Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The E. L. Moore Files: Jones Chemical Co.

[My rendition of E. L. More's Jones Chemical Co.]

E. L. Moore’s Jones Chemical Co. project appeared in the March ’74 issue of Model Railroader. It was the next E. L. Moore article they published after his Bunn’s Feed and Seed in the Aug ’73 issue, and it was the next project of his that I tried to build back in the ‘70s.  I tried it again when I got back into the hobby a few years ago.

My eyes popped out when I saw the cover letter that Mr. Moore wrote to Model Railroader to introduce this article. It’s basically just a bawdy, Benny Hill-esque story. Yeap, you read that right. I won’t transcribe it here as I don’t want to test the Google net-nannies, but you can read it for yourself in the scan of the letter if you’re game. Actually, a lot of stuff anyone can see on prime-time tv these days is saucier than what he wrote.
[E. L. Moore's cover letter to his Jones Chemical Co. article]

Model Railroader’s rather terse response says it all, but they did buy the article and paid him $120; $20 more than for his last one, Bunn’s Feed and Seed. I rather like the letterhead that Model Railroader used at that time. It’s classy in an understated way.
[Model Railroader's acceptance letter]

The manuscript and the published article are more or less the same. Unlike Bunn’s Feed and Seed where the entire fictional story around the project got edited out, only a small portion of the  Jones story about the precariously balanced, little roof-top shack got sliced. For completeness, here’s the story snippet:

"Hey ! Whats about that little house up there on the roof?" asked Eddie.

"A good question. I've never been quite sure, myself," I said. "Could be a watchman's shanty, or maybe a chemical engineer has to be in attendance, I just don't know."

"Or maybe the plant doesn't have indoor toilet facilities," suggested Eddie.

"If it's that, it has to be chemically operated I'll wager," I said.

The story-let suggests to me that the little shack was a way to slip one of his classic outhouse builds into a mainstream project. That might have been a no-no to the editors of a family-oriented magazine. With the article’s story mentioning that bawdy records were part of the payment for the build, the nature of the cover letter story, and the hinted at roof-top outhouse, maybe the entire Jones build was a disguised off-colour joke. Stranger things have happened. I’m curious to see what’s in the manuscripts to come.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Streetcars along St. Clair Ave. W.

We were in Toronto over the weekend. For a few minutes on Saturday afternoon I had the opportunity to be a streetcar nerd and take a few pictures of some members of the TTC fleet running along St. Clair Ave. W., around the 700 block.
It was unusually cold at -5C, with a 30 kph wind blowing, and that's why everybody at the Christie stop is bundled up in their winter coats. The shelters, overhead wire, dedicated lanes for the streetcars, along with the other infrastructure is fairly modern on this section of the TTC system.
This view from the middle of a crosswalk gives a good view of the overhead. While the streetcar was on its way I took some pictures of a couple of nearby buildings.
This is the apartment at 680 St. Clair Ave. W. Not everything has been razed in this part of town to make way for condos. 
However, many buildings have been gentrified. To me that's better than letting them fall to rack-and-ruin. I like the windows on this Starbucks and I'm glad to see the building being used.
Here's the streetcar at the light. I moved out of the way to the island. 
Last photo of the afternoon on our way to a non-streetcar part of the city.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

How to layout the Grizzly Flats dormer

Soon after posting the Grizzly Flats build a few months ago, a reader asked if I could post about the math for laying out the dormer roof. In his article, E. L. Moore gave a template for the dormer in HO-scale. Unfortunately, I made my N-scale bay window a little bigger than the plan, so I couldn't just shrink Mr. Moore's template down to N-scale and expect it to fit. I had to dust off a little of my high school geometry and draw a new one. It 's a bit boring, so I didn't post it then, but it can be useful for future scratchbuilt projects.
[Geometry of the basic roof shape.]

The thing to focus on is the basic shape of the roof and worry about the fancy cut-out later. Also, I haven't been in school for a long time, so my approach to the problem and its notation is probably old fashioned, so please bear with me. The key is to recognize where the right-angled triangles are, and then apply the Pythagorean theorem (that is, the square of the length of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides).

I should note that L (the width of the roof at the eaves) and h (the height to the peak from the eaves) can be measured from your building plans. W (the width of the dormer at the eaves) is something you prescribe. As I noted, because I didn't use the value of W that E. L. Moore noted in his plan, I had to recalculate x, y, and z.

That shaded triangle in the drawing is the one whose sides need to be calculated. It's a right-angled triangle, and so are the two triangles that make up the front face of the dormer. 

Once you've calculated the side lengths, x, y, and z, draw them on the material you're using to build the dormer and remember that x and y are perpendicular to each other. That'll give you a basic shape for the dormer roof panels. To accommodate the sloped, triangular cut-out in the dormer roof like the Grizzly Flats station has, just measure back along x and y from the 90-degree angle while you've got the panels on your drawing board. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Flexity on a Flat car

A TTC Flexity streetcar is shown being transported to the National Research Council's Centre for Surface Transportation in July '13 for cold weather testing. The greenery appears to have been very lush that day. Along with the contrast between the ratty old diesel and the shiny new streetcar, this would make an interesting scene to model.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

E. L. Moore’s Legacy in the 21st Century: HOJ-half-POJ

[Photo of the prototype derived portion of E. L. Moore's HOJPOJ MRG. CO. project. Photo used courtesy of the owner.]

E. L. Moore built a manufacturing complex called the HOJPOJ. MFG. CO. - which I believe is meant to be pronounced, ‘Hodgepodge Manufacturing Company’ - that appeared in the April 1968 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. Recently, half of that model has been found, and what’s left is shown in the lead photo. 

Mr. Moore drops a couple of clues in his article about the prototype and its whereabouts: there’s a photo of part of it in the article, but the only discernible signage is the partial ‘BARNHA’ and ‘MFG.’ printed high up on the water tower, and there's his opening comment that “...this factory is only a few minutes walk from where I live...” My friend Google tells me it’s actually a 14 minute walk.
[Walking route from E. L. Moore's residence to Barnhardt Manufacturing via Google Maps.]

Putting the pieces together, the prototype was most likely the Barnhardt Manufacturing Company that is located on 1100 Hawthorne Lane in Charlotte, N.C., around 3/4 of a mile from E. L. Moore’s residence at 525 Oakland Ave. The company website states it was opened for business in 1900 - just as E. L. Moore notes in his article - and grew and expanded and diversified over its long life. 
[What's at the site of the HOJPOJ facility today according to Google Streetviews.]

Now, E. L. Moore’s model isn’t an exact replica as he notes in the text. First, he designed the model’s footprint to fit into a 9 inch by 9 inch area, so there was a lot of selective compression applied, and second, he notes that of the two major parts that make up the model, the two-story main brick building, which is the other half that’s missing in the model photos, is something he made up to “rise above the jumble of units and achieve some sense of balance.” 
[That unfinished wall is where the two-story brick building attaches. Photo courtesy of the owner.]

So, the half shown in these model photos is his interpretation of pieces of the actual Barnhardt Manufacturing facility as it appeared sometime in the mid-1960s, and the half not shown - which the model’s owner informs me he has - is something Mr.  Moore added to make the whole look right. The model is a good example of using a prototype for inspiration, squeezing away the irrelevant stuff with selective compression, and applying some artistic license to pull together a visually interesting and balanced model.

25 April 2016 update: I was given the HOJPOJ and you can read about how it was restored in this series of posts.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The E. L. Moore Files: Grandpa Bunn's Feed and Seed

[My rendition of E. L. Moore's Bunn's Feed and Seed, currently residing on the Lost Ocean Line, that I built back in 2009]

I’ve noted it many times and I’ll note it again for good measure :-) Bunn’s Feed and Seed was the first E. L. Moore project I tried to build back in the ‘70s, and it was in the first issue of Model Railroader magazine that I bought. It was my introduction to the hobby, so this build is loaded with good memories. When I got back into model railroading many years later it was one of the first scratchbuilding projects I tried. Naturally, I was extra curious to see what was in the original manuscript.
[E. L. Moore's cover letter for the Bunn's Feed and Seed article that appeared in the August '73 issue of Model Railroader.]

And I wasn’t disappointed. There were several surprising discoveries. To get started, here’s a transcript of the letter that accompanied the manuscript submitted to Model Railroader,

January 1, 1973
Russel G. Larsen,
Associate Editor,
Model Railroader,
1027 N. 7th St.,
Milwaukee, Wisc.

Hi ya .....

Sending along GRANDPA BUNN'S FEED AND SEED PLANT along with 3 sheets drawings and 3 photographs. Runs 2200 words ... and I know you folks appreciate having articles 2500 words or less. But remember those good long articles by George Allen ... they were long and strung out but intensely interesting. However there aren't too many George Allens around and incidentally I wonder what became of him.

And can't finish up without twitting you people about those nice cold days you're having...while we get along like today, up in the seventies. But I did my stint in Michigan in my early days so I'm gonna enjoy this southern clime to the fullest in my later ones.

I thank you .....
E. L. Moore
525 Oakland Ave., Apt 3
Charlotte, N.C.

As well, there’s also that $100 scrawled across the page. I assume this meant he got paid $100 for the article. Some online calculators suggest that’s equivalent to around $550 in today’s money.

I like the part about story length and the mention of George Allen. Although, I have to admit I didn’t know who he was, so I fished through the Model Railroader 75 year DVD set to find out. Turns out he was a major presence in their pages from say the early ‘40s to the mid-‘50s. He wrote an influential series called 50,000 Spikes that documented, in a very story-oriented way, how he and Ernie Huebner went about building the Manhattan Beach Ry. As former Model Railroader editor John Page noted in the December '87 issue of Model Railroader, it was ground breaking in that it focused on the entertaining story of how they built the layout instead of simply being a conventional how-to.

[Lead photo - and the photo that lead every instalment of the 50,000 Spikes series - of the first instalment of George Allen's series that appeared in the September '41 issue of Model Railroader. This image could pass as the header on a model railroading blog.]

To me, sitting here in the early 21st century, 50,000 Spikes is a blog. And a good one too. It’s a 1940s version of a ‘how-I’m-building-my-model-railroad’ type of blog that is a mainstay of today’s model railroad blog-o-sphere. George Allen was a blogger long before there were bloggers. And a good one. Given the chatty, story-telling way Mr. Allen wrote, it’s clear E. L. Moore’s style was coming from the same place. They both had lots of how-to in their writings – that’s natural considering the types of magazines they published in – but they weren’t limited by it.

George and Ernie didn’t stop with 50,000 Spikes, Mr. Allen wrote a second, long series about building the Tuxedo Junction and Western. The first instalment appeared in The Saga of the Tuxedo Junction in the Oct '52 issue of Model Railroader.

There were a couple of other things that popped out at me in Mr. Allen’s writings. One was that he strongly advocated having a drawing board and drafting instruments on hand while layout building because he believed they were essential problem solving tools - he goes into detail about this in part 10 of The Saga of the Tuxedo Junction in the July '53 issue of Model Railroader. He kept his nearby and ready to use at all times. Mr. Allen was trained as an architect, although he earned his living in advertising, so maybe that was natural for an individual with a graphic bent. The other thing was a rather famous building model he created called Mifflenburg Mill that appeared in the July '52 issue of Model Railroader - I rather like the drawings in that article.

[The first page of the 8 page manuscript of E. L. Moore's Grandpa Bunn's Feed and Seed project that was eventually published simply as Bunn's Feed and Seed in the August '73 issue of Model Railroader magazine.]

For a while I thought that E. L. Moore’s articles from the ‘70s had less story in them because he had gone beyond that. I found it interesting that there was story in this manuscript, but the editors removed it - and from the title too. Here it is:

About a month ago, in response to a knock at my door and a shouted "Come in!" a homely face fringed with unruly hair poked in followed by an ungainly body which lumbered through the living room and squatted on a stool in my workroom, from which I had just removed my feet. I was sitting in the only easy chair and made no move to relinquish it. After the usual pleasantries Cousin Cal announced abruptly: "I'd like for you to build a monument to Grandpa Bunn -- bless his departed old tight-wad soul."

"A monument builder I am not." I answered flatly. "Why not a tombstone maker?"

At this point Cousin Cal fished out a snapshot and passed it over. It showed a disreputable row of attached buildings, only one of which could lay the least claim to contemporary ... and with a silo at the far end. Undoubtedly it was a rambling old feed mill but without benefit of appearing picturesque. "This was Grandpa Bunn's up-state feed and seed place," he volunteered. "Reckon you could make something out of it?"

Now, if I read him aright, he was beginning to talk in my dialect. "As it stands it'd stretch out an ungainly foot." I shrugged, unwilling to commit myself.

"But couldn't you work it around? What I'd like is something kinda compact, with maybe a sign across the front showing it was still the product of Grandpa's addled brain."

"Well -- leave it with me and I'll see what I can work out."

Later, when I showed Cousin Cal a working drawing of the proposed renovation he stood with his adenoids sagging and gulped: "Holy Cow! That's just exactly what I had had in mind." well, being a jack-leg model architect and builder had its lighter moments.

{some how-to stuff you can find in the published article goes in here; and after finishing attaching the office sign}

"An office! Huh! Betcha that old skinflint had no more'n a table and his deep pockets!" snorted Cousin Cal.

"But times have changed," I said. "You've inherited the business, and you need an office ... and a pretty secretary.

{some more how-to stuff, and after explaining how to build the roof top piping....}

"And just how in thunderation does this cyclone and these fancy pipes work?" asked Cousin Cal.

"That," said I, "is a very good question. I'm glad you asked me. They look real nice, don't they?"

"Yeah ... but how do they work?"

"Well now, let me see.... you've heard that old song, haven't you, about the music that went in here and then went around and around and came out somewhere else?"

"Uh-huh, I guess so."

"Well that's the way they work."


"Don't be so dumb. It's like I said. It goes in here, then goes around with a Hi-de-ho ......."

You know, back when I bought this in ’73, I didn't care that it didn't have this story. I was youthfully pragmatic with what was published and I suspect other readers were too. The editors made the right business decision cutting it. Back then I couldn't have appreciated it, and I also realize that back then folksy, rural stuff like this story was on the outs throughout all sorts of mainstream media. However, these days, now that I know about it, it adds another interesting piece to E. L. Moore's history as a model builder and writer. And I admit that these days I like this sort of thing and I'm glad to see it in an article that got me started on this path.
[E. L. Moore penciled in some cost annotations in the manuscript. $1.65. Not bad.]

The published article states in the first paragraph that it "can be built for about $2 in less than 2 weeks of spare time." The manuscript confirms the $2 cost, but Mr. Moore states building time as "two evenings away from the tube." I can barely do his projects in 2 weeks of spare time let alone 2 evenings! If that's his true building time for this thing, my hat is off to him. Well, that's that. I'll let Danny Kaye take it from here.

Monday, March 9, 2015

PCC graveyard

For me, a PCC fan, this is akin to a horror movie: rusty, derelict PCC bodies strewn everywhere. And when I think of horror movies, it’s old-school Boris Karloff ones. It turns out that according to this biography of Karloff, before he became a famous actor, he did a stint laying streetcar track for the electric street railway owned by  the British Columbia Electric Company.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The E. L. Moore Files: Ma’s Place and the files of E. L. Moore

[A plastic kit version of Ma's Place built in The Age of Plastics III and now residing on my layout, the Lost Ocean Line]
I’ve recently been in contact with a gentleman who has a number of E. L. Moore original manuscripts, letters and photographs. He has generously given me permission to post some of the material here. I thought that Ma’s Place might be a good ‘place’ to start since The Age of Plastics posts (part I, part II, part III) focused on the plastic kit version of that build, and the original model re-surfaced recently after nearly 35 years in storage.

Each of his articles were sent to various magazine editors with an accompanying personal letter. The image below is the letter to Harold H. Carstens, editor of Railroad Model Craftsman in 1966, that accompanied the Ma’s Place manuscript submission,

[The letter that E. L. Moore sent to the editor of Railroad Model Craftsman to sell his article that was eventually published as build Ma's Place in the January '67 issue.]

Here's a transcript of the letter,

October 19, 1966

Major H H Carstens, Editor
Railroad Model Craftsman,
Ramsey, N. J. 

Greetings! .. .. Just finished wiring the brewery for lights . .. and these pix will give you some idea as to how it stacks up. Still gotta make up drawings and some checking up . . . I'll send it along as an early Christmas gift, before the big rush -- maybe in a couple of weeks or so, after I get the first draft of the article on paper. Already got one box for it to fit into -- all I need is two more. I don't trust them postoffice guys even they only use a five ton elephant for testing packages at the local branch.

Sending along this thing I've had on the closet shelf ever since you jolted me into taking up industry hunting -- maybe you can use it sometime even though it's kinda trivial -- if not, shoot it back.

Thass a Rhode Island Red up the weather vane -- at least that's what I think it is. I've got to pedigree papers to prove it. Couldn't let a mere damned chicken stump me at the end of it all.

Merry Christmas to you-all . . . 

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

The brewery he’s referring to is the F & M Schaefer Brewery that appeared in the March '67 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman Ma’s Place appeared in the January '67 issue – and it did indeed have a rather large rooster as a wind vane; a detail that doesn’t appear on the plastic kit version.
[Plastic kit version of Schaefer Brewery project]

It also sounds like Mr. Moore didn’t think Ma’s Place was much of a challenge to build. In his words, “…it's kinda trivial …” Maybe just something to fill magazine pages and make some quick cash. Maybe so in comparison to the large and complex Schaefer brewery. It also sounds like he was given the assignment of finding industries – of which the brewery was one – to model and write about. Hopefully there’ll be more about that in letters to come.

[First page of the original manuscript to build Ma's Place, which was originally called Ma's Neighborhood Store.]

The typewritten manuscript more-or-less follows what eventually appeared in the pages of Railroad Model Craftsman, although some of the interspersed fictional story that appeared in later pages was tweaked here and there. One big change though was the title, which originally was the descriptive and straightforward, Ma’s Neighborhood Store, which in the print version was changed to build Ma’s Place. It is indeed written up as a house converted to a convenience store, but the plastic kit is always marketed as some sort of rural eatery, even though the model looks like a small house and not a commercial establishment at all. My interpretations of the plastic versions were of a bed-and-breakfast and a surf shop. Well, maybe the lack of clarity on this point helps to account for its longevity as a salable kit. Debra speculates that it’s a model of some specific place in E. L. Moore’s personal history, and that’s why it doesn’t fit well with general expectations about what a generic store or restaurant is supposed to look like.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Streetcars, ferries and buses in 1935 Toronto

This video was posted to YouTube by Library and Archives Canada, and according to the accompanying description includes "Shots of Toronto Transit Commission traffic at Broadview and Danforth, Sunnyside, Danforth Division, Canadian National Exhibition entrances, the Bay Street terminal, ferry service, and North Toronto terminal." I stumbled across this fascinating video at a post at the equally fascinating Lost Toronto.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Gecko's back door

House renovations are going on and on and on, but I've made a little progress on Gecko Records. Above is a picture of the loading door on the back wall. It needs a little weathering and some more detail. Basically, it's a laminate of styrene along with some ancient Letraset for signage and a staple for a door handle.
The corners are filled in with styrene tubes cut for a snug fit and painted flat aluminum.
I use a small tube cutter for scoring styrene tubes. Although this cutter is meant for metal tubes, it works well for styrene as long as you don't cut too deep and distort the plastic. Usually, a decent enough score can be made that allows the tube to be snapped without compressing the plastic. A little clean up with a sanding stick is usually needed after breaking the piece free.
The tiles are not precision dimensioned, so the structure is a little off-square and there are a number of gaps here and there between the pieces. I don't want light to leak out when the lobby is lit up, so I filled all the inside gaps with a non-solvent based wood-filler I bought at Home Hardware - I had some left over from house reno-ing and I didn't want to use expensive hobbyist filler for this job. I haven't seen any cracking or the plastic parts being attacked by it; so far, so good. The plan is to paint the interior black.
This is the insert for the entrance lobby. It still needs a lot of work. The ceiling will be some sort of light panel.