Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Visit to the Bellingham, Washington Railway Museum

Work took me to the U.S. Pacific Northwest in August. It included a stop in Bellingham, WA. While there, I took some time to visit the Bellingham Railway Museum.

I assumed, from the name, that a railway museum would be, you know, located by railway tracks and maybe be home to some 1:1 prototypes.

So I was surprised, when I looked on the map, to discover that this railway museum is in downtown Bellingham—nowhere near the tracks.

Even so, it was an enjoyable visit, offering an opportunity to learn more about railways in that part of the country.

The main attractions of the museum are two layouts: G scale, depicting logging and mining activity in the northwest, and Lionel. The logging modelling is quite spectacular.

The museum also has many historical photos of railway activity in the area, along with examples of Lionel model railroad equipment from past decades.

Interestingly, it’s a “railway” museum—a term used in Canada and Great Britain—not a “railroad” museum, as is more commonly used in the U.S.

(Click here for a post about railway vs. railroad, and why there is no definitive way to prefer one over the other.)

Maybe that’s because the big companies in the region all used “railway” in their names: Great Northern Railway, Northern Pacific Railway, Burlington Norther Santa Fe Railway.

Again, it was an enjoyable way to spend an hour or so, even if it wasn’t located trackside.

While in Bellingham, I did manage to catch Amtrak's Cascade, heading south along the shore (taking a photo from the boardwalk, which juts out into the water).

Click here to visit the Museum’s website.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Tony Koester, Multi-Deck Layouts and Me

So I was re-reading a copy of Tony Koester's book Desiging and Building Multi-Deck Model Railraods, when I came across a couple of paragraphs about me.

Well, not about me exactly, but about the Manitoba & Minnesota Sub., and how it (and my late brother-in-law's layout) influenced Tony to build his own multi-deck layout.

Tony was a guest presenter at 2000 during the NMRA Thousand Lakes Region Millennium Express convention in Winnipeg.

During the convention, he visited local layouts—including mine and the Cougar River Subdivision, owned by my brother-in-law Ken Epp.

I don’t remember much of what Tony said during the visit, but I remember he paid me a compliment on my modeling. It meant a lot to me.

What I didn’t realize, until I re-read the book recently, was that his visit also caused him to take a dramatic turn in his own modelling.

In the introduction to the book, Tony wrote that for a long time, he couldn’t see himself “adopting the multi-deck approach to layout design any time soon.”

Then, in 2000, he came to Winnipeg, and got “quite a surprise.”

“During an extensive layout tour, I discovered that every new or newly revised model railroad on the tour had multiple decks! 

"One huge basement layout had at least three decks, in fact, with the upper one above eye level . . . something was clearly in the wind.”

Four levels on Ken Epp's Cougar River Sub.

“The story of what was in the wind is what this book is all about.”

“It’s as much a fascinating story of the recent history of progressive model railroad design as it is a how-to book.”

Three levels on the M & M Sub.

After reading those lines, I wrote Tony about his comments.

“That visit to Canada was indeed an eye-opener,” he replied, adding that Canadians seemed to be starting a trend.

Two levels on the M & M Sub.

As for the book itself, there’s a photo of the M & M Sub. in it. There is also a photo from the layout in another of Tony’s books, Model Railroading from the Prototype to Layout.

One of these days, I want to see Tony’s Third Subdivision of the Nickel Plate Road multi-deck layout, and see him once again in person.

Meantime, I can reflect on my tiny contribution to that great model railroad.

Tony's NPR layout.


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Thompson River Canyon in Model Railroad Hobbyist

In August it was the HO scale M & M Sub. on the cover of Canadian Railway Modeller. Now my Thompson River Canyon N scale layout is in the September issue of Model Railroad Hobbyist.

Getting in a magazine is always special, but this is a special honour since the layout was created in memory of my brother-in-law Ken Epp, who died of cancer in 2014.

Before he died, he was planning to build an N scale layout based on his favorite railfan area, the Thompson River Canyon in B.C.

Since he died before he could do that, I decided to build it for him. In this case, it was a simple loop on a 2 x 7 hollow core door.

While many have seen the layout on this blog, it’s great to be able to share it, and my memory of Ken, with many others through MRH.

(It’s also pretty cool to be in an issue that features the modelling of Bob Rivard, who is someone I greatly admire in the world of model railroading.)

You can read the whole issue, and read the article, here. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse on the M & M Sub.

Anyone else catch the total solar eclipse on their layout yesterday? 

(Not going to pretend this is anything special; I just printed out a couple photos of the Aug. 21 eclipse and used tape to hold them against the wall or balanced them in the trees. Throw on a van or a loco or two and—there you go.)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

On the cover of the Rolling Stone, er, Canadian Railway Modeller

Back in 1972, Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show released a song asking to get on the “cover of the Rolling Stone.”

In 1973, they made it—in caricature, at least.

I have no aspirations for the cover of that magazine, but I was interested in getting the Manitoba & Minnesota Sub. on the cover of a model railroad magazine one day—and now it’s happened.

This summer the layout made the cover of Canadian Railway Modeller. It had appeared in the magazine before, but not on the cover.

The article inside describes the layout—its construction, background and operation.

In this Internet age, magazines are becoming old technology. But there is still something satisfying about getting in a printed publication—especially on the cover.

If you don’t believe me, ask Canada’s Prime Minister.