Wednesday, August 21, 2013

More odds and ends...

Here's George Sellios' Franklin and South Manchester RR. I shot this photo while I was there many years ago shooting a story for Model Railroader magazine. At the time I lived close to George and visited the railroad almost monthly. George has made a lot of changes since my last visit.

I've posted a lot of photos of the Nantucket On30 railroad display. We built the display in 2008 and since then over one hundred thousand people have viewed it. 

The original Bachmann Forney lasted two years of everyday use. I removed the engine and replaced it with another Forney. It lasted two years. I replaced the second engine with the original engine which I had cleaned and refurbished. This week I retired the original engine and replaced it with the second engine. The next replacement will be a Bachmann American to which I added a SoundTraxx light steam decoder. It'll be interesting to see how long this light engine lasts in constant service.

For my On30 sugar cane railroad I built two Mt. Blue open observation cars. I had Atlantic Scale Models make the Rafael Freyre decals. This kit is fun and easy to build.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Planning Models

I've written a lot about building and using planning models. A planning model is a small model of a model railroad. 

The book I go to for many small structures is A.G. Smith's An Early American Seaport. The book is out of print but still can be found through used book dealers and at train shows. There are many other books like this one featuring other architecture and building styles.

I scan the pages, reduce them to the size I need, print them out, glue to a cardboard backing, and build them.

Here's the 1/2" scale planning model I built for the Sea Port display. The little structures are place holders showing the size and scale of a building in the scene. These can be moved around or removed to help determine how the final display will look. 

This is a valuable tool to use when trying to project your ideas to someone who "doesn't get it'". It's also a great "what if" tool.

Here's a more elaborate planning model of an 8' by 25' Lionel layout. The project followed the model closely.

The Sea Port Car Ferry

This is the car ferry ramp on the Sea Port Model Works display. The display was built to serve as a background for the Sea Port line of HO boat kits and built-ups. 

The ramp was scratchbuilt to fit into the front of the Sea Port car carrier. I raided the scrapbox for this one.

Here's the car ferry at the loading ramp.

On30 Maine-style Engines

Here are two Bachmann On30 engines Bob Hayden modified and painted to represent the Maine two foot motive power. These are on Bob's Elk River/Thatcher's Inlet On30 layout.

The turntable is scratchbuilt using styrene - based upon a Maine prototype.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Kingfield Maine engine house

A few days ago I posted a photo of the SR&RL station in Kingfield, Maine. Along with the photo I published a map showing the location of all the railroad buildings in Kingfield. This in the three stall engine house that sat behind the station. I took the photo in 1961 and don't know if this building has survived. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bachmann On30 Forney

On the Nantucket Railroad display I decided to use the Bachmann On30 Forney as the display motive power. The Forney is a close match to a 3-foot gauge Mason Bogey engine the railroad leased from the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn RR. 

The Bachmann On30 Forney ran great for two years. When "crash-bar" type handles were added to the front of the layout, to give children a hand-hold, the track went out of level and the rear truck under the Bachmann On30 Forney tender would hop on and off the track. I tried all the tricks to get the engine to track better. 

Finally, I decided to try solder wrapped around the rear truck's plastic axels. I used the thinnest solder I had and wrapped the axels keeping the solder below the wheel diameter so the solder would not foul on track or guardrails.
It worked. The rear truck was heavy enough to track properly and not hop of the rail. Another two years of everyday operation.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Bachmann On30 "shorty" ore car

This is one of the new Bachmann On30 "shorty" ore or coal cars. This is the actual car that appeared in the Bachmann ads. I took the raw plastic car and painted and weathered it. There's a plastic coal load sold with the car. It's a nice car, tracks well and has a lot of detail. 

For you On30 2-foot fans - look at the Vulcan trucks. They are dead ringers for the SR&RL trucks - the only thing you have to do to make them perfect is to cut off the spring cover that extends above the truck frame in the middle of the truck.

Kingfield Maine

Here's the Kingfield Station in Kingfield, Maine on the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes RR as it looked in 1962. The building looked abandoned. I walked around it and there was no signs of life. 

On the rear side there's a loading or freight door with a log bumper. It was probably added after the railroad closed in the 1930's. 

Pardon the cheap camera with an awful lens and Anscochrome film.

From the map you can see that the train, at one time, ran through the station. This practice didn't last very long. Too many stations burned down. 

The map is reproduced from the Two-Foot Cyclopedia, Volume One, Kingfield, Maine by William H. Jensen, Jr. from my collection. 

I have photos of the engine house, somewhere. It was still standing in 1962 and used by an auto dealer to store cars.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

B&M Stations Past

About 1960 I had a new camera and the first shots were railroad buildings near my home. Here's the Phillips Beach station in Swampscott, Massachusetts, on the Marblehead branch. This branch took commuters from the North Shore to Boston and from Swampscott to Salem and beyond. By the time I got there the railroad had been gone for four or five years.

About a mile away on the same branch was this slightly larger station in the Beach Bluff section of Swampscott. 

Here's a closer view of the station shows the classic "Eastern Station" design. Even the Maine two-footers used this same station design in Strong and Phillips, Maine.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Modeling ideas - Fish Shacks

Back in the mid-1970's I traveled throughout Nova Scotia looking for someone to build me a lobster boat. I never did buy a boat there. At the time the builders were changing from wood to fiberglass and the boats were cheesy but cheap. I, instead choose a Maine builder, General Marine, to build my boat. The boat is still in the water and works everyday hauling lobster pots.

I had a cheap Russian 35mm camera at the time and liked photographing the little fishing villages that lined the shoreline. 

Here are two of the buildings I saw.

Later in Maine, on my way to check out the progress of my new boat that was being built, I caught this scene. A great modeling inspiration!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Edaville #7

I made many trips to EDAVILLE as a young man. It was a 2-foot tourist railroad created by Ellis D. Atwood on his cranberry plantation in Carver, Mass. Here's B&SR #7 - my favorite 2-foot engine.

A short movie showing the 2-footer's in action and Edaville can be seen here.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Dick Patterson model builder

Dick Patterson was a great model builder. I had the chance to photograph three of his model railroads - HO, HOn30 and On2 - all in his cellar. 

Here's his HO waterfront layout. The backdrop is painted but the water in the foreground is real and he had rigged a system so the tide went up and down. He had to treat the water so it wouldn't get moldy and smelly - he used Listerine. The container that held the water was fiberglass and was built like a swimming pool.

This is Dick's HOn30 Dolly Varden mine layout. He used N-gauge track and the mechanism's in his locos were from N-gauge steam engines. The scenery is all made from Sacrete cement and the layout weighted a ton - really. The background pine trees are toothpicks dipped in white glue and then in scenic foam - they are only about 4" behind the tunnel entrance the forced perspective works nicely.

Lobster Cove - again

Lobster Cove - a small layout built for the folks who owned the Franklin Mint. It was going to be part of a mail order project where you could buy the layout using your American Express card. It never happened but the layout is nice.

Bob Hayden scratchbuilt the lighthouse from the plastic cores of adding machine paper rolls (he saved these from the days when people used adding machines.) The top of the lighthouse was made so we could make molds and cast more of these in resin, just in case we had to build more lighthouses. All the rocks are foam castings from Scenic Express.

Timberline's Photographer's House

About 40 years ago I built the Timberline Photographer's House for a review in RMC. As with most of these structures I only built what the camera saw - In other words the back was blank. The structure ended up, against the backdrop, on my HO Carrabasset & Dead River Ry. I lost the structure when my cellar flooded in 1984.

Last week Bob Hayden found one of the original kits in his storage closet and decided to built it. He made a few changes:
1 - The kit had a glass wall and glass roof on the addition. Bob closed these up with material from the scrap box and added the shingled roof.
2 - He added a field stone foundation from an old embossed stone sheet made by Holgate and Reynolds.     
3 - He added modified Grandt Line shutters, porch posts and railings.
4 - And last, he borrowed the lightning rods from John Mitchell's Skeeter's Fly Dope kit and added them to the roof of this structure.

All in all a nice little kit that brings back memories of the old C&DR Ry. The kit can still be found, now and then, on eBay

I can't keep a secret (except when it comes to lobstering or BBQ) and I want to tell everyone about all the new things the EXPO boys have in the works. One of them is this billboard (there will be more, one from each EXPO organizer and not with my name on them.) These will come as a package of kits you assemble.

The EXPO boys are coming up with all types of new stuff for the November show. I can't wait to see them all. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A brief hiatus...

I've been gone for 30 days. 
On April 29th. I had my hip replaced. The operation went well. Not much pain or discomfort just the hassle of learning to walk, one baby step at a time. I'm now using a cane and getting around quite nicely. I still can't drive, and may not be allow to for two or three more weeks. The nice thing about the operation is that it has eliminated the hip pain that I had for a year before the surgery. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

More odds and ends...

This is the HOn30 sugar mill I scratch built for my little plantation railroad. It's made from cardboard covered with Northeastern faux corrugated metal siding. The siding is a hard paper that's been run through a die to make it corrugated. I like it a lot better than dealing with real corrugated aluminum. I used two sizes of windows to force the perspective a little - the larger ones on the lower level and the smaller windows in the clerestory. The model still needs a finish paint job to blend the look of the rust with the color of the metal.

This is Foster's Toothpick Mill in Strong, Maine. I post this photo postcard to show just what a nice kit it would make. It's got everything an old-time industry should have plus it's real. There are way too many Disney-style structures on the market today.

Years ago, on my bucket list, was a visit to Kauai Plantation in Hawaii. I stayed on the island for two of the best vacation weeks ever. 
During my visit they were in the process laying track and restoring the rolling stock. I never did ride on the little train but got a lot of nice photos.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Thatcher's Inlet

Here's a picture from the center spread of Railroad Model Craftsman in 1972. It's Thatcher's Inlet. A small waterfront layout modeled in HOn30 (HO scale using N gauge track.) This was a fun little layout to build and, according to the feedback I've received, it influenced many modelers to try HOn30 and to take a closer look at the Maine 2-footers.

With this layout Bob Hayden and I were looking to create a scene reminiscent of several waterfront villages we'd visited in Maine.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Songo Locks

I've always wanted to model a set of locks on my model railroad. Here's a postcard view on the Songo locks in Maine. The locks allowed boaters to traverse from one lake to another even though one was at a higher elevation than the other.

In the early days the locks were operated by water power alone. Nowadays they use electric motors to assist the water turbines. 

This would be an interesting model.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Frary's Fine Furniture

This is a kit from Full Steam Ahead. It's an O-scale craftsman-style kit called Frary's Fine Furniture. I had to build this since it was named after me!

Frary's Furniture is based upon a model that Troels Kirk built on his On30 layout in Sweden. I was honored when I saw the building on his layout. Troel's layout was described in many postings on the Railroad Line.

I guess Full Steam Ahead liked the model also. Seeing it advertised I ordered one. I paid the retail price plus shipping from Canada. I say this because folks think I get everything for nothing. It's not the case - I payed for this one.

I took all the parts to the spray booth and painted the walls a Prairie Grass color (light green) and painted the windows and doors, and the trim a light tan Rustoleum Camouflage color. When dry I added a raw sienna in mineral spirits wash to all the walls to tone them down a bit. Then I added wood grain with a metal-bristled brush. When complete I plan to weather the walls with PanPastels.

Construction started by following the three pages of bracing diagrams. Stripwood is glued to the rear of the building walls to keep them from warping. My first mistake was following these instructions - a lot of the bracing especially at the corners is in the way of fitting the walls together. 

But, I followed the instructions, braced the walls and added the doors and windows. The tops of the side walls have laser-cut paper shingles that are applied using lines on the walls as a guide. I lightly colored all the laser-cut paper shingles while they were flat using a gray and brown camo spray paint.

The rear wall has a loading door and two doors are provided to fit into the opening. I built and added the largest door to the opening and it filled half the opening. The second door was much smaller and if I put it in the opening there would be a 1/8" gap where the doors come together. I left out the smaller door. So now I have a loading door opening that has a door in half of it. Do the manufacturer's even build these kits? I'll ad-lib another door to fill the gap.

Now it was time to add the corner trim and assemble the box. I added the trim where indicated in the photo instruction sheet. But putting the box together was impossible. The bracing from step one was in the way in SIX places! 

So I spent an hour carefully removing the bracing. I use the pink glue from Northeastern Scale Lumber for wood to wood joints. If you've tried to remove wood glued with it then you know it's impossible. So I resorted to using the MicroMark table saw as a dado to carefully mill away the bracing without damaging the front side of the walls. This was a major PITA and took a joyless hour!

Then I sanded the backs of the walls where the bracing was to get them thin enough to make a neat corner. Now I could assemble the four walls. 

A strange thing I found, there's a door inside the front wall on the lower level. When the store front is added this door will be invisible - it's a mystery as to why it's there and why a Grandt Line casting was provided for it. I removed the casting because I plan to decorate inside the front store with some wallpaper and the laser-cut furniture provided with the kit.

I glued paper cut-outs from an art catalog to the back walls - on both floors to create a background to be viewed through the windows.

Pre-cut cardboard is provided for the roof pieces and unlike the shingled side walls there are no lines on the roof surface to make sure the shingles stay straight. The question is why put lines on the sides and not the top? Anyway, I drew lines with a straight edge and a pencil on the roof pieces to help align the laser-cut paper shingles. After the lines were drawn I covered the roof pieces with Scotch double sided tape to hold the shingles in place.

There are no chimneys provided so I made one from a plastic Grandt Line casting and a second from a resin casting. 

This building is too small to be practical and needs an addition - maybe a barn-like furniture factory connected to the rear.

The coloring and weathering of the finished kit is another story. I'll post it here as I complete the steps.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I ordered this two DVD set from Darryl Huffman. It was $33.00 including shipping.

The DVD's were produced by Roger Malinowski of Stoney Creek Designs and they show how Roger uses PanPastel to completely color a wood structure kit. The DVD's are professionally produced and the how-to-do-it video is crystal clear. The total viewing time is nearly three hours.

When the DVD's showed-up I put the first DVD in the player and followed along for two hours of non-stop kit building and then coloring using the PanPastels. 

On the kit building level alone this is the best instructional video I've seen lately. It shows how Roger, a professional model builder, assemblies the 1/4" scale Stoney Creek Boarding House kit.

Then he colors the scale wood using PanPastels. This is a dry powder which is more like pancake make-up than powdered chalk. It stays where you put it and a little goes a long way. After application it can be sealed on the wood surface using a flat acrylic varnish. The varnish will not dull the color.

This is what he says about PanPastels:
• Mixable - mix & layer like paint to create an infinite number of colors
• Low Dust - quick, clean “no mess” alternative to powders and sticks
• Quick & Easy - no drying or prep. time - colors are instantly ready for use
• Erasable - simply erase or clean off color (prior to clear coat)
• Ultra fine - highly pigmented color formulations - like using pure pigment
• Realistic effects - more natural appearance does not look “painted on”
• Compatible - with spray fixatives and other flat finishes
• Easy Application - apply with standard brushes or "Sofft Tools"

He uses PanPastels to color the wood parts of the kit instead of paint. Roger does use alcohol/shoe dye washes to age some of the wood before the PanPastel treatment. Just this tutorial on aging the wood pieces is a technique every model builder should have in their bag of tricks. 

If building kits is the main thrust of your model railroad hobby then you should have this set of DVD's in your library. You'll refer to them time and time again. And, the DVD's are set-up in the chapter format so you can go directly to that chapter and topic without skimming through the whole show.

The two DVD set is a bargain at $30.00. You can either buy it from Roger or from Darryl Huffman. You can tell I enjoyed this presentation and learned a lot. Buy it, you'll like it!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

More weekend odds and ends...

While casting about looking for suitable train scenes for the cover of my Scenery Book I shot this scene on Bob Hayden's Carrabasset & Dead River Ry. The layout is HOn30   (HO scale on N gauge track) resided for many years in Bob's basement in Milwaukee, WI. The diesel engine is from Bemo and would pull the string of cars you see in this photo.

Alas, the layout is long gone but Bob tells me he's planning another at his new home in Santa Fe, NM.

Here's a product shot of the Fine Scale Miniatures  Crocker Bros. Feed and Grain. An HO kit produced by George Sellios many years ago. This was a nice kit to build. Very straight forward construction, good instructions producing beautiful results.

This is a section of the large CitiBank display Clark Dunham Studios built many years ago. There were many loops of track producing lots of train action. It was displayed during the Holiday season in New York.

The base of the city in the background is blocks of Styrofoam that all fit together like a puzzle. Each model builder would pull out a block, take it to the workbench and add the structures. It was an interesting idea that allowed many model builders to work on the same scene.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wicked Good Burgers

For many years I was a member of a World Championship BBQ Team called iQUE. We won the Jack Daniels Invitational in 2009. The "Jack" is the World Series of competitive BBQ.

Two of the team members produced the book Wicked Good Barbecue last year and this year their latest offering is better than ever. It's called Wicked Good Burgers and it's a book for everyone who likes to grill.

Wicked Good Burgers is the latest offering from Andy Husbands and Chris Hart. These guys have been cooking together since high school and together founded Tremont 647 - a 20-year old and very successful restaurant in Boston's south end. 

Together they've produced a book full of interesting recipes for burgers and all the accompaniments, even milk shakes.  Wicked Good Burgers is full of interesting ideas for the next time you have a family cookout or get together, or just need a burger fix. 

Wicked Good Burgers contains chapters on:
The basics of burgers
Burgers 101
New American classics
Where's the beef?
Burgers beyond borders
You want fries with that?
That's a frappe

Buy the book, you'll love it. Amazon has it now for $13.64.

BTW, Many of the photos in Wicked Good Burgers were shot last summer during the Harpoon New England BBQ Championship in Windsor, VT. Half the team brought the food, props and lighting equipment to shoot the book photos while the other half of the team (including me) was competing in a BBQ contest - it was crazy busy. As an added perk I got to sample many of the "props" after the photos were taken. These were GREAT burgers!

A photo idea for the book was to show folks enjoying burgers. The team put out a table of condiments (cheese, homemade relishes, pickled ramps, pickled red onions, mushroom duxelle, meat chile, etc) and then brought out baskets full of burgers for the public to try. 

There were thousands of people attending the Harpoon event and the idea was amazingly successful. Everyone loves a free meal and folks helped themselves to burgers and the fixings. Ken Goodman, the photographer, got great photos of folks enjoying the burgers. 

BTW Ken worked as a chef in and around Boston for 15 years before he reinvented himself as a top-notch food and music photographer. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Weekend Odds and Ends

A 1992 photo of George Sellios' Franklin and South Manchester RR. The photo was one of many that I shot for Model Railroader magazine.

In 1999 Dave Maynard and I built an HO display layout for the Dolls and Trains Museum in Mendon, VT. The layout was 40' long and 9' wide with seven loops of track. Each loop represented a railroad that ran in Vermont. 

Here's the ocean view of the HOn30 Thatcher's Inlet display that Bob Hayden and I built in the late 1970's. This little display was popular with many modelers at the time and got them started in model railroading, especially in HOn30. All of the structures were used again on other projects after the TI was abandoned.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Extra Narrow Gauge Junction

Benchmark Publishing (SL&NG Gazette) has a new book titled EXTRA NARROW GAUGE JUNCTION by Dick Andrews. It's a collection of 60 columns that Dick wrote for the Gazette over a 20 year period.

I read every one of Dick's early column's in RMC and later in the Gazette. I looked forward to them every month. They had the information I needed. At the time Bob Hayden and I were modeling the Maine two-foot railroads in HOn30 and Dick was writing about his experiences with the prototype. 

For me, rereading Dick's articles is a joy. I'd forgotten just how interesting they were, and how lucky I was to be able to learn firsthand from Dick about the two-footers. He's a good story teller who had firsthand experience - he was there! 

If you like the two-footers, you'll love this book. Hardcover, 8-1/2" x 11", 232 pages, color covers. Price: $59.95 - S&H:  U.S. $8.00, Canada & Mexico $37.00, Overseas $51.00. Available from Bob Hayden Consulting.

The official description by Bob Brown, editor of the Gazette: "Charming stories about narrow gauge, with an emphasis on Maine 2-foot railroads by a writer who actually rode on some of them. The book is a great tribute to Dick Andrews and to the inspiration and counsel that he provided to us younger guys for close to 50 years -- and a great read."

Monday, March 25, 2013

A shot for a Test Track product review in RMC many years ago. I don't remember who offered the structure kit but I managed to dress it up enough so the building almost disappeared. The lobster is from a swizzle stick I found in the mixed drink I ordered from Anthony's Pier 4 on the Boston waterfront. After I saw the lobster I just had to order several more drinks to get more lobsters.

The tree is a large piece on sage brush I got from Sweetwater Scenery. They may still be in business although the owner passed away many years ago. 

The other details were from my box of props that I used for every table top product review shot. I think the outboard motor came from a Revell tugboat kit. The piles of plywood were cut from furniture veneer and the boat, in the background was built from a plastic kit. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Making ink jet "decals."

My Friend Hal Reynolds of Atlantic Scale Modelers sent me a link showing how to use your ink jet printer to make a "decal" from an image and then transfer the image to wood. This process has a ton of applications for modelers especially those want to add signage directly to the side of a building.

I tried the process with this sign I copied from the Internet (above.) I clipped the black edge from the sign in Photoshop and then printed it on the prepared paper as shown in the video.

Here's the first sign applied to a wood base which has a crinkled or cracking surface.

You can see how the ink jet ink has bled into the wet matte medium gel but the sign is useable and looks weathered.

I tried making smaller signs and I applied them to different wood bases. Here's two different sized signs applied to ship's deck planking.

I think they may look better on a white or light gray background.

I'm going to experiment with different sign on different wood backgrounds. I may even try a few on plastic or plaster.

Follow the steps in the link and you'll be making good looking signs in no time.