MEMORIAL: James Hickey

I was saddened to read that James Hickey had passed away.  He was an acquaintance who I met through Jim Zwernemann and Bruce Blalock.  I had admired his work for years and exchanged emails with him from time to time. It was my thought we should do something to recognize his passing.  I asked Jim Zwernemann to write about his good friend.

One of the master craftsmen of our time passed away April 12, 2018.  James “Jim” Hickey was a lifelong resident of the Austin, Texas area and developed his incredible model building skills beginning in HO scale in the late 1950’s.  He moved to 1/4″ scale during the early 80’s when the P48 movement began.
Jim’s interpretation of a Rock Island Whitcomb. Jim converted the model to P48, detailed it and did his magic with finishing 
Jim’s modeling projects included On30, On3 and traction but the majority of his work was done in P48 standard gauge.  He didn’t limit his work to any era or railroad but the 50’s and early 60’s seemed to be his favorite timeframe and the Southern Pacific was his favorite railroad.  Most of his models were constructed from styrene but he was a skilled brass builder as well.  Most of his locomotives were first generation diesels which used kits from P&D, Red Caboose or Weaver or various brass imports as the starting point.  He scratchbuilt numerous freight cars and structures.  All of his models had one thing in common-they were exquisite representations of specific prototypes.
Jim had the innate ability to capture the feel of the prototype with his detailing, painting and weathering skills.  He was not pleased with the selection of available decals in O scale so he started a small decal business called Protocals in 1989.  Some of these can still be found at O scale meets today.  He purchased an ALPS printer and began making his own custom decals.
Jim was also a world traveler.  He took trips to Central and South America, Europe, Asia and other locations to photograph railroads at work.  He especially liked traveling to Mexico and built a number of wonderful locomotives, cars and structures based on Mexican prototypes.
I would like to thank Jim Zwernemann for his remembrance of his good friend.  As you can see in these photos provided by Jim Zwernemann, his friend had many interest in railroading and showed his true modeling prowess in each one.
So long



Proto48 today has become a viable gauge for modelers wanting to work in 1/48 scale.  We are fortunate to have a wide range of products available with many of them coming from Protocraft.   Norm Buckhart founded Protocraft to produce products needed in the Proto48 hobby.  The business has grown from its origin of supplying wheels produced by Steve Grabowski and his dad to an extensive line of exquisite brass freight cars, brass trucks, working magnetic couplers, wheels, driver parts and of course decals.

2011-chicago-2Norm is a native Californian raised in the Bay Area with a deep appreciation of the railroads and marine operations present in and around the San Francisco Bay.

His background includes a Naval aviator, Pan American pilot and real estate developer.  Model railroading has been a long term interest of his.

We are fortunate that Norm has demonstrated the ability to identify products needed in the hobby and getting them done.  Protocraft has developed a wide range of products that support accurate modeling.

Proto48 is about accurate modeling ranging from accurate gauge and wheel profiles to correct rolling stock and lettering.  Norm has set about the task of developing a magnetic AAR Type-E coupler, hundreds of decal sets with art developed from photos rather than type setting font like the old Champ and Walthers decals.  He developed and imported a wide range of accurate boxcars for specific prototypes for the major railroads.  Rather than a generic car, Norm has obtaining actual AC&F and Pullman drawings for the actual cars purchased by railroads.  The cars are done with the correct running boards, hand brakes, body details and trucks.  Speaking of trucks, Protocraft has developed a whole range of ball-bearing equipped trucks.  Finally, Proto48 modelers can purchase trucks based upon actual designs and not the generic “Bettendorf” design.

Along the way, Norm got involved with antique automobile ownership.  He still owns a number of classic auto and drives a few of them on occasion.  The photo below shows Norm on the left leaning against his Packard Model 640.  He is toasting his buddy with a glass of Teachers which is his favorite libation.


Norm’s home layout is remarkable in its dimensions in size and the amount of beautiful equipment running on it.   You can visit the Protocraft Layout page by clicking on this link


soo-steelMany of the boxcars on the layout are Protocraft imports lettered with Protocraft decals.  The cars are all weathered and feature Protocraft’s magnetic couplers.


With this huge layout, Norm incorporated an interesting vignette of a barge and slip.  It fits perfectly with the San Francisco Bay Area theme.





The barge slip has created an interesting operating point. Norm has found that he enjoys loading and unloading cars on the barge. He has reconfigured a hidden yard in his shop to provide an off-stage destination for cars coming off the barge.   It turns out that this section of the layout is enjoyable to operate. Switching with a glass of Teachers is an ideal way of closing a long day of work on Protocraft projects.  Norm suggested it as a small layout for someone who enjoys switching. I will take a look at this idea and may develop it into a small layout concept.

Hopefully you enjoyed this quick look at Norm Buckhart.

Happy Trails,



Chuck Yungkurth recently passed away in Boulder, Colorado.  He was an accomplished modeler, historian, author and designer.   For years, readers of Railroad Model Craftsman were used to seeing Chuck’s drawings or articles on anthracite railroads.  Yesterday I did a Google search on Chuck and was amazed at the numbChuck_Yungkurth_2013er of books he authored.  I had not idea.   Born and raised in Scranton, he grew up surrounded by anthracite railroads Delaware and Hudson, Lackawanna, Erie and a few others.   Anthracite mines were a common sight in the Scranton skyline in those days.  He observed a great deal and later used his knowledge to enrich his many articles and books.

I first met Chuck in 1977 at IBM in Owego, NY.  He was a mechanical engineer working on high technology projects for his employer.   Over a several year period, I visited him and we did some railfanning in the Chemung Valley.  I visited Sayre to see the Lehigh Valley shops, some of the abandoned mainline of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western, the D&H yards in Binghamton, NY.  We managed to collect data for several projects for publication in the Gazette.

BingcoalyardtrestleandconveyorOne of my favorite collaboration was working with Chuck on coal conveyers. It was a challenge to build but with great drawings and photos from Chuck it went smoothly.  The plans and drawings were in the Gazette years ago.

Chuck introduced me to Nichols, NY which was once along the old Lackawanna mainline.  We found this interesting John Deere dealer.  He did a nice set of drawings and I built this model for the Gazette.

Copy of Dempsey Plumbing Scranton 1982

This old building was a real gem.  Chuck did a set of drawings and his daughter did a set of lettering for the building.  Sadly, I never finished the project.

Chuck supplied me with a set of railroad drawings for this Lackawanna caboose.  It was at the urging of Bill Shaumburg, editor of Railroad Model Craftsman, to do an article on building the car and Chuck would do the drawings.  The drawings were done and were pcab on bench finalublished but the article never made it due to some unknown reasons.   Well, the RMC changed hands and the article was published.

I think the railroad hobby has lost an accomplished gentleman who did a lot to further prototype modeling.

We will miss you.

Happy Trails,


MODELING: Some More of Jim Zwernemann’s Great Modeling

Jim Booth, owner of Glacier Park Models, was kind enough to send a few shots of Jim Zwernemann’s layout.  It was the first time Jim Booth has visited the this beautiful Proto48 railroad.   He was in the area for the Houston Narrow Gauge Convention.  Rarely do you find a modeler who builds a beautiful layout and award winning models.

z bulk plant

Jim Zwernemann scratch built this interesting little oil dealer.  You can see some of Jim’s freight car work in the background .

Z dartnaught

This model started life as a Roco/Atlas plastic boxcar.  Jim reworked the end to resemble the AC&F proprietary design used a series of post-war boxcar orders.

z austin frt house

Here is a different view of Jim’s Katy freight house.  The model is based upon the old Katy building that once existed in Austin, TX.

z tower

Speaking of award winning models, the Elgin tower is one of those gems that has won first place.

z yard

This part of Jim’s layout is not quite done as you can see.  What is remarkable are the three exquisite cabooses in the foreground.  The Rock Island car at the far end started out as a San Juan Car Company Rio Grande Fowler clone boxcar kit.  The Cotton Belt drover car is still around in a museum in the Dallas area. It was build from styrene.

z usra

The prototype for this car started life as a USRA double sheathed boxcar.  The EJ&E rebuilt the car with a steel replacement side but kept the basic USRA dimensions.  The colorful scheme was first applied around 1950.  The model is creative blend of commercial parts (kit bash).  The underframe and ends came from a very old Chooch kit.  The sides and roof were reworked parts from an Intermountain steel boxcar kit. The doors were made by Jim.  Lettering was done using an ALPS printer by Jim Hickey.   Orange is not a native color for an ALPS machine but Jim managed to dither the color to get the effect of orange.


I decided to add this prototype photo to show this classic car.  It would make a great kit.

I want to thank Jim Booth for providing the photos for this posting.   All of his shots were is done with his IPhone.

Happy Trails,


MODELING: Correction on Zwernemann Stock Car

zmann stock closeup

The last posting had a photo of a Rails Unlimited stock car that Jim Zwernemann did his magic on.  I missed some detail changes like cutting the original door off and replacing it with a styrene door.  The majority of the pictures Jim found showed vertical slats.  Jim also thinned the roof by 50% and notched the roof edge to give the appearance of individual boards.  The weathering was done with acrylics and actual distressing of the decal with an Xacto knife.   The effects are dramatic and effective.

Milw stock car

The Milwaukee Road stock car was depicted in several Car Builder Cyclopedia.  I have enclosed a page from a CBC reprint.

zmnn turn

Happy Trails,


MODELING: Odds and Ends plus Jim Zwernemann

Wilson painted

Well, the Wilson reefer is just about done.  I only need to weather the car.  These cars ran pretty dirty so I should have fun with this.   The Protocraft decals are really beautiful.  Norm did a super job with the artwork.

Mack AC

I dug out my Brommer Mack AC truck.  My intent is to finish it up after 40 years sitting in a box.   I started the truck when the kit first came out over 40 years ago.   The original Brommer kits were cast in Cerro Bend, 158 degree melting point, white metal.  The kit is beautiful and very accurate.  Cerro Bend can’t support much weight so you need to support the leaf springs with block or they will collapse.  In my youth, I remember seeing them monsters hauling coal or ice when I spent a summer in the Bronx.   That was the 1950s.

zmann turntable

It has been a while since we have seen photos of Jim Zwernemann’s work.   He has been busy working on a new turntable for his railroad.  Jim scratch built it using styrene for the bridge.  The railing was built up using individual pipe fitting.  He just about went crazy drilling the brass castings out.  He found out that he could have purchased cored out castings for a little more money but with a lot less stress.  It is a manual drive  which eliminates the complexity of a motorized mechanism.

zmann rail unlimited stock

I am always amazed how Jim Zwernemann can take a kit like this Rails Unlimited urethane model and turn it into a really work of art.  He added a few details such as the drop door hardware either side of the door.  The faded color projects a feel of a car that has not seen any maintenance work in many years.   The decals are from Rails Unlimited as well.

Till next time

Happy Trails,


PROTO48 MODELER: Warner Clark

Warner's Focus 1-Sky

You may know of Warner Clark and his fabulous Proto48 railroad.   Warner has built an admirable layout in a relatively small area.   His favorite railroad is the old Nickel Plate Road which ran through his home state of Indiana years ago.   Warner has managed to preserve the look and feel of a class one with well maintained track and  beautiful power.   The scene above shows a meet between a H-6 USRA light mike and a GP-9.  The attention to detail includes interlocking rodding from the tower in the distance.  The NKP was a class act.  Sadly it was assimilated in the Norfolk and Western.

Warner's Focus2

Warner's Focus 4 Sky

You will notice the extreme depth of field and the sky background.  Both effects were created by Rich Bourgerie.   The resulting image is extremely realistic.  You can almost smell the creosote of the tie and the wonderful aroma of a live steam locomotive.

Maumee4-M rev

Warner added a shortline to his layout to allow for some freelance modeling.   The classic street scene reflects the O&M legacy of an interurban with street running and tighter radius curves.   Brick was a common construction material in commercial buildings and even streets.

Maumee5-M rev

You might recognize the narrow building on the left.  It was built from a Chooch urethane kit.  The picture below features another classic Chooch kit.  The Red Crown gas station is one of my favorite buildings.

Maumee1-M rev


A classic small town view showing the A&P market and the F.W. Woolworths five and dime.   The caboose looks like a rebuilt Northern Pacific 24′ car.

I would like to thank Warner Clark and Rich Bourgerie for providing me with this material.   I hope you enjoy it.   By the way, you will find Warner’s story below an interest narrative of his railroad and town.




A Story of The Nineteen Forties and Fifties

  1. W.J. Clark


The following story is of a memory of growing up in the small towns of the Midwest following WWII.  This story is told via a re-creation in a model railroad built to ¼ inch scale.  (see note)


The MBL is modeled with characters, homes, business’s and facilities that played a roll in a boy’s mentoring and affection for a period that we will never see again…. It may well strike a chord in your memories of the past.  Much like Fontaine Fox’s Toonerville Trolley this model is populated with folks and places you may have known by another name.  Only those folks who cannot be associated with a surname are fictitious in this story.



– – –



When one builds a model compromises always have to be made due to space limitations.  As small town pups, all we needed was an open field with a small creek, woods and hillocks in which to play cowboys and Indians, stage war battles, build tree houses and play softball.   Because of space constraints, one’s imagination will have to transpose those assets to perhaps the Turkeyfoot Creek setting when your train passes that location.


Thus, we begin our story on the Nickel Plate Road at MC Junction – Toledo, Ohio.   This is the Nickel Plate’s Clover Leaf District’s 1st Subdivision.   The roundhouse you see there is a three stall, brick version of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern’s six stall roundhouse that the author grew up in as a roundhouse rat in Hillsdale, Michigan.  Inside the front office, the engine house foreman, John Hoeger, is giving the kid a line up of engines recently assigned to the Hillsdale hub.  (that’s the kid’s bike in front of the office door.)  Back in the shop are machinists/hostlers Oree Swan and Pat Bends, repairing boiler jewelry for NKP 597.  You ask, “why not model NYC USRA mikes?”  When compared to NKP USRA engines, the Central’s  locos are plain and un-manly.  With poetic license I’ve added a car dept. and a track dept. adjacent the roundhouse and turntable.


Setting in a chair out front of his office is car foreman John Eichman giving a group of new hires, all ex G.I.’s just released from WWII service, a lesson on how to tear down a rail car truck.  Standing off on stage right is a carman, Jim Canter, learning all the “boss moves” made by John.  This is in the age when freight cars were of 50 and 70 ton capacity; where carbon steel, rivets, friction bearings and gravity held cars together.


On tracks 9 and 10, assigned to the Maintenance of Way, we find track supervisor Brady Schaefer, on the steps of his crew car, about to prepare breakfast for his B&B crew.  On this day Brady will fry up a bunch of green tomatoes for the boys, who’ll be setting some heavy creosoted bridge timbers today.  Leaving two new track”men” and Indiana high school classmates, Bill Dick and Tom Cook, nursing hangovers from the night before to contemplate the stomach chemistry of fried green tomatoes and the smell of warm creosote about to take place.


Our OCS (office car special) proceeds clockwise around the layout.  Leaving the engine/car terminal, we go through Gould Curve and past the outskirts of Toledo, approaching the Toledo depot.  Astute passengers will note the right end of the depot has a station sign that reads “Continental” Ohio, the half way point of the first sub in the Clover Leaf’s line west to St. Louis.  On the station’s platform is an employee, Dick Baldwin, from the track department learning the ropes (without pay) of an agent/operator, as he wants to work 12 months a year – not eight.


We pass Continental, represented here by a moveable point crossing.  To our left is the south end of the Malinta WB passing track.  To our right is the entry to the Malinta EB passing track.  The west bound pass serves two other railroads besides the Nickel Plate: the south end of the track is the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton’s Ford Storage track; the north end of the NKP Malinta WB Pass is also the DT&I’s , Ohio & Morenci (short line) interchange and run-around track at Champion, (Metamora) Ohio.


Proceeding east, we cross state route 109 in downtown Malinta (Metamora).  Flagging the street is crossing watchman, Gorham Sawyer, and extra board fireman, Don Daily.  Walking towards the handcar house is section hand Bob Swert.  We pass the Malinta depot and standing at its entrance is traveling freight agent Pepe Greve.  Pepe has an answer to everything.  Especially when he smokes his big fat cigars.  The only one who barks back to Pepe is the depot mutt.  It knows Pepe will feed him.  Across the diamond is Jeff Sharp, Helping his dad, third trick operator Jim Sharp, pass DT&I, NKP form19 orders to train crews, while first trick agt./opr. Jack McCoy can be found in the outhouse looking forward to a busy day (dealing with Pepe).


Leaving Malinta we approach Turkeyfoot Creek.  On our right is farmer Ben Hunter’s harvested soft spring wheat field, now occupied by three bovines: Ted, Gloria and Gladys.  Gladys is busy eating straw, Gloria is a rail fan cow looking for the next train to pass, while Ted has other things on his mind.  Beyond the wheat field and to our left is uncle Jack Metcalf, on the dock, fishing Turkeyfoot Creek, while his wife, Aunt Jane is reading her Colliers Magazine from their front porch.  Later in the day, she’ll have a Toledo Blade to read.  Coming up Roseburg Pike on foot is Granddad Charles Warner.  Grandpa owns a tavern in town, and he is always hunting wild game for the free lunches he serves.  What he doesn’t bring down with his shotgun, a patron will bring in a victim of a rubber tire.  His turtle soup is out of this world.  It is called “a la Firestone”.


Also across Roseburg Pike from Aunt Jane’s cottage is the shuttered depot/substation of the Toledo & Western Electric Rwy.  The present operator, the Ohio & Morenci RR has no need of it as the O&M is a freight railroad using internal combustion engines.  By the east wall of the depot is the young Irish lass, Molly, waiting for the O&M to come by so she can wave to the engineer.


Beyond the cut we cross the Maumee Hydraulic Canal, followed by Telegraph Road (US 24).  On that highway, crossing the NKP line is Chuck Pratt with his hot chick of the day, while officer R. Hubbard waits for a northbound speeder – probably racing a train to the crossing.


After passing MC Jct. yard limits we go by the yard tower (VA) and section house.  The track section crew gets ready for another day as they wait for the rest of the crew to arrive; while upstairs, Yardmaster John Downer, and clerk/operator Jack Morris prepare the paperwork for today’s westbound trains and the E/B connections interchange.   Thus concludes our inspection over the NKP.






The O&M RR is a 20 mile long freight line and vestige of the former Toledo & Western Electric Railway that once ran interurban cars 60 miles between Toledo and Pioneer, Ohio.  The company also had a 25 mile line, north to Adrian, Michigan.  Better roads, automotive minded Toledo, and the Great Depression finished off the Teeter & Wobble.  A scrap iron company from Columbus bought the line and from its salvage of rail and overhead copper wire, converted the viable portion between Berkey and Morenci to a freight line moving around 1500 revenue loads per year to/from its only interchange carrier, the DT&I.   The line skirts the Michigan border and for a brief three miles it jumps into Michigan to serve the mighty metropolis of Morenci.  Counting those who spend Friday or Saturday nights as guests of the Morenci hoosegow, the town’s population approaches 2,000.


We board our train at Metamora, (a.k.a Malenta on the NKP/DT&I) Ohio.  We will probably be the only fares on this train from Metamora this month.  Maybe this year!  Behind us are three freight customers: Metamora Grain Co., Fulton County Milk Farmers Coop., and H.G. Pohlman Stockyards.  The grain and raw milk go to rail receivers in Morenci, the livestock is an O&M switch customer for the DT&I/NKP.


Once we leave the depot, our crew must clear and reset the target/smashboard signal protecting the DT&I main.  This signal, along with the double wig-wag road crossing signal at Roseburg are models of the actual signals that once existed at Noblesville and Roseburg, Indiana.  After crossing a drain into Turkeyfoot Creek we begin our 4.4 percent grade ascent to Morenci.


Our first stop is at Hillside, Ohio, less than two miles from Morenci.  Waiting at the depot is registered nurse, Nancy Kean.  She has just come from a job interview at the Ohio Veterans Home.  And she has second, deep, thoughts about taking care of these dirty minded old men.  Also at the depot, standing in the doorway of a LCL boxcar set on the house track is freight clerk, Otis Flinchpaugh.  Otis is telling soldier’s home facility engineer, Harold Klave, he is going to need a bigger truck if he is to deliver this baby grand piano to the home of the recently retired Major.    The Major’s daughter, Sarah, recently graduated from one of those fancy Eastern women’s finishing schools, and will be putting the instrument to good use.  Otis is an aspiring railroader, much in the mold of Pepe.


Next to and west of the Hillside station is The Old Soldier’s and Sailor’s Home.  The dormitory to the right of the depot is the Gen. Hew Packard Memorial Hall.  Gen. Packard was a “famous” Civil War officer from Ohio.  Some license was used in locating this facility, as the real Ohio Vets Home is 35 miles east of Toledo, not west.  On this model, the home is several miles east of Morenci, Mich., just inside Ohio.  That is the new home commander, Maj. G.W. Mason, on the front steps in the white shirt, asking him self, “where are all these troops who signed up for the double header ball game in Toledo this afternoon?”  The Mud Hens are scheduled to play the Rhode Island Reds.  Many of the troops hike into Morenci for entertainment and the distilled grain spirits found there.  As it is against house rules to bring adult beverages on to the property, the whiskey or what’s left of it is pitched into what is known as empty bottle ravine, usually from the high bridge carrying Old Soldiers Home Road into the backside of the facility.


After our train picks up nurse Kean, we proceed west past the parade ground, main hall and commissary/steam plant.  The home is a good freight customer of the O&M.  Paper goods, canned goods, coal, etc. are received on its siding, which still has two of the interurban’s line poles, now used for other purposes.  This brings us to our first resident, on our right, Waldo (Sr.).  Waldo (Sr.) is a natural born athlete and sports star legion of the Morenci High School.  He still has records yet to be broken in football, basketball and track.  Unfortunately, Waldo (Sr.) has yet to receive a diploma from his high school as he was found out to be the father of an illegitimate son, Waldo, Jr. whose mother was a cheerleader and classmate; but more importantly, her father was the president of the school board.   This didn’t prevent Waldo (Sr.) from getting two (successive) sport scholarships from Big Ten schools.  What did him in was the fact he never learned to study – only party.  Flunking out of both schools, we find Waldo (Sr.) today living in a shack with his dog, Maggie.  His main job, other than keeping an eye on his neighbor to the west, is making sure all the whiskey bottles he finds in the ravine are empty.


Next, on the back road into Morenci, we come to Ms. Mona’s house trailer and garage.  Ms. Mona is a private nurse, who lives by herself with two cats.  She takes care of rich, old men.  The 300SL coupe in the driveway is a business expense, and thus a tax write-off.  Waldo (Sr.) has grand designs (on) for her, but no money, though it hasn’t kept him from helping himself to her tomatoes.


After passing behind Ms. Mona’s, the O&M enters East Main Street, Morenci.  The first house, on the left, is the office of Olney Micklow, the town’s dentist.  Dr. Micklow, DDS is an U. of M. graduate, but he has no idea what Novocaine is.


Across East Main St. is Curley Meyer’s barbershop. No one knows how Curley acquired his name as he has been bald as long as anyone can remember.


To the right of Curley’s, on the southeast corner of E. Main and Tedrow Road is John Shaw’s Standard Oil gas station.  Behind Shaw’s gas station, on Tedrow Rd. is Ira Metcalf’s Morenci Market – “The Best, Fresh Meat and Produce in Morenci”.  Ira is also the town’s mayor.  This is an unpaid job, and the “reward” for being the town’s only FDR Democrat.


Across Tedrow Rd. is Katzenmeyer’s Western Auto Agency that connects to Katzenmeyer’s Hardware store which fronts East Street.  Returning north to where Tedrow Rd and East St. join E. Main St. we see McSherry’s Drug Store (on the south side).  Above McSherry’s is the office of Martha Gascho, Attorney at Law.  Economically speaking, attorney Gascho and nurse Mona have a symbiotic relationship, though they don’t know each other.  Ms. Gascho provides future customer/widowers who have suffered the loss of their mate with an estate settlement, while Ms. Mona sends divorcee bound spouses to Ms. Gascho of those gents who can’t wait.


On the north side of this East Main Street intersection, and the corner of Weston Road is the   village park/war memorial.  This five point intersection is known as Bourgerie Corners.   The five intersecting streets are protected by a model of an unique interurban rail-road crossing signal that once existed in Whiteland, Indiana.  The small village park (on land donated by the grain mill) is a memorial to WWI and II soldiers.  Seen setting on one of the benches is grade school teacher, Dora Fields.  She lost her husband, John, in WWI, and their only child, Jack, a B-17 pilot in WWII.  Dora was a wonderful person and teacher.  She thought the world of youngsters such as Waldo, Jr.


Returning to the west side of East and Main Sts., the primary business block in Morenci, we see the Dawn Theater sign and marquee; next door, to the right we find the Spinning Wheel Bake Shop, home of their “world” famous salt rising toasting bread.  To that store’s right is Master’s (Ladies and Misses) Fashion Shop, while upstairs is The O’Meara Agency Insurance.


Established on the southwest corner of E. Main and East Sts. is the well known twenty-four hour/seven day week restaurant, The Nighthawks Café.  It is 1:30 A.M. and the night short order cook has three patrons: a well dressed man, who I don’t recognize; and also seated at the counter is our traveling encyclopedia salesman from Toledo, Tony Garber with his arm around young Marta – a rebellious teenager.  Marti (Marta) is about to be “saved” by her father and hog farmer, Wally Miller, who is about to enter the café.  I wonder who called Wally this time?


The second floor of this building is occupied by the Consumers’ Power Company (of Jackson Michigan).  Burning the midnight oil is assistant branch manager, Tom Fitzsimmons, preparing a presentation for next year’s capital improvements.  Consumers’  Power replaced Citizens Light & Power Co.  (locally owned by the Avis family) who replaced the T&W Interurban when that company’s power supply became too unreliable.    Fitzsimmons will probably get an irate call from farmer John Pautz’s wife, Carmen, about the lack of electrical service to their farm east of town.  Like many farmers from this period, Mr. Pautz would winter quarter in electrified Morenci and then return to the family farm during the growing season.  Kerosene and coal oil lamps, wood stoves, and out houses were the norm.  And WWII restrictions on copper prevented the electric power companies from expanding their service areas.


Moving west on the south side of E. Main St we pass Woolworth’s five and ten cent store, above which is the Riggs School of Beauty Culture and Riggs Beauty Salon.  Next door and west is the A & P Grocery Store, and above which is The Chas. H. Felger Photography Studios.   Followed by a service alley; you will pass The First State Savings Bank of Morenci, J.C. Penney dry goods store, Hays Furniture – Crockery & Hickock‘s Appliances.  And on the S/E corner of Main and S. Summit Sts. is Hennessey’s Rexall drug agency, above which is the rations board office for the O.P.A. of South Lenawee County.   Next to and south of the Hennessy Building, on Summit St. is H.J. Gelzer & Sons Heating – Plumbing & Hardware.  Next and south we find the Mayfair Hotel, News Store and Smoke Shop.  Back on the north side of E. Main St. we see the Kellogg & Buck Grain & Feed Mill.  That’s Mick Ortman , the Mill’s owner standing at the west end of the plant, wondering where the O&M is with his inbound grain cars.


Continuing down Main Street, which is now W. Main, we go by a short block that contains the town’s fire dept. on the ground floor and the town hall, on the second floor.  This building is fronted by the village post office on the southwest corner of Summit and Main, and the Up Town Café on the southeast corner of Main and West Streets (you may see part-owner and cook, Mary Kay McGlinch, out trolling for customers).  Across West St. is the United Milk Products Corp. plant, making either cheese or condensed canned milk, which ever commands a better price.  Coming towards us on W. Main St. is truck driver, Mont Switzer, with a tank wagon full of fuel oil.  Next on W. Main is Vernon & Shaw Bulk Oil Co.  Jim Vernon’s delivery trucks supply the area with furnace oil, stove oil, kerosene and gasolines.  Their property is owned by Porter Lumber Co., who also operates the coal dock next door.   Behind both companies you may see the fair grounds and city park.


Next comes the largest rail customer on the O&M, Parker Rust Proof Co.  They make a tar like coating sold mainly to automotive companies.  One of their principal owners is a university chemistry professor, who developed the product.  You may see one of the plant’s foremen, Paul Bruno, standing in the bridge connecting the two buildings over Mill St. more often called Mill Alley.  Paul is looking for the arrival of the boss, Dr. John Parker.


The last business you will encounter before you enter the west residential section of town is the four star restaurant called the Classic Kitchen.  Nabobs from as far away as Toledo are said to drive here for dinner.


Moving to the north side of West Main Street, we see where the T&W left Main St. and entered its own right of way enroute to Fayette and Pioneer, Ohio.  The O&M has since stubbed the line making it a siding that presently serves Clark (no relation) Suburban Gas, a propane supplier, who until recently made gas from gasoline.  Remember, this is in an era before pipelines.  People still depended on coal and oil to heat and cook with.


Coming back towards town, but on the north side of Main St. we find the O&M’s headquarters and depot, which is sited in the middle of a turning wye.  Moving north on Mill St. we pass Porter Lumber & Coal’s real estate office and next, on the southeast corner of Mill and Union streets is the Indiana Seed Co.,   Further east, on the N/W corner of Union and Cherry Streets is Charlie Warner’s Morenci Tavern and Sport Emporium.


Next door and immediately south of the Morenci Tavern is Lady Brown’s estate home.  Mrs. Brown is the widow of the late C.E. Brown, whose family owned much of the land to the north and which has been sold to business developers over the years.  Dowager Brown is a true Morenci blue-blood.  She is most upset over now finding herself a neighbor to a beer garden.   Lady Brown is a past president of the Woman’s Temperance League, and hosts many literary and garden parties.   The village police know that a call from her means they will be paying a visit to the tavern.   Rumor has it that she has had serious discussions with an unknown Chicago business man with deep connections.


Going north on Cherry St. after crossing Union St. we pass the O&M freight house (on the east side) and engine house (on the west side of the main track).  The last three rail served customers are Kramer Bros. Lumber & Millwright, Winski & Sons Scrap Iron Co. and Porter Warehouse Co.   Beyond Winski’s and the city limits is a bar and grill called “The Limits” – “For good eats, good radio, good times and good night”.  Just beyond the end of O&M track is uncle Waldo’s Organic Aggregates “quarry”.  You may see a dump truck load heading for town, and a free lunch.


So ends our tour.  Unless you can become a significant customer, you will have to find your own way back to Metamora.



P48 MODELER: Jim Harper

Jim Harper is a person that has been associated with Proto48 for over forty years.  He not only has been a promoter of Proto48 through his product line but he has shown a willingness to help modelers working in  the scale.   Jim attends many of the NMRA and O Scale shows to promote the scale and enjoy the fellowship of modelers in attendance.

jim and box

Erik Lindgren caught Jim demonstrating Protocraft’s magnetic Type-E couplers at the NMRA convention in Colorado Springs recently.   Jim has a business by the name of Red Cliff Miniatures.  His product line includes P48 switch kits, operating switch stands and non-operating stands.   Erik took a picture of Jim standing next to John Johnson (another long-time P48 modeler) at the Colorado Springs show.

Jim H JJ

Jim served in Vietnam as part of a USAF Special Forces unit.  He retired from his service and opened a hobby shop in Southern Cali.  Later he moved to Reno and opened High Sierra Hobbies.   His hobby shop was a haven for Proto48 modelers.   I used to go to Reno to purchase some wonderful P48 products.

Jim has built a magnificent P48 layout in his home.   The layout started out in his garage in Reno, NV.  Jim and his wife decided to move to Santa Clara, Utah.  The layout was carefully broken into section and moved.  Jim built a new home with a larger space for his layout.  The original design was reworked and expanded.  The resulting effort is most impressive.   Look at the pictures below and keep in mind that each tie has two tie plates and four spikes.




Visit Jim’s Red Cliff Miniatures website to see more of his layout and his extensive product line.

Happy Trails,


P48 MODELER: Robert Leners


Modeling Proto48 is not limited to a few geographical regions of the country.  There are many talented builders in places like Colorado, Washington State, Maryland, and Tennessee.  One such modeler located in the Minneapolis area is Robert Leners.  I first met him in 2009 at the Naperville Prototype Modelers meet.   Prior to meeting, he had already impressed me with his workmanship and volume of models produced.  The more I conversed with Robert the more I realized that we share common interests in the hobby.  He is an unabashed fan of the late Paul Larson, former Model Railroader editor, and the old Soo Line.  We each built some of Larson’s published construction projects.   I built a few of Larson’s models but Robert has built some that were published in the Railroad Model Craftsman.


Here are two examples of Larson inspired projects executed by Robert.    He built the structures and positioned them on his layout that was under construction several years ago.   Robert is scratchbuilding a 1/4″ scale version of a C&NW depot at Jefferson Junction, WI.   Paul Larson built a HO version for his Mineral Point & Northern Railway. I suspect Larson went down to Jefferson Junction and measured the depot.  Robert was able to obtain a comprehensive article in the C&NW Historical Society magazine to guide his construction.  The factory was described by Paul Larson in the Railroad Model Craftsman.  Robert built this structure years after I had built my version.


Robert is building a replica of the Benton, WI branch end.  Model Railroader did a prototype study on this C&NW facility.  It was an interesting choice for 1/4″ scale modeling since it has only a few switches, a turntable and small depot.  The turntable started out as an On3 kit.  It fit his layout concept well.




Four outstanding scratch built freight cars were built from styrene.   His work is crisp and clean.  The Frisco boxcar was built using drawings that appeared in the Mainline Modeler.  The Soo boxcar was built using information from a number of sources.  To date no plans for these early (1914, 1915) boxcars have been found.  Some were converted to work service which allowed information to be collected.


Robert converted an Intermountain single door boxcar to follow a Soo prototype.   He followed an article that I wrote for the Soo Line Historical Society magazine.

CMO FowlerCNW Bx 4 R Leners

Here are two more scratch built styrene models.   Each one is a superb rendering of the prototype.  Both were based on drawings that appeared in Mainline Modeler.


Robert built this early Chooch Enterprise Ultra Scale II kit.  He did an excellent job on the model.  The black ends were accurate for cars prior to the early 1950s.   This 10,000 series boxcar was a signature car for the Northern Pacific.

There are more wonderful models coming from Robert.  He continues to turn our new projects and share them with fellow Proto48 modelers.

PART II- Jim Zwernemann

Elgin tower was built by the T&NO to protect the crossing with the Katy.  Jim built this model from styrene.   He made patterns for the two different train order signals.

Elgin tower was built by the T&NO to protect the crossing with the Katy. Jim built this model from styrene. He made patterns for the two different train order signals.

Here are more photos of Jim Zwernemann’s modeling.   He was kind enough to take the pictures and his layout and models to share with others.   Hopefully, you will enjoy this material.

Jim’s railroad is being built in a detached garage adjacent to his home.  The building provides an excellent setting to construct his dream road.   In the center is his shop area with is separated from the layout by dividing walls.   All of the space has HVAC so it can be made quite comfortable year round.

After my initial look at the layout photos, I decided to asked Jim to do a simple plan so that the many scenes could be placed in relation to each other.    Here is Jim’s drawing:


One of the featured areas on the layout is the Texas town of Carmine.   The centerpiece of the town is the scratchbuilt T&NO depot.   Jim was raised in this town.   I am sure there are lots of railroad memories centered around this building.

Carmine, Texas T&NO depot

Carmine, Texas T&NO depot

Austin was a hub for several railroads and had a number of interesting vignettes just crying to be modeled.   One that stands tall is the small yard that was used the MKT, T&NO and MP.   The MKT had a wonderful yellow brick freight house.   It was very large in the small yard.   One feature of the prototype was an old stiff leg derrick (not modeled yet).

The building is made from a variety of materials.  The brick material was sold by Micro Mark.  It has enough printed texture to be very realistic.  The foundation is a wood board that was “planked” with scale lumber if it was firmly attached to the benchwork.

zmann frt 5

zman mkt frt 4

zmann mkt frt3

Local street vendor is busy serving up some homemade tamales.    Jim added this  neat little trailer.    I suspect he used a diecast toy to make this model.   The signs make the scene.

zmann tamales