Sunday, November 19, 2017

HOJ-POJ Mfg. Co. ala Bart Crosby

This image was snipped from a larger photo in the Boomer Trail section of  the May 1969 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. All it says is that Bart Crosby built it "from plans in the April 1968 RMC". April '68? Hmmm. It sure looks a lot like the HOJ POJ Mfg.Co. that E. L. Moore published in that issue. And since Mr. Crosby and Mr. Moore were good friends, well...And look at that over on the left, he even built that rascally water tower! Crosby's Yarns: Unbelievably Preposterous! 'Nuff Said.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Dipping my toe into Wikipedia

Here's the beginning of the E. L. Moore Wikipedia article [19 Nov 2017 update: link removed]. There's not much there yet, but now that I've studied the getting started material and setup an account, hopefully things will move along a little faster. One thing I've learned in the process is that it's important to make sure there are suitable references for the statements I'm making so that the article passes review and doesn't get rejected. Well, there's a big winter storm on the way today, so I've got go and do some things before it arrives.
[19 Nov 2017 update: Looks like the article is going to be removed from wikipedia because I stupidly posted the initial drafts here, so now I'm violating my own copyright. It might be resolvable; however, it looks like I'd need a legal degree to make sense of things. There's a steep learning curve to Wikipedia, and I think I'm going to stop at this level - the summit isn't worth it.]
[21 Nov 2017 update: Still no word from anyone at wikipedia about how to resolve this. I'll need to slog through their legal material and see if I can figure it out. After a little web search it appears my woes aren't unique to me; for example, according to this Time article, "The problem, most researchers and Wikipedia stewards seem to agree, is that the core community of Wikipedians are too hostile to newcomers, scaring them off with intractable guidelines and a general defensiveness." I now have a better understanding why articles like those on John Allen and Frank Ellison are so basic and lacking in references even though there are plenty of reputable ones out there - more so than for E. L. Moore. Ok, rant, off :-) Back to normal programming.]
[21 Nov 2017 update #2: I sent wikipedia the email they requested so I can continue. I haven't heard back from a person yet - seems unlikely that I will - but I'll see what they do with the permission email.]
[22 Nov 2017 update: I'll have to retract my grumblings! I was contacted by someone from wikipedia who was quite cordial and gave me some advice about what to do. I did it and now we'll see if the draft-in-progress gets reinstated. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.]
[23 Nov 2017 update: As of dawn, I'm still locked out of the draft. We'll see if anything changes today.]
[23 Nov 2017 update #2: Around mid-afternoon the draft wikipedia article was unlocked and I can get back to putting it together - hopefully I'll be able to resume this weekend! I wish to thank the wikipedia staff for resolving this - and on US Thanksgiving too! - and readers who encouraged me to press on. I hope this is just a minor speed-bump and it's clear sailing for here on.]

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Streetcars rule! . . . well, they do on King St.

Since Sunday, for all intents and purposes, cars are virtually eliminated from Toronto's King Street for a year and streetcars rule the roost. Congrats to Toronto! It wasn't that way back in '74 :-)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

E. L. Moore's workbench

This is a high rez slice of E. L. Moore's workbench from his March 1971 portrait which will be used at his wikipedia bio. I've done a little bit of processing on it to lighten-up the shadowed areas on the shelves.
There aren't a lot of labels to read, but there is a box labeled KADEE roughly in the middle of the shelf. No doubt a box of Kadee brand couplers. As well there's what looks like an engine house casually stashed on the second shelf from the top, over on the right. There's a water tower on the bench across from his elbow. Is he working on it, or is was that just a convenient place to drop it? His bench looks like that of many modellers, lots of stuff and tools placed here, there and everywhere, and not too much space left for the model being built. He was also known to work from tv trays and an easy chair, so maybe the bench wasn't used for actual work, but as storage and staging area?

Take a look at the window in relation to the bench, and go back and take a look at the window corner in the window corner post. The spacing of the wall and window elements is very similar to those in this photo, if not identical, which suggests the photos were taken in the same location, in the same apartment. I can't prove this, but there you go. More food for thought in the ongoing investigation :-)

E. L. Moore's writing corner

To me it's fascinating the things one can see when photos are high rez scanned and enhanced a little. That's the picture hanging in E. L. Moore's writing corner. When I saw it, it reminded me of his Water Wheel Mill photo
This is the full photo from which I sliced the portrait used over there on the left to head up the E. L. Moore in the 21st Century Series column. It was also a possible candidate for the wikipedia bio. I have no idea when this was shot. I'm guessing it was sometime in the 1940s, but it's just a guess. It turns out one can find online interior photos of his 525 Oakland apartment  (I think he moved in there sometime in the late 50's or early '60s, and left in the mid to late '70s) because it's still a rental unit. Assuming the floor plan hasn't changed even though the finishes have been updated, I can't find a corner that matches that one. Maybe this was his Pine St. apartment where he lived prior to Oakland Ave.? But again, this is all guess work.
And an outtake :-) Regardless of dates and addresses, look at all the stuff in these two photos! I'm high rez scanning them to see if any of the wording on any of the objects can be read. 
In the bookshelf, I can only make out 3 titles so far. From the above subset of books,

1. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
2. Life of Johnson by James Boswell
3. The Still Hunter by Theodore Van Dyke

Nothing railroad related.
And for the calendar, that's the best I've been able to do so far. Can't read anything other than it came from The Bank of Commerce.

Those two photos of him at the desk are fascinating and raise lots of questions. Was he a writer at the time? Wanted to be one and was getting the equipment together? Maybe it was just the space he used for his photo business office work? The desk is a fine piece of furniture; look at the way the typewriter is stored in it when not in use. That's a nice desk lamp too. There's nothing junky or disorderly there. All I can say is that it's good to have more questions.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Bank on Bank

I was looking for a fairly easy and relaxing project I could work on for 10 or 20 minutes at a time, and soldering track work wasn't going to do it, so I thought I'd take a crack at a small HO scale building I'd been thinking about for awhile.
One night last year I was driving home from a movie and snapped that. I shouldn't have. I was driving. Well, I was stopped at the light if it makes you feel better.
It's an old bank at the corner of Glen and Bank street. A bank on Bank. Built in 1955. It was a Toronto-Dominion Bank I think. I've always admired this little building. Well, ok, it's not so little. Look at that long side facade.
Hate that white sign board someone stuck on top.
Today it's a furniture store and whoever owns it now took down that thing. 

It has a sense of solidity about it. It's not showy, but has a handsome simplicity. And it's basically just a decorated box, so I thought it would be easy to model. That's what I decided to do: build it. I want to build more brick and stone buildings and develop some ease in doing so, so this seemed like a good project to give it a try.
That upper photo of the facade is my estimate of being nearly HO scale, maybe a little bigger. From that, I figured out some dimensions. The facade is modelled without selective compression, but the side wall is considerably shortened, otherwise it would take up a lot of space on the layout. In the end the basic shape is very shoebox-like - a lot of buildings are.
I wanted thick walls, and each is made by gluing 2 pieces of 3/32" balsa together with their grains perpendicular to each other.
Each wall was left to dry overnight under a stack of books. I could have used foam board or styrene, but I had some balsa left over from a project I never got around to starting, and I have a well known E. L. Moore fixation :-) so the choice was obvious. 
These are the wall's inner surfaces. The end walls are notched on the sides so the side walls will fit snuggly.
The windows and doors are trimmed with what looks like concrete pieces. And there's that nice yellow brick. I was planning on using Micro-Mark's HO scale yellow brick like I used on The Bookery. I didn't have enough on hand and contacted Micro-Mark about ordering more and they broke the bad news: they no longer make it! And hadn't done so for a few years. So, all I had on hand was some red plastic brick sheets and decided to go with that and paint the whole thing once major construction was done.
For the concrete trim I had an empty box of instant oatmeal, so it was pressed into service.
I cut the trim pieces to 6" wide, which is probably a little wider than the prototype, but doesn't look too bad.
I waffled back-and-forth about whether I should decorate each wall before assembling them into a box, or glue up the box and then decorate. In the end I added a few pieces to the unassembled walls, then glued them into a box, and finished attaching the trim and brick sheets. Peeking inside you can see the styrene floor - I think it's 0.020 inch - that was glued in after the walls were assembled. I chose styrene only because it was the thinnest sheet material I had on hand.
After installing the floor, some additional balsa strips were glued into the corners for extra bracing. In retrospect, I think this is a bit of overkill.
The floor fits ok, although its got a little flex.
You can see that the side wall is much shorter than the prototype, but maintains its style. One thing that strikes me about this model is that if I didn't know the prototype, I'd say the model was in O scale given those large door and window openings. This would likely make a good O scale model of some sort, although it wouldn't have the impressiveness of the large windows in relation to the smaller people that HO does.
At this point I wanted to see how it would look on the layout. The sidewalks are yet to be installed, so things are looking a little bare. Also, I've got this whole thing I'm working out in my mind about making sure streets turn in the correct sequence to get to the various buildings from the sidewalks - it's a little convoluted and I think I'll do a post on what I'm considering is an important planning principle to me for streetcar layouts. Anyway, it doesn't look too bad on that corner.
From this point it was more-or-less just cutting and gluing pieces into location. A pleasant and relaxing task when done on a now-and-then basis.
One thing though. I need to do a little work on improving the corners where the brick sheets come together. The digital photos highlight a few problems.
The wall that butts up against the neighbouring building has a section where there appears to be no brick, just exposed concrete block.
To hint at that, I pieced in a section on the blank side wall with a piece of plastic HO block sheet. Well, that's phase 1, refinement, painting, detailing, lighting and all that good stuff is next.

Top Shelf of E. L. Moore's Workbench

I was loaned the E. L. Moore portrait photos so I could scan them at high resolution. Up there is a slice of a higher rez scan of the E. L. Moore portrait used in the second draft of the wiki biographyThe photo has March 1971 penciled on the back, which I'll assume is when the photo was shot, so that makes him 73 at the time.

There's a row of models stashed away on the top shelf. Here's what I think they are,

A. Three Store Fronts and a Shop

B. The Yard Office from the shortline terminal yard.The appearance of this component of that diorama may suggest that the yard had been disposed of by March '71.

C. The Blockhouse from his unpublished article, Shades of Buffalo Bill.

D. Sort of looks like one of his blacksmiths, but the opening seems too large and the cupola is missing. Please post a comment if you recognize it.

E. Moore's Modern Mill that appeared in the June '72 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman.

F. The title project from his unpublished manuscript, Build a 1900's Foundry.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

State of the EVRR

I cleaned up the workshop and got the EVRR ready for wiring and adding the upper level track. I'd like to have this running by Christmas, although it'll be a stretch. That's a 4-wheel Bachmann caboose on the siding. I found it on the weekend. It's not much of a model, but with a little painting and fiddling, it'll be ok for this setup.

Those are the EVRR coaches. I've resumed work on them so I'll have some rolling stock. They've been sprayed with Testors Glosscote in preparation for decaling.