The site is pretty self explanatory.

Questions? Comments? Criticism? Information?

You can contact me at nhrr --at-- newbritainstation.com

 

Crew

I'm fortunate to have met many great friends in the few years I've been back in the hobby. We all agree that probably the best thing about this hobby is the people and the fun times we have. Although I'm about 1/2 mile from the annual New England Prototype Meet, I'm apparently in the middle of nowhere. Most of my modeling buddies are about an hour away (although many of them live relatively near each other. In any event, these are the folks that may pop up frequently in the blog:
 
Chris Adams
Most of us meet at his place on Thursdays to catalog the photo collection of the NHRHTA. Because of this, the majority of recurring characters on the site are from this group. He is (will be) modeling the Valley Line and a significant portion of the Air Line on the New Haven in 1947. Among others, I blame him for backdating the layout to include steam. Of course, he blames me for his new-found obession for modeling accurate freight cars, and the many resin kits in his future. We're hoping they will go together quicker than the 12 years it took to complete the F&C NE-class caboose.
 
Dick Otto
A regular on Thursday nights, Dick seems to know everybody. He presumably models in N-scale, although he could probably give me a run for my money in unfinished projects. His modeling efforts include a nearly completed scratch-built NH A-class steam locomotive. Yes, it's in N-scale. He's among the guilty parties that convinced me to include steam in my modeling efforts. He'll also be helping me scratchbuild the fireless steam switcher, Stanley Works S1.
 
Pete Luchini
Another Thursday regular. He's modeling the Shoreline from New London to Cedar Hill. He's also included the lower Valley Line. He's probably weathered and sold more freight cars than I currently own (which is saying something, although I'm no Mike Rose...). His layout is about ready to start testing some operations to see if things are working as designed.
 
Pieter Roos
Thursday regular (see a pattern here yet?). Modeling the CNJ in S-scale. One of those long-time (and second generation) modeler who has modeled just about everything at one point or another. HO-scale, HOn3 (I think, some sort of narrow gauge), etc.

Joseph Viener
Joseph lives around the corner from me. He's come down for a few Thursdays, although I see him at home far more frequently. He and his friend Roman (below) are the youngest of the group. I met Joseph at the Hobby Shop when he had some questions about installing decoders. That's when we figured out we are within walking distance and that Jessica used to go to his house regularly when his Mom still ran a day care.

Roman Daniels
Roman lives right around the corner from Chris. He's one of Joseph's good friends and has been helping Chris on his layout quite a bit.
 
John Grosner
Yep. Thursday regular. His layout of Derby Junction on the NH has been published in Model Railroader. In the process, he's pretty much done it all. The layout is a blast to operate, and he takes particular pleasure in not telling the new operators about things like the operating derails...
 
Charlie Dunn
Thursday regular. He's the editor of the NHRHTA Speedwitch. He has an amazing ability to identify nearly any location in a picture of the New Haven, although maybe I should put together a test for Charlie, Chris and Dick... His particular passion is NH wrecks. Oh, and steam (yeah, another one of those guys).
 
Dave Kmetz
Yet another Thursday regular. He's modeling Vermont Rail from Bellows Falls to Rutland Center and Burlington, c1980's to the present. It also includes some old Alcos that haven't been retired, and a periodic NH steam fan trip. One of these days I'll get over to see it.
 
Max Miller
Max is a Thursday night non-modeler. Max has a vast amount of knowledge on the Valley Line, and is (literally) writing the book. It seems like he worked on pretty much any major piece of infrastructure in the state.
 
John Wallace
Non-modeler Thursday nighter. Back in the '40s he frequently rode with the Valley Line local crew. See Shoreliner Vol 22, Issue 4 for some great memories, including the time when he had to show a green fireman how to fire a K-1-d. Not only does he have a great memory for all of this, he's always been a prolific photographer, even back then.
 
Bill Schneider
Not a Thursday regular (although he is invited every week). Bill's layout is a model of 'less is more'. His O&W layout has been published many times, and is a double-deck layout comprising of two towns in about 12' x 10'. His modeling approach and design has greatly influenced my layout. He's also a great cook, and we have been co-manning the grill at various get-togethers at his place or mine.
 
Ted Culotta
I think Ted's still invited. He used to help before Chris moved. I first met Ted when we were both bidding on the same item on eBay. Lately Chris has had a better chance of catching up with Ted to discuss bike racing. His Essential Freight Car series in RMC is what got me hooked on freight cars and building resin kits.
 
So there Chris, it's really Ted's fault!

 
 

About Me

I'm also a guitarist, avid Dungeon & Dragons DM without players, computer geek (aka an IT guy), husband and father. Not necessarily in that order.

I'm also officially a professional model railroader now that I'm (partially) building a layout for hire, installing decoders for fun and profit, and working with my buddy Darren at True Line Trains.

How did I get here?

The Short Version
I'm a model railroad retread focusing on prototype modeling of the New Haven Railroad in the late '40s, early '50s. I was out of the hobby for about 18 years after high school. This is the third 'layout' that I've started since getting back into the hobby in 2006 or so.
The first was really intended as a reinitiation and test layout and was quickly replaced with something that was intended to be a more prototypical model of the New Haven Railroad in Windsor Locks and Thompsonville, largely so I could model the Connecticut River bridge. As research continued I determined there was no way to successfully model the significant passenger traffic on the Springfield mainline in 1948. In addition, I had been operating on a number of other layouts and I realized that there really wasn't enough operating interest with a single daily local freight.
Thus, this layout and this website.
I have a wonderful wife Laura, and twin daughters, Jessica and Emily. Both were premature, and Emily has significant medical issues requiring her to live more than her first eight years in the hospital.
The other hobby that takes up my time is playing guitar, primarily at Simsbury United Methodist Church.

The Long Version
If for some reason you want to know more than that, here are all the gory details, well most of them anyway.
 
The Early Years
I had a model railroad for as long as I can remember as a kid. I started with an O-27 railroad, along with some Marx O-scale equipment that was my grandfathers. My first layout was up and running before second grade, probably started around first grade (6 years old). I remember where it was in the house, but nothing beyond that. I'm trying to see if I can find some pictures of it. I suspect that it was O-scale but I honestly don't remember. I'm still working on digging up some pictures to confirm this.

Anyway, that came down when we moved in the summer between second and third grades. The next layout was an 8' x 8' layout. My dad built the benchwork out of two sheets of plywood with homosote on top. This was in an unfinished room in our basement. The room was only partially excavated, so the floor was uneven and higher than the floor in the rest of the basement by a couple of feet. Other than the train, we had some 4' deep shelves for storage.

The layout, as can be expected, was a mix of everything. Our first HO equipment was a combination Christmas present for me and my brother Brad. He received a B&O cab unit and several Athearn passenger cars. I received a Sante Fe Road switcher, and several freight cars. Brad ended up not being all that interested. I don't really remember him playing with the trains at all.

The rolling stock and locomotives consisted of all sorts of road names and eras. This included steam, diesels, and a couple of trolleys (including a european-style trolley) all running on the same mainline. Most of the motive power was Atlas, and as far as I can tell, all of the rolling stock was Tyco.

I remember a basic oval around the whole layout, with at least one track across the center, on a an up-and-over trestle set. I'm pretty sure there was a second track with a tunnel. Well, I think I managed to get a window screen mountain built, but I don't think it was ever covered. I would try just about anything I thought was neat. By the early '80s I had a subscription to Model Railroader and I still have most of the well-used issues.

Modeling?

A few of the more memorable efforts:
We went to a club someplace, and they had a subway under a section of the layout. Naturally, this was below the main deck, and I remember it being very cool. So, I had to have one. Since my layout was flat, I simply took some scrap wood paneling (the faux paneling so popular in the '70s) and covered up a corner of the layout and put a couple buildings on top of it.

I wanted to have some water on the layout. I have a little farm on the front section, so I dug out the homasote, added a little scenery, and mixed up some two-part epoxy that came as a double syringe. Naturally it simply seeped between the (and probably into) homasote and plywood since I hadn't sealed it. In addition, it never cured. So the bottom of my "pond" remained wet and tacky.

There was an article in Model Railroader about kitbashing the California Zephyr from a couple of Athearn passenger cars. Naturally, I had to have one. I couldn't get the styrene to bend as the article instructed for the streamlined power car, so I used cardboard instead. I still have it, and should post a picture here sometime.

By my high school years I was getting a little better at modeling, and was building a fairly decent model of a town on the layout. Unfortunately, after moving these were the main things that went missing.

Anyway, after graduating high school, everything was boxed and put into storage when my parents moved. After a few years at their place, it ended up in storage at my place. For 18 years.
 
The Later Years
When our daughters were about 2 1/2, we took Jessica on a steam train ride. She doesn't like loud noises, so although she was excited waiting for the train, she wasn't sure about getting on it once it was there.

She loved it.

After the ride, Jessica and I were following everybody back up to the car. She stopped and just stared at the big locomotive. She didn't want to get too close, but she didn't want to leave. So I figured that the time may have come to see about pulling out the old trains.

We have a relatively small house, and they had remained in storage with the intention of pulling them out one we moved to a bigger house. So I picked up some track, and set up a simple circle on the floor or kitchen table that we could easily break down. Jessica really enjoyed it.

So I started poking around on the internet, and decided I could build a "test" layout in one corner of the basement. It would be an 8' x 8' layout, but open in the center so I could access all of the track easily. I planned on trying out as many techniques as I could on this layout to prepare for the "real" layout.

Jessica and Laura were out of town for a long weekend, so I decided it was the perfect time to throw together a quick layout. I knew right from the beginning that this was for me, not the kids, but I also like to expose them to as much as possible and let them participate in whatever they'd like.

Jessica enjoyed it, and I was having fun trying out different modeling ideas. I jumped right in, not realizing that for most people nowadays "model" railroading doesn't mean the same thing it did to me 18 years ago. I started with an Intermountain box car kit, and a Branchline Trains heavyweight passenger car, as well as a Branchline Trains REA reefer. Only then did I pick up a couple of Accurail box cars.

Greg Gordon, the owner of the local hobby shop at the time, steered me toward the New Haven Railroad in the trainsition era. After finding the NHRHTA website, I was hooked. There was a post on the forum at the time that it had become impossible to find the Life-Like DL-109s. I took this as a challenge, and soon had five of them. My earliest posts an that site were hysterical (June of 2006). I still have them, and will add them to the site in the future. I still don't really know what I'm talking about, but I know more than I did a year and a half ago.

That test "layout" was never finished, and only lasted about three months. I managed to complete the mainline for a second layout using ripped OSB for the majority of the benchwork and masonite spline for the subroadbed (the benchwork cost about $40).
 
Today
The "final" layout is ths subject of this website and my future modeling efforts. Thanks for joining me on the journey.