Sunday, April 28, 2019


At a recent breakfast meeting of the 30Squares Executive Committee it was mentioned that the reading list wasn't getting the consideration it should because it was too intimidating. I was told readership would improve if I offered food first. Well, this being a blog, all I can do is offer the recipe for some food along with enticing photographs. So, keeping well within the spirit of The Moore Doctrine ( ... But I am plumb tired of being dry and factual so I writ it just about as it went and you can tell Mr. Zip he oughta be thankful I didn’t stick a book review in the middle of it and maybe too a recipe for rhubarb pie ... ) I present to you the recipe for the official food of 'Miniature Building Construction in the 20th Century', Debra's Chilaquiles.

Note: Before beginning you should acquire 2 Pyrex / Corningware Cornflower Blue dishes as shown in the photo. Ours came from a thrift store for well less than $10 each, as this is a recipe being conducted within the spirit of The Moore Doctrine.

Let's get going.

What you need to make 2 servings:

Corn chips (I use Neal Brothers "classic" yellow organic corn chips)
4 eggs
Unsalted butter for frying the eggs
2 to 3 oz. of Monterey Jack cheese, shredded, or 2 to 3 oz. Medium organic cheddar, shredded, and 1/4 cup of crumbled Feta
1 pkg green chile enchilada sauce (I use Frontera), or half of 12 oz / 375 ml jar of green chile salsa


1.  Make a layer (not too thick) of slightly broken chips in the bottom of each dish.
2.  Pour and divide the sauce over the chips in each dish to cover the chips.
3.  Put half of "melty" cheese over the sauce / chips in each dish. 
4.  Microwave each dish for 30-60 seconds, just until cheese starts to melt.
5.  Meantime* fry eggs in butter, or however you like to fry eggs.  Yolks shouldn't be cooked completely.
6.  Put two eggs on top of chips/sauce/cheese. Add Feta, if desired.

* to save time I start frying the eggs, and then microwave the dishes.

There you go! Now, suitably enticed and fortified, you may want to re-shingle a roof, or dig a garden, or install your summer tires, or put an addition on the house, or maybe even read the 'Miniature Building Construction in the 20th Century' list :-)

Saturday, April 27, 2019

In Miniature with Rod and Jeff

A couple of weeks ago I bought a copy of Simon Garfield's new book, In Miniature. It's a collection of interconnected essays on various types of miniatures and the people behind them. They're interesting stories of love and obsession. 

Although I learned many new things, if you're a long time model railroad enthusiast, the essay on model railroads might seem a little thin. And the equivalence made between having it known you're a model railroader and 'coming out' as one is a little grating, but, overall, all's good.

I found the section on Rod Stewart's layout of particular interest as Vince and I had been discussing Mr. Stewart's layout, and that made me take another look at the story Model Railroader ran on it in Dec '07 - which Mr. Garfield referred to as where Mr. Stewart "came out publicly". I was primed. 

Between those two sources it hit me: Rod Stewart is an example of the 'Regular Model Builder' I was blathering on about in the Miniature Buildings in the 20th Century reading list post. I hear you scoffing out there :-) Yeah, he's a celebrity with mountains of money, so he's far from regular in that regard, but that's not what I'm talking about here. It was these statements he's quoted as making that are presented in those stories that rang the bell:

It's not a question of trains. It's a question of scale and detail. I base my layout on the 1940s New York Central and Pennsylvania line. I love it, man, I really do ...

Late at night I used to leave my hotel and just walk around looking up at all those buildings.

I don't want too much of that [buildings not made by himself] on my layout, it would make the railroad too impersonal.

Combined with the MR story on how Mr. Stewart was a self taught kitbasher and scratchbuilder of miniature buildings, well it was 2 and 2 equaling 4 at that point. While you're contemplating that I'll leave you with Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck.

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Sgt. Rock School of Management Studies

When I was a boy my mum took me to get my hair cut at a barbershop run by two Italian brothers and their cousins in the Cedar Heights Plaza. Six or seven chairs, maybe eight, I can't exactly recall. Shotgun layout with a small waiting area upfront and mirrors paneling both side walls so you could contemplate infinity while getting your hair cut.

My first trip there was legend. Up until then my mum cut my hair by the tried-and-true bowl method: place bowl on head, trim around edge. My father held me down during the procedure. But, there came a day when no bowl in the house would accommodate my growing noggin, so hair trimming became a job for professionals. For some unknown reason, I considered going to the barber on par with being taken to the gaols. One day when my hair was approaching nascent hippie lengths, my mum dragged me there kicking and screaming. And since she didn't drive, we walked there for all to see and hear my indignity. When we finally got there, I displayed some cunning, and when she had to momentary release her death grip on my wrist to open the barber shop door, I ran for it. She ran after me, dragged me back, and unceremoniously tossed me inside the barbershop. The barbers were laughing themselves silly. No waiting. A board was placed across the arms of the nearest chair to boost me to the required height and the cutting began. And so did the wailing. Let's just say my mum was not amused, and neither was my father when the tale was recounted to him later that day.

I got over the trauma and was eventually trusted to walk myself there. A change had come over me. A sneaky change.

In those days I was allowed to buy a comic book or two. My father read them after I was done. Superheroes, mystery, horror, Archie, no problem. But, there was one big no-no: no war comics. Never. This is almost an exact quote, "If I see any war comics there will be trouble", and I never doubted that. I never bought any. My father believed that war, and those Nazis, weren't to be stylized or trivialized in anyway. Hogan's Heroes was off limits too. Nazis weren't buffoons. They were evil and smart and deadly and needed to be eliminated, and I wasn't ever to forget that. I never have.

But I was curious: what was in those war comics?

I was soon to be initiated. The barber brothers always had a stack of comics in the waiting area, and one day Sgt. Rock turned up. I eagerly took my mum's fifty-cents, and as gently as a lamb walked myself over there to get a hair cut when the time came. I don't remember anything about what I read other than I was very happy in partaking of the forbidden fruit, even if it was for only five or ten minutes while I awaited the scissors and infinity.

A few years back I discovered that DC was reprinting black-and-white, cheap omnibus editions of their classic comics. Sgt. Rock was one, so I indulged and sprung for it. 

Sgt. Rock is indeed full of action and cartoony violence that boys of a certain age enjoy. However, whether it was appropriate for those boys is another question. My father was probably right that it wasn’t. On the other hand, for the most part, the drawings are great. But, I guess the most surprising thing to me is that Sgt. Rock has a lot to say about things like leading, managing, self-knowledge, hierarchy, loyalty, and inspiring people to accomplish something. Of course all that’s pitched at a fairly low level, but those themes still would have been lost on me back then.

Well, this lead to a war comics binge. I bought fat, pulpy, black-and-white reprints of what DC had to offer: The Losers, Weird War Tales, Enemy Ace, and the even weirdest, The Haunted Tank. I was vaguely aware of Enemy Ace, The Losers and Weird War Tales, but The Haunted Tank was news to me. It recounts the WWII adventures of an M3 Stuart tank that is haunted by the ghost of a Confederate general named J.E.B. Stuart, and is commanded by a man named Jeb Stuart– that’s a lot of Stuart coincidences! For page after page I saw that little Stuart tank defy the odds and succeed in battle, so when quite by chance I saw a 1/35 Tamiya Stuart kit on the hobby shop resale table I bought it.

I’d never built a military kit before – they were banned too – but I thought I’d at least paint up this one and glue it together. Now, tank modelling is a very sophisticated endeavour. It’s almost an engineering discipline in its own right, so my model is laughably substandard, but I enjoy glancing at from time-to-time. It’s a plastic memento for reliving my little juvenile subterfuge in the barbershop battle for comics reading freedom :-)

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Bert's gets The Oxford-Chicago Treatment

I had some time over Easter to finish Bert's. Well, I finished the shell. There's still a lot of interior detailing that could be done. For that, I'm going to wait until it has a home on a layout or diorama. Maybe I'll need to replace the MG with a Model-T :-)
The roof seemed to need a lot of attention, and I thought I'd make it removable to make it easy to look inside.
To be removable it had to be a robust, self-supporting little structure unto itself. So, in classic E. L. Moore style, I made three triangular trusses to hold it all together. All the roof components were cut from a leftover piece of thin basswood.
The problem was the roof didn't fit too well. The building wasn't square or accurate enough, and neither was the roof. There were unsightly gaps between the roof and the walls that made the removable roof idea not so compelling. So, I carefully pried off the trusses and decided I'd glue the roof in place. But first I needed to panel it.
I made a stack of paper metal panels in the classic E. L. Moore style. I have a wood block with corrugated plastic panels glued on, which is used to emboss the corrugations into a sheet of paper with a spent ballpoint pen. After the embossed sheet is painted a flat aluminum, it's cut into 4' x 8' panels.
The panels were stuck on the roof with some white glue.
After paneling came the moment of truth: gluing the roof to the walls. As I mentioned, a lack of squareness made it a little tricky to get things aligned and tightly fit. But, I developed a little maneuver known as: The Oxford-Chicago Treatment !
Slather some white glue onto wall edges, carefully place and align roof on walls, place edges of weighty tomes strategically on walls, and presto! Er, well, not so much presto just yet. I scrambled around a bit to buttress the books to keep them from sliding off: a scanner with rubber feet and a weight came in handy. Then I let the whole thing be for a couple of hours while the glue dried, and then presto!
Once out of the press, the roof was stuck to the walls quite well and the little structure seemed to stand not too badly, although it's not perfectly square.
My version of Bert's has doors at either end and skylights. I wanted to maximize opportunities for looking inside, and I didn't think those two modifications were too way-out for this building. Doors on each end allow cars to be driven straight through, and those skylights would brighten up the interior of the real thing. Although, my skylight frames are too thick. I made them from the smallest plastic angle I had on hand as I thought I could build a pair of nice little frames that would trim off the openings and provide a suitable edge to seat the windows. In the end, those niceties didn't seem to matter. I should have just used some card for framing as it would have had a more realistic thickness. My plastic frames would cause build-ups of snow and water that would likely leak inside.
As you can see, the triangular trusses were removed, and instead I added some thin beams from wall-to-wall just to add a little interest if someone does peek inside. Once it's part of some diorama, I'll think about adding benches, tools, and what-not inside.

Bert's and his brothers aren't high fidelity, but they have a certain sweetness that I quite like. I'm thinking of placing them in a little diorama, along with the Mt. Lowe observatory, so I can practice making N-scale scenery before tackling that on the EVRR, and have a little fun with placing the buildings into a scene.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

A ‘Miniature Building Construction in the 20th Century’ Reading List

Title tells all: this is a long term project to create a list of the most important books and articles that capture the techniques and spirit of making miniature buildings in the 20th century. 

You can jump straight to the list at the end of this post if you want and skip this introduction where I'm going to try and explain my motives and guidelines in making it. Also, if you skip to the list, please note it's just a wobbly start at the moment, and I plan to add and subtract from it over the months and years ahead. So, if you think that something important is missing, it might not be a deliberate omission on my part, it might simply be that I haven't come across it yet, so please let me know.

If you're still with me, let's look at the rules.

Ok, I've tried to come up with some guidelines for building the list. I can't say they're completely fair and equitable, and not without contradictions and special cases, but so far they've helped me start painting a picture of 20th century miniature building construction. Sometimes I've bent and broken them a little, but overall they seem to provide workable guidance.

Types of miniature building stories that appear on the list

Stories about scratchbuilds or kitbashes of complete buildings that have appeared in magazines or books published in the 20th century aimed at 'regular' people in the various model making hobbies are candidates for inclusion.

Dollhouses, birdhouses, professional architectural models, toy building blocks and construction sets, Christmas decorations, lawn ornaments, theatrical models, and more-or-less box-stock kit builds are excluded. Dollhouses might work their way in, but that's something I'm still thinking about.


I'm woefully limited in this regard at the moment, but currently my main sources include Model Railroader, Railroad Model Craftsman / Model Craftsman, Railroad Modeler, Model Trains / HO Monthly, Traction and Models, a smattering of miscellaneous magazines from the UK, and various books written in English. Let me be clear, I'm not deliberately excluding things like model railway magazines from the UK, narrow gauge and other specialist journals, non-model railroad oriented books and magazines, and the no doubt vast literature of non-English books and magazines. In order to make a start, I'm digging into what I have readily available, and hope I can add material from more sources as time goes on. Although, this could be difficult because as far as I can tell there's no comprehensive, public or private, model making focused library anywhere in the world, especially one that has a collection in 20th century miniature building construction - but if you have one, know of one, or have access to one, please let me know.

How to be a candidate

To be a candidate for the list, the story must explain to a 'regular' modeller how to make a particular miniature building from beginning-to-end, and the story must in some way be important to the bigger story of 20th century miniature building construction. Possible aspects a candidate story might have include, but are not limited to: new construction techniques, excellent description and use of old construction techniques, subject matter, writing style, simplicity, detail, lots of citations or mentions by other people or stories, and overall presentation style.

This puts limits on what can be included. There are no photos of, or features on, contest winners, one-off photos of buildings on layouts and dioramas, no built-up kits, and so on. Although, I should note that I've bent this rule when it comes to articles and books about model railroad layouts and dioramas whose main scenic elements are buildings, and the miniature building aspect is the focus of the story. In those cases, teaching beginning-to-end construction of single models isn't often the focus in these stories, but teaching how to group and stage model buildings is.

Also, I should note that articles or books that focus solely on demonstrating construction techniques aren't included - this area could be the subject of a separate list. 

The 'just-one' rule 

Each author is only allowed one entry in the list. So, prolific builders like E. L. Moore get the same number of entries as a one-hit wonder. I've done this to try and focus on the best, or most representative, work of prolific writers as part of the goal to try to create an overall picture, across a variety of practitioners, of what was going on. Sometimes this rule gets bent when it comes to books that are collections of articles, because such books can contain more than one work by a particular writer. Also, it's a bit unfair in that a book author gets far more content on the list than the writer of a magazine article; however, if an author wrote many books, then only one of them could appear on the list. 

The just-one rule is one of the most powerful of this whole exercise because it helps force discussion and thoughtfulness. This is a rule I don't want to break, but maybe I'll need to relent a little so that important things don't get ignored.

Why the focus on the teaching element?

Because I think learning and doing are better than just spectating. No doubt, it's great to see excellent work, but it's also great to learn how it's done and be able to try it yourself. 

A list of reasonable length

The list can't be too long. The temptation is to include everything and not be selective, but that would just yield a master index - useful of course, but not focused on the major trends and themes. Also, the list needs to be short enough that every story could conceivably be read in a reasonable amount of time. What's reasonable? A few weeks to a few months is ok, but a few years to a lifetime isn't. I admit this isn't well defined, but I'll assume you get the gist.

Does the list have any relevance to the architectural professions?

Simply put: no.

I only make note of this because when I discussed this project over drinks with friends one evening, Dave told me about his niece in architectural school, and how he thought architects might be interested in these stories as they're always looking for unique source material and different points-of-view.

My personal view is that architects, if any still use physical models like those captured in the list, use them for purposes of selling projects to clients. 'Regular' model makers build these models out of love; those professional architectural models are done for sales and money. These are two majesties that don't intersect. This is indeed a sweeping statement, and there's likely some architectural practitioners who might find this material interesting, but in the main, I don't think there's any applicability.

Who is the 'Regular' model builder?

I don't have a definitive answer, but I'd say a few characteristics are: a hobbyist, not a professional modeller; skilled, or wants to become skilled, in the use of simple tools; has an interest in buildings, and maybe arts and crafts, or things preservationist; likely involved with model railroading, but maybe something else. I like the way George Illiffe Stokes expressed it in the introduction to his book, Buildings in Miniature:

This book is intended for those modellers, the individualists, who want to go out and sketch or photograph their own buildings, and yet are not quite sure which would be the best way to start building them.

Do such people actually exist? I don't know, it's probably a very small group if they do. Maybe they're a subset of today's 'Makers'? I'd hazard a guess and speculate that 'regular' modellers might have been a little bigger group in the years 1945 to 1980 than today. Postulating the existence of a 'regular' modeller is something of a utopian project because the more of them that could exist and be active, likely the better society is overall. But, this is all wild speculation. 

How the list is organized

Chronologically by decade. 

I've used the generations organizational scheme developed at HiLoBrow to organize the list. For my purposes, and in accordance with the periodization scheme, the decades of the 20th century are rolled out like this:

Tens: 1904 to 1913
Teens: 1914 to 1923
Twenties: 1924 to 1933
Thirties: 1934 to 1943
Forties: 1944 to 1953
Fifties: 1954 to 1963
Sixties: 1964 to 1973
Seventies: 1974 to 1983
Eighties: 1984 to 1993
Nineties: 1994 to 2003

I chose this periodization scheme because the idea that rings true with me is that what we come to recognize as the main events and trends of a decade don't immediately begin as soon as the calendar rolls over to a multiple of 10. When the roll-over happens, people get the signal that the decade has changed, but the actual changes that are already in progress don't really start to take hold for a few years - the previous decade lingers on for awhile. This resonates with me as I felt this quite strongly in the early '80s. In '80, '81 and '82 it felt like the '70s hadn't really ended, but by '83 and '84, those changes that made the '80s the '80s were obvious even to me. That feeling has recurred with each passing decade, although the strength of the feeling is nowhere near as strong to me as it was then - I just accept it now as I'm habituated and older. I think this periodization scheme is applicable to miniature building construction since just because the calendar may change from, say, Dec '69 to Jan '70, doesn't mean all the '60s were immediately jettisoned, and the models and techniques that were commonplace in '76 or '77 landed fully realized on 1 Jan 1970.

Biases, outliers, art, and other considerations

I'm biased, and I don't think a completely unbiased list can be developed. I'll try and make my biases known so you'll know where the list is coming from. 

I think the key publication of the 20th century is John Ahern's 1950 book, Miniature Building Construction. I'd say there's a tie for a close second: John Allen's 3-part series, The GD Line Builds an Old Time Engine House, that appeared in Model Craftsman in 1948; and George Illiffe Stokes' Buildings in Miniature from 1958 - I know, an article versus a book, it isn't completely fair, but I'm not going to slice things too thin.

I think traditional miniature folk art building construction, an activity that saw its heyday from the late-19th century to World War II, was the precursor to a lot of what went on in the field of 20th century miniature building construction. I don't have much to support this notion, but I think it's important to have a look at Burke & Campbell's 2013 book American Folk Art Buildings: Collection of Steven Burke & Randy Campbell

I think going out and looking at buildings, photographing, measuring, and drawing them is an important supporting activity. I'm always impressed by what I read about people like Roye England, George Allen and Ernie Huebner, and Chris Pilton doing this sort of thing.  However, when I've tried it I'm often meet with suspicion and hostility no matter how pleasant and permission seeking I've been, although I've found it easier to do in cities than in towns or rural areas. And I've likely been recorded by security cameras and put on lists: one memorable time, simply peddling my bike - no photographing, loitering, drawing or my usual when I see an interesting building -  on the public road in front of Stornoway got me followed by an RCMP patrol car for a rather long distance. But, regardless, the tightly-wound, gentrified world is wiping out what's left of any older, looser, people-oriented world, so I say, see what's left while you still can. Some of my favourite books that have helped me in this area are: Beebe & Clegg's 1947 Mixed Train Daily, Frank Ching's 1975 Architectural Graphics, Richard S. Taylor's 1989 Buildings in Watercolor, and Iain Sinclair's 1997 Lights Out for the Territory. Any stories that I come across that seem strong in this area, I'm biased to want to include them on the list.

Michael Paul Smith's 2015 book, Elgin Park: Visual Memories of Midcentury America at 1/24th Scale, is an outlier and doesn't belong on the list, but I'd recommend reading it. He was a 20th century man who built 20th century themed models using techniques that were more-or-less 20th century. And he did it with great skill and imagination. I found his model work compelling because it always communicated the feeling of a place and not just technical mastery. I tend to look at items under consideration for the list with an eye toward's Smith's work, even though I shouldn't because it's bringing a bias of 21st century work I admire onto true 20th century work where Smith wasn't a practitioner. 

Even more recently, the story about Jools Holland's layout, Journeys from Old London Town, that appeared in the Jan 2019 issue of Railway Modeller, shows a great urban layout that overflows with excellent buildings telling its story of memory and nostalgia. I'd like to include it in the list, but can't even though across several dimensions it seems like a great 20th century layout.

H G. Well's book Floor Games from 1911 is something of a touch-stone even though the book itself doesn't fit the requirements to get on the list. It does talk about constructing makeshift miniature building stand-ins from household items, but not in the way that we're talking about here. Although it's probably one of the first publications about 'playing' with layouts of cities and farms and railways and such, so it does get into putting those buildings to use.

I like reading Dave Hickey's essays on art. With respect to this project, I thought this passage from his essay Orphans in the Storm in his 2013 book, Pirates and Farmers, appropriate: 

Art is not science or technology. Extant works of art never obsolete. They succumb to the whims of fashion and move to the unfashionable suburbs, where Ruscha found Cole, where they remain at the ready, until what is cool at the moment begins to bore us.

Consider this project a curated list of the objects stuffed in the crawl space of one of those suburban homes.

The List

This is what I've got so far. When I stand back and look at it I realize I've barely scratched the surface. But I've also read through what seems like a mountain of stories to even get this far. And, as I stated in the introduction, this is a work-in-progress, and it likely won't start converging on a 'final' list for at least a year or so.

Tens (1904 to 1913)


Teens (1914 to 1923)


Twenties (1924 to 1933)

The Alheeba State Railway; A. Cosomati; The Model Railway News: Dec.

Thirties (1934 to 1943)

Building Wayside Structures; Albert F. Waymeyer; Model Railroader: Oct.

A Model Station; M. D. Thornburgh; Model Railroader: July, Aug.

Big Town Depot; Frank Ellison; Model Railroader: Jan.

Forties (1944 to 1953)

Modelled Architecture; P.R. Wickham; Percival Marshall & Co. Ltd.
Union Station; Raymond C. Ovresat; Model Railroader: Jan.
The GD Line Builds an Old Time Engine House; John Allen; The Model Craftsman: Oct, Nov, Dec.

Model a California House in Plastic; Tom & Pat Galloway; Railroad Model Craftsman: Aug, Sept.

Miniature Building Construction; John Ahern; Percival Marshall & Co. Ltd.
'Architecture', Book 5 in the Railway Modelling Series; Edward Beal; Modelcraft, Ltd.

Eight Ball Locomotive Works; Bill Livingston; Railroad Model Craftsman: Feb.

Diesel Enginehouse; Russell D. Porter; Model Railroader: Feb.

Prototype Junket; George Allen; Model Railroader: May, June.

Fifties (1954 to 1963)

Old Time Grain Mill; Lloyd Giebner; Railroad Model Craftsman: Mar.

Easy-to-Build Model Railroad Structures; ed by Willard V. Anderson; Kalmbach Publishing Co..
Model Making in Cardboard; Thomas Bayley; The Dryad Press.
Buildings in Miniature; George Illiffe Stokes; Peco Publications.

Another HO Scale Suburban Dwelling; Bill Longham; Railroad Model Craftsman: Mar.
Build this Big City; Frank E. Shaffer; Railroad Model Craftsman: Aug.

Builder's Supply Store Develops Traffic; Robert E. Gilbert; Model Railroader: July.
A Ticket to Tomahawk Please; Al Armitage; Model Railroader: Sept.

Oak Hill Pit Head; Gil Melle; Railroad Model Craftsman: June, July, Aug.

Sixties (1964 to 1973)

Bridges & Buildings for Model Railroads; ed. by Willard V. Anderson; Kalmbach Publishing Co.
Crosby's Mill and Other Structures; Bill Rau; Model Railroader: Aug.

A Small Brick Station; James E. Findley; Model Railroader: Nov, Dec.

Turn Backward O Time; E. L. Moore; Model Railroader: Jan.

Houses on Elm St.; L. E. Black; Railroad Model Craftsman; May.
Small Sawmills for Layouts; Jack Work; Model Railroader: June, July.

Scratchbuilt Loading Shed; Frank L. Hendren; Model Railroader: July.

Period Railway Modelling: Buildings; Vivien Thompson; Peco Publications & Publicity.

Thatcher's Inlet; Dave Frary & Bob Hayden; Railroad Model Craftsman: Feb, Mar, Apr, May.
Branchline Station; Doug Leffler; Railroad Model Craftsman: Aug.
The Farmhouse, Part 1; Rob Corriston; Railroad Model Craftsman: Dec.

The Farmhouse, Part 2; Rob Corriston; Railroad Model Craftsman: Jan.
The Baja Box Company; T. E. Stephenson; Railroad Modeler: Feb.
Bull Spred Fertilizer Company; Bill Boyd; Railroad Modeler: Dec.

Seventies (1974 to 1983)

Second National Bank; Lew Lehrman; Model Railroader: May.
The Perkin's Produce Project; Earl Smallshaw; Model Railroader: Dec.

Gila Builds a Town; Ron Tarjany; Railroad Modeler: June.
The Urban Scenery of Severna Park; Paul J. Dolkos; Model Railroader: Dec.

The Lido Theater; D. Derek Verner; Model Railroader: Mar.
The Jerrybuilt Jail; Keith E. Eck; Model Railroader: Nov.

Modeling Grandmother's House; Doris K. Eck; Model Railroader: Oct.
Jan's Ice House; Mark Henley; Railroad Modeler: Dec.

Compound Kitbashing to Produce a Feed Mill; Edward C. Steinberg; Model Railroader: Jan.

The Road to Damascus; Sheperd Paine; Chapter 11 in How to build Dioramas: Kalmbach Books.

Animated Scale Models Handbook; Adolph F. Frank; Arco Publishing, Inc.

Eighties (1984 to 1993)

Structures for the San Juan Central; Malcolm Furlow; Model Railroader: May.

Cottage Modelling for Pendon; Chris Pilton; Wild Swan Publications.

Kitbashing HO Model Railroad Structures; Art Curren; Kalmbach Books.
Modeling an Irving Gas Station; Gerry Gilliland; Model Railroader: May.
Modeling the North Conway Station; George Drury; Model Railroader: Dec.

Kitbash the Offices of the Sun; Harvey Simon; Model Railroader: Jan.

The House on the Hill; Sam Swanson; Model Railroader: Jan.

Nineties (1994 to 2003)

Building Weimer's Mill; Ben King; Model Railroader: May.

Modeling a "double-wide"; Richard Olson; Railroad Model Craftsman: Oct.
"Scratch-bash" an HO Scale Diesel Enginehouse; Ken Pfaff; Model Railroader: Dec.

Dan's Diner; Michael Justice; Railroad Model Craftsman: Sept.

Building the Sauk Harbor Station; Ray Meyer; Railroad Model Craftsman: Sept.

The Shops at Marian Eddy; Ed Steinberg; Model Railroader: July.
Revell redux; Ron Foreman; Railroad Model Craftsman: Nov.

Building Sweeney; Jonathan James; Model Railroader: May.
Art Deco Auto Dealership; James Benini; Model Railroader: June.

You can see there's a lot of Model Railroader material on the list. That's because they've digitized their magazine, and I have one of their archive DVDs, which makes the issues easy to search. In comparison, RMC and RM aren't, and a pleasant, but laborious, paper search is the only way to proceed. I still have a lot of reading to go with those.

Well, there it is: a start. There are many adds and deletes ahead, and I'll update it as I can. If you have any recommendations, please leave a comment. And, I don't know about you, but after all this, I need some chilaquiles from the 30Squares bistro :-)

[19 April update: After chatting with Vince I replaced Lloyd Giebner's Modern Interlocking Tower from the Jan '57 issue of Model Railroader with his Old Time Grain Mill story from the Mar '55 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. He said he had read that Mr. Giebner's mill story was mentioned somewhere as being one of George Sellios' influences - I need to find that. I also corrected some horrible spelling mistakes :-) ]

[20 April update: Added: Big Town Depot, Union Station, Model a California House in Plastic, Diesel Enginehouse, Modeling a "double-wide".]

[21 April update: Added: Crosby's Mill and Other Structures, A Small Brick Station, Scratchbuilt Loading Shed.]

[27 April update: Added Revell redux.]

[2 May update: Added Building the Sauk Harbor Station and Dan's Diner.]

[12 May update: Added The Road to Damascus.]

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Peter Fritz’s 387 Miniature Houses

Image sourced from the link
Galen sent me this Amusing Planet link about an incredible 1993 find of 387 miniature houses in a Vienna junk shop. They seem to be in HO scale, although no scale is mentioned. Me being me, I was grabbed by this statement: Each model was built from a combination of easily available materials, such as cardboard, matchboxes, wallpaper scraps, adhesive foil and magazine pages.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Hey doll, Welcome to Marwen

I was prepared to hate Robert Zemeckis' 2018 movie, Welcome to Marwen. The reviews seemed uniformly bad, and I had really enjoyed the documentary that it's based on. I saw the doc at the Mayfair soon after it was released, and liked it so much I bought the DVD, which I've watched a few times since then. I was prepared for a bad Hollywood-ization of a favourite movie. And I must admit that when I saw Welcome to Marwen's opening scene I started to slip into the hate zone. My worst preconceptions were being confirmed. But, I hung in, and in the end was glad I did.

Look, it's a Hollywood movie. By definition it's going to be structured with all of Hollywood's conventions and heavy-handed messaging because it's an entertainment being sold to a mass audience to hopefully make some big bucks. Once I got off my high-horse and reminded myself this was the reason it wasn't a shot-by-shot, stick-to-the-facts-ma'am homage to the documentary, I could watch it for what it had to offer, which was some interesting stuff.

What got me to start paying some respect were a couple of early low-key scenes where Zemeckis demonstrated some sympathy for those who model making and miniatures play a role in their lives. Mr. Hogancamp's situation is extreme, and maybe that's why he could be given a sympathetic and uncondescending airing, but this is a rare thing to see in popular media.

I got hooked when we got to the scene where Nichol comes over to see Marwen for the first time, interrupting a discussion between Mark and Roberta. Nichol looks around Marwen a bit, and begins to sum things up with a trite assumption about the town being part of a model railroad setup. Roberta quickly launches into a nuanced correction on what it's really about - we'll leave it for another time to unpack the whole "it's-only-a-model-railroad" thing :-)

Nichol comes back sometime later when she sees Mark sitting out by Marwen in a lawn chair. She casually wanders amongst the buildings noting their detailing and creativity, but then, upon turning a corner, takes a fateful glance at a contrasting scene of horror inside a building, and lets out a scream. Naturally, she asks Mark what it's all about, and - this is key - he quietly asks her if she really wants to know - he doesn't immediately launch into a nerd-fuelled speech - and upon her consent, begins to carefully explain. From there we're morphed into another of the movie's many signature CGI doll scenes, but the setup was important to making the doll action scenes viable and interesting. 

From that point I settled into the movie. Before, I had balked at the doll CGI stuff, but could now better appreciate how those scenes were being sympathetically used to make Mark's inner states clear. I was now finding the way the doll CGI scenes were interwoven into the live-action more interesting, and could dismiss the opening scene for the big pomposity that it was. And, let's face it, many of those doll scenes were good, pulp-influenced fun too, corny humour and all.

Maybe this movie wasn't meant for theatrical viewing, but is more oriented to watching at home. I suspect it might take on cult status as the years roll on. 

P.S. : I should also note, being a hobby shop aficionado, I was quite impressed by the one in the movie. There must be a lot of hobbyists in Mr. Hogancamp's town to support such a large, organized, and well stocked store :-)

P.P.S.: Be sure to watch the DVD's extra on how the special effects team recreated Marwencol. Mr. Hogancamp's had a folk art, DIY sensibility, but I guess it was too raw for an A movie, and a much slicker version was required that simulated a sanitized folk art, DIY sensibility.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Agents of B.A.L.S.A

Vince sent me this. He was a little cagey about its source, but it involved something called the Pulp-O-Mizer. Excuse me. I gotta go crank-up the time machine.

P.S., And where is the E. L. Moore feature story?  It can't be legit without something from B.A.L.S.A. agent #1. I imagine it might involve our hero battling an evil Swedish mad scientist intent on grinding all the world's balsa into dust, mixing it with glue, and flooding the Earth with flat-pack furniture. O the humanity....

Monday, April 8, 2019

Bruegel Bosch Bus at the Art Gallery of Hamilton

I stumbled across this 2015 video of Kim Adam's Bruegel Bosch Bus at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. I'm hoping to get out there with the gang - er, the 30Squares editorial staff-at-large :-) - for a return visit this summer. It needs to be examined for a Molasses Mine :-)

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Once Again: The Molasses Mine

The photo was sliced from a larger one that appeared in the Feb '76 issue of Railroad Modeler in a story about Lila Martin's Sierra and White River Railroad. An excellent layout, and more so to me because I spotted the E. L. Moore based plastic kit, Molasses Mine and Factory, on it. The caption is intriguing: Just beyond the station (shown in the full image) is a large industrial area. The large factory was built from an article in RAILROAD MODELER (their caps). You may recall that in the Nov '76 issue of RMC, there was also a kitbash based on the Molasses Mine kit - this kit made the rounds! Being an E. L. Moore completist I now must find that RM article about the large factory :-)

6 April update: As I read my way through these old model railroad magazines I see the E. L. Moore plastic kits, in both straight ahead, box-stock builds and kitbash articles, on many layouts, and used as donors to kitbash articles.
I'm not recording them all so I don't bore myself silly with the task. Here's one of the last I'll mention,it's from the Oct '76 issue of Railroad Modeler and appeared in the Showcase section. Its caption reads: The Mill Creek UPS building was constructed from an AHM Ramsey Journal kit in HO by Sam Greco of Dearborn, Michigan. The building was modified with a scratchbuilt roof, loading doc, awnings, etc. The gutters were formed of aluminum tubing, while many detail parts are from SS Ltd. The tractor trailer units are from the New Athern highway vehicle kits.It's a decent little building and sort of exemplifies how ubiquitous those kits were at the time. I assume it's a combination of their generic looks, low-price, and small size. Seeing them all has given me a sense of how pervasive the E. L. Moore legacy was in those days even if most purchasers didn't know the backstory of these kits. However, appearances of the Molasses Mine I will continue to note as it seems such an odd kit, and I'm always surprised to see it.

Speaking of surprises, Railroad Modeler always seems to be full of them in one way or another. Here's the cover of that Oct '76 issue. Looks fairly standard. That's a Fine Scale Miniatures coaling tower they review in the issue. All is good.
But, when I looked closer I saw this little drama unfolding on the walkway. Is that guy in the black three-piece suit wearing a Green Hornet style mask ? Maybe it's a shadow, but from the angle of the lighting, it looks like a mask. And what's that young woman in the yellow dress doing on that other walkway? Both figures are gone when it comes to the kit review. But, there they are, front and centre on the cover, and it isn't even the April issue :-)

[7 April update: That announcement of AHM's Molasses Mine kit appeared at the bottom of the New Products section in the Dec '73 issue of Railroad Modeler. The text reads: A very different type of industry is the subject of a new HO kit from AHM. Molded in plastic in a variety of colors, the kit is quick to assemble though some time should be spent in repainting some smaller details and adding a nice weathering job to the structure. Kit No. 5828 sells for $4.98. I couldn't find an equivalent announcement in Model Railroader, and I'm hunting for one in Railroad Model Craftsman, as the article it's based on appeared in RMC. Inquiring minds need to know :-)