The Wayrail! Every advanced steam-using civilisation in the Galaxy is connected to it. A vast interstellar transportation network carrying the passengers, goods and mail of the Galaxy.
When the Builders trundled their Tracklayer into Sol system, humans had been crossing the aether between planets for nearly a century in their steam-powered aetherships, but no-one had imagined anything like the great loop of diamond-hard rail track strung around the Sun between the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn. At various points, junctions came off the ring and headed out, disappearing into Railspace to emerge at other stars.
When the Solar Terminus ring was finished, the Builders left a message for the Empire of the third planet, sometimes called Earth or Tellus, announcing that the station was open for business and inviting Mankind to build and operate locomotives on their completed track.
And so humans descended upon an unsuspecting Galaxy…
A cosmic steam locomotive running on an interstellar hyperspace railroad. Even for steampunk, we’re in strange territory.
I could pull the excuse that as a genre, steampunk operates on Rule of Cool, not physics. When it comes right down to it, very few steampunk creations would work in the real world; coal-fired steam power just isn’t efficient enough to power the monstrous walkers or massive land-dreadnoughts of real steampunk, and there is no lifting-gas, not hydrogen and certainly not helium, that could lift the armoured airships which are nearly standard.
No matter. This is steampunk. A willing suspension of disbelief is required.
No, the excuse I’m going to use for the insanity of a steam railroad through hyperspace is that this is LEGO. We imagine the unthinkable, and then try to build it.
This, then, is my cosmic steam locomotive, the Orion Express. Yes, that is an “Orient Express” reference. It’s microscale; I’m imagining that the phantom track on which it rides is something like a 37 1/2 ft gauge, making one stud length a little over six feet for scale.
The tender could really do with another axle in the middle, but I only have two of that size of wheel mount, so it’s not happening. And you’ll have to imagine the goliath four-storey carriages, too.