A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

January 2, 2016

The year ahead.

The Brooke area on the Aquia Line is just about done.

Last year ended on a nice note as my wife and I both made birdies on the last round of golf we played on News Years Eve. Birdies are rare events for us, so we celebrate them when they happen. It was also a good year on the Aquia Line. The layout from Falmouth to Brooke is just about complete. This includes new flooring and skirts in that part of the layout. Just a few scenic details remain, but it's nice to have such a large piece of the layout done. The Model Railroad Video Plus crew visited in October to record it for an upcoming episode.

The next step on the Aquia Line is to begin laying track at Aquia Landing. Much of that track is on a wharf, so a I need to install that before  the track can go in. If I wanted to begin operations before that, I could lay a few tracks at the west end of Aquia Landing, and use it as a fiddle yard. But before doing that I have two major projects to complete, the Antebellum Alexandria Waterfront Diorama for the Alexandria Lyceum, and my next book for Kalmbach on marine terminals, wharves and ships. The Port of Los Angeles layout is for the book.  The PoLA layout is coming along nicely, and is fully operational. I need to wrap it up fairly soon.

I also have some new products for Alkem Scale Models coming out in 2016. The first is the HO Scale chain link fence. These are being etched now and should be available for sale in late January, 2016. Stay tuned for more new stuff from Alkem Scale Models too.

I am also considering a new WWI theme layout, possibly in On30 or O14 scale. The 009 scale Cambrai layout is scheduled to go to the B&O Museum, so that will be off my hands.

When I was working on the Model Railroads Go to War book, I purchased a few O scale WWI items, in particular an Neil Sayer Baldwin Gas Mechanical (shown at the left) and a bunch of figures from PLM. The gas mechanical was used by the US Army to support operations near the front. The other important engine the US Army used was a Baldwin 2-6-2 Tank Engine. That is not available in O scale. With only the gas mechanical available as an engine for the layout, I am thinking a very small switching layout depicting a front line supply depot might be interesting. Unlike my earlier layout set in Nov, 1917 in Flanders, this one would be set in July or August, 1918 in the Argonne or Vosges. This would allow me to try some more summer scenery, which I think I would enjoy.  There is a French Company that makes RTR freight cars for this era, so a lot of scratch building would not be necessary. The gas mech is an etched kit that I would need to build. Eventually I could scratch build the 2-6-2 if I like how the WWI layout works out (though the Backwoods Miniatures 2-6-2 is close).

Why another layout?  Several reasons, not the least of which is I like building layouts. The WWI layout would be portable and would be taken to shows as part of the 100th year commemoration of the United States involvement in WWI. In particular it would  honor my namesake grandfather, Bernard Kempinski,  who served in the Army in WWI as a stable boy. He enlisted and lied about his age (he was 15). When he arrived at his unit in France, the commanders assigned him to the stables as they did not believe he was old enough to be in combat.

So there is a lot to look forward to in 2016. I hope you all have a prosperous and healthy new year, and that you continue to read and comment on this blog.


  1. That French site is intriguing. Very nice. The French did narrow-gauge with a certain je ne sais quoi.
    Assuming your scale is 1:43, rather than 1:48 (the Sayer kit appears to be 7mm - 1ft/1:43) then there was a kit made for a Baldwin 4-6-0 by Wrightlines. It's out of production now but ebay might be a source. Admittedly, I think the 4-6-0 was mainly used on the British front but there was a degree of make-do-and-mend and a serviceable loco was a serviceable loco. Bachmann have also promised a rtr version of the 4-6-0 in OO9 for some time in 2016.

    1. Yes, the 4-6-0 is primarily British use in WWI. Most of the UK WWI rolling stock is available. I have a good amount of it in 009.

      If I want to go O gauge (actually 1:43 as you noted), I will have to kit bash or scratch build a 2-6-2.

      Those French Pershing cars are very expensive at 60 Euro per car. But they do look nice.