Friday, October 30, 2015

E. L. Moore's Major Hoople's Brick Warehouse

[E. L. Moore's Major Hoople's Brick Warehouse; J. Collier collection]

As I pushed back from one of Ma Spumoni's delectable spaghetti dinners I let spill a remark that I had contracted to build a brick warehouse down by the tracks on the old Peterson property.
... No more kitewood bricks [JDL: No doubt a reference to the total balsa construction used on the Small MFG. Plant]. Why man, I've got too [sic] carloads of Mr. Northeastern's brick down on the siding now....
... Uncle Charley had already dug out his treasured photograph album, saying just what type warehouse I wanted to build ....
... that is the old Hoople warehouse that stood down below the depot when I was a young buck....
... Old Major Hoople, God rest his flinty soul, built it back in '98 [JDL: That's 1898]...
... The major's warehouse must have been a pretty big one, and had to be scaled down to a more suitable size to fit the existing space...
... While I might admire a nice pretty complexion on a girl - well, on a warehouse built in 1898, even with face-liftings and steam baths, why it just ain't in the cards...
..."You want it to look just like the Major's old building, is that it?"...
... He grabbed a sixteen pound sledgehammer and took half a dozen steps down beside the platform. WHAMMO! ....
[JDL: Check out the article for the exciting conclusion!]

Major Hoople’s Brick Warehouse appeared in the September ’65 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman and was the next E. L. Moore article published in that magazine after the Small MFG. Plant. Hoople’s is a Moorian classic: a well constructed, low-cost and useful build for many a model railroad, combined with one of his signature classic stories woven throughout. Story-wise he outdoes himself on this one with Uncle Charley, George and all getting involved with the weathering – with hilarious results fully documented in an accompanying photo :-) Those quotes shown above are a taste of what went on.

I must admit that the ‘Major Hoople’ who this building is named after reminded me of the Major Hoople in the old comic strip, Our Boarding House. I wonder if E. L. Moore was a fan?
Packed along with this model were several HO-scale cotton bales. When we were photographing the model we thought the bales were an accessory and lined them up on the loading dock. The Hoople article makes no mention of them, but their construction is described in the HOJPOJ article. Turns out one of the things the HOJPOJ factory produced was a complete line of SNORT 'n' SNORE mattresses :-) requiring car loads of cotton. Construction of the bales is ingenious: a piece of balsa block carefully wrapped with a slice of cotton batten wound with a little wire over top. There’s also a small pin sticking out of the block that allows the bales to be stood-up thumb-tack fashion on a wooden loading dock.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

E. L. Moore's Small MFG. Plant

[E. L. Moore's Small MFG. Plant; J. R. Fisher collection]

E. L. Moore's Small MFG. Plant appeared in the June 1965 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. This is a total balsa project: balsa for the walls, balsa for the floor, balsa for the roof, balsa for the window casings, balsa for the clerestory, balsa for the platform...well, you get the idea...the only break from the trend is clear plastic for the windows. Mr. Moore notes that he'll "admit to a weakness for using balsa for almost every building purpose", but notes the reader can substitute brick or block papers if they wish. 
It's a little hard to see in the above photo from the HOJPOJ article, but close examination with a magnifying glass suggests to me that the background building in the red rectangle is the Small MFG. Plant. The tall clerestory with the cracked windows is the give-away. Ok, I'm not 100% certain as I was with Background Building, but the clues look right.
E. L. Moore doesn't describe how he scribed the blocks and bricks into the balsa sheets, but he did an excellent job. And they're nicely painted too.
This side had a loading platform. It's missing, but a replacement could easily be added.
I've often thought the clerestory looked too tall, but E. L. Moore notes in the article that the model is based on an actual prototype.
The roof lifts off and shows the clerestory opening is relatively small.

Monday, October 26, 2015

E. L. Moore's Background Building

[E. L. Moore's Background Building; J. R. Fisher collection]

This model was never the subject of a particular E. L. Moore article, but it appeared as a generic background building in a number of published photos.
You can see it in this photo from the HOJPOJ Mfg. Co. article. 
It's definitely a rudimentary building without much three-dimensional wall detailing; however, the surface patterning is interesting and I guess that's one reason it pops-up as a background building in many photos.
The roof is quite simple and is merely black painted balsa.
But, like many other E. L. Moore buildings, the roof comes off. There's no interior detail, but there's a hole in the floor for a light.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

HOJPOJ Reno: Looking

I figured that the best place to start with repairing the HOJPOJ Mfg. Co. was simply by looking it over and noting what needed to be done. My philosophy with this project will be to do as little as possible. I don't want it to be a J. D. Lowe project built on an E. L. Moore base, but an E. L. Moore project with a few repairs by J. D. Lowe.
The half built from all the little boxes is the part that will need the work. The brick main building can be used more-or-less as is. The box complex has a few spots with small-scale damage that'll need repair after it's carefully dusted off. In the lower left of the above photo you can see a small area where the roof has been slightly crushed. That'll need to be pushed out. There's also the loose small smokestack that will need to be reattached to the leftmost green box.
Over on the right side the two loose dust collectors need to be reinstalled and the piping glued back into place. One of the pipe elbows is missing and will need to be rebuilt. Also, the little roof over the right-most door is missing and needs to be remade.
Mr. Moore didn't finish covering this end with his tried-and-true paper metal siding method, but simply glued on what he had and painted the whole thing one colour. This side was never seen in the article photos, so this was probably done to meet a publication deadline. I'm not going to finish the papering. It'll be left as is.
This side goes flush up against one wall of the brick building. When the two buildings are put beside each other, a little strip of raw balsa is visible above the brick building's roof line. 
Again, careful photography meant this was never seen in the article. I will try to colour-match the grey and paint the exposed portion. I think if it's painted to match the grey end-wall it won't be as noticeable. As well, you can see the top-most dust collector is bent and needs a little straightening.
"None of these units have floors, although after installing some light bulbs I did seal the bottom with a sheet of construction paper" is E. L. Moore's description from the article on how the bottom was finished off. You can see a large piece of the paper has been ripped off, and there are no lights remaining inside. The interior is painted black - I assume to prevent light from glowing through the walls. I'll add some lights in there, but won't reseal the floor - I can imagine a little more might need to be removed to get the lights in.
[A few weeks ago Debra and I saw a diorama of several small buildings in the China, South Asia and Southeast Asia collection at the British Museum. In this photo we see the main building.The card attached to the artifacts read, Pottery model of a Ming dynasty court-yard house, including an entrance gate, a screen wall and various buildings; Ming dynasty, 15th or 16th century AD. More information can be found here.]

Ever since I was given the HOJPOJ I've been thinking about what approach I should take to fixing it. Should I 'properly' finish that partially papered end wall? Add some more pieces to the top wall of the box complex to make it more realistic in order to fix up the raw, exposed balsa pieces? I eventually settled on the minimalist approach. It is what it is. It's an E. L. Moore project and that's what people should see - that's what I want to see. All this got underlined in my mind when Debra and I visited the British Museum a few weeks ago. While I was looking at that Ming house model a member of the museum staff came up to me and asked if I'd fill out a survey about the exhibits.
It was a questionnaire called 'Coming Clean' - if you're on the museum staff and reading this, sorry about identifying myself (also, this survey is a good thing you're doing) - and contained a number of questions about the state of the visual appearance of the artifacts and asked my thoughts on what that state should be. 
[Here's the overall view of the diorama]

Basically I think the objects, and by extension the HOJPOJ, shouldn't be left in the state they were found, but cleaned and restored to get them as close as possible to their original condition, but with care not to damage. Our current level of technology might not allow complete restoration and that's fine; something might be developed in the future that would do the trick. Try to restore it, and keep it clean and in that condition, but be cautious and minimalist.
[This is one of the surrounding buildings in the courtyard]

BTW, I think the Ming buildings might be 1/24, or maybe 1/18 scale :-) Anyway, I want to place the HOJPOJ in a diorama similar to the one used in the article.
After studying the article's photos, I laid things out on a piece of paper and tried to place the main features and leave space for the missing buildings. Those guy wires that stay the main smoke stack - made from black thread on this model - define the size of this scene. Half of the threads are frayed and broken and will need to be replaced. There's a fence that encloses the grounds and a small building across the tracks with overhead pipes that go into the main brick building. All that is missing and needs to be rebuilt. 
There's a water tower that goes with this diorama and it's missing too. It moves around in the photos :-) but one shows it beside the brick building, so I'll put it there. There's a few other nondescript background buildings in some photos, but those won't be included. The only additional buildings will be the trackside shack with the pipes going into the main building, a horizontal tank that's beside it, and the water tower. I think a 20 inch by 20 inch base will be suitable.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

E. L. Moore's McGee Lumber Co.

[E. L. Moore's McGee Lumber Co.; J. Collier collection]

E. L. Moore's McGee Lumber Co. was the third in the series of businesses located on his 1900 era shortline terminal yard. It's constructed in what I call his backwoods style rather like the Apple Cider Mill
I think that is painted on mould, but maybe it's real thing - unlikely though since the models were carefully stored away in a dry place. You can also see that the roof panels on the main building are a little crooked. For some reason I didn't try and take the roof off this one even though it looks removable. If I see it again I'll definitely look insode.
That addition on the back shields the lumber racks from the weather.
From the other end you can see the stacks of lumber.
And you can see that McGee's is a cluster of buildings. The proportions of this structure are quite attractive.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

E. L. Moore's Apple Cider Mill

[E. L. Moore's Apple Cider Mill; J. Collier collection]

The very next article written by E. L. Moore that appeared in Railroad Model Craftsman after the Spratt and Kean Meat Packing Plant was his Apple Cider Mill build that was published in the September 1966 issue.
This is a good example of what I'd call his backwoods buildings. I'd also say that these buildings are among his best, and that he's a master at this type of structure. Those two cabins, which are also from the J. Collier collection, I posted about back in the spring are also in this group. The attention to detail on those, and on this mill, is excellent. And I'd say lovingly applied.
Debra always asks me which E. L. Moore buildings were built according to memories of places from his childhood. Honestly, I can't always say for certain. We speculated that Ma's Place was one, but in the preamble to the mill's construction article, Mr. Moore reminisces on how an apple cider mill figured in his childhood adventures. He doesn't mention a specific prototype in the article, but I'd guess that this one is built from a memory of an actual place known to him.
This model isn't completely built from balsa. The walls are Northeastern brand capped siding and clapboard siding, although it appears to be some distressed.
You can see that that the boiler room is built up from clapboard siding.
The roof on the the other hand is made from 1/16 inch balsa.
The main building's roof is detachable and is constructed in typical E. L. Moore fashion using triangular balsa gussets as roof trusses.
Mr. Moore used nonpareils to simulate apples - my mother used them all the time to decorate cakes - and tea leaves to simulate the remains of the apples after milling. All that has been eaten away by bugs. You can see the raw balsa where the 'apples' used to be. The interior machinery is simple and nicely done.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

E. L. Moore's Spratt & Kean Meat Packers

[E. L. Moore's Spratt and Kean - Meat Packers; J. Collier collection]

I thought I'd look for industries that construction-wise had some similarity to the HOJPOJ Mfg. Co., the Spratt and Kean Meat Packers, which appeared in the August 1966 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman, seemed to fill the bill - at least regarding the main HOJPOJ building.
A car load of cattle arrives under those arches and are lead up the ramps to their doom. Although, the construction of those ramps and fencing is quite fine and precise.
You can see a better view of the up-ramp in this view.
And this angle shows the detail of the ramp and fence structure.
In the article Mr. Moore describes a paint technique he applied for weathering the brick paper. It does cut the glare, but the overall effect seems rather subtle.
The roof is in good shape, but is missing the water tank and cooling unit.
The main building's roof comes off. It's interesting that there isn't a floor, and the structure is hollow - rather unusual for an E. L. Moore model.

[Updated on 24 October 2015 with the photo showing the ramp structure detail.]