Saturday, September 3, 2016

E. L. Moore in the 21st Century: Dilly behind the Eight Ball

Soon after E. L. Moore’s Turn Backward, O Time appeared in the January ’67 issue of Model Railroader, a small controversy erupted over who owned the plans to The Dilly Manufacturing Company, a building on the edge of the diorama featured in the article. Someone said RMC owned it and how dare MR publish it without permission; another said MT owned it, so MR had the rights to publish it; letters flew back and forth; fingers were pointed; old magazines were consulted [1]. After the dust settled, the source of what E. L. Moore called The Dilly Manufacturing Company was actually a 2-page article in the February 1951 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman called Eight Ball Locomotive Works by Eric Brunger with plans by Bill Livingston.
[Bill Livingston's plans for the Eight Ball Locomotive Works appear on page 9 of the February 1951 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman.]

I’ve been wanting to build this model for awhile, and since I needed a little, not too strenuous project to keep me busy now-and-then for a few minutes at a time over a period of weeks, I decided to go ahead and build an N-scale version. I figured I could use the model if I ever got around to building some sort of Elizabeth Valley RR tribute layout. So, if you’re interested in following along on an old-school build using a bunch of old-school techniques, pull up a chair and let’s get started.
The first thing was to draw the walls on a piece of 100 lb. Bristol board. I used this method of wall layout on the HO-sized Cousin Caleb’s Cabbage Co. model, but this is the first time I’ve tried it in N-scale. 
The next step was to cut out the window and door openings. Always use a sharp blade, preferably a brand new one so you get the cleanest cuts.
Afterwards I drew the siding on the walls and scribed the lines with a scribing tool. I also scribed the wall corners so they could be cleanly bent to 90-degree angles when it came time to assemble the building. The backside of a knife could also be used for scribing, but be careful not to apply too much pressure. The siding could be drawn on and scribed before the windows and doors are cut out, there’s no best order of operations.
I then took the card to the basement for staining. I mixed up a little bit of Model Master Acryl Dark Green with thinner and lightly wiped it on with a tissue. I made sure to try and maintain a little variation in tone and keep the siding scores from clogging with paint. Staining takes only a few seconds. 
It’s a little hard to see in this photo, but once the stain was dry I glued on the window and door frames. These were cut from the thinnest basswood I had on hand, painted with full strength Model Master Acryl Dark Green. I had bought a selection of scale lumber a few years ago with the intent to build some detailed, board-by-board buildings. That never happened, so I have a lot of stripwood on hand and use it wherever I can even if it isn’t strictly scale for a particular project. I could have just as easily sliced up some trim strips from scrap 1/64” balsa sheets and used that instead. Use whatever you have around. Anyway, after the trim had dried, I sliced out the wall strip.
I was impatient and wanted to see the thing standing up so I went ahead and folded the wall corners. The trick to getting nice, clean folds is to put a steel ruler inside, behind one of the walls, push the ruler’s edge into the corner, and fold the other wall over the ruler. As you can see, it breaks the stain on the outside corner, but that will be covered up with some edge trim. At this point I also went ahead and laid out the boiler room walls. They’re done just the same as the main building.
I dug up some up some balsa pieces from my scrap box and started in on bracing the walls. The first thing was to add a floor made from a piece of 1/16” balsa sheet.
Once that was installed, I continued on with gluing various balsa scraps inside the walls. You might be thinking, whoa, isn’t this kinda excessive? You could just slap some balsa sheets to each wall, cut out the doors and windows, and voila!, you’re done... 
... Yeap, I could, but I wanted to be able to see a bit inside, but without getting too fussy about the interior details. With this model I wanted to be able to see in the main loading and dormer doors so I could add some barrels and what not, and have the inside light shine through the various rooms. I didn’t want this to be a closed up box. If you do, that’s great too, and it’ll make construction go easier. 

Here’s what the bottom looks like after all the balsa reinforcing was glued in. That box on the left is a cut-out for the backdoor, which is a little lower than the main floor. The box helps keep light from leaking out under the building.
Well, at this point there’re a few steps I didn’t get any pictures of, so some words will have to do to bridge the gap. The windows were made from a scrap of overhead transparency film with the pane frames drawn on with a ruling pen loaded up with the green paint - it’s the same technique I used on the Grizzly Flats station. Once they’re dry and cut out, they were glued into the window openings with some Micro Krystal Klear. The smallest square windows in the roof apex and on the boiler house were simply some of that Micro Krystal Klear smeared across the window openings. The back doors were built up from thin 3x5 card. Before installing the windows and doors, the inside of the building was painted with some burnt sienna acrylic to darken it.

Now, I must admit that the model would be greatly improved if I had used commercial window and door castings instead of the classic Moorian method. His method is ok in HO-scale, but not as effective in N. Just something to keep in mind if you're contemplating building this project.
I did snap a picture of corner trim installation. Some 1' strips were cut from a piece of paper, folded in half lengthwise, and then painted green. They were glued in place and trimmed when dry.
At this point I moved on to building the loading dock and back stairs. I hummed-and-hawed on this for a long time because I though it’d be a tedious job, but once I jumped in I found it quite satisfying and it quickly came together. 
The loading dock platform was glued up from basswood strips, and the legs were small 1/16” square balsa pieces. The leg bottoms look wildly uneven, but in fact they weren’t too bad and after they had dried, I lightly sanded the entire assembly on a piece of sandpaper until the legs were even and they were all squared-up. Use a fine sheet of sandpaper and be gentle so not to break any of the legs.
Once the legs were on, basswood cross-bracing was added. That picture above is partway through the process. The entire loading platform was glued together using household Lepage’s brand white glue. It’s moderately priced and has a thicker consistency that I like. I’ve tried some cheaper brands, but they invariable are watery and don’t stick as well. 

After finishing the loading dock, I moved on to building the backstairs. Basically it’s the same procedure as for the loading dock: it’s built up from thin pieces of stripwood. In the picture, that L-shaped thing is the railing, and I’m getting ready to glue it to the top of the three uprights.
It fits pretty well and all that needs to be done at this stage is add the sloped rail on the stairs segment.
With the loading dock and backstairs done I moved on to building the roofs. The rectangular slabs that form the roof base are cut from a scrap of 1/16” thick sheet balsa.
Then some thin cardboard - in this case, a piece of 3x5 file card - is glued to one side of each roof slab. When the glue’s dry the card is trimmed so that about 1/32” overhangs the slab edges on three sides in order to get the two-surface look shown in the plan.
Next, holes for the dormers were cut. If you’re going to make this a closed up model there’s no need for this step.
The roof is getting close to gluing to the walls, but first a light was installed. It’s held in place with some Micro Krystal Klear. To hide and guide the wires out of the building, a styrene tube was glued over a hole drilled in the floor. 
The wires can be loosely wound up in the ‘basement’ until they’re needed.
With a not-so-new 9v battery connected, there's a pleasant glow inside the area directly behind the main loading doors.
The shingles were made using the same technique that was used on the Grizzly Flats depot, but in this case I stained the shingle paper with loose washes of brown paints.
There are a lot of roof surfaces on this model: main building, two dormers, boiler room and an awning over the back porch. It used much more shingle strips than I had originally thought. The roofs could use some light weathering, but I rather like the multi-coloured pattern, so I'll leave messing it up for another time.
The front and back dormers were built-up in the same way as the main building and boiler house. The first step was to layout the sides on Bristol board.
I like the idea that I can look in that little door on the front dormer and see out the window on the back dormer.
The little roof-top platform was built-up the same way as the loading dock and back stairs: stripwood pieces were glued together to form the structure. This was a bit of a trial-and-error job to get the sizes correct.
And now to the True Confessions part of the story.

To keep things honest I need to admit to a fundamental blunder and some delusional behaviour. I've made the dormer construction seem like it was progressing along all hunky-dory when in fact I was ignoring some warning signs because I wanted to "get things done". 

Look at that wild backwards tilt on the front dormer's roof, not to mention the back tilting dormer itself and slanted loading dock. Basically, I didn't pay close enough attention when laying out the dormer walls. I kept telling myself, "I'll cook up some story to explain it, or I'll put in some external braces on the roof and explain it with a story." No, after trying to ignore it I couldn't stand looking at it any longer and carefully pried off the roof.
That little sob was glued on quite well, and I was glad of that, but it took considerable work to remove it. 
I then glued pieces of stripwood to the back wall to raise the roofline. After the glue was completely dried I took my dremel and some sanding sticks and ground the overall roofline to something that looked square. The roof panels were glued back on and some judicious filling and painting was done to make the walls look proper and closed.
The dormer roof now doesn't look too bad even though the dormer walls and platform are still leaning back, but they aren't as noticeable now that the roof is straight. I think the reason is that since the roof now doesn't attract attention, the eye doesn't linger there and figure out the whole little structure is wonky. 
The boosted ridge line on the back of the front dormer doesn't look too bad. The shims were painted with full-strength green and it looks fairly unnoticeable. The back dormer is a little tilted too, but I like to think of that as a quirky bit of Dilly's character instead of rooftop psychosis in need of correction :-)
Digital photography is a harsh mistress. When I look at the finished building with my two non-digital eyes, it looks quite charming, but when viewed through high-res digital images, it's a horror show. Which viewing experience is 'true'? Clearly, they both are, although a purist might say that my direct experience is subjective and the digital is objective. Maybe it is, but so what. Dilly's is on my shelf, and one day will live on a layout, and looking at it now and then with it's siblings nearby gives me some modest pleasure. I see more than the digital camera can capture. Digital be damned. It's alleged 'truthfulness' doesn't see everything there is to see.
Ok, well, rant-off. The last big job was to make the smokestack. It's just a piece of styrene tube with a cross-pipe cut from some plastic wrapped wire, stood-up on a piece of balsa for a foundation.
The smokestack was painted with Tamiya flat aluminum paint and washed with some thinned flat black. 
I'm not sure what that boiler room with its large smokestack is supposed to be powering, but it looks interesting. That seems to be the story with Dilly's / 8-Ball, an odd configuration that one can't quite tell what the building is for, but it looks interesting with all those dormers, platforms, and such.
After placing E. L. Moore's Dilly Manufacturing Co. in the magical, mystical, digital shrinking machine, you can get an idea how the two compare.
Don't forget to turn the lights out when you leave.


[1] A tempest-in-a-teapot controversy over who owned the plans to the Dilly Manufacturing Company got started with a postcard Wayne Riggle sent to Linn Westcott, then editor of Model Railroader, on 20 December 1966.

the 20th

Dear Linn,

Well, presuming that you didn’t get Hal Carstens’ permission to use the plans for the Dilly Mfg. Co. (page 63), now I guess that maybe I don’t have to feel so guilty about doctoring some of Model Railroader’s fine plans for use in the S Gauge Herald when I need something in a slight hurry.

signed Wayne T. Riggle

Regal Kits
302 Hessel Blvd
Champaign, Illinois

The card arrived on 22 December and a response was sent the same day.

December 22, 1966

Mr. Wayne T. Riggle
Regal Kits
302 Hessel Blvd.
Champaign, Illinois

Hello, Wayne...

and had that Dilly Manufacturing structure, January issue, page 62, appeared in RMC I would not have knowingly used it. You did not say what issue of Craftsman, so I’m not able to check. But did you notice what the author said in the story? He says he got it from MODEL TRAINS. We own the reprint rights to material in that magazine.

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. If it does turn out that the structure was in Craftsman, we’ll have to write Hal an apology.

Sincerely yours,

signed Linn

Linn H. Westcott

cc: Hal Carstens

E. L. Moore

Permission file

There’s a handwritten note on the bottom of the letter that states,

We found it in MT so I think Riggle must have been mistaken but I’ve sent a copy to Hal just in case there was any sort of publication in RMC too.

It turns out Mr. Riggle wasn’t mistaken. From my own investigation it looks like the model and plans were first published in Railroad Model Craftsman - in the February ’51 issue to be exact. I’ve seen some photos of the model in Model Trains, but I haven’t yet found any plans there. I admit I don’t hav a complete collection, so they could be there although I think it’s unlikely. Also, in the letters on this topic in E. L. Moore’s files there isn’t a reference to a specific Model Trains issue where they could be found. However, there are lots of clues that suggest there was some confusion by all involved about Dilly’s provenance.

Here’s what I do know after a bit of digging and trying to straighten out this little mystery. As a starting point, let’s go to the next letter from Linn Westcott to Harold Carstens that contains what looks like Model Railroader’s final take on the situation based on some information that Wayne Riggle later provided.

December 28, 1966

Mr. Harold H. Carstens
Editor & Publisher
6 East Main Street
Ramsey, N. J. 07446

Well Hal ....

the plans mystery seems to be solved. Wayne looked back in old RMCs and found the plans by Bill Livingston had appeared in your magazine not once, but twice, in January 1951 and again in February 1955.

I don’t recall the date when MODEL TRAINS used the plans, but it was probably between these dates. Then, along we come, picking up the old plans once more in our January issue, newly drawn, so now everybody’s run them. Our apologies to you.

And doesn’t the Summit Engineering “factory” look suspiciously similar, too? Whew!

Sincerely yours,

signed Linn

Linn H. Westcott

LHW: mjt
cc: Wayne Riggle
    E. L. Moore
    Bill Livingston
[The "factory" by Summit Engineering as seen in the March 1955 issue of Model Railroader. It definitely has a Dilly/8-Ball look to it.]

The two Railroad Model Craftsman references in that letter - Jan ’51 and Feb ’55 - seem to contradict some information I dug up earlier on this subject. As I previously noted, instructions for building a model appeared in the article 8-Ball Loco Works by Eric Brunger in the Feb ‘51 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. That article included plans drawn by Bill Livingston, and Mr. Brunger credits Mr. Livingston with creating the design and original model as well as the plans. I also checked the Jan ’51 issue as Mr. Westcott and Mr. Riggle suggested, but there is nothing there on this subject. I then checked in the Feb ’55 issue, but that too didn’t contain building plans - nothing Dilly or 8-Ball in there either. I also checked the Jan ’55 issue just in case there was a transposition error in the letter, but still nothing.
[I believe this photo is the first appearance of the 8-Ball Loco Works in Model Trains (February 15, 1951 edition). The caption focuses on pointing out the electric switcher. The scene is at Venango on Bill Livingston's Venango Northern]

So, what about Model Trains? Like I said earlier, I don’t have a complete collection, and as far as I know there isn’t a digital collection, so I’ll just comment on what little I’ve found. The February 15, 1951 issue of HO Monthly - Model Trains predecessor - has a photo of the model on Bill Livingston’s layout on page 21 ... 
[A little more than a year-and-a-half later, a similar scene appears on the cover of the November 1952 issue of Model Trains. The Dispatcher's Report notes Bill Livingston's Venango Northern layout is now defunct.]

... and the November 1952 issue has a photo of the model on the cover. I can’t find plans or a construction article though.

You can see how discombobulated this is getting. So, let’s go back to the letters to see what Hal and E.L. have to say. Here’s an excerpt from a 6 Jan ’67 letter from Hal Carstens to E. L. Moore,

And what’s all this Dilly Manufactory bit that Linn is sending me? Or, more to the point, which issue of Model Trains contained the Dilly plant as built by Livingston, or were you boffo when you wrote that one and sent him a plan from Railroad Model Craftsman, Feb. 1951 issue

And here’s E. L. Moore’s answer extracted from a letter he wrote to Hal Carstens dated January 9, 1967

Well, I thought that Dilly thing was from Model Trains or HO Monthly -- probably from the article on the reverse side whatever it was (M R has it now and they’ll have to check that out) anyway I thought so and along with other stuff from Model Trains and MR was what influenced me to send the article to them. Me, I just clips them things out, I don’t identify them.....

So, here’s what I think happened. First, take a look at this piece of cardboard I found amongst some of E. L. Moore’s old photos.
[Front and back scans of a piece of cardboard - it looks like the backing board from a notepad - with photos cut out from Train Time at Grizzly Flats that appeared in the October 1950 issue of Trains. This piece is from E. L. Moore's files. He made some notes in the upper left corner of the left sheet on dimensions for use when building his HO-scale Grizzly Flats station.]

Those photos appeared in the October 1950 issue of Trains, and I’d say this was his reference material for the Grizzly Flats project. I figure Mr. Moore clipped them out and glued them to cardboard so they’d be handy during the build. Notice that there is no identifying information about where the pictures came from. I only know they came from Trains because I bought that issue as part of the work on my N-scale Grizzly Flats project. 

I’m thinking that E. L. Moore did something similar with the Dilly reference material. I speculate that he clipped a photo of the 8 Ball Loco Works from the February 15, 1951 issue of Model Trains, and the plans from the February 1951 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman, glued them to a piece of cardboard, and 15 years later thought they came from the same source because he had only included partial reference information on the card, or maybe none at all (the plans can be clipped from RMC in such a way as to remove references to RMC). 

I guess all this seems as esoteric as dating ancient manuscripts. Since we're allegedly all digital now, not being able to pin the who, what, when, where and why on an artifact may seem like something from horse-and-buggy days. Well, our vaunted digital records are incomplete on many fronts, and even in the small world of model railroad publications it’s as true as anywhere else. I applaud Model Railroader for digitizing their magazine’s history, but neither Model Trains nor Railroad Model Craftsman are digitized. I realize it’s an expensive undertaking, but I encourage their owners to look for a way to make it happen (maybe some form of crowd-sourcing is the solution).

Now, one last little tidbit. If you go back and read the paragraphs about Dilly in Turn Backward, O Time, you’ll find this statement,

The drawings originated with Bill Livingston and appeared years ago in MODEL TRAINS; I kept them in my clipping file until I could use them. Since MODEL RAILROADER had acquired the reprint rights to MODEL TRAINS material, there was no problem in republishing those drawings for this story.

That statement is not in E. L. Moore’s original manuscript. And honesty, it doesn’t sound like something he’d write given how all legalese it sounds. I would have thought that if the plans came from Model Trains / HO Monthly, someone could look up the exact issue and state it. 

Well, if your head is spinning around after all this, don’t worry, mine is too :-) One thing’s for certain: Bill Livingston designed this little building and it’s been quite popular for many years. 

No comments:

Post a Comment