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Paris 1889


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For many years I have had in my collection the well known Jouef/Playcraft Decauville passenger set, but I have never built a layout on which it could actually run.

 

IMG_20190801_211755.jpg.63f789c31a76a5cad7b13ae65562b3a9.jpg

 

 

Recently I came across a very interesting little booklet, in Swedish unfortunately, with a lot of background info about this particular type of narrow gauge train.

 

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It turns out that the Decauville railway played quite a prominent role in the 1889 World Exposition held in Paris - the same Expo for which the Eiffel Tower was constructed.

 

They built a line to take visitors along two sides of the exposition and along the Seine. I found a plan that shows the line:

 

 

764832448_Plan_gnral_de_lExposition_Universelle_de_1889.jpg.1c90d989eee6151f4cf4b05eef8bf372.jpg

 

There are a number of delightful old photographs in the booklet, such as this one:

 

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Seeing this I just had to do something, and I've decided to have a go at building something to try and capture some of this atmosphere... but how?

 

Edited by faded_Glory
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I too have that set, a souvenir of a childhood day trip to Boulogne back in the late 60's or very early 70's. Other than briefly running round a small circle of 'Crazy Track' hastily incorporated into my layout back then, it's been left boxed and untouched ever since.

 

Interesting to see the history you've detailed and I'm wondering now if I might dig it out and see if it can be coaxed into life. I imagine it may be a tad reluctant after such a long time though.

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The Swedish booklet contains a scale drawing of the coaches, showing that they were 8.7 m. long overall. The Jouef ones measure 112 mm so that makes them 1/77, near enough to 00 scale and not H0 as I believed. They are a bit too wide though, 25 mm for a real width of 1.7 m equates to a scale of 1/68.

 

1534979559_coachplan.jpg.8023993907f65770fed1e93181fbc99d.jpg

 

 

The engine is more of a problem. First of all, although it does resemble a Decauville loco there is no evidence that this particular type ran at the 1889 World Expo. The pictures in the booklet show a much bigger engine - a beefy 040-040 Mallet:

 

 

Mallet.jpg.020e8369f8a7d371ab24f7bb1d9430e6.jpg

 

 

The Jouef model is actually quite a decent representation of the smaller Decauville 0-4-0 engine Type 1 as per their official documentation:

 

 

 

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This type was only 11' 6'' long. The Jouef model is 48 mm long which makes it 1/72 scale.

 

Oh well, compared to my Eiffel Tower I don't think these discrepancies are too bad :)

Engine catalog.jpg

Edited by faded_Glory
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I love the concept behind this layout (and the execution, of course). Exhibition railways are rarely modelled, but they're an attractive prototype. And of course they give you an excuse to do all sorts of "unrealistic" things. Heck, one could argue that using a Mallet on such light duties isn't realistic, but clearly it happened. Maybe you could say in your version of history, Decauville swapped the engine out periodically to give visitors a chance to see everything their company had to offer.

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That certainly sounds like a plausible idea!

 

The booklet I have lists a lot of interesting details about that particular Decauville railway (even though it is in Swedish I can more or less figure out most of it). I think a larger model of the prototype could be really interesting - you would need to scratch build lots of the amazing buildings they put up at the exhibition: every country built a 'typical' house in which they showed off the goods they offered to export to the world so there was immense variety in building styles.

 

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387596714_serbe-espagnol-monegasque-c6c0-diaporama(900x598).jpg.ca407820702e1017a1d0474de2399f85.jpg

 

Then there were the huge French exhibition halls like the Galerie des Machines, like the EIffel tower built from steel trusses:

 

Galerie_des_Machines.jpg.122307808d238583acbb32024267652c.jpg

 

Of course the Eiffel Tower could be relegated to the background or omitted completely if you were to show a different corner of the exhibition - it covered a large area after all.

 

Before deciding on the simple pizza I played around with a possible larger layout and designed something in Anyrail:

 

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I have my doubts about the running qualities of the Jouef loco (and 009 on the whole, to be honest), and anyway I don't have the time right now for a more serious layout, but it could be done. I think Minitrains offer another type of Decauville engine that might be suitable.

 

In case anyone wants to model a bit more, the booklet contains the track plans for the two end stations at the exhibition. Pretty interesting and challenging to build in model, I'd say.

 

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The line in between was mostly double track and there was actually a tunnel underneath the approach to the Eiffeltower, probably to prevent accidents with the crowds that would pass by there.

 

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Anyway, enough with the chatting, I have a layout to build :)

 

 

Edited by faded_Glory
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Baseboard building is finished :)

 

The two MDF circles have been joined together and I've added four legs.

 

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I have also drilled a series of small holes around the perimeter to fit some fencing later.

 

I have started with the ground works by sticking a square of fine sandpaper in the middle, underneath where the Eiffeltower will go, to represent the  compacted sand that I think is likely to have been in place there. Pictures of the era show little in the way of tarmac, most roads and streets appear to be simply made of tamped soil.

 

I'm thinking of adding a small platform canopy at the front, various pictures show these to have been jolly affairs made of wooden frames covered with (presumably) red and white striped fabric. That will add a splash of colour. I have ordered some suitable paper napkins for this :)

Edited by faded_Glory
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Been laying the track today, and then covered it with black paper strips to get rid of the sleepers. When dry I will cover this with a thin layer of fine cinders, grading into brown soil cover towards either side.

 

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I tested the train and it runs fine. Not very subtle, but good enough.

 

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I like the (Metcalfe) stone edging and will probably also apply it to the lower baseboard edge for a better finish.

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On 02/08/2019 at 20:13, faded_Glory said:

Baseboard building is finished :)

 

The two MDF circles have been joined together and I've added four legs.

 

IMG_20190802_194139.jpg.b948d4284ca8d4e41577100f80261dab.jpg

 

 

IMG_20190802_1941.jpg.420631e6b8348a167b69122f09b2e4bd.jpg

I have also drilled a series of small holes around the perimeter to fit some fencing later.

 

I have started with the ground works by sticking a square of fine sandpaper in the middle, underneath where the Eiffeltower will go, to represent the  compacted sand that I think is likely to have been in place there. Pictures of the era show little in the way of tarmac, most roads and streets appear to be simply made of tamped soil.

 

I'm thinking of adding a small platform canopy at the front, various pictures show these to have been jolly affairs made of wooden frames covered with (presumably) red and white striped fabric. That will add a splash of colour. I have ordered some suitable paper napkins for this :)

Like the neat legs idea.

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I've seen two very good models of the small deauville mallet in 009 using the minitrix BR98 mallet chassis. This isn't perfect and doesn't have the outside frames on the rear engine unit, but looks about right.

This is Charlie Insley's loco, based on the later swedish cabbed versions (one of which survives on the oslj):

IMG_9266-798545.JPG

 

I've built a pair of 2.5t decauvilles in 7mm scale and they were pretty small! I also built an 18" gauge version of the mallet in O9 but I sold it to a gentleman in tasmania.

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Wow, that very much looks the part, beautiful! Is that a kit or scratch built? Mind you, either would be beyond my capabilities!

 

Talking about Sweden, the second half of the booklet discusses a Decauville line in Sweden near Helsingborg, between 1890 and 1906. I haven't studied this in detail but it seems that there was a short line running from a place called Ramlosa to the shore, where there appears to have been a pier. The whole area is now absorbed by Helsingborg and industrialised, there will be nothing left of the line. There are some photographs but of poorer quality than those of the World Fair.

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Its scratchbuilt by charlie insley, photo is by james Hilton.

 

The drawings are fairly widely available, if you don't already have them:

27.jpg

 

The mallets showed up in lots of places around the world - france, Sweden, Norway (2'6" gauge), Vietnam, French Guiana and more!

If you're using the minitrix chassis the hard part is done for you, it's just plasticard for the body. Scratch building is always worth a go, don't be too intimidated, like many things it's just practise!

 

I think there mightve been a pechot bourdon at the 1889 exposition as well, but cant be sure. That'd be a more awkward scratch build.

 

 

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Yes, that drawing is also included in the booklet I have. 

 

Thank you for the encouragement to have a try at scratch building the superstructure.  Perhaps one day I will take that plunge.

 

Is the pechot bourdon akin to a Double Fairlie? Peco/Kato have announced that they will bring out a model of one of those :)

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Thank you! My copy of the booklet shows 1978 as the date of publishing.

 

I rummaged through my spare box and found parts from a Kibri platform canopy that I never used, they appear to be perfect for conversion into one of those jolly Fair tents, as visible on the left in the picture below:

 

img-2.jpg.4ad0fdb57772d350119cca46db1e3fcd.jpg

 

Stay tuned!

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Pechot bourdon:

 

08dc4718-ac8c-3720-632a-0469f5336f89.jpg

 

Sort of like a double fairlie, but a fair bit smaller than the welsh ones (the boiler design is different to a true fairlie).

 

The small jouef decauville is sort of a 3.25t type 1 (but as you've noticed, very overscale), but the square tanked design dates from 1892. The earlier 2.5t locos had curvier tanks, my attempt at modelling them (but to a narrower gauge) and something similar to the paris exhibition coaches is here:

 

IMG_20190107_210122908

 

There was a loco of this type at the exhibition, it was later used in Madagascar.

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They're O9 (7mm/ft, 9mm track representing 15"-18" gauge).

 

The pechot bourdon was displayed at les invalides last year for the centenary of the armistice (I think it's the one that ended up in Serbia, there is another preserved in dresden). The design was developed for trench railways in the 1880s. During WW1 the french ordered loads of them from Baldwin (280) and NBL (15), to go with the 100 or so they already had. Whether it was wise to continue building a 30 year old design throughout WW1 is a different matter.

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The chairs are vital.

 

years ago, I bought a superb etched-brass fret of suitable chairs in 1:50 scale, with an 0 scale version of this in mind. Still have the fret, unused!

 

Try ‘The Model Shop’, architectural modelling supplies, in London.

 

 

Edited by Nearholmer
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