Ah, GREAT to see an old "CLASSIC"!
Know I've got a VHS copy of it lying around somewhere in the 100's of old VHS videos
I've got lying around!
By the way, the "runaway train" scenes on a large club layout are not an impossibility!
Years ago, I belonged to a moderately large O scale (2-rail DC) club (the now-defunct
South Shore Society of Model Engineers, formerly located in the basement of a restaurant in Brockton, MA). The railroad was originally built in the 1950's
as an exhibit for the Brockton State Fair, then moved to the restaurant location where it remained for 30 years.
Because of the layout's originally early construction date, I would best describe the electrical system underneath as "Neanderthal Tech"
- envision banks of old telephone relays in glass jars to keep the dust out,
WWII-surplus 28-volt rotary relays for switch machines, monster ceramic "rheostats" for throttles,
& huge mainline & yard control panels, & miles of "haywire"!
A typical Saturday - night operating session required a crew of at least seven
to operate the mainline, engine terminal (with 7-stall steam loco roundhouse & turntable, separate diesel facilities), main passenger station / coach yard, & individual local yards.
I was modelling PRR at the time & although my roster favored steam locos (mostly US Hobbies & May Grey brass imports, some of which I still own), I had at the time just acquired a gorgeous Overland PRR EMD E8A passenger diesel, custom painted in the "Broadway Limited" Tuscan-&-5-gold pinstripe paint scheme.
This was a beautifully smooth-running loco
that just glided down the track with no noise other than the clicking of the wheels over the rail joints!
Although I bought it primarily for passenger train use, I was curious to see how it would handle some "freight tonnage" on our fairly stiff (@ 4%, if I remember correctly?) mainline grade; so I coupled it onto the head end of a 14-car mixed freight (our typical average mainline freight train length), routed the train out from one of the yard cabs onto the main, & crawled underneath the layout benchwork up to the elevated mainline operator's cab panel (kind of analagous to the "chief dispatch" station in the movie
). I should also add that the basic mainline track plan of the SSSME layout was a folded dogbone, with the lower turnaround loop mainly in tunnels, the upper one looping completely around the mainline operator's panel;
the main passed just a couple of feet behind my back, in easy reach (thankfully, as I was soon to discover!
On the first few runs around the main, the E8 handled the freight easily.
When the train emerged from the lower loop tunnels, it would start up the long mainline tangent upgrade, round a wide-radius curve at the far end of the basement room, head back in the opposite direction along the back wall, then round the curve that looped the mainline control panel. That curve rounded a plaster "cliff", with at least a 4-foot drop from the track to the concrete floor below.
On about the 3rd or 4th lap around the main, the train inexplicably started to gain speed while heading up the mainline grade
. I turned the throttle rheostat down; the E8 instead continued to speed up
; it was starting to go dangerously fast
as it rounded the curve at the far end of the room. As the train thundered up the long back-wall tangent, I first flipped the manline cab's direction switch to neutral,
then the individual block toggles to off, & in final desperation turned off the mainline power supply
- & the train continued to run away!
As the train raced around the upper loop curve at somewhere well over 100 scale MPH (with visions of my beautiful new $400 brass diesel splattered over the concrete
going through my head), I reached back & grabbed the E8 as it raced behind me
(while at the same time trying to be careful & not damage the delicate brass PRR "Trainphone" antenna detail on the roof!).
Now how, you would wonder, could a track-powered train run away with all the mainline power turned off?
Well, about halfway down that back-wall tangent was a turnout leading to a small branchline yard
tucked into an obscure corner off the room, with it's own independent power supply.
A "newbie" club member
running a local switch engine for that yard had, in his switching moves, run the switch engine a little too far down the branchline towards the mainline -
to the point where he ran one of the diesel switcher's trucks past the rail gap between the mainline & branchline.
Naturally, the switch engine stalled; so he left his local yard cab on set at full throttle
(figuring the loco had stalled from dirty track; it was actually allowing his block power to feed through the stalled loco into the mainline track!) while he took a coffee break!