Tuesday, December 31, 2019

End of the CLRV era

New Years eve is a time for looking back over the old year, and amongst all the other changes that happened this year the TTC retired the last of its CLRV streetcars on Sunday, 29 December 2019. They entered service in 1979. Interestingly, the TTC still had PCCs in use at that time - Wikipedia says 196 were in service in 1982 - and the last ones weren't retired until December 1995.

Monday, December 30, 2019

What would Art Curren do?

Vince sent me this link as part of discussion we've been having about Art Curren and the great kit-mingling projects he did for RMC and MR. It's an excellent post about the writer's meet-up with Mr. Curren. At the end is this unanswered rhetorical question:

Essay Question: In no less than 10,000 words please discuss the impact that Art Curren would have on today's hobby considering the advancements made in the past 15 years, including but not limited to, modular kits, scale windows, computer software, digital photography, laser cutting and 3D printing.

I can't say I'm up for 10,000 words, but I thought about it a bit - yes, I know the question's meant in jest, but I've had too much egg nog over the last few days so my humour interpretation circuits aren't working that well :-)

I think that might be the wrong question. I'd suggest that Mr. Curren practiced a type of found art. What he found were kits in hobby stores - ok, someone had to pay for them, so that's why I say it's a 'type' of found art - and mingled them to make other buildings. He didn't appear to have a tools-and-technology-first orientation, but a kit orientation. I'd also suggest that the kit parts themselves helped define what was possible to build. There wasn't an infinite range of possibilities, but there were many. The items listed in the question seem more for scratchbuilding, even the modular kits, although with those we're are entering a grey area, and the dynamics and limits of scratchbuilding are different than kitmingling.

I think an alternative question from the 21st century might be, what could Mr. Curren mingle from all the kits that are available today, both new and the huge stash for sale on ebay and elsewhere online? Also, his articles had a calm and good-natured vibe to them along with all the instructions. I'd hope he'd still have that, and wouldn't succumb to the just-the-facts-ma'am, technocratic vibe we have today. 

I think there might be other aspects to the question like freelancing and feeling versus prototypes and conformance, consumerism versus personal creativity, and other things, but right now, I'm feeling the coffee kick in, so maybe I'll leave it at that and go put a record on. 

Sunday, December 29, 2019

A ghost engraving?

I'm on a ghost sign kick and am looking through my photos to see if I have any.

This is the old Albert Britnell Book Store on Yonge as it appeared in early 2018. I mentioned it briefly awhile back as possibly making a good E. L. Moore-style building. But what struck me this time was the large Albert Britnell engraving on the facade - could it be called a ghost engraving, or is it simply something deemed too expensive to obliterate, which is maybe a working definition of ghost? Although I like a Starbucks Americano from time-to-time, I didn't drop in to buy one because I thought I might start crying once inside. I bought many books there, and remember their courteous and professional service.

Inside Albert Britnell's in 1984 (Image source)

Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Ghost of Frosted Foods

My ghost sign on the back wall of A&A's may not be much of a ghost sign, but this one is. 

I drove by this sign many times last summer, but it was only after 50 or so passes, that I twigged about its rarity and took a photo. It's still in relatively readable condition, but one determined coat of paint could change that forever.

Friday, December 27, 2019

A&A ghost sign

The A&A model has a ghost sign - ok, it's not that ghosty - on its back wall. It's non-prototypical; it's simply an homage to an earlier version of the A&A sign than the one I used on the facade.

The ghost sign is an online image, cropped and sized to fit the back wall, converted to black-and-white, and then printed on a piece of clear decal film with my inkjet printer. To set the image, I sprayed it with several thin layers of Testor's Dullcote.

I thought that such a large decal would be a problem to apply, but it went on rather easily. 

A day or so before decaling I primed the wall by brush painting it with acrylic floor polish so that I had a smooth surface to work with. Immediately before applying the decal, I brushed Microset on the wall while the decal was soaking, and after applying the decal, brushed more Microset on top of it. After a minute or two I carefully pushed the decal into the wall's blocks with a paper towel. The decal didn't tear, and conformed quite nicely to the wall's texture.

When viewed from a distance, the sign has an interesting 3-D effect which makes me glad it was added. I sometimes forget that my modelling isn't for a museum or mass market attraction, but has to be faithful to my memory or feeling for a place, not necessarily verifiably prototypical. Things like this help make a model an interesting object in its own right that puts me back on the right track.  

Thursday, December 26, 2019

A&A Boxing Day Blowout!

One day only! Deals, deals, deals! A&A's got 'em!
Since the time machine is set to 1982, let's head home with Toronto's legendary Spitfire Band.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

It has become something of a tradition here to recap the year just before taking a Christmas break. And with this year marking the 10th anniversary of 30 Squares, I thought I'd continue the tradition with a little post before taking my leave.

The 10th anniversary was celebrated in a series of posts called From the Time Machine's Glovebox, and to get the year started there was a series of Hot Wheels diecast posts.

Essays, both one-shot and extended, had a hold on my mind in 2019:

There were many posts made to the Legendary Model Railroaders tag

as there were to the E L Moore tag

I made a start on a new layout, the Ocean Park Loop, which replaced the Alta Vista TC well before it neared completion. Although, reorganization and renovation of the workshop helped slow work on the OPL to a stop.

The OCTranspo's Confederation Line went into service in the fall, and your 30 Squares reporter was there at the inaugural ride. That lead to a number of posts about Ottawa's new LRT system. The LRT got off to a good start, but as the weeks 'rolled on', many operational problems arose that adversely impacted its on-time performance and reliability. 

Fewer than usual model building projects were undertaken in 2019, and most of them were in plastic. Included were,

(although posted a couple of days before the end of 2018, this was the most popular series published in 2019 by a long shot, and the associated videos were the most popular of any of the videos posted here -
the second most popular post, but far behind Bert's, was the miniature building construction reading list)

(this project had special significance for me as it connected the here-and-now of my life today with that of my boyhood and brought today's world into stark contrast with day-to-day life back then)

and, a start on A&A Records

Like in many years passed, I continue to think about ending the blog. Apparently it's a recurring affliction, like cold and flu season :-) This year the pull to stop was stronger than usual as I look at changing a number of aspects of my life in the coming year. Strangely though, giving serious thought to quitting prompted me to write far more posts than usual as I work this through. I think I'm looking for a new spin, or aspect to blogging as I feel I still haven't written the stories I need to write, or pursued all the ideas I still have. The E. L. Moore series over the last 5 (!) years - it's frightening how time flies - has been my magnum opus here at the blog. It's been fun and fulfilling, although a proper paper book hasn't materialized due to copyright and financial issues. There're other stories I'm looking to write, although I'm not sure what form they'll take. It looks like I'll be blogging for the foreseeable future as I work it out :-)

I can't wrap-up without wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thanks for dropping by throughout the year and spending some time here. I'll meet up with you again sometime after Christmas. 

Other inspirations for Moore & Company?

Paul suggested that Life-Like's Proto 2000 Series kit Moore & Company Warehouse might have been inspired by some E. L. Moore projects other than his Novelty FactoryThese other projects might have had elements that were referenced, possibly adjusted, and then stitched together into a composite building that was an homage to E. L. Moore's projects.

Let's look at the other sources he recommended having a look at.

The Cract and Dentit Manufacturing Co. that appeared in the December 1972 issue of Model Railroader in the story, The chair and desk factory.

H. Hoople & Sons that appeared in the September 1965 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman in the story, Major Hoople's Brick Warehouse.

This building is a favourite of mine, and I hope to build it in the future. And I think it would have made a great AHM kit.

The Schlegel Brewery that appeared in the October 1970 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman in the story, A Brewery in Stone. (Image sourced from RMC Oct '70)

And, for completeness, the initial contender, Novelty Creators Inc. that appeared in the July 1970 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman in the story, Novelty Factory.

I agree that Paul's suggestions give a better and more complete idea of what might have inspired and formed Moore & Company. But, as with my speculations on the Novelty Factory as a source, it might all be just coincidence. I guess it's another of those questions where we may never find out what actually went on, but it's fun to speculate :-)

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Moore Math: Ramsey Journal + Machine Shop = Grusom Casket

The Grusom Casket kit is two, two, two kits in one ! There's a one-storey building up front, which would later be marketed separately as the Machine Shop, and a two-storey building in the back, which is the Ramsey Journal Building with some windows bricked in.

So, even though the Grusom Casket kit is one of the Original 9, one might argue that it's actually the first of the derivative kits. 

Here's my case.

Take a look at this letter dated 17 January 1968 from Peter Van Dore, then AHM's kit development guy, to E. L. Moore.

At that time, AHM had already produced the Schaefer Brewing Company, and I guess sales were good, because now they're interested in adding Ma's Place, The Ramsey Journal Building, and the Gruesome [sic] Casket Company

I speculate that AHM decided to do Ramsey and Grusom at the same time because they realized Ramsey's size and shape was a close approximation to Grusom's two-storey building, thereby reducing tooling costs on Grusom.

Here's what E. L. Moore had to say in response:

19 January '68

Pete Van Dore,
Associated Hobby Manufacturers,
Philadelphia, Penn.

Dear Mr. Van Dore . . . 

I suppose you know just what you want but damned if you didn't pick three that are scattered. I have the Grusom Casket Company model here but #1 Ma's Place is on display in a hobby shop up in Raleigh and #2 (didn't Carstens tell you) I gave him that model and he has it. So you'd have to get that one from him.

I can have Mr. Collier of North Hills Hobby Shop in Raleigh send you Ma's Place and can ship the one I have which can do soon as I hear from you.

Only thing I'd like would be a kit of each one you produce -- including the one you've already produced -- the Schaefer Brewery. I never like to build a second model but built three of Schaefer's and still don't have one for myself.

Here's two, three photos from countless ones I have lying around.

alleyoop . . . . 

signed E. L. Moore

E. L. Moore
525 Oakland Ave., Apt 3
Charlotte, N. C.

I don't have copies of the photos he's referring to, but I did at one time see his Ma's Place model.

So, maybe Grusom's is the first in a long line of derivatives to follow, but it's clearly more than a simple re-boxing with some minor details changed.

Friday, December 6, 2019

A novel coincidence?

Moore & Co. image sourced from internet | Novelty Factory image scanned from July '70 RMC
I've had my suspicions about Life-Like's Moore & Company kit in their Proto 2000 Series for some time. The tower on one end with the pointy roof, the layout of the complex in a single line, and of course the name, remind me of E. L. Moore's Novelty Factory that appeared in the July 1970 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. While searching online I came across a build-up of the kit by Mr. Richard Wegner where he turned the tower sideways so the entry was along the building's long side, which puts the entrance in the same orientation as the Novelty Factory's. These likely are all coincidences, but ones that make me scratch my head and wonder about the source of inspiration* :-)
* The Novelty Factory itself might have been inspired by St. Luke's church in Smithfield, Virginia.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Holy exploding molasses!

Image sourced from here.
While I was searching for Machine Shop box variations I came across this version of the Molasses Mine kit. The so-called Kaboom Powder Factory version by AHM doesn't look like it has had any modifications done to it other than a name change and re-boxing.

What made this box particularly interesting to me was this P.S. I found in a letter dated July 13, 1971 from E. L. Moore to Denis Dunning, the managing editor of Railroad Modeler magazine: 

Peter Van Dore of AHM sayn [sic] they're working on another model of mine -- they have three now listed -- and asked me to make one specifically for them. A dynamite plant with one side blown off.

That's the only reference E. L. Moore made to creating an exclusive model for AHM. And there are no other references to him making an AHM Dynamite Plant. But, maybe the idea of a kabooming dynamite plant stuck with Mr. van Dore, or someone else at AHM, and simply renaming the already weird Molasses Mine was the way to produce such a plant on the cheap and easy.

E. L. Moore didn't let the idea of a dynamite plant sink. His article, The Cannonball & Safety Powder Works, where he infamously blew up the finished model at the end of the story, was submitted to Model Railroader on 10 April 1974, and was published there in the April 1977 issue.

When was AHM's Kaboom Powder Factory first released? I have no idea, but I can see many happy hours of investigation ahead :-)