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Doof Wagon transporter

The management of Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway were planning a break from construction activities during May 2019. But after a week they got withdrawal symptoms. But not to do anything complicated, like the 'first Porsche'.

So out came a 1:24 scale diecast and laser-cut wood kit B-type bus kit. Not to make the Rocket-powered B-type rail bus but to 'use up' the left over parts from that future project. To wit, the chassis, transmission, wheels, bonnet and driver's compartment.

Why? Because there was a vague plan to use this as the basis of a steampunk-esque counterpart to the Mad Max 'Doof Wagon' which appears in Mad Max: Fury Road released in 2015.

The Mad Max 'Doof Wagon'.

Which looks nothing like a B-type bus from 1910:

However a steampunkish version would need to look more like Neverwas Haul, but with the ship's ventilators replaced with subwoofers and the like.

Neverwas Haul
'True to the alternative histories that are a staple of the steampunk genre, the Neverwas Haul has its origin story in a history that never was, a history in which the Hibernian Empire (not the British Empire) dominated the sociopolitical landscape of the nineteenth century – Hibernia being an obscure name for Ireland. In this mythology, the Neverwas Haul is the greatest of all the Hauls – gypsy vardo-like vehicles driven by Track Banshees – itinerant women who use their preternatural mechanical skills to keep their families on the move.'

But if all this lorry is really doing is transporting some amps and speakers, how about adding some 'animatronic insects' along the lines of the amazing creations which Sarruga – a Spanish street art company – brought to the Derby Arts Festé in September 2008?


Sarruga's pedal-powered 'Invasion of Insects'.
Even though the bottom one looks more like a Venus Flytrap than an insect…
More photos of the Sarruga 'Invasion of Insects' about 7 minutes into this video.

Or maybe a puppet inspired by this 'tourney dragon'
at the Banbury Hobby Horse Festival, July 2007?
More photos of the Banbury Hobby Horse Festival (including a second tourney dragon) nearer the start of the same video.


Or Norfolk's very own tourney dragon, 'Snap', now in Norwich Castle Museum. (Thanks Nigel for renewing the acquaintance.)

After all, there's nothing very original about steampunk dragons:

Or perhaps steampunk-inspired birds, in accordance with the ornithological inclinations of this web site? Or a steampunk lobster?

As is oft the case, indecisiveness rapidly metamorphosed into prevarication. Exactly how the Doof Wagon will shape up has yet to be decided.

But the management does have a clear idea of what it needs to do. Yes, the Doof Wagon really will be a proper sound system. The idea is to incorporate a long-range Bluetooth receiver and a real live working amplifier and loudspeaker. This Bluetooth setup will, one day, replace the somewhat cumbersome MPG players in the Scottish coach, the Welsh coach and the Alnwick to Bamburgh Express.

Initially conceived as part of a revival of the Tommy is a Punk Engine Festival, in the meantime this Doof Wagon could happily form a load on a flat bed, in a similar manner to the Nukiller Waste Transporter and the V-2 Rocket Transporter. The proposed Bluetooth set up would allow the 'Doof Wagon', if coupled close to the locomotive, to provide sound effects for Nellie who, unlike the Irish loco, does not have the LGB sound effects unit.

construction of the transporter

Well, actually, not at all happily as the length of the B-type bus chassis is longer than the flat bed wagon used for these loads. But fear not. Tucked away in a box awaiting use for a far-in-the-future project is a brace of LGB bolster wagons. One of these could be used as an 'idler wagon' to deal with the flat bed overhang. But why not be whacky and simply have the Doof Wagon straddling the pair of bolster wagons? After filling some holes 'revealed' after removing the swivels, out came the Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway regulation grey paint…


construction of the Doof Wagon

The Occre parts went together tolerably badly. The kit's a curate's egg in that the design of some parts is really nifty, while other parts of the assembly are dire. Critical joints associated with the transmission and suspension have too little contact area to have enough strength. And assorted diecast lugs which could be longer are, instead, too short to do the job. Even the main longtitudinal parts of the chassis (which is laser-cut thin ply) narrows down to nearly nothing towards the middle. In consequence, without any abuse, one side broke when 'fettling' prior to assembly. However nothing that some more holes and/or some 'patches' could not resolve.

The only real hiccup – and not the fault of Occre – was that the radiator had already been purloined for OctaVee. Not too serious as a replacement was readily scratchbuilt from polystyrene sheet and Milliput. Hindsight, as always, is a wonderful thing – it would have been easy to take a mould from the radiator before fitting to OctaVee, from which a Milliput impression could quickly have been made.

The steering wheel and other controls are all from the Occre kit. However the driver's seat and cab back were scratchbuilt, and incorporated into the 'back end of the lorry'. A 'core' of polystyrene styrene sheet (based on the dimensions of the lower part of the B-type bus body) was planked with coffee stirrers. The whole subassemby rests on 5 mm square wooden cross members, emulating the way many lorry backs were constructed before welded steel took over. A thin coat of light oak wood stain was applied to everything that wasn't painted matt black.

The roof of the driver's cab came from the rest of the plastic food container which had provided the cab for Nellie – the Jackdaw Works design team like to keep things 'in the family'. Because it is polythene, so bad at sticking to anything, the bottom part was bolted to just below the back of the seat. The cab roof itself, being polythene, has more than enough resilience to cope with anticipated bumps and bangs (though the paint just might flake off, despite the surface being rubbed with emery – but this could easily be put right).

The frames for the spectacle windows in the cab back are diecastings from Garden Railway Supplies bought for Nellie but, in the event, drilled-out lockets looked better on the loco. Yes, the management realise that early twentieth-century lorries probably did not have spectacle-frame type windows in the back of their cabs. But this is a railway workshop doing the 'refurb' – and a railway workshop with pretentions to being the world's whackiest such workshop. The Jackdaw Works engineering team's mantra is 'You get what you get, and be grateful for it.' So no making snidey remarks…


Two views of the Doof Wagon. So far sans 'doof' and without mudguards.

adding the 'doof'

The whole point of a 'doof wagon' is to provide some serious 'doof'. Which, as the photograph above reveals, is conspicuous only by its absence.

Initial thoughts about hiding and mounting the 'doof apparatus' in and on a Chinese dragon boat came to naught as the kit, while most attractive, was way too big.

Further progress awaits assembly a kit for the skeleton of a Styracosaurus – one of the larger herbivorous ceratopsian dinosaurs, with a parietosquamosal frill crowned with at least four large spikes.

Reconstruction of a Styracosaurus.The perspective's a bit wonky – the eyes should be about the same height off the ground as a typical standing male human. An adult Styracosaurus is estimated to have weighed about 2.7 tonnes. For comparison the kerbside weight of Range Rover Discovery (which might be considered the human counterpart to parietosquamosal frills) is about 2.2 tonnes.

'What's this got to do with 'doof'?' the management hear you ask. Well clearly you don't have the same thought processes as the management of the Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway. Just swap out the donkey on the cover of the 1970 live LP by the Rolling Stones with a Styracosaurus skeleton and then imagine a larger-than-life guitar (as on the Mad Max 'Doof Wagon') and a brace of loudspeakers in place of the Gretsch drums…

Probably just as well you don't share the same thought processes as the management you are no doubt muttering.

Exactly how it will all shape up relies on yet more imagination.

The title 'Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!' is taken from a Blind Boy Fuller song of almost the same name. The literal meaning of 'Ya-Ya's' was 'to blow off steam' or 'get the energy out'. However 'Get your Ya-Ya's out' was a euphemism for sex, reconstruing 'Ya-Ya's' as the woman's breasts.
On the album cover Charlie Watts is wearing a T-shirt printed with a naked female busom – an idea copied by Malcolm McLaren six years later and made famous by his business partner Vivienne Westwood.
The cover photograph, taken by David Bailey, was inspired by 'Jewels and binoculars hang from the head of the mule', a striking image from the lyrics of Bob Dylan's then newly-released song 'Visions of Johanna'. However the equine in the image is a donkey, not a mule.
The management suspects that some aspects of the
Mad Max: Fury Road Doof Wagon – such as the suspended guitar – were inspired by this photograph, with symmetrical stacks of speakers analogous to the drum kit. As might the oversize Japanese taiko drums at the back of the Doof Wagon. Brendan McCarthy is known to have worked on the design of vehicles for this film, as well as the script, but available online information does not reveal if he is responsible for the Doof Wagon.


The wooden kit for the Styracosaurus duly arrived and was put together in about half-an-hour one wet Sunday afternoon. The push-fit joints needed reinforcing with PVA – which simply made the model look like sheet metal welded with 'fillets'. At least after suitable coats of metallic paints – both the shiny variety and the simulated rust kind.

One Styracosaurus is hardly an 'Invasion of Insects' or even a dragon – though in dim and indistinct light the differences might be less discernible. But sufficiently impressive to amuse the management of Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway. And, in the wonderful way that things sometimes pan out, the kit is life-size. At 1:20 scale…

Getting there. A 'life-size' 'welded steel' Styracosaurus skeleton.
But no guitar, drums or amp stacks yet.


Coma-Doof Warrior in action in Mad Max: Fury Road.

The Styracosaurus will wear a 1:12 scale Red Washburn Electric Guitar. Yes it is nearly twice the right size – anything smaller would look silly. And, more to the point, would have to be scratchbuilt. This one came from an eBay purveyor of dolls' house furniture and accessories for less than a fiver all in. And for those who have seen Mad Max: Fury Road then, no, this doesn't double up as a flame-thrower.

The drum-like loudspeakers have yet to materialise, though a pair of real working speakers a mere 20 mm diameter are on their way. But there is no intention to wire them up – as mentioned a self-contained Bluetooth amp and speaker sitting in the load space of the lorry is planned. It's just easier to buy small speakers than scratchbuild dummy ones…

If you think this is extravagant then the wooden dinosaur kit, the guitar and the two speakers came to less than £12 – including postage. The parts for the lorry were either left over from the B-type railbus project or already to hand. Almost as much was spent on a can of aluminium spray paint, although there is plenty left over for other projects. By far the most expensive part will be the Bluetooth transmitter and receiver – best guess is this will set the management back by £60.

The 'stacks' of Marshall amps will be fake, and visibly so from the back. Numerous heavy metal bands still perform in front of a wall of Marshall amp cases. But since the 1970s these have always been fake – modern PA systems simply sound so much better and don't require an army of roadies to move (not to mention a fleet of HGVs to transport from gig to gig).

Fake amps are old news…

If the management is feeling flush a pair of 1:12 scale tubas may be ordered from a dolls' house provisioner – these will emulate some of the 'brass band' hardware on the Mad Max Doof Wagon.

As and when the management feel like a spot of fiddly scratchbuilding then a 1:20 scale DJ booth will manifest on the wooden mezzanine between the (dummy) Marshall speakers.

As this model Styracosaurus is intended to depict a 'heavy metal dinosaur' the management are collecting suggestions for which rock bands might be deemed 'dinosaurs of heavy metal'. And we're not talking about Hevisaurus nor some of the more literal 'expressions'. Contentious territory as there's plenty to chose from…

update to the update

The 1:12 scale guitar arrived and looks very snazzy. Except it only has four strings and tuning pegs so it's a bass guitar. What the heck…

and finally…


The Doof Wagon almost fully kitted out – complete with DJ booth (visible only in lower photograph)

Just the Bluetooth receiver and a small active loudspeaker to add under the DJ booth. And a photograph of the Wagon on the railway transporter…

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Images and text copyright Bob Trubshaw 2018–2021