Welcome!   Use a browser to view the website's pages at right

Saturday, August 26, 2023

"Say Yer Prayers, Varmint!"

"Git yer flea-bitten carcass off'n my real estate!" - Yosemite Sam

It's a fact of nature that when you live near the forest, you will - at least occasionally - have mice in your house.

Generally the black rat snakes out in the woods do a pretty good job at patrolling the perimeter.  But every now and again, an intruder or several will penetrate that defense, and set up shop in the basement.  Maybe the snakes are on vacation.

This round's first evidence of illicit rodent activity:  a peanut in the trees! 
Right below the precarious deck-girder bridge at LaMont...
"What the...?!"  

Most often they (the mice) raid the stack of scrap wood outside Slim's Cooperage in Three Rocks.  Plus of course some collateral disruption - and yeah, some extra "coal lumps" along the right-of-way.

But most recently, they committed acts of larceny so novel I almost had to admire their resourcefulness, if it weren't so infuriating: 

πŸ‘‰  They destroyed my smoke, man.  πŸ‘ˆ  

The Basin refinery in St. Amour has a mirror behind it, which doubles its apparent size.  And the mirror has (well, had) cotton smoke plumes concealing the top edge of it.  And these little 𝄳@§+@ℾ𝅘𝅥𝅮$ actually climbed tanks and scaffolds to tear them down, strip them clean, and abscond with the cotton!  

St. Amour residents may be pleased with the pollution abatement - but the owner is not happy.
Note the stripped smoke plume skeletons left dangling from the flare pipe 
and draped across the refinery complex.

There has to be one dang comfy mouse nest around here someplace - that I'm sure I'll discover someday,
when I least expect it.  Thankfully I had plenty more vitamin-jar cotton wads in stock.

With a little encouragement, the cotton wads naturally contribute some great curling and roiling when stretched out, that seems to animate the smoke plumes even though they're standing still.  

Some spray adhesive both attaches the plume to a wire frame, and, 
puts a "set" on it so that it will hold its shape.    

 Add some gentle shots with the flat black - and a whole bunch of fiddling, fussing, and cussing -  
and the James River Basin Petroleum Corp. is back in production, filling all those JBAX tank cars.  

The varmints, for their part, have been forcibly removed.  

Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think!  What have critters done to your layout?  


  1. For the adhesive, I find the 3M #77 works better for this purpose than the #45.  It's stronger, yes, but what goes with that is that it tends to dry more completely, and loses its "tack", which helps it resist cobwebs, etc., better.
  2. The wire is just some #22 hookup, stripped bare.  You're looking for strength enough to give the cotton some spine to suspend the plume, but not so much that you destroy the puffiness trying to adjust the overall shape. 
  3. The flare pipe is powered by an Evans Design LED flame module.  They have two styles - the smaller "Fire" version, which I used in the still over in Mineshaft Gap, and the "Flickering Fire" version, which alternately flashes two orange and one red LED.  I chose the latter for the more spirited inferno you expect from a flare pipe, and added another LED to it, too - a slow-flash yellow.  It's a pretty cool effect I have to say - the surging flame combined with the roiling smoke really does make it hard to believe nothing's moving.  But what it does best, though, is totally distract the eye from the fact that there's a giant mirror across the scene.  

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Passenger Fs!

Like many railroads, the SNR began dieselizing passenger service with EMD E-units - in our case, E6s in 1940.  

However, like several mountain railroads, the SNR found that the A-1-A trucks on passenger engines lowered the weight ratio on the powered axles, making them a bit slippery on stout grades.  The solution for the SNR - like the ATSF, GN, and NP, among others - was to switch to F-units.  An F had 2/3 the horsepower and weight of an E, and all of it resting on drivers via the B-B trucks.

Heating the train was a problem with this approach however, as there was no room in an F3 for a steam generator's water supply.  The debut of the longer-wheelbase FP7 in 1949 resolved this issue, especially for local and flatland single-unit service.  But before that time, the solution was to mount boilers in the F B-units, fitting the water tanks into the cavity where the cab would have gone.  On the long-distance premier trains that these railroads were equipping, multiple-unit consists were the rule, leaving numerous Bs available for steam service. 

Steam generator intake and exhaust castings came from Details West.

In the model world as well, despite having lusted after those beautiful shovel-nosed Es from age 5**, I ultimately had to confess that they were disappointing in the mountains.  In this case it wasn't the weight on drivers, but the fact that on my layout, the curves in the mountains are effectively at eye level, causing those big, long boats to look clunky rather than slick.  I have always sought out shorter versions of passenger cars to reduce exactly this effect, and I had to come to terms with the fact that the Es were as objectionable as the Pullmans.  

Shorter-wheelbase F3s glide handily through the curves at LeMont, W. Va..

But with the elaborate paint scheme on my E6s having cost so much blood, sweat, & tears, and made me so very happy (♩♩♩ π…ž  ♬♫)*, I couldn't just ditch them.  Fortunately I was helped along by electrical gremlins... (hey when have you heard those words in the same sentence!).

Tech wizard Darren Williamson (IHB) had invested vast effort into my Proto E6s, converting them to DCC, and even adding sound into one powered B-unit.  That one though was such a baboon heart, with all the cutting and milling required, that we never were quite able to get it to run reliably.  Eventually a short developed that just would not go away - and for good measure, the companion A-unit soon laid down too.  And not just on curves and grades, but sometimes even on straight track.  I concluded this had to be the universe knocking on the enginehouse door and saying "Try Fs, woodja?".  I decided I'd give up on that pair of E6s at least, and stop making Darren's life miserable.  

Fs accelerate out of the passenger terminal and across Della St. in 1950.

In the same way that after your kids' cool old Saab 900 has been to the garage for the 400th time and you just want to buy them a Camry that will always start and will run forever - maybe with a fresh clutch - the solution to the E6s was the eternal Stewart F3.  I love these things, and depend on them for the entire cab-unit freight fleet.  I've run the same engines for almost 30 years.

So it was decided:  SNR's second order for passenger diesels would be A-B-B sets of boiler-equipped F3s, in 1946. These engines would debut on the point of the new all-coach Queen City, splashed in the tri-color scheme designed by EMD for the E6s years earlier - originally done in anticipation of future stainless steel passenger equipment.  

The challenge was going to be fitting that swooshy-zoot paint scheme, designed for a swooshy-zoot 70' shovel-nose, onto a stubby 50' carbody and making it match the fleet.  But after much stewing and experimentation, accommodating the intakes and portholes, I think I got pretty close to a family look.  The B-units help out with the trailing length.

Glistening new F3s show off their "Queen City scheme" paint, with the matching new Budd stainless trainset in 1946.

Out on the railway, however, the arrival of the passenger Fs for the name trains downgraded the E6s to secondary and mail train service.  And sadly for railfans, that move therefore bumped the last of the long-distance passenger steam off the roster.  Yes the iconic blue and orange locomotives that had ushered in the Tidewater scheme with the re-equipping of the namesake train in 1934 were soon stored, and by the layout year (1952) are now white-lined and being sold for scrap ***.

Heavy Pacific #1275, filthy but still proudly wearing its Tidewater colors to the end, 
is in tow on SM-8, billed for the scrap dealer.

In a rare color shot from 1935, almost everything is less than a year old - the Tidewater's modern lightweight consist and paint scheme, the gleaming Pacific's matching blue suit, and... Kodachrome. What better way to capture the new era - even if the color balance in those days was still evolving a bit.

In 1952 once again, the obsolete #1275 is shoved into a "cut track" at Alleghany Scrap in St. Amour.  

I have often envied my friends who model actual prototype railroads, and can deploy beautifully painted engines right from the box.  But as for freelance paint schemes, I still have to think that despite the blood, sweat, & tears... God bless the child that's got his own.  (♬π…ž  ♬♩)* 

Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think!


* (♩♩ π…ž  ♬♫) Blood, Sweat & Tears - "You've Made Me So Very Happy"

* (♬π…ž  ♬♩) Blood, Sweat & Tears - "God Bless The Child"

** This would be from watching the beautiful blue and grey EAs on the O-scale B&O exhibition layout which the Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co. always displayed in its lobby at Christmastime.  The best day of the year was always the first day of Christmas vacation, when I could go downtown with Mom to see the trains at 4th & Main, meet Dad (who worked in the building) for lunch, and then watch more trains.  See the last entry on this page: Suffolk Northern Ry.: Heroes and Influences

*** Thanks to Darren Williamson also for the donation of the nice Mantua Pacific for the rolling-scrap fleet.  D's dad "Slim" was not a modeler, but a benefactor of the module group when we were teenagers.  This was an engine he bought to run at module shows just because he liked it, in its President-wannabee B&O blue with gold trim.  Because the engine had been languishing away in a box since Slim died in 1993, we decided it would be a good remembrance of him to resurrect the Pacific, even if it were in scrap trim and SNR paint.  At least it's still blue!  Just needed a coal bunker constructed in place of the cast load, and a little refurbishment, in order to proudly wear that first-ever SNR passenger scheme.  

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Disaster Narrowly Averted...


...as Bob Weir would say.  πŸ˜€

Have you ever wondered what's inside this "hump" in West St. Amour?

"What hump?" 

-- Igor (Charlie Callas), Young Frankenstein

...Uhh, that big bulge that is only somewhat disguised by a 90-degree flat for Kees-Austin Publishing Co., and a curved backdrop section? 

Don't be fooled by those pipes coming from the boiler, darting out under the rest of the house - they're merely passing through.  

What's actually inside the hump, is the air handler for the A/C system that cools and dehumidifies about ⅔ of the basement.


And what's inside the air-handler, is R-22 - a refrigerant from a prior century, so reviled for its ozone-depleting effectiveness that the manufacture of equipment using it was outlawed in... 2009.  Along with replacement parts - which is unlucky for grandfathered-in systems maintained far beyond their depreciable lifespans by cheapskate accountants, such as myself.  

SO.  As the eternally slow leak accelerated, along with the price of R-22 (now over $300/lb.), the day of reckoning I'd always feared had arrived.  Nothing to do but replace the condenser.  And new high-pressure condensers can't use the same air handlers as old lower-pressure systems.


See, back in the benchwork and backdrop phases of construction, I carefully built removable sections in front of this hump, as any responsible adult would.

Of course by the roadbed, trackwork, wiring, and scenery phases, I'd tended to let my discipline lapse a trifle, as any weary layout builder ready to just get the ____ ON with it would.  

So while replacing this beast might not require chainsaws..., there would still be a horrific amount of destruction to West St. Amour - and likely, adjacent sections - which would surely knock the SNR offline for who knows how many months.  And yeah, probably chainsaws anyway.  

It's funny how we just let existential threats seep slowly in through the walls, casually draping Harry Potter's Invisibility Cloak over them and moving on, undeterred.

Well, don't fear the reaper, friend - just whack that cowbell to celebrate the arrival of the modern A/C miracle:  the mini-split!  

This game-winning solution was proposed by our regular A/C tech, having grown weary of my endless campaigning to avoid condemning the system.  "We" (they) simply hung the head unit from a 1½-ton mini-split on the laundry room wall, swapped out the condenser, and abandoned the old air handler in place behind St. Amour.  Et voila - cool, dry air - no destruction.

Well... not counting the 4" hole they had to bore through 14" of plaster, wood, concrete, and granite.

Not sure why it took us so many years to get here.  There's another mini-split cooling the family room, just next door.  Been there for years.  I was just stuck inside the box, thinking we had to replace one system with another of the same configuration.  And so, I steadfastly refused any talk of a replacement, until finally the A/C did nothing but make noise.  

So it was a good day.  Even with having made some significant preparations to avoid the complete devastation of the layout, the disruption this was going to cause was a ticking time bomb I had been dreading for years, now to the point of nausea.  What a relief.

πŸ‘‰  St. Amour is saved!  πŸ‘ˆ

How about you?  What infrastructural peril does your layout face?  Or what diligent preparations have you made to avoid catastrophe?   Let me know what you think!  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Stenciling Wrapped Shipments

When we build something, we want to show it off.  "Take pride in your work," as the old saying goes.  (Or the 21st century version:  "Leave no square inch un-marketed upon.")

My friend Ed Swain (PRR Middle Division), aka "The Loadmaster" **, recently sent along a shot of an unspecified load in a gondola, wrapped in a tarp, and stenciled "ALCO", that was really compelling. 

This is cool enough in its own right - the gon, the stenciling, the mystery load that looks like it might be a prime mover?  Or maybe a section of road switcher hood...?  But it got me thinking - wouldn't it be neat to adapt the idea to some on-line customers?  And for that matter, what a great way to reference industries on other layouts, or those named for friends but not modeled, as I do with billboards.

Field Fabricating in St. Amour, W. Va. is named for my late friend of 43 years, Brian Field (Kentucky & NorthEastern) ***.  His 1967 Olds 442 convertible was so thoroughly rusted when he bought it that it contained virtually no intact factory sheetmetal - so restoring it necessitated fabricating a complete Frankenstein, from salvage parts, tin, pop rivets, and Bondo.  Hence, the name of the company - which was Darren Williamson's (IHB) tribute to his effort and/or mania. 

The Della St. yard crew pulls the mystery shipment 
from the loading shed at Field Fabricating.

Since a steel fabricator can ship a vast variety of things ****, the Field Co. seemed a great candidate to try this out on.  But for starters, what exactly is it they'd be shipping?  Well... who cares?  It's wrapped! πŸ˜€  All we need to know is, it's going to be big enough to require a gondola and not a truck, but not a depressed-center flat.  And, it probably has sensitive components and/or is not painted yet, requiring protection from the weather.  I say good enough!

So with basically endless possibilities for the shape, the goal was simply to create something plausible, in that size range.  I mainly wanted it to have some dimensional irregularity, so it would create interest in the angles and draping of the tarp - but not be too delicate.  I ended up using a long wood block for its main...  umm...  thing, with a longer and narrower, err... chassis underneath, and a uhh...  clerestory of sorts on top.  I'm imagining a large electrical control center, but honestly it could be anything that could be built off-site and integrated into a larger project. (Or vessel - an inland fabricator could easily be sourcing specialty boat chunks for the Portsmouth shipyards.)

The tarp material had to be thin enough to drape properly, but still hardy enough to not end up torn or deformed by handling.  Candidates included Saran Wrap which was too thin and unstable, and a hunk of old shower curtain, which was too thick.  I ended up using the package from an Eddie Bauer shirt, which seemed a good middle ground - and it holds paint too.  I used 3M spray adhesive to anchor the tarp on the bottom, but nothing on the top or sides, so that it could stretch and drape naturally.

The paint is Model Master Blue Angel Blue, which made the best "tarp-y" color of what I had on hand.  It's even pretty close to Alco's, but honestly, in that era it could be almost anything.  We just need a dark enough shade to stencil. 

The lettering is left over from an early decal attempt for the Field building itself - smaller and more condensed than the final version that's up on the cornice.  Ideally I suppose the load should say "Fabricating" on it too, or "The F.B. Field Co. Inc." which is the actual corporate entity, but I didn't feel like messing around with another set of decals.  In fact, "FIELD" may be enough of a household word in the region that it can stand alone, like "FORD".  I'm not sure - I'd have to ask a St. Amour resident.  I'll do it up right for the next one!

This was a simple and fun experiment, but I think it opens up a world of possibilities.  Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think in the comments below!


**    There's a billboard in rotation on the SNR that's a tribute to Ed Swain and all the meticulously detailed and prototypically secured open-car loads on his layout.  Thanks for the inspiration, Ed!

***   Since we've just put his name on a tarp, it seemed a good time for a visual on Brian, in the context of several other folks you either know or have heard me talk about.  (Or, you may have seen industries named for them on the SNR.)  How about this shot of the original crew in 1992:

Left to right:  Darren Williamson ("Large"), yours truly ("Needle-Neck"), Brian Field ("Small"), Roger Rassche ("Phat"), Rick Colloton ("Schwab"), and Dan Hadley ("Dan").  Roger and Brian have left the building already, too soon.  

****    If you're interested, here's another post on open-car loads for Field Fabricating, and a little background on the company and its facility too:  Suffolk Northern Ry.: Two New Loads for Field Fabricating

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Stopping by Woods at Mineshaft Gap


I finally had a chance to wrap up the forestry at Mineshaft Gap.  I got Virginia Hill (the big ridge) mostly done several years ago, and even "completed" the creek in 2020.  But despite the promise of prefab trees, the foreground areas just take forever.  For starters there's the me-like stewing over every single tree, in terms of size/shape/color/quality/placement, rather than just carpeting the hillside, as with more distant scenes.  

But also, I like to detail the forest floor up front, since you'd be viewing from the middle of the woods in that location.  That takes time but it's worth it.  

Aside from being able to hide a bunch of "easter eggs" in the woods, catching a glimpse of a passing train through the scrub growth is totally just like life.  Railfanning in the eastern US is primarily about getting to where you can see at least one entire piece of rolling stock -- around, over, or through the trees -- before it gets away.  Especially in West Virginia.  

[Utah?  Pffththtt -- "Look Ma, I can see for a hundred miles!  I can catch 19 trains in one shot!"  Where's the sport in that?  Come to hardwood country, fan-boy. πŸ˜‰]


Anyway, first how about a couple of "Before" views, for comparison. 


Only the future forest floor is roughed in, beyond the clay cuts and cinder fill.  The contour along the creek (far left) is just in plain paint, since the ground will not be visible.  

(And how about that shrinkage/separation from the fascia?  Fixing that was included as well.)

I'm pleased with the macro result of the "After" -- not just to be relieved of the eyesore of empty contours, but also because it provides a nice defining edge to the scene at Mineshaft Gap, as I'd hoped.  

It's a useful viewblock from the areas across the aisle -- makes it feel much less like you're floating in space, and more like you're in a holler watching a railroad bounce off the valley walls.  Most of what you can see beyond the hills and woods now is more hills and woods.  And backdrop, which of course is even more hills and woods.  Starting to feel downright rural.  

The new "old growth" on the right-hand side of Logan's Run now highlights the original contour of the valley, vs. the more angular, barren fills put in by the railroad and the pulpwood lot.  

SNR's re-alignment of the creek for the overpass 
has had a deleterious effect on the opposite valley wall.

Having the forest run down to the roundhouse now helps complete the original vision for the mainline up on the grade, which is of a fill cutting across the valley.

The woods as scene definition and viewblock works in the other direction, too.  

Still to come:  I need to "organic up" the clay cuts (background) with scrub growth and detritus - but that'll be in the "detailing" portion of our show, later in the program.  Like say, in the 2030's. 

Several years ago my friend John Miller (Kanawha & Lake Erie) gave me a still he thought belonged nicely in the Appalachian territory transited by the Suffolk Northern.  The edge of Mineshaft Gap was about the only wooded place on the layout with a gentle enough grade to use it, so I'd been looking forward to giving it a home for quite a while.  Thanks, John!

Sawyer MacShay, whose name in the mountaineer brogue 
is pronounced roughly "Sour Mash", 
is widely renown for distilling Carter County's finest white lightning,
in the ancient Highland Scot tradition.  

I augered out the fire pit so I could use a "Flickering Flame" from Evan Designs. 

It's even got its own on/off switch.

The logging road now feels much more like a raw cut through the woods too, as it's supposed to be.  
The scrub growth has already filled in the gaps -- but then, it does that.  

With visibility at the crossing now inconveniently obstructed by trees, 
Ronnet-Pulaski Lumber Co's ramshackle trucks
now have to grind to a responsible halt on the steep, 
rutted grade down to the SNR right-of-way.

Well, thanks for reading.  Having something to write about is a definite incentive to get stuff done!  

And now it's on to the next eyesore.  So much barren hillside yet to go... As Robert Frost said,

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

But hey, making progress.  If you're curious about place names or the oddball trees, see below ***.  And let me know what you think down in the comments!

*** Reference links:

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

DΓ©classΓ© Buicks

- or -

How to Adapt Glistening Exotic Antiques for the Workaday Post-War World


Those of us modeling the 50s are blessed these days with a variety of excellent scale model automobiles fitting the period.  On the SNR though, it's only 1952, so most of the car "fleet" should be from the 40's, with their pointy snoots and pontoon fenders - and that's an under-represented class in HO.  Also under-represented are mundane Ford, Plymouth, and Chevrolet sedans, in favor of the rarer, classier models, which stand out a bit too much for a "fleet" look.  Sylvan makes quite a range of 40's cars, but those are Lexan kits - expensive and a lot of work.  Someday...  

So to fill out the fleet with older cars, I needed to reach back into the '30s.  Oxford Diecast of the U.K. offers a very nice 1936 Buick which is a good add, even if it's a convertible - but by '52 it would be 16 years old - an automotive Methuselah at the time.  It would be at best a $75 car, assuming it hadn't already been declared terminal for needing rings and a valve job.  Those beautiful Oxford cars were going to need some "facelifting", and "downscaling", to fit Truman-era Appalachia.   


Join me for a look at a few tweaks and considerations that scratch an itch from my other hobby. 

  • Dual side-mounts.  Who are we, Roosevelts?  Only the fanciest cars would have carried them in the first place.  And after 16 years, certainly most would have been discarded as being in the way.  Granted, with a rumble seat there was no trunk to put a spare in, but most coupes and roadsters carried one on the rear bumper.  Putting on airs with fancy covered tires, gracious sakes - thankfully they were not cast-on, and could be pulled away.  I painted the hollows black on the maroon car, and tried to match the body color on the yellow car.
  • Whitewalls.  Until the mid-50's, these were another extravagance that you'd only find on newer luxury cars.  Very few people buying a used car, or a new car from the "low-priced field", would have coughed up the extra five bucks for wide whites.  Yet every over-restored, option-laden, too-shiny rig at a "Boomer Car Show" these days, like most every HO model, is sporting gleaming sneakers like Spike Lee.  Look at period pictures - most everyone's on blackwalls.  See below.  

  • Black grilleHuh?  For some reason, the yellow car came with its grille and cowl painted black.  I'd never seen this before, and could not find an example on Google.  So I returned the grille to silver, and hit the cowl with body color.    
  • Top boot.  In the history of convertiblism, no one has ever put the cover on over any folded top, except for parades and first dates.  They are an enormous pain.  Even with my '62 Caddy, I only put the boot on for the first car show of the season - then once I need to put the top up, it's back into the trunk again until next April.  

  • Top well.  Without the boot though, I needed to do something to simulate the top folded down into the well.  So I filled the mounting holes with putty, and painted the edges flat black to simulate the canvas top where it attaches to the body.  I painted the center a grayish-black to simulate the top's interior as seen when folded, then outlined some of the edge shapes in glossy black, to represent the top's header bow and side rails.  It's no contest winner, but it does go a long way toward suggesting a workaday old convertible from a distance.
  • Paint.  Until Messrs. Ditzler and Dupont graced us with acrylic enamels and clearcoat lacquers, automotive paint was just not that good.  It was not terrifically shiny right out of the booth, and until the mid-50's, waxing was almost unheard of, unless your chauffeur needed something to fill his downtime with.  So being unprotected, the paint just oxidized away down to the primer.  As I try to do with any model auto more than 4 years old, I painted both cars with Dullcote to kill the gloss.  And since they're so old, I also added surface rust on the horizontals using pastels - particularly on the hoods, because of the engine heat helping the process along.  

Our dull, faded '36 makes quite the contrast with the brilliant, week-old '53 Pontiac parked ahead of it.

  • Dirt.  You know what else wasn't that good?  Roads.  Most country roads were still dirt in the '50s, or maybe paved with gravel or cinders if you were lucky.  Most folks didn't wash their cars much either, since they'd get dirty so quickly on those roads - so rural cars got pulled into a downward spiral of dullness and filth.  Shiny cars were for city folk!  So I added a general coating of dirt, particularly on the fenders and wheels, and ground in 16 years' worth of use into the drivers' seats as well.  The dirt and rust also served to dim down the cream yellow, to more of a proper background level.

The downtrodden Buick parked on Della St. begs the question:  where is the owner shopping?
Is he bargain-hunting at Matt-Mart, or has he been saving his money for the jewelry store?

Another of my "someday" jobs will be to make a pass through the whole automobile fleet, and apply these considerations across the board for a coordinated look, as we do with the freight car fleet.  Here's a good target shot for that fleet look, from Detroit in what looks to be 1951.

What are some of the things this photo tells us about the street "scene" in that period?

  1. Very few cars are shiny
  2. Very few cars are even clean - even in a city on paved streets
  3. Very few cars are on whitewalls
  4. Very few cars have full wheelcovers, rather than just hubcaps
  5. Very few cars are luxury cars, or even from the "mid-priced field"
  6. Very few cars are not a dark color
  7. Very few cars are pre-war
So this demonstrates that if we're wanting to build a representative sample for our model streets, it behooves us to concentrate on the mundane rather than the exotic, just as with freight cars, for the majority of the fleet.  (Now, if you'd like to join me for a car-spotting deep-dive on this beautiful shot, see below.**)

And in any case, thanks for reading, and let's hear what you think in the comments!

** OK what gems does this feast for the eyes hold?  

  • The newest car I can make out is the '50 Chevy front & center.  The one back in traffic might be a '51.
  • The second-oldest car I can see is the '39 LaSalle back in traffic.  Interestingly it also is one of the cleanest - might well be a chauffeured car.  Old money has no problem with old things.
  • The oldest car is the beater '35 Ford behind the LaSalle.  Virtually everything else on the street is post-war - at most, six model-years old.  
  • Is the Hudson getting a push?  Or is the guy behind him just that impatient!  Any further up his pipe and the guy could see daylight through the grille.  Same with the poor Studebaker 3 cars ahead.
  • Hey look - a black '49 Mercury coupe that hasn't gotten the James Dean chop & slam job yet!  Rebel Without a Cause is still 4 years off - but in the 21st century, there are nearly no stock ones left.  
  • Check out Mr. Car-Proud in the black '50 Pontiac coupe!  He's got a glistening Simoniz job going, along with gleaming wide-whites.  Totally out-sparkles the equally new car next to him.  
  • In the absence of any new Cadillacs, the light-colored '49 Olds wins the technology prize, boasting the only OHV V-8 in the whole shot.  The LaSalle and the Fords & Mercs have V-8s, of course, but they're flatheads.  (The engines!)
  • Man I love this stuff.  Hey, where are the pavement markings?!