As Gods, Masters, Kings or however you want to designate your position over your model railroad we have the power to control all that goes on and is represented in the miniature worlds we create. In building their particular vision of the world, seldom do we see modelers represent any of the violent actions that we might encounter in real life such as labor strikes, murders, robberies, muggings, rapes, car jackings, home invasion or child abductions just to name a few. In most cases our model railroads represent a sort of utopia in which, rotting wood, rusty metal, a loaded truck with a flat tire or a derailed passenger car might be the worst scenario ever encountered by those who inhabit our miniature worlds.
The common subject of the five books shown above is the town of Pullman, Illinois which evolved in the 1880’s as a result of needing housing for the employees of the Pullman Passenger Car Company. The dark blue book in the rear on the left is titled “The Town of Pullman” and was written by Mrs. Duane Doty. Published in 1893 this visual and descriptive tour of the town of Pullman offers readers a view of the towns’ and factories’ utopian environment as seen through Mrs. Doty’s “Rose Colored Glasses” point of view.
With the construction of the town that was named after him George Pullman attempted to do on a larger scale that which we do in miniature. Mrs. Doty does a good job of describing that town and in minute detail, it’s inner workings. Within her book previously lost details of how the Pullman passenger cars were built abound. Do you know how the paper centers were constructed for the paper passenger car wheels, or how the passenger cars were painted or the process for plating the hardware?
While George Pullman had the foresight to provide and display to the public the best in living conditions, learning opportunities, entertainment and shopping experiences, and strove to keep undesirable influences such as bars and brothels out of his town, he failed to provide these benefits at a price that could be afforded by those who worked in his shops and lived in his community. He also diffused attention from being focused on the North Eastern portion of town which concealed the brick yards, the eighty plus wooden shanties and the relatively unskilled workers and their families who occupied them. These homes and their residents were in stark contrast to the manicured lawns and brick homes that were occupied by the many skilled and semi skilled workers employed in the Pullman Car shops. (As noted in our 02/05/2015 Blog Titled “The Painting of Pullman Passenger Cars” this book is available as a free download from Google Books.)
Yes, his water treatment and sewage disposal plants were far superior to anything available at the time in the nearby city of Chicago. Yes, he did provide for an extensive library. Yes, in building the Arcade, complete with shops, a bank and a 1000 seat theater, he did produce one of the first enclosed shopping experiences later to be known as “malls” in the country. Yes, he did encourage a sort of farmers market in which farmers sold locally grown, fresh produce in the town market. And yes, George Pullman did take into consideration the spiritual needs of his employees by building a church. However the costs of membership or use of these facilities was beyond the meager financial means of his employees and contributed to the pent up frustrations that led his workers to rebel.
In the rear on the right is “The Pullman Strike” published in 1942. In stark contrast to Mrs. Doty, Almont Lindsey digs up and exposes all the dirt, anger, harsh living conditions, some of which contributed to deaths within the town of Pullman and resulting workers aggravation that led to the Pullman strike of 1894. To say these books are the black and white of the situation is an understatement but they do demonstrate how differently the same scenario can be reported when seen from different vantage points.
Below these two historic books are the Postcards from Pullman series of fictional novels written by Judith Miller. Over the course of these three novels Judith follows the intertwined stories of numerous characters associated with the town of Pullman. The story line takes place over a period of approximately two years and follows one major character, Olivia from England to America where she ends up in the town of Pullman. Anyone even remotely familiar with the events that led to the Pullman strike of 1894 will recognize that Judith has sprinkled just enough fact related material into the story line to add creditability to her characters and bring them to life. If Mrs. Doty showed the utopian view of Pullman and Alamont Lindsey delineated the dystopia that evolved, Judith Miller takes a more neutral, grey stance on the subject while not ignoring the atrocities that led to the strike.
In her Postcards from Pullman series, Judith Miller takes a look at the town of Pullman, in the 1893-1894 time period, as seen through the eyes of her fictitious characters. Through these characters we see the town, it’s residents, it’s apparent beauty and it’s hidden and not so hidden secretes from different perspectives. She also touches lightly on relevant subjects such as social class distinction. One such distinction of the time “The girls who wear heels shop at Marshal Fields, the girls who scrub floors trade at the Boston Stores” compares those who would today shop at Macy’s, who now owns Marshal Fields in Chicago, to those shopping at say a Wal-Mart. Judith has peppered this work of fiction with just enough actual and near facts to make the intertwined story lines quite believable. While she suggests the underlying reason for the Pullman Strike, without going into all the gory details that have been presented by historians such as Almont Lindsey, Judith does not paint the rosy picture of Pullman that one might get by reading Mrs. Duane Doty’s book.
I found interest in Mrs. DeVault who’s is one of the sub characters. She represents the type of person just about everyone would wish their mother or grandmother to be and brought back fond memories of my grandmother and Sunday afternoon chicken dinners. Some of Mrs. DeVault’s recipes, as well as those of Pullman’s Florence Hotel are presented at the end of the books.
I believe this set of three books would make an excellent gift for the spouse or significant other of anyone interested in railroading. I must caution that the mystery, romance, historic, storyline bridges across all three books so if you intend to finish the story you must read all three books. I must also mention that the story line is somewhat influenced by a religious theme and the romantic aspects and lack of violent action sequences may disappoint some readers expecting colorful details of the shootings, brawls or other violent actions that erupted during the Pullman strike.
As one who has previously delved into the history of Pullman and who spent many hours in that town during the 1970-1980 era I felt this series was a must read and I would recommend them to anyone interested in the town of Pullman, it’s historic strikes or the Pullman Passenger cars and their operation. However as previously noted, be prepared to acquire and read all three books in the series. My next trip to Chicagoland will definitely include a return visit to the town of Pullman and hopefully include enjoying a Sunday brunch at the historic Florence Hotel.
As I look around my current living environs in Scottsdale, Arizona what I find to be ironic is that the people living in the town of Pullman were offended by their landlord establishing rules that governed what plants/shrubs could be planted in the front of their homes, what colors could be displayed and other rules including the restriction that no horses could be left on the streets or on their property. Today people pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to live in communities that are governed by Home Owners Associations (HOA’s) that compel them to adhere to rules with similar restrictions and besides their mortgage payments are forced to pay month HOA fees to do so. Have we really evolved as much as we believe? Is another uprising on the horizon?
Now back to the shops,
We have recently embarked on the task of populating our mini world with some of the many cast metal figures we have acquired over the years. This has necessitated painting of said figures which is a task I do not particularly relish. Kudos to those who enjoy this aspect of the hobby, you have my total admiration and even more so if you can do this without eye strain or worse.
(Click on any image for a larger version.)
In some of our photo’s you see figures that we painted years ago using various mixtures of Floquil solvent based paints. Now that this former staple of the hobby is no longer available, what supply of Floquil we have on hand is slated for use in painting of structures, rolling stock and locomotives that come out of our shops. With the scarcity of these paints, I am not as quick to open what bottles we have remaining and expose the contents to the air for long periods of time and chance it going bad quickly.
After watching a few video’s and after several conversations with a local modeler and friend who offers John Allen inspired figures of his own creation at his Bosco Figure WEB site I started to accumulate a supply of Vallejo water based paints. A master set of 16 colors was ordered from an Ebay seller then I found a sale on certain colors at a local Hobby Lobby shop. The bottles started accumulating quickly and I looked for a place to store them. With a bit of house cleaning and rearranging, a portion of a drawer in Stanley, our Personal assistant, became available and it was deep enough to hold our supply of Vallejo paints. However, painting of figures is not a task that requires any of the tools or glues housed in our shops so what if we wanted to work in a different area? Maybe outside on a nice day which provides a brighter environment than working under our shop lights, or to take on the road when you are pressured to spend a day out of town visiting the mother in law.
I am not particularly fond of plastic boxes. I have a good appreciation of wood, even manufactured fake wood products are better than plastic. While scrounging around in my local second hand store I got the idea to look for a small jewelry organizer box and a few days later I found one for $7 at my local Goodwill store. This jewelry and or personal item organizer originally was a three drawer mini box. It measures 11” wide by 6.5” deep and about 7.5” high.
I temporarily disassembled the second drawer and knocked the bottom of it out. I reassembled the sides of that drawer and in the process glued and clamped the second drawer to the top of the bottom drawer. This netted one drawer deep enough to hold the Vallejo paints.
Then I added two dividers and glued them to the bottom and sides of the drawer but made them only about an inch high. These dividers hold the paints in place when the box is moved from location to location but are not high enough to impede my fat fingers from retrieving any of the bottles. I did not add a third divider because it would have taken up too much room and eliminated one row of paints. In the future that last row may be filled by additional bottles of paint but for now I put a spacer behind that last row made up of napkins from a local fast food establishment. These come in handy when cleaning and drying brushes after a paint session and keep the bottles from moving around when the box is transported.
Due to the storage in the top of the box, the top drawer does not go all the way back. As such, it is now used to store small brushes appropriate for painting figures. That top storage space can hold a little paint mixing plate, several bottles for water, maybe a tube of glue, paper napkins or whatever.
Yes, I know that we could have just found a suitable cardboard, plastic or similar box for practically nothing. However, I find that providing our tools and supplies with a proper organized home tends to stimulate the creative juices and I need all the inspiration I can muster for this task. In the future I may add a handle and replace the missing knobs but for now our portable paint work station is complete.
03/19/2015 UPDATE: Due to some questions I received such as “where would the handle go” or “how would you keep the drawers from opening up”, here is an update to how I modified the Figure Painting Kit.
Using the meager tools available at this time, I have cut an opening in the vertical face plate for a hand hold. The original one remaining drawer knob, see the original photo, was removed, drilled and tapped. A threaded bras rod was inserted. The tip of the brass rod was threaded as was the bottom plate. When being transported the rod is dropped down and screwed into the bottom plate. That keeps the drawers from sliding open.
As I have stated in the past we find use for practically everything. Can you determine what we are now using for drawer pulls?
Now, to get back to work on one of our projects.
During a conversation with a modeler who found interest in our standard gauge Drovers Caboose build, he mentioned that he had an interest in a HOn3 version. While spending some idle time in the shops I started contemplating what HOn3 caboose kit could be used for such a project.
(Click on any image for a larger version)
I made four copies of the Grandt Line catalog page showing the narrow gauge passenger car window part #5069 and the Combine/baggage car side door, part #5071. I cut out four windows and one door and played around with them on a copy of the LaBelle HOn3 D&RGW Long style Caboose LaBelle kit # HOn3-37 which resulted in this cut and paste elevation drawing.
On the cut and paste elevation, the windows are a bit undersize but it provides a glimpse of how this freelance Narrow Gauge caboose would look. As with our standard gauge version I personally would install a belt railing under the windows. This image shows the actual castings positioned over the side view.
Allowing room for the baggage door to be slid completely to one side has necessitated that the door not be centered under the cupola. A bit of work with saw and or file could enlarge the cutout in the roof former, shown as part #11 in this isometric view, to allow the cupola to be located over the door if that’s your preference.
Maybe someone will have sufficient interest in such a project to build it and share the result of their build with us.
Enough of this day dreaming. Time to get back to the shops for some actual work.
There has been a lot of discussion in the Model Railroading community about the quality, or lack of, in the models being built in China. The issue is not with the visual aspects but with the operational drive train components. Specifically gears that crack and render the model inoperational. There is also concern that the manufactures and importers are not doing enough to cure these problems.
This past weekend I attended a local swap meet where I procured one of the Southern PS-4 Pacific’s sold through the Franklin Mint. This is a model of the locomotive that is in the Smithsonian. While I do remember these being advertised in the Hobby related magazines I do not remember their costs.
The five color paint scheme applied to the model is a bit gaudy. It’s heavily applied and mutes some of the details but the model has significant heft. When I first picked it up what impressed me was that unlike many plastic models this locomotive is quite heavy and solid feeling. The boiler and tender are both heavy cast metal.
(Click on any image for a larger version)
Upon returning to our shops we found that the tender is drilled out possibly in anticipation of installing sound. The screws holding the frame to the tender shell are under the trucks which means that in order to get to them, the trucks themselves must be removed. Sounds like a bit of work but there is one good design point to this.
The truck mounting screw is under the center axle meaning that if it gets loose it can never drop completely out of the truck. Hence you will never lose that truck mounting screw.
Removing the boiler is similar to a brass locomotive. One screw at the back of the cab then unscrew the front truck mounting screw. We found that the boiler was stuck to the chassis but by inserting a small bladed screwdriver between the bottom of the boiler and the top of the steam saddle where it meets the boiler and twisting severely, we were able to separate the components. Once the front of the boiler is lifted clear of the saddle it has to move forward to disengage from a tab holding the rear of the frame to the cab. Upon inspection we found that apparently the paint had not been completely dry when our model was assembled at the factory and the chassis and boiler had fused together which made it difficult for them to be separated. The boiler and cab are very heavy.
Upon removing the boiler we noted the relatively large can motor attached to the gearbox via a flexible coupling. What really impressed me, hence the title of this blog, is that ALL the gears in the box are BRASS. No potential for broken plastic gears here. WOW!!!
After inspecting all the components we replenished the gears and all the moving components with the proper lubricants. Our inspection did uncover one negative flaw. The wheel gauge of the lead and trailing trucks was a bit narrow. This showed up when running the locomotive through our scratchbuilt unforgiving code 70 turnouts.
We appreciated the design of the drawbar providing what appears to be a very positive electrical and mechanical connection between the locomotive and the heavy tender.
During a bench test with the locomotive blocked up, the motor pulled .2 amps throughout the voltage and RPM ranges. We felt that was quite good and contributed that to a good quality motor.
In operation the locomotive does produce a bit more noise than those with plastic or nylon gears but it was not objectionable and we contributed some of that noise to the heavy weight. That noise and the heft of this model brought back pleasant memories of the first Lionel locomotive I received at the age of 4.
Remember that first Lionel locomotive you received? The heavy metal cast one that you had difficulty in lifting and that your father had to put on the track? This is an HO version of that concept. This is the sort of model that can be handed down for a few generations and unless it is abused will continue to operate well into the future. In my opinion this is the way that all of the operating mechanisms in our locomotives should be made if we expect them to last.
Duly impressed, we now return to the shops.
Ol’ Harold received a new Pentax Q10, 12.4 mp digital mirrorless camera for Christmas. Among it’s many features, the small size of this camera allows the photographer to get into some really tight spots and get quality shots that may be impossible to achieve with a larger camera. Nakomis General Store
(Click on image to get a larger version.)
The Nakomis General store was built by Ol’ Harold from a HSM/Classic Miniatures Silver Plume Store kit. It has a rather complete detailed interior including merchandise, clerk and patrons. Unfortunately due to the position this structure occupies on the railroad that detail cannot be seen by the naked eye. In fact it was almost forgotten until this image was captured. Nakomis General Store Shoot Setup
Here is the setup Ol’ Harold used to capture the Nakomis General Store Detail. First the two story station in Nakomis, near the tracks, had to be partially dismantled. This necessitated removing some wiring and a few trees. A temporary backdrop was put into position behind the store to block out undesirable background distractions. Next the Pentax Q10 was worked into position. A series of test shots were taken and did not produce the anticipated images so a mirror was placed behind the camera. In this manner Ol’ Harold was able to see the LCD screen on the back of the camera and make the necessary adjustments to properly compose the photograph. This arrangement would not be possible with a larger camera.
Note the distance of about 6.5 inches between the front of the lens and the structure. Such configurations usually result is very shallow depth of field but the small sensor size, not to be confused with the number of pixels, of this camera provides a good depth of field even when the camera is that close to the subject. In general, cameras with small sensors provide greater depth of field than cameras with large sensors which is why, though I have a small arsenal of Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) Cameras with larger sensors, I have been experimenting with the Pentax Q series of mirrorless cameras. See our 07/07/2014 Blog titled “Welcome a Little “Q” Into Our Family” and 07/16/2014 Blog titled “The Pentax Q10 Goes on a Railroad Photo Excursion” for a bit more information on the Q series cameras.
While Ol’ Harold is getting familiar with his new Pentax Q10 (I can’t wait to see what he generates once he finds the Q10’s “special effects” features) check out his recently produced Gallery of Fall River Line images many of which were produced years ago but never published.
In addition to the Fall River Line, visit the new NB&FHRwy Gallery of images. Master wheel knocker Greg Rich is responsible for this fine railroad as well as the photography. While the FRL which is now celebrating it’s 37th year in operation, represents shortline railroading in the Fall of 1927, the NB&FHRwy represents a similar concept in the Fall of 1928. At the beginning of each Gallery the respective owners have provided a brief explanation of what they are trying to achieve through their presentations.
Both of these Galleries as well as one for the Scottsdale Model Railroad Historical Society were produced using Adobe Lightroom 2. While this is not the most current version of that software we chose Version 2 because it was reasonably priced, it was relatively easy to learn and most importantly it operates efficiently on our Windows XP powered computers. The WEB module component of this software facilitated easy and quick structuring and uploading of these Galleries.
With apologies to Ansel Adams we now return to the shops
(Click on any image for an enlarged version.)
Back in the 1970’s I was a member of the Lake Shore Model Railroad club in Chicago. I drew the attention of veteran member Paul Matushek who appreciated the work I was doing in assembling and operating Ambroid, LaBelle, Central Valley, Silver Streak and other wood craftsman kits of the time. That interest prompted Paul to gift me three 1930’s era kits manufactured by Earl Francis complete with trucks that required assembly. Paul had been in the hobby since the late 1930’s and every year for the clubs annual open house he would operate a train featuring a consist of one or two cars from each decade starting in the 1930’s. That train would usually be pulled by one of his 1950 era vintage locomotives.
I have never seen any information published about Earl Francis or his company but please note the date on the bottom of the instruction sheet. These kits were manufactured prior to WWll. Obviously the writer of these instructions was a man of few words. The absence of comprehensive written kit instructions was to continue well into the late 1950’s.
Some modelers take issue with a bit of fuzz on the wood included in current kits. Note the amount of fuzz on these components. Obviously not up to the standards of raw materials produced by Northeastern, Kappler or Camino. A lot of sanding and sealing was required to make these pieces usable.
The body of the car is a solid block of wood. Unless they are missing from the kit, I do not see any sheathing for the car ends. I have seen one of these kits for sale and also noted the absence of end sheathing in that kit.
The Reefer roof hatches were built up from these card stock prints. And some folks complain about the lack of detail in the castings provided in kits manufactured in the 1950-1960 era.
There is no actual or implied scribing on the preprinted car sides. Such preprinted car sides continued well into the 1970’s. Check out our build of a Gorre and Daphetid box car using preprinted car sides from the NMRA Bulletin.
Before the availability of kits, any railroad enthusiast wanting to build a model was responsible for accumulating, cutting and shaping their own wood and metal materials. In many cases this meant buying large quantities of raw materials. The concept of a “kit” provided the hobbyist with just enough raw materials and some very basic instructions to build a model that represented the prototype in not much more than shape and color. The kit concept provided a means for those who lived in confined quarters such as small apartments or military service to participate in the hobby. The kits were basic however they provided just enough visual information that implied a particular prototype. You could differentiate a reefer from a box car etc. but not much more detail was available at the time. In addition to apartment dwellers, kits became popular with those who did not have access to a basement or garage full of precision machinery to fabricate parts of their own. Such kits were status quo for the time period and rivet counters were not yet born.
To say the least the hobby of scale model railroading has come a long way but seeing one of these vintage kits is a great way to look back and be reminded from which we came. Maybe seeing what was available to modelers in the past provides us with a better appreciation of where we are currently in the hobby. Such relics give us a view into the lengths early scale model railroaders went to enjoy this great hobby with the limited funds and resources available to them at that time.
If you are looking for information, plans, instructions or maybe catalog shots of HO scale vintage model railroad kits and some RTR models you have to check out HOSeeker’s WEB site. It is a virtual library encompassing the history of HO scale models.
With great memories of Paul Matushek it’s time we get back to the shops,
For additional information on the Earl Francis company see this Yahoo forum message from Mr Ray Wetzel.
The topic of how those elaborate Pullman style passenger cars were painted is one that is discussed from time to time with a lot of speculation. In her 1893 vintage book titled “The Town of Pullman” by Mrs. Duane Doty the author gives a glimpse into life in the town of Pullman as well as many of the processes used in their car building shops. On page 145 of her book Mrs. Doty explains the process of painting a Pullman passenger car along with the required time periods between processes. Note the Electro Plating process described on page 61.
I became familiar with this book in the 1960’s when I was doing research for a paper I did on the town of Pullman. While I had previously acquired a hard copy, now you can download a free electronic copy of this book by clicking on this li
nk The Town of Pullman .
When you get to the site, click on the gear looking icon near the top right and select your format of choice which probably will be a PDF file.
Another source of information on the building of Pullman cars is "The Story of the Pullman Car by Joseph Husband" published in 1917. There are numerous photo’s in this book showing the shop interiors. While the book covers various aspect of Pullman, in Chapter VIII which starts on page 123 Husband discusses how the cars themselves were built. This book can also be downloaded from Google books.
By the way, some time ago I was participant in a conversation on Malls in the US. If you check out the first chapter in this book Doty explains the Arcade building that stood in the town of Pullman. I believe the Pullman Arcade may have been the first fully enclosed Shopping Mall ever built in the US. The three story Arcade was completed in 1882 and contained shops, lawyers offices, a bank and get this, a 1000 seat theater. Sound familiar? It was demolished in 1926 which is about the time when the Illinois Central Railroad was relocating and elevating their roadbed through that area. The Arcade building would have stood about where the garden now is between the IC tracks and the Florence Hotel probably closer to where the IC tracks are now and it may have been in the way of the track relocation which hastened it’s demolition. For more information see this Pullman Arcade Building site.
Now back to the shops,
Among the numerous projects to come out of the California Western Locomotive and Car Repair Shops in 2013 were a remotored Mantua’s General 4-4-0, a remotored Bachman Jupiter 4-4-0, a remotored Rivarossi ATSF 4-4-0 and a Pocher 4-4-0. Based on the number of guests to our WEB site who reviewed those projects and continue to do so we can safely say that those projects were the most popular to have ever come out of our shops.
After those projects were shown on this WEB site we received numerous emails asking whether these techniques could be applied to various brass locomotives of similar configuration. We assumed they could work however before offering any absolute advice we like to confirm the information we hand out so not to be misleading anyone. So….. between our other commitments, we started to search for a reasonably priced brass 4-4-0 to which we would apply the same techniques. Well, it appears that brass 4-4-0 locomotives representative of the 1880 era are relatively popular and during the time periods we conducted our search we were not able to come up with a “reasonably priced” model in good condition. We came close to a acquiring a few, some local and some on the Internet but it always seemed that someone else wanted them a bit more than we did. While we searched for an operational 4-4-0, what we finally procured from an Ebay seller was a somewhat rough, non functioning PFM/United V&T 4-4-0.
(Click on image for a larger version.)
Here is how the model was shipped. Securely packed in a USPS box and well protected. The listing had noted that there was no original box.
Note the metal shavings near the wheel. We believe this was caused by the universal coupling on the end of the input shaft to the worm, scraping up against the metal weight. Drivers were noticeably dirty. How did electrons ever get through that coating of goop.
With the chassis removed this shows the metal shavings which have collected directly over the worm. As noted, it appears that the set screw holding the brass metal coupling on the end of the input shaft had been rubbing up against the end of the boiler weight under the cab but how the shavings traveled forward to the area above the worm is a mystery.
The insulated draw bar pin on the tender had broken off so someone installed it loosely from the top. In that position it rubbed against the flexible tubing. This will require repair. When we see such crude attempts at repair we often wonder “what were they thinking”? Note the upper corner of the tender is missing as is one of the tender steps. We also noted that the smoke stack was off center and the wind deflector at the top of the stack was bent.
Upon disassembly we inspected every part and made some notes of what needs to be replaced or repaired. We then inserted a paper towel into one of the plastic pencil cases we had purchased during a back to school close out sale for ten cents, and inserted all the parts from the locomotive. In this condition it will be stored till we complete several other projects currently in our shops.
While we were initially disappointed by the condition of our purchase, upon contacting the seller they made it right by offering us a partial rebate. We now look forward to the day we can start work on this locomotive and it leaves our shops in running condition.
One pleasant surprise came when we tested the original open frame motor. As expected when we applied electrons it did not start however by turning the amateur a few times by hand we got it freed up and it ran. We polished up, removed the oxidation, from the motor’s commutator and then doused the motor shaft at front and rear bearing with liberal amounts of LaBelle 108 oil and were pleasantly surprised that with lubrication the motor would start turning at .2 amps and 2 volts. After a few seconds of running we applied more power and the motor ran up to 10 volts without ANY noise or vibration. That was more than a little amazing as motors of this type and age seldom start below .4 amps and usually about 4 volts. We will keep this motor for those hard core open frame motor enthusiasts who will settle for nothing less, or more.
Now where is that V&T Book?
I have just returned from a memorial service and it is with deep regret that I report the passing of Harold Shelton shown on the right in this picture. (Sorry I do not have a better photo of Harold. This was taken during an operating session.) Harold was a Texas boy who met and married his wife Anne. They lived and worked in Arizona and raised a family that consisted of one daughter and one son. Harold was a craftsman in whatever he did from restoring vintage Model A automobiles to concourse conditions to building his model railroad to later building large scale radio controlled airplanes.
Though Harold never applied for the NMRA’s Master Modelers certificate, to those who were fortunate enough to see the Black Canyon his work was well above that required for that certificate. Harold had single handedly built one of the best model railroads in the country but was rather modest in discussing his accomplishment. He never flaunted his work or bragged about his skills. He took the time to demonstrate his modeling technique and mentored numerous students of the hobby who showed an interest in learning. In fact, I doubt Harold really understood how good he or his model railroad were.
I first met Harold in 2000. My initial visit to the Black Canyon Railroad resulted in much the same jaw dropping awe inspired reaction that most knowledgeable modelers show when seeing it for the first time. From that point on I enjoyed standing in position where I could see that first reaction from others upon seeing the railroad. It was always the same and I joked with Harold that he should install a catch mat to keep the saliva escaping from open mouths off the indoor out door carpeting that covered the floor. In our humble opinion the Black Canyon was one of the best individual built home model railroads we have ever seen and it was all done by Harold himself.
Harold’s main interest in the hobby was building structures and some of Harold’s structures were built to a higher quality of fit and finish than those showcased by the kit manufactures themselves. But unlike other modelers who excel in one aspect of the hobby or another, that was not the extent of Harold’s skills. He also did all the custom quality painting of his locomotives and rolling stock. Besides the numerous high quality structures built from kits or scratch built, Harold assembled hundreds of freight and passenger cars including the entire line of Ambroid cars and some Westwood passenger car kits. His scenery was very good and representative of the terrain the Black Canyon traversed. Most importantly this Texas boy made all visitors to the Black Canyon feel welcome. There is a link on our Home page to a media presentation we did many years ago of Harold’s Black Canyon Railroad. Near the end of the video we list some of the major characteristics that Harold had employed in building the Black Canyon. Here are several that we did not mention but I found interesting:
Unlike some model railroads that have strips of wire attached to the side of the rail to feed power to the rail, the Black Canyon had feeder wires that were disguised as small rail spikes. They were actually the exact same size as the code 70 spikes shot from a Kadee spiker. I spent a lot of time scrutinizing the roadbed trying to pick out which were feeder wires and which were spikes.
Speaking of spikes, every single tie had four spikes holding the rail. When did you last see that on hand laid track? In addition to the spikes the rail had also been glued down with heat activated Pliobond.
The track looked seamless. It was difficult to find a joint or an electrical break. Harold had used plastic he shaped to the exact profile of the rail as insulators and they were measured in thousands of an inch and not fractions of an inch as on some model railroads. He then painted these along with the rail so it would look seamless.
Turnouts were built to very tight tolerances. This later caused a problem when the railroad was converted from DC to DCC as the back side of the drivers on long wheelbase locomotives would just graze the opposing point tip and short out. While this was such a momentary short that it never mattered in DC Harold found that DCC was much less forgiving.
Harold had not built the Black Canyon for operation however when he asked me to design an operating scenario, I found the railroad quite suitable for operations and was able to devise an operating scenario that made use of the two main yards and thirty plus industries on the railroad, interchange at both ends of the railroad as well as one interchange point about mid way.
When his wife got sick Harold and Anne relocated which forced the sale of the Black Canyon Railroad. Unfortunately the Black Canyon was purchased by an individual who lacked the skills and know how to put it back together. The railroad has been dismantled and from what I have heard only some of the structures were rescued. Thankfully we believe Harold never knew of this travesty.
Harold will be missed by his religious community as well as the those of us from his various modeling and automotive communities. In his final years Harold built a few structures for the Scottsdale Model Railroad Historical Society and under the supervision of Richard Petrina these have been incorporated into their new model railroad which features high quality workmanship inspired by Harold Shelton.
In tribute to Harold Shelton we humbly return to the shops,
Not one motor for $5 but 5 motors for $5. We recently took delivery of five motors which were purchased for $4.99 plus $1.98 shipping for the entire group from this Ebay Seller(Click on any image for a larger version)
At such prices, I did not have high expectations however a member of our Yahoo based Remotoring and Repowering Group had ordered a few and gave them a favorable report so we placed an order.
The motor measures approximately 15mm x 20mm x 28 mm with shafts of 17mm long at one end and 9mm at the other end. There are no mounting holes in this motor. There is one small hole drilled in the motor case but it is not threaded.
In addition note the unusual placement of the motor terminals as indicated by the screw driver blade. The plastic shield of these terminals actually adds about 2mm to the width of the motor at that point.
The motor started with no load at 2 volts. When mounted to our mule chassis and coupled up to the United 40:1 gearbox, the motor started at 3 volts. By comparison the Nichibo motor that we have used in numerous projects starts at 1.25 volts and starts the drivers in our test mule at 2 volts. These results suggest that this motor produces less torque than the Nichibo. This motor does have a rather long output shaft. It may be a bit weak on startup however it may be suitable for repowering the PFM/United Climax, the PFM/United Heisler or the PFM/United Vulcan Duplex all of which needed a long output shaft. While it would be a tight fit that would require a bit of filing of the plastic part of the motor housing it may also be suitable for the PFM Benson Shay. Check out our projects page to see these remotoring projects.
Click on this last image or this link to see a brief video of this motor in operation at various voltages.
By the way, some enterprising entrepreneur is already reselling these motors at $3.95 each plus shipping.
Now back to the shops.