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Prototypical Modeling

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Prototypical Modeling
Posted by robert sylvester on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 8:38 AM

Bow Many years ago someone came up with the concept of "Prototype Modeling", may have been Tony Koester; the idea being your model railroad could be based on the real thing. With the stub end concept one end joined a model railroad and the other end connected to a real railroad, thus establishing a time, a place, equipment, colors, etc.

I thought about that and realized that I had many different roads represented with my collection of equipment, engines, freight cars, passenger consists, even buildings. In fact my equipment is a represenation of eastern, southern, and western roads.

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As you can see, the Pennsy F unit is an old Varney re-worked.

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Even freight cars from every where along with passenger cars.

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With a mix of brass and plastic.

So, I decided to represent as much as I could with freelance-prototype, probably another Koester term

So for the last sixty years I have collected and built what I like, painting buildings, weathering them to my satisfaction, building fictiscious towns, no real research just using what I like, and it has worked out fine. As Tony says, "I can put Walt Disney characters on the hills, it's my railroad and have fun." There is really nothing based on anything except my imagination.

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I even go against the rules I guess, like, "don't pack to many buildings on your layout",

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And why not? I built them and I like them, very little space between towns. And when I want to add a scene I have at it. I wanted to extend this street below that would run next to the mill.

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The mill>

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No research, just an idea. The extension is made of foam board,

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Turned it into a construction site.

101-2789.jpgJust by adding figures and vehicles, adds interest to the project. The next step is painting the roadway concrete, adding telephone poles and telephone lines and street lights.

It may not be prototypical, that is based on something real through research, but for me it fills the need. It not unusual to see a C+O consist,

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Followed by a no name passenger train made up of O.K. Metal Streamliners, built kits and hand painted.

No Car Cards, no time tables, no bills of laden, no schedules, no fast or slow clocks, just a Lionel clock on the shelf that tells the time.

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Pulling into a Union Pacific Passenger station in the South on the Newberry-Columbia Line in South Carolina. Looks like a worker tripped over the wagon tongue.

Or the Gettysburg station in Pensylvania,

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So, for the newbie, don't stress, it's your railroad and have fun with it.

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Grab a hamberger at the White Castle then catch the bus across the street and take the rubber tire express.

Happy modeling.

Robert Sylvester

Newberry-Columbia Line, SC

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Posted by dknelson on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 9:55 AM

But your photos show a reasonably consistent sense of era and place for your railroad so it is hardly a complete rejection of prototype influence.  You used to see (and still do see) layouts with Civil War locomotives pulling dome cars and such.

It's interesting when you read old issues of Model Railroader or Railroad Model Craftsman - and I mean really old, 1930s to around 1960 - that often the plans and articles about a structure or freight car would often say nothing about what prototype it was, because for the most part guys did not care.  They DID care deeply that there was a prototype and that their model was true to prototype.  They just didn't care so much what that prototype was, Santa Fe or whatever, because they were going to put their own railroad's name on the boxcar anyway and place the structure in a town that they named.  There was usually some effort to be consistent as to era, but information about interchange rules for archbar trucks and K airbrakes was not always easy to come by, so some mixing of eras was seen too.  Sometimes extreme mixing as I said earlier.

It might have been during the time that Paul Larson was editor of MR that one started to see it almost always made clear that this drawing was of a specific railroad's freight car or passenger car, or that this structure was a specific railroad's and from a specific town or area.  Even then there was little acknowledgment that diesel locomotives could and did differ by railroad even if they were the "same" prototype.

I think the idea of modeling a prototype railroad in a particular place and in a specific era (which existed all along in model railroading but was not dominant) started to really take hold in the 1960s.  But there was still the difficult matter of getting the information.  The early to mid 1960s was the origin of the railroad-specific historical societies and for those lucky enough to have a society about their favorite railroad, suddenly some informaton became available.  And since you mentioned Tony Koester, the first time his name appears in print in MR was in the mid-1960s when he was starting up the Nickle Plate historical society.

True way back into the early 1950s some modelers were complaining that RTR models were putting any old road name on cars and locomotives that was incorrect.  That became a louder message in the 1960s.

By the 1970s there were entire magazines devoted to those who were becoming more fussy about prototype modeling, about diesel details and "phases" and then things like Morning Sun books came around.  More great information.

I am not sure what came first, or which is cause and which is effect: the desire to be more disciplined about prototype modeling, or the ready availability of the information needed to be a prototype modeler.

But there is still plenty of great modeling being done by folks for whom it just is not that important.   

Dave Nelson

 

 

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Posted by robert sylvester on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 1:40 PM

Geeked Dave:

Ah yes, t'is about the period which my be considered prototypical in the sense that it looks like something from a past era, memories when I was growing up in the late forties, fifties and early sixties. But I don't try and set up definative scenes that represent a specific place or railroad, you are right, one can't help but be influenced by childhood memories, that is true, and believe me I enjoy seeing railroads that depict certain geographic locales, and there are some that are really accurate.

For me, I like designing a town or small city the way I would like it to look, knowing it is probably not a copy of a real neighborhood or city. Over the last five or six decades magazines have really moved into the direction of prototype model railroading. Just look at the detail that is now present on todays rolling stock;even engines are really becoming direct copies of the real thing. That tells you I think the direction we are headed. More and more people in this hobby want more realistic details and refined attachments that don't look toy like.

I am becoming that way with my frieght cars, very few blue box freight cars left in the collection, only because I do want a more realistic look to the article and we can now buy them that way. The same with my passenger consists, with Rapido, Walthers, MTH, Broadway Limited, and brass, the details far surpass what I could do today with these eyes. 

So, yes I enjoy realism but I am not road specific, nor do I run my trains based on prototypical practices, I should have been more clear.

Still the greatest hobby in the world,

Robert Sylvester

Newberry-Columbia, SC

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Posted by robert sylvester on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 1:43 PM

Geeked Dave:

Ah yes, t'is about the period which my be considered prototypical in the sense that it looks like something from a past era, memories when I was growing up in the late forties, fifties and early sixties. But I don't try and set up definative scenes that represent a specific place or railroad, you are right, one can't help but be influenced by childhood memories, that is true, and believe me I enjoy seeing railroads that depict certain geographic locales, and there are some that are really accurate.

For me, I like designing a town or small city the way I would like it to look, knowing it is probably not a copy of a real neighborhood or city. Over the last five or six decades magazines have really moved into the direction of prototype model railroading. Just look at the detail that is now present on todays rolling stock; even engines are really becoming direct copies of the real thing. That tells you I think the direction we are headed. More and more people in this hobby want more realistic details and refined attachments that don't look toy like.

I am becoming that way with my frieght cars, very few blue box freight cars left in the collection, only because I do want a more realistic look to the article and we can now buy them that way. The same with my passenger consists, with Rapido, Walthers, MTH, Broadway Limited, and brass, the details far surpass what I could do today with these eyes. 

So, yes I enjoy realism but I am not road specific, nor do I run my trains based on prototypical practices, I should have been more clear.

Still the greatest hobby in the world,

Robert Sylvester

Newberry-Columbia, SC

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Posted by Heartland Division CB&Q on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 2:00 PM

Robert ...

Thanks for sharing your photos and your thoughts. You have a beautiful layout with some nice looking models. The red and stainless steel streamliner looks like the Texas Special, and I like it.  Thumbs Up

 

 

GARRY

HEARTLAND DIVISION, CB&Q RR

EVERYWHERE LOST; WE HUSTLE OUR CABOOSE FOR YOU

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Posted by UNCLEBUTCH on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 2:29 PM

 I have but 3 engines,each a different road. I liked the body style RS SWs. My rooling stock is made up of many roads,but they all must have a built date no later then 1960, this also goes for the cars and trucks. I enjoy detail, but will not  not buy for lack of it.

Most of my buildings are scratch built,without plans. Perhaps apicture for a idea, but built with realistic dimensions. Thire real conterparts may or maynot be out there somewhere.

My towns are built like I assume a real small midwest town would be. First a gen. store,then a feedmill ect.

I will not have silly stuff on my layout,it must be believable.

So I guess while I'm not a protype modeler, I do model prototypical

 

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Posted by Eilif on Thursday, August 15, 2019 7:21 AM

Nice Layout,

       It illustrates nicely one of the many varied ways in which hobbyists look to prototype as inspiriation but not as a blueprint.

Visit the Chicago Valley Railroad for Chicago Trainspotting and Budget Model Railroading. 

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Posted by kasskaboose on Thursday, August 15, 2019 9:19 AM

Being very new, I used to collect cars based on appearance and interest.  In digging deeper, I realized the value of creating a more protypical layout.  Putting an interchange allows me on the 2nd layout to have cars represented from "away" reporting marks. 

Another way of protypical modeling is following the 40-year rule for cars. Such a long lead-time provides a lot of variety.  I model the 1980s.  That means cars from the 1950s and up are totally acceptable.  Imagine the varity of cars available! 

Further making things protypical is finding suitable industries for my region.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, August 15, 2019 11:25 AM

Eilif
Nice Layout,

I agree!

Eilif
It illustrates nicely one of the many varied ways in which hobbyists look to prototype as inspiriation but not as a blueprint.

Very nicely put!

I model the late '30s (with a few anomalies which I conveniently overlook).  All of the place names on the layout, along with many of the industries, are named for real ones, but bear little to no resemblance to their prototypes.
The layout does have several interchange points, so, like my hometown, there is rolling stock from all over North America to be seen on my layout.  Most of that has been built to match photos of the real ones, and likewise for "foreign road" locomotives. 
My home road cars and locos follow prototypical practices, but are built to suit my preferences.

What I have suits my interests pretty-much perfectly.

Wayne

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, August 15, 2019 12:57 PM

Back in the 1980's, it became my desire to put together model trains that looked like real trains you see going by, in my case, going by in northern California or in Colorado where I made trips in the 70's and 80's.

I didn't have much interested in throwing anything with flanged wheels on a layout and watching it go around in circles - funs over pretty soon.

 

The very cool thing is in the past 20 years, there has been a lot of rolling stock produced that actually look like real freight cars you saw going by, like near exact replicas, not just generic looks.  Anymore, many manufacturers post photo's of the real freight car in the pages where they advertise there models.  They aren't afraid to do that because the model compares very well with the prototype photo.  Think Moloco and Tangent especially.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, August 15, 2019 1:02 PM

robert sylvester
I thought about that and realized that I had many different roads represented with my collection of equipment, engines, freight cars, passenger consists, even buildings.

.

I really like your layout. Thank you for sharing. 

.

riogrande5761
Back in the 1980's, it became my desire to put together model trains that looked like real trains you see going by <SNIP> I didn't have much interested in throwing anything with flanged wheels on a layout and watching it go around in circles - funs over pretty soon.

.

You make it sound like those are your only two options. There is a whole segment of the hobby that supports realistic operation and endless fun (for them) still running generic freight cars on their layouts.

.

For these guys, if it has reporting marks, a unique number, and it runs well, it will fit the needs they have for their fun.

.

I am not one of those guys, but I have seen them in action, and they sure do have fun with those generic freight cars.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by robert sylvester on Friday, August 16, 2019 9:12 AM

Smile, Wink & Grin Thanks to everyone, and Dr. Wayne your right what Eilif said, not a blue print, it is just my concept of what I would like towns to look like. I can truly get lost in the streets of my towns, in fact I invision myself walking down Main Street just like the pictures I posted. That is what is so wonderful about this hobby, it can take you away for a while into a different world that you created.

I recorded my broadcast this A.M., usully around 3:30 A.M., it is quiet in the house at that time. The story or news item was about stress and how it can affect our lives and our work, and how it can be detrimental to our health, even to the point of "burn out"; model railroading takes that all away for me. It is a moment in the day or evening I can walk the streets of my towns, head over to the railroad station and watch a favorite passenger train breeze through town heading some where. Can't alway do that in real life today but on my railroad I can.

Robert Sylvester,

Newberry-Columbia Line, SC

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Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, August 16, 2019 1:42 PM

robert sylvester
....model railroading takes that all away for me. It is a moment in the day or evening I can walk the streets of my towns, head over to the railroad station and watch a favorite passenger train breeze through town heading some where. Can't alway do that in real life today but on my railroad I can.

A friend calls his model railroad his escape to the world the way it should be. 

My own layout is made up of many fond memories, even though I've set them in a period before I was born.

Wayne

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Friday, August 16, 2019 3:51 PM

My model railroad also uses the past as its prototype.  My subway system was built to look like NYC, back in the 1960s, but my above ground layout is built around the Milwaukee.  I have made things dual era, to let me have a wider range of engines, rolling stock and vehicles.

For a while, I didn't pay much attention to whose freight cars I bought, but more recently I have sought out Milwaukee cars only and I have a better balance now.

I do have a water tank with the elevation of Green Bay stenciled on the side.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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