Animated engine models

Let’s take a look at the progress (or the lack of progress) of the engine link and valve gear animation!

It looks great in Blender so far, until we get into UE5 and suddenly it’s a lot more complicated.

While I ramble about making this all work out “for the next version of the simulator”, don’t take this as any kind of announcement or hints. The “next version of the simulator” is still only a dream at this point, but sometimes dreams do come true!


Filed under CK Holliday build

Store is back on line

The new store is here and you can make purchases as usual (at the moment only the Sim and the digital plan book are available…nothing new to add to the store yet).

If there are any troubles please let me know! As it’s a new store there certainly could be bugs.

Now that’s done, hopefully I will have time to make another video update of the rebuild soon!

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All sales currently on pause

Sales of all products on the, including the simulator and plan book, are currently on paused as we’re looking for a new distribution platform. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Please note also that if you’ve bought the Sim previously, your copy will continue to work, but you won’t be able to redownload it from Fastspring anymore.

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Previewing the CK HOLLIDAY rebuild

Once every “few” years at the Disneyland Railroad, an engine goes off to a locomotive shop for a rebuild. The engine is taken apart, every component inspected, and either get refurbished or replaced new. With the sim being almost 6 years old now, I started to wonder if I could rebuild my own CK HOLLIDAY, using the current generation graphics engine.

Well, I did started the rebuild, and here’s a preview of it so far:

If you’re wondering what the real rebuild is like, I covered the last CK Holliday rebuild back from 2015-2016 here:

My rebuild is based on the the study model, using it as a template. It is so far all new, with new model and components made from scratch. Hopefully, we’ll cover this aspect of the build in more detail. For now, enjoy the video walk around!

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Filed under CK Holliday build, Steam Engine Simulator

How to fire a steam locomotive – a video tutorial

Here it is! A basic overview of how to fire.

By “basic” I mean exactly that. There are more advanced ways and techniques to fire, also the engine is stationery which helps with learning the basics!

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New video tutorial!

This took five years to make! Finally, the video tutorial on how to start the steam locomotive from scratch is here

One of the main features in the sim is that you can boil water. This is because the thermodynamics simulation is correct (or at least plausible). In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to fire on air, make the switch over to steam, and all the little details to get the engine ready for the main line. The real timeline to complete all the tasks is about 2 hours, but a lot of it is waiting for the water to boil and making coffee in the break room.

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Two new videos

Today we have 2 new videos… in only 4 years! That’s a pretty good rate for contents, right?

First up, is a tour of the cab and all its controls. We only go into what they are, not quite on “how” to use them:

The next video is a bit longer. It’s my own review of… my own simulator. Here I talk and ramble on about what I think of the simulator, now that it’s over 5 years old I’ve had a bit of time to think about it. What I like, what I don’t. The first half of the video is a sort of half-donkey tutorial on getting the engine running:

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Old videos of interest reuploaded

These are not new videos but they are reuploaded back from when this site was just a (now gone) blog from blogspot.

The first two are probably the most interesting: they’re Steve D’s videos from the Ward Kimball dedication run in June 2005 early in the morning before the park opened. This was held after Boschan Boiler Restoration Inc. completed most of the work on the engine (few final bugs remained before full service) and the engine ran with one car around the park a few times for the DRR crew and those worked on the engine. The then-president of Disneyland was also present. You can read more about this dedication run in “From Plantation to Theme Park”.

The first video is the Ward Kimball rolling out of the roundhouse on the way to the dedication run. It’s interesting to see the actions around the roundhouse before it does not often welcome visitors. The #3 Fred Gurley is also on the near by track performing blowdowns as part of the preparation to roll onto the main line.

(There is also an upscaled and stabilized version of this video here).

The second video is a cab ride on the Ward Kimball during the dedication run. It’s interesting to see the park so empty in the early hours of the day. Note also that one of the final bugs mentioned above is the cylinder cocks being stuck opened, hence the insistent steam spewing out in the front of the engine. I don’t think the Ward Kimball ever had another cab ride (for non DRR crew) since this run.

(And another upscaled version here; whether upscaling was helpful or not—you decide!)

The rest are simulation videos during the computer model recreation of the CK Holliday. They’re less exciting but nonetheless mechanically interesting to see how the parts ended up working in the computer model just like the real engine.

The first one is probably the most ambitious (at the time), it shows how the eccentrics, rotated on the front driver axle, drive the rocker on each side of the engine alternatively to time the steam entrance and exhaust into each cylinder. It’s hard to explain until you’ve seen it in motion.

This second video is another view:

This video shows what’s going on inside the boiler when the throttle in the cab (left side of the video) is pulled. The throttle link opens up the “pop-valve” on top of the dry pipe, the vertical pipe on the right side. This lets the steam into the pipe and out into the cylinders (technically the steam chests first)—(also, this view looks weird before the boiler and steam domes are hidden/not shown):

Finally, here’s a study of what the throttle looks like when it’s pulled. It was made to study the arc of the small little links at the end of the throttle bar, which rotate so slightly when the throttle moves back and forth.

That’s all for now—but I may have some non-exciting news later.

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Disneyland Railroad Steam Simulator turns 5 years old!

Released in December 2017, the Steam Simulator officially turned 5 years old in December 2022.

A retrospective: computers and tech move fast, and a lot happened in 5 years. Apple released four iPhones since then, and game engines improved too. The Simulator was built on Unity 5, which was the latest at the time, and the Sim did look “mostly” photorealistic…for 2017. So, while I do think it looked good for its time, it is definitely showing its age when compared to the latest game engines.

Photorealistic cab of the EP Ripley

To celebrate its big milestone birthday, the Simulator is now available at only $19.

I do not have any updates planned for the Simulator at the moment, and porting the Sim into a new engine is only a daydream for now. This new price also reflects its legacy status.

CK Holliday at Frontierland Station, 1955
Steam Simulator’s recreation of the above photo

Maybe one day I will get back into rebuilding it “from the ground up” with the newest tech. But, at least now that it’s an older game, it should run pretty on most modern hardware!

It may be old, but where else can you fire and pull the original Disneyland Railroad engines, other than getting a job at the park?


Filed under Steam Engine Simulator

The Haunted Mansion Architectural PDF Plans now available

Over ten years later since the first preview, I’m finally making my version of the Disneyland Haunted Mansion Architectural Plans available…for free!

I haven’t worked on this very much since the original preview so I figure it’s fair to release this, although I would say it’s about 90% complete. Only some ironwork details and a few architectural ornaments are missing. What’s included though are:

  • Floor plans and roof plan (since it’s a shell building, it’s just basically the building footprint/outline)
  • Patio floor plans
  • Elevations of all four sides
  • Patio facade elevations
  • Elevations of the iconic green iron railing
  • Millwork elevations
  • Architectural ornaments elevations and details: cupola, chimney, and so much more!
  • Windows and doors schedule
  • Patterns, patterns, and patterns! “Bird of Paradise” Ironwork, weathervane, and more!

The millwork, patterns, and ornaments were drawn from the original plans or manufacturer’s drawings where available. Otherwise, some elements were recreated from measurements or just guessing, as usual. Anyway, I still believe this is the most complete set of plans for the facade building available. It’s 36 pages of full 24″x36″.

Grab the PDF plans here, a 30mb download.

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