Sunday, March 26, 2017

Bill Rau's father's stone cutting plant?

This is the model Bill Rau was referring to in his letter to E. L. Moore. Mr. Rau commented that he thought E. L. Moore's Morton's Stone Cutting Plant was very similar to the one where his father once worked. This is one of my favourite E. L. Moore projects and it's on my to do list. 

The Adventures of Baby Spumoni

 Somewhere in Roland Emett's England.
 At the village blacksmith.
 Outside Abe's scrapyard.
 Conversing on stock auction day.
 Hanging out the wash ...
... and fetching water with Ma.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Reader's cities

In January I connected the free version of Google Analytics into the blog. It collects some interesting stats; some I have no idea what they mean. One that's particularly interesting is the list of cities where the blog is read. Here are the top 10:
1. Ottawa, Canada
2. Melbourne, Australia
3. Bristol, USA (not sure which state)
4. Virginia Beach, Virginia
5. London, Ohio
6. Stoneham, Massachusetts
7. Boston, Massachusetts
8. Toronto, Canada
9. Ridgecrest, California
10. Ashland, North Carolina
But, as is shown in the map, readership is rather spread out. Thank-you to everyone for taking some time to stop by wherever you are!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

EVRR unwound

The uppermost level of the EVRR can be unwound so that the lower level plan is clearer. Over on the left there are several return loops. The bars mark where isolating rail joiners need to be inserted. I think I've got them all, but I'll look at it again in a few days with fresh eyes. If you see anything odd, please leave a comment.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Tracing of the EVRR track plan

[Look at the lines in the lower right. They're quite different from my first guess.That corner has been a puzzler.]

I enlarged, enhanced and printed out the EVRR track plan scan. I then traced it on to some paper to better see the lines. I've done a few tracings since this one to help me work out the wiring. It's tricky and I think a couple different wiring schemes are possible. And I'm wondering if E. L. Moore designed this plan. Maybe someone else did. For someone who freely admitted he wasn't too skilled with wiring, it's a head scratcher.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Aquisition #2 for EVRR 2

I headed out today to the OVAR spring swap meet with John and Garrett. I had a bit of luck and found these old time N scale passenger cars. They'll need some new couplers and repainting, but they're just the thing for the EVRR.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Arnie's 361

I was going through some E. L. Moore photos when it dawned on me that he used an 0-6-0 loco on the Enskale Hoentee. In part three of the series he mentions that it was the N scale Rapido 0-6-0 switcher.
[Arnold-Rapido 0-6-0 sourced from - an excellent online reference.]

This loco is very close to the Bachmann USRA 0-6-0 I bought for the EVRR, so using it on the layout is at least in the Moorian universe of possible things.

Friday, March 17, 2017

New layout base

That's the base for the new HO streetcar layout. It's built-up from these birch art panels >
Two, 2'x3' ones and one 2'x4' centre section. The 2'x4' is up there on the rolling frame that has supported my last two layouts.
[That's the old EVRR track plan. I need to get the lead out and update the plan with the recent finding.]

I'm using a 2'x3' art panel as a base for the N-scale EVRR, and a 2'x2' one for the HOJPOJ diorama. I wondered if three of them could be bolted together to make a base for a larger layout: one that would be fairly easy to take apart so it could be hauled outside to the backyard for photos, or upstairs for showing off at Christmas. It wouldn't have to withstand the rigours of being taken to shows, or joined up with other modules to make some gigantic club layout, so I thought, how light can I build it if it only has to entertain us around the house? Like the EVRR, maybe I could even hang it on a wall like a painting - with accessories placed on a shelf of course.
Before I jumped into the job of bolting panels together I did some thinking about a track plan - which I'll get into in another post - and about weighing all the components so I had some idea about the weight of the thing. The old LOL got crazy heavy, so this time I figured I'd weigh everything and keep track of the weight as I go along. Here's the weight breakdown so far,
2, 2' x 3' birch art panels: 3.6 kg
1, 2' x 4' birch art panel: 2.2 kg
2, 10" metal straps: 0.280 kg
2, 5" metal angles: 0.283 kg
28, 1/4" washers: 0.085 kg
16, 1 1/4" bolts: 0.173 kg
22, 1/4" nuts: 0.079 kg
6, 2" bolts: 0.083 kg
Total = 6.783 kg ( ~ 15 lb)

For comparison, the EVRR train board, which is a 2' x 3' birch art panel with a 1/4" cork sub-base glued on, weighs in at about 2.27 kg (about 5 lb on the dot).

Cost-wise, we're looking at about $100 CDN for everything, which is a bit high, but I didn't want to get into a lot of cutting and nailing and gluing, so I opted for art panels and nuts and bolts, which altogether are a bit more expensive than buying pieces of wood.
The straps and angles are to distribute the stresses associated with the end panels hanging off the centre panel. The straight straps are 10 inchers. Longer ones probably would have been better, but ones longer than 10 inches were considerably thicker, and I didn't want the extra weight.
Likewise the angles are 5 inches on each leg. Bigger ones were also thicker and heavier. I think these will do. We'll see,
That picture shows all the panels bolted together before I flipped it over. I don't know if this will be successful, but time will tell.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Today's E. L. Moore's birthday

E. L. Moore was born on 14 March 1898. He'd be 119 today. If there's a scratchbuilding project you've been putting off, today's a good day to start. Especially if it's made of balsa :-)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Bill Rau and MR's 1,000th issue

Last week Paul contacted me to say my letter was published in Model Railroader's 1,000th issue. In August, MR put out a call for 250 word submissions asking readers to tell them about their favourite issue for their 1,000th. On a lark I sent them one: about an E. L. Moore issue of course :-) It seems to take magazines longer to appear in stores up here and only today was I able to pick one up.

It's quite a feat to publish an unbroken string of 1,000 issues. It takes generations of capable editors and staff. Bill Rau was an associate editor at MR during E. L. Moore's prime years, and those two were good friends. I don't know where or when they met, but from E. L. Moore's files, it seems they knew each other well before Mr. Rau joined MR. They exchanged a number of letters, and many went beyond the usual business of buying and editing articles. In this one from Bill Rau to E. L. Moore, Mr. Rau touches on some aspects of what he felt made MR standout as the premier model railroading magazine.
December 28, 1966

Glad you liked the way the boys did up your 1900 yard story, E. L.

It was quite a challenge to the layout boys but they came through in noble style. Personally, I thought the "Out of the thundering past" story was a terrific piece, too: I not only did the captions on that but gave the boys the layout idea. (Notice there ain't no modesty in my makeup!)

The fact that you did the yard purely as a modeling piece is interesting, yet the fact remains that it is a darned good prototype setup. Incidentally the enginehouse is set for the March 67 MR.

You wouldn't laugh at that not going into minute detail bit in the article circular if you saw some of the stuff that I have to wade through. Most modelers are NOT writers and spend too much space in non-essentials: a typical example is on my desk now for return to the writer. In the opening lead the author takes 23 lines to say what can be compressed, without losing the thread of his story, in about 16 lines. However, every so often we get a writer whose article and construction techniques are so good (and also timely) that we feel they should be done piece by piece. Findley's article [JDL: A small brick station, James E. Findley, Nov and Dec '66 MR] will be a basic technique for many modelers for years.

I can add in all honesty that many of your articles do the same for the older type of structures. I think your enginehouse piece will be one of them. Do you see how the two can work together? You describe the basic structure; those building it can either use your construction or use Findley's brick-by-brick method if they want all the finicky little details; that is, showing the smallest detail of the brickwork. Incidentally, when I set up your enginehouse story for the composing room, I took it to Linn for reading and he commented "Oh boy, E. L. will be on my tail for that editing job." So, to keep the reckoning straight, I did the editing. I did cut out or recast quite a bit of the conversation pieces, but I think -- at least I hope -- that I maintained the general thread and feeling of your original. I will be interested in hearing your comment on this job after you read it.

Re the fertilizer plant: okay, send it along and I'll get it through for you. Incidentally, I was a bit sorry to see that cut stone plant in RMC [JDL: Morton's Stone Cutting Plant, Nov '66 RMC]. I'd like to have had that one for MR. My Dad was a stonecutter and that plant was almost a dead ringer for the one he use to work in at Pittsburgh some 40 years ago; and I can't recall ever seeing a cut stone plant modeled before. In the one my Dad worked, the leanto off the gantry crane was higher and housed a gang saw and a planer. One thing missing, or perhaps not visible because they would normally be inside the shed are a batch of little benches on which the stone cutters rested the stone while cutting.

Yes, I am convinced that you did a beautiful job on the brewery [JDL: F&M Schaefer Brewery, Mar '67 RMC] for Ol' Man Crosby. He has been raving  about it in several letters so I told him "1 picture is worth 1000 words" so send me a picture of it which he promised to do after New Years when the mail service gets back to its normally disrupted state instead of the present abnormal situation. One guy here mailed a check to a downtown department store; the check ended up in Monaco at the residence in exile of King Peter of Yugoslavia. Another family got a Christmas card mailed to them 2 years ago . . . . Maybe we should go back to the Pony Express!

I've been on the go these past few weeks. My wife and I got a nice Christmas present: word on December 11 that my mother had fallen again and broken her hip this time, so we were off on another trip to Pittsburgh to make arrangements. Then back to Sudsville to get caught up on March MR so I didn't hold up the pressroom. Then on December 21 we got a call that my mother-in-law, who was coming up to spend the holidays with us, has fallen and twisted her knee and would be in bed for 2 weeks.

That did it: we hibernated over the holiday.

That snow came on up this away. We had 6" of it yesterday morning with 25 m.p.h. winds picking up drifts. I took one look at that marshmallow where I had left the car in the apartment lot, said "Nuts!" and came in by bus. Andy and Linn, who live respectively 30 and 18 miles out, never did make it. By 3 o'clock it had come down to about 8" - 8 1/2" so the boss sent us all home. Not too bad right now but unless the weatherman is off key again, we're due for about 4" more tonight. Maybe I'll hibernate over New Year's too.

Let's see a photo of that new background when you get it completed. Did you ever think of trying some color transparencies for possible MR covers? We are pretty well stocked right now but are always on the look for outstanding photos. I don't know for sure, but I think Linn might go for a model railroad winter shot along the Currier & Ives idea . . . 

Re RMC: You've heard the standard gag among model railroad writers, haven't you? "Send it to RMC, it appears right away and God knows when you get paid; send it to MR,you get paid right away but God knows when it will appear." A friend of mine is still waiting to be paid for a piece he did for Charlie Penn in 1942. Carstens has done a good job with RMC, there is no denying that, but from a printing standpoint and a proofreading standpoint, the mag leaves much to be desired. The difference is, of course, that we have three professionals at the helm: Linn has been with Al since 1935; Andy just got his 30-year pin at Christmas, and while I have only been here a little over 3 years, there's 30 years of service with Hearst papers in Pittsburgh and Detroit under my belt. On top of that we print in our own plant and can control the quality of the printing. An example, every bit of copy that we handle (this excludes advertising copy) is proofread at least 10 times before it gets into print.

And being on top, there's only one way to go -- down, so we work like the devil just to be sure we do stay on top!

So much for that, and since it's getting toward that time, I'll chop this off and start getting' ready to gang hame. I got some new flexible rubber boots that are pure hell to get on my no. 13 feets, so I start early. Putting them on, I know what trouble these gals must have getting into a girdle . . . .

This probably won't get to you until after New Year's -- I won't say WHAT year -- but here's the best for 1967 . . . .  and keep the good (and old time) stories coming. Carstens can have the modern ones . . . 


signed Bill Rau.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Found: Elizabeth Valley Railroad trackplan!

Back in the January 1962 issue of Model Trains, E. L. Moore noted in the introduction to his article, Let's Build a Mountain, that he "had well over a hundred letters requesting track plans of my 4 x 6-foot railroad as a result of photographs published in Model Trains..." It turns out that one of those letters came from a reader of this blog who asked Mr. Moore for a track plan back in 1961. And if postmarks are anything to go by, Mr. Moore mailed back a reply on 15 April '61 with a postcard - carefully sealed in an envelope - of the track plan on one side, and a handwritten note on the other.
It reads,

Here you are tho you may need a magnifying glass. Radius, elevation, wiring connections, sections all marked, if you can find em. 
Good luck, 
signed E L Moore

If you've been following this blog for awhile, well, you know I've been trying to figure out the Elizabeth Valley Railroad track plan for a good long time. Previous instalments in the journey are here, here,  here, and here. There are a number of corrections I need to make based on this amazing discovery that was generously shared with me by a reader. Thank-you very much!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Time trials at the Lumpy Potato Proving Grounds

I cobbled together a lumpy loop from two pieces of Atlas flex track, wired it up, and let'er rip. Ok, well, not let'er rip exactly, but carefully placed the loco on the track and carefully ran it with different speed settings. It runs quite well, but I need to get some rolling stock. I'm thinking a combine if I can find one of a suitable vintage.
And you're right, that is a giant screw head in that dome. I need to hide that.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

0-6-0 search finds ?-4-0

I searched through some of E. L. Moore's photos of his Elizabeth Valley Railroad to see if there were any locos similar to the USRA 0-6-0. All the photos in this post are cropped and enhanced from larger ones.
I didn't find any exact matches, but I did see this little engine that I think is an 0-4-0.
Visually, it looks like a shorter version of the USRA 0-6-0, and they've both got a coal hauling sloped tender. It's interesting that the 0-4-0 has no markings even though he lettered other locos with EVRR.
That's a very tight corner between the water tower and the store.
This little thing was even used to push a giant snowplow.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Acquisition #1 for EVRR 2

The Bachmann USRA 0-6-0 loco arrived and Gord from accounting came down to check it out as soon as it was taken out of the box. Looks good. The next job is to build a little test track to give it a spin, then it's off to the paint shop.

Well, wikipedia tells me the USRA 0-6-0s were built in 1918 and 1919, a few years out from E. L. Moore's favourite era, 1890 to 1910 or thereabouts. I'll need to put my thinking cap on to see if there are any things I can do to visually back date it a bit.

The engineering department is still on the lookout for a small English or Welsh loco to appease the Rowland Emett faction at EVRR2.

Foundation and Floor

Before any building got started I went back and inked in the plan.
The sub-floor and foundation walls are cut from 0.060" styrene.The floor plan is laid out on the styrene such that the outside walls will wrap around it, not stand on it. The plan looks a little odd because the garage floor and the side door are at finished grade level and the main floor is about 2 1/2' above. I'll need to add in floors for the garage and side entrance.
The kitchen and bathroom floor - in the upper right - was cut from 0.020" styrene, scribed with a tile pattern and painted, and then glued in place. The hardwood floor is made from leftover basswood strips I had in my scrapbox. They are around a scale 6" to 8" wide, so they aren't representative of the width of the actual floor boards, but when stained up - using cedar stain I had leftover from staining the back fence last summer ! - they don't look too bad. The strips are also 0.020" thick, so they join quite nicely with the tile floor. All the strips are glued down with a gel superglue.
Building the floor was very pleasant and I'm looking forward to the next step: adding the internal partitions.

From the wayback machine
Before the house, the subdivision was a farmer's field.
Nothing sophisticated about the footing forms, just boards nailed together and staked in the right place.
But they did the job. Here they are filled with concrete.
The foundation walls were standard concrete blocks. 
Even with that black goop spread on for waterproofing, there were still leaks.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Clearing spring snow along the EVRR

Spring snows can be heavy and it looks like the EVRR crew has the plow out for one last time - hopefully ! - before the birds find their way back from up north.