Thursday, April 7, 2016

E. L. Moore: The almost household name in N-scale model railroading

Little did I realize when I posted that tongue-in-cheek cover I cooked up for a non-existent ‘70s paperback on N-scale model railroading by E. L. Moore that I wasn’t too far off. It turns out that in September ’68, Mr. David P. Morgan of Kalmbach Publishing wrote to E. L. Moore and asked if he’d consider writing an N scale primer for them. Mr. Moore declined and the rest is non-history. 

September 10, 1968

Mr. E. L. Moore
525 Oakland Ave., Apt. 3
Charlotte, North Carolina

We have a publishing proposal for you, Mr. Moore, and it is this: Are you in a position to author a beginner’s N scale model railroad book for Kalmbach of approximately the same size and format as the enclosed HO RAILROAD THAT GROWS and HO PRIMER, with delivery by May 31, 1969?

In our view, the expanding N scale market will inevitably introduce many newcomers to model railroading; and therefore it recommends itself to a soft-cover book exclusively devoted to the subject. Such a volume would not only introduce the novice to the pecularities [sic] of N scale itself but also the wider world of model railroading, per se -- just as the above-mentioned and enclosed HO books have done. Now, we cannot presently afford staff personnel for such an assignment. In our search for a free-lance author, your name was recommended by Andy Anderson, who purchased a considerable amount of copy from you during his MODEL TRAINS editorship days. Andy believes that your readable, step-by-step style would be what we need to communicate model railroading and N scale to the rank beginner -- not to mention your other qualifications in the field of photography and other illustrations.

If this is a project which would interest you, please write me at your earliest convenience. A self-addressed stamped envelop is enclosed.

signed David P. Morgan
Books Publisher

David P. Morgan/s1
[This book never existed, but I couldn't resist slapping a cover together!]

Sept 13, 1968

Mr. David P. Morgan,
Kalmbach Publishing Company,
1027 N. Seventh Street,
Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Thanks for the opportunity to author a beginner’s N scale railroad book as outlined in your September 10th letter; but after looking over the HO Primer I don’t really feel that I qualify for the task. I have a woeful lack of electrical knowledge, and this as you know comprises a large share of any discussion on trains in general.

My forte is building models and scenery. Andy Anderson apparently forgets that he once asked me to do an article on elementary electricity for beginners, and I had to refuse him on the same grounds. Recently, I completed a small N scale railroad at Carsten’s suggestion and which will presently come out in RMC, but while the wiring on this was elementary, nothing complicated, and much the same as I had done on a previous HO pike, I still had to consult a primer on wiring to refresh what little knowledge I possessed.

Another thing: I like doing just what I feel like doing, and just when I feel like doing it. I abhor assignments, guidelines, schedules and deadlines. So I generally work as I damn well please and on what, within my limitations, I feel I can do well.

So thanks again for the offer, but I suggest you look for a better qualified author . . . and nowhere within the range of my acquaintances can I think of one I could recommend.

signed E L Moore

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

The N scale railroad he’s referring to is his Enskale and Hoentee that appeared as a 3-part construction article in the October, November and December ’68 issues of Railroad Model Craftsman. It was a little, 30” x 30” layout that incorporated N, HOn2 1/2 and TT scales. Also, it was a beginner layout, but an unusual one that had E. L. Moore’s unique style all over it. It was not in the mold of the more generic material found in HO Primer or HO Railroad that Grows. The Enskale and Hoentee had a straightforward, uncomplicated trackplan, but for Mr. Moore, it was a little tricky to wire. So, building a model railroad that simulated typical railroad business, which is a common layout configuration, would be troublesome for him. The Enskale and Hoentee was for meant for simple, pleasant fun.

But, imagine if E. L. Moore had built on his Enskale and Hoentee experience and had been given free reign by either Kalmbach or Carstens to build a beginner’s N scale layout for book publication. Not something generic, but full of what made E. L. Moore, E. L. Moore. Consider this: Mr. Moore submitted the Enskale and Hoentee manuscript to RMC on 28 April 1968, and then on 23 May 1968, sent this follow-up to Hal Carstens (months before he was sent the offer by Kalmbach),

May 23, 1968

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

A little hind sight tells me I should have broadened the scope of that train article -- I should have challenged readers to build a size with a track plan that suited them, using the techniques and construction methods described.

You could even have Bill Schopp show a few track variations, in say 30” x 40” or maybe 36” x 48” but still retaining some of the scenic features of the pike I built. Holding rigidly to the 30” by 30” size will limit interest.

Enjoying loafing and reading.
signed E L Moore

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

Denis Dunning tells me he saw you gadding about recently.

Possibly some incentive might be offered readers for most interesting N scale track plan (including scenery) within limit of, say 36” x 48”  . . . . . 

An E. L. Moore, Bill Schopp collaboration might have been interesting, and maybe even highly influential. We’ll never know. Mr. Schopp, aka The Layout Doctor, was a master of all things layout oriented, and even planted the seed of the idea with Mr. Moore for the rather off-the-wall projects that eventually became the Molasses Mine and A Garbage Train or...the Mudville Flats Extra, so they were simpatico on some level (more on this in a future post). 

It turned out that the Enskale and Hoentee was quite popular. In a letter E. L. Moore wrote to Hal Carstens on 28 October 1968, he mentions that it was a draw at the North Hills Hobby Shop in Raleigh, North Carolina,

Enskale thing makes a nice showing -- hobby dealer up Raleigh way (Jim Collier) has it on display as I probably told you before. Kinda cashing in on it ....

Later, in another letter to Hal Carstens dated 28 November 1968, Mr. Moore notes,

The little N-scale road is past history now, but I hope it did you some good and stirred a little interest up . . .  it was fun building it but allee samee I’m glad it was small and not a major project. On account of I like more leisure and less work ... 

So, maybe even with a collaborator, the definitive E. L. Moore spin on N-scale model railroading would not have come to pass - well, one that required a lot of work would not have come to pass :-) 


  1. Clean up the mock cover a bit and turn it into a poster AND T-shirt for the rabid Moore fans out there. In fact, you could set up an online shop as part of your website.

    1. Thanks for the great idea Vince! I like to think of the readers who come here with an interest in all things Moorian as an elite, highly intelligent and sophisticated group, far from rabid :-) Although, if there are any raccoons reading this, I may need to reverse my position.