You may know by now that often times I'll go back and fix up parts of stories I've published here on DA. There's various reasons for these. Sometimes it's to add something I forgot, sometimes it's to fix a contrived plot and make it easier to understand, or just to fix general errors like spelling and grammar. I'm not perfect.
And despite my somewhat successful overhaul of TGR into Gordon and the Great Race, I still feel like it's a bit contrived and lacking in sense. Mainly in terms of the shunting competition. Typically for TGR, I have kept engines' gauges their real gauges, with of course the exceptions of Hiro, whom I've always kept as standard gauge (his class is huge for a 3'6'' gauge engine!) and Sir Malcolm (my interpretation of Shane). Everyone else was kept the same, albeit rebuilt to suit the British loading gauge if they were standard gauge already. I had kept Raul and Ivan the same as their real life counterparts. For this, I had to rewrite the shunting comp not only for only one engine to go at a time to avoid accidents, but also for a separate area of the expanded Bridlington Yards to be laid out for Raul and Ivan- a custom dual gauge set of rails for the two broad gauge engines.
In practice, this idea seemed to work and was even approved by
of Russia, whom again I can't thank enough for her input and her encouragement and praise. Even now it still blows my mind that people from half a world away can enjoy something I've put out.
But, I've recently been doing some research on Ivan's basis- the TGM23 diesel shunter; as I was originally planning to have Ivan visit Sodor as an exhibit due to his gauge and give him some kind of interaction with Phillip. I've been wanting to write a story about diesels for a while. This is also evident by my recent use of
's reskin of the TGM23 class- which to my surprise was not built to Russian gauge but runs on standard gauge track in game- so I did a quick, crappy little shot of him talking with Phillip.
During this research partly spurred on by playing Trainz, I found something absolutely fascinating; something that makes the TV series' depiction of Ivan as a standard gauge engine actually completely plausible and more realistic.
To find information on the TGM23, I had to dive into the Russian part of the Internet, specifically Wikipedia. On the page for the TGM23 class, I found a section labelled "TGM23BE". Apparently, TWO of Ivan's class had been built for export, and sent to Wustermark Germany. These two engines, numbered 9 and 10 (what a weird parallel to Donald and Douglas!) were never seen again- at least according to Russian Wikipedia which did not apparently look into the German part of the internet for further info. I've since delved into the German internet, and I found them! Both of them worked together in Wustermark and Berlin as well, doing shunting work for a station and factory I believe. As far as I've seen, the last known photographs of them were in 1996- in a siding and covered in graffiti. From what I could gather from the German part of the internet, they were out of service in the early 90's and scrapping began in December 1996. (I later found photos of 10's remains- a lonely chassis.)
How is this relevant to my TGR? Well it's obvious, isn't it? My TGR takes place in 1995. I've got two TGM23s in my take on TGR- Ivan and his unnamed brother (whom I've decided now to call Misha, after Team Fortress 2's Heavy. After all, I based Ivan's personality, minus the killing machine part of course, on the Heavy.) I'm now planning to go back to my TGR story and completely rewrite Ivan and Misha's role in the story as being standard gauge engines. If two TGM23's were built for export to germany, the most logical thing to do would be to build them to standard gauge. Russia has the largest broad gauge in the world (though there are narrow gauge railways in Russia too). A Russian-gauged engine would be useless anywhere in the world unless either A- special rails wide and strong enough were laid for it as per my current version of TGR), or B- the engines were built to standard gauge. Other TGM23's have been exported to other Baltic countries like the Ukraine and Latvia, all fitted to their gauges. As I've now seen the engines in photographs, it's clear that the engines are standard gauge, complete with couplings and buffers. And the date works perfectly. They were out of service in the early 90's and basically on their deathbeds by 95. So, given we're talking about the realms of Thomas, naturally it would make sense for them to become preserved by a private owner to save them from an untimely demise. Yay for altering history!
I think this idea of Ivan and Misha being the German exports works quite well. Not only does it make my version of TGR less contrived with the track layout, but it also gives context as to why Ivan seems to know Freida in the YouTube shorts. If Ivan worked in Germany, it would make sense if he had met and made friends with a German steam engine. And while we're at it, since we have two diesels, why not two steam engines? Long ago I already had written out plans to give Belle a backstory of being preserved by a German enthusiast who brought her back to his country. So, it would make sense in my book to have Belle be friends with the diesels and Freida. And if we're to go a step further, why not personify the Marklin Engine. Countless fans probably have attempted this idea and I'm no different; it was one of my earliest attempts at a story for those of you who REALLY know my history in this fandom. Yech. So. Ivan, Misha. Freida. Belle. Mark. What an interesting group of friends. Anyway, despite my stalled progress on DnD's JBS, now I have some more fuel for my Internationals stories- and can probably very easily write the second story for the first book. Of course, they won't be published on DA until I finish DnD's JBS. I can't wait for you guys to see what I've got in store.