About This Web Site
As a former railroad employee (Louisville & Nashville Railroad - Frankfort & Cincinnati Railroad - TransKentucky Transportation Inc.) and rail fan, I’ve been gathering information about the Climax Locomotive, off and on, for over 30 years now.
By 1986, I was no longer in the railroad business and was involved with computers when I first discovered the Internet (I go back to the days of UNIX, PC-DOS, 14.4K modems and text only browsers). My new job involved working with relational database software, so when I purchased my first PC, I naturally decided that I'd put all my information about the Climax and logging railroads into databases.
When the Internet boom started in the 1990’s - I quickly discovered that there was very little information available about the Climax Locomotive, and what I did find was often inaccurate. Thus, I decided to gather up the information I’d accumulated and put it on a web site.
Web Site And Database Development
I initially used very simple databases for keeping track of the information I had, but in 1998, when I decided to develop this web site, I designed a complete relational database (Microsoft SQL Server), with the intention of using it for the back end of my web site. Features of this database include the automatic formatting of information that is used in the tables for the Climax Production Records, which is complied from the information in several relational database tables.
I first published this site (1998-10-05) using free hosting services, but of course these free hosting sites don't provide any sort of database back end support and thus all the content of the site was in static HTML pages. In addition, you must contend with unwanted advertising inserted into your pages (nothing is really free); making the HTML invalid and the page layout had to be designed to allow for the advertising. Totally unacceptable, but I lived with it for several years.
To produce the static pages, I used the database and PHP to generate the pages, which were then saved as regular HTML pages - edited as necessary - then up-loaded to the server. It was a very time consuming job and often making one or two changes to the database required having to recreate and edit many files. I was also limited on the amount of server space, so a few photographs and all the required web pages would soon use up all my resources.
Initially, all the locomotive information contained in the database was compiled from the information in Climax - An Unusual Locomotive, by Walter C. Casler and Thomas T. Taber III (long out of print and worth a small fortune). As this was my primary source for roster information, I used the numbering scheme for the unknown shop numbers (2000 series numbers) that was used in that publication. A numbering scheme which often resulted in the unknown numbers being mistaken for actual shop numbers (the highest Climax shop number being S/N 1694).
When The Climax Locomotive by Dennis Thompson, Rich Dunn and, Steve Hauff was published in 2002 (available from Oso Publishing), I immediately purchased a copy (No. 362), and spent a couple of weeks of evenings comparing, updating and correcting the information I had, against the information in that publication. I also made the decision to adopt the X Tracking Number (T/N) scheme used in that publication for the unknown shop numbers and altered my database accordingly. I do have some information in my database that is not in the new Climax book, so the all information is not identical.
Web Site Design
Over the years since I first published the Climax Locomotives web site, I have refined and improved my HTML coding skills and am considered very knowledgeable in this field (I do web sites as a side-line). I don't use WYSIWYG type editors as you don't learn proper HTML markup that way and they really aren't WYSIWYG. I markup my pages using text editors, enhanced for HTML markup, and test them in standards compliant browsers. The proper use of HTML is an ongoing learning process and something that I really enjoy.
Several years ago, I made the move from the obsolete table based design methods of the 90’s to the modern standards compliant method of web site design/coding. It’s hard to believe the difference in how fast pages render using modern methods as compared to the old table based layouts with their nested tables and unnecessary spacer graphics. The use of CSS and properly marked up HTML to separate content from design, enables me to make drastic changes to the look of the web site, by simply editing a single file. Best of all my site is accessible to anyone, using any type of browser.
In November 2004, I made the move to a commerical ISP that supports dynamic web pages, with a database back end and this has resulted in the elimination of numerous pages on the site and updates to my database are immediately reflected on the web site.
The only slight drawback is that the database back end on my ISP is not Microsoft SQL Server (hosting costs a small fortune for that), but rather MySQL, which is not capable of all the functions and procedures required in my database. MySQL is an open source database that’s constantly being improved with added features, but is a long way from being a true relational database. It’s main advantage is speed and it’s great for web sites such as this one, where content is simply stored in the database and not frequently updated or changed.
To keep everything in sync, I update my database as necessary and then export the data to the hosting service database. Changes made to the database are at once available on the web site and I don't have to track down and edit several pages because of a single update. Only one page is required for each section of the Climax Production Records information since all information is pulled from the database.
Current Web Site Status
There isn't much else I can add to the Climax Locomotives site except more photographs as they come my way, but I'm always looking to expand the site with additional useful information. Originally a separate site, I have added the Saw Mills web site to the Climax Locomotives site - since the two subjects are related.
From time to time, I will post articles on this site that either pertain to the Climax Locomotive, logging railroads or even web page design and coding. Hopefully, you’ll find these articles interesting and informative.
Those of you who are regular visitors to this site, will notice that I use this site as a sort of “test bed” for experimenting with different site designs. I like to keep the site looking fresh, so the design of the Climax Locomotives web site is always subject to change (and it has frequently).