Wiscasset. Wiscasset. Wiscasset.

I don’t know where to begin this blog post. Luckily, knowing stuff like that isn’t important. Something else I don’t know is what drives the energy, enthusiasm, and almost overwhelmingly positive attitude that drives the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum. This place has assumed the status of legend in my mind. They’re not just restoring a collection of narrow gauge equipment, they are restoring a railroad. What they’ve accomplished is impressive, but it’s their attitude that impresses me most. Everywhere there is a sense of “We can. We will. Wanna help?”


I’m standing in the car park and this is one of my first views of the Museum grounds. A couple of vintage Ford trucks, the car shop in the background, and the pit for the new turntable they’re building. Yup, it probably always looks like paradise everyday.

Work on the new turntable pit is progressing nicely. Alongside, work continues on the bridge. Perched high in the air, supported on a trailer frame, the turntable bridge is simply massive. It would be neat to visit when its time to install the bridge.


Inside the shop, there was just so much to take in. As I wandered around, I remembered a thought I’d had earlier at the Sandy River and again at the Boothbay museums: these are not collections of shop equipment in some patchwork still life exhibit. This is a working shop consumed with the work of building and maintaining a railroad. This is something real, current, and relevant.

Back outside and a walk across the tracks to the station. Inside, time to buy tickets for train rides and look through their gift shop. The shop was well stocked with interesting things. I really should have stocked up on genuine Kennebec Central spikes and, ooh, what’s that? A copy of Linwood Moody’s book?! This book is so important to me. I can just about always pick it up to re-read again.


Meanwhile, #9 arrives. There’s time sort through gift shop stuff later. Right now is a time for action. Action of the kind that gets tickets for train rides. Yup, lots of tickets.

As at Boothbay, each service is actually a pair of trains. Leaving first is number 9 with a set of coaches and following is the Museum’s Ford railcar. Number 9 leads the train, bunker-first, to the current end of track. The Ford waits outside the loop while the engine completes a runaround move. While the engine ties onto its train, the Ford moves into the loop opening up the main for the run home.

Midway, on the return trip, the Museum planned a photo run by. Everyone off the train. Then the railcar arrives and is parked in the loop. With the line safe and clear, time to back the train off stage while we all find our places in a photo line. While all this is going on, photos like this one just seem to happen. Doesn’t it all look like a perfect scene?


So many recollections of Maine narrow gauge railroading recall the sight of a Forney in command of its train and only moments later, we were treated with just that sort of spectacle:


This is not quaint and sleepy railroading. This is the communication of purpose.

Now, imagine a couple of gondolas of coal for the Veterans Home in Togus tucked into that consist…

Stepping off the train and time for more exploration. Steve and I wander off to check out the newly built car shed. The building is massive and is a tremendous investment toward providing shelter for the Museum’s collection, protecting it from the weather. Every piece of equipment on the railroad is the product of the work of the Museum’s amazing team of volunteers. Buildings like this are doing more than just housing a collection but in providing this shelter, they are protecting the commitment of those who make it all possible.

As we wandered around the site the crews were busily working with a small diesel to move a caboose out of the shed and onto a waiting train for the next round. We’re a part of this. Steve and I have tickets to ride in the Ford railcar this time!


This time, it was fun to chase the train up the line as riders in the railcar. I can’t imagine a better place to sit and watch #9 running around its train than from a seat in this car. The machine itself looks like an absolute pile of fun to operate.

The Ford has a really neat turntable built into its frame to make turning it easy. Having watched this process on a previous run I could barely contain my enthusiasm. “Can I try?” I asked and I was thrilled to be given the chance. The whole process is quite simple and really fun. Since I was busy with the work, I don’t have a photo of me in action but I did find this Youtube video:

High on the experience of learning to turn this fascinating machine earlier, I enthusiastically asked if I could push my luck further: “Need a hand with that switch?” I asked and “Go ahead” was all the encouragement I needed. First the stub turnout up in the loop at the top of the line and again as we left the loop, departing from the second photo run by. I’m so grateful t have had a chance to help out and immerse, deeper, in this moment.

On our return trip we were treated to a very special photo op featuring the Ford on a run by across the Humason Brook Trestle. What a special treat to enjoy, during an afternoon filled with non-stop and seemingly never-ending great moments.

I just can’t stop smiling. Thankfully places like this exist.

I can’t wait so long to go back. I’ve got this membership to the WW&F now burning a hole in my imagination and I’m keen to spend more time helping out. It’s something I want to be a part of. It just all feels so good.

The Museum maintain a terrific web site to chronicle their work and update on coming events. Their gift shop is also online and well worth supporting. You can also buy a membership and learn more about how to get involved: wwfry.org


On to Boothbay


Feeling for a moment like we’ve stepped into a story from Thomas the Tank Engine, we arrive at the Boothbay Railway Museum. Only seconds later, one of their charming German tank engines rushes up to greet us. Nice touch. This great morning just keeps getting better.

As a special opportunity during the Convention, Boothbay is offering driver training programs. For a fee, you spend a morning learning to care for and drive one of these engines. Sure, leading up to the Convention I had a pile of reasons not to do this but I wasn’t long on the site before I started to regret not signing up for this. I really like these little German engines and a day with one would be superb. I didn’t do myself any favours talking myself out of this experience. Argh. Next time…

A wander through the car shed and toward the shops. Again, more invitations to come inside and look around. So much to see and so many welcoming volunteers eager to share what they’re working on. The head lamp on Henschel #6 is pretty cool eh?

Everyone, at every Convention event, was so keen to do as much as they could to really indulge in narrow gauge madness. I still feel like the folks at Boothbay were in with what might be the most ambitious plan of the day: their track is a small, but hilly, loop circling their property. They decided to run two sets of two trains around their loop. Leading will be a steam-hauled train of coaches and trailing each will be one of the railcars. One set staged at the top of the loop and the other, the opposite side. It was so well orchestrated and a tribute to more superb planning on the part of the Museum’s volunteers and their commitment to creating a truly memorable experience. Everywhere I turned here, there was something moving. Even inside the car shed, you could try your hand at operating a genuine two foot gauge hand car.

Thank you to everyone here. What a superb morning. I could spend a lot of time sitting on the station platform and watching the parade of narrow gauge trains roll past. It might be the busiest railroad service I’ve witnessed anywhere. Yup, with a bottle of Capt’n Eli’s root beer in my hand and the sound of narrow gauge steam. Does it get any better?

Boothbay Railway Museum is one of those hidden gems of a railway museum. It might be easy to overlook it and think it more a roadside attraction that a serious museum but doing so you’d be making a terrific mistake. Their restoration shop is superb and capable of very serious work. Furthermore, they’re intent reaches beyond the rails to record so much of Maine’s transportation history. Further still, they regularly host events to celebrate Maine’s maker and craft history. It’s a site that is a real credit to the State and I left, once again, wishing we had something like it here on the Island.

Learn more about the Museum on their website: railwayvillage.org/

Maine Narrow Gauge Museum

Fresh from watching the Downeaster, we made our way downtown to the Maine Narrow Gauge Museum.

A train staged on the mainline and waiting for the day’s visitors. With so much outside, on display, it was fun to wander through the yard.


Of course, outside can take its toll. I’d love to devote some volunteer time to documenting items like this if it helps.

Hidden among the Museum’s collection are some real gems from other narrow gauge lines such as this string of Magor flat cars.


These little GE diesels are such neat machines. My Dad has had the pleasure of a cab ride – I can only imagine how cosy that ride must have been!

The Museum’s track is recycled, former standard gauge track. I thought the self-guarding frog on this stub switch was a neat touch. The derail was cool too!

I remember articles in magazines, like Model Railroader, describing how to cut apart and reassemble standard gauge turnouts to suite narrow gauge use. There’s a prototype for everything as this turnout shows.


With the sun making its way through the clouds, it’s time to make our way to Boothbay and our next stop for the day.

The Maine Narrow Gauge Museum operates a wonderful length of track along Portland’s waterfront. Not only by location, but also in terms of community, I am proud of how well integrated the Museum is in Portland life. Events seem well-attended and the Museum does a fine job of promoting their site well beyond the narrow gauge fan community. They are currently planning the next phase of their life and a massive move of the entire Museum to a new location. Follow along with events at the Museum, find out how to get involved, and receive updates at their website: http://www.mainenarrowgauge.org/relocation/

Railfans in cars getting coffee

As the dates for the Convention grew closer, we started to second guess our hotel choice. On a hunch, we changed our reservation to the Knight’s Inn, in Brunswick. I’d driven past the place before but had never stopped in and, for the price, it would be a deal that would prove hard to beat. Furthermore, the property backs up against Amtrak’s new maintenance facility in Brunswick – the easternmost point on Amtrak’s directionless arrow and the end of the line for their Downeaster service.

If we timed it right we could catch several arrivals and departures for this train, bookending our day. The train alone would be a great catch but we were in luck and Amtrak’s lone dome car (#10031) was a part of the Downeaster’s consist. After breakfast on Thursday we watched it leave Brunswick. With no commitments in Augusta on Friday morning, our goal was clear: early breakfast in Brunswick and then hit the road for Portland. We made it into Portland ahead of schedule. Just in time to grab a quick coffee to enjoy while waiting along the Fore River bridge for our train.


Portland’s station is reached from one leg of a wye track. After a station stop, the train runs back through the wye and across the Fore River. The railroad bridge over the Fore River runs parallel to a highway bridge and alongside the road one, there’s a really nice pedestrian walkway with several places to stop and take in the view. We reasoned that we could catch a photo of the train into the station and then a quick jog through traffic, not at all un-Frogger-like, to watch it crossing the river. I grabbed the above photo as the train starting lifting out of the station. dsc03232

We’ve just finished crossing the road in time to see this neat truck in the oncoming traffic. I believe Bill has a photo of it. I thought it would be neat to try and photograph Bill photographing the truck but, too slow.


Each of the four of us had laid claim to a place on the bridge in the hopes of catching our respective photographs. Above is mine and I must say I feel pretty darned proud of it. Really proud.

Turning my camera a bit, I reasoned I might try and grab a roster shot of each car in the train. Leading the train was an Amtrak Cabbage; some Amfleets and then the 10031. Shoving hard from the tail end is an Amtrak P42. They’re accelerating now and heading for Boston.

The clouds were starting to break and the air smelled like the ocean. Finishing the last of my coffee it was time to get back to things that run on narrower tracks. Thank you David for insisting on this part of the trip.

I joke about crossing the road, at the bridge, in a Frogger-like fashion but, in all honesty, we were doing this on a busy morning during rush hour. The City of Portland have created some great paths and sidewalks for pedestrians. They’ve also provided some terrific and safe crosswalks. Thankfully these were so well located that we could use them to navigate traffic. Thank you Portland.

Frogger? Check out the Wiki here: wikipedia.org/wiki/Frogger

The Amtrak website has lots of neat articles promoting their dome car service. They’ve only got one and it appears across the system throughout the year. Check out this page for fall travel: http://www.amtrak.com/fall-travel-on-the-great-dome-car

Ride the Sandy River

If I remember correctly, Ride the Sandy River was a title of a book that Pacific Fast Mail published in the mid-1970’s describing the largest of Maine’s two foot gauge railroads. I’ve seen a copy but I’ve never owned one. I’ve no doubt that it is a classic work and for many it is a source of inspiration driving a life long passion for narrow gauge railroading. Page after page of superb recollections and an album of photos showing the railroad throughout its life. Yes. A classic.

The following is certainly not that. On with the show.


I had been here once before. I figure it must have been about twenty years now. I had been in to visit Train and Trooper in North Yarmouth. Alone it was a superb visit on another fantastic road trip to northern New England. Late one evening, I pointed my “trusty” old Honda Prelude toward Phillips, Maine. I had not thought about coming here but it was in talking with Matt and Martha Sharp, at the hobby shop, that really made me want to. It was my last narrow gauge stop on that trip and after, I’d point the car toward Calais and eventually, home. I guess it’s fitting that this trip, as part of the National Narrow Gauge Convention a couple of weeks ago, would start at the end.

Some neat trackage at the yard. Note the neat siding and partial turnout in place to reach the loading ramp where Monson #3 would be unloaded when it arrived last July. Also in place was what I thought looked a lot like Hudson portable track. Later, I’d learn that the portable track was from a peat bog.


Only a couple of museum volunteers around and not a train in site. Plenty of time to explore, take a few photos, and enjoy the moment. After all, we’re standing on the Sandy River’s right-of-way.


All of a sudden, we’re not alone. Running light, Monson’s #3 has made it’s way up the line. It’s seen here taking on water. It’s still pretty quiet . Beside our gang of four, it’s just the railroad’s own volunteers. Once again, we’ve stepped back in time.


While the crew finished their business with #3, we jumped back in the car and toward The Stone Fort. Walking up the line, toward the turntable and engine house, it’s hard not to be nostalgic and feel once again like we’re stepping back in time.

A string of cars on a nearby yard track and the Franklin and Megantic flanger nearby only further add to the scene.

Everyone at the Sandy River museum was welcoming and friendly. We were encouraged to explore the site. Each bay of the engine shed seemed to have something underway. While we were exploring, #3 has made its way back down the line and has arrived in town. It will be turned on the turntable, itself an interesting study of action.

The operating plan was to run a passenger train from the yard out to the station to pick up the busload of Convention waiting there. While that train was out, #3 would tie onto the waiting freight cars for a photo freight run. There isn’t much track to use, so each movement was planned strategically so that the right engine was in the right place, at the right time. Hard to not think about this all as inspiration for a model railway – no shortage of operating potential here!

Meanwhile, it’s showtime!

So many terrific opportunities to attempt run-by photos or train meets. What a terrific visit. I can’t thank everyone at the museum enough. Everyone was so welcoming and inviting. Their pride in their work was so obvious and it was easy to feel at home.

Before closing out this post, I wanted to further thank everyone at the museum:

The woods are dry. Really dry. As a precaution, fire fighting equipment was readily at hand and the museum’s own fire fighting car would be attached to any typical day’s train;

When everyone had arrived, the museum was positively crawling with railfans. Everyone’s attention was on getting that perfect vantage point for their photo and it creates a chaotic environment. Operating a railroad is serious work and made all that much more challenging with so many bodies on site. Throughout it all, the museum’s volunteers were the model of professional behaivour.

The museum have a terrific website. Check it out:




Departing Alna with Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway #9 leading the way – my photo.

I am back from attending my first National Narrow Gauge Convention. I wish I knew where to begin to describe the experience. It is a several day long immersion on all things narrow gauge both the real thing and the models of. Now that I know what I’ve been missing, I can’t remember why it took so long for me to finally get to one. Will I go back? Yes please.

I can’t go any further without addressing the folks who organize this. Events like this are massive undertakings. I don’t know why anyone volunteers to coordinate these things but I’m sure glad they do. I believe that the measure of success for how well organized an event is, is how easy it all appears. On that measure alone, the folks behind the 2016 National Narrow Gauge Convention in Augusta, Maine, are clearly masters of the craft. There are no words to express how much we all appreciate your work to make our experience as great as it was but I’ll start with “Thank you.”

I’m sure the team behind this sort of event is massive and diverse but the name I know best of all was Lee Rainey’s. So often, I’d open up my inbox to find a message from Lee, like this one, his second “last” email:

I know I said yesterday’s email was the final update.

But leave it to our good friends at the amazing WW&F Museum to come up with yet another unique afternoon activity that we think you will find . . . well, absolutely riveting.

The WW&F has recently acquired an 1877-vintage, deep-throat, pneumatic riveter. Intended to be much more than just a museum display, this device will actually be used to assist with the construction of new boilers for locomotives Nos. 10 and 11.

The WW&F crew will demonstrate the riveter in operation at Alna on Thursday afternoon, between 2:00 and 4:00 PM. The task will be completing the reattachment of No. 9’s original smokebox to its original boiler.

So if you ever wanted to sample the sights and sounds of a steam era backshop, this is your chance!

I copied Lee’s message as it alone speaks to the spirit of this type of event. In every way possible, the Convention was a showcase of pride and passion. Everyone had something to share and just as many people as there were sharing something and it seemed there were as many invitations to “join in” as there were imaginations to spark.

We arrived in time to register and attend a clinic on Wednesday evening. I had been looking forward to Rod Clarke’s talk on Toronto-area narrow gauge and he did a superb job. Rod is a passionate, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic speaker on the subject and I thoroughly enjoyed his presentation. In addition to the presentation, Rod had brought along some models he had under construction and based on Toronto rolling stock. I first heard about Rod from his book: Narrow Gauge Through the Bush (http://www.narrowgaugethroughthebush.com/) and buying a copy of this book is something that I am proud to have finally gotten around to. The book is massive and deserving of a review unto its own and I will do that. This book is easily one of the finest on the subject of Canadian railroading and I recommend it. Thank you Rod. It was a pleasure to meet you and your wife. I hope our paths cross again.

Equal of interest to me was Jeff Young’s talk on the Huntsville and Lake of Bays Railway. Jeff is working on a new book on the railway and I can not wait to purchase a copy of this. Jeff was joined by Peter Foley and together they shared a knowledgeable and enthusiastic preview of what’s to come in the new book. I am thrilled by how much they’ve uncovered on freight service on the line. They’re really on a deep dive with this project and their talk introduced some of their research from surveying the route of the line, documenting and drawing all of the railroad equipment, through to making sure they meet with and recorded the stories of so many who knew the railway. They don’t have a website for the book, yet, but there is an email address for more information: portagerailway@rogers.com.

These days hobby shops seem to thin on the ground, so to wander through a vendor hall with table after table devoted to just the subject of narrow gauge model railways was something amazing all to itself. The feeling is strange. Furthermore, so many of these tables were run by manufacturers themselves. It was really cool to meet the folks at PBL and Coronado Scale Models. I’ve used a lot of Micro Engineering rail and had a chance to meet some of their team too. Sometimes, some of the names were just so big (to me) I felt a little tongue-tied, not knowing just how to say something as simple as “Hi. I’ve read about your products and I really admire what you’re doing. I just wanted to say hi.” That was certainly the case when I forgot even my name when David Hoffman introduced himself at his table.  Sorry David.

Vendors were all centralized in one main hall at the heart of the Augusta Convention Centre. Layouts were found in the many smaller event rooms throughout the facility. The feeling is a bit hard to describe as you embark on a treasure hunt down a rather non-descript hall and grab a “Seen one. Seen a million of them doors!” only to be rewarded with a room packed with narrow gauge model railway layouts. In the time since the Convention, I realise that as much time as I spent studying and just enjoying the fine work on display I have missed a lot. (“Just how exactly did I completely miss most of the apparently giant HOn30 modular layout?!”) I didn’t bring a camera to the Convention Centre so don’t have photos to share. I wish I did but I also wish I was the kind of guy who could take decent photos of models.

Bob Harper’s Franklin layout was the first of those layouts I wanted to make a specific point of seeing and it did not disappoint. I had first seen this layout on the Maine On2 website:


It is a superb, well-built and smooth-running, layout built in 1/48 scale and based on Maine two foot gauge railroading. Despite the amount of operation and track on the layout it doesn’t feel cramped or model railroad-like. It was a real joy to learn about the layout and watch it in operation. Further to their credit, it was being operated to a plan throughout the show with trains arriving and departing, each with purpose and work to do. I can fully appreciate just how much effort has been invested in creating a layout that works as well as Franklin does and in doing so, he really showcases just what is possible. Narrow gauge in 1/48? I could see that in my future…

The second layout on my own “must see list” was The Crowsnest Tramway. In other posts here on Prince Street as well as in (any chance I get) emails I’ve been praising model railway layout presentation styles that are as attractive as the work in the frame as they are out. Craig Parry’s approach to showcasing and framing this layout is a just such a superb example. Even from across a busy room, this layout stands out as one that I wanted to look at. It was terrific to have a chance to meet Craig and talk about the layout itself. From what I understand, when the Tramway is at home it lives in their living room. Something as nice as that, should. Like minds…well done! This layout was one that makes me regret not bringing a camera. The NNGC 2016 website does have some nice photos of the layout:


Another layout highlight was Conrad [sorry, I have forgotten his surname]’s Paper Creek. Built in Nn3, it is probably the finest operating Nn3 layout I’ve ever seen. Conrad was a wonderful host and I really enjoyed talking with him. As wonderful as his layout was, Conrad brought along several examples of models he is working on for his next Nn3 layout. What really impressed me was that he was 3D printing structures. I’m not sure why the idea never occurred to me but I thought his was a really unique approach to use this technology in a way that I’m not. He had brought along some models that were exclusively 3D printed as well as his Chama roundhouse which is a mixed media approach using a 3D printed core with a laser cut (Monster Modelworks) cladding. It is so exciting to be a part of a conversation like this with someone who is clearly leading us into the future and using modern thinking to facilitate modelling. Once again, the NNGC website to the rescue with photos:



Bill, Steve, and David with Monson #3 – my photo

I figured I’d write a couple of posts on the Convention. We just did so much and that seems like the best approach. Before closing out this first post, I wanted to thank everyone again:

I would not have done any of this had Steve Dickie not started the whole thing rolling in the first place. Thank you Steve. Equally, thank you Bill and David for joining us on this adventure. In all, the finest company anyone could ask for on an adventure like this.

At every layout, sales table, or Convention badge was someone who was keen to introduce themselves and their whatever. Thank you, all, for making me feel so welcome.

I had the great fortune to meet several friends who I previously knew online. It was superb to finally shake some hands and meet in person. I hope our paths cross again.

Finally, thank you to Krista for making absolute sure that I didn’t find a way to talk myself out of this. All the good bits? Yup, that’s her. Every time.

Geez, look at the time. I need to go make supper.


Bachmann’s New American

Guess I missed this news too. Recently, it appears, Bachmann have completely retooled their 4-4-0. They’ve had their Jupiter and #119 versions of the model in their catalogue seemingly since time began. I don’t believe I’ve ever owned the HO scale one but I’ve had several iterations of the N scale and I still have a few here.

Looking at the Bachmann website this evening, the model just looks sharper then heck. I’m a sucker for early 4-4-0’s and it doesn’t take much to get my heart racing when it comes to these engines. I’ve yet to see one up close but the photos sure make them look appealing and it’s obvious Bachmann have done some superb work in refining the model. It looks quite sharp and I want one.

Not content to update the model’s design, they’re also offering a version in their Sound Value range. It’s fun watching some Youtube clips such as this one on Bachmann’s channel. I mean, sure, the sound isn’t the same as being trackside but the difference in price seems worth it for the decoder alone.

I’ve owned my fair share of engines crippled by crappy cracked white plastic gears made by someone who should know better and instead decided to do something stupid Bachmann engines to feel just a bit apprehensive about buying one. I’ve seen a lot of models lately that I liked but it’s still been quite a while since I’ve felt this tempted.

This is certainly not a thinly-veiled allusion to a layout just trying to burn off some desire.

The future is here…

Spread across the computers of my life are a variety of links to websites that focus on 19th century-era railroading and how to model it. This evening, I wanted to take just a few minutes and try and start gathering them together in one place.

As I sorted through them all, I started noting just how many of them were examples of very modern thinking and applying that approach to building models of trains and railroads of the 19th century. With the memory of our conversation last week, I wanted to express this thought. For example, and this is just two:

John Ott’s Miskatonic Railroad


Where do I begin?

The website is a beautiful study of a nicely-designed, well, website. It’s not only nice to look at but it feels as if it shares many of the same aesthetic qualities found in the stories that inspired this model railroad. Beyond just a catalogue of pragmatic how-to articles but each one embroidered with enthusiasm and passion. It’s clear he’s having fun and that’s infectious. He’s having fun and inviting you to try what he’s doing. Well done.

Equal in number to the more traditionally-style techniques are articles on how to use modern desktop publishing software to create and print appropriate rolling stock (on paper). Rather than print the decals, he’s just printing the whole car side. The sides he’s producing are simply beautiful and would just as at home in a picture frame showcasing the detail invested in decorating rolling stock of the era as they do on the layout. There’s notes on how-to try this at home too!

Examples showcasing the work of the modern model railroader’s approach are easy to find here. This isn’t just model railroading it’s craft in its truest form I believe.

Håkan Nilsson’s Eight Wheeler Models


Of the many things our conversation touched on, René, Marshall, and I talked about the future for model railroad manufacturing and how the modern manufacturer could marry a multimedia approach to creating models for sale. That some of these techniques benefited from a certain economy of scale that might favour the production of shorter product runs – but just because there weren’t as many in the run the quality could be as good as any mass-produced model.

In Håkan Nilsson’s Eight Wheeler Models I see a superb example of this modern approach to manufacturing: his Pullman sleeping car “Dayton” kit. The prototype is so detailed, you really need to just visit the website to check out the work. The model features etched metal sides wrapped around a 3D printed core. Parts of this model, such as that crazy roof, would be difficult to produce by any other means but for the 3D printer. Where 3D printing shines on the roof, the detail of the car sides just seems to work so much better in etched metal.

It’s a craftsman’s approach to kit design. It feels really sharp and engaged. I know he’s not alone but what he’s doing really showcases just how good he is at it. These days we live in a world brimming with some of the finest models ever manufactured and it impresses me to no end that there is still room for someone to do something even more amazing.

Debugging #10


Rather than discard the work when it becomes old, René’s tinkering with it – poking and prodding to see what can be fixed and to learn from the model. Not only does it feel like following the work of the craftsman as he analyses his work but it even feels a bit like modelling the relationship a real railroad mechanic would face his fleet: repair what’s broken instead of discard.

The future is here and being embraced to make models of things that are now viewed as quite old yet themselves, were “the” future when they were new.

Croft Depot

Thank you Facebook. Lately I’ve been discovering the Facebook pages modellers have been creating for their model railways. What they’re doing is like a natural evolution of the blog or website platforms we’ve been using for the same ends. The funny thing is, regardless of how I feel toward Facebook, I just never thought people would use it for this. I’m surprised and that’s good. Meanwhile, I guess it was only natural for Facebook to learn my new patterns and, in doing so, to start suggesting more pages just like those that I should like too.

Today it happened and the layout Facebook introduced me to was Croft Depot. A quick search should bring you to the Facebook page I was introduced to. Rather than share a link to that, I was also pleasantly surprised to find that the excellent Scalefour Society maintain a page for the layout on their site:


In addition to that page, there’s a nice thread on RMWeb.co.uk showing the layout at the show:


The model railway is based on a real life location and this page on the Disused Stations website provides some nice history and a map of the actual track layout:


It’s such a beautifully executed small layout. Built to the P4 (finescale) standard it’s an excellent example of creating something to such a high standard in such a small space (about three square feet). May as well mention that it’s another Inglenook track plan too.

But, it’s more. I really like the very well thought out execution. A study in even and muted colours, all showered in a well lit and cleanly framed design. Despite its small size it still has a short staging yard for trains to come from and go. Rather than being hidden behind a panel, even this small area is framed and well lit. I’m really impressed by this exposed staging model and it’s an idea that I want to remember.

Heck, if all I did next was build an exact copy of the layout I think I’d be okay. Rather than step through a list of reasons why I’m impressed I just want to say that I am. This is one of those layouts that so completely impresses me in every way.

I hope you like it too.



“My modern-day pen pal”

When I started Prince Street, my motives were mostly centred around using the blog as a place to park ideas and to start a conversation with myself as I worked through the things I think about, with regard to model railways. Model railways are important to me. I could say “it’s just a hobby” but in truth my relationship with it runs much deeper. Sure it can still be just a hobby but it’s also a place where I’ve found respite during darker times when I needed the sanctuary, familiarity, and comfort of something more familiar and it’s where I found a medium to express myself creatively. Along the way, it’s even led me to so many amazing opportunities both personally and professionally to think of as only a hobby.

David Eaves publishes a blog under the tagline of “if writing is a muscle, this is my gym”. If this is my gym I’m proud of often I’ve visited over the years and surprised myself with how much I enjoy the workout. Pity the real gym isn’t as attractive! Along the way, I’ve met some really amazing people and made some terrific friends. I’m so grateful for this opportunity. Fast forward to about a week or so ago and in my inbox, an email from Rene Gourley. He was planning on a bit of vacation time on the Island and wondered if we could maybe get together for a drink and just to meet up. Last night, we did just that. Rene introduced me to a friend and fellow modeller of his who they were vacationing with, Marshall Ouellet. Rene introduced me to Marshall as his “modern-day pen pal” and it’s a sort of neat moniker to wear. I’ll quote him again as I reflect on the conversation: “A two-hour lubricated conversation was equal to a couple of years of blog posts.”

The conversation was both rich and dynamic. It seems we’ve each been so lucky as to have spent so much time in the hobby and exploring very different experiences of it and corners of it. It’s interesting to continue conversations that, at times, were started online, and to start new ones in new directions that I hope we’ll have a chance to revisit again somehow. Rene’s written a wonderful post already to mark the evening that includes a great group photo (I’m not a fan of the camera so treasure this one) and you can read it here:


Marshall is contemplating a layout in a more public installation, as I am committed to. It was fascinating to exchange thoughts on how this might work out for each of us and what we expect of it.We have different goals and comparing notes was very enlightening for the difference of perspectives over such a common shared space.

As the discussion shifted to the advancing influence that technological change is having on the hobby in terms reaching from control to 3D printing Rene asked what it might be like if something like rail ever got hard to get. Today, it’s easy to opine about the role of 3D printing in terms of individual models but how will we mediate a larger common ground for a commodity like rail? I don’t know but I’m excited to think about it more. Hopefully we come back to that conversation.

Since we were already talking about the future I couldn’t resist the urge to ask where we’ll find our inspiration as our relationship with real trains gets further distanced. I’ve met so many new modellers who are doing really great work yet don’t have that rich history with real railroading that so many of our model railway forefathers had. Clearly, the hobby itself is strong enough to attract new talent and dynamic enough to encourage their different approaches. I believe we’re on the edge of another cultural shift in the hobby right now and I’m keen to explore the subject more.

Thank you Rene for reaching out with the invitation.

Thank you Marshall for picking up the tab – I insist the next round is mine. It’s the least I could do.

As for that Group of Seven model railway, I think it could be done if we approach it from the right direction. Time will tell.

I guess, to make things fair, I need to get myself to their coast and across the nation. It seems only fair.