Tuesday, December 30, 2014

E. L. Moore and The Great Selective Compression Controversy of ’74

[My rendition of E. L. Moore's RMC Paper Company located on a prominent corner of the Marmora, Havelock and Points Northern Railway taken in July '75] 
Back in April ’74, Railroad Model Craftsman published E. L. Moore’s RMC Paper Company project. I was model building crazy then, so I jumped in and had a go. That’s the result up there; not so good, but it was fun. 

Being young and impatient, I skipped over the article's prologue, tall tales and other ‘extraneous’ stuff and dove straight into the instructions. Some forty years later I learned that the extra stuff, and the build itself, raised a little controversy. 

In the August ’74 issue, a reader wrote in to say that even though Mr. Moore was the master of selective compression, his paper mill was too compressed to be believable. Paper mills are massive structures and his main building only had a 35’ x 50’ footprint.
The editor did respond that they put E. L. Moore up to converting what was originally a city incinerator to a paper mill to help them make a statement about the then current paper shortage. And the project article shows it was done with Moorian humour - it was the April issue after all :-)

Interestingly, in the part of the article the young me skipped over, Mr. Moore recognized that the facility was too small,

So, when finished, I had a main structure 35‘x50’, with a rear addition of a little over half that area, a total of maybe 50‘x60’. Even at that the main floor area is only about the size of the single room wherein three of us once did a stint of crate making (flat paper was shipped in wood crates) in a large northern paper mill shortly after World War I. My apprenticeship began with hammer and nails and ended similarly...whatever other knowledge I have arrived at concerning paper mills, aside from the smell, has had to come from encyclopedias. Which now brings us face to face with the problem of paper making machines. These babies are not small, some stretching for as long as 300 feet.
[This passage also includes another clue in the E. L. Moore biography that I need to re-read and and pay closer attention.]

And he goes on to discuss other size related problems.

The kerfuffle didn’t end in August, but popped up again in the letters pages in the January ’75 issue. This time E. L. Moore’s friends jumped in with words of support.
From what I can find out, Bart Crosby (1911-1995), for a time the assistant editor of Model Trains as well as a writer and photographer of several model railroading articles, was a longtime friend of E. L. Moore and inherited some of his model buildings. Mr. Moore had a loyal following. 
In retrospect the paper mill model wasn’t actually a model. It wasn’t quite a caricature of a paper mill. It was more of a stage and a statement. A very elaborate setup to get that closing shot of the Model Railroader transport truck - apparently being driven by college boys looking for the local brewery, - pulling up to the loading dock in the dead of night.

No comments:

Post a Comment