Continental Drift….My Modeling Interests

The last sawtooth boxcar built for the Soo was this series.   This is the Chooch pilot model for #813 kit.   It was featured in the "SOO" magazine

The last sawtooth boxcar built for the Soo was this series. This is the Chooch pilot model for #813 kit. It was featured in the “SOO” magazine

It could be said that I have never seen a train I didn’t like. As a result of this, I have played around with a number of different railroads and gauges even. I have finally settled the gauge issue a number of years back. My interestes still seem to roam all over the continental US or at least the west coast and maybe the upper midwest.  

Like most modelers, I started to appreciate the scale world when my first issue of Model Railroader arrived at my home.  I was in high school at the time.  I realized that there was more to this hobby than buying Athearn stuff at the local.   This would have been around 1960.  Unfortunately, being in high school means that other things have a higher priority in your life.   I continued to received the MR and attempted to do some of Jack Work’s simple structures using Bristol Board and using Floquil as a stain.   This was my first scratchbuilding effort.   It was an exciting thing for me to do something from raw material and not out of a blue box or whatever.  

For the next decade or so, I would describe my modeling as start many things and finish nothing.   I have attempted to describe this as the era of discovery and expermentation.  It sounds better than: “I can’t decide what I want to do”. 

Somewhere in the late ’60s, I discovered what I was looking for…..No it wasn’t the Grateful Dead.   I met Bob Brown of Fine-Lines fame.   He introduced me to Gordon Cannon, Bill Coffey, Lee Klaus and a host of other very talented modelers.   The die was cast!  I could not go back to “shake the box” anything.   I learned out how to work in brass, cut scale wood, cast metal parts using Cerro-Bend and a host of other skills.   It was mostly about narrow gauge but it didn’t matter given the opportunity to learn from the masters of that era.  Funny thing about this era, the word styrene or plastic never cross anyone’s lips.  Now I find myself digging into my large collection of well-seasoned scale lumber to make a simple jig for a styrene model.   Imagine that!

I built this depot from wood in 1972 and won the structure catagory in the 1972 NMRA national.

I built this depot from wood in 1972 and won the structure catagory in the 1972 NMRA national.

This was the first construction article for the newly minted NG&SL Gazette.  Bob had asked me to do something but I had only four weeks to do it.  I also did patterns and cast the hardware.

This was the first construction article for the newly minted NG&SL Gazette. Bob had asked me to do something but I had only four weeks to do it. I also did patterns and cast the hardware.

I was at a NMRA National convention representing the Gazette along with Bob Brown, the editor.   He introduced me to Al Armitage.  Al and I started to talk about his favorite medium.  In a few short meetings, I became a great fan of Al and his styrene work.  

This was my first styrene freight car.  It was built before Evergreen had started cutting styrene.

This was my first styrene freight car. It was built before Evergreen had started cutting styrene.

I built a number of styrene freight cars in the 1970s.  No thought was given to things like weighting the cars properly.  I did use sprung brass 1/4″ AAR trucks and Clouser brass couplers.   Gee, they were $3.00 a pair. 

To be continued……………………………

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5 thoughts on “Continental Drift….My Modeling Interests

  1. Thanks for the memories Gene. You are fortunate to have actually met Al Armitage. I too followed his styrene techniques in the days before Evergreen to build models of cars I saw rolling by the house. For weight I built over wood and then later over Plexiglas shells and used metal trucks.
    Ben Brown

  2. Gene: I model in O scale traction and when Bill Clouser developed his line of fine scale wheels, parts and rail, I became one of his first converts. In time we became good friends. I live in a waste land of Walthers HO Cornerstone products. Most of the layouts differ in only how the buildings are placed. I believe in utilizing any medium that produces the end results desired. I consider my modeling skills to be average and I derive much enjoyment viewing the work of individuals who possess the ability to construct models pictured on our web sites. Thank you for adding me to your Bog and the opportunity to observe the layout as it progresses.

    • Charley
      I never met Bill Clouser. His modeling skills were impressive. He achieved a level of realism in his models that was not seen in his era.
      Clouser’s line of detail parts along with Mike O’Connell’s Chooch line of kits, detail parts and trucks made it possible to step away from traditional O gauge. Another key supplier who worked with Bill Clouser was Al Henning. He did all of Bill’s 1/4″AAR wheels.

      Gene

  3. Gene,

    I remember seeing your Erie covered hopper in person and was impressed by the exceptional quality of the build and how “clean” the build was. Do you still have that car? I seemed to remember something happened to it. Thanks for the memories.

    Lee Gustafson

    • Lee
      The car bit the dust a long time ago due to heat stroke. The Cerro Bend™ alloy used for weight melted. Cerro expands when it cools so it buckled the styrene body. HO guys who tried to weight their brass locos found out the hard way about Cerro

      thanks for your kind words

      Gene

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