Monday, June 24, 2019

Wethersfield Lumber Co & Prototype Fidelity - Worth the Cost?

Long-time readers will recall that I'm willing to redo things on the layout to make things more prototypically accurate - including removing & reconstructing trackwork and even redoing a backdrop to better match the prototype topography. But I may have reached the limit of my willingness to toe the line of prototype fidelity with the Wethersfield Lumber Co.

As with all things having to do with "prototype modeling," we of course consult the prototype. The older your chosen era, the harder that is - and you're limited to photos and maps (and the memories & recollections of those who were there... but more on that later).

In the case of the Wethersfield Lumber Co., I've got one not-so-decent photo. . .

Click here for the story of how I got it
. . . and one relatively accurate map:

For the longest time, I just had the siding branching off the mainline, all loose and whatnot - waiting for the day I got some additional information. Well, once I saw the photo and saw that a Walthers kit would make a reasonable stand-in, I built the kit and started roughing in the scene.

Unfortunately, given my space constraints and the size of the lumber shed (already WAY shorter than the 21" long a true-scale model would be), this is the scene that resulted and how it looks today:

Eagle eyes (such as those possessed by my friend and structure builder DaveM) will notice right away that something is amiss. Namely, that the lumber company siding is not parallel to the mainline(!)

There are a few reasons for this, all having to do with the space constraints alluded to above. Primarily, I wanted to maintain some space/distance between Wethersfield Lumber and the Fernwood Street scene (a focal point, since John Wallace's house is there - more on that in an upcoming post). On the prototype, there's over half-a-mile between them, so I wanted them to be visually separate.

Also, there is the matter of the siding and surrounding area all being thoroughly gooped in...

Nevertheless, not being bashful about doing major changes for the sake of prototype accuracy, I decided to at least mock-up what a change would look like . . .

Changing things so that the siding & shed are parallel to the mainline (and, incidentally, perpendicular to Jordan Lane - seen between the shed and Ballantine's in the pic above) would require chiseling out all the ground goop, risking damage to the subroadbed (in this post you'll see that the area is built on a combination of plywood and foamboard) and, of course, prying up & moving the track. I'm up to the task, but I'm not convinced the work would really be worth it. Sure, the siding and shed would match the Sanborn map, but it starts to crowd into the Fernwood neighborhood a bit.

All prototype modeling is a compromise of accuracy within the space available. But the "best" examples of prototype modeling strike the balance in such an effective way that you hardly notice any compromises made. In the case of (finally) locating the Wethersfield Lumber Co., the "best" location may be what makes the scene look right overall, especially when there's nothing but one blurry photo and an insurance map to tip my hand.

Well, that and the razor-sharp memories of a certain couple fellas that grew up in the neighborhood during the era I'm modeling!

What would you do? How far are you willing to go in the pursuit of true prototype fidelity? How do you balance space constraints with prototype accuracy?

Weigh in in the comments below!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Another Quick Update with More to Come, including the MARPM!

The last time I did a "quick update" was May 24th. At that point, there was only a week-and-a-half left to go with my busy time at work and I figured with the end of legislative session that layout progress would ramp up quickly.

Well, it hasn't quite worked out that way - for both good and not-so-good reasons. On the good (actually, great) side, I got to spend a week visiting my parents in Tennessee. It just so happened that I was able to be there with my brother over Father's Day Weekend and didn't have to leave until just a couple days before mom's birthday. On the bad side, while I was gone, the Missus' grandmother passed away. She'd just turned 96 at the beginning of the month, so lived a good long life. But it's never a good time to lose family.

But while there hasn't been as much layout progress as I'd hoped lately, there's still a pretty decent amount to report. If you follow The Valley Local Facebook group, you've already seen a few teaser photos. But, rest assured, whether or not you've seen those, there'll be more photos and details coming soon.

One thing I can't wait to report though, is that I'll be presenting at the Mid-Atlantic Railroad Prototype Modeler's Meet (MARPM) this September in Baltimore, MD! Friend MikeR (of resin girder fame) suggested attending with him after seeing how disappointed I was at missing this year's NERPM. And I figured I'd try and help out too if I could. Turns out, I can:

Helps to have a last name beginning with "A" :^)
Some of you may remember a similar presentation I gave at the NERPM years ago when it was in Collinsville (the "other" Collinsville), and if you do then you won't miss too much if you decide to attend a different clinic during the same time slot. But there will be many new photos that weren't included the first time around - including all of Old Saybrook - and I hope being in a whole new region I'll see lots of new faces!

I'll provide more details and info as we get closer, but suffice it to say I've heard Bernie Kempinski and his crew do an outstanding job. And I know already that he's lined up a number of amazing clinicians including Tom Jacobs, Ted Dilorio, Dave Ramos, Jim Dufour, and Eric Hansmann - just to mention the ones I've seen before. Click here for a full list of the amazing topics these folks and others are presenting and make plans now to join us!

So that's the latest big news - but stay tuned for posts on the progress I've made over the last bunch of weeks. And thanks for hanging in there despite the dearth of updates. Hope you'll continue to check in!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Wordless Wednesday #268

New Haven Class NE caboose, built using F&C kit as a base, with real wood running boards & endwalks, Crown Custom trucks, O&W ladders (courtesy BillS), full underbody detail, and hand-formed/soldered endrails.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Weekend Fun - Bill Maguire's Layout

Every other year I miss the local ProtoMeet due to work. And unfortunately this is that year.

So, in lieu of seeing all the cool clinics and model displays at the 'meet this weekend, I offer what I did a couple weeks ago today - visited Bill Maguire's layout.

Bill is one of those "lone wolf" modelers who you sometimes hear about, but often miss seeing their work. And the kicker is, their work is usually exquisite - which makes their "lone wolfness" all the more disappointing for those never get to see it.

I first met Bill when he attended one of my open houses and I had heard that he had an impressive layout which included models of a lot of regional prototype buildings (though the layout itself is freelanced). I'd been wanting to wrangle a visit for some time, so when my friend Greg arranged an invitation, I was sure to jump on it.

So, with permission, I get to share with you some of the photos I took that day - including some really impressive structures.

When you first walk into the room, and under a duckunder, you turn left 90 degrees and see this view:

The layout is basically point-to-point with stacked staging loops at each end. In the far right corner, you can see the mainline as it comes out of the upper and lower staging loops. The left and right sides of the aisle are the ends of the modeled portions of the railroad - a city scene on the left and a mill town scene on the right.

Turning back right 90 degrees, you continue around the end of the blob/peninsula and come into the other half of the layout. The mainline continues around the blob and up past Bob and BillS.

At the end of that left side of the aisle, you get to a couple of my favorite buildings on the layout - including a scale model of the Dickinson Witch Hazel warehouse from Essex, CT. Check out the prototype here:

Continuing on our tour to the end of the aisle, here's one of the completely-scenicked scenes featuring a beautiful wood trestle:

As we continue right around the end of the aisle, we come to another small mill town, featuring more impressive structures (and, as far as I can tell, all completely scratchbuilt!):

For this next shot, I've moved back to the end of the peninsula and shot an overall view of the south(?)/right end of that wall. By reference, you can see the tall stack in the picture above and in the pic below...

If you turn, say, 45 degrees to the right from the perspective above, your eyes alight on another highlight structure:

This one is based on the J.A. Smith Manufacturing Co. in Deep River, CT. See prototype photo below:

Like the Dickinson building, this structure is also still around today serving as a popular venue for weddings and such.

Ending near where we began, we turn about 180 degrees from the last shot and see an overview photo of the city scene. And here are some closer views...

Scale model of the station in Willimantic, CT
I'm so glad I finally got to visit Bill's layout, but I have to admit the visit was bittersweet. His layout has since been dismantled in anticipation of an upcoming move. But the good news is that - due to Bill's wonderful generosity and willingness to share his modeling with us, all of his structures have been preserved and will see future service on other layouts - including The Valley Line (you may already be able to guess which buildings I had my eye on :^)

So stay tuned!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Thursday Word(less) Wednesday #266

(sorry for being tardy - late night at work %^)

Evocative of the Valley Local, and the look to which my layout aspires - but can't quite get to yet.
Everything about this scene, from the composition, to the scenery, to the photo backdrop, and - bonus! - the haze at the horizon, is just about perfect.
FB photo of Steve Goaring's Illinois Terminal RR