Wednesday, June 11, 2014

New England Prototype Meet, Collinsville

So, now that it's been a week and a half (already?!) since the ProtoMeet, it's high time I post my report. But given it's getting to be old news by now, it'll be brief - light on the text, though heavy on the photos.

In short, I did a presentation, I bought some stuff, saw some fantastic modeling, and I met some great people.  The presentation was "A Day on the Valley Local" - essentially a slideshow I put together of what it would have been like to railfan/chase the local freight train in the late 1940s.  Even given the photo resources I have available, the train we "chased" wasn't the same one in every photo, but all the photos were from around the same time period, so I think it was pretty effective nonetheless.  What I'm most proud of though is that I was able to collect and convey so much information not only on the trains themselves, but on the people in the photos as well.  I think that really helped enrich the "journey" and IMO is one of the best reasons for doing all this research: to keep these folks alive, in a way, by preserving and perpetuating their memory.

As for what I bought - well, not all that much.  I'm at the stage in the hobby where I need time to build more than I need more stuff to build.  That said, I did get a few things...

I picked up this enginehouse as-is for 10 bucks.  I think it'll make a great stand-in for the old Billings & Spencer building (which was a warehouse for Hartford Rayon in 1947).

The building still stands in the Dividend section of Rocky Hill. Whattaya think?

I also picked up two second-hand Walthers transmission towers for a buck each.

I don't know if I really have room for them (even though they're severely undersized), or even if I do have room, whether I'll ultimately use them.  But for $2 they were worth getting just to try.

As you can see, Wethersfield did have these during my era.  I just need to decide whether to include them (maybe they'll just be represented on the backdrop?)

I also picked up these wheel masks to try out.  I built a home-made version from a block of wood, with slots cut in for the axles, but at this price I figured it was worth checking out.  Finally, I got a pack of Central Valley stairs & ladders - even less interesting than the wheel masks, so I won't even bother posting a photo.

While the vendors are always fun to visit and you can pick up some bargains, the ProtoMeet's main attractions for me are the modeling, the clinics, and the people I meet.

To introduce the "modeling" portion of my report, here's what I took to display:

Wethersfield Station (AMB kit), New Haven rebuilt wood boxcars (F&C and Westerfield), New Haven NE class caboose (NHRHTA/F&C)

I've always been intrigued by the St. Johnsbury & Lamoille County line in northern Vermont and have even come close to modeling it.  These 70-tonners would be a perfect way to start such a layout.

This display reminded me very much of my early railfan days at the B&M's East Deerfield Yard in the early 1980s.  A multi-unit lashup of these Bluebirds crossing the Deerfield River would be another great thing to model!

Heh - in keeping with what is turning out to be a gallery of "railroads I've considered modeling" - the Rutland was my first love, so I couldn't resist a shot of this beautifully done milk car.

You can just make out my diorama in the upper left corner of this shot, so you can see that this gorgeous NH Alco high-hood is right next door.  And very close to being, um, "adopted."  Good thing High Hoods weren't used on the Valley Local!

I shot this photo for two reasons: 1) the modeling is outstanding, and 2) while not precisely like anything on the line I'm modeling, it's exactly the sort of thing I want to be sure and include.  Certainly conveys the right look & feel, IMO.

(not so?) Obviously, this is not a model - but I wanted to be sure and include it if for no other reason than to give you a reason to visit Plainville, CT.  I had breakfast here with Randy & Joseph the second day of the 'meet.  Oh, and the NH's old Canal Line passes just to the left there - and goes north a few hundred yards to cross the old Highland Division, at-grade.  There's also a little yard north of the diamond where an ex-B&M Geep is stationed.  You know, if you need any other reason to visit Plainville.

You can always buy stuff at another train show, and you can see great modeling in the hobby press, but only at one of these meets do you get the opportunity to see and spend time with so many great folks in person. At the risk of being a little corny, I decided I'd try and get photos of as many of my hobby influences that I could - folks that I've either known for a long time, heard on model railroad podcasts, or just met this weekend.  And at the risk of being a little goofy, I decided to do these photos in a decidedly "internet friendly" way - by taking "selfies."  So here, in chronological order, are the selfies I shot.

Jim Lincoln had the honor misfortune of being my first target, but you can tell from his expression how excited he was about it!  I've heard him on Model Rail Radio and the Model Railcast podcasts for a while and just met him for the first time at the Big E show in January.  But I never got a photo with him - until now.

Dave Ramos was over at Randy's the previous day for an operating session.  I had the privilege to operate on Dave's New York Harbor Railroad a few months back - he models the same year I do (1947) but otherwise his layout, set in Manhattan, couldn't be further away from my design and concept..

Bill Schneider of O&W fame.  He lives just up the road from me and I'm glad I got to operate on his layout before he had to retire it.  He more than anyone else I know was able to accomplish on his layout what I hope to on mine, from concept to execution.  And I'm hoping he can help me with some scenery (hint, hint)!

Dave Owens - the Man Behind the NEProtoMeet.  He's the guy that makes it all happen, yes, with some help, but it's his baby.  We have him to thank for such a wonderful event.

Craig Bisgeier - the man with the best name (or at least the most invoked name on certain podcasts!).  Another huge influence, I've been following his Housatonic Railroad since the 1990s.

Tony Koester - Mr. Prototype Modeling, in my book at least.  I've loved his Trains of Thought column in Model Railroader for many years, but just recently discovered he wrote the ultimate essay about the Valley Line in "A Mogul at Middletown"  And his concept of Layout Design Elements was critical in helping me come up with my trackplan.

Bill Schaumburg of Railroad Model Craftsman.  His writing, especially in the "Perspectives" section of RMC, so often captured for me what I think a good model railroad does, which is to create the ultimate time machine.

Finally - and last only because it was literally the last selfie I took (and with only a few hours left of the 'meet itself) - Mike Rose.  Like Jim Lincoln, I've heard his voice on many model railroad podcasts over the years, but unlike Jim, I just this weekend got the chance to meet him.  Heh - he was so enthusiastic about meeting me that I'm certain he must have me confused with somebody else, but such warmth may just be another aspect of his great personality.  Even though his chosen era and locale is much different than mine, I really enjoy how he thinks through things and appreciate his ability to take us through his process.  And the fact that he's a cyclist too is just a bonus.

So that, in a HUGE nutshell (ok, maybe a coconut shell) is my report from the 2014 New England Prototype Modeler's Meet in Collinsville, CT.  Unfortunately, my job keeps me away from this meet every other year, so I won't be able to attend again until 2016.  Major bummer, but I'm already looking forward to it - hoping I'll have more info & photos to present and thinking about what I'll be able to bring to display.  Hope to see you there!


  1. It looks like you had a great time and I love all the photos of you with the other attendees. Maybe some day I'll be able to attend the meet and we can add to your photo album.
    - Trevor (Port Rowan in 1:64)

  2. Thanks for the comment on the "selfies" - I really debated whether to include them since I wasn't sure how they'd be received. I didn't want it to seem like I was doing the visual equivalent of name dropping %^) But I got to see some folks that, for the most part, I've only heard or heard about, so I wanted to be sure and document that. I hope to add a photo of you sometime - and if you DO make it down to CT, know you have a place to stay - right along the CT Valley Line!

  3. Chris,

    Thanks for the post. I especially like the photo of the St.J&LC locos. I also want to model these engines but in the earlier paint scheme. Does anyone know what colors were used? I have only seen photos in black & white, but my best guess is black and orange.


  4. I think these engines were delivered to the railroad new from GE in 1948; unfortunately, I'm not sure what the delivery scheme was on them. I've only ever seen them in this creme & orange scheme and the Pinsley red & black scheme. Could be that the creme & orange is the delivery scheme (I know the Pinsley came later) but I'm not certain. Thanks for stopping by the blog!