TakeAway - a Guerilla Memorabilia / Amsterdam




About: i am a free thinking Experience Designer. Also a part of a Maker trio ForReal Team - http://www.forrealteam.com/

when we travel for a vacation or seeking new adventures in far away places, we tend to pick up souvenirs to 'preserve the moment'. but since most souvenirs are probably made in china and digital photos of almost every spot on earth are available online for all, how can you actually prove you have been there ?

this instructable is hopefully a start of a new movement for guerilla memorabilia attractions all around the world and starting with the wonderful city i reside in - Amsterdam !

almost everyone knows the joy of an elongated coin or in other words - putting a coin on the rails and waiting anxiously to see what happens (with the small fear that it might derail the train). sadly that ancient childish craft has been commercialized by fancy boxes in tourist attractions.

this is going to be a open source, DIY, reckless guerilla memorabilia you are sure to remember !

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Step 1: Tools of the Trade

you will need -

1. Coins- i chose the classic 5 euro cent coin (copper is rather soft) take more then one,
you might want to have another go or just to bring some 'trophies' back home for friends. 

2. A wireless Dremel- unless you wanna go through the trouble of a very long cable.
despite my worries it might be too weak for the task it actually proved to be a nasty piece of machinery.

3. A Tungsten Carbide Cutter bit- there are a couple of different kinds, choose the one best fitting your graphics, from what i have tried out they all work great.  

optional -

1. Sort of a ruler- i just took the first metal straight object i could get my hands on, a beer bottle opener in this case. it helped keep a straight line which in the case of my graphics was important.

2. Tissues- just an accessory to clean the rails before you start working, they tend to be a bit dirty :)

3.Duct tape- i found out that sometimes it helps keep the coin steady, but i was experimenting in the middle of the snow, in better weather you might not need it.

Step 2: Choosing the Spot

location is everything ! if we are already going guerilla style we might as well find a location
a bit off the grid of the normal tourist. this adventure should cause a small detour that could highlight a sweet spot only you as a local know about. it doesn't have to be fancy.

i found the perfect setting under the railway track, secluded, dodgy... (and not so far from the central station).

i am using the tram rails since they are accessible to the public to get close to, they are quite slow (less risk) and well spread all around the city (option for many cool locations)

Step 3: Doing the Deed

as a graphic symbol most indicative with the city i chose Amsterdam's coat of arms (or at least part of it) its also quite a simple shape to make - xxx

i took my wireless Dremel drill with a Tungsten Carbide Cutter bit and started to engrave, surprisingly it worked really well and quite easy ! i used the metal bar to keep the lines straight

as you can see - it works !

Step 4: Here Goes Nothing

all is left to do is wait for the next tram to come...

the whole thing is sort of trial and error, but i guess its part of the idea. it turns out there are more variables then you might think - the temperature, the material of the coin, the speed of the tram, placement of the coin, humidity esc. it took a few times to get it right.

i found out that it kinda helps to put the coin on the rails with some duct tape it doesn't really stick, but it makes it easier to find afterwards. 

this experiment was done in harsh conditions, these are super cold, snowy and muddy days over here, i guess under any other circumstances it would be much easier.

Step 5: Tadaaaaaaaaaa !

thats about it, if you ever pass through amsterdam you are welcome to make use of this secret alternative attraction - you can find it here, i have also made a second one in a great spot overlooking the beautiful Amstel river here

this is also an open call to all of you adventurous souls out there to create other SiteSpecific guerilla memorabilia in you own home town. ill be honored if you send me the location so maybe in the near future we can make a map of all the SiteSpecific spots around the globe

Godspeed !

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    43 Discussions


    1 year ago

    That's a pretty cool idea and super awesome that you shared a map of where to find yours. If I'm ever in Amsterdam, guaranteed I'll try to find your mark and make my own.


    7 years ago on Step 5

    this is awesome!! now I need to look for a dremel XP

    Looks like a wonderful way to get killed and/or arrested. Not to mention all the fun you'd have trying to get these tools through airport security.

    Neither I nor the author has any idea of what kind of damage this may actually be doing to the rails you're engraving with the Dremel.  Seems harmless enough, but then I'm not a metallurgist, and I'm guessing Saronpaz isn't either.  A newspaper front page showing the train derailment you caused would really be a special souvenir. 

    And most importantly this also doesn't meet the stated claim of proving you've actually been somewhere. You wouldn't have to go any farther than the nearest railroad track to generate as many of these as you wanted.

    8 replies

    I agree. It's not a particularly wise thing to do.

    And I am sure that the local rail authorities would be most displeased if you were caught. Someone in a dark area of a tram line. With a power tool. Tapping small packages to the area of the track that was just drilled on.

    Pure Genius. I'm sure the Nobel Committee is awaiting your nomination next year.

    Do they have "The Netherlands Most Wanted" over there.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    In the UK, you'd get done for criminal damage, if anyone found out. Maybe more - and certainly trespass if it was a railway line.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I agree. Obviously (saronpaz) is a perfect candidate for both the Darwin Awards and even the Ignbol awards. Look them up, they are great fun.

    Saronpax, perhaps you could re-think your activities and what seems like very short term amusement. Sorry you don't amuse me one bit.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Then go somewhere else. Don't hover around things you aren't interested in.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Just saying...your ordinary cop would pay attention to someone doing this. Not that this is legal (or even legal). It is the behavior that would garner attention. The worse part is that you don't even see how this would look poorly from an outside perspective.

    This may be an inadvisable thing to do, but it would not derail a train. Also, tracks are made of a very high quality steel alloy, which light dremeling would not damage. My biggest concern would be getting caught.

    Do you honestly have the background and experience to make these statements with confidence, or are you just offering an opinion?

    That's certainly a helpful comment.

    It's quite the reflection of your maturity level, no doubt.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    i like the idea (and i bet modern hobos and train enthusiasts would like it as well since they could make their own little network of hobo train coin making templates).

    i would imagine that you'd have to go back after some period of time and refresh your engraving on the track as the train/tram will surely eventually wear it back to flat. it would be interesting for you to go back every so often and check the status of your engraving to get a baseline for how long you think it would last.

    as for the "safety issues". the primary safety issue is the possibility of you getting wraped up in your design and getting smashed by a train you didn't see coming.

    the issue of derailment is so minimally probable that it should be listed as not possible. for you to derail a train (or a tram or any other heavy thing that goes on a rail) you have to do a lot of stuff.

    the "thing" on the track would have to be "taller" than the flange on the wheels of the vehicle (not sure on how big those usually are but i'd say a minimum of 1/2 inch), it would have to be strong enough so as to not be crushed/flattened/smashed to bits by the train/tram wheel, of a shape that would wedge the wheel up instead of just having the wheel force it to the side or out the front. and it would have to be on the outside rail of a curve. 

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I agree with *ahem*, 'Crapflinger'. It does depend on where you live, I wouldn't suggest jumping off an NYC subway platform to start scraping at the rails, but I have done something not disimilar from this several times at my friends house in the rurual suberbs of Minnesota.

    I have not heard of any specific law against this, the emporer of all trains might be irritated, but it does not cause any real damage. None. Your average train car weighs about 110 tons. To derail something that has 110 tons of downward force added to what ever speed it is heading is not easy to derail. A penny is no threat to it, nor a scratches on the rail. It's like an articulated lorry running over a segment of Danbo.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I know, haven't these people seen "Unstoppable? Not even a train de-railer could de-rail a train. Duh! lol


    8 years ago on Step 5

    my city by the train does not pass......it hurst!! but...it's a good idea..

    caleta olivia, santa cruz, Argentina


    8 years ago on Step 5

    that's a great idea, it's thrilling, and questionably legal, yet won't send you to jail for the next ten years


    8 years ago on Introduction

    It's not the track that is at risk, nor are you taking chances of causing a huge wreck. From the little I know, the main damage you cause is to train wheels. These wheels must stay perfectly round, or the small shocks caused by the wheel not perfectly rolling will wear the train as a whole (and cause some discomfort to passengers).
    The only cure to damaged train wheels is to remove some matter all around the wheel, shortening its lifespan. As far as I know train wheel flats happen mainly because of fallen leaves greasing the rails in autumn (when the train slows, wheels lock).


    8 years ago on Introduction

    just wanted to note that in some parts of the wortld there is a 3rd rail with live high voltage power. just check first!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Hey, Potato Head!

    (I just had to say that.)

    Give elephant a break. If you want to mix it up, we could find a metallurgist in the group.  Elephant is correct in that trains stay on tracks. It takes a lot to get them off those tracks. I live in Florida, USA and it is a sport to outrun trains to crossings, and the autos (including semis/lorrys) always loose. The trains will push the auto for a kilometer or so until it can stop. There was a show detailing the life of a train. They showed one train that had whacked an auto at speed, and what it took to repair it.

    Always and Never weren't part of a scientific conversation here. Try not to peg someone so hard. It takes the flavor out of the conversation.

    I think we all, except the author, feel that this behaviour is dubious, and one to be avoided for legal reasons rather than trains jumping tracks.