Saturday, January 4, 2014

E. L. Moore’s Legacy in the 21st Century: The Railroad Modeler years

The first three installments in this series (they can be accessed here, here and here) have been mega-posts - more like big articles than conveniently sized blog posts. Big posts means there is a long time between installments. Also, I always seem to have a problem entering mega-posts into Blogger, so future installments - starting with this one - will be broken into smaller pieces. Hopefully this will make the series more readable and allow me to post more frequently. 

I came across Railroad Modeler magazine quite by accident. Back in the day, a month seemed like a geologic age, and with my brain ravaged by train-fever, waiting four weeks between issues of Model Railroader and Railroad Model Craftsman seemed excruciating, so as the end of a four-week cycle approached I’d drop by the local smoke shop every day after school in hopes of picking up the latest issues as soon as they’d arrive. On one of those scouting missions in January ’74 I saw something new had landed; something called Railroad Modeler. And this alien magazine-form had a picture on the cover that leapt out to me: a snapshot from an HOn3 layout called The Cielo Lumber Co., by somebody named John Olson. But there was a big problem, this magazine cost $1.25, and Model Railroader went for a mere 65 cents. A new gap had arisen between desire and financial ability. I stewed over this dilemma that evening when I should have been concentrating on homework. I can’t quite remember how it was resolved other than cutting off some other expenditure to make way for this new one, but I do recall Railroad Modeler stopped showing up on the smoke shop’s rack in July just as mysteriously as it had appeared back in January, so any qualms I had about cost got resolved all by themselves.

Most are made from artist’s illustration board about 1/16” thick. I use standard techniques, most from early articles and early progression model building before plastics and other media were available. I use those because they go together fast. I do them on a drafting table with a sliding parallel and you can build a structure in four to five hours, whereas it takes that long now to put together a plastic kit by the time you’re done painting it and adding a few details.
[The first part of John Olson’s answer to a question about how the buildings on his portable HOn3 Cielo Lumber layout were made; Railroad Modeler, January 1974. Note to myself, I’m trying to figure out what “early progression model building” is.]

From January to June in ’74, only one E. L. Moore article appeared in Railroad Modeler, The Clarabel Hotel in the February ’74 issue. I had a go at building it back then, but the elaborate railings gave me trouble since I couldn’t buy what was needed and I tried to scratchbuild - unsuccessfully  - a suitable substitute. In researching this series of posts I found out that Mr. Moore had published 5 building construction articles in Railroad Modeler [1], so I bought the other 4 from an online dealer.
[The opening beauty shot of E. L. Moore's Cousin Caleb's Cabbage Plant from the December 1971 issue of Railroad Modeler.]

This nostalgic trip through Railroad Modeler combined with re-reading the conversation with John Olson about his Cielo Lumber Co. layout in the Jan ’74 issue, and how it was inspired by John Allen’s work, along with scanning through E. L. Moore’s 5 RM builds all got me thinking about the differences between Mr. Moore’s and Mr. Allen’s projects and style. I’m going to dig into it in future posts, and start on a ‘modernized’ version of Mr. Moore’s Cousin Caleb’s Cabbage Plant, from the Dec ’71 issue of RM, because it struck me as a fun build, and sort of suggested how a Moore build might be ‘Allen-ized’ a bit :-) to give it a place in the 21th century.


[1] As far as I can tell, E. L. Moore published just 5 articles in Railroad Modeler (if you’re aware of others, please let me know):
Cousin Caleb’s Cabbage Plant, December 1971,
Uncle Peabody’s Machine Shop, June 1972,
Home for Small Locos, March 1973,
The Clarabel Hotel, February 1974,
Uncle Sim’s Snuffery, December 1975.

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