Thursday, February 16, 2023

7th Street Shops Pre-History, Part 3

After discharge from the U.S. Navy I picked up Model Railroading again. I'd dabbled a bit and even visited the club in Pearl City, HI but I didn't have the focus during time in the service. I built a couple of the  Kemtron kits (C-16 & 0-6-0t) and still had one or two other items from pre- service years. A few years after the Navy, a buddy and I rented a house with suddenly more room. So I began planning a new layout. 

At that point I obtained a Keystone Shay Kit with the NWSL Power Kit. I decided to build a small 4'x6' layout in standard gauge for the shay. I kept it simple; a loop around point to point mainline and I decided to try my hand at hand laying the track.I had already experimented with hand laying track on a shelf layout in my bedroom before I left home years earlier. That only progressed to bench work with a small portion of "roadbed". On to that I glued match sticks with the heads cut off as ties. There wasn't any rail and it was collectively a pitiful thing.

I laid track in place and got some of it running but I don't recall if I had any switches. If I did it is likely they were not operational as I was still pretty green about all of that. I built the shay and succeeded in getting it to run very nicely. Then I made a discovery; I don't care for shays and other job specific locomotives. I am more a common carrier enthusiast. I soon traded the Keystone shay for a C&S mogul. I had also acquired a Far East Distributor "Spartan Series" mogul and I built an MDC HOn3 outside frame consolidation.

I became involved with the local model railroad club and then encountered a group that built portable modules to connect into a layout. It was HO 3 foot gauge and they called themselves Slim Rail. For a year or so I participated with the set up and showing, but I didn't have a module of my own.

I moved out of the house to an apartment with another roommate. I stayed there until I went to Denver for an Associate Degree in Engineering Drafting.  Naturally the 4'x6' layout did not survive either move.                 

My involvement with Slim Rail naturally became more detached but I kept the friends and finally decided I had enough room in my Denver apartment to build a module.That is what I share with you  for this post.

I design the module within the given parameters of 2'x4' with track entrance and exits at the prescribed places. In between I built 4 switches or turn-outs and all track was hand laid. The scenery was plaster soaked paper towels laid over wads of newspaper and then a coat of plaster over that for strength and refinement. All of the buildings and bridges were scratch built from magazine articles or of my own design. I provided back and face panels from a sheet of Masonite I'd used for another interest a few years earlier.. And I painted the back drop scene.

But the module was never finished by me as my interests were still in the Colorado & Southern narrow gauge and the models I was building in HOn3 were sadly unsatisfying to me.

I sold or traded all of my accumulated HO models for an Iron Horse Models C&S No. 60 brass kit in O scale. 

It was a set of On3 trucks that did it. Out of curiosity and intrigue I bought a set from Caboose Hobbies and that turned my track into a new direction. I sold this module to the Group as club property - along with the MDC 2-8-0 - and they finished it. It may yet be part of layout for all I know.

Next time we'll see what I did with the On3 2-8-0 kit.


Wednesday, February 1, 2023

My First Layout

 Several years ago one of my brothers handed me an envelope and inside was a strip of 110 negatives. He said, I think these are yours. I examined the frames and said I think these are photos of my old layout that I built when we lived on Pearl Drive. But there were no prints and by then most photo shops were digital. Until recently I was not sure what they were. Then I found a place that could scan negatives and create positive images. And so they were and now I share them with you as a continuation to my previous post about where 7th Street Shops came from.

It was a simple plan I believe I designed myself; very crudely, based upon what little I knew of E.L. Moore's Elizabeth Valley layout. I had previously laid a loop of track onto a 4'x8' sheet of plywood. That was set up in the garage of the new home our family had moved into The door was left open one day and when I went out to play with the trains the few plastic diesels and cars I had were stolen. But I had the plywood and managed to scrape together scrap lumber to build this 4'x6' layout. I was 16 by then.

The track was brass sectional, The plywood was used to make the roadbed and the plaster terrain was laid over wire screen - pretty standard stuff for those days. I learned quite a bit from that layout. I don't remember much about building the structures. Some of them may have been scratch built, but I'm sure just as many were commercial plastic kits. I do vaguely remember building the trestle from perhaps an E.L.Moore article. I also learned about practices I didn't care for; like plaster on screen (and as it turned out using plaster at all). I used oil paints and turpentine to color the plaster. Not recommended either.

 All the while I was using my hands to build models out of a variety of materials and the basic skills that were important for developing more advanced skills later.

But I had greater aspirations. Growing up in Colorado I was enamored with Colorado Standard Gauge (36"). It wasn't too long before the Alpine Tunnel and the Denver South Park & Pacific R.R. captured my imagination. I've been a Colorado & Southern modeler and Historian ever since. 

I sold the layout to a friends brother a few years later. 

Narrow gauge locomotives were scarce in those days and my first brass locomotive was actually a Nevada County Narrow Gauge No. 9. I don't remember who the importer was. I painted it with a brush. It was awful. And that was it's lesson to me -buy an airbrush! I sold it before I went in the Navy. No photos of that.

There were a few more false starts over the next decade that didn't go anywhere. I'll brief over them next time.