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Down At The Station, Early In The Morning….

September 2, 2015 in Diorama

What would prompt a person to build a model of his home town railway station? Perhaps the nostalgia of train trips to Boston to attend a Red Sox base ball game as a child. Or maybe reliving the days when a lot of folk took a train rather than drive a car. But in this case the model was constructed to be the centerpiece of a large train layout that never got built.
I started this scratch built project in 1992 and having no architectural training it was a “close-enough-for-government-work” build. I could find no blueprints of this 1910 New Haven railway station and only had a few photos of it in it’s glory days. I visited the abandoned station and took measurements with a 30 foot tape measure, making notes as I went along. At one point some guy came out of the building and asked me what I was doing. When I told him, he asked why I wanted to build a model of the place. “Why not?” was my reply. He gave me a “look” and disappeared back into the station.
I used a lot of plastic brick sheets as well as aftermarket “N” and “HO” windows and doors. Having never done a build like this before it was a bit of a challenge. The real station sits over the tracks so I had to prepare each step of the build as once a piece was glued in place there was no correcting it. The base is insulation foam sheeted with plastic, built from the ground up. The station itself was built across the tracks and was the last thing constructed. It took about six months to complete it all, the interior concourse had some detail like benches, passengers, shops and lighting. But once the roof went on there is little to see. Oh well…I lost interest in this tiny “N” scale when I saw my first “G” scale locomotive. The station model is now displayed at the local historical for the public to view.

11 additional images. Click to enlarge

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38 responses to Down At The Station, Early In The Morning….

  1. A well deserved place, i guess. And i hope it will have a lot of attention.
    Well done, Mike. Thats excellent !

  2. It has a certain atmosphere about it which is always a difficult thing to achieve. These models are always difficult to get right so it is quite an achievement.

  3. Mike, that’s (IMHO) what modeling is about. Recreation of your past. I’d say you did a wonderful job of it, too. Beat that Walters catalogue to pieces, huh?

    • Thanks for the nice comment. Believe or not, all the detail stuff was purchased at a local hobby shop that had a fantastic selection of aftermarket stuff (the green REA van and tractor trailer truck were resin kits, very little in 1950’s era back then). In 1992 I had no idea of a Walthers catalog, wish I did at the time. The hobby shop alas, is no longer in business.

  4. You have captured a piece of history and personal nostalgia all in one. Most people won’t understand the love or passion we have for this hobby. To them we are building toys. However, what you achieved is the Holy Grail of our hobby which is creating and capturing a piece of history tied to personal memories. Well done!!!!!

    • Thank you for the nice compliment. You are correct, I think most folk on this site build “from memory”. Having a connection to your build, in some way, adds to the enjoyment of the project.

  5. Impressive work, Mike – and nicely presented. I like that a lot. 🙂

  6. 🙂 … Greetings … 🙂 :
    I like that, it has a certain degree of WARMTH, Mr. Rogers Neighbor Hood comes to mind, in a nostalgic sense.
    Thanks Mike.

    • Thank you for the nice comment. Every town or village had a rail way station (or depot) and most folk have forgotten how important these structures were to their community in terms of travel and economic impact. Many communities realize the historic “warmth” you mention and have re purposed these fine buildings.

  7. Beautiful and thoughtful work, and nicely photographed. Clearly, you had a commitment to the image in your mind that’s played out here. About 85% of the postings here on iModeler are aircraft-related, so some people might be scratching their heads at the moment looking for wings ‘n things, but for me this is more what modelling is about- building to an ideal or an Idea rather than to a formula. Stand up and take a bow.

    • Thank you Rob for your insightful comments. I enjoy building things “outside the box” (no pun intended), I think it helps to develop skills that can aid one to become a better modeler in their favorite build topic. Messing around with trains made me a better ship model builder. So many facets (electricity for one) in the train hobby gave me the confidence to add lights to my ship models. Some guys might be “scratching their heads” on this build but you’ll never run out of enthusiasm for model building if you try a different build every now and then.

  8. A HO trainmodeler myself: I absolutely love your diorama! A beautiful two level trainstation with nice detailing. I also rebuilt my Gorinchem Holland station with all the trains I used to take as a kid

    Very nice!

    • Maurits, thank you for the comments. I read once that there is no common language, no membership dues or special requirements to belong to the exclusive international club…just a love of trains. Perhaps some day you’ll post photos of your Gorinchem Holland station.

  9. Fantastic. And it tells a story as well about our past. Loved your comment about “why not”. Why not indeed.

  10. Mike , great build you did a great job of recreating the look and feel of the station . I saw it back in the 70s and imho you nailed it . Just one thing where’s the racing stripe ? 😉

    • Gary were you lost in Pawtucket the day you ran across this station?? At track level most stations had advertisments for different products. After this whole thing was built I wished I had a tiny 1950’s Coast Guard recruitment poster to put on the track platform (but no racing stripe, hey, it’s 1957!). Thanks for the nice comment.

  11. Love it! What a fun project to tackle, and use creative license where needed. Great job – it just looks fantastic. Kudos!

    • Thank you Greg for your comment. “Creative license” (also know as “Selective Compression” or “Forced Perspective” in the model train world) is an essential component in model trains layout. The builder tries to catch the essence of a scene but is usually forced to scale down the project to fit the layout space. I viewed a beautiful model of Boston’s South Station in HO scale that looked spot on. But the builder stated it was cut in half in scale size as it would have taken up way too much space on his basement layout.

  12. This is really cool Mike. (Having dabbled with HO a few years ago,) I still have all my rolling stock.

  13. Wonderful build Mike, to try and recreate something on of that scale and make it fit, is amazing.

  14. I think you’ve managed to show this scale of railway modelling to its full advantage, you can get so much into a small space, yet you’ve done it without “crowding” it, as I’ve seen so many times. Great stuff!

  15. As a sometime model railway enthusiast I truly appreciate all the effort you have put in to this diorama. This type of model exemplifies scratch building in utilising all the skills necessary to come up with such a fine result. Well done Mike!

    • Tony,
      there is no such thing as a “sometime model rail enthusiast”, you’re a “reformed” train guy like me. You have to ask your self: Do you enjoy watching a freight train go by at a road crossing or do you get upset it’s not moving fast enough? Do you have a ball cap with the logo of a particular railroad on it along with a bunch of RR pins attached to it? Do you tell your friends that your going to pick up your dry cleaning but secretly go to hobby shop that sells nothing but trains?. If you answer yes to any of these questions, you might be a train guy. Thanks for the nice comments!

  16. That is amazing Mike! I’m glad to hear it is in a museum, there is no other place for a masterpiece like that!
    I remember when I was about ten years old I had started building a small gauge railway with my father. It was on the back of an old door layed flat. The station was being assembled and we had made a road bridge over the tracks, when I tripped and fell on it and smashed it to bits! That was the end of that one!

    • Thank you Richard for the nice comments. If I didn’t have so many plastic kits to build, I’d build a small HO layout on the back of a door. I’ve never tripped over a train layout but I watched a large ship model slide off my work bench, not a pretty sight!

  17. Mike, thanks for the idea about picking up my drycleaning.
    Most of my family on both sides worked for the B & O, back when it was in business.
    I was always drawn to dockside operation down at the harbor, which would take up my whole house, so no go. I do have the engine, however.
    I feel the pull of the otherside, whenever I’m in a train shop, which are becoming as rare as other hobby emporia.
    My son is a train guy, so I figure I’ve done my duty.
    My father bought me an American Flyer set, long gone. He had a large platform made for it, which outlasted the trains. Both, unfortunately, are long gone. We had to lash the platform to the roof of the car, to bring it home from the lumberyard. It was an exciting journey!

    • “Hobo is my game, B&O is my middle name
      it keeps me out of county jails, that’s why I’m riding the rails…”

      Great stories and memories.
      A dock side layout is very cool, ships, trains, tank farms refineries, grain silos, scrap yards, warehouses, what could be better?
      I always wanted to build a model of Ford’s River Rouge plant, that would take up the whole house in “N” scale, in HO I’d have to move to a bigger home. I have a 1930’s era Lionel passenger set that I set up at Chritmas along with a village. My first memory of trains was my Dad’s American Flyer Santa Fe set, I was about 3 years old. Yes, I’m a train nut!

  18. Really great Mike,
    That is true scale modelling- I always account for a lot of the things I do around the house as being byproducts of what i have learned by building models. I have hopes to get my Operation Praying Mantis Diorama off the ground finally- will involve a lot of proportional measurement and prep much like what you did. Mind you, I can’t measure an aircraft carrier deck! I’ll rely on pictures instead…

    • Thank you Dan…every picture tells a story, don’t it? Revell and other plastic manufactures designed a lot of their military kits from pictures rather than blueprints or drawings as many were considered security sensitive (even though the box art claimed “Made from Official Drawings”).

  19. your amazing mike

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