Friday, October 4, 2019

MARPM Day 4 (cont) - Visiting Bill Aldrich and Joe Smith

I've been a fan of Bill Adrich's work for a long time. He's right up there with John Pryke as an influence in my decision to model the New Haven Railroad. Of course, his choice of the New Haven's famed Shoreline Route has become even more influential to me as I've attempted to model just a small portion of it in Old Saybrook.

I knew Bill lived "somewhere in Pennsylvania" but when I learned at Paul Dolkos' that he was actually right on our way home, well, we just had to give him a call. And he enthusiastically invited us over to visit. Here's just a small sample of the photos I took of his outstanding work . . .

The main city on the layout is Providence, RI and Bill's included the Charles St. engine terminal on a peninsula coming off the main freight yard. It's the only peninsula on the layout, which otherwise goes around the entire basement on an 18-24" shelf.

Among all the many details you'll find here as on other great model railroads, Bill has also fully detailed many of his passenger cars, based on personal experience having ridden in them as a member of the NHRR Board of Directors (pre-McGinnis he'll be sure to point out).

I think the tablecloths are aluminium foil. Amazing. Check out those wall sconces!

We've all seen detailed harbor scenes, but how about detailing what's under water?! Here's a lobster boat with - as you can see - lobster pots below. I didn't have the nerve to ask if there were actual HO scale lobsters in the pots. I was afraid he'd say yes!

An R-3a 3500-series Mountain on the Shoreline. These were 3-cylindered engines, and yes there's a working 3rd valve gear hidden behind the air pumps. Oh, and this steamer - like all the others on this layout - is scratchbuilt. #speechless

View of downtown Providence behind the passenger station. Certainly compressed, but still very effective and - not to mention - seldom modeled.

Mystic station out on the Shoreline

One of the many scenic highlights of the layout is the area around Rocky Neck park. It's not evident in this photo (as you can tell, I was caught a bit off guard by the speed of the train!), but it's shot from the famous overpass which you'll see later.

Another beautiful harbor scene. The New Haven's Shoreline Route crosses dozens of these between New Haven and Providence and they're well-represented on Bill's layout.

"Shoreliner" type Hudson, 1400 series. Scratchbuilt. An amazing representation of a typical Shoreline Route passenger train.

Here's the overpass at Rocky Neck that I mentioned earlier. Prototype photo.

Here's the overpass at Rocky Neck that I mentioned earlier. Model photo. :^)

Drone view of the Charles St. engine facility
I'd almost say I could check Bill's layout off my bucket list, but there was no way I could see & appreciate everything in just one visit. So I hope to be able to go back again soon when we can stay longer!


We ended our jam-packed weekend with a quick detour to see our friend Joe Smith and the layout he's building depicting scenes on the Berkshire line.
Here's Danbury, CT and a view not only of the yard, but the well-known and much-photographed freight house, which lasted into the 1990s IIRC.

View the other way, showing the station and part of the City of Danbury.

What is it with the folks I know who scratchbuild their own locomotives?! Yes, Joe scratchbuilt this model of one of the New Haven's unique Ingersoll-Rand switchers. It runs and sounds as good as it looks. What a cool looking engine! Be sure to check out Joe's blog for the build thread.

Danbury was one of the locations for steam/diesel transition to electric on the New Haven. Here's part of the electric facility, with the much-photographed Danbury barn in the background.

Long view of the Danbury yard, looking from the engine facility back west toward the station.

The other towns Joe's modeling aren't as finished as Danbury, so I focused my camera there for the most part. But I'd be remiss if I didn't give you a sense of the room. He's stacked his levels/scenes and they're all joined with multiple helixes (helices??) and set off with black fascia and valences. Very theatrical and very effective. Really causes the scenes to pop. 

While his other helixes/helices are fully enclosed, this one has invaded his workshop and is there exposed in all its glory. There's a truckload of carpentry and engineering that went into this layout and to me this "under the hood" view is almost as impressive as his modeling.

Joe's effort is truly amazing and pretty innovative if you ask me. I know folks that have strung together favorite prototype scenes, but I've never seen them presented in such a theatrical way as Joe's done here - nor with the overwhelming amount of carpentry!

If you want to see more photos - and, even better, benefit from learning how he does things - you're lucky in that he's documenting his builds on his blog at Signal Station 199 (named after the interlocking where the Berkshire line branches off the main).  Be sure to check it out - I think you'll be as impressed as I am.


Whew! I think it's taken me longer to document and share my MARPM weekend as the weekend itself. But hopefully these posts have given you a sense of what a well-run RPM is like and also given you some motivation to seek out other layouts that may not be on the formal tour. I also hope you'll be sure to check out the links in these posts and visit the different blogs and websites for more information and photos. I'm always so impressed with the quality of work and level of dedication these modelers have. It's truly inspirational and I hope, like me, you'll get some wind in your modeling sails too.

Happy Weekend!

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