February 15, 2011

My layout philosophy - Prototype or Freelanced?

I occasionally get notes from folks with questions and comments about this project. I thought a brief explanation of my modeling  philosophy on this project might be in order. This is an off-shoot of the dreaded prototype versus free lance discussion you frequently read in the model railroad press. If it makes you feel any better, ship modelers face the same issue. Noted ship historian Howard Chapelle once said, and I paraphrase, "one should never build an inaccurate ship model as it will throw off future modelers that assume you did your work correctly." I guess he is not in the freelance camp.

The Dictator never served on the A&F as far as I know,
but I may have one nonetheless because of the factors
I mention in the text.
While I am trying to be historically accurate, I am taking certain liberties with the layout, such as naming certain features and including some things that might not be appropriate for the USMRR A&F. The layout project is supporting several sometimes conflicting  purposes, first and foremost is to recreate the USMRR A&F Line in late March- early April 1863, second to support new products for Alkem Scale Models, and third to act as a prop for a book I am writing on modeling ACW RRs. So from time to time you may see some unusual things on the RR. I will usually point these out when I show them, but I wanted to clarify my approach in case some questions arise. So this puts me in the strong proto-freelance camp.

The question of gauge immediately pops to mind. I am modeling in standard gauge O scale, which by an historical quirk is actually 5 foot gauge. While 5 foot gauge railroads existed in the ACW, the USMRR was 4 feet 8.5 inches. I've had to adjust some things to reflect this, but I am happy living with it.

Then there are my W&A locos. What are they doing here? When I acquired these, SMR did not offer undecorated models. Eventually they will be repainted to more appropriate names, but for now my story is that they are captured and transfered to the Aquia line. The real USMRR would have probably repainted them as soon as they reached Chattanooga under Union hands, but I have other things on the do list in front of that. Furthermore, I am aware that the McCallum,  Haupt and Whiton did not run on the Aquia line, but I do not plan to repaint them.

The engine terminal and extensive fortifications at Falmouth, the planned mills at Brook and Accokeek, the location of the wye and Burnside wharf at the landing are all conscious decisions to deviate from prototype practice.  Furthermore, the track plan is severely condensed and items relocated to better fit the space available.

Bearing this in mind,  if you see a glitch, by all means let me know.  Nothing is set in stone and fixes are usually possible.
The ironclad USS Passaic is another foobie that might end up on the layout,
without the cannon ball dents of course. See my earlier posts about why.

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