This season’s (Winter 2018) Classic Trains magazine has a nice article by the late Jim Shaughnessy on the Quebec Central. The QC has always been of interest to me.
Back in the 1990s I was railfanning the CP Lyndonville and Newport subs watching Montreal Alco RS-18u and C424s hauling freight at speed in and out of Newport, Vt. They were still running 5 man crews and cabooses. A few miles of the Quebec Central were still in operation north out of Newport.
The original Dominion & New England Railway concept usurped the Newport sub from Newport, Vt to the Canadian border past Richford, Vt. including a short bit of the QC. But it proved to be just too much model railroad for me.
My much more modest fictional short line D&NE is situated in northern Vermont and once ran into Quebec to a connection with CP’s transcon. St George, just a little south of the Canadian border, is now a terminal but once saw through trains to Canada.
I’ve actually ridden on the QC. About 20 or so years ago Jack Keene, John Nichols and I rode a fan trip from St. Johnsbury down the Lyndonville sub to Wells River, back north through St. Jay to Newport and on to the Canadian border just past Newport Center (we couldn’t cross the border for insurance reasons). Then, back to Newport and up the first bit of the Quebec Central before returning south to St. Jay.
Traveled down to Marlboro, Mass., last Saturday to the NMRA Hub Division train show. Haven’t been down in a few years. Spent quite a few hours strolling the aisles and checking out the operating displays.
One fellow had a few O scale pieces for sale and what caught my eye but a Delta Lines caboose! I gave it a good looking over and it seemed genuine. On the bottom was the following tag:
“Orig: Delta Lines caboose by Frank Ellison from M. Philbrice Bridges, Westwood, MA Keystone Canyon R.R. 1981.”
Speaking with the gent I gathered this was his father’s. He did not know anything about Frank Ellison and the Delta Lines being too young and maybe not that interested. He came down to a reasonable price and it was mine.
I remembered that the Delta Lines was sold to someone in the Boston area in the 1950s but was heavily damaged in transit. So it wasn’t surprising to see a piece of rolling stock at a Boston area show. And as far as the provenance of this piece, that’s all I have. I think it’s genuine. It will stay on the display shelf a treasured keepsake of a bygone era.
Here are a couple of brief articles about Frank Ellison:
I just noticed I haven’t posted anything this month! Work has been all consuming, I guess.
The 44-tonner, No. 48, is still in pieces on the workbench. After test running the converted power trucks it was obvious the pickups were less than adequate. I’m fashioning new ones from phosphor-bronze wire. While I’m at it I’ll disassemble the trucks one more time and give them a thorough going over. It wouldn’t hurt to recheck the gauge on the converted wheelsets. I noticed one wheel was wobbling a bit. It will get a new insulated bushing. The trucks frames are painted with a coat of nasty black gloss I’d like to strip. It doesn’t make sense to leave any problems as performance depends on these trucks being first class.
A week or so ago my SONC 2018 convention car arrived. It’s an Atlas X-29 lettered for the Canandaigua Southern, the late John Armstrong’s famous O scale railroad. It’s a beauty. All I’ll do is convert the trucks to P48, replace the couplers and give it some light weathering. It’ll join the Delta Lines box car as my only novelty stock. No Olde Frothingslosh reefers on this railroad!
After dithering for some weeks I finally placed an order for a Smoky Mountain AAR 70 ton flat car kit. The critics are raving! Protocraft has the trucks and decals for these cars. I’d like to letter mine for an upper Midwest line, likely Pere Marquette or maybe NKP – they both had them. It will bring in a load of farm tractors now and then and maybe haul out rough lumber that’s heading westward. Biggest issue I see is getting it weighted up enough to operate with my relatively heavy fleet.
Also, just received a copy of the B&M Bulletin, Fall 1974 with a comprehensive article on Elmwood Jct. that was located not too far from Bennington, NH. It’s where the lines from Manchester to Keene and Peterborough to Contoocook crossed before the floods of 1937. After the floods, these branches were severed with no through routes. On my journeys along the Hillsboro branch I tried to pin down just where Elwood was and I did identify the location along Rte. 202. Alas, there’s nothing left. Oh, well.
So, I’m bearing down on the 44-tonner until it’s done. Then maybe on to the French river bridges and some more trackwork.
“Hmmm. Well, Bob Dylan for sure. Big Bill Broonzy. The Mississippi Sheiks. Oh! Oh! You meant the trains. Well…”
We all owe a lot to those who came before us. Clearing a path. Paving the way. I was raised on HO scale trains by my grandfather who taught me the art of scratchbuilding and handlaid track.
But the O scale bug bit me quite young. It was those All Nation O scale 40′ box car ads. Every month a new lettering scheme. I wanted to build every one. I saw those cars full sized on the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad and particularly remember the CN maple leaf box cars bringing Canadian lumber to town.
Under my grandfather’s layout, among the stacks of MRs, RMCs and Trains, was a Fawcett book featuring Frank Ellison‘s Delta Lines. I read that book cover to cover many times. I still have it. In those days, O scale was a mixed bag of cardboard sided reefers, crude castings and Lionel conversions. But Frank Ellison took us beyond that and introduced us to operations: way freights, hot shots, division yards, timetables. “Green lights to Donaldson!” I don’t go in for novelty stuff too much but I do have an NMRA heritage box car lettered for Delta Lines.
B&O claim agent Mel Thornburg scratchbuilt wonderful O scale locomotives with just basic hand tools. His Thornburgh Builds a Wabash Mogul series in MR (beginning Jan ’59) was as complete a treatise on locomotive building as one could hope for. Kemtron released a complete kit for the mogul with the article series. I love the lines of this locomotive and picked up a built model at SONC 2017. Yes, it needs a new motor, DCC, fresh paint and conversion to P48. Still I’d like to find another in kit form. I’ve always wanted to scratchbuild a locomotive. Maybe this is as close as I get.
Another name that pops to mind is Bill Clouser. A professional model builder from St. Louis, his work appeared in MR during the 50s and 60s. You had to read the captions to be sure that it was MR — not Trains — you were reading. He was casting highly detailed freight car and traction models in metal filled resin way back then. He found that with seven interchangeable parts he could build a variety of 1938 ARA boxcars. His models were built to 1/4″ AAR meaning O scale built to prototype standards — including the track and wheels. We know it today as proto48. They were sold commercially at one time as Ultra Scale. I have a Clouser 50′ box car. A treasure to me.
Some of you might remember Paul Larson who edited MR in the late 50s. A master modeler, his HO Mineral Point & Northern layout and his model craftsmanship was ahead of its time. St. George owes a big nod to that full page color photo spread of Mineral Point way back in Dec ’59 MR (see lead photo). Later, when Paul was writing for RMC, he had moved to O scale. His article on detailing track in RMC Dec ’68 was decades ahead. The freight house in St. George will be based on the one he described in RMC Dec ’71.
Perhaps my biggest O scale inspiration was John Armstrong. I met him several times on visits to his Canandaigua Southern in Silver Spring, Maryland. I never got to know him. I don’t know why. Maybe I was just too much in awe. Living in Alexandria, Virginia for many years, I could have joined the O scale gang up that way but was up to my eyeballs in On2 in those days. If time, money and basement space were no object, I would build a rendition of the CS centered on the CP division point yard at Newport, Vermont circa 1953. While attending the SONC in Washington DC some years ago we got word that John’s health was failing. He was heartbroken that he couldn’t be around to have the layout open. At his behest, his family and the CS operators took over and invited folks to see the layout one more time. What a bittersweet afternoon. He passed not long thereafter. Later, much of the CS was auctioned off. I started to bid on his Cementipeed 200 ton covered hopper but was quickly out paced. Atlas is doing up their X29 in CS lettering for SONC 2018 and I have one on order.
I would be remiss in not mentioning my good friend, the late John Peterson, of Annandale, Virginia. I met John in the Tulsa Lines narrow gauge hobby shop in Alexandria one Saturday morning somewhere back in the late 70s. He introduced me to modeling the Maine two-footers in On2. John was, I believe, the first modeler to appear in Great Model Railroads twice — once for his On2 SR&RL layout and again for his O scale B&M. A New Englander, John was a master modeler and his locomotive roster was something to behold. Steam or diesel, everything was re-detailed, beautifully painted and equipped with sound. John was a real inspiration to me and a great friend. In the days before brass imports flooded the On2 world, John converted an HO Mantua 2-8-2 into a wonderful On2 2-8-0 locomotive, SR&RL 25, utilizing the cab, superstructure and tender from a NB&W mogul. It has PFM sound, of course. Jack Keene and I borrowed it many times to power our On2 portable display railway. It now sits proudly on my display shelf.
There are a lot of other influences not O scale. Allen McClelland — I still remember seeing his first photo in MR’s Trackside Photos as a young teen back in the early 60s. I’d never seen such realism. I got to see his original V&O and it was just as stunning in person. Frary & Hayden and their scenic HOn30 layouts. I loved the funky charm of Thatcher’s Inlet and the original Carrabasset & Dead River. There was Witt Towers and his protofreelance Alturas & Lone Pine. Remember his wonderful articles on operation in MR? Jack Work and Al Armitage. What exquisite model builders. Gordon Odegard‘s Clinchfield layout was perfection in N scale. Linn Westcott‘s Twin-T detectors, TAT-IV transistor throttles, L-Girder benchwork and zip texture scenery — all innovations.
In this current millennium, fine scale modeling has been taking a bigger place in my model railroading interests and I’ve made the transition to Proto 48. I haunt Gene Deimling‘s P48 blog and slobber over his latest scratchbuild. The D&NE is intended to be an incubator for fine model building. I hope my skills improve with age ’cause Lord knows I’m not getting any younger.
I was flipping through a recent issue of Model Railroader when an ad for Kalmbach digital archives caught my eye. It featured a few of the MR folks in engineer caps grinning over a layout.
My thoughts flew immediately to the cover of the December 1950 issue. And there it was reproduced in a small panel in the ad. I have that very cover framed and hanging over my workbench.
You see, the young lad on the left is my late uncle Lawrence Scott and the smiling gentleman to his immediate right is my late grandfather, Charles E. Scott. The photo was taken at the Metropolitan Society of Model Engineers layout upstairs in Union Station, Washington, D.C. earlier that year, around the time I was born. They are entirely responsible for my life long infatuation with everything trains. If I wasn’t at the throttle of my grandfather’s Globe F7s (I still have them) or his beautiful scratchbuilt bullet nose Pacific, I was under the layout checking out a stack of Model Railroader, Railroad Model Craftsman and Trains magazines to bring home.
We shared many fan trips. They took me on my first train ride on a B&O commuter train from Union Station in D.C. to Camden Yards in Baltimore to tour the B&O railroad museum. I think I was six or maybe seven. The shortline Washington & Old Dominion ran right behind my grandfather’s house in Vienna, Virginia. At the warning sound of the air horn, I was off and running through the woods to my viewing perch on the side of the cut near Park St. to see what they had on the headpin that day.
All of these memories and more came flooding back … all from that silly ad.