Saturday, May 12, 2012


The picture at the top is the type of trap I used to build when I was a kid. I would drive to Tucker Trap in southern Maine and buy 100 or so "trap kits." The kit contained all the materials needed to build the traps. I built them in my parents basement, then in the garage, and then, as I got older, in a locker at the "Fish House" in Swampscott, Mass. If I remember correctly each trap cost about $12.00 fully rigged.

The lower, wire trap, was one of the last batch of lobster traps I bought in 2000. I kept this one for old time sake when I sold the business in 2004. I added the rope bridal and the extra escape hatch on the top.

I've seen underwater videos showing young lobsters hanging around the trap - going in and out through the escape hatch to feed on the bait. The adult lobsters, over 7 years old, have to enter through the kitchen (the front of the trap), grab some bait, and come back into the trap (called the parlor) where they can't escape because they're too big to fit through the escape hatches. A trap like this one will last about 7-8 years of seasonal fishing - longer if left in the water year round.

When I bought the last batch of 100 wire traps they were about $52.00 each. Then I need 15 fathoms of rope, a buoy and a bait bag (shown laying in the parlor.)

I have a lobstering video on my website, shot by a PBS crew, and used as part of a sustainable seafood festival. It shows me in the early 1990's hauling my traps near Marblehead, Mass. - it's a download from this site but it's not free. Sorry, I have to pay for the download service.

If you're curious about lobstering you'll enjoy the video.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The second episode of building the EXPO modules is out. It's about 16 minutes and you can watch it here.

In part two I finish the landforms, color some of the scenery, add the fascia, and start the rock painting process. Check it out!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Model Railroad Hobbyist

If you're not downloading Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine you're missing out. It's a free on-line magazine and has a lot of interesting and informative modeling topics every month. I just downloaded the May issue and stopped everything to read it - good stuff!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Building an EXPO module


The EXPO is a model railroad event I'm very fond of.

It started as the Craftsman Structure Show and has evolved over the years from just being about building model railroad kits and structures to a full-blown railroad show. It embraces all facets of the hobby but emphasizes fine model building in all scales and gauges. Many of the best manufacturer's in North America attend the EXPO. The 2012 EXPO will be held in the heart of railroad country - Strasburg, Pennsylvania.

This year a MODULE category was added. The modules are based upon the NMRA HO module standards with a few cosmetic changes. I've put together a 15 minute video showing how I'm building the scenery on my module. You can download the EXPO module standards and view the video by clicking here.

This video will be followed by part 2 in several weeks.

Enjoy the video.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I've always had a love affair with ship models. I must have built a four or five Cutty Sarks and several Constitutions in my life, both plastic and wood.


When I lived in Salem, Mass. the Essex Museum was down the street and free for residents. It contained ship models, half models, paintings, and drawings of all the boats that left Salem for the China trade. I averaged twice weekly visits and marveled at the quality of the models. And, these were built before Elmers glue, ACC and Polly Scale paints. I learned to paint fairly good-looking water by studying the dozens of ship paintings in the Museum. (These were called Documents and were presented to Lloyd's of London as proof the ship, in fact, did exist. And, what it looked like so they could insure it.)


These O scale ship models in the above photo are built in Greece or China or sell for about $75.00. A real bargain if you're ever tried to start AND complete one of these.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I've posted a few photos taken at the start of construction of the Sea Port Model Works display. But there's so much other stuff going on here I may never get to post the whole construction sequence. So I'm jumping to the finished display to show you this photo. The structures are modified kits. The seawall a plaster casting and the water is built on a sheet of Gator Board.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Almost 10 years ago I was hired by Model Railroader magazine to photograph George Sellios' Franklin & South Manchester model railroad. This was one of the first digital images of the layout that I took.

I just found this image on a CD - a similar shot was used as part of the story.

All in all I recollect photography the F&SM about 8 times for different articles in MR and Great Model Railroads.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

video

I visited the Nantucket Railroad display yesterday (in the Whaling Museum in Nantucket, Mass.) to change the engines on the display. The display is a 28' long model of the Nantucket Railroad as it looked in 1910.

Since it was built in 2009 the display has been running several On30 Bachmann Forney's with sound. I selected this engine type because it looked similar to the 3-foot Mason Bogey-type engine that the railroad used. The Railroad also used an American-type engine but the models available do not, as yet, have sound. The Bachmann Forney's had a problem keeping the trailing trucks on the rail even when running on straight track.

I replaced the Forneys with the new Bachmann 0-4-2 Porter with sound. I bought two of these engines and painted and lettered them for Nantucket.

Yesterday's trial was a success. The engines pulled two passenger cars back and forth without hesitation, and performed all the stop and start tricks I built into the DC circuitry. The sound from these engine is loud enough to get attention in a crowded room and sounds close to real.

All in all it was a successful day. It'll be interesting to see how long these engines last in continuous service.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


There's something very satisfying about building a plastic kit. You start and finish in a reasonable amount of time and you get a nice structure to show for your efforts. This is an IHC Society Hill Townhouse kit that was offered more than 20 years ago. It still may be available from Wm K. Walther's, I haven't checked.

This basic building was used to make 5 or 6 other IHC kits. They changed the lower part of the front of the building, added different windows and window trim, and added and subtracted details from the roof. I'll bet over the years I've built every one of these.

I primed and painted the parts while they were still on the sprue. After assembly I weathered the kit using a very weak burnt umber wash. The total construction time was about 6 hours, not counting paint drying time.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I'm back from vacation. A little R & R in the sun goes a long way.

Here's the Sea Port display again. When I was designing the water space I needed to allow room for the boats that Sea Port now offers and boats that may come in the future. I got the hull dimensions and cut a 1" foam rectangle for each hull. Some were a little oversized but it is okay since all I really needed was "place holders."

I had a few structures on hand and placed them here and there to see how they looked and to see how much space they would fill.

The background is painted on a 32' long curved background that occupies one wall of my workshop. It's been painted many different times depending upon the project - this background was used in my video "EASY SCENERY."

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

This past week I went back to the Nantucket Whaling Museum in Nantucket, Mass. to remove the snow and lights I'd placed there in November to get the display ready for Christmas.

The display it's a 28' by 4' model of the Nantucket RR as it looked in 1910. The railroad was a 3-foot gauge commuter line that moved tourists from the ferry dock in Nantucket Town to the resort hotels in Surfside and Sconsett. About a 17 mile trip each way.

Here, on the On30 display of the railroad, engine number two, a Mason-Bogey type, is hauling a passenger car and freight van east toward Sconsett while crossing the wooden bridge over Goose Pond.

The 31' long background was made in Photoshop using pictures I took while on Nantucket, pictures from Canada and photos from the Nantucket Historical Association collection - all melded together to provide an interesting background seascape.

It'll be open for business in May if you'd like to visit.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012


This is a mock-up of a front of a diorama I'm thinking of building. The windows are 1" scale and the room will be paneled like you see in colonial bedrooms. Looking out the window you'll see the effects of the great Nantucket fire of July 13th 1846. I'm going to build Main Street and India Streets in perspective showing the fire progressing up the street.


If you Google the Nantucket fire of 1846 you'll get a few hits but they all paraphrase an account given by an eye witness at a lecture in 1901. There are no pictures, it's too early in history and there's one newspaper etching which is not helpful.


There is a map, which is helpful. Ninety percent of downtown Nantucket was destroyed and 800 people were left homeless. Food and building materials were brought from the mainland when the folks there heard about the tragedy.


From the Mass. News Google search "a fire began at 11:00PM in a hat store on Nantucket's Main Street. In no time, it raced through town, consuming everything in its path. Barrels of whale oil were stored on the wharves; when the fire reached them, they burst into flames. The burning oil flowed into the water, creating what one man described as "a sea of fire." Seven hours later most of the town's commercial area lay in ashes. Some 250 buildings had been destroyed — almost all the markets and shops, seven factories that processed whale oil, a dozen warehouses, three of the town's four wharves, and many homes. The fire had lasting consequences: it contributed to the demise of Nantucket as the world capital of the whaling industry."


I'm going to try to build a model that will show-off the fire. Now I have to figure out how to make "cold" fire.


Saturday, February 25, 2012


I was looking through photos this morning and this view of the dock at Wiscasset, Maine jumped out at me. The coastal lighter is the Horatio and if you look close you can see the deck is piled with lumber. The 2-ft. WW&F boxcars are in the background and are probably ready to unload more wood for the Horatio to take to Boston or NYC.

As I read the history of these coastal freighters it was clear that it was easy to get a crew for a lumber ship (in a storm you could ride the lashed together wood pile like a raft until rescued) but impossible to find anybody willing to crew on a ship carrying stone.

Those familiar with the Wiscasset, Maine area may remember the Hesper and the Luther Little, two coastal lighters that were left to rot on a mussel bed in the Sheepscot River. They were a photographer's delight for 50 years. They were finally removed, I think in the 1980's. They became a place where the local kids liked to party.

Saturday, February 18, 2012




Tak-E-Glue


Here's the new scenery and wood glue from Scenic Express. It's from Europe and combines the best features of white glue and liquid latex.
It's made for most scenery applications and is water soluble. Hal Reynolds of Atlantic Scale Models has been experimenting with it.
He says you can dilute this with water and dip the Scenic Express SuperTrees in it. You need several dipping and drying cycles to make them flexible while keeping that fine branch structure. I need to buy some to try it out!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Building the Sea Port display

The display itself was built on a 6' long by 30" wide 1" by 3" pine frame. This was covered with a sheet of 1/2" Gator board. The Gator board is the water surface.

On top of this is a sheet of 1" blue foam which has been cut-out for the land and dock areas. The backdrop is a piece of Wacky Wood - a 3/8" Luon plywood that's made to be flexible and bend easily. I mounted it here using 24" radius corners. It's one foot high.

I added a length of Walther's code 83 track so a small GE 44-tonner could run back and forth. I used a DC circuit which required that the ends of the track be isolated with diodes. The engine runs into a dead end the current is reversed and the engine backs out and runs to the other end. It runs into a dead section and stops. When the current is reversed the whole process starts again. The train controller is a cheap Bachmann transformer that was sold with their Big Hauler G-gauge train sets.

I put a Walther's Lighthouse in the left corner to see how a lighthouse would look in this location. It will be replaced with the Point Sparrow light. An HO kit that was offered by Precision Laser Craft years ago.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Building the Sea Port display



This little guy started it all. An HO scale lobster boat. It's almost the same shape and size of the boat I owned and worked on for 41 years. The boat model is made by Sea Port Model Works.

I met the owner of Sea Port at a train show and after several discussions he asked me to build him a display that he could bring to shows to display his boat kits and built-up models.

I went home and thought about it for a while.

What will follow it is how it all came together.

Stay tuned.