Friday, January 24, 2014

Randolph Industries

This table shows a list of the trackside industries in Randolph from around the time frame of the layout. I say "around" the time frame since this information is taken from a CV List of Industries - dated December 1945 (Original provided by the late Jim McFarlane).
Of note to my crew members familiar with the layout is the addition of another Demeritt Co. Cannery (there's already one in Waterbury - I wonder how many misrouted cars will result from having two industries with the same name!) and the fact that there were two operating creameries in town at the time. Not unheard of, certainly but much of the model railroad literature published on milk train operations has usually emphasized two things - (1) creameries were on double-ended sidings and (2)there was only one creamery in any given town active at any given time. (Obviously, these were not always the case).

Prototype Map - Randolph (First Draft)

To offer some context to the scene that will be replacing the paper mill scene I offer this very preliminary sketch of the prototype track arrangement and some of the other key elements in the Randolph scene from the time period I'm modeling. I'm drawing this in Adobe Illustrator using scans of track diagrams and the like from a variety of sources.
I place the "source" material in layers in Illustrator, resize them until they are in scale relative to one another, and then trace the outlines in Illustrator.This isn't precision work - the diagram shown here is actually sourced from four different railroad track maps and two Sanborn Maps. Getting them perfectly aligned with one another is difficult at best. Luckily, it's not really necessary to do so.
Of course I don't have the length available to exactly duplicate this in HO scale on my layout. So why bother with the prototype map at all? (I've done them for all the other towns on the layout).
Eventually the "notes" layer, not shown here, will be filled with everything from thumbnail photos of the prototype buildings to various notes and comments on types of siding, years it was built and/or altered, interesting notes on who lived where....even a location of a particular tree if it somehow "makes" a prototype scene! In short, these maps centralize much of what I know about the scene in one place. That way, when it comes time to build the models I have an idea of where to look - or at the very least a place to start!
Once I get this information together, the next step will be to develop a track arrangement that will actually fit in place on the layout - most of that layout planning is not done on paper but instead is done full size with flextrack and paper cutouts of the various buildings I've deemed essential to capturing the look of the prototype.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Work Session Report - 20 January 2014

The 1x 2 shows the approximate alignment of the revised mainline through what will now be known as "Randolph."
 Had a good time today making some changes to the layout. Thanks to Tom, Stic, Ben, and John Paganoni for their help. 
I'll prepare a follow-on post detailing the "whys," but I made two rather significant changes to the layout today. 
First, I decided to replace the freelanced paper mill scene with another CV prototype scene. Inspired by the paper mill on Paul Dolko's former B&M layout, the paper mill was interesting, but after a couple of years of playing around with different track arrangements,  buildings, etc… it never really came together. Main issue was such a large complex really didn't seem to fit with the theme of the CV in the 1950s in northern Vermont. 
So, instead I'm going to add my version of Randolph, Vt, another favorite CV town. 
To add Randolph we need to have a longer town scene than was available, which meant the Williams Creek bridge scene had to be removed. It will be reinstalled in another location on the layout - here it is after Tom and Stic got done with it -
Ben and I removed the track from the paper mill scene and removed a fair amount of the foam board sub roadbed and framework from the section. Then Ben turned his attention to some of the passenger cars. An ongoing project is getting the Ambassador consist off the "bad order" shelf….
Stic and I got the risers and crosspieces level in preparation for reinstalling the sub roadbed. By the end of the day, Randolph was down to the bare grid benchwork, but rebuilding will commence shortly. 
I also decided to move the end of the peninsula over about 20" or so, mostly to create a little more room to get around the relatively tight aisle between the back of the peninsula and north end staging. To do this we simply cut the peninsula at it's base - I should say Tom cut the peninsula using a very fancy saw that made truly straight square cuts, and all of muscled the peninsula into it's new position. Tom, John, and I then filled in the gap in the layout frame and backdrop. 
All in all a good day - thanks to all for the help. Next time I promise the work session will be a LOT more low key and not involve quite so many power tools!

Work Session Today

A few of the regular gang are coming by today to work on the layout, taking advantage of the 
Federal holiday many of us have….Christine doesn't work for the Feds so she's at work today. The dogs are getting baths. 
Going to make some "tweaks" to the layout….

"Gentleman, crowbars at the ready….."

Details to follow…..

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Clinic Etiquette

I usually don't delve into editorializing on this blog, but this subject is near and dear to my heart. Clinics are a large part of many model railroad conventions and meetings. The overwhelming majority of people I've met through model railroading have been polite, well adjusted folks who have always offered me their sincere thanks for taking the time to prepare and present a clinic.  And, whether you agree or disagree with what a clinician is saying, I think it's important to remember a little common courtesy will go a long way towards making the event a more pleasant experience for everyone.
An ongoing discussion on the Steam Era Freight Cars Yahoo Group centers on clinic etiquette, specifically the tendency of some individuals to, for lack of a better term, "hijack" another presenter's clinic. Apparently several attendees noticed this during the recently concluded Cocoa Beach RPM meet.
I wasn't at Cocoa this year but it is a phenomenon I've noticed at numerous NMRA and RPM events. I've given, and attended, my share of clinics over the years - some I think have been pretty good, others, well, let's say anyone can have a bad day and leave it at that. I certainly do not make, and have never made, claims of perfection (just ask anyone who knows me....) but I've learned a lot since I stood trembling at the front of the room to give my very first clinic back in 1985 or so.

I'm basically a reserved person who does not relish speaking to large groups. I’ll do clinics when invited but I have never actively sought out speaking engagements of any type. Over the years I've had some wonderful feedback after and even during my clinics and I'd like to think my presentations have been better for it. And I have no issue whatsoever with someone asking a question during a clinic.  I find questions are usually easily dealt with in real time without unduly impacting the flow of the clinic.
It’s important to be sensitive to the fact that attendees at any clinic range from those who know more than the clinician, to those with a passing interest in the topic (such as the area served by the railroad, the time period etc...), up to and including those who fell asleep during the previous presentation! 
Let’s face it, over time in some subsets of the hobby (such as steam era freight cars) we’ve learned "more and more about less and less." Trying to judge where to draw the line on information presented during a clinic is a tightrope - how much is too much, or too little information? You can't assume the same level of interest or prior knowledge of the subject matter.
You have to consider the audience. While the nuances of New England geography may be obvious to you, or me, you have to remember that's not the case for everyone. I'll never forget getting through an entire talk on Essex Junction only to have someone ask "Now, where exactly is Vermont? Somewhere around Pennsylvania, right?"  So now every CV-related clinic I give includes a slide showing a map of New England in context with the rest of the country. "The six little states in the upper right-hand corner..." is how I typically introduce this slide. Is such a slide redundant at the New England Prototype Meet? I hope so. But it certainly isn't when I'm giving that same clinic in Santa Fe, N.M.   
A number of years ago I attended a clinic on SP&S freight cars (a topic I know less than a little about). The clinician had done a good job outlining the various types of cars, paint schemes, etc… stuff a non-modeler of the SP&S might want to know but he failed to get through all his slides thanks in no small part to the stream of drivel, factoids, and other minutia from one buffoon who felt the need to share everything he’d ever heard, read, or otherwise could regurgitate on the subject.
In other words, a clinic hijacker.
I believe that's what the fellow on the Steam Era Freight Car list was referring to – loud mouths who, in my experience, fit one of three broad categories:
(1) Those who feel the need to comment and joke on everything. Usually they think they’re being funny. Mostly they're not. Stand-up comedy is a profession. Leave it to the professionals. 
(2) Those who feel they are having a one-on-one conversation with the clinician; and
(3) Those who seem to feel they should be giving the clinic, but they weren’t asked – so they simply try to give the clinic “ad hoc” (such as with the aforementioned SP&S clinic). 
I've found the easiest way to deal with all of these characters as a clinician is to politely tell them "We have a lot to cover, and we haven't gotten through the information yet. Please hold your comments to the end.”
This seems to placate the vast majority of them. On only one occasion that I can recall that didn’t work. This was back in my early clinic giving career, before I'd learned some other ways of dealing with disruptive audience members. This individual was fairly belligerent – an unfriendly tone with extensive comments on what he felt was important about each slide - and his constant interruption caused me to lose my train of thought completely. Not knowing what else to do, I turned off the projector, sat down in the front of the room, and asked him to let me know when he was finished talking. Some other audience members took over at that point and that individual wasn’t a problem after that.



Sunday, January 12, 2014

"Move 'em out, Sarge."

Bernie is working on a book dealing with the broad (to say the least) subject of "The Railroad Goes to War." (for the record, I'm not sure of the exact title.)
When Bernie was starting his research for the book, I mentioned to him that a number of trainloads of German POWs were run on the CV during the war years. According to Bob Jone's Central Vermont series, these trains were moving the Germans from east coast ports to camps in Canada. 
Some online research led me to this web page, which had a number of photos of Germans being loaded on trains, including this one:
 Although not taken on the CV, it did serve as an inspiration for a scene I staged for Bernie's book. I didn't try to recreate the photo directly, but I was inspired by this picture. 

The first problem I ran into was no one makes HO scale German soldiers in warm weather clothing in "non-combat" poses. But Preiser does offer a set of German POWs - in winter clothing. So, my Germans are in winter garb. Finding the Americans was even harder - I ended up doing some minor surgery and using the Russians that come with the Preiser set, along with some of the heads and other body parts from an American tank crew, to create my guards. The fellow in the officers uniform is from a Preiser set that included a sailor, mailman, and some other folks. 
I removed some of the buildings from the Waterbury section of the layout and added the large City Classics building to the background (it was built as the large Green Mountain Paper warehouse in Everett). A Branchline New Haven coach is sitting in for the NYC coach in this test shot. I also felt the background of my photo needed something dynamic - I ended up including a steam locomotive working the yard behind the train. Perhaps some of the Germans are feeling apprehensive about their prospects for victory when they observe the industrial might of the United States mustering right before their eyes. 
My 1:87 scale Germans are walking, so getting them to stay in place was rather problematic. For this test I  used some blue painter's tape to hold them in place. I photographed the scene from several angles and sent the results to Bernie. He picked one or two he liked and I've spent the last few days finishing up the scene and plan to take the final photos this evening. 
Once I know he's okay with the pictures, the buildings will be moved back into place, the Germans and GIs will go into the figures box, and peace will return to the Winooski River Valley. 
All in all, an interesting project. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wordless Wednesday #31

WRJ, circa 1958. Bob Decker Photo, Courtesy Central Vermont Railway Historical Society