Saturday, January 15, 2011

The 70's Files: The PB Paper Company

This model was the only E.L. Moore building project that I actually completed back in the 1970s. It’s a build of Mr. Moore’s RMC Paper Company that was published in Railroad Model Craftsman in April 1974. My build isn’t very well done, but it does have one retro-construction method that I still find interesting even though these days your computer and printer could certainly do it better.

Mr. Moore’s project calls for commercial brick embossed paper for the exterior surface. I’d didn’t have much cash in those days, so I used a technique I had read about in the British magazine Model Railway Constructor instead of buying brick paper. In the November 1973 issue, Mr. Dave Booth wrote - in an article called Rowsley modelled in card - about a very simple method he had developed to replicate stonework on buildings. Here are the steps:
  1. Use a grey cardboard as the surface for the stone. Mr. Booth recommended using the cardboard that new shirts came wrapped around - I don’t think that’s done much anymore, so any mid-weight grey coloured cardboard should do.
  2. A ruler and a 2H pencil with a chisel point are used to scribe the horizontal, vertical, and any curved lines that define the stone work. I think I used a spent ballpoint pen for scribing as I did for making ‘metal’ panels as in other E. L. Moore building projects. When you’re done you’ll have a surface where the surface of the stones are raised and the lines between them are depressed into the cardboard.
  3. Now you need 3 crayons (any type of wax children’s crayons will do): yellow, dark brown, and black. In that order scribble them over the embossed cardboard surface. When you’re done use your finger to blend the colours a bit.
  4. If you don’t like the resulting colour, you can always use the edge of the modeling knife to scrape off the crayon and try again; however, Mr. Booth reported that his 8-year old son had no problem getting good results, you might get good results on your first try!
The black-and-white photos accompanying Mr. Booth’s article show two pictures of a building clad with material using his technique and they look good. My young and rather unskilled hands didn’t pull it off too well, but the hues and colours that resulted have some promise. With some finer and more closely spaced scribing work, this old technique might still have some life in it for use in background buildings, and maybe even foreground ones if very carefully executed.

I imagine that I could make my own brick or stone paper with a digital camera, some photo manipulation software, and a printer – and no doubt I suspect someone has in the vastness of the internet. This would provide an infinite source of very good exterior surfaces, and might also point to a way to revitalize many of the projects in Mr. Moore’s legacy.


  1. I've been a big E. L. Moore fan since the 70s. If you look at my Facebook photo album of my models (public), you'll see all kinds of recognizable structures from Moore's plans, as well as an N scale version of his EVRR! I wrote an article in MR about making my own brick paper cheaply and realistically. It fits very well with E. L.'s work.

  2. Sounds interesting. Thanks for link. I'll take a look. It's good hear that there are other E. L. Moore fans out there!