Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Legacy of a Modeler Historian - Doug Heitkamp Part 3

In the Fall of 1995 Chris Lane and Paul Howald along with Doug Heitkamp, Klaas Gunnick, and myself launched the Colorado & Southern Narrow Gauge Historical Society. Paul was elected President, while Chris took the ardent task of Editor of the Society magazine, The Bear Trap. Doug, as well as Klass and myself were associate editors. Doug published at least 2 technical drawings and regularly placed ads for Design Tech.

The title photo of the April 1994 article by Doug - Kits

The purpose of The Bear Trap was to share accurate information about the Colorado & Southern narrow gauge and modeling subjects thereof. The first issue of The Bear Trap (Winter 1995) included a center piece drawing of the Forks Creek tank by Doug Heitkamp. He provided a short description of the tank and a photo by John Maxwell.

The same issue included an article that described the C&S ng cinder cars. That article included photos of  Doug's 1/24th and my 1/48th scale models (04018 & 04082 respectively) The the C&S Connection had released a set of drawing of the cars (PK006) in 1988 and a description of the cinder car I built was published in Aug. 1991 Model Railroader

Interior detail of 04018 - Kitts

Underside detail of 04018 - Kitts
In the April/May 1995 Outdoor Railroader Doug described how he built his car. In that article he told how seeing my car inspired him to build 04018 and how the large scale model took him a year to build. The article is quite interesting and well worth reading if you can find it.
Details, 1:24th scale Cinder Car 04018 featured in April 1995 Outdoor Railroader - Kitts

The "B" end of the large scale 04018 - Kitts

I believe he saw 04082 when he and his family visited us in Black Forest CO in the spring of 1994. I probably supplied him with a copy of PK006 but it would have been the MR article that initially influenced Doug to build his model of 04018. A little discernment suggests that he was probably already working on the model before he actually saw the 1/4"scale model.

Doug's model won the Freight Cars 1st Place Award at the 1995 Valley Forge National Narrow Gauge Convention. I saw his model several times over the years and it is an outstanding example of Doug's skills. It is an honor to have played a part in its success.

C&S 04018 in "the Colorado Road" scheme -Kitts

In keeping with the mission of  The Bear Trap, to promote prototypical information, I told nothing about how the models were built. Instead I focused on the history of the cars. We brought the models together as companions to the text and visual reference to what the real cars were like.

So far as we knew at the time, they were the only scale models of the cars in existence. Doug provided a photo of his model taken by Jerry Kitts and I added one for the O scale model and a photo of 04082 for the cover of that issue.

In the same issue Design Tech placed an ad for their new O scale C&S Refrigerator kit. The railroad built the composite or Steel Under Frame (SUF) reefers with hardware supplied by Bettendorf Axle Co.; they were the first SUF cars built by the C&S in Dec. 1908. The DT kit built into a modern car but the modeler could backdated it to an original 500 series car. This kit was an important addition to the products available to On3 modeling since at the time there had been no kit of the C&Sng reefers.

The kit was made up of cast resin parts - body and frame - but depended upon injected plastic part, such as the Grandt Line SUF kit and other commercial parts as well. For a short time DT offered the kit without the GL SUF at a reduced price. This was a consideration for those modeler who had already purchased the GL product. 

DT Pilot model Reefer kit - Heitkamp

In a later issue of  The Bear Trap Chris Lane reviewed DT''s Refrigerator kit. The review included a photo of Doug's pilot model. As with all of Doug's models it demonstrated his intense attention to accuracy and craftsmanship.

Winter 1995 Bear Trap

Michelle may still have this model but I have not seen it for a very long time.

Derrell's Conx 5 built 1987 - Poole

Recently Darel Leedy and I were talking about models Doug built over the years and his On3 model of Conx 5 came up. The prototype belonged to the Conoco Oil Company; oil cars had been run on Colorado narrow gauge systems since about the turn of the century. This was the tank that, until 1935, was likely very similar to Conx 14. But a wreck on the South Park in 1935 obligated the C&S to repair the car. They mounted the tank onto a retired St. Charles coal car platform. This made the car unique among narrow gauge tanks and naturally, modelers gravitated toward it. 

Conx 14 and rebuilt 5 at Leadville 1941 - Poole Coll.
I once owned one of the 1/4" scale brass tanks someone imported many years ago for Conx 5 as well as others. I am not certain but I believe I sold the tank to Doug perhaps when he purchased most of my 1/4" scale models in 1996. This may have been the tank he used on his car. However, there were also resin castings of the tank as well.

Darel knew more about Doug's model than I did. I don't believe I ever saw the model but Doug talked about it and may have shown me a photo. According to Darel, someone commissioned Doug to build the model. Darel remembered that the car won a First Place award at one of the narrow gauge meets. After winning the award Doug turned the model over to the owner who took it home and shortly thereafter sold it. None of us remember who bought it nor have any of us seen it since. 

Darel also recalled that Doug told him there was something unique about the model that he had intentionally done. This was a marker so that if he ever ran across a Conx 5 he would know whether it was the model he built. Darel could not recall what it was that Doug did for this purpose.

While I may have seen a photo of Doug's Conx 5 no one seems to have any evidence of the car today. I built a Conx 5 for myself in 1987 and I have a photo of my car that I share in proxy. I think Doug would be okay with that since the models were on par with each other. 

Doug's "signature" of his model was intentional but he knew it was already sold so it is understandably why he marked it. I wasn't planning to sell my Conx 5 when I built there was no marking intentional. Nevertheless, I know something about that car no one else would know and I probably could identify the model should I encounter it again. I would expect this to be a rather common practice among custom builders.

1897 St.Charles box on Trout Creek Pass - Poole

The last model shown here is an S (1:64) scale, 7616 series, C&S box car that came from the Denver Leadville & Gunnison in 1899. Well, except that the car smacks of a St. Charles type box car. 

As the number on the model stands, that car would have been one of 120, 30' box cars built by the Peninsular Car Co. for the Denver South Park & Pacific in 1884. The specific car was previously 24500. It became 7642 on 22 Jan. 1900. But, comparing Doug's beautiful model to a prototype sister, 7646, it becomes clear that they were not the same build. The model represents a much later build than the Peninsular cars. The 7642 has St. Charles Car Co. hardware that included Rigid style trucks. Note that the trucks on 7646 were one of the Union Pacific swing beam types. There are other differences between the model and prototype as well.

The 24 cars of the original DL&G 6500 series (that were built in 1897 at the Union Pacific Denver & Gulf  shops in Trinidad CO) were among what we call the inherited cars because they had to be re-painted from a previous ownership trademarks. In Feb. 1899 the C&S began renumbering the inherited cars. The 6500 series cars became 7722 - 7746 and specifically 6520 became 7742 on 1-15-00. The "The Colorado Road" trademark on the cars was one of the most distinguishing differences between the Trinidad cars and the 40 box cars (8026 series) from St. Charles Car Co in the fall of 1898. This new set came already marked with a different C&S Ry trademark. Perhaps this is one of the reasons the 7722 series was among the most obscure group of cars on the C&Sng.

Ex DL&G Peninsular box at Kokomo, CO - Poole coll.

Doug would have known all of this when he built 7642. So, notice that if the 6 on the model was replaced by a 7 the car would be completely correct to the prototype - even with the The "Colorado Road Trademark". I never asked him about any of this but it may be that a modeler who already had a propensity to mark his craftsmanship might intentionally pervert the number to make the model uniquely his, no matter who eventually owned it. And, in those days, who would have known what number the car should have been? My personal belief is that Doug knew what he was doing for his own reasons.

Sn3 7642 on loan, TC Pass layout 2008 - Poole

Doug's model is a superb example of his mastery of materials and technique. He described to me how he built it; all of the siding was taken from a commercial kit. However, he milled it on a Shirline machine to a thickness of about 1/3rd of the original material. There was no effort to match the sides to his model as intended in the kit. Instead pieces were cut and matched together as one might do with any sheet of scribed plastic. Doug gave me samples of this material and it is the typical light grey siding you would find in an Overland or P-B-L kit. 

The purpose was to reduce a certain clunkiness of the commercial parts so that scale lumber could be used for the frame. Very likely Doug used the C&S Connection drawings and other information that were by then in his possession. (See part 2 of this series.)

To be sure, I wanted the model. I tried more than once to talk him out of it. Instead he graciously loaned it to me for use on the Trout Creek Pass layout. It served there for a few years until we moved to Montana. I am told that Michelle keeps it in a display cabinet along with a few other special things. And rightly so; it is an heirloom to be cherished.

Like most of the models shared in this post, 7642 was a First Place "Freight Cars" award winner at one of the Sn3 Symposiums. It may have been in 2001 at the meet in Denver.

My thanks to Jerry Kitts for use of the photos and and Darel Leedy for his comments.


Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Design Tech Legacy - Doug HeitKamp Part 2

I'm not sure when Doug and Cindy started Design Tech. Jerry Kitts suggested it may have been as early as 1989; Jerry and Doug were already friends at that time. Therefore, Design Tech and the C&S Connection were about the same vintage. I believe that when Doug and family visited our home in Black Forest, CO in 1994 it was an investigative mission to see how I produced many of the tC&SC products. I recall that we discussed how I cast the metal roofs for the C&S house cars with Murphy roofs. One of the first products DT offered was the Colorado & Southern 1909 refrigerators in S scale. Design Tech went on to produce many cast resin buildings in HO, S and O scale.
A page from the Jefferson Dry Goods Flyer
Joe Crea's Half inch scale Jefferson Dry Goods

One of DT's most recognized kits was Jefferson Dry Goods, a fictional structure that was created by Joe Crea for his half inch scale Gunnison layout. From the DT kit's instruction sheet we read;

"The design of this particular building was the imagineering genius of Mr. Joe Crea. Joe made this building popular with his 1/2 inch scale model. His model is featured in the September/October 1985 Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette." 

Design Tech's S scale Jefferson Dry Goods display model

The back side of Joe's JDG
Rear of  DT's Limited Edition S scale kit

The development of  the JDG kit appears to have begun in 1998 or early 1999. When it was issued in late 2001 it was limited to 50 copies and only in S scale.

Another great kit was Murphy's General Store. Doug found a nice build of this kit on one of the layouts at an Sn3 Symposium meet in 2002. 

Many of  Design Tech's kits were based upon C&S (South Park and Clear Creek) prototype structures. Two of these were the Forks Creek Pump House and one of the box car sheds at Como

Design Tech S scale Murphy's General Store

Murphy's on an unknown S scale layout 2002
Design Tech version of the Forks Creek Pump House

DT Box Car Shed (DSP&P-esque; Como & others)

Some time in 2006 Doug sold the S scale products of  Design Tech to Doug Junda and the O scale line went to Jerry Kitts. By that time I had already joined Robert Stears and Bill Meredith with Cimarron Works Models and Junda joined us not long after. With that acquisition, CWM soon began offering the DT S scale kits on their website.

While Doug Junda continued to offer most of the existing S scale kits he never expanded the line. For the matter I'm sot sure Jerry did much with the O scale kits either. Then, Doug and Michelle re-aquired Design Tech several years ago. Unfortunately they never expanded the products either - although there was some tongue-in-cheek effort to encourage that.

Prototype C&S car repair shed at Como - Poole Collection



When I found out that he again owned DT I began pestering Doug about doing a kit of Pat Gibbony's car shop. This was another South Park structure that I felt had a lot of character and potential; even though it was rather simple (and I didn't need it for any of my own layout plans).

The prototype was located at the big C&S facility in Como. Of course, it wasn't Pat's car shop but the repair shed for the railroad's rolling stock. Pat was simply the foreman of that operation. Of course, this was an old proposition I'd pestered Doug with before he sold the company. He had already said no to the idea long ago. So he just laughed at me - in good humor, of course. If I ever want the structure I'll have to build it myself; perhaps as "Doug Heitkamp's" car shop.

All of the photos and Design Tech artwork were created by Doug Heitkamp except where noted.

In Part 3 I will share a little of Doug's Modeling accomplishments.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Doug Heitkamp

Doug on the Tick-Tock & Some Day train trip

 "Moderation, Derrell. Moderation" - Doug Heitkamp; after Vicki posted a photo of Derrell with a 1lb Snickers bar.

Doug Michelle (the Pearsons too) Doing Mexican

Doug Heitkamp was my friend. He passed away  much too soon on 3 Nov. 2023. In reflecting upon our friendship I realize I just didn't get to know him well enough. I don't know anyone who would not agree that he was the kind of person you naturally liked. He had a goodness about him; he was fair-minded with a steadfast quality.

Nicholas, Andrew and Emily, Boreas Pass, CO - Heitkamp

Doug was a good husband and devoted father of 3 children. Tragically, he and Cindy lost their youngest son, Nicholas, to an accident many years ago. Doug never stopped missing his son, but he was an optimist and found solace in his private beliefs and memories. I never saw him fall into despair or depression and I believe he was certain one day he would see his child again.

Doug was an excellent cook especially in his mother's Latina cuisine. He was always a great host and the last time we saw Doug was when Vicki and I visited Colorado in 2018. He and Michelle picked us up at the airport and offered a stay at their home for a few days. Doug and Cindy had divorced several years earlier and he married Michelle who was a very gracious and intelligent hostess. Their generosity was one of the highlights of our visit. Especially delightful was the gathering in their back yard one evening with several friends for a great dinner and time of fellowship. Both Darel Leedy and Patrick Tillery joined us; it was very reminiscent of days when we met regularly.

Doug was a big fan of Colorado standard gauge (3' rail to rail). He was a devotee of the C&Sng but he never divested of his love and collection of A.T. & S. F. stuff. He grew up in Los Angeles and was a fan of the Pacific Electric and other railroads of his childhood. He also maintained his collection of American Flyer trains. 

On the other hand, Doug's vast interest in all things railroading tended to overwhelm the specific focus needed to build an operating layout. He regularly rotated between a range of scales and gauges. We all joked about this and I finally suggested he just build a layout of everything. Joking like that just rolled off of him with a smile.

"The Tick-Tock and Someday RR Trip was a spin-off from the “Come to Michelle” talk about building the layout or she would take the complete basement for her Woodworking Shop. She said to him the “Clock is Ticking” - that is how I came up with the Tick-Tock label. So we named a number of events and layout designs of the”Future” Dougie‘s layout(s) that he would generate and keep him aimed in the correct direction. Or, tried to keep him focused. Not sure it worked but it was great fun, and he played along"  - Monte Pearson

The T-T&SD gang; Monte, Keith & Lynn, Michelle, Miller (Connie Pearson), Darel. Barry & Doug

Monte added that when Doug would finally come up with a track plan he and Darel would head to the lumber store. But on the way the dynamics of the two brainstormers would present new ideas that just had to be incorporated or even required a completely new plan. No lumber was purchased and it was back to the drawing board - again.

In the course of things he and Darel would sell the rights of "custody" of models - particularly brass locomotives - to each other with the stated admission that they would likely buy it back one day. To some degree I also participated in this activity. 

Both Doug and Darel had lived in the Denver area a very long time and had known each other almost as long. They did a great deal together that included camping, exploring and visiting various historical sites across the State. They spent time helping each other with model building and they had a common interest in all things vintage Volkswagen; bugs, buses, and even a Porsche or two. They regularly talked and met at various eating places; Darel was easily Doug's best friend.

Those of us who lived outside of the metro area continued to be in contact by other means (blog, email, phone and at opportune visits). Convention times, especially in Colorado, were always reunion times. Also among his best friends were Jerry Kitts of Foothills Models and Monte Pearson. Many of the Pearson photos shared here were taken by Monte during those events. Doug also visited both Monte and Jerry on a regular basis. On his visit to Brandon, MS in 2022 he helped Monte rebuild his layout in a matter of 3 or 4 days.

Doug applying a template to the BOCHICA Mining RR  Feb 2022

Miller and Michelle in "The Land of the Giants"

Oh, Doug could build layouts and Monte was impressed with his computer generated templates for the track and roadbed. 

In the photo below most of the Tick-Tock and Some Day (TT&SD) gang are gathered on a mission in Sept. 2022. Present were Keith Pashina, Miller (Connie Pearson), Michelle, Monte, Doug and Barrie Barrett. Only Darel was missing. And the mission?  Collect dirt for the BOHICA Mining Railroad Monte's tongue in cheek layout, of course. This was the layout he and Doug had built in February. They were at the Grand Central Mine in Gilpin County, CO. The photo was taken by a passing stranger.

Doug and Jerry go back to about 1989. Doug certainly contributed to Jerry's layout as well. The view of Jerry's layout was taken by Doug on a visit in March of 2003. He did quite a bit of mastering for the O scale narrow gauge cars offered by Foothills Models. He also contributed  to artwork for the Decals the company marketed. Doug was a talented and friendly guy who was always ready to help  his friends. 

Jerry Kitts On3 layout  - Heitkamp March 2003

After Vicki and I moved to Montana in Sept 2010 7th Street Shops boomed and I was hard pressed to do any personal modeling at all. I was also hard pressed to make any of the national events. The last one I attended was the 32nd National Narrow Gauge Convention in Seattle Sept. 2012. Doug did not attend that event. 

Yet we did stay in contact. Darel started the C&Sng Blog and that stimulated a lot more conversation. Most of my participation outside of  the blog was by email as I do not text.

I'm sure Doug and I talked on the phone prior but we first met in 1994. That was the year Doug and Cindy moved to Colorado from California  A friendship was formed that day that has lasted until this day. They visited for a few hours at our home in Black Forest, CO. While the women talked and our children played Doug and I had a broad ranging discussion - as we always did ever since. He told me that he had built Malcolm Furlow's San Juan Central RR in HOn3 but apparently he could not get the layout to work as published in the 1980 Model Railroader series. I don't remember what the issue was but it was clear Doug, who was a few years younger than I, also ventured into the hobby at an early age. Sadly, Malcolm passed away in March of this year.

We found a lot in common between us. He had read several articles I'd published and was enthralled with the "South Park" C&S narrow gauge as I was. We both had already started and were operating successful model railroad businesses. Building awards winning models was another commonality that manifested over the years. We are both published authors in various magazines (one of his articles appeared on page 42, April / May 1995 Outdoor Railroader). We both collected railroad memorabilia and old photos and studied history in general. We were both professional Technical Drafters as well as vintage car restorers. We often sounded historical theory off of each other as well as modeling technique and we traded a lot of information over the years. As I recall the purpose of his visit that day was to investigate some of  the C&S Connection's production techniques.

Darel, Doug & Michelle enjoying pizza with Monte and Miller (out of view)

Not long after our first meeting my life changed and I decided to get out of the hobby. Doug offered to buy the C&S Connection, much of my collection of On3 models and my library of documents, books and photos as well as a large collection of drawings. At the time this was financially helpful but many years later it proved fortuitous when Doug offered to sell the photos and historical archives back to me. Along with the collection came much of the old the C&S Connection product that included all of the drawings. (Unfortunately, I've never recovered any of the models that Doug had sold over the years. I came across a few of them here and there but the ones I would have tried to purchase back were the 3 non-revenue cars.) I am grateful that my friend held the core of the collection until I was able to buy it back.

Doug and Monte ready to feast in Brandon MS

When I returned to the hobby several years later, I joined the small group that included Doug, Darel Leedy, Joe Crea and a few other irregulars. We would get together on a Friday evening once a month, go to one of the nice restaurants in the Denver area to enjoy fine dining and great discussions. Then we returned to one of our homes where the discussions often continued. When I began the Trout Creek Pass layout in 2007 we occasionally had a work night at my place.

In fact, eating was a big part of our fellowship. As I recall our primary restaurant was a good Mexican place in Englewood, CO. We also occasionally got together at each others homes and with our wives we would all sit down to a tasty home cooked meal. Note the deliberately comical anticipation in Doug's eyes in the photo. Yes, this was the general sentiment the hungry models of our group who definitely enjoyed feasting together. Yum!. Vicki and I had the gang over one Saturday afternoon for just such a time together.

One evening we visited Joe Crea's wonderful Jefferson layout still in progress. Joe is well known for his fabulous 1/2" scale modeling. We met at Darel's home a few times and enjoyed his layout as well. Darel lived next door to Joe and on one of those occasions Joe brought Lane Stewart as our guest. Someone pointed out that we had 3 Gazette authors in the same room. That was interesting but when ever we met there was always something interesting. Today, thoughts of those times bring home what real lasting friendships are about.

Doug Junda & Darel at work on the Trout Creek Pass - Poole

One of Lanes Stewart's wonderfully gritty structures - Heitkamp
As I remember my friend Doug Heitkamp, I realize what a loss he is to all of us. We love him and will miss him. His active contributions to our lives are no longer possible. What we have are wonderful memories. Let us cherish remembering him until we ourselves run out of track.

All photos taken by Monte L. Pearson PhD and supplied to the author except as noted. My thanks to Darel Leedy and Monte Pearson for their contributions and memories.

Doug operating Bill White's On3 layout during the 37th NNGC in Denver 2017

In Part 2 of this series I will delve into Doug's iconic Design Tech model kits company.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Throwing Curves

The subjects of this post are two HO examples of the 4-10-2 "Overland" type with 3 cylinders built by Alco in the 1920s. More to the point it is about what can happen when models exceed the parameters of the layout they are expected to operate on.

In the early 1920s several railroads purchased Alco's new Overland locomotive. In the early 1970s Westside Models imported the U.P., S.P. and iirc A.T.& S.F. versions

 WSM U.P. 4-10-2 running DCC & chassis of raw S.P. loco is ready to test

Westside's G-file 24 for the S.P. version inferred the models were made to go around curves sharper than expected. Not so specifically the pamphlet stated that though the wheel base was long the model could  "...squeal around pretty tight curves found on medium and club size layouts". A seasoned modeler would likely realize the implication was toward the mainline of a layout where the broadest curves would be found. After all, any radius can appear on any layout big enough to use it. But someone relatively inexperienced might come away with an impression that would result in disappointment.

Fifty years ago the tightest HO radius could have been as little as 12" but typically it was 15" to 18" inches. Not much has changed except perhaps that there are fewer club layouts. Regardless, G-file 24 (and all of the G-files) should be taken for what they were; advertisement. The 4-10-2s may be able to negotiate some "pretty" tight curves but the true minimum radius is the tightest curve a model can negotiated without any issues.

Furthermore, modelers today enjoy a plethora of  large, mass produced models that are engineered to negotiate ridiculously sharp curves. A Rivarossi Bigboy, for instance, may well go around an 18" radius - I don't know - but to someone not familiar with the greater precision hand-crafted models of Yor it may be natural to assume negotiating really tight curves is universal to all models.

The owner of the 4-10-2s made statements to that affect. He has large plastic models that run thru his 24" curves. What would he expect? To him, the 2 models should run the curves and he was genuinely disappointed when they would not. 

These are very heavy machines that are more inclined to force their way thru a curves than to jump the track. That of itself was deceiving and veiled what was really going on. The model was built by Katsumi, still one pf the best builders of all time. It was the importer who wrote the G-file that failed to be more concise.

Both raw 4-10-2s would go around the 30" S-curves on our test track. They would go around but they didn't like it and we would not presume that to be a proper minimum radius for the models. Sadly, even after all that we've done to 8806 we have little expectation it will run on the client's sharpest curves.

30" S-curves of 7th Street Shops test track

When they published G-file 24 WSM didn't anticipated the general impact DCC would have on brass models. DCC has revealed how forgiving DC is of electrical shorts. DC power is only seriously effected by a shorted condition; where there is a constant continuity below a certain threshold of resistance. For example, there is a manufacturing flaw, almost never detected by DC, that will consistently shut down a DCC system. A model with a shorted insulated driver is inoperable with DCC because the system safety will immediately "smell" it - even above a million ohms of resistance. Fortunately, shorted drivers are usually easy to fix but if you don't know to look for them you may wind up setting the model on the shelf.

The raw DC 8806 tested acceptably on the 30" S-curves but after DCC was installed it consistently shut down the system every time the model backed into a curve to the left. To find the problem I start a process of eliminating the usual suspects. The tender, pony truck and trailing truck were removed in succession to narrow the scope of investigation. The model continued to short in the same manner nonetheless. Since the brake shoes are all plastic it began to look like the short was somewhere in the insulated drivers. However, testing had already established that none of the insulation was at fault. It seemed the only answer was that one or more of the tires was able to contact the frame. I ran the model in the dark to see sparks but none were observed. I tried to insulate the frame from the backs of the drivers. That didn't work.

Gear box disengaged to allow free rolling thru the curves

When you've answered all of the questions and still come up short (yes, a bad pun) then there is a question you have not asked. That meant tearing down the entire frame to the drivers and side rods. When the valve gear frame was removed from the engine frame the problem suddenly seemed obvious; the flanges of both front drivers were intermittently contacting the valve gear frame. The insulated driver would create a dead short when that happened and it happened in a left hand curve where the driver was forced against the frame. A bit of filing to prevent the tires from ever contacting the frame was done and it seemed promising that the issue would finally be resolved. 

More or less confident (or at least hopeful) I reassembled the entire engine with the trucks and tender. The problem was finally fixed... Right? Nope. Once again, as the model entered a left hand curve the system shut down. Well!!

At this point it was clear that I was dealing with several shorts; a condition that is not very common. 

With DCC 8806 running the S.P. chassis is ready to test for shorts

Again I began eliminating parts of the model that were likely to cause trouble. First was the tender. Then I removed the pony truck. Yet each time the model approached the curve with the trailing truck leading there was a short. However, for the first time I saw an arc where the insulated wheel of the truck came into contact with the engine frame. Now it was additionally clear; WSM's Overland types required a minimum radius greater than 30". Apparently a "pretty tight curve" on a club size layout is on the order of  36". With a natural minimum radius well above 30" it is concluded that I was not fixing the faults of an otherwise nice model, I was modifying the parameters of an already nice model!.

After I fixed the final short in the pony truck the model was able to negotiate the 30" curves without shutting the system down. I contacted the client with an additional large bill that was solely the result of an expectation beyond the parameters of both model and layout. We decided to return the models and see if 8806 would go thru the 24" curve. I also retested the unpainted model. (I had since reinstalled the drawbar in order to return it with the 8806). As it rolled thru the curves I found that now it tripped the system when the boosters on the truck contacted the drawbar pin. 

When frame backs into a left-hand curve, the system safety trips

The point of  this discussion has been to stress the need to establishing the parameters of your planned layout  before any track or roadbed is constructed. Establish these parameters and then recognize the importance of adhering to them. Consider models you may want to use.in the future. Conduct simple field tests or at least consult fellow models to get as close to reality as you can. Consciously establish what you want in a layout, fit that to the limits of your resources and then review them should new interests arise. Be willing to say no or even rebuild the layout. The money and disappointment you may save could be your own.

When I switched to Sn3 and began to plan the first layout I gathered examples of the engines I intended to use. Then I laid temporary curves of various radii and established a minimum operational radius. This, along with a minimum turnout angle, would be among the governing parameters of any Sn3 track plan. 

The moguls and consolidation I would use were alleged to handle 22" curves. Unfortunately, such claims did not work for an operational minimum. Overland Models suggested 22" curves (iirc). That might seem reasonable since the Sn3 models are nearly the same size as larger HO models of the same types. Well, of course they should run around a broom handle! But they don't. My minimum radius turned out to be 30" not 22" and my sharpest turnout became a no. 7. If I ran the big K models that P-B-L offered the minimum curve would be 34" even though they suggested 28". The mechanisms may actually negotiate those curves but that is not all of the considerations. I came to realize that it is better to give up a little real estate for better operation than to try to shoehorn every whim into a few square feet. Knowing what the layout can handle and using models that are within those bounds seems best for fun and satisfaction.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

The C&S Connection - Part 10

Events happen at every instance everywhere and are instantly gone in the light of their moment; like each frame of an eternal movie. The events are not history; they are event. And then they were events. They continue to speed away from us at 186,000 miles per second.

History is the narrative of events; tales of what was, what happened. The narrative always lacks detail. To be a complete description volumes of story would have to be written for every single second that occurs.

So. We don't do that. We can't. Instead we accept the highlights as a complete picture. 

History is a story and the historian a story teller. We hope the story teller is honest and his information is honest because we must trust him. None of us were there for most of what has happened. Most of what we know about the past came from narrators and their narration from other narrations. Even what we do witness is subject to our limited senses and perceptions. It's pretty astonishing that we know what we do know (or think we know). Maybe we don't really know? It is very difficult to actually tell the whole truth. The true historian will protect the truth as much as he can.

1989 the C&S Connection Catalog

The C&S Connection sort of evolved. There was never specific intent or plan to start a business. I wasn't looking for fame or attention or wealth. I was looking for honest, objective information that clearly was not readily available. I wanted information that would help me create scale replications of those things I had missed from the past. I did not want to just regard my models as models. Somehow I recognized they were a means of connecting to the past that so intrigued me.

The first modern Colorado & Southern freight cars I scratchbuilt were the box cars featured in Part 9. By 1984 what I knew about C&S equipment came primarily from third person information such as Harry Brunk's fabulous series on the Union Central & Northern. I had a few books and perhaps a few drawings. I'm relatively sure the Steel Under Frame car (8216) was the first of the three that I built. 

The Grandt Line kit of the SUF used for the 8216 and the SUF metal castings for the Model Masterpieces coal car helped codify this truth about the C&S roster; the only significant difference between the same class (box, coal, refrigerator, stock) of cars were the body bolsters. There were other differences of course, but this was the consistent, definitive component. The models that won at the 1986 Convention were entered with the interest to suggest this conclusion.

The Grandt Line SUF kit certainly made the Type III car the easiest to complete. We owe much to John Maxwell, and others, who's detailed field notes of the under frame and preservation of the railroad's erection drawings made the kits possible (I don't know specifically where Cliff and the boys got their information). The body bolsters of the other 2 cars were a different matter. There were (are) railroad drawings that at least included general information about those parts but I was not aware of them at that time. I worked with what I could find.

My determination was to build a large fleet of modern C&S cars of all types and classes but the prospect of making each bolster one at a time became a sobering thought. There was an articles about Cerro Bend (low temp white metal) and a spin casting machine built from a Mix Master kitchen appliance. That inspired me to work toward mass production of parts I would need.

I made the masters out of plastic. I built a spin caster out of a similar machine and began learning to create RTV molds. However it soon became clear that reading about something that complex and actually succeeding at it wasn't so simple. My experience became a lot like trying to squeeze an inflated balloon into a cubed shape. Try that sometime. I consistently got inconsistent results.There is a craft to the process that can eventually be had but that's the hard way.  I needed an expert willing to share a few "secrets".

The train from Central City at Black Hawk 1-1-87
Don Meeker, owner of Model Masterpieces, was one such expert; the white metal parts in his kit were impressive. (The SUF coal car in part 5 was one of his kits.) Don graciously shared his greatest "secret" - go see Jim Haggard. The Haggards owned Builders in Scale and they had a complete casting shop. They used High Temperature Vulcanizing rubber to make the mold. Wonderful! But, none of my plastic masters would survive the vulcanizing process.

I knew how to work and solder brass so I set about remaking the masters. At this point I realized I was going to need to go commercial to fund the project. It also vulcanized (yes, a pun) my resolve to make the patterns as accurate as I could. That meant I needed better information.

On the first of January, 1987. my then-wife and I made the trip to Central City to investigate the Type I coal car, 4319. It had been there for years, so we headed to Central City. But the car, engine 71 and combine 20, were not at Central City; They were at Black Hawk next to the North Fork of Clear Creek.

Four foot Archbar truck and ASF cast Bolster

It is very rare for any place in Colorado to be warm on the first day of the year, except perhaps in the local bar. We did not go to the bar. Instead, while I crawled around under a wooden coal car with a camera, scale, tape measure and sketch pad, my then-wife waited in the truck - where the heater was. I am cold-blooded native Coloradoan; the cold did not stop me. (My then-wife was from Iowa. Besides, she and I had survived the great Christmas Eve blizzard of 1983 in a feed store. I was intrepid - she sat in the truck.)

I probably spent more than an hour crawling around between the rails, under the side sills, and the frame in general. (I didn't have time to investigate the whole car.) Yes. I sat Indian style on the ties with my head bumping on the center sills and tried not to get too entangled in the truss and brake rods. I snapped views over the brake beams and axles.to record the details of the body and truck bolsters. I spent time just absorbing how that car was put together. The payoff was well worth the overcast cold, intermittent snow and biting gusts. 

Cast frame bolster resting on the Archbar truck bolster
The coal car confirmed much of  the vague notes and drawings and added much more about the details of the part. In turn, the investigation could be reasonably projecting onto the Type II bolster. 4319 revealed that the cast bolsters were more than just hunks of metal under the car. They were contoured and fluted with truss rod pedestals bolted to them. It was clear that they were cast for a very specific wood frame. Along with the bolster was a matched 4 foot archbar truck also from ASF. Likely, the truck was already commercially available but the bolster may not have been. The brass master I developed from my investigation reflects the actual parts I found under the car and a drawing of that part appeared in Feb. 1995 Outdoor Railroader. It is also available from 7th Street Shops as part of the complete drawing collection.

Brass masters for Type I cars parts
As I completed the O Scale patterns, Builders in Scale began generating castings and I developed a catalog and information booklet that I published in 1988. This booklet described how to built the cars; ostensibly in O scale but just as easily in any other scale if proper parts could be had. "Information Source - One" was meant to be an ongoing publication, as in Information - Two, - Three, etc. But only the 30 or so copies that I published have ever existed. 
Type II castings and masters (alternate strikers)

Caboose Hobbies and Coronado Scale Models were the first to carry the C&S Connection parts. In all, 19 unique patterns were produced. All of them were white metal except the 2 styles of Murphy metal roofs. Those were cast first in epoxy and then Urethane. 

Being a professional drafter it was only natural to assimilate the information into technical drawings. These were and are the most enduring and perhaps valuable asset of the C&S Connection. I have no way of knowing (since I made the information openly available to other commercial ventures in the hobby). The influence they have had on the popularity of the C&S option for the narrow gauge hobbyist is also unknowable. The drawings have been used extensively on the industrial side and several kits have been developed thru a variety of manufacturers over the years. One importer has used the drawings to commissioned a RTR model. Thru the C&S Connection I produced artwork and worked with C-D-S Dry Transfers to have lettering sets made in all scales for the earlier trade marks of the railroad. This included the 1898 St. Charles Cars and the "The Colorado Road" herald.

The trucks are S scale which is my preferred ratio to work in these days. From left to right are the Rigid trucks supplied with St. Charles Type cars (including the 25 box cars built at the Trinidad Shops in 1897). The ASF built Stock cars were also supplied with this style. Note that these are not archbar trucks since the bolster is trussed to counter sagging. Next to the St. Charles set are the 4 foot Archbar trucks for the 1902 - '07 Type I cars. 4319 for instance. Finally the Bettendorf style of truck with cast components and inside hung brakes on the right. The light colored metal parts are the C&S Connection casting

When the box car article was published that spring (1987) I suddenly had piles of unsolicited mail. Among those that began to write were John Maxwell, Ron Rudnick, Rick Steele, the Schwedlers and many others. Suddenly there was a wealth of information, much of it copies of actual company documents. The flood included photographs from John, Richard Ronzio Richard Kindig, Phil Ronfor Mal Ferrell and eventually even ACF with prints of the St. Charles Refrigerator. 

Suddenly the entire spectrum seemed arrayed before me. I went to work.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

The influence of Contest Success - Part 9

Collection of On3 Colorado & Southern freight cars as of summer 1986

The above photo was among the first model photos taken with the Omega view camera. After selling the Mamya 645 (120 film) I purchased in 1981 I mail ordered the large format camera in the summer of 1986. 

My then wife and I use to go out several times each year on various trips around Colorado; camping, exploring and of course, shutter buggin'. When I had the Canon F-1 (35mm) I practiced bracketing (burning lots of film with varying exposures) in order to collect a few excellent shots. I upgraded to the Mamya and began taking the time to set up each frame for the results I wanted. This, of course, tried my dear wife's patience (she was still using 35mm) because she could shoot half a roll to my 1 frame. But my interest continued along this practice to the point I felt the "need" to converted to the 4"x5" format.

The 3 box cars in front of the collection above were entered in the popular vote contest at the 6th National Narrow Gauge Convention in Denver that September. Photos of the contest winners by the Gazette staff photographer (Bob Brown) appeared in the Nov. / Dec. issue, 1986 . The box cars were included because they were award 1st place in the freight car category. That win was my first success in any Model Railroading contest. That win also initiated another first; I was invited by the editor of the Gazette (Bob Brown) to write an article about the cars for the magazine. Naturally, photos were required.

All of the photos shown here were taken between September and November 1986. The Article was completed and sent to publication on 25 Nov. according to the note on the original manuscript. At that time we lived in Colorado Springs at the North Wasatch address.

I would eventually write 5 articles for the Gazette, 2 for Model Railroader, the freight car text in the R Robb Grandt book "Narrow Gauge Pictorial No. 8" and a host of articles in less known publications including, finally, a piece in the On30 Annual for 2014. This contest was indeed a game changers

Again, none of this is meant as boasting. It is simply the resume of the enormous foundation of experience upon which 7th Street Shops has been built. 

The models shown in the above collection represents a substantial investment in time. The San Juan Car Co. owned by John Parker would later use the drawings we produced under our brand, "the C&S Connection", to produce their O scale kits of the Type II box cars. That was perhaps 1990 but in 1986 the only way to obtain most of the cars, in any scale, was to scratch build them. In addition to accurate information, the point of "the C&S Connection" was to produce parts, such as the roofs, to reduce the time it took to make accurate models.

This brings up a particular point I've talked about for years; the idea of investing time in the "Doing"...

"doing: the act of performing or executing: action that will take a great deal of doing." - M. Webster

That is the clinical definition. The comprehensive definition of  "doing" model railroading, in particular scratch building, would take volumes. Or maybe a hyperactive blog. "Doing" scratch building would include information gathering, conversion of that information into practical presentation such as drawings, timeline charts (to register details to relative eras) and other text, designing and generating parts not readily available, planning out the best way to build the model and executing all of it to produce the actual scale model - yeah, and y'all thought this was just a hobby! 

The term scratch building came out of the early days of the hobby when you couldn't even buy rail let alone track. Early model railroaders were often professional machinists."Scratch building" today has a rather diluted definition of what it was in the old days. There was no computer aided drafting, virtual modeling and rapid prototype printing. You did it with physical capability and a mythological "power" which seems almost extinct these days called CRITICAL THINKING.!

In this day of instant everything, it seems "doing " turns out to be more pursuing than doing. We pursue instant.gratification as if we are practically, almost always, out of time. We've developed a mindset of the Time-Money continuum. We continue to spend more money just so we don't have to spend more time.

When we do build models we often build from kits where all of the parts and the thought-out convenience of how to put them together are provided for us. Of course, what's even better is when some 3rd world high school girl puts it together. Now it r RTR - ready to run; for you! The soul of this hobby has always been in building models; and even trees are models on a layout. Running trains is a reward of the "doing". Not the doing itself. If you want to play a game pull out your palm-god and have at it. But to experience model railroading; indulge in the actual craft of doing a model. The rewards of that are enormous and addictive.

Trophy awarded to the Box Car entry

After observing both local contests and the 4th N.N,G. Convention, I came to realize that popular vote contests were a matter of eye appeal as much as technically correct detail. Of course, the detail was intrinsic to convincing the viewer that this was an authentic representation (which most observers were clueless to prove anyway). Therefore it became clear that the appearance had to be striking, appealing and convey a sense that the viewer was about to learn something. 

Therefore I entered the cars as a group on a display that beckoned more attention; it was engaging. The use of a mirror under each car on an elevated track enabled the viewer to study the underside of the models without touching them. Each mirror was labeled so that the viewer would see that each car had a technical message that both related it to the others and yet set it apart. In spite of the gimmickry, knowledge was to be had for the taking. That made the display valuable to the observer. Apparently there was substance to my reasoning.

How the contest entry appeared on the display table

The photo to the left shows how the cars were set up on the contest table and more or less how they appeared in the "Gazette" review. On the left 8074 represented a group of cars built by 1907 that used the same components / technology as the 1902 coal cars except with 9" side sills. A couple of box cars were built 1903 - '06 with 12" sills but these were probably considered "over built" since the enclosed box above the frame would have been structurally superior to the open top box of a coal car. That translated into a waste of material and therefore a waste of money, And money - making it - was the sole purpose of the railroad. 

The Type I cars (coals, flats and boxes 1902 - 1906) used cast body bolsters provided by American Car & Foundry (ACF). They rolled on ACF 4'-0" archbar trucks.The 8074 showed how the bolster, meant for a 12" side sill, was fitted to a 9" side sill by sandwiching a 3" block between the bolster and bottom of the sill. 

A clearer view of each frame type
The photo to the right may help clarify the differences between each type of frame. Practically everything above the frame was the same regardless of the frame type. In fact the classification by "historians" as "Type x" was never prototypical. The railroad never used the terms type or phase. They distinguished wood frames from composite frames but that was a pretty broad definitive. To the railroad a box car was a box car regardless of the frame and the only thing unique about it was the road number.

The C&S built all of its own narrow gauge freight cars after 1900. By the end of 1907 they had completed the first run of the type II cars as box, coal and stock cars. In the display 8192 represented a Type II car. The changes were a cast bolster designed for a 9" sill and the new cars rolled on cast trucks with inside hung brake beams. Both the trucks and bolsters were supplied by Bettendorf Axle Corp and the trucks were distinguished as the Bettendorf type. 

The only other change to the Type II house cars was the metal Murphy roofs. In the photo below the additional car simple underscored that the type II cars were originally equipped with the narrow ribbed roof as on 8216. The roof on 8192 was a rebuilt style, less complex and easier to maintain.

The additional car showed a Type II car with the original roof

Finally, 8216 represented the Type III cars. The railroad began using a steel underframe "kit". BAC supplied the "kits" with trucks. The C&S first used this hardware on their new refrigerators since 1898. Twenty composite frame reefers were built at 7th Street (Denver) in late 1908 into 1909. The cars had wooden frames but the sills and stringers were smaller in dimension. This was because the wooden frame rested on top of the steel underframe. 

Most of the photos shown here and more appear in the March / April 1987 "Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette".