Monday, April 27, 2015

Sharbot Lake Station, 1950s

The sign on the station says 'Sharbot Lake'. This picture was scanned from a Kodachrome 35mm slide and was likely shot in '57 or '58 by my father. I didn't fiddle with the image since I'm rather partial to Kodachrome colour.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Interurban line by a lake

I was going through some old envelopes from my father's place and stumbled across these two photos pasted in a small album. I have no idea when or where they were shot. Maybe they were taken around Rochester, New York as my relatives lived there in the early 20th century. Maybe they're somehow related to these photos of an interurban crash or derailment I came across a few years ago. In the top photo you can see the car way down there in the distance. In the bottom photo you can see how close the track is to the lakeshore.

Streetcars at the Ottawa Train Expo

[The card attached to this beautiful little diorama noted: "Streetcars 695 and 854 on an Ottawa street in 1954 (Scale of models - 1:48)". Said street looks a lot like Bank Street.]

I went out to the Ottawa Train Expo on the weekend with John and Garret. It's a general interest, family-oriented model train show held annually in the spring in Ottawa. This year it was set up in a hockey arena out in Rockland. There were many good layouts on display, no streetcars though other than the one shown in the lead photo which was part of the OC Transpo Streetcar 696 restoration booth. It was set up in the overflow area way up at the top of the stands. The two 1:48 scale streetcars were well done and showed a high degree of craftsmanship.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Layout panels


Those two future N-scale layout panels have been hanging on the wall waiting for a lull in the action on other fronts. The one on the left is the foundation for a replica of E. L. Moore’s Elizabeth Valley Railroad. Other than adding a cork base layer with the lake and stream cut out, it’s on hold for a little while. The gentleman who has the E. L. Moore manuscripts and letters I’ve been posting excerpts from recently has some photos of the original layout, and I hope to see them when we visit to get a better sense of what this layout was about. The panel on the right is for a streetcar and city block test track tortuously called Tor-N-to. Both panels rest on some pegs I screwed into the wall. It’s easy to take the panels down for work or play, although I wouldn’t recommend this method of hanging in an earthquake prone region.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Outtakes from The Bookery

Some extra pictures I took while preparing the The Buddha, The Bookery and the Man Cave
I used The Red Apron model as a prop beside The Bookery and I was surprised that they went well together as neighbours. I'll have to remember that if I do some repositioning of buildings on the layout.
Speaking of locations, Gecko Records is temporarily located on a shelf with The Grizzly Flats Depot as its neighbour. I was really struck by how small the depot is in comparison to its looming HO scale companion.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The E. L. Moore Files: The Buddha, The Bookery and The Man Cave

[My attempt at building E. L. Moore’s Uncle Charley’s Bookery from the December 1965 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman]

While down by the railroad yard one day who should I come upon but Uncle Charley, standing in a weedy, vacant lot. “I own this lot,” he says, “and I want to build a little shack here so I can sit and mediate in peace. You’re a builder. Build me something.” Just like that. Uncle Charley has always lived with his brother George; but George’s wife, Ma, is sometimes short tempered about having two retired railroad men underfoot. I could understand his wanting a place of his own....
[And so E. L. Moore opens the story of Uncle Charley’s Bookery and its construction.]

I usually start these sort of posts by saying how back in the ‘70s I tried my hand at building such-and-such a project by E. L. Moore, and moaning about how it was too much for me then, but how decades later I tried again, and lo and behold, I could build it and had a good time doing so. Well, this time, the last part is true, but the part in the ‘70s isn’t. I didn’t even learn about this Bookery thing until a couple of years ago, but when I tried it, it turned out to be one of my favourite projects. Still is.


Here’s the letter of introduction E. L. Moore sent along with the Bookery manuscript to Railroad Model Craftsman. The transcript follows.
October 2, 1965

The Honorable Carstens,
R. M. C. Ramsey, N.J.

Ye Editor . . . 

I dunno if Uncle Charley’s Bookery will interest you or not. The idea germinated years ago ... thinking of an ideal place where one could get away from whatever he wanted to get away from, thumbing one’s nose at customers and all such. Then I found, not being encumbered with a naggy wife, indeed, no wife at all which is still better, that I didn’t have to get away from anything. My two cats are not naggy except at meal time. So I turned over my idea of a hideaway to Uncle Charley and he liked it so I built it for him.

I found some dope on a sorghum mill, a slightly ancient brick one, powered by a steam threshing machine engine. I’ll get around to it one of these days.

I suppose the little heir is becoming quite a hellion these days -- makes life interesting on the home front. Yeah, I went through it once -- mine’s seventeen now. Then too, I go through it twice, three times a year with flocks of kittens.

Just me ...

E. L. Moore,
525 Oakland Ave., Apt 3
Charlotte 4, N. C.

The Bookery manuscript accompanying this letter appears to have been reproduced without changes in the published article. Given that the article was submitted in October ’65 and published in the December ’65 issue, maybe it was used to fill a hole in a production schedule and there was no time for the niceties of reflection and editing. 

Story-wise, it’s right up there with his classics. I read it again and one of the asides deals with how he based the structure on Benjamin Franklin’s Printing Shop in Philadelphia. Mr. Moore spins a bit of tall-tale and notes that he got the plan for the building when he bumped into Mr. Franklin himself at the post office, and during some grumbling about the price of stamps, got Franklin to draw it on postcard.
[from Explore PA History and the image is credited as being donated by Corbis-Bettmann]

I seemed to be plum out of postcards, so I tried asking Mr. Google instead, and in the process stumbled across this interesting image that is noted to be the facade of Franklin’s print shop. That section with the bay window and front door bears a striking resemblance to E. L. Moore’s model.

.... but I was thinking in terms of a tarpaper shack, so when he showed me a history book picture of a brick-fronted shop ... “But the cost?” I protested. “Hang the cost,” says Uncle Charley expansively.
[The full scope of Uncle Charley’s project is sinking into our narrator-builder.]

I also found the idea odd. A substantial brick building for what would today be called a Man Cave, maybe along the lines of the ones shown in this book about Australian men and their sheds I bought from a used bookstore years ago.
[Blokes and Sheds by Mark Thomson. Published by Angus and Robertson in 1995.]

They aren’t tarpaper. They’re built mostly from metal and wood. Not a brick one in there. No bookeries either. Mainly various types of workshops, with a rumpus room and a boxing ring thrown in for good measure. E. L. Moore, being located in the southern USA, might find that these sheds from Australia would likely fit the climate, although all that metal construction might get pretty hot in the summer.

And that sorghum mill he mentioned in the letter? My guess is that it’s the Moe Lass’ Old Sorghum Mill project that appeared in the April 1966 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. I built that one too - but, again, not in the ‘70s :-) - although I converted it to a Barbecue restaurant. Mr. Moore must have liked that building’s shape because he basically used it again, but with larger windows, as the basis of Uncle Peabody’s Machine Shop that was published in the June ’72 issue of Railroad Modeler.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Outtakes from a Night at Gecko's

Some odds-and-ends left over from yesterday's A Night at the Gecko.
A picture taken inside the Elgin next door. 
A shot with the roof popped off the Elgin so I could adjust the lights and right fallen details. The Elgin, even though it's not all that detailed or high quality, is one of my favourite projects. I think that's partly because of it's humble beginnings as a bunch of parts in a bag I bought at a train show for $4. This is the Elgin's Blue Table room, because....
... the centre tables were made from blue heat-sinks. They come in blue and weren't painted. All the stubs that act to dissipate heat were cut off except for four so they'd look more table-like.
There's a saying that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Those are my modelling plans in a list I made back around New Year's. That 'Mexican Restaurant' in the upper right turned out to be Gecko Records. I guess I need to check it off :-) but I think I can hear the laughing given how many projects are still on the list.
Debra mentioned that in the Gecko post I misspelt the name of those things in the pan. I called them bisquets, but they are correctly called biscuits. However, they're spelt, straight from the own they can't be beat.
I forgot to post this picture of the pieces that make up the delivery door on the back wall of Gecko's. It's simply a laminate of embossed styrene brick on a piece of 0.020 in styrene for strength. The door is cut from 0.010 in styrene and scribed.
The door assembly needs a little weathering, but at least the loading area appears well lit :-)
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