James May sets supersize challenges for traditional toys. James tries once again to build the longest-ever model railway track - and has a race along it!
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'In 2009, in the non-award-winning series Toy Stories,
'we liberated the nation's favourite playthings
'from the darkness of cupboards to celebrate their enduring appeal.
'and that educational cornerstone, Airfix.
'All were subjected to the most ambitious challenges ever dreamt up in a pub.'
Congratulations. You've inspired us all.
'But then, inspiration got the better of us,
'and we tried to build the world's biggest train set.
'Our aim was a ten-mile-long 00-gauge track.
'It would follow the route of the abandoned railway
'that once linked the Devonshire towns of Barnstaple and Bideford.'
Five, four, three...
'Five model trains departed Barnstaple,
'including one that I've owned since I was just nine years old.'
Long live the Flying Scotsman!
'But it all went horribly wrong.'
Sounds like the engine's faltering.
'Even though they were propelled by the goodwill of a huge crowd, not one of the five trains
'made it home - the last one expiring at one o'clock in the morning.'
I'll be honest - I'm bitterly disappointed we haven't got to Bideford.
We've got as far as Instow, from Barnstaple.
That's about seven miles. And the thing is, my 37-year-old Flying Scotsman,
despite my efforts, failed on the first bend.
And that could've been the end of that,
but, of all the toys we featured in that series,
the train set remains the closest to my heart,
and I couldn't just leave its reputation broken down by the side of the line.
And so, like the great pioneering railwaymen of old -
Trevethick, Blenkinsop, Stephenson -
I decided to carry on.
'So we're back to try again
'and to make it even more difficult, we've decided to add an element of competition.
'I will be in charge of a team of locals and toy-train enthusiasts.'
Go. 'And our opponents?
'the greatest model-train experts in the known world...
'This is Miniatur Wunderland,
'the biggest toy-train attraction on the planet.
'There is nothing fat controllers Sebastian and Gerrit
'don't know about supersized train sets.
'Last time, they came over to Devon to offer me advice.
'This time, they're coming back...
'as my rivals.'
We start here, and run all the way over to Barnstaple here.
'And with Miniatur Wunderland's 900 trains having travelled
'a colossal 2.5 million miles,
'it's little "wunder" they fancy their chances...'
We're absolutely confident to win this race because we love to win.
We are absolutely motivated to do everything to win this race.
'Confident they may be, but this epic near-ten-mile route will be
'a daunting technical challenge, even for them.
'Leaving Barnstaple behind, the toy trains meander through new-build suburbs
'towards the route of the old railway.
'Next, they power along a windswept two-mile straight.
'A quarter of the course is complete when we reach Fremington Junction.
'Once a thriving industrial hub,
'it's best known today for its fine cafe serving local produce.
'Now it's full steam ahead along a gruelling two-and-a-half-mile straight.
'It is here that blistering speeds of more than two miles an hour
'may be recorded.
'At four and a half miles, we reach the level crossing at Yelland.
'This is only halfway.
'With Yelland rapidly diminishing in the view from the guard's van, the route continues
'to the seaside town of Instow.
'This is where the final train died last time.'
'With three quarters of the course complete, the final two miles
'negotiate a series of treacherous chicanes alongside the B3233.
'Our trains then thunder under the monumental Torridge Bridge.
'Their hot crankpins begging for mercy, they gird their loins
'for a last climb into the town...'
Before finally arriving...here, at the disused platforms of the old station at Bideford,
where no-one has seen a train arrive for over 30 years -
not even a toy one.
'And the distance - over 700 miles at toy train scale - is only the start of it.'
By making this a race, we've introduced another problem.
Last time we tried this, we had a single track.
Now, of course, we will need a double track so that the two trains can compete in opposite directions.
And because this is a competition, we will need some proper rules.
The Germans will like that.
'I've gathered my handpicked selection of local volunteers,
'dignitaries and experts for a briefing.'
welcome to the second - and final -
Annual Barnstaple-To-Bideford Train Challenge!
There will be two teams.
The Germans shall be starting here in Bideford
and racing to Barnstaple.
We, the British team,
will be starting here in Barnstaple and racing to Bideford.
'The race is a best-out-of-three competition,
'between trains representing different eras.
'First off, the age of steam.
'My childhood Flying Scotsman is back
'and will take on the German BR 58, the sturdy workhorse of the interwar years.
'Next, in the diesel electric category,
'the stalwart Intercity 125
'will face-off against the high-speed German ET 403,
'nicknamed "The Donald Duck" because...
'Well, have a guess.
'Finally, the future - a high-tech battle between top-secret trains
'modified to run on any power system the teams choose.
'Whoever wins this best-out-of-three challenge...
'carries the day.'
Are there any questions?
What gives me great hope about our effort is the massive variety of people
that this little idea has brought together, because in this room we have vicars,
we've got some mayors, we've got technical people, retired people,
children, old people, men and women. You know, all these walks of life - they've all been brought together
and all possible differences are washed away by this desire
to get a toy train from Barnstaple to Bideford,
and I just don't see, looking at those people, how it can possibly fail.
I mean that - I'm not being sarcastic. How can it go wrong, with that?
This is what makes Britain great.
'But while our team is still digesting the rules,
'the Germans are forging ahead
'with work on their toy train of the future.
'Under the rules, they must develop one main secret weapon plus a backup
'should things go wrong on the big day.'
This is what we like about this challenge - to develop different types of power,
just to test something which has never been connected to a trains.
So, to power on a locomotive for this,
you need about 2,000, 3,000 apples.
'Every possibility is being meticulously researched,
'from absurd fruit-based solutions to good old clockwork.
'but their greatest breakthrough is adapting a fuel
'that has driven the German people...
We're trying to make liquor out of sauerkraut.
That was something like an idea to play with a very German stereotype -
So we said, "Of course we can make a train out of kraut."
This is our sauerkraut liquor - very, very fine liquor.
So, let's go to the train.
'With the very lifeblood of the nation powering their secret train through a small piston engine,
'this moonshine-fuelled 90%-proof prototype will present a serious threat.
'The sauerkraut screamer may well be the loudest toy train ever known to man,
'but it is also a stark reminder of just how committed to this challenge the German team is.
'But let's not write the British off yet.
'My chief engineer, Sim, is ready with a radical idea of his own.'
'This may look a bit rough and ready.
'Actually, it looks like a skateboard.
'Sim will explain.'
What I'm going to do - I've already done this, you see, so you didn't notice...
-There's a bogey there, and a bogey there.
'"Bogey" in train talk means a separate, pivoting wheeled chassis.
And it's going to push...our secret train?
Yes. It's going to push an Hitachi Class.
'Once it's fitted, this ducted fan should give our train a top speed of over eight miles an hour.
'And the opportunities for technological spin-off are huge.
Your hair looks better.
'Whilst Sim rummages in his toolkit for a wire brush,
'I head to Barnstaple station to meet a man
'who has stumbled valiantly beside me on many a heroic endeavour.'
I mean, of course, the wine connoisseur and train enthusiast
Oz "Woody High Notes" Clarke, here on the 6.02 arrival into Barnstaple.
'Oz was with me for the last attempt.
'I even let him look after one of the trains.
Hey, hey, hey! There's my boy!
'Which made it a gallant halfway along the course before the inevitable.'
I've just heard a rumour that my train may have burnt out.
'Despite that trauma, he's agreed to come and help me again.
'Sadly, his love of train timetables seems to be ironic.'
I was looking for Oz Clarke. He was going to be on this train.
Yeah, he was, but...
It's not your fault. It's almost certainly his.
How did you get off of the train without me seeing you?
-I came by car. What did you expect?
-We're going to the pub.
-Come with me.
'Oz thinks he's here to help me choose the steam engine for the race.
'What he doesn't know is that he has a choice of one.'
Oz...I've been wasting your time,
because what we shall actually be running to represent the era of steam
is my childhood Flying Scotsman with realistic chuffing sound.
There you go.
Oh, James! I mean... The thing about the Flying Scotsman,
It's possibly one of the most wonderful engines ever, ever built
when it was real.
The first one ever went 100mph, a chap called Bill Sparshatt at the wheel...
-This is a great engine when it's the real thing, but...
-We've used it before!
-How many yards did it get?
It went 30 yards, James.
Listen, I have dismantled that engine since then,
to make sure it is within tolerances and it runs smoothly.
I've checked every single wire, every single blob of solder in here,
every single insulator, for electrical fidelity.
I've reassembled the whole thing, with lubricant, with gloved hands,
under a magnifying glass, and this is now,
despite everything that happened before,
the finest example of the Flying Scotsman
with realistic chuffing sound in the country.
I'm asking you to drive what is...
Well, undoubtedly the most precious
of my surviving childhood possessions.
Could you try and be a little bit more gracious about it?
You're not tearing up, are you?
I'm getting slightly hacked off with you
for being dismissive about it. Look at it!
Are you going to drive my Flying Scotsman?
-Yes, I think so.
-And I will do my level best to get it to Bideford.
'Next morning at our Barnstaple HQ and I'm hard at work on a plan
'designed to lay to rest some of the ghosts of our last failed attempt.
'Last time, we had over 160 car batteries
'continuously powering the whole track.
'This meant the power could never be turned off.
'Holding trains in place while resetting them on the track
'caused intolerable strain to their motors.
'This time, the track will be divided into 100m sections
'electrically isolated from each other. There will be only two batteries per train,
'plugged into the track by operators who will leapfrog from section to section
'when the all-clear is flagged.
'Leading the way, a cleaning device will clear away
'any leaves on the line.
'This system of supplying power to the track
'only when it is needed will bring us to a certain and uninterrupted victory.'
I have to say, this works so far.
'But, while my dedicated train teams continue to practise
'for the 2012 Olympic battery relay event,
'there is still a huge problem bearing down on us like a runaway express.
'We're going to have to lay almost ten miles of double track across rural North Devon.
'And to save you doing the arithmetic, that's over 45,000 individual pieces.'
Now, last time, we laid our track using this -
the R8090 semi-flexible track.
Now, this stuff is beloved of serious railway modellers because you can shape it
any way you like to make very, very clever curves. You can also cut it to any length you want,
and that's brilliant, but it does have a few disadvantages.
The first is, the little fishplates,
the joiners that make the track stick together,
are not on it. You have to put these on yourself.
Pretty quickly you get extremely sore fingers.
Also, this stuff is quite fragile. If it's being manhandled in large volumes,
you very easily go "whoopsie" and break a bit off like that,
This time we're doing away with that stuff,
and we're going to use this. This is part number R603.
This is the sort of track you get in your beginner's train set.
It's perfectly stiff, the fishplates are already in place,
and because you're going to give this to your kids to play with it on the floor...
..it is designed to be pretty much indestructible.
'Now we have the right track, it's time to reveal something
'the great pioneers of overlong-model-railway building have been crying out for.
'This is the world's first ever Track-O-Matic.
'Created by Sim, it's designed to do for model track laying
'what sliced bread did for sandwiches.'
-Are they parallel?
Right... That's amazing. How does it work?
'It turns out to be quite simple...
'Track is automatically fed down these chutes at the same pace
'as the machine's forward motion. It remains only to push the pieces together.'
And it works!
That's all you have to do? You walk along, going like that?
Yeah, so one either side. You that side, I'm this side. Ding, ding, ding.
-Poor fella pulling it.
So we have to yoke a shoeless Victorian urchin to the front
and drag him along a railway route.
Do you know what, Sim? I think the global market for this machine
is going to be inconceivably small.
-But it is brilliant.
-You might be right.
Right, the only way to see if this works is to lay some track.
Let's fill this car park with track.
Right, who wants to be the small Victorian child?
It only has to go slowly.
Don't worry - you'll get some gruel.
'Now, this time-lapse sequence was supposed to show the Track-O-Matic
'crossing the car park as a flashing blur, leaving perfectly laid,
'perfectly straight track in its astonishing wake.
'But after 30 minutes, we'd only laid ten metres.'
-I thought we could go a little bit faster.
-Yeah. Stop there.
Some of you, at this point, may have doubts about the efficacy
of the Track-O-Matic machine but don't, because it's at a sort of late prototype stage
and by the time Simmy goes to bed at about 7am tomorrow,
I'm sure it'll be fine.
The most important point is that in the real world,
not false television jeopardy or any of that,
this is the thing that matters most.
Almost more than the Flying Scotsman. That's how serious it is.
With realistic chuffing sound.
'Dawn. Barnstaple's revellers are abed, blissfully unaware
'that while they dream of the coming new railway age,
'the Germans have arrived.'
'They are getting to grips with the Track-O-Matic.
'Having laid only one mile in over three hours, they don't seem
'very impressed with it.
'Or maybe they're just too amazed by it.'
Because no one's ever seen it before, or anything like it,
I think Sim's Track-O-Matic machine is as marvellous to behold
as maybe Babbage's difference engine was, or Maudslay's screw-cutting lathe.
It is an amazing piece of work.
It's fantastic but the sad fact is it's quite a bit slower than we were expecting
and time and distance wait for no railway modeller.
'And so, track-laying continued, as it had through most of history.
'A gruelling and thankless manual task, overseen by grumbling, underpaid navvies.
'And as the tiny, silvery shoots of railway recovery grew excruciatingly out of Barnstaple,
'I realised once again the foolhardiness of the whole endeavour'.
Hello, viewers. Here I am, alone in my hotel room.
I wanted to say that time has a fantastic facility for polishing up
what are actually horrible memories. That's why we think our school days were great,
when obviously they must have been pretty terrible most of the time.
And time has diminished the distance we have to go over the last
year and a half and it's shrunk in my memory.
But now I've been along the Tarka Trail again on a bicycle,
I realise that it is, in layman's terms, a chuffing long way
for a train this big,
designed to run on a table top, or maybe around the attic,
or the garage, but not out there. Not with that wind and the rain
and the blazing sun, and the grit and the dirt, and the giant leaves,
and the gravel, and the people treading on it,
and the bicycles and the dogs.
It is a big one.
We finished the track at 7am,
just an hour before hordes of locals gather for the start
of the greatest railway race in Devonian history.
It's clear that restoring the railway destroyed by Dr Beeching truly matters.
But something is wrong.
The surviving stations are to the wrong scale.
That needs sorting.
The aim is to build a station here, with scenery, for the trains to arrive at.
The Scouts are here to help to build the scenery and everything to go along with it.
The trains and the townsfolk are ready.
All we need now is the fattest of fat controllers.
Heavenly father, we just ask your blessing on our day. Amen.
And now we're going to anoint the Flying Scotsman
with, appropriately, some Scotch malt whisky.
'But while we put our faith in God,
'down at the other end of the line, the Germans are putting theirs in the details'.
We worked at this trains for about one month
with very, very good people around us who know so much about trains
and they developed a very good system. I personally trust very much in them.
'And I very much trust in our team.
'Well, most of them'.
Oh, yay. Oh, yay. Oh, yay.
Pray silence for James May's race from Barnstaple to Bideford,
and this year featuring a challenge from the Germans.
Ladies and gentleman, what matters today is not who wins.
What matters is that one of these trains makes a successful home run.
We owe it to the people of Barnstaple and the people of Bideford,
we owe it to everybody who has helped us, we owe it to the hobby of toy trains
and we owe it to the ghosts of old railwaymen who have long since
bought their one-way ticket to the great station Bothy among the stars.
But most importantly, Oz and I do not want to come back every year for the rest of our lives.
CROWD CHEERS AND APPLAUDS
Steve, I believe the train is ready to depart from the station.
If you'd do the honours, please, sir.
'Oh, God, not again.
'And worse still, it's given the German team
'a golden opportunity to race into an early lead.'
Three, two, one...Go!
'Well, I suppose this technically means that we are now winning.'
'And just look at her go.'
Come on, give 'em a cheer!
A Flying Scotsman going up an incline like that,
at that speed, unheard of!
This is the big thing. Can it get around that bend?
Nice and slow, slow, slow.
'And The Germans, too, are no longer backward in coming forward.
'The steam race is well and truly on.'
This is marvellous.
'This is the moment I've dreamed of.
'My Flying Scotsman, like wing'd Hermes, soaring on towards victory.'
It's gone three times as far as it went last year.
'Meanwhile, back at the station, the diesel electric race is under starters orders.'
'These express trains travel at a greater scale speed than the steam locos
'and should provide an exciting high-velocity duel to the bitter end.
'The 125 will be running at the regulation 12 volts,
'as recommended by its driver, Simon Kohler, from Hornby.'
Whoa, easy boy.
I'll leave it on 12, yeah?
'But the Germans are taking a huge gamble.
'They've upped the power to a whopping 18 volts.
'The Donald duck will certainly go faster
'but it could easily burn out its motor.
'Meanwhile, half a mile up the track...'
The Flying Scotsman, Oz, has cleared suburbia
and is now on what is the true Tarka Trail,
the old Barnstaple-to-Bideford link of the Atlantic Coast Express route,
and there it goes.
I'm thinking of it as though it's heading down, Grantham to Peterborough,
heading for 100 miles an hour.
Godspeed, the Flying Scotsman.
Nothing can beat that.
Fanta... Look at it go!
Look at it derail!
Edit that out.
'Luckily, the German train has also come to a halt,
'and is comfortably behind the Flying Scotsman.
'But as the technicians struggle to repair the fault,
'what should come racing round the bend?
'It's the 18-volt Donald Duck.'
Oh, he's already there. He's four times faster with the second train.
It just took them 20 minutes to be at this train.
Look at that. It's so much faster.
Now we have to run.
We have to run with this train.
'Sebastian and Gerrit have no time for losers
'and leave the stricken steam train for its team to sort out.
'But despite its impressive speed, the Donald Duck
'has only drawn marginally ahead of our own Intercity 125,
'which has raced past the derailed Flying Scotsman to lead the British charge.
'With the contest evenly balanced, it's time to release the secret weapons.
'Sim has already stunned the world with his Track-O-Matic machine.
'Now his ducted-fan express will blast Britain
'into the pages of the toy-train record book.'
This is going to go like hell.
-One thing it hasn't got...
It's a bit unstable, Simmy, if you don't mind me saying.
It was quite a nice idea.
'Meanwhile, back at the German start...'
The Sauerkraut Special will arrive in Barnstaple
in five hours.
'The Sauerkraut Screamer roars out of the station
'and with Sim's train off the track, the Germans take an overall lead in the race.'
Yes, I hear.
SHE SPEAKS IN GERMAN
The train exploded.
OK, we're going backwards.
'This is a great opportunity for the ducted-fan express
'to show the Germans a clean pair of wheels.
'But just how fast can it go?
'The answer is very fast indeed.'
Oh, that's a massive loss of life.
Returning from London to Paris
could be quite quick briefly and then fatal.
'Not that I would ever doubt Sim,
'but I have been working on a back-up plan
'in case anything like this happened.'
Shall we try top-secret train number two?
Oh, there's another wheel.
'This is Dr Ben PhD, who, for the last ten days,
'has been working on a world first.
'A power system that could change the face of model railways forever
'and many other things besides.
'Time to unveil it.'
And here we have Dr Ben's hydrogen fuel cell transport solution.
Quite simply, it is a fuel-cell-powered electric commuter train.
Now, over the past few days, we have extracted hydrogen from water
using sunlight. It's been stored in these canisters inside the coaches
and it's fed into a hydrogen fuel cell here.
That generates electricity, which drives the motors in the train.
It doesn't take any power from the track - completely self-contained.
The only slight issue with it is that all this bit -
the fuel cell and the associated electronics - they're quite bulky.
But, in time, if this proves successful, they will
be gradually miniaturised, like everything else - the radio and so on -
and then they will fit inside the scale model train.
In the meantime, though, because that's slightly unsightly,
we're going to disguise it as... Thomas the Tank Engine.
Oh, yay! Oh, yay!
Pray silence for the launch of the replacement modified train,
as allowed in the rules.
This is Dr Ben's hydrogen-fuelled...thing.
He can't remember what it's called!
-This is Dr Ben's hydrogen-fuelled cell... Oh,
It's not that complicated!
MUSIC: Theme from "Thomas the Tank Engine"
-Right, you're on your own, Dr Ben.
-Thank you, sir.
-See you in ten miles.
'Smarting from the failure of their cabbage-powered commuter concept,
'Sebastian and Gerrit rush to unleash their backup secret weapon.
'They're apparently quite pleased with it.'
We've put so much energy in this small train,
it's enough to run this race in two hours.
'While we're running on hydrogen, the Germans have stuffed their train
'full of lithium batteries, and the guarantee of truly enormous speed.'
We're starting slowly,
but it can go much, much, much, much, much, much faster.
'It's certainly is speedy,
'but the weight of the batteries makes it very unstable.'
THEY CHAT IN GERMAN
We don't have any other weights, so we have to improvise
and put some batteries on the side,
so that the balance is much better on the track.
'If I've got this right, they're using the weight of extra batteries
'to weigh down the batteries.'
This is not even half speed, what we're doing now.
This train can be a rocket train,
but, if you don't find a solution with the weight,
we can't go full speed.
'So, two hours into the big day,
'we now have all six trains running along the course.
'Time for a race update.'
'The Germans are leading the diesel electric showdown by half a mile.
'But the British are edging ahead in the steam category by 300 yards.
'With the secret weapons neck-and-neck, it's all square
'with everything to play for.'
We're running a bit short of coal, fuel,
and bacon and eggs to actually cook on the foot plate.
Apart from that, the 4472 Flying Scotsman
has never been more glorious.
And the realistic chuffing sound is still working.
-The realistic chuffing sound, yes!
-I expected that to wear out.
REALISTIC CHUFFING SOUND
I know it doesn't seem like much to you, but that's one of the nicest things I've ever seen. Look at that.
Look at its little heart beating.
After all those years incarcerated in the attic,
here it is, on the Tarka Trail, approaching the quayside,
my Flying Scotsman with realistic chuffing sound.
'While I'm distracted by nostalgia, Germany's Donald Duck
'is reaching an important milestone.'
'It's arrived at its first checkpoint, Instow,
'which means they've completed a third of the course.
'Donald glides supremely through the complex curves of Instow Crossing
'and out into open country.
'But the British Intercity 125,
'with its finely tuned team of flag-wavers and leapfrogging battery men,
'is running superbly as it too nears its first checkpoint, Fremington.'
Here it comes.
-Hello, James. How you doing?
The Germans' second train, the Donald Duck diesel, has just gone past Instow.
OK, well, we'll see what happens at the end of the day,
but if they're using full power - if they're using 18 volts
-all the time - I suspect they may have a few problems.
-So do I.
'Psychic Simon is right on the money.
'Even as he speaks, the Germans' high-voltage gamble goes wrong.
'Luckily for them,
'they have Wolfgang, their chief engineer,
'who has a comprehensive kit of small parts
'to sort out the over-stressed engine.'
'Wolfgang clearly has the touch of the master engineer.
'Thank God I have someone similar tending to my Flying Scotsman.'
Whisky was sent south from Scotland to be distilled into gin.
If it wasn't for Americans, if it wasn't for prohibition,
God knows what would have happened to the whisky market.
-'Oz, the train's come off.'
-..million Americans wanting a drink
and artificial whisky there was such rubbish...
'But if my flying Scotsman is suffering from neglect,
'its opponent, the BR58, has too much company for comfort.
'Two miles out of Bideford, civil war is breaking out
'between the drivers of the steam engine and the much faster lithium-powered secret weapon.'
Take it away! Slowly, train.
'The steam train finally makes way...'
-See you later.
-Very nice! See you later, yes.
'..only for the modified train to fall off the line.
'Leaving the steam train to crawl past...'
'..before finally the modified train overtakes properly
'and leaves the steam train for dead.'
Oh! And now I'm the last!
'The next hour passes in a blur of nerve-shredding racing.'
'But now, four miles out
'and approaching the halfway mark at Yelland,
'Germany's Donald Duck hits a snag.'
'Dirt on the track is slowing progress to a crawl.
'Then Gerrit comes up with a suspiciously familiar
'Something we trademarked days earlier.'
Gerrit just had the brilliant idea to clean the track with the stick,
and since we do that, we are nearly 20% faster.
So we are nearly at Yelland, half of the track,
so there's maybe a small chance left.
'With its speed restored, the German electric train storms through Yelland
'and a record-breaking half-mile burst brings it close to crossover
'with its British opponent. I decide to lead a scouting party.'
Where's your train?
-It's coming. Hello.
-It's coming? I believe it!
-We're not far behind.
-Hey, James. How are you?
-How does that go so fast? I'm baffled.
-We don't have any clue why this unmodified train is doing so well.
-That's modified. Come on!
No, that's not modified, not at all, It's all about Gerrit the cleaner.
I'm staggered. That's so fast.
The Germans are just coming whizzing straight past us now.
Going great guns. Well done, guys.
I saw the difference in the speed
and our train was running quicker.
'After four hours, the race is entering a critical phase.
'Here's an update.'
'Battling at the back of the field, the Flying Scotsman leads the steam race.
'The secret weapons are still neck-and-neck at four miles apiece.
'But up in front, the Donald Duck has opened up a clear one-mile lead
'over the 125, and with such a handsome advantage,
'the Germans are becoming slightly complacent.'
I hope James is as relaxed as we and is enjoying this beautiful
weather and wonderful spring air and is just having fun doing this race.
The sun is shining, it's wonderful out here,
it's a bit like holiday and I'd like to stay.
-Have a break.
-Have a break.
THEY SPEAK GERMAN
Good ice cream.
OK, thank you.
The Germans are at Fremington, ie 2.3 miles from the Barnstaple end.
They're so cocky, they're so confident of winning
the whole team has stopped for an ice cream.
This is a tortoise-and-hare moment because that could be a grave error.
Who knows what lies ahead? There could be all sorts of problems.
They've got to go down that hill to the muddy bit,
through the underpass,
anything could have happened down there.
'While the Germans enjoy the best ice cream North Devon has to offer,
'their diesel electric rival is racing towards the two thirds
'distance and a significant and rather emotional landmark.'
This is where we got to the last time
and it was at one o'clock,
I was filthy, having fallen in a ditch,
because it was pitch black.
This is where the last train gave up the ghost and that was it.
'But this time we arrive at Instow and just keep on going.
I tell ya, this is really good, from the last time I was so upset,
so depressed... This is elating. This is great, this is fabulous.
I wish James was here because he witnessed the demise of the other loco.
'Well, I'm not THAT far behind.'
It is 15.10, this is Yelland,
Yelland crossing is the midway point of the course.
Coming from that direction, very close now, minus its Thomas cover
because it was causing problems with it toppling over,
but it's Dr Ben's hydrogen fuel cell transport solution,
but down there is the Germans' second-place train
approaching the same point, their alternative technology.
'To keep his train from falling over like the Germans',
'Dr Ben has patented Dr Ben's hydrogen fuel cell transport solution stability solution
'or holder-oner for short.'
Ladies and gentleman, Dr Ben's hydrogen fuel cell transport solution!
-What's that bit for?
-It's just a little bit wobbly.
So we have to stay upright. We go fast, just not straight.
Fair enough. It IS pioneering technology.
-Uh-oh. Hello, hello.
'Despite their distinctly inferior Double-A Battery Balancer
the Germans remain confident.
Oh, What a rotten bit of luck!
That's their modified train, so our modified trains
have crossed within 20 seconds of each other at the midway point.
This is the real race. That's very exciting.
Dr Ben, more power!
'And 30 minutes later, there's more good news for Team GB -
'the Flying Scotsman reaches the halfway point before the BR58.
'This is great.
'But then, disaster.'
I think I rather pushed her up the incline a bit.
'The Scotsman's central chassis block must be replaced.
'It means dismantling the whole locomotive -
'a job normally carried out in a spotless workshop.
'It's a nail-biting moment for the crowd.'
I need to have a word with you, actually, driver Clarke.
-About overdriving your train?
-What, about the quality of coal I'm putting in?
-Dereliction of duty.
Dereliction of duty?
I've heard reports of you poncing around talking about wine and stuff
and not looking after my...
No, that was a complete mistake.
I set up a refreshment station for you...
'Oz's pathetic protestations of innocence are thankfully
'interrupted by a phone call from our spies in the German camp.'
Hello. Right, OK.
Well, that's marvellous, thank you.
They're almost there. 20 minutes away.
Can you see Barnstaple over there?
-This is Barnstaple.
-This is Barnstaple.
# We will be the champions We will be the champions
# No time for losers Cos we will be the champions... #
-Of the world?
Ah, of the world, of course!
The miniatur world champions, scale 1:87.
But they haven't won yet, not while Simon Kohler
and the British Intercity 125 are on the home straight to Bideford.
I'm kind of nervous now. We are on the last 200 metres?
I don't know.
Just behind this tunnel!
Power, power, power!
HE SPEAKS GERMAN
Can you organise a few beers at the Barnstaple station for all of us?
At 4.25pm, the Donald Duck reaches Barnstaple station car park.
So I guess we did it.
It's not confirmed. That's the last we heard.
No, the gearbox.
Wolfgang, the gearbox.
'I think there's something wrong with the gearbox.'
THEY SPEAK GERMAN
The gearbox has broken.
Maybe 20 metres... I can't believe it.
'As British Rail once said, "Let the train take the strain.
'"But not too much."'
Mr Town Mayor, ladies and gentleman,
the English team is now on the home straight.
However, the Germans are 100 yards from Barnstaple railway station...
..but they have broken down.
The engine is broken, 20 metres before the target.
We don't have any idea if we can fix it.
Nein, nein, nein, nein, nein!
Not long to go now.
We just keep our fingers crossed that she hangs in there.
THEY SPEAK GERMAN
Yeah, I guess we fixed it. It should be enough for 20 metres.
Be careful, it's still 20 yards.
Did somebody hear something about James?
'Simon and his team are racing through the Bideford suburbs,
'but with the Germans back on the move, surely it's all over.'
This is maybe too much for the train.
'But the curse of the gearbox strikes again,
'this time just ten yards from the finish line.'
I just want to keep going now.
It's impossible to do a ramp like that with an unfuelled miniature train.
'We are the Champions?
'More like Under Pressure.'
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Good job, guys!
Yeah, see you in the pub later. OK?
All right, congratulations.
Thank you, bye.
He doesn't sound so happy.
He said in a voice like that, (SADLY) "Congratulations, Sebastian."
'While Sebastian and Gerrit celebrate, I reluctantly leave
'the repaired Scotsman in the unsteady hands of Driver Clark
'and head up to Bideford where the crowds are waiting for the first of the British trains to arrive.'
This is great, isn't it? The completion of ten miles.
I think everybody's done really well, it's been a good walk.
In second place it may be but, after seven hours, our tiny 125 rushes into Bideford station.
The first of the British team home.
That is excellent, the first two trains home have both been
out-of-the-box models. Look at that!
'And for Simon Kohler, a veteran of our previous failure,
'it's a moment to savour.'
-It's quite emotional!
-Yes! Oh, sorry.
It IS emotional.
'So we're 1-0 down, but back out on the track the race is far from over.
'When we last saw them, the alternative-energy teams were neck-and-neck at the halfway point.
'Since then, the Germans have found their rhythm and their speed
'and have passed the final checkpoint of Fremington with ease.'
-The winning team is coming.
-The winning team is coming.
'Dr Ben has also reached his final checkpoint at Instow,
'but he's not exactly speeding along.
'If he loses, then Germany will have an unassailable 2-0 lead.'
-Look, there is Barnstaple.
We can see the end!
'But remember the old saying, "Zahlen sie nicht ihre huhner",
'roughly translated as, "Don't count your hens."
'And no prizes for guessing what's gone wrong...'
They tried to get this bloody train near Barnstaple. Two miles.
Two miles left and it's bloody awful.
'So with the German hope crippled and forced to go at its lowest speed,
'all that's left is for Dr Ben to safely bring home his hydrogen fuel celled transport solution.
'Just to rub it in, we've even had the luxury of reinstating Thomas the Tank engine for the home straight.'
-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Will you please welcome the British hydrogen train!
"Hello," said Thomas.
-Dr Ben's hydrogen fuel cell transport solution!
7 hours 14 is about twice as long as I hoped to do
but pretty good, so I reckon if we came back with
proper vorsprung durch technik on the mechanics, then the fuel cell would do it.
So I think for first go, for two weeks' work, pretty cool, actually.
18.34 hours, congratulations.
Right, now for the emotional one... the Flying Scotsman.
'There's nothing I can do but wait.
'News comes from down the line - the Germans' modified train with its dodgy gearbox
'has limped into Barnstaple station.'
'I await the inevitable second message, "Scotsman broken down again for good. Stop.
'"Driver Clarke AWOL in pub. Stop.
'"German steam train that moves slower than a Chekhov play now certain to win. Stop."
'Come on, Oz.'
-Is that Oz?
-Is that Oz?
I can hear the realistic chuffing noise.
Come on, Driver Clarke.
'I hope driver Bill Sparshatt, the record-breaking driver
'of the real Flying Scotsman, is looking down on this.
'Because here's a new record - latest arrival in railway history.
'It's 18 months overdue.
'But it's here now.'
Oh, look at this. Here it comes, all the way from Barnstaple
and all the way from my childhood.
Flying Scotsman with realistic chuffing sound, come on.
-Driver Clarke, I will allow you to embrace me.
-The Fat Controller.
All the way.
That's the first time that you've ever allowed me to embrace you in all the time that we've known each other.
Honestly man, that, all the way from 1972, my childhood, Barnstaple.
-The annals of history. Well done, mate.
Flying Scotsman with realistic chuffing sounds! Look at that!
You brought her home. Thank you.
-You trusted me.
I wasn't sure I could.
-Were are they?
-In the station bar.
Hang on, what happened to the Germans steam train?
# The road is long
# With many a winding turn
# That leads us to
# Who knows where, who knows when
# But I'm strong
# Strong enough to care
# He ain't heavy, he's my brother. #
In 2009, James May went on a quest to show what was possible to achieve with old-fashioned toys by using them on a scale never seen before. Five toys were successful, but one failed - model trains. James and his team revisit the doomed challenge and make another attempt at building the longest ever model railway track - nearly ten miles long.
Linking two Devon towns, Barnstaple and Bideford, the last attempt saw no trains reach their destination and James's cherished childhood toy, the Flying Scotsman, fail to even make it out of the carpark. This time the feat is bigger than ever before, as James challenges the two German proprietors of the world's largest toy railway museum to a race along the track.
The locals of both towns are galvanised once again and James's old friend and railway enthusiast Oz Clarke turns up to lend a hand. Will the people of Devon ensure that for the first time in a generation, a train - however small - makes the journey between the two towns?