Monday, April 30, 2007

The Elusive DD51

Tomorrow we head off to the hills to visit some of my wife’s relatives. We’re going by train, naturally, so expect a few more pictures. In my continued quest for modern narrow gauge I’m hoping to get some shots of the tilting diesel and electric MUs that run into the mountains. I travelled on these last time I was here and they really are fantastic units, comfortable and spacious, and pretty fast. I’m also going to keep an eye out for the DE10 C-B units that I’ve seen briefly on previous visits.
However, I really would like to Photograph an example of a Japan Railfreight (JRF) DD51. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem in theory: they are one of JRF’s main locomotives and they infest the Yokkaichi/Nagoya region which we’ll be travelling through. The DD51 class were built in 1962 or 1972-77 (accounts vary) I originally thought they were B-B-B wheel arrangement but it turns out they are B-2-B, which seems a bit odd but there is some cunning method for changing the overall axle weight from 14-15 Tonnes by by altering the pressure on the springs, according to the Japan Modern Transport Museum. They aren’t exactly beautiful, but they do have a very impressive presence with their long hoods and big centre cab (they are in fact 18m long over buffers). I have some vague idea about making a B-B-B locomotive, based on the general design, for the KÖB’s steep diesel-only section between Dachsburg and Spitzenwald, the rationale being that the container and wood traffic needed a powerful locomotive in the 70's but an early C-C unit had tried to straighten out the curves. I know I could ask for pictures, and there are a few online (The one above is from this Wikimedia Gallery), but very few show the side of the locomotive (Which I think is the most impressive view) and it’s nice to have your own picture anyway.
The probem is that DD51’s seem to be shy. Last week I saw some skulking behind a billboard in Shio-Hama which gave a good view of their wheel arrangement but very little else. As we left the station two more disappeared under a bridge. Naturally after I put the camera away. However, we will be covering a lot of mileage on a Japan Railpass and most of it on the 3’6” system, so hopefully there will be some chance to finally get a good view of a DD51. I’ve got a fresh SD card for the camera, Just in case.
I'll report on my success (or lack thereof) on Saturday…

No comments: