Saturday, March 11, 2017

Moving Pictures Come to the S&C

Last week, representatives of the Edison Studios arrived at the offices of the Stockton & Copperopolis with the intention of filming parts of the railroad. Accordingly, a position on the pilot of one our locomotives was arranged and the camera secure thereon. Several hours were spent to produce a film slightly over three minutes in length but it was worth the effort, none of the staff having seen such a presentation.
Camera Car B rolls over the Stanislaus River bridge during the filming of the movie above.
 In reality, the management purchased a Replay Prime X camera with the idea that it could be adapted to model railroad use. I had previously not been impressed with the movies I had seen of other railroads due to two factors. The first was that the camera was aimed so that much of frame was filled with images of the layout lights. The second was that, on a curve, the camera pointed away from the track rather than looking on it. These problems were solved with the camera car that the S&C shops constructed.
   The car is built on the chassis of a Mantua 4-wheel bobber caboose. Some blocking was added to the car to hold the camera with a screw to adjust its height. The result can be seen in the short movie which was made just to test the concept, and to familiarize myself with the video editing program I have. More breathtaking movies will undoubtedly follow.


  1. THANK YOU for doing two things - one, blowing for all the grade crossings, and two, editing the footage to make a film.

    At the risk of being too critical, it seems so many camera-on-car layout videos are just the raw footage replayed. Ambient noise, goofy grins or puzzled looks as that new-fangled camera thingy rolls by, etc. all contribute to a pretty amateurish final product that really only serves as a curiosity or historic record, with little entertainment value.

    By contrast, you have produced an interesting video showing your excellent craftsmanship to good advantage. I look forward to more!

    1. Thanks, Galen. I do appreciate the comments. Now all I have to do find a decent script for the next epic (?).

  2. Found the video on YouTube, thebrakeman17 did on your layout, which leads me to a few questions. I notice that you are using both coal and wood as a fuel. We're the western railroads in the process of switching to coal in 1895 in the west and while I know they are not practical in model railroading, would link & pins still be in use on a shortline like the S&C in that era?

  3. Not only moving pictures but talkies too!

    I really like your resolution of the problems with most ride on videos!

  4. Fabulous idea that the S&C crew came up with to carry a camera! Well done. Much enjoyed the video experience. And I relate to the typical distractions most videos display as yo articulated. Gives me ideas for my next video project!
    Thom Radice

  5. Don - What a fabulous idea from the S&C crew! Much enjoyed the video and your adjustment. I relate to the comments about typical video distractions that you, rather the S&C crew, have taken into consideration. Things to consider for my next video project.

  6. Don,
    The results from your camera car are impressive! I assume the short wheelbase 4-wheel car helped solve the problem of having the camera point outwards on a curve. And you managed to avoid a different potential problem with your setup, the short wheelbase wobbling from side to side. Nice work!