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4472 Flying Scotsman; the world's most loved locomotive

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Published on Jan 21, 2008

Flying Scotsman is undergoing a complete overhaul at the National Railway Museum in York, UK. It's not like there's a stockpile of spare parts for the loco--people are making parts from scratch with incredible skill and patience using machines visible at the end of the video. Techniques from the time the loco was built are used almost unchanged together with new methods such as using lasers to align the frame.

What draws us to a machine which at best is an inefficient means of transportation and at worst is a blight on the planet? I mean, talk about a carbon footprint--this holdover from 1800s technology is pretty much like Sasquatch! These days trains are cleaner (for passengers and the environment), more reliable, quieter, safer and in many cases (why not all?) faster than in the 1930s. Well, that's not the point. Flying Scotsman is the most iconic item of a romantic technology, a machine that somehow has a personality and an elegance that you just don't see today. Sure, we have the VW bug and the MAC computer, but those are brands, not singular items. Flying Scotsman traveled the world advertising British technology and industry. Perhaps it will again be an ambassador in a stable, peaceful post industrial world that has yet to be created.

I'm with the message of this song by the O'Jays, which was taken off of the video by YouTube. Nonetheless, let's not miss that train!

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