I attended the RPM Conference in Naperville IL last weekend. I enjoy attending RPM meets. You have the chance to see some of the finest modeling in a variety of scales and to meet the people behind the work. The Naperville meet is all about the seminars and clinics, although this year I didn’t get to any of them because Susan and I went as vendors for OST Publications and we spent our time at the booth in the vendor hall selling OST Pubs books. One of the things I did do was spend a bit of time in the model display room and, as usual, there was lots of great work to see. The Naperville show is primarily focused on HO and N scales but scales like S, Z and P48 also have a presence. This year the only P48 work was by a modeler named Robert Stears from Montana.
I had the enjoyable opportunity to speak with Robert at some length and hope to present his work in greater depth in a future volume of The Missing Conversation. For now my barely presentable photos will have to suffice. They don’t do justice to the quality of his work. It’s entirely my mistake; I should have packed the camera tripod too.
What made his Colorado Midland, Hanrahan reefer cars unique was the construction method and the material used. He wanted to model seven cars to show all the phases of their service life. Rather than scratchbuild seven individual cars, Robert made the car sides and roofs from an acrylic based plastic called Rowmark and utilized low power laser technology to etch the siding and door patterns for his CM reefers. The Rowmark can be cut, etched and scribed with the laser, unlike conventional styrene, which can only be cut with the laser but not etched. He did the master designs in Corel Draw software and sent them to York Modelmaking Ltd. in Great Britain. Robert discovered this company through an ad in the Model Railway Journal, a British magazine dedicated to finescale modeling that he subscribes to. Combined with the relative ease of making and modifying CAD drawings, the laser technique allows Robert to produce and build multiple versions of these cars quickly and easily. I find this process fascinating and I feel it represents a growing aspect of the future, that of individual modelers taking the design and manufacturing processes into their own hands to get the models they desire. Technology makes all this possible at reasonable costs. It’s a new day folks.
In addition, the trucks are also scratchbuilt. The masters are by Bill Meredith and cast by Valley Brass & Bronze. Protocraft P48 wheelsets are used. From the photos I surmise that Robert used Kadee couplers. Robert also produced finished artwork in Corel Draw for the decals, which were made by Ron Roberts of Rail Graphics Inc.
York Modelmaking Ltd.: www.yorkmodelmaking.com
Some info on the Colorado Midland: http://www.daeunert.com/Colorado/html/colorado_midland.html
Naperville RPM Conference: http://www.railroadprototypemodelers.com/