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My Paper Time Machine

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  • Member since
    January 2015
  • From: Duluth, MN
  • 421 posts
My Paper Time Machine
Posted by OT Dean on Friday, May 29, 2020 1:42 AM

I've mentioned my ongoing project of having my Model Railroader bound volumes restored professionally.  These are like dear old friends to me, an important part of what I call my Paper Time Machine, which consists of modeling magazines and prototype books I've been collecting for 60+ years.  I'd finished the 25th anniversary volume, 1959, and since the last two aren't ready yet, started going through it again, this time reading articles I'd skimmed over and taking a closer look at the ads.

I've mentioned my late brother, who'd come home after the Korean War with a virulent case of Model Railroad Fever.  I was just 14 that year ('54) and had received an American Flyer 2-rail S gauge train set for Christmas in '53, which had my own juices flowing.  Dwaine, my eldest brother, became my mentor in a lot of things and took me along with him while he explored the railroad scene, real and model, in the Milwaukee area, centering on the Milwaukee Road.  He winnowed out ever shop that dealt in model RR stuff, including a guy who ran one in the front room and sun porch of his home--surely in violation of Zoning Ordinances!  Our local roads, the MILW, C&NW, and Soo Line had dieselized by then, so that's what interested me, even though we'd grown up within a hundred or so yards of the MILW mainline, with the steam-powered Hiawatha and fast freights pulled by the big S3's roaring through the village at a "restricted" 60mph.

What prompted this nostalic meandering was a 2-page ad for a big mail order model RR supplier's listing for "Athearn F7 A's & B's, Dummies, Hi-F, and geared..." starting at 98 cents for dummies, with Hi-F's @ $6.95 and geared @ $13.95.  My first HO loco was a Pennsy Hi-F F7A bought at my local hobby shop and I'd already admired them on the shop's display layout (Santa Fe Warbonnet, naturally; it caught the eye).  That's what went through town on the Soo Line and that's what we saw whenever Dwaine drove us down into the Menomonee Valley to park on the street next to the Milwaukee Road's diesel yard.  It fascinated me, as most of the locos on the ready tracks were EMD F-units, idling there looking kind of chunky and businesslike.  Dwaine explained that they left the engines running because they weren't winterized (our trips were more frequent in the cold months) "--and they don't like them to cool down anyway; starting's an operation in itself, then they have to be brought up to temperature."  What neither of us could quite understand was the open cab doors on some of them.

I've always thought that would be an interesting detail for a model railroad's ready track: the open door (usually) on the fireman's side.  It was cheap then, 98 cents, and all you'd have to do is carefully cut away the door, model a new one of thin material, and if it's going to be close to the edge of the table (and why wouldn't it, as fascinating as an engine yard is?), you could detail the cab interior.  I was going to do that on my HO layout when I built it--and then a hobby dealer sold me, cheap, an Aristo-Craft model of Ma & Pa's #26 Consol whose cab support had become unsoldered from the rear of the frame on its trip across the Pacific.  The rest, as they say, is history...

Stay safe, everybody.

Deano

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