Friday, December 30, 2016

Index to E. L. Moore's lost articles

There are two groups of 'lost' E. L. Moore articles: those that were bought by Model Railroader and mentioned in their 1980 E. L. Moore tribute article but were never published, and those that were found amongst E. L. Moore's papers and photos whose existence was unknown.

As previously noted, Model Railroader graciously granted permission to post their six unpublished articles. These are them.

Village School

Build a 1900's Foundry

A Pair of Canal Boats

The Little Church on the Hill

An unloading and loading machine (aka Morton Salt Conveyor)

The Model Railroader articles were all in good condition and were complete with text, photos and drawings. The unpublished manuscripts found in E. L. Moore's files were in various states. All had complete text, but no plans or drawings were found, and some had no photos, or an incomplete set. Here is what has been found so far.

The North Conway Depot

Alaska Railroad Cement Mixing Car

Combination House Plan

Spumoni Club Coach

Shades of Buffalo Bill

[Last updated on 20 February 2017]

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Salty Tale by E. L. Moore

[A salt unloading conveyor described in E. L. Moore's unpublished article, An unloading and loading machine aka Morton Salt Conveyor. Photo published with permission of Model Railroader magazine / Model]

This lost E. L. Moore article is rather unusual: it's something of a mixed media project - involving wood and plastic - and a kitbash / scratchbuild hybrid. He mainly scratchbuilt with balsa and other wood and paper products, but projects involving plastics, not to mention kitbashes of plastic  kits, are more-or-less unheard of for E. L. Moore. That alone makes this article an important addition to his legacy regardless of its subject matter.
[Photograph of the prototype from E. L. Moore's archive.]

Mr. Moore submitted the manuscript to Model Railroader on 15 February 1971 under the title Morton Salt Conveyor. It was bought by Associate Editor Bill Rau on 4 March 1971 for $100. 
[Another photograph of the prototype from E. L. Moore's archive.]

Unlike the other lost Model Railroader articles, documents indicate it was planned for publication in the February 1978 issue, but for some unknown reason it didn't make it in and didn't ever get published. 

It appears that the working title and sub-titles for the article were:

A salty tale by E. L. Moore
An unloading and loading machine
Based on a prototype on the Seaboard Coast Line

That seems a little general and a bit vague. I think Mr. Moore's original title, Morton Salt Conveyor, is better, well, at least it seems a little more accurate to me.

All good things must come to an end, and it's no different with this 'lost articles' chapter of E. L. Moore's work: this is the last of the 6 unpublished Model Railroader articles. 

An unloading and loading machine
Morton Salt Conveyor

by E. L. Moore

Published with permission of Model Railroader magazine / Model

The prototype of this salt unloading/loading machine was located on a Seaboard Coast Line siding and had been in operation some 5 or 6 years when I photographed it in 1971. It began functioning as a naked machine and gradually evolved into what is shown: a simple shed covered with corrugated fiberglass, and a protective covering of the same material over the raised conveyor so as to keep out rain and snow. The lower end is set into a trench that extends beneath the track. An electric motor furnishes the power to run the conveyor belts.

In practice, the salt is dropped through the hopper car doors into a plywood hopper with a top about 5' square, set between the rails. This has sloping sides with a lower opening about 18" square. Set beneath this opening is the track conveyor with a cleated belt which carries the salt a few feet to a point just inside the shed, where it empties onto the longer conveyor belt which in turn empties into the waiting salt tanker. This conveyor belt is depressed in the center by means of frequently spaced triple rollers, the outside ones set at an angle.
Salt Tanker, top, was made from two Husky six-wheel trucks and a toy rolling pin hand filed to shape and covered with construction paper. Lower right photo: Salt Conveyor as made from construction crane arm (at left); and wheels taken from crane wheel base (with added parts in white); at top is corrugated cover.

My model, as show, is slightly compressed but is essentially like the visible portion of the prototype. It needs only sufficient material (Northeastern .040" thick, .040" spaced) to build the shed and the additional 9' x 12' portable simulated metal office. Three or four evenings of work should see the project through.

Besides the approximately 8" of corrugated wood, only one other item is required in the way of materials: an AHM U-310 construction crane. It's difficult to imagine any other single item so well adapted to the building of the salt conveyor as is this construction crane when dismantled. The rubber-tired wheels are the right size and set at approximately the correct distance apart; and the lower crane arm is about right in both depth and width to serve as the conveyor frame, and more than sufficient in length. Besides these, other parts are easily salvaged for such lengths of material as are needed. Even the necessary roller at the top on which the conveyor belt turns is provided. All that is necessary is to make a few cuts and weld-on (with plastic glue or liquid) a few pieces, and presto! we have it.
Our first step, however, is to build the 12' x 15' shed of corrugated wood around a floor of either sheetwood or cardboard, painting this latter a brown earth color. Stripwood posts, 1/16" square and graduated in length from 8 to 9 feet, are glued to the inside to support the 13 1/2' x 16 1/2' roof (which, however, should be left off until after we have installed the conveyor frame). A door and a 51"-square opening are cut in the lower end of the shed. At the other end is a 4' x 8' extension of stripwood, scribed to represent planks. This, in the prototype, covers the trench that extends from the shed to the track. As noted previously, the corrugated wood is meant to simulate fiberglass and in the prototype is of a greenish blue hue.
Unsnap the lower crane arm of the construction crane. Two sides, which will constitute the upper and lower faces of the conveyor frame, are about 48" across. Oddly, the other two sides vary; one is 39" deep and the other is 42", but this need not cause any concern.  The upper end, as shown in the drawing, has the end cut along the dashed lines and the tip portion discarded. The lower end is cut off square, giving us an underside length of 25 1/2'. Cement the frame in place in the 51"-square opening, the end resting on the floor.  Be sure the upper end is at the required height and angle as in the drawing. If desired, fill in the remaining distance within the shed with a portion cut from the upper crane arm.
Lower end of prototype conveyor with wheels.  AHM crane provides both wheels and conveyor in making model.

Now, presuming you have removed the wheel base, cut off the holding nibs at the rear and attach these, along with the roller, in the cutout angle at the top end of the conveyor frame as shown. The conveyor belt can now be installed: use gray cloth binding tape, cut to 3/8" width or narrow enough to fit over the roller, one length extending along the top of the frame and the other inside. Hold it in place with a touch of glue. Inside the frame, in the prototype is a length of fiberglass, depressed in the center, to catch any salt that spills off the conveyor belt. This can be simulated with bond paper: lay it over corrugated wood; then run a dry ballpoint pen down each groove. A 42' x 22' strip should suffice. Paint it before installation. Next, carve and sand a funnel with a nipple, from balsa. Attach it to the top end with cement and add side braces of .020" x 1/32" stripwood. A bit of paper can be rolled to form an extension of the nipple if desired.
Base of prototype salt conveyor showing vertical and horizontal supports and bracing.

The wheels and underframe supports are all that remain now.  Cut or saw across the front end of the wheel base (the end with the tongue attached) in a line about even with the tires. It's a tossup now as to which side takes the vertical supports and which takes the horizontal brace members. In either case, unsnap and discard the tongue. For the uprights, you can salvage frame corners from the crane arms. I happened to have some small round lengths of plastic on hand, so I used these, attaching cross braces as shown, and a rectangular box that contains the hydraulic fluid which in the prototype raises or lowers the conveyor to the desired height. The only essential point in attaching the braces and supports is to get them at the correct angles as shown in the drawing. The photograph of the partially assembled conveyor shows the original portion of the wheel assembly in gray, while the attached members are in white. When finished and attached to the conveyor frame, paint the machine a medium gray, including wheels and tires. An accessory is a 17' ladder which is sometimes used to reach the funnel to clean it out and also to reach the hatches of the salt tanker.
Top end of prototype conveyor with protective hood and funnel through which salt is loaded into truck-tanker hatches.

The final touch is the protective cover of corrugated wood simulating fiberglass. The diagonal cover has a 7 1/2' x 19' top with 18" deep sides, the lower ends of which are cut diagonally to fit against the shed wall. The top cover is 8' x 11'. It fits over the tip of the other and is held in that position with cement. Inside cleats prevent it from shifting from side to side.  Paint the covers to match the shed. I used Floquil light blue, white, yellow, and a touch of light green to get the greenish blue hue. Of course, any other color can be used if you prefer.
The Morton Salt Company trademark as applied to their salt hoppers.

Salt is shipped in two types of hopper cars, both bearing the Morton Salt Co. Symbol: a squarish letter M with the little girl and umbrella trademark below. AHM's 47' covered hopper car provides an exact model for one type and the Center-Flow hopper car does for the other. My photos show a scratchbuilt hopper car similar to the latter, while I substituted a Tyco sugar hopper car for the former although it is a much smaller car. In any case, since Morton Salt Co. isn't listed among the cars available, it will be necessary to repaint both cars. I painted the Tyco a medium olive and my Center-Flow a light tan; light gray with a touch of yellow in it.
At one time, the salt (which is used only commercially in manufacturing plants) was hauled away in ordinary dump trucks. More recently a specially designed salt tanker was built and is in use.  I built my model of this from two six-wheel Husky trucks and a toy rolling pin. This entailed cutting down one truck and using the wheels of the other. The rolling pin was filed to shape with an added piece at one end, then was covered with a lightweight white construction paper and banded with heavy cardstock. Rear fenders were improvised and installed and a compressing unit was set at the rear -- and, of course, there are hatches on the top and funnellike outlet valves below. 
Two short lengths of hose (plastic-coated wire insulation) are shown draped around the rear end, providing extensions to the underbelly pipe through which the salt is unloaded.  (The prototype unloads the salt under pressure and is able to hose a stream some 50 feet or more.) The tanker is painted an off white, using 1 part Floquil primer gray to 10 parts white. An AHM army fuel tractor-trailer would provide an even simpler chassis solution, plus double wheels.
A little baking soda scattered around simulates spilled salt.


If you are thinking about building this model, here is what the AHM U-310 construction crane looks like.
My understanding is that AHM imported it from an Austrian company called Umex.
I took a look in the February 1978 issue of Model Railroader to see if there were any clues as to why the Morton Salt Conveyor never made it in. It's hard to say for sure, but there is an article called The big truck bash by Edward C. Steinberg on using toys and such to kitbash HO scale trucks. Since E. L. Moore's article has a truck kitbash, maybe they thought there would be too much about truck modelling in that issue. As well, there were a couple articles on structure building, so since E. L. Moore's article seemed to touch all those bases, maybe there was too much overlap with other material in that issue.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Two churches from one lost E. L. Moore article

[The log church described in E. L. Moore's unpublished article, The Little Church on the Hill. Photo published with permission of Model Railroader magazine / Model]

E. L. Moore submitted The Little Church on the Hill to Model Railroader on 22 March 1964. He got a reply back from Associate Editor Bill Rau on 8 April '64 that they'd be glad to buy it for $40. And that was the last that was seen of that article - until now.

The article describes how to build two versions of one plan: one with log siding, and the other with clapboard. I saw the clapboard version back at the 2015 meet-up, but the log-sided version may be lost. You'll notice that the clapboard church and the schoolhouse are almost identical. Like the church, the schoolhouse article wasn't published either.

A wintery scene showing the log church as seen from the portal of a covered bridge. The snow is baking soda.

The little church on the hill 
by E. L. MOORE

Published with permission of Model Railroader magazine / Model

While we generally associate log churches with pioneer times, there are quite a few contemporary churches built of logs. Rockwood, Maine has one and a photograph of it recently appeared in a Saturday Evening Post article. I've incorporated some of its features in my church.

So it seems a little church of this type might be adapted to almost any village of the twentieth century. As with many structures, I've built two such churches which accounts for the slight differences shown in the photographs accompanying this article. The unassembled parts and the interior photograph was taken of one which I made and gave away. Later, I built one for myself and made two or three slight changes such as in the shape of the window openings, the vertical logs in the front and a lighter exterior finish which is more befitting a contemporary church and which is portrayed in the exterior photographs.
Same plan... one a log church, the other a conventional church, either one fitting in a space of 2 1/2 inches by 5 inches in HO.

And if you prefer a church with conventional siding, you can -- with the few exceptions as will be noted -- use the same plans and construction procedures. Below is listed the materials for either type church.

6"     1/8"  sheet balsa for foundation or base
6"     3/32" sheet balsa for floor overlay, steps, etc.
10"    1/16" sheet balsa for roof
10"    1/32" sheet balsa for shingle overlay
14"*   1/8"  sheet balsa for sides, ends, chimney (if building log church)
10"**  1/16" commercial siding (for conventional church)
Acetate for 7 windows 

Construction procedures will be based,initially on the log church, but immediately following each step there will be a notation calling attention to any differences in either dimensions or manner of construction. The floor plan below is the size the foundation is to be cut from your 1/8" balsa, or 17' x 31', including the 6" projections at each corner.  (In the conventional church, the foundation is 16' x 29', but the floor overlay is the same for both and all the interior detailing is applicable to both.) The floor overlay, which is 15' x 28', is cut from 3/32" balsa, centered and cemented to the foundation. Scribe this, stain lightly and shellac or varnish.
Now to such detailing as goes with the floor. At the front, two thicknesses of 3/32" balsa are cemented together to form the pulpit and steps leading up to the door in front. The pulpit railing is of narrow spaced sheathing, 3 1/2' high and is cemented to the floor and edges of the pulpit. The lectern, which holds the Bible, is a bit of the same material, 3 1/2' high, cemented to the railing and has a flat top 18" x 21". The open Bible is 15" x 18" and has a black paper cover and leaves cut from a stamp book. The communion railing is 2 1/2' high and 10' long.
Showing the interior detailing of the church with fireplace built into one end.

The benches are built of 1/32" balsa, formed as shown in (B) in the floor plan with 24" backs, 18" seats, 11" long and with a square 12" base which is painted black. Stain and varnish all woodwork, benches, etc. I gave mine a natural new wood look using raw sienna oil color in turpentine, a wash, about the same effect as a maple stain. For contrast, I added a touch of red to make a cherry finish for the pulpit and railings.

I think, too, I've solved a couple of problems for the incoming pastor. First, having to pass right under his nose, the members are more than likely to be on time and, once in, not likely to get up and walk out early. Secondly, with a good hot fire in the rear, the sinners will have to sit up front to be reasonably comfortable, and there he can have a good go at them.
Now the sides in the log version are 13' x 31' are to be cut from 1/8" balsa. Scribing the inside walls into 12" board widths will add to the looks. Scribe the outside into 15" divisions, beginning at the bottom. With a razor blade, make a V cut down each scribed line, 3" or so in depth and round the surfaces to represent individual peeled logs. The location of the windows is shown in the floor plan. The window openings, beginning 2 1/4" up from the bottom are 3' wide to a height of 7', then come to a peak at 9'. Frame each window with 3" x 12" balsa (1/32" x 1/8" for HO) which will then leave an opening 2 1/2" wide. Inside this go other 3' x 6' balsa strips, flush with the inner side of the wall and against these the windows are cemented. The front view drawing above shows the end window as an example of size and shape.

Sides for the conventional church are cut 12 3/4' x 28' from your siding. I used 1/16" Northeastern clapboard 3/64" spacing. The 12 3/4' width instead of 13' enables you to get two sides from one width of siding which comes 25 1/2'. Onto each end of each wall, cement 1/16" square strips of 12 3/4' long stripwood for corners. And of course you'll need to use narrower strips in framing your windows.
Making the windows is quite easy. I used clear sheet film, first drawing in detail with black in on white paper, then fastening film over this, giving it a slight rub with a touch of scouring powder to give the surface tooth, then using white ink, pen and ruler. Paint window opening and trim white, then cement in windows.

One other thing and we shall be finished with the sides for the time being. We'll need to add the log ends, the butts that look as though they are an extension of the logs used across the ends of the structure. For this, cut from 1/16" balsa, two strips for each side, 12' wide and 13' long and cement vertically 6" in from each end. The with a razor blade, carve these to look like individual log ends.

The ends are cut from 1/8" balsa, 15' wide, 13' high at the eaves and 20 1/2' at the peak. In scribing the logs for the ends, make the first line just 7 1/2" from the bottom edge and go on from there with your 15" divisions as end logs and side logs do not lie at the same level. Taking the rear wall first, shape the logs all the way to the top and then fit chimney to it. The chimney is built by cementing 3 pieces cut from 1/8" balsa, 7' x 25', then shaping it to size and dimensions as shown in the drawing. With a sharp pencil, work in irregularly shaped stone, follow with a gray wash, then color random rocks in pastel shades. Note particularly that chimney, when cemented to end, drops 12' below bottom edge; it will rest even with bottom of foundation when assembled.  

On the inside we'll need a fireplace, 5' high, 10' wide, with a depth of 24' and with a 4' x 7' opening. I extended this opening, although smaller, right on through the wall and into the chimney so that I could replace a burned out bulb from up through the bottom. I used orange paper across the opening, cut to simulate flames, with dashes of red paint added. Above the mantel, I cemented a 5' x 10' cross of stripwood, mortised together and painted white. A similar one is place on the front wall.

The front end gets a slightly different log treatment. Logs go in the usual manner up to about twelve feet, or just above the window peak. Above that, narrower logs of 12" are worked in vertically. The door opening is cut 3 1/2' x 8', is set up 2" from the bottom edge of wall and is framed with 3" x 12" balsa. I made two doors, two thicknesses anyway, of scribed sheathing and installed them back to back, the inside surface a deep cherry red and the outside a white. A small pin head does for a knob. Complete the one end window and you can assemble and cement sides and ends around the floor.  

Ends for the conventional church are of the same dimensions as specified above, but of course you can eliminate the fireplace and chimney.

The front stoop which becomes a sort of portico, requires 3/32" balsa, the bottom piece ("C" in the floor plan) is 6 1/2' x 9 1/2' with the next three pieces above it successively 9" narrower, cemented together until you have a stoop 4 1/4' x 9 1/2' with three steps leading up. Cement this against the front as shown. On each side a row of four 12' logs support the roof. Cut these 4' x 9 1/2' from 1/8" balsa, shape to simulate individual logs, then cement to stoop. Add a stringer of balsa, 6" x 12" x 4 1/2" at top of each, then a similar one 9' long across the front, after which we're ready to add the roof. One side of this roof will be 8' x 5', the other 8 1/2' x 5', cut from 1/16" balsa, the narrower butted against the wider at the peak. Place at angle shown in drawing, which will necessitate shaving outside edges of timbers we have just place, then cement in position. Add a shingle overlay of 1/32" balsa leaving a slight overhang at eaves and front. We'll describe the method of working in shingles later. Into the open gable end, fit a triangle of 1/8" balsa and work in narrow vertical logs.

The same measurements apply for stoop of conventional church, but with siding replacing logs on each side of the door and at gable above.

Now for the main roof, one side of which is 14' x 33 1/2' and the other 14 1/2' x 33 1/2', the narrower to be butted against the wider one. First thing you'll need to do before fitting together is to shave down the outside upper edges of the side walls to conform with the slope of the ends. Cut out roof halves to fit around chimney, then cement along ridge line and hold in place until the glue sets. Turn over and cement in three triangular pieces cut from 1/8" balsa, two sides of which are approximately 10' and the other 14', but taking the end as a pattern for accuracy. Next comes the shingle overlay of 1/32" balsa, letting it overhang slightly at ends and eaves. This must be used with the grain running from peak to eaves. When cemented to the roof base mark into 12" horizontal divisions, beginning at peak, then with straight edge and razor blade, make light cuts across just deep enough to cut the top fibers of the wood and pave the way for a follow-up with a sharp pencil. Pencil lines deeply, then along all except the peak row which is the ridgeboard, make vertical divisions from 3" to 12" wide to represent individual shingles. This makes a neat shingle roof, second only to the job done with an electric burning pen which depresses the upper edge of each row of shingles and gives a bit more realism. You can, of course, if you like it, use printed shingle paper.

For the conventional church, due to thinner walls, the roof sides, cut from 1/16" balsa, are 13 1/2' x 32' and 14' x 32'.

Next comes the steeple. It is square, each side being 5' x 7 1/2', cut from 3/32" balsa, front and rear cut out to fit roof peak, then the corners mitered and sides added. Carve small vertical simulated logs and cut out 3' x 3' opening in each side. For the bell, use a round piece of soft wood about 2 1/2' in diameter and shape it as shown in the drawing. You can carve and sand it easier if you leave it attached so you'll have a handle until you get it shaped, then cut it loose. Insert a pinhead to show as slapper, paint dark gray or black and burnish with powdered graphite to give a metallic luster. Cement top to center of 1/8" piece of balsa, 3 1/2; x 3 1/2' and fit into top of belfry.

I would suggest, due to brittleness of siding, to first drill small holes along the lines of your intended cut or opening and perhaps making the opening no more than 2 1/2' square, then sand to shape. This, of course, is applicable only to the conventional church where you must use commercial siding. While balsa splits easily, it can usually be cemented back together for even greater strength.

The steeple roof isn't as difficult as it may look, but it is largely a cut, fit and try preposition, so the dimensions given may require some slight altering. The smaller triangle in the drawings, with a base of 5' and 5' height, is cut from 1/16" balsa, four such sides will be needed. Miter and join and you will have a small pyramid. The larger triangle with 6' base and 6' height is cut from 1/32" balsa, four sides required, which are mitered and cemented over your small pyramid as a shingle overlay. The finished roof should then fit down over the belfry like a hat with a downturned brim.
Showing the log church before assembling.  This particular church was mounted on a larger green base, being intended for a mantel-piece gift.

Paint all the trim white. For the inside walls, logs and roof I used a wash of raw sienna and turpentine with a bit of orange added. Or you might like the roof in a contrasting tone, a slate blue or greenish tinge.

For the conventional church, there is just one more little item, a chimney. I made this of balsa 2 1/2' x 2 1/2' by 9' high. When fitted to the slope of the side roof, the upper side is only about 6' high. With a razor blade and pencil, work in the bricks, cement to side of roof about midway the length. Paint chimney and foundation boxcar red. Naturally the church is white, but I gave mine a bright red front door. I can give you the exact time it took me to build the conventional church, without the interior detailing. I've never been able to time myself before but this took me ten hours, split up over four days.

You could also build and install a simple altar which the pulpit needs. You can experiment with food colors that can be bought at any market and have stained windows in your church. And that about concludes the sermon for today.


I've been going through some old family bibles and came across this newspaper clipping glued to the inside back cover of a bible that an ancestor of mine acquired in 1887.
It's a drawing of the workings of a primeval steam engine. It seemed odd that such a clipping would be glued into a bible. I tried to see if the interest was in some other part of the clipping, but no, the steam engine seemed to be the centre of interest. Maybe my interest in trains is genetic. I wonder if 23-and-me has a test for that :-)
The typewritten note on the other side discusses a Mr. John Critchley Prince and his writing of 2 hymns to commemorate the laying of the foundation of the Blackburn Infirmary. Although I'm not related to Mr. Prince, my ancestors did live for a long time in Blackburn, England. I'm curious as to why this event and Mr. Prince are noted in such a formal way in this family bible.

Monday, December 26, 2016

2016 wasn't 1976 and 2017 won't be 1977

[My grandmother set up a snow village every year at Christmas. The photo has no date, but was likely taken sometime between the late '40s and late '50s - before my time, but it's the only photo I have. I recently found the picture stashed with some other old photos. If my memory is functioning properly, it looked much the same in the late '60s and '70s.]

First, some blog factoids before the navel gazing and crystal ball divining.

Most accessed 2016 E. L. Moore post.
Wales meets Colorado on the Eagleroost & Koontree RR

My favourite 2016 E. L. Moore post(s) - it was a tie :-)

My favourite 2016 project

My favourite E. L. Moore photo of 2016

Favourite binge watched tv series in 2016
Life on Mars (UK series)

Most ego expanding post of 2016,
The Cobol Building
This excellent build - I especially love the sign - has done more to convince me to upgrade to modern building methods than anything else I've read. And if you were wondering, The Fortran Building got some upgrades and repairs this year.
Repairs to the Fortran Building

2016 post that inspired me to get off my duff and finish a stalled project
Scenery and buildings for Mt. Adams
Suitably inspired, here is the finished Mt. Lowe observatory
At the Mt. Lowe Observatory

Least viewed 2016 post
Garner's Sin Sniper is not crummy

Three most commented 2016 posts
Fella from up Canada way

Some good novels read in 2016
The Sin Sniper and Murder Has Your Number by Hugh Garner
Brighton Rock, Stamboul Train, and A Burnt-Out Case by Graham Greene
The Was An Old Woman by Howard Engel
The Saratoga Barrier by Frank Herbert
Solaris by Stanislaw Lem

The 2016 build most likely to cause a nervous breakdown

Cutest build of 2016

Most eye-strain inducing build of 2016
Dilly Behind the Eight Ball

Favourite hobby related books read in 2016
Clear the Tracks! by Joseph Bromley
Welcome to Marwencol by Mark Hogancamp & Chris Shellen
Elgin Park: An Ideal American Town by Michael Paul Smith
Elgin Park: Visual Memories of Midcentury America at 1/24th Scale by Michael Paul Smith & Gail K. Ellison

Light Ray Blues, Series 2, got started in the spring of 2015 with 4 instalments. I wrote 16 more over a long, hot weekend in July 2016, and then posted the series throughout September and October. If you need some jaw dropping excitement to help work off all that turkey, you can begin binge reading all 20 pulse pounding chapters from here :-)

What's that you say, you can't take the excitement of Series 2 without first reading Light Ray Blues, Series 1. For all you Sheldon Cooper style completists out there, you can access the first of 39 mind-blowing instalments that set the model streetcar world on fire in 2012 and 2013  from here:-)
Light Ray Blues, part 1

Best movie seen in 2016
Miles Ahead

Strangest time travel short story of 2016 (and the only time travel story of 2016)

The 2016 build most deserving of a place in Las Vegas

Biggest HO-scale party of 2016
Most impressive E. L. Moore 'lost' article of 2016

This has been a year of change. In February, the new owner of the company I worked at for 20 years decided I was too old and expensive for them, so they laid me off. On the upside, in October I started work at a better job, at a better company. I was lucky. I was glad to have the E. L. Moore project to provide a pleasant diversion.

Speaking of the E. L. Moore project, I think it'll be coming to an end in the next few weeks. Likely by around the end of January or early February I'll have posted most of the outstanding material. No doubt there'll be a few more posts throughout 2017, but the majority of the mainline posts will be wrapping up. It's been an unbelievable little adventure. When I got started in August 2013 I figured I'd write a few posts about some things I liked about his work and it would end in 2014. I'm glad it took the turns it did and it has provided lots of fun. There are still many E. L. Moore mysteries, and if I'm lucky enough to help solve them, you'll get all the breaking news here :-) 

Ah 2017, there's an entire generation of people poised to enter, or who are entering, post-secondary education who are pure 21st century people. E. L. Moore was a pure 20th century man even though he was born in 1898. He passed on in 1979, well before the 21st century was much of a concern. My series about him is called 'E. L. Moore in the 21st Century' and as it comes to an end I'm often thinking about what message his work might have for this century. Even though he was prolific, and left a large legacy of projects, I think he has more than that to offer. He bridged the old American miniature building folk art tradition and mid-20th century model railroading. Those folk artists were all about manifesting their love of certain buildings that were important to them using whatever means were at hand, and Mr. Moore brought that to model railroading. For sources, he drew on photos, books, his own experiences, observations and travels, his memory, discussions, and his imagination. Sometimes he pilfered ideas from kits and made versions better than the 'originals'. He didn't like building kits and thought their only use was providing examples in how to, or not, write assembly instructions. Here's what I think his message is for us: look around; collect references; consult your memories; find what you love; build it;  build a lot; there's probably a story in there somewhere and it's good to communicate that too; remember that it doesn't take a lot of money to produce something good. You don't have to let the dominant culture lead you by the nose.
The American folk art miniature building tradition isn't completely dead. This year I stumbled across the work of Michael Paul Smith. Although he has professional experience, his work is deeply personal in that old folk art vein. Inspired by his project to recreate his childhood home in 1/24 scale, I spent some time drawing 1/24 scale plans and elevations of my childhood home. It's tougher than it seems. All I had were photos of the house and my memories. No dimensions. No drawings. No measurements of any kind. Sometimes my memories were at odds with the photos' objective facts. And sometimes unpleasant memories were dredged up along with the pleasant ones. Those plans took weeks of spare time to finish. Reality caught up with me and I didn't have time to move on to the next step of building a model. And I got a little stalled trying to decide whether to build an HO or 1/24 scale version. Maybe I'll give it try in 2017.

I can't mention the E. L. Moore project without sending out a big thank-you to everyone who has provided information, access, content, clues, questions and great discussion along the way. Many people who have helped have wanted to remain anonymous in our internet infested world, so I'll stick with first names and aliases for now in my thanks. Many thanks and best wishes to Debra, Paul Z., Vince, Chris, Jim, Becky, JR, Melinda, Nick, John, Mr. X, John, M, Leigh, Neil, Mary, Penny, Paul, Melissa, and Valerie.

I'm terrible at making New Year's resolutions, not to mention keeping them. For 2016 I thought I'd give up how-to style blog posts. I couldn't see any future in them. I wasn't writing about any new techniques, so what was the point. As regular readers will note, I fell off the wagon hard and wrote plenty of them, but all that was comfort writing. Debra doesn't agree with my no more how-tos stance. Her view is that retro-scratchbuilding needs to be taught to a new generation, at the very least as a gateway to better, more modern scratchbuilding. I'm not so sure there's much interest. She's probably right, but we agree to disagree :-) We'll see how long my self-imposed how-to prohibition lasts.

I'm thinking 2017 will be a year of shifting gears, trying new things, tooling up with new practices and hopefully with new ideas. Over the last few weeks I've been taking my layout apart and storing things away in preparation for whatever's next. I started building it in the fall of 2011, and it was more-or-less complete by 2015. One of the things I've learned is that my interest is making buildings and photographing staged scenes. I'm not into operation. I only run streetcars and trains around Christmas, and for friends and guests throughout the year if they have an interest in seeing the layout, otherwise my layout is my personal movie set where all the movies are static photos :-)

Any new layout is going to combine a retro-Toronto urban setting integrated with a beachfront scene. I'm kicking around lots of ideas; for example, using proper street rail for streetcar track instead of embedded train track; long streets; planning by placing buildings and things first and adding track later; building some retro-future stuff into the layout;  building a scale model of Sam the Record Man or Honest Ed's; use an 'exploratium' style instead of a 'layout' style for the layout; and on and on. 
Hmm, the retro-Toronto aspect might be blended with a little Ottawa. Ottawa used to have a streetcar system. It closed down in 1959, but the streetcar city aspects are still here if you look close enough, and there's some favourite places I'd like to incorporate in a new layout. This year I was in contact with the owner of Our Home and Miniature Land, a Miniature Worderland style HO-scale layout and facility representing Canada that is being built in Toronto. So far, the core display is focused on Toronto and some outlying regions, but work is underway to include Ottawa. After some summertime exchanges, I sent the fellow a brief on some things to think about that would help create a display that goes beyond Ottawa's tourist attractions and stereotypes. I haven't heard anything since, but it got me thinking that those non-stereotyped things that help make Ottawa, Ottawa can be included in my own layout if I put my thinking cap on straight. 
But, there are a couple of R/C aircraft I'd like to take a crack at building, so model railroading might go on hiatus for awhile. And I'd like to try either laser cutting or computer controlled paper cutters. I'm also thinking about light and how to use it better to get the moods I'm looking for. And I want to listen to a lot more music and read a lot more novels in 2017. I'm thinking about lots of directions, but haven't decided which to take.

Sylvie suggests I start a local club. I'm a Groucho Marxist when it comes to clubs: I wouldn't join any club that would have me as a member, not to mention found one. Although, I'm never adverse to good conversation, drinks and food. 

I'd like to thank everyone who has dropped by and spent a few minutes here. I especially enjoy the discussions that take place. And to all those who control the spam-bots that constantly knock on my virtual door here at 30 Squares, and the spies who snoop on what's going on, why don't you read some of the posts and take-up retro-scratchbuilding :-) It's quite fun and more rewarding than what you're doing now.

Happy New Year and best wishes for health, happiness, peace and prosperity! I'll catch you on the flip flop.


Maybe I'm not the Groucho Marxist I think I am. While in Toronto, Debra and I visited George's Trains. We hadn't been there in almost a year, so we had a lot of catching up with Sherwin to do. While we were chatting, a gentleman who was listening in, who only identified himself as Richard, invited us upstairs for a private tour of the Railview Model Railway Club's layout-in-construction. And what a tour it was. It's a vast layout being constructed in what was some rather banal office space. I started taking pictures as Richard narrated the layout's story and walked us through the areas, but I quickly realized that the room-after-room of interconnected layout was never going to photograph in any conventional way that would do it justice, so I'll just give you the one picture and note that if you're looking for a club to join in Toronto, this is the one. 
The layout focuses on the rail scene in Hamilton, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catherines, Aldershot and thereabouts areas of southwestern Ontario, and various areas will be set in the '60s, '70s and '80s. It's been under construction for three years, but it looks like there are still lots of great modelling opportunities ahead.
The other thing about George's is that it seems whenever I drop in there is always some sort of E. L. Moore related thing for sale. This time I stumbled across a constructed Molasses Mine kit on the resale shelf: $34.95 CDN if you're interested. And there always seems to a Ma's Place for sale. It was no different this time; there was one just a few feet away from the mine. Weird.