Posted by Hihoba on April 8th, 2008
Bit of a mix-up, so an emergency late blog. Please forgive any mistakes!
Wonderful puzzle from Ploy, but you would have to be a REAL anorak (as in trainspotter) to solve it without the use of Mr Google!
I beavered away at the middle letters of extra words until I had Mogul, Prairie, Atlantic and, by implication and guesswork, Pacific. After a number of false starts, (all four seemed to have some connection with oysters, but oyster Googles went nowhere) I eventually put all four words into Google as a last resort. It came up with the classification of American Steam Locomotives by wheel layout!!!
I couldn’t really believe this, but after a few more letters appeared, all the various words that appeared were locomotive types. Each had a wheel layout stated as three figures: [leading wheels]-[driving wheels]-[trailing wheels]. The central part of the puzzle (the white squares) appeared to have a zero rather than a letter O, so I counted the rows and columns and there were 8 three digit combinations. So it was a “numberword” in the middle of a crossword.
The “numberword” was defined by the given zero which had to be in both 260 and 440. After one false start, I fitted them all in as follows:
Solving time: I dread to think!!