Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Modeling Influences: Bill Schneider's NYO&W

Well, the holiday season has well and truly hit - with dire consequences for the regularity of this blog.  Since mid-November, other than a follow-up post on CT River Valley motive power, I've only posted the bite-sized candies of the blogging world - the "drive-by" post: Wordless Wednesday.  Modeling and blogging have taken a back seat to shopping and egg-nogging...

So there's not much going on hereabouts modeling-wise - barely a ripple - but there's been some seismic activity in my model railroading world this past week: Bill Schneider decided to retire The Old Woman in the Back Bedroom.

I first saw Bill's New York Ontario & Western in Ted Culotta's Prototype Railroad Modeling magazine - I think it may have even been in the premier issue - which didn't surprise me because it became very obvious very fast that what Bill was doing was "Prototype Modeling."  I'd heard that term before, attached to just about any and every modeling effort that wasn't freelanced.  But this was one of the first times I'd seen it practiced to such an extent.  The only other layout I was aware of at the time that modeled a prototype with such fidelity was Jack Burgess' Yosemite Valley.  I knew right then and there that this level of fidelity would become my standard - or at least my aspiration.

When I finally got to meet Bill & see his layout in person, I was shocked and pleasantly surprised at just how small it was.  I was absolutely astonished how well and how accurately he was able to model two entire towns in the space he had.  And not only did he model the buildings and track layout accurately, he'd modeled the details - things like period billboards & signs, and even flagstone walkways that he knew, from talking to local old-timers, were there in the era he was modeling - and exactly where they had been in real life.  On Bill's layout, everything is in the right place and even some of the figures represent actual residents and railroad employees of the time.  The only way you could experience Roscoe or Livingston Manor, NY in the early 1950s any better is with a time machine.  With this level of fidelity to the prototype and attention to detail - especially given the limited space - I knew I'd found a true inspiration for my own modeling effort. I don't mind admitting that my layout seeks to do for a branchline of the New Haven Railroad what Bill was able to do for the O&W.

Although Bill's current iteration of the O&W will move on, literally and figuratively, I know this won't be his last modeling effort.  Can't be.  Anybody that talented and that passionate about recreating a specific time and place has to give vent to his art & creativity somehow.  Of course, he has an open invitation to work his magic anytime he wants on the Valley Line - provided 1947 isn't too far back for him to travel.  But whether he comes down the Valley or not, I'm very much looking forward to his future efforts and especially to the continued inspiration of his art.

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