Friday, April 28, 2017

Rootin' and ticketin'

[A delivery to Cal's Cabbage Co. Photo by E. L. Moore]
This will be the last post for awhile as I’m thinking of retiring from blogging. Things seem to be pointing in the direction of placing the blog on the shelf: there are more demands on my time these days; as well, there are some other projects I’d like to pursue, and I think I’ve come to the end of things I want to post about. I can see the weeks and months ahead merely consisting of status updates and I’m not overly interested in that. I’ve taken blogging breaks before, but always with a plan to return, so Debra suggested I just set things aside for awhile and see how I feel in a few weeks. Sounds like a good idea. The blog will remain up-and-running, and I’m still around for comments or email. Of course, if there any new and interesting developments, I’ll be back.
[Buying tickets at the Grizzly Flats Depot. Photo by E. L. Moore]

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The loop

I did some work on the other end of the layout and drew out the turning loop. It's based on the TTC's Neville Park loop on the eastern end of Queen St. E. 
[I shot that photo of the Neville Park loop in Nov' 2011 - Yikes, time flies]

I think my loop has a larger turning radius, so its dimensions are proportionally larger than the real thing.
I shot that photo on the same day. You can see the entry and exit tracks as well as a long view looking west down Queen St E.
I was going to put the turning loop on the left end of the layout, but I decided to flip it and try it out on the right. I liked it better. I think my first thought was biased because of the way I'd always approached the loop from the street.
[This picture was sourced from the Toronto Public Archive and the caption says: "Queen Street East, looking east from Neville Park Boulevard to Nursewood Road, showing Neville Loop, Toronto Transit Commission, Toronto, Ont." The photo was shot in 1972.]

Love those PCCs from '72. And speaking of great oldies,

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Was E. L. Moore's Enskale & Hoentee RR inspired by the Gleish Valley RR?

[Track plan of E. L. Moore's Enskale & Hoentee RR from the Oct. '68 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman.]

For years I'd been clinging to a little clipped out photograph showing an HO pike on a card table; just a loop the loop affair with scenery but no switches. I dug this out and did a little doodling and came up with what we have here.
E. L. Moore explains the origins of his Enskale & Hoentee layout in the Oct. '68 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman.

... I read back to those formerly ignored articles and Trade Topics, sent off for about every catalog in the country (one box filled with N scale catalogs now) worked up a track plan that had lain dormant for years with only now and then passing thought...
E. L. Moore explains in a letter to Bill Rau the inspiration for his Enskale & Hoentee.

I warn you now before we go any further, there's wild speculation ahead. You can turn back and I won't hold it against you :-)
[Track plan for P. D. Hancock's Gleish Valley Railroad that appeared in his article Cubbyhole Railroading in the Mar. '53 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman.]

Look carefully at that track plan for The Gleish Valley Railroad. It looks the same as the one used by E. L. Moore for his Enskale & Hoentee RR

Now, the Gleish is a layout in 2 mm scale, measuring 24" x 36", isn't HO, and does make use of switches. So, on the face of it, its specs contradict E. L. Moore's stated inspiration for his layout. And Mr. Moore would have had to adjust the plan a bit to get it to fit on his 30" x 30" base. Although he did use N-scale, which is pretty close to 2 mm. And both layouts are set in mountainous terrain and both feature a lake in the centre. All are curious similarities.

Even given E. L. Moore's statement on inspiration, cast your thoughts back to The Great Dilly Manufacturing Controversy. E. L. Moore claimed in print that plans for Dilly Manufacturing / 8-Ball Loco Works were owned and developed by a certain person, but it turned out to be otherwise. He could get attributions wrong now-and-then because he used clippings from reference materials and not the full sources. So, there might have been a similar attribution problem over the 15 year gap between the two layouts. 

Would E. L. Moore even have read Mr. Hancock's article? We'll never know for sure, but in the introductory paragraphs to the Enskale & Hoentee story, Mr. Moore states he got started in HO scale railroading 15 years earlier, which would be 1953, the same year the Gleish plan was published. When model railroaders get started, they often read everything they can get their hands on, which in those days would be the magazines, so it's a possibility that E. L. Moore at least had a glance at the Gleish Valley.

Or, maybe both are based on that mysterious HO scale card table layout E. L. Moore mentioned? Maybe there is an ur-progenitor layout waiting to be discovered.

Or, maybe it's all just coincidence because a lot of 1950's and 1960's vintage model railroads did share a lot attributes - loop-the-loop, short tunnels through mountains, central lakes, etc.  Given the laws of chance, there was bound to be the appearance of unrelated duplicate layouts. 

All that aside, The Gleish Valley Railroad is a gem in its own right. It follows British railway practice and uses English style buildings and rolling stock even though the scenery is very reminiscent of the Rocky Mountains. Everything is scratch built including all track work and the loco. Its modelling and construction standards are very high, and it wouldn't look out-of-place in today's world.

Tapin' it to the street

[Beginnings of the residential area. Building placement is temporary and just to get the feel of the spaces that are developing. Interestingly, I had to try several different building types and positions until the whole thing 'popped' and the feel of the place came over me. I also realized I need some strategically placed tall buildings.]

I've started to draw the major ground features and track lines full-size on sheets of paper. I have this reticence to start with a big, blank sheet and often begin with smaller, just big enough pieces to get started and then tape more pieces on to build out a big sheet. Weird I know, but it helps me get over mental blocks about getting started.
I don't enjoy operation. I like to see trains or streetcars run, but running to mimic real business activities isn't my thing. I'm more interested in the buildings and street and all the stuff I've encountered in my travels. In Toronto I rode the buses, streetcars and subway to get where I was going - I used my feet too ! - but didn't travel to car barns or maintenance facilities or the other places commonly featured in a 'traction' layout. The streetcars were part of the street scene and that's what they'll be here. They'll run just enough so I can capture the feeling I'm after.
I did a little selective compression on the roads because I found with my first layout that if they're drawn completely to scale they take up lots of space. Too much actually. So, I spent some time fiddling to get what seems like some streets and avenues of the 'right' size: enough to get the feel of busy-ness and activity, but not too cramped and toy-like. 

Oh, and as hinted at, I leave you with Michael McDonald and the guys.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

He Builds Railroads - Then Scraps Them

He Builds Railroads - Then Scraps Them is an interview with E. L. Moore that appeared in the Sunday, January 19, 1958 edition of the The Charlotte Observer. The story was written by David Hayhow. The article was found and generously sent to me by Maria David, Newsroom Researcher and Photo Archivist at The Charlotte Observer. She's also the writer behind The Charlotte Observer's Retro Charlotte blog. I'd like to thank her for taking the time to answer my inquiry and providing the link to this most interesting article.

I've no wife, automobile or television so I can live as I please in complete peace. 

This love of leisure leads Moore to write for magazines, illustrate his articles with photos, collect and catalog some 1,000 books, and dabble in guns and art.

Some 1,000 books. Wow! There's a lot in that article, especially non-model railroad stuff that helps me get a little better understanding of E. L. Moore. But, I must admit, he seems a little ill-at-ease. He also seems to have a diabolical look about him in the photo. Maybe he hadn't dealt with the media much at that point in his career. He was barely 3 years into his 24 year long publishing career, so he might have been still learning the ropes.

The photos at the top of the article are of his Water Wheel Mill model, so they help to put a date on that project. The paper even created a side-by-side photo with the prototype as I did when I came across the surviving photos. The photo at the bottom of the article looks like another one of his tunnel shots along Goat Pass, but with a flat car I haven't seen before.

Like I've said many times before, there's lots of material still out there waiting to be found.

[20 April Update: At first I had a link to the article so you could read it; however, it turns out to be a password protected link to a private db which I can't post - I respect that. I may take another crack at writing a post about the article to summarize a few key points.]

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Inside E. L. Moore's Branch Line Station

E. L. Moore's Branch Line Station project appeared in the April '64 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. The interior photo that accompanied the article looks a little empty, but this one shows the station full of activity. It's a simple project, but there's lots of room for detail, expression and photo opportunities.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Setting the pace

Nothing rail related, just an interesting video I stumbled across last week about the history of AMC's Pacer. 

Green coaches

I took apart the EVRR coaches and gave them a shot of light green paint. Disassembly was a mixed bag. The chassis and trucks popped off with some careful prying, but it turned out there was an inner floor that was glued to the side walls and held a clear plastic window box in place. That took a great deal of careful sawing and slicing and filing to get out. After removal, the coaches were then washed with warm water and dish soap. Tamiya white fine surface primer was used as a base coat, and then a few light coats of Tamiya AS-23 Light Green (Luftwaffe) was sprayed on. I don't know what colours E. L. Moore used on his coaches, but since green was his favourite, that seemed like a good choice.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Railways and snow

Vince forwarded me this link to some online scans of Meccano Magazine. Here in Ottawa the snow is almost gone, but this picture from the March 1928 edition still caught my eye. A model of this would make for some easy scenery :-)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Was Robert E. Gilbert REG?

[Robert E. Gilbert's Small Town Warehouse from the April '57 issue of Model Railroader [1] and REG's "bizarre landscape with tiny people and weird shapes." sourced from The Outer Space Art of Robert E. Gilbert.]

I recently read that E. L. Moore started in HO model railroading in 1953, so I thought I'd read through model railroading magazines published from 1952 to March 1955, the month E. L. Moore's first article appeared, to see if there were any obvious stories or photographs that might have influenced Mr. Moore. On one side trip I stumbled across a biographical note on the prolific model railroad writer, Robert E. Gilbert, in the July 1959 issue of Model Railroader. Here's a snippet:

His first article in MR appeared in the Apr. '57 issue, and since then he has written 22 articles for MR and Model Trains. He's also written a number of science fiction stories, and a detective story, plus "how to" articles for an art magazine. He's also sold a number of drawings and paintings.

In model railroading, his primary interest is structures - and he has a 5 x 10 ft. layout still in its earliest stages of construction in his family home overlooking the Southern Ry. station in Jonesboro, Tenn.

So, you're thinking, ok, interesting fellow, but what's up? Well, he had 5 stories reprinted in Kalmbach's 1958 Easy-to-Build Model Railroad Structures. When I got into the hobby back in the '70s I was crazy about that book and more-or-less memorized it. I particularly liked his section tool house project and built a stone (!) version. The bio released a load of nostalgia in my brain, so I looked around the internet to see what else I could find. Nothing more on Robert E. Gilbert, model railroader, but some intriguing stuff on a Robert E. Gilbert, science fiction author and much published artist in science fiction fan magazines. That second Robert E. Gilbert signed his works REG. His art is way out and you can see a good selection at the Artisans website. There are also a couple of good posts about REG at kentmcdanielwrites here and here.

There seems to be some common points in the biographies of these two gentlemen - other than name - that make me wonder if they're the same person. 

REG was active from the 1950s to the 1970s in science fiction fan art. Robert E. Gilbert was active in the model railroad press in the late '50s and into the '60s [2]. The eras overlap.

REG was a native Tennessean and was thought to have died in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Robert E. Gilbert is noted to have lived in Jonesboro, Tenn.

REG was an artist; drawings and paintings. Robert E. Gilbert was noted to have "sold a number of drawings and paintings".

REG published 3 science fiction stories: A Thought for Tomorrow in the Nov. '52 issue of Galaxy, The Rocks and Rills in the Sept. '53 issue of If Worlds of Science Fiction, and Stopover Planet (initial publication place and date appears to be unknown). Robert E. Gilbert was noted to have "written a number of science fiction stories".

There's nothing conclusive here. And the online material about REG doesn't mention anything about model railroading. But, there seems to be some strong circumstantial evidence that Robert E. Gilbert, model railroader, and REG are one and the same [3] - but maybe I'm just the last to know :-)


[1] I chose that example of Robert E. Gilbert's work only because the signs above the doors read: N. E. Moore.

[2] One of the most interesting of Robert E. Gilbert's articles is A changeable railroad in the June '62 issue of Model Railroader. In it he explains how to build a small layout where it's easy to change the location of buildings and scenic elements because nothing, and that includes the scenic material, is glued down. It's well thought out, and the drawings and staged photos are excellent. And it reminded me of the Sand Table described in my grandmother's manual training text book. I don't know when Robert E. Gilbert went to grade school, but maybe that's where he got the idea.

[3] If they are the same person, then this statement at Artisans is fascinating: "One of the most striking things about Gilbert's work is the strong sense of the alien. Landscapes are strange and unexpected." Yet, his model railroad work is the complete opposite. I'd say it had a strong sense of the real. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

EVRR yoga master

[That's the new full-size EVRR tack plan on the left, in the centre is my old attempt to layout my first cut at an EVRR trackplan on a 2' x3' panel, and on the right is the track plan it's based on.]

I spent sometime making a full-size sketch of the new EVRR track plan. I took the tracing and scanned and enlarged it to 2' x 3' with my Mac, but when it came time to print, I didn't have software on my ancient machine that would print a multi-page poster. Adobe Reader came to the rescue. After downloading an old version it easily printed out sheets that could be taped together to make a full-size plan.
The yoga part came when I cut-and-taped it together on the floor. Maybe model railroading and yoga is an unexplored thing :-)
A number of curves are going to need to be circularized a bit when it comes time to lay track - especially that upper right corner that goes through the mountain. It's going to be a little tricky to revise my initial attempt to draw the plan on the panel. I might need to spray the panel with white acrylic and fill in some of the old lake with cork so I have a fairly good surface to work with.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Streetcar test track and the search for a happy minimum

I was reading on wikipedia that the TTC streetcar system has a minimum turn radius of 36', which translates into about a 5" radius curve in HO scale. My previous layout had minimum 15" radius curves; far too large for a convincing representation of the street. I laid down a lumpy loop of track - almost an oval at one end - of 5" radius to run some tests with my fleet.
It turned out only one end was more-or-less circular and the other was a bit too oval, but it worked out to be a fairly ok 5" radius test track. Only the Bachmann Birney single truck tram could handle that tight curve. None of the PCCs could.
I was crazy when I built that loop. I figured on all members of the fleet successfully negotiating the 5" radius curve. I got a little smarter when I had to do tests with 6" and 7" radius turns. I drew a guide on my cork board and temporarily thumbtacked down a strip of track. It turned out to be a good approach: a 6" radius curve was also too tight, but 7" worked just fine. To be a little more specific: the Bachmann Peter Witt could handle a 6" radius curve, but the Bowser and Con-Cor PCCs couldn't, although they could handle a 7" radius turn. It looks like 7" will be the minimum radius for curves on the new layout.