MR Magic Website

The UN-official History

The Whitby Loco

UN-officially, this is the true story...

A. C. Jones & The Whitby Locomotive

The most recent illustration of The Whitby Locomotive, the only livery in the IDH stable at this time... The art work above is the result of my attempt to learn Illustrator 8.0 "on the fly". This set of articles is an experiment in that I am building it right here, on line (I usually build the articles locally, uploading them to a secret address until the bugs are worked out, before linking the pages to the site where you can find them). Christie is busy taking photos with her digital camera, and they will begin showing up all over the place as they are prepared for the net. So, you probably should check back over the next couple of weeks, or so...



The original concept Whitby (in 1979!) was for a commercial animated display piece which runs on 7 1/2" gauge trackwork. An electric "steam outline" loco, it features built-in sound, a number of special lighting FX, as well as many free and synchronized animated events. Along with any passenger animation (animated characters who might ride on board), it is a synchronized musical part of a musical animated display (layout), through which it travels. Technically, this Whitby locomotive is NOT a scale model! It is full size for the elves, who are only around three feet tall, including hats!

"Scale" Relationships

"Scale" Relationships

The above graphic shows all of the "players". Relative to human beings, the real Whitby "appears" to be a scale model, but it is full size for the elves. The prototype display loco (on the right) is just under 4 feet tall when measured from the rail head. The scale design model (on the left) stands at just under 11" from the rail head. For the benefit of any human model railroaders that might be reading this, I will offer the following: Big or little, The Whitby exists in a caricature, or combination of scales. It starts out at the track level in one scale, and then graduates up to progressively larger scales as the eye moves upwards (much like an elf). More about this "caricature of scales" in the accompanying article on design.


The Display Scale:
(full size for the elves, the actual prototype!)
"Elf Scale"= roughly 3 3/4" up through 5 1/4" scales, runs on 7 1/2" gauge trackwork.


A smaller design & development model (The Little Whitby), in a "design scale" of 4.1:1, which runs on gauge one trackwork, is the focus for The MR Magic Website, and for this series of articles...

The Design Scale:
"2 'nGa1" (pronounced: "Two foot narrow Gauge One")= roughly 7/8" up through 1.6" scales, runs on gauge one trackwork.


A "Little" Background...

More than any other aspect of the design scale model, I wanted the "little Whitby" to sound demonstrably better than any other scale model locomotive, ever. A tall order!

Having worked with then in 1980, I knew just enough about the earliest digital musical instruments (before the term "sampler"), to be able to envision a loco that could act as a musical instrument (a sort of percussion section) within a larger musical score applied to an animated display. If you think I sound crazy now, you should have seen the reactions I got when trying to describe the concept to people back in the early 80's, even from others in the music and theme park businesses. But I knew it could work, and I knew it would be fun! As it turns out, it works better than I had hoped, and it is a great deal of fun to produce, perform, and to witness in operation.

The Fantasonics (TM) Enginears were the first to successfully put speakers on board animated (audio animatronics) characters in the early 1980's. We call this Aural Image Animation (TM) design, and it encompasses the processes involved in mounting speakers on board the various moving parts of animated characters, and preparing sound for playback through them. When the character moves, the sound moves too, creating subtle Doppler shifts, interaction with surroundings, and a point source at the character itself (as opposed to, for instance, the barrel next to the character). The early Disney Imagineers tried to put a JBL 2105, 5" speaker into "Mr. Lincoln" back in the mid 1960's in an effort to establish the character as a point source, but the technology back then precluded any real chance for success. Back then, high end audio signal processing was a bass knob and a treble knob! The speaker was disconnected before the attraction opened. The idea was not attempted again until we came along...

All of the elves, as well as the loco, have on board sound! We based the full sized display piece on the chassis of an existing 1 1/2" scale live steam locomotive kit that runs on 7 1/2" gauge track, made by Little Engines in southern California. Because the display design had been commissioned for existing department store Christmas display "mechanicals" (The Walter Elves by David Hamberger of New York, see photo at right), we wanted the loco to have a cartoon feeling that would be compatible with the elves proportions. It is standard procedure in theme park attraction development to build scale models as design tools, while mistakes still carry scale price tags. So work on the little Whitby was begun. I picked an LGB motor block (I believe it was from an LGB model 2417) as the basis for the scale design model.


In the conceptual design phase, the basic shapes and proportions of the loco were created in the computer, then printed out for the addition of concept sketching by hand. When the overall design was finalized, the additional hand drawn elements were entered into the computer to create the basic illustration, which you will see in variation throughout this series.


Builder's PlatesMusical Reference & Computer Art

The piece was designed from the concept stage as a type of musical instrument. Musical references are everywhere. The firebox door handle is in the shape of a treble clef, as are the headlight platform mounting brackets. The plumbing contains several obscure references, too. There is the "baritone sax siphon" based on a baritone saxophone, and the siphon for the steam gauge is reminiscent of (and based upon) a French horn (see below).

 In 1987, Robert Dustin was commissioned to create three (3) photo etched Whitby Locomotive Works builder's plates for this loco (along with a pair of road name plates, and a number plate). Normal locomotives would have only two builder's plates. Since the original artwork was designed as illustration in the computer, it was a relatively simple operation to elongate the overall shape in the vertical axis without changing the horizontal axis at all, allowing for interchangeability between plates on the same mounting pattern. The idea here is that any plate may appear at either side of the smoke box, depending upon the whim of the builder at a given moment...

references to horns...Baritone Saxsiphon


Below, the computer artwork for the steam gauge dial face, enlarged to 1,000%!

Steam Gauge Face