Monday, October 1, 2018

All You Have To Do Is...

Subtitled: Blind Spots

There's a running joke among our group of friends that somebody (it's usually blamed on me) will find something that could/should be changed. Most of the time this is something that has been not been noticed by the modeler in question.

Chris, of course, has been a frequent victim. Not because he misses a lot of things, but because he has a bunch of us helping on the layout, frequent visitors with their own experiences and expertise, and his (and our) constant research on the railroad and the Valley Line.

One thing I've heard many prototype modelers lament in one way or another is that it's often better to have less information. Because once you know something, you also know when it's wrong. For example, take a closer look at the builder's photo for a NH RS-1 (DERS-1b):

If you've read Chris's blog or mine, you might know where I'm going here, but notice anything unusual? Something different from RS-1s on, say, every other railroad?

Right, the number boards on the short hood are larger and mounted higher. This is on the first 10 (of 12) RS-1s owned by the New Haven. I haven't seen it on any other locomotives, and of course there isn't a model manufacturer who is likely to do the same. It's a blind spot if you don't know it's there. We often don't see such things because it's a small enough detail that it doesn't jump out at you, and our brain looks right past it because we don't expect it to be there.

Is it a big deal? No, probably not. But it's something small like that that is obvious to you once you know about it. Now you do too.

"All you need to do is, extend the number board up with a new frame, and fill in the bottom of the older one." Simple right?


To show that I don't exempt myself from discovering my own blind spots (and making changes as a result), today I was looking at making slight modifications to some trackwork so I could start to figure out the dimensions for the lumber sheds at Swift & Upson/New Britain Lumber (I've seen it listed with both, I think ownership changed during my era, but haven't researched extensively yet).
Essentially, I wanted more room to model the sheds, and it occurred to me that I could swing the tracks for both City Supply and the lumber company closer to the mainline. There's a lot of compromise in this corner because not only did I have to swing it around a corner, on the prototype it's a curve in the opposite direction.

I've moved the City Supply track closer to the mainline, and was experimenting with pulling the lumber track in that direction. You can see the cork roadbed from where the lumber track is currently.

Detail from Thomas Airviews aerial photo from 1955.

I want to leave room for modeling the City Coal & Wood building that will be removeable since it was torn down in the middle of my era. But I'm not quite sure how to do it, or exactly where it should be located.
The City Coal & Wood coal bin is the large gray building behind the L-1 #3229 in this capture from a Paul Wales video c1946. So I went to look at the Sanborn map (which is hanging on my wall) to get a closer look, and there it was:

Sure enough, the coal bin is right there on the map. And it reminded me that there were oil tanks there as well. This is later replaced by a gas station. It was a blind spot to me because I didn't expect that "coal bins" meant "huge building? But since I had never seen a picture of the coal bins until I had this video, I had never realized how large a structure it was. Looking at the aerial photo above, you can see the footprint from the building.

Is it a blind spot? Should I have known it was there? Sure, it's clear as day in this Kent Cochrane photo of an L-1, c1946:

I've picked out all sorts of detail from this photo, looking at the trackwork, ballast, speed limit sign, water pipe, the switchman's shanty, Union Manufacturing coal bins behind the shanty, the line poles, and of course the freight cars. But I never really noticed the City Coal & Wood coal bins because I just attributed it as a background building that won't be on the layout. I didn't see it in any other photos, and if I noticed it at all, I had no idea what it was.


So that building is on the City Supplies track, and City Supplies used to be City Coal & Wood. So the lumber track has to remain closer to where it is to allow room for that building. Ah, but there's another option. "All I have to do is push the backdrop further back into the corner." By reducing, or even eliminating the curve in the masonite, I have a lot more room for the scenery. It opens up the scene, but won't affect operation, since I don't really need to put any track farther back than it is. I could extend the lumber track a small amount, but it's probably not needed.

But it doesn't end there...

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