By Trevor Marshall/photos by the author
New England offers a lot to model railway enthusiasts – including some of the most beautiful scenes one could ever hope to replicate on a layout and handsome trains to run through them – and the home teams were well-represented at the 2015 New England/Northeast Railroad Prototype Modelers Meet, held at a community center in Collinsville, Conn., at the end of May. But they weren’t the only railroad subjects on offer at the 13th edition of this annual event, as some 180 modelers arrived from all over (including a few – like me – from Canada) for two days of sharing, learning and fun.
The organizers put together a great event featuring many vendors, a white elephant sale and a raffle with prizes donated by many manufacturers. RPM meets are places to be inspired, and the more than three-dozen clinics on offer this year covered a broad range of topics of interest to anybody wanting to build better models and layouts – regardless of favorite scale, gauge, prototype, theme or era.
Inspiration was also to be found in the hundreds of models that attendees brought to the meet – and the accompanying photos provide only the smallest sampling from the display room.
Plans are already underway for next year’s New England/Northeast RPM Meet. Bookmark the meet’s website and hopefully we’ll see you there.
Joe Smith from Pennsylvania displayed two in-progress HO models of New Haven EP-3 electric locomotives. Joe notes that the Pennsylvania Railroad’s iconic GG-1 was designed following tests with New Haven EP-3s, and used the same frame and wheels – so he was able to start with Bachmann GG-1 models and scratch-build the superstructures.
Craig Zeni of North Carolina built this Illinois Terminal Railroad Company 36-foot boxcar from a Sunshine Models resin kit. The ITC had 100 of these single sheathed cars, and Craig notes some of them survived in interchange service into the early 1960s.
The New Haven Railroad had fewer than a dozen of these colorful 50-foot boxcars, featuring a 9-foot plug door. To model this example, Craig Zeni of North Carolina started with a Kadee HO scale boxcar. He added a plug door from Downeast Models, and details including scratch-built gussets, door track, and doorstops. Highball Graphics supplied the lettering.
Will Jamison of Maryland showed off a number of Conrail units, including this unusual repaint of an Erie Lackawanna U33C. The HO scale Atlas model is a work in progress, but Will has already faithfully modeled the 6576’s mismatched access covers under the cab – including one adorned with the Reading Railroad’s black diamond logo. The blue patch on the roof is a panel that appears to have been replaced after an engine fire. Will presented a clinic that explored the prevalence of mismatched access covers on Conrail locomotives.
Structures on the Chesapeake & Ohio had a distinctive, family look – and Glenn Glasstetter of Vermont built these two HO scale models of C&O Standard Brick Cabins (towers) from Alkem Scale Models kits. He upgraded the staircases using modified photo-etched fire escapes once offered by Sheepscot Scale Products.
Mike Evans is modeling the Delaware and Hudson line running east from Whitehall, N.Y., to Rutland, Vermont. He scratch-built this HO scale model of a gas station near the tracks in Fair Haven, Vermont, as it appeared in the early 1950s. The convincing screen in the front door was cut from a silken tea pouch – a plastic mesh bag for steeping whole leaf tea.
With so many excellent ready-to-run diesels available in HO today, it’s easy to forget that some models are still not available. This is the case for Delaware & Hudson No. 1508 – a Phase III Alco RS-3. Finding itself in need of a steam generator-equipped diesel and being a devoted Alco user, the D&H traded one of its RS-3s to the Boston & Maine for this unit. D&H 1503 sports unique number boards and grilles along the long hood. Dick Kozlowski of New York State created his model by combining a body from Stewart (now owned by Bowser), an Atlas chassis and trucks and Athearn fuel tanks. It’s powered by a replacement Mashima motor.
Wayne Sittner lives in New York State but grew up in Wilkes Barre, Pa., – and many of the models on his HO scale layout reflect that. Case in point is this Classic Metal Works 1960 Ford delivery truck, which Wayne custom-finished for the Stegmaier Brewing Company. The brewery opened in Wilkes Barre in 1857 and by 1940 was one of the largest independent breweries in North America, producing a half-million barrels of beer annually. Stegmaier closed in 1974 and the label was sold to another brewery in the city. The Stegmaier brewhouse is now an office building.
Andy Rubbo of New Jersey models the Pennsylvania Railroad under wire circa 1967 on his HO scale New York Division layout, and displayed this impressive example of PRR-style catenary. Andy scratch-builds his catenary supports from brass and his own resin castings. solders together his impressive catenary from phosphor bronze wire, which he buys in 3-foot lengths from Don Tichy at Tichy Train Group. When Don found out what Andy was building with it, he developed an injection-molded plastic insulator to help Andy correctly model the catenary. The finished catenary is brush painted with a custom mix to replicate the green patina, while the transmission, signal and ground lines are made from EZ Line.
Craig Bisgeier of New Jersey models the Housatonic Railroad in 1892 – an interest that encouraged him to develop his own line of period rolling stock and structures. Craig showed off some recently-completed HO scale models for new laser-cut kits he offers under the Amesville Shops brand. The Pennsylvania Railroad Type XC boxcar was introduced in 1885 with a capacity of 60,000 lbs. More than 3,000 of these were still on the roster in 1919. The PRR’s Type GA gondola was built in solid bottom and drop-bottom configurations and included integral side stakes that could be rotated out of the way when not needed. The model can be built with stakes raised or lowered, and features brass sills to give it some weight.
Carl Roberts of Connecticut showed off a number of models, including these two HO scale cabooses that are fine examples of what can be done with vintage kits and careful kitbashing. To model the Bangor & Aroostook long caboose, Carl combined Model Die Casting bodies and roofs with an Athearn frame and trucks. He then added a styrene overlay to the sides with Grandt Line windows and doors to model a 1950s era rebuild with sheet steel sides. Like the prototype, this model has two stacks for a pair of stoves. For the Boston & Maine transfer caboose, Carl spliced together two Athearn wide-vision caboose kits to create the prototype’s unique, short body.
RPM attendees often share models that are works in progress – like the interesting “prototype kitbash” shown here. This model will eventually become a black-and-yellow Atlantic Coast Line Alco S2m – a remanufactured switcher that combined an S2 frame and cab with and EMD switcher hood and prime movers from EMD E-units. To model this, Dale Kritzky of Connecticut followed the prototype’s lead – starting with an Atlas Alco S2 frame and cab and adding a Life Like / Proto 2000 SW9 hood. Some styrene strip helped raise the hood to the proper height. Dale plans to chop the hood stacks to match the height of the cab roof and add other details. He’ll upgrade the handrails with brass stanchions from Smokey Valley Railroad Products and phosphor bronze wire from Tichy. And yes, he plans to replace the X2F couplers!
Ray Muntz of New York State was picking up an order from a local trophy shop when he learned the shop had a laser cutter and that yes, the owner could use it to cut sheet wood. That sped up construction on this scratch-built model of Rutland Railroad business car 99. The car features mostly scratch-built interior details, too – including delightful flower vases on the dining table. Ray shaped the roof from Northeastern Scale Models wooden clerestory stock.
Robert Grzywacz of Connecticut displayed several O scale structures, including this commercial coal shed. Robert started with a Crystal River Products kit, which is constructed board-by-board. He added many details, including pulleys and counterweights on the track-side doors, the front deck and stair case, the pilings upon which the structure stands, the signs, figures and other details, and the tarpaper roof.