Thursday, June 2, 2016

E. L. Moore’s Legacy in the 21st Century: The Spumoni Club Coach

You’re right, I’ve already written a short series on this lost E. L. Moore project. However, the manuscript was divided into pieces and my own construction story was interleaved in order to provide a modern take on building the old project. For indexing the Coach project amongst the other posts in the E. L. Moore’s Legacy in the 21st Century series, I thought I’d repost the Spumoni Club Coach manuscript in its entirety much like The Combination Houses and Shades of Buffalo Bill posts.

But, fear not, this post isn’t all old news. I did a little digging about the Spumoni Club Coach prototype, the private car of the Grasse River Railroad that appeared in Beebe and Clegg’s Mixed Train Daily I discussed in Part 1 of the series. Turns out that it wasn’t a coach at all, but a self-powered vehicle that used a Flyer Model 31 automobile engine for get-up-and-go. Yes, that’s right, it was a self-propelled vehicle, not a coach that needed to be pulled! It was custom built for the railroad by Roy L.Sykes, one of the founders. It was called the ‘Rolliam’. You can read about it here at the Rail City Museum site, and here at Gino’s Rail Page and Museum.

To get things started, here are the 5 posts that discussed how I went about building a version of the Spumoni Club Coach:

And here’s the original manuscript restored to its non-chopped-up form:

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, she did put out just such a sandwich. Pork, beef and chicken, with pickle, all for 15 cents. But them days are gone forever. 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.

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 than that of the Grasse River club car. Photograph (A) 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. 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!) 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.

Beginning with the floor, center the truck and fasten it on with a screw, then lay it aside and tackle the sides and ends. The sides are 8 3/4' high by 20' long, and the ends are 8 3/4' high by 8' wide (presuming you're using 8' wide flooring). Since there are quite a few windows it would be wise to take the precaution of cementing a piece of thin stripwood above and below the window areas to prevent splitting while cutting out the openings (see Photograph A, inside of coach. At the same time another piece of stripwood should be cemented all around just 1' from the bottom edge for purpose of providing a ledge, simplifying matters when you come to assembling ends and sides around the floor. The window openings are 2' x 3' except one which corresponds to the door and is 3' x 3' and the end windows are also 3' x 3'. Each opening is then fitted with an inner sash of 1/32" square stripwood cemented in so as to be flush with the inside surface. Then, after painting, a single strip of acetate will serve for the row of openings.

The door isn't cut all the way through. The wood was shaved down to a smooth surface and a simulated door worked in with pencil and knife. It's the type of door which might have been salvaged from a bus, opening as it does, in the middle. Six inch wide trim (1/32 x 1/16" for HO) sanded down to a more refined thinness, is added to the sides and ends as shown. One piece of 1/32 x 1/16" stripwood forms a window ledge all around.

When assembled around the 8' x 19' floor, it should present a coach with a finished body size of 9' x 20'. For a removable roof you'll need a piece of balsa 9" thick (3/32" for HO) by 10 1/2' x 21 1/2'. Round the top of this by sanding, then taking a sheet of 1/32" balsa measuring 11 1/2' x 22 1/2', cement it over the rounded length to form the top of the roof. When you paint this, press a tissue against the wet paint, then follow up with a second coat, this giving the effect of a canvas covering. Now, as seen in Photograph A and in the drawing a 15" strip of sheathing is cemented to the under side of the roof leaving a 9 1/2 x 20 1/2' center clearance so as to fit down over the coach sides.

Bumpers and couplers of your choice can now be added to the ends, also the door step and door grab irons. I painted the outside and roof of my coach a light green and added a trim of yellow.

The inside of the Spumoni coach is even more colorful than the outside. Light green walls, a velvety green carpet and upholstered coach seats in bright red. Full width seats were installed at each end, then four 3' wide seats were arranged in the middle. Uncle Charley, who provided that jug of mountain dew, is snoozing in his own special chair. The coach seats are easily built of balsa, shaped and joined as shown in the drawing, bent pins used for arm rests, then upholstered with tissue and painted. Lastly, a card table is done in green, was set in place.

And that is the Spumoni Club Special . . . OBG. The OBG? I'm not certain, but I think it means ON BURNT GRAVY.
Well, I’ve got a little NWSL Stanton Drive power truck sitting on the shelf I’ve been saving to build a model of Thaddeus Lowe’s personal trolley, but maybe it should go to retrofitting the Spumoni Club Coach - the Spumonified version might be called a 'Rolloni' :-)

[Update 1 September 2016: Added a link to the post about the lost photographs that accompanied the manuscript.]


  1. When you get the Spumoni Club Coach or Thaddeus's Trolley using the Stanton Drive done drop NWSL a couple of photos for the Facebook Page. Dave will love it.



    1. Will do, but it could be awhile before I attempt it as my unfinished projects pile on my workbench is getting pretty high :-)

  2. I was lucky to visit EL 3 or 4 times (it's been awhile). I have an autographed MR and a building of his carefully tucked away.
    You are correct about the plastic kits he was "paid" with. I bought 2 and also got him lunch from his favorite deli on one trip. The cases of kits were stacked 2 deep - head high on one wall when I saw them.
    Jim Kelly of MR was a member of the Raleigh, NC group at that time and was there on at least one of the trips.
    I have 2 large binders of copies of all his articles -almost all...
    VERY glad to have found your site!

    1. Thank you very much for contacting me! That's fascinating and I have many questions. I'll try and contact you to discuss further.