follows the construction of engine 6207, a “Princess Royal” class locomotive that was, for its day, the pinnacle of technology and British industrial might. The reason that this video beats the pants off other locomotive construction films we have run in the past is the fact that the footage is of amazing clarity and the narrator takes us through the most interesting processes. Things being forged, machined, and finished in the factory which looks at lot like a scene from Dante’s Inferno adds a lot to the viewing experience. We can’t begin to imagine how hellacious the conditions were for the workers. They’re handling these huge pieces of white hot steel, feeding them into massive hammers and presses, and working within yards of the hottest furnaces on Earth. There is a reference made to OSHA at the beginning of the film. We’re not sure what the British equivalent is to that outfit, but we’re positive that they didn’t exist in ’35.

Outside of the actual factory work, there’s footage of guys paging through huge books of blueprints, another shot of the “parts book” that the engineers signed off on with each and every component needed to make the massive machine. That sucker is well over 300 pages and we don’t think it was doubled spaced. Unless we missed it, we didn’t hear the narrator give us the turn around time on the engine from start to finish, but it had to have been a pretty long process.

There’s no telling how long the engine you see built in the video actually ran for, but we suspect it was 20-25 years at the absolute most. Like the process of constructing them, steam locomotives became arcane (but beautiful) symbols of the past. It was on to diesel locomotives and modern construction techniques in factories that looked far different than this one. It sure is nice to be able to see this machine built from the comfort of your office, couch, seat on the train, or wherever you are viewing. Your experience is surely one hell of a lot better than the guys you are about to watch. These guys had it rough!

  1. Rolf Engelhard

    This is way cool !!! Thank you Herr Schmitt
    Rolf E.

  2. Stan Mott

    Absolutely fascinating! And not a digital watch to be seen. Nor helmet, goggles, protective clothing, nor government nanny scolding a rule breaker. It was a joy to see how some of the most exciting transportation machinery in history was produced. It made my day. I’m waiting to see more when you have it. Thanks hugely.

  3. Mel Francis

    One thing this film really highlights, is the power of a well-rehearsed team! Work that is beyond the abilities of one, yet huge pieces of metal yield to their combined efforts. I watched this yesterday evening and reflected upon it today…
    What appears unusual, is the crankshaft between the wheels, carrying the additional power and torque of two extra cylinders between the main frames. I doubt that many, or even a few American-made locomotives used this type of cylinder layout for doubling the tractive power, basically within the same external measurements!

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