March 12, 2012

Williamsburg Trip, Day 1

I just completed a weekend trip to the Williamsburg area to tour some museums and visit layouts. The trip was a great success and I will document it over two posts as there was so much that I saw. The itinerary started with a visit to the U.S. Army Transportation Museum at Fort Eustis. Gerry Fitzgerald met me there. After a quick lunch and a ride alongside the C&O we visited John Roberts O Scale layout.

He took us around the Williamsburg area to see three other layouts, two HO and Ed Rappe's giant O Scale PRR Horseshoe curve layout. Gerry returned home while I stayed in Williamsburg to have dinner with Major General (Retired) Robert Sunell and his wife Joanne. The next day I went for a run through Colonial Williamsburg and then visited the Mariner's Museum. They were observing the 150th Anniversary of the Battle between of Hampton Roads between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia. There was all kinds of activities going on there.

I'll cover the trip in two posts, one for each day.

Haupts frock coat next to an SMR Trains model

Day 1: Fort Eustis Transportation Museum


The Transportation Museum was much better than I expected, even though they did not have the US Army supply wagon that I was looking for. They had a colonial era Conestoga wagon and a later 1890s era Escort wagon. However, they had many other interesting displays.

Of particular interest to me was the civil war railroad display, including Brig Gen Haupts frock coat.



Biographers state that Haupt was a small framed man and his coat reinforces that. It was quite small. It was reported that when he first entered West Point at age 14 he was too small to handle the regulation musket.  Based on his coat size I suspect that Haupt weighed about 120 to 130 pounds.

Close up of the fabric on Haupt's frock coat















Inspecting this coat confirmed what I suspected with respect to the fabric used. The cloth is a much lighter weight than the frock coat that I purchased from a reenactment sutler. When I look at ACW era photos the way the fabric lays and creases on the senior officers made me suspect that it was a lighter weight than I purchased.  This confirms it.









I got some photos of the wagons, particularly their suspensions and tack. Even though they were not exactly what I was looking for, I hope these will aid me in making accurate model wagons for my layout.

Escort Wagon from the Post Civil War Era.
Civil War era river boat
There were many other interesting displays at the museum. I took lots of photos, but I'll just post a couple highlights.

The U.S.Army railroad yard was under construction and we could not visit it.




Vietnam era gun truck













IED damaged HMMWV in a Iraq war display. The museum is quite up to date.
In the afternoon we visited layouts. John Roberts was a gracious host and tour guide. He was the former president of the NMRA and convinced me to re-up for two more years.


John Roberts and Gerry Fitzgerald




John's layout is an O scale depiction of the C&O. He models two major scenes, the Newport News area and a location on the James River up in the mountains. It is coming along nicely.









Overview of John's layout






Next we visited Ed Rappe's 2500 square foot PRR Horseshoe Curve theme layout. As Ed describes, this is the same as the layout he had in Fairfax, Virginia but on steroids. It is amazing. He expects to be operating in about one year.

Later we visited two HO layouts that are in various stages of construction, Jack Brown's Western Maryland and Gale Trieber's  freelanced layout.


(L to Right) John, Gerry, Blair, and Ed Rappe. The plan is a CAD drawing of the layout

Electronics and TV controls for the staging yards. That is MG Tower above.

Extensive staging under the Horseshoe Curve

Altoona Yards - wow!


Dinner with Bob and Joanne Sunell was a treat. Bob and I worked together on many armor vehcile projects over the years. Before I knew him he was the Deputy Program manager for the M1 Abrams Tank. Later he was the Program Manager for the M1A1 and the commander of TACOM. He has many great stories about those programs. He was a combat veteran in Korean and Vietnam. He was too young for the actual war in Korea, but spent two years as an infantry man hunting down North Korean stay behinds that refused to surrender.  If you want to know more about Major General Sunell see this Historical Analysis Series study titled  DEVELOPING THE ARMORED FORCE: EXPERIENCES AND VISIONS




1 comment:

  1. Very cool. And, very sorry I missed it. Would've been a fun and informative trip. Hope to catch you on your next jaunt out.

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