FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Paint your wagon

Posted in Brazil, Imbituba by folkestonejack on July 12, 2013

The latest problem turned out to be much less serious than we had imagined and we were able to make it to Imbituba to take what we all expected to be the shot of the trip – Santa Fe no. 205 hauling a freight train past the lagoon with the south atlantic ocean in the distance. However, the story behind the shot is unquestionably bonkers…

Santa Fe no. 205 hauls a steam freight from Imbituba past the Lagoa de Paes Leme

Santa Fe no. 205 hauls a steam freight from Imbituba past the Lagoa de Paes Leme

The modern railway uses wagons with a white stripe, but in the 1980s the railway used stripeless wagons. To give us a historically accurate picture the railway had agreed to remove the white stripe from the wagons we would use for the nine days of our trip. However, the stripeless wagons that we loaded in Rio Fiorita had accidentally been discharged on their return to Tubarão and were now dispersed across the system. All the railway could offer us for our run to Imbituba were wagons with a white stripe.

I must confess that I am not absolutely devoted to historical accuracy, so I could have lived with a white stripe but this would have been anathema to purists. After some considerable discussion a compromise was reached – the railway agreed that we could paint out the white stripe on the wagons they could supply to us! It seemed a small price to pay to get things moving again. Our convoy of minibuses rolled out of the museum grounds and headed for Imbituba, via the local paint shop.

At Imbituba we stretched out along the line, armed with spray cans and roller brushes, awaiting the arrival of our freight train (hauled in by a diesel, which would be detached for the run pasts). The moment the wagons came to a halt we got to work, painting out the white stripe on the 14 wagons – though only on the side that would be photographed! On the strength of my efforts I think it is safe to say that I do not have an untapped talent for painting and should not be entrusted with a brush anytime soon…

My talents do not lay in wagon painting!

My talents do not lay in wagon painting!

The paint job was finished surprisingly quickly which was down to everyone playing their part and getting stuck in. We returned to the minibuses and headed to a roadside spot looking down on the line, the lagoon and the ocean beyond. It was a stunning backdrop for our freight train and a scene that I wouldn’t have missed for anything, no matter how mad the build up had been. I fear that for all our efforts we only succeeded in replacing an inauthentic white line with an inauthentic shiny brown line, but I didn’t care a hoot by this point. A beautiful moment had been captured.

Santa Fe no. 205 on the line between Imbituba and Cabecudas

Santa Fe no. 205 on the line between Imbituba and Cabecudas

We could relax a little now, enjoying a couple of shots further down the line as we headed back to Tubarão. The motorway was heavily clogged with traffic, but when we got going again there was a memorable stretch of driving running parallel to our freight train – exchanging friendly waves. Finally, we ended our day near Cabecudas where we grabbed a last shot before the light faded.

The story of the day was that, once again, victory had been clutched from the jaws of defeat.


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  1. Time and tide | FolkestoneJack's Tracks said, on February 29, 2020 at 7:40 pm

    […] ever stopped us from doing utterly bonkers things in the name of photography (I’m thinking of painting coaches in the Brazilian midday sun as a classic […]

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