Wednesday, March 30, 2016

E. L. Moore's Spumoni Club Coach: Lunch, ruler and wheels

E. L. Moore was best known for his HO scale model buildings; however, he did publish a small number of articles about making HO scale rolling stock [1],

with the Spumoni family in Merrie Old England; Railroad Model Craftsman, January 1956 (photos of E. L. Moore’s Rowland Emmett style rolling stock)
Photo in Stop, look and listen of E and K train where 6 of the 7 cars are scratch-built; Model Trains, January 1959
Old-Time Log Buggies; Model Trains, March 1960
Snowplow in an Evening; Model Trains, January 1961
Slim gauge carriage; Railroad Model Craftsman, September 1961
Open-air excursion coach; Model Trains, Fall 1961
The little red caboose; Model Trains, December 1961
Central Pacific snowplow; Model Trains, January 1962
A new look for the Old General; Model Trains, March 1962
Six-Ton Jimmy; Model Railroader, May 1967 (manuscript written in 1963)
An Easy Narrow Gauge Coach; Railroad Model Craftsman, March 1969 [2]

While reading through E. L. Moore’s files I came across an unpublished rolling stock manuscript called Spumoni Club Coach written in 1963 [3]. I’ve never built rolling stock before, so I thought I’d give it a try with this project. 

The notes on the manuscript indicate there were 3 accompanying photos and a sheet of drawings. The only photo I came across was the opening beauty shot. The other photos and drawing are missing. I found the text a little hard to follow without the other photos - one was probably a photo of all the parts prior to assembly laid out in kit form - and the drawing, so I’m going to intersperse my own notes, photos and drawings throughout his manuscript to aid the explanation. E. L. Moore’s manuscript is in Courier, and my notes are Arial. Here we go.

E. L. Moore

I'll admit Spumoni Club Special sounds a lot like a three decker sandwich. Fact is, back in the days when Ma Spumoni presided over the Red Eye Saloon [4], she did put out just such a sandwich. Pork, beef and chicken, with pickle, all for 15 cents. But them days are gone forever.

Hold on a minute. I can’t think of a better way to start a new project than with lunch. Debra and I discussed that sandwich at length, and being the master chef she is, as well as head-honcho here at the 30 Squares media empire, she came up with an excellent spin on the classic club sandwich a la E. L. Moore’s triple decker memory. I hand this part of the post over to her to explain how to make your own incredibly delicious 2016 Spumoni Club Special Sandwich.
2016 Spumoni Club Special Sandwich
A new twist on an American classic

Makes two generous sandwiches (one for you and one for someone you really like)

6 slices of Premiere Moisson Country Style Round Loaf Bread, toasted (Baked in Quebec with no artificial anything. Sold at Farm Boy in eastern Ontario).
6 slices of nitrate-free, Double-Smoke Bacon, pan-fried (Drug-free meats from Roadapple Ranch, Finch, Ontario. Tell Mike that Debra sent you).

100g of nitrate-free, thinly sliced chicken.

100g of Farm Boy, AAA Beef deli meat, sliced thin (roasted in the Farm Boy kitchen, no nitrates, no additives of any kind).

Your favorite mayonnaise.

1 thinly sliced, ripe tomato and romaine lettuce, preferably both organic.
1. Each sandwich uses 3 slices of bread. One slice of bread acts as the divider between the two layers of the sandwich. One layer has chicken, bacon, lettuce and tomato. The other layer has beef, bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Spread mayonnaise thinly on each internal side of the bread slices.  

2.  Serve with a pickle. It is also especially good with a pile of Red Apron sliced Bread and Butter Pickles .  You long-time readers know Red Apron from previous posts in this blog.  If you don't like pickles, it's also great with Broccoli Slaw.

My recommendation is that you stop at this point, make some sandwiches, enjoy lunch with someone close, come back in an hour or two and we’ll get started. Google willing, I’ll still be here when you return :-)
The Club Coach was really the old man’s idea -- Pa Spumoni’s. He wanted a mobile retreat where the boys could get together for a little friendly game and some celebrating now and again. The middle of Skunk Hollow Trestle seemed the ideal spot, but apparently Ma set Pistachio, Jr on their trail and dogged them down.
["The private car of the "Cirrhosis Club" of the Grasse River Railroad in upper New York State picks up the happy lumber workers and returns them to camp after the saloons close on Saturday nights. C. M. Clegg photograph." As E. L. Moore notes, this photo appears on page 298 of Lucius Beebe's Mixed Train Daily, published by Howell-North in 1947 - I have the 1961 edition.]

Now if you think this coach is a modeler’s wild dream, then just you take a gander at page 298 of MIXED TRAIN DAILY. However, the interior of Pa Spumoni’s coach is probably a bit more sumptious [sic] than that of the Grasse River club car.

When I read that paragraph I went straight to my bookshelf and opened up the copy of Mixed Train Daily Debra gave me for my last birthday, and lo and behold, there it was. You'll notice that the window height to skirting proportions on the car are a little different on the prototype and they result in larger windows. 

Photograph (A) [this photo is missing] pretty well shows the necessary parts of the coach ready for assembling. The only commercial parts used are a T-25 Central Valley old time passenger truck with an 8’ wheelbase, and one from a set Selley’s #335 work car steps. Any truck with a similar length wheelbase will do.

I'm still looking for work car steps - maybe I'll make my own from styrene - but a friend of mine gave me an HO scale passenger car truck in response to my whining that I had no such thing in my scrap box on the condition that I not mention his name in the post. Thank-you Mr. X!
It's not an old time passenger truck, it's Italian made, from a larger, more modern passenger car and probably dates from the '70s or '80s. It's 8'-6" between wheel centres, so its size is close. Besides, I spent all my money on sandwiches, so I can't look a free truck in the couplers :-) I decided to make a few repairs on this piece and go with it. 
I removed the built-in coupler and returned it to Mr. X. I then replaced the wheel sets with some 30" diameter Walthers wheels. They have much smaller flanges and turn more freely than the originals. The side frames were a little splayed, so I glued in some styrene pieces to square things up.
Some styrene shims were glued on top to provide a level surface for the car body. Once all these styrene pieces were glued on, the mounting hole was drilled into the truck centre. The original hole was off-centre, so it had to be relocated anyway.

A few scraps of balsa, about five inches of 1/16” thick commercial sheathing, and you’re in business. Instead of regular sheathing I sanded down some 1/16” corrugated wood roofing to get the effect of very narrow sheathing (I had hoped!) 

I still need to settle on what I'm going to use to build the sides. 

And then, of course the floor, a piece 1’ thick by 8’ by 19’ long. A slice from a souvenir or advertising yardstick makes ideal flooring. The roof is removable and fits down over the sides.
Turns out I do have a few old yard sticks they used to give away in hardware and paint stores, and had a broken piece so I didn't need to contemplate ruining some relic. 
I cut a 19' section from the yardstick to use as the floor. It turns out the floor thickness scales to 1'-3" instead of the 1' E. L. Moore specifies, so I'll need to make some adjustments to the side walls. The good news is the width does indeed match the 8' spec. 

Beginning with the floor, center the truck and fasten it on with a screw, then lay it aside and tackle the sides and ends.
I painted the floor bottom flat black and the top green. That isn't the screw protruding into the floor, but a wood chip left over from the pilot hole that I later cleaned away.

That's it for now. Join me again for lunch and some coach body construction!


[1] The Spumoni Club Coach is in the lineage of Slim gauge carriage, Open-air excursion coach, and An Easy Narrow Gauge Coach: easy going passenger equipment. I get the impression from these builds that they aren’t so much for getting from one place to another, but for just getting away. Getting away from it all. Freelanced and free-and-easy. Escape is the prototype.

[2] If you've read E. L. Moore's An Easy Narrow Gauge Coach that was published in the March 1969 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman you'll note that that coach is a narrow gauge variation on the Spumoni Club Coach. Mr. Moore converted an AHM N-scale mine car to an HOn2 1/2 coach. And, hold onto your hats: he notes in the article this was his first project that made use of styrene! Yes, a project predominately of styrene. He stated that since the car being converted was styrene, it made sense to use it for the modifications. He also seems to be a relatively sophisticated styrene builder at that, recommending to the reader to use a liquid cement - Testor's liquid was his choice - instead of the tube stuff.

[3] I’ve also come across another unpublished rolling stock project called Alaska Railroad Cement Mixing Car that was written in 1969. It seems to have 2 sheets of drawings, and between 3 and 6 photographs accompanying the manuscript, but they appear to be lost. As Mr. Moore states in the manuscript’s opening paragraph, “It is nothing more than a cement mixing machine mounted on the end of a flatcar, with a few conveniences built around it extemporaneuous manner." His prototype was a photograph by “John (The Beard) Henderson” sent to him by “a friendly critic up Alaska way.”

[4] Construction of Ma Spumoni’s Red Eye Saloon was presented in Civic center for Boomtown in the March ’63 issue of Model Railroader. Apparently as well as those 15 cent triple-decker sandwiches, “... a 5-cent beer entitled you to a free lunch and the atmosphere was hazy with the smoke of good 5-cent cigars. This was when sumptuous 25-cent dinners were cooked on wood-fed stoves and dinner buckets were packed to capacity....”.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Mt Lowe observatory's telescope room

Late last summer I started work on an N scale model of the observatory on the Mount Lowe Railway. The project was almost immediately side-tracked by preparations to see the E. L. Moore collections in North Carolina. Recently, I decided to see if I could complete the telescope room, because if I could, then it would give me confidence that the rest of the project wouldn't be too difficult.

First off, this project is more a caricature of the Mt. Lowe observatory than an exact replica. I've guessed at most dimensions, approximated shapes, made windows a bit larger, and added doors where I thought they might be needed. I think it'll look close to the prototype and capture its essence, but it's not a one-to-one representation.
The telescope room is a 16-sided cylinder. I laid out its walls in one continuous strip on a piece of 140 lb, rough surface watercolour paper. I won't go into the high-school trig on how to compute the length of a wall strip to support a semi-spherical roof of a given diameter, but if you're curious, this is the equation,

total length of strip = 32 x radius of the roof x 0.19509

For this model, I computed the strip to wrap around the perimeter of the roof, and the strip length worked out to be 102 N-scale feet after a little fudging for the folds between each wall panel.

I used graphical division to layout each of the 16 wall panels on the strip. Just take any ruler you have on hand - scale and units don't matter - place it on the drawing as shown until there are 16 equal divisions on the ruler between one end of the strip and the other, then tick off the divisions on the drawing.
Draw the lines according to the ticks on the paper. 
I then drew on the window and door openings and cut them out prior to cutting the strip from the paper. The doors on the telescope room are internal. Each of the panel divisions was scored for easy folding. 
As a test I wrapped the scored strip around the roof. The fit is not too bad. Ok, well, to tell the truth, the first strip I cut I bungled the measurements and had to cut a second. All the photos I've shown are for the second try!
I was finally happy with the wall strip so I joined the two ends with a glued piece of thin graph paper.
The floor was tricky. The first thing I did was try to cut a 16-sided floor from 1/16 inch sheet balsa. After around 3 attempts I gave up. The problem I had was that any small over or under sizing on any side causes the whole piece not to fit properly. For a large scale I don't think this would be a problem, but I couldn't get the precision I needed at this scale. I can hear a few friends in the background saying, "If you would just use a laser cutter these problems wouldn't happen" :-) 
What did work was to cut a circular disk of 1/16 inch sheet, glue some support ledges to the bottoms of the walls, and then glue the disk to the supports. 
The inside walls were panelled with pieces of 1/32 inch balsa. I plan on making the interior viewable, so this both stiffened the walls and provides the basis for a decent little scene.
The last thing was to frame the windows with the thinnest strip wood I had in my scrap box. It's a little oversize, but since the entire outer surface will be painted white, I don't think it will be too noticeable.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Marmora station?

I was going through some old files and came across these two drawings I did sometime in the '70s. I recall there was a small train station in Marmora, Ontario; however, I don't have any photos and I can't remember visiting, let alone measuring. I was a kid then. An internet search shows there was a small station, but it's a little larger than my drawing suggests. I suspect I selectively compressed whatever I did or didn't see in order to fit it on a single piece of 8 1/2 x 11 paper. Crude drawing skills aside, with a little adjustment it might make for a small, utilitarian depot.

Update, 23 March 2016: Looking back through some old photos and posts, I think this drawing might actually be based on the station in Hastings, Ontario

Saturday, March 12, 2016

HO scale Piper J-3 Cub

I thought I’d be starting on a new layout about this time, but things have gotten a little chaotic, so I thought I’d drift a bit and just build and write whatever struck my fancy. I had a laser cut wood kit of a Piper J-3 Cub in HO scale by Osborn Model Kits  I bought at a train show a year or two ago sitting on my shelf, so I thought I’d give it a go.
The Cub is one of my favourite airplanes, and when I started the kit I pulled this old issue of Model Builder from February '83 out for inspiration. I love model building magazines that have few words on their covers. That cover painting is by Mr. Bob Benjamin and there's a short note in from Bill Northrop's workbench about the plane and painting.
While I was feeling all nostalgic, I thumbed through this issue of Model Airplane News from January '83. Turns out there is a great article inside by Clyde P. Matteson and Bob Tyhurst about building 1/96 scale solid model airplanes.
The article explains how to build some amazing fine-scale 1/96 model airplanes from scratch. The article mentions 1/96 scale was chosen because many model airplane plans were available in 1/48 scale, and they could easily be made smaller by reducing them by 50% on a photocopier; hence, 1/96 and not, say, 1/87.
This little Cub model isn’t fine scale, but it’s quite handsome when done. I found it a little tricky to build and I’d say it isn’t for absolute beginners, but if you’ve got a couple of simple laser cut kits under your belt, you should be fine.
I won't explain how to build it - the instructions are good. 
Although I will say that fumble-fingers me managed to break the landing gear and an engine cylinder-head and the engine cowling during assembly, but more-or-less fixed them. No doubt because the components are crisp and could be glued back together without too much trouble. 
I used good old acrylic paint on this model. The decals are self-stick items. They don't look too bad. Overall, a pleasant little project and a nice, brief trip down memory lane.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Burger with a side of meccano

Last Sunday evening I drove the van over to hodgepodge to pick up a piece of Faux Meccano I had delivered there. The boys were having some stuff shipped in by boxcar and they let me include the gear. That was the easy part. Bribing them to schlep it into the van was the hard part. I owe a lot of favours now. But that’s for later. I was hungry, so I dropped into Mels on my way home for a burger.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

E. L. Moore on reading

I’m saving television for my old age when I get the palsy and can’t see to read -- I’ll probably be deaf and blind then. Anyway that’s one thing I never complain of -- TV programs. All I know about them is what I read in the papers and I sometimes wonder why, if they’re so damned bad, people just don’t shut off their sets and ignore them. Me, I’d a heap ruther read when I’m tired of modeling or writing or walking or sleeping. 

From a letter to Bill Rau, On a Friday, 22nd day September ’67.

Little did E. L. Moore know then that in the early ‘70s he’d be something of a TV star himself.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

HOJPOJ Reno: Done!

Yes, it’s finally done. I can hardly believe it myself. Looking back over the posts in this series it’s taken around 5 months of on-again, off-again work. Although, a lot of that time was spent thinking about how to solve particular problems. And there was a bit of an intimidation thing going on. I didn’t want to screw up, or do wrong by an E. L. Moore model. It’s the only one I’m likely to ever work on, so, no pressure :-) But, it’s been a great experience for me and I’ve learned a lot. Anyway, let's move on to the last few things that had to be finished on the diorama.
The main brick building still has the light E. L. Moore installed in the clerestory. The wires run out through holes in the floor and then are bent sideways and out through those two little holes at the bottom of the back wall. 
You can see that one wire is broken. I soldered some extensions to both, but instead of running them out to power through the back wall, I simply drilled a hole in the diorama and ran them out the bottom of the building.
Mr. Moore used the same idea on the other half, but the internal lights were long gone. The holes for the wires in the back wall were still there though.
To light the multi-unit complex I inserted a small LED strip into the bottom. You can see in this picture that the wires were run out through the bottom of the diorama and then through the side frame.
In this photo you can see the lighting wires for both buildings protruding through holes drilled in the diorama side frame.
I hooked the lights up to a couple of 9v batteries for this photo. The LED lighting is rather subtle given that the widows in the multi-unit complex are frosted.
It wasn't until I got the diorama all put together that I realized that it's got lots of potential for staging scenes. 
To finish off the fencing I needed to the build the gates over the track. In this photo I've glued up the frames and inserted them over the track to test the fit before gluing on the fencing.
The gates are hinged so they can be opened and closed. To make the hinges I folded a strip of paper into an L-shape and coloured it aluminum with a Sharpie pen. A couple of short pieces were cut from the strip and then glued to the gate ends and fence posts.
Here are the gates after the hinges are glued in place and the balsa pieces have been stained with some thin dark brown acrylic paint.
The next task was to install the 'pipes' that cross over the tracks from the shack and into the brick building.
In the upper right area, just above the roof, you can see the very small holes that E. L. Moore drilled into the brick building for the pipes.
The wire needed is very fine indeed. To figure out what diameter was required, I inserted drill bits into the holes until I found the one with just the right diameter for a snug fit. I then bought some piano wire of the same diameter.
Mr. Moore's design bent the pipes in a very flat V-shape. I found that with such a shape, I couldn't get the the right clearance for boxcars to roll cleanly underneath, so I went for a slightly more elevated design. 
All that was left to do was anchor the smokestack guy-wires around the property. Each thread had a balsa stake attached, and that stake was glued to the diorama base. A pair of tweezers was used to hold each stake down and its weight applied the small amount of tension to the thread to kept it taut while the glue dried.
I'm happy with the way it turned out. It looked a little shabby - although in good structural condition - after 3 decades in storage, but it seems to have weathered the years quite well.
Modern digital photograph helps to show how good these old models were. Although not fine scale, they would look quite at home on many of today's layouts.
Well, it looks ok as long as you don't look too closely at the back walls :-) The multi-unit complex never had complete metal paneling applied to it's rear wall.
Well, that's that. Please close the gates on your way out.