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.

April 24, 2022


 I am getting ready to head to Florida via Autotrain to attend Modelfest 2022 hosted by the International Plastic Model Society (IPMS) Space Coast Division. My twin brother is a member. Several months ago he suggested I attend and bring some models to show. The meet has the usual model categories plus some special theme categories. The one that caught my attention was the category called Cinema Militaire. This category is supposed to depict "any misrepresented military equipment from TV or Movies."My first thought were the T-55 tanks that were used to represent Pz-IIIs in the Russian movie "Invinicible" aka as "Tankers."  But, I decided to build a diorama from a different movie. Can you recognize the movie from the images?

Here's a hint, not only is the tank used in the scenes incorrect (it is a M-41 and the unit in the photo did not use M-41s), but the movie location/set itself is "misrepresented," though it was an amazing place to film an urban combat war movie.

April 15, 2022

Daily Double

Today must be my lucky day as I received copies of two publications that have articles that I wrote.

The first was the cover story in the April-June 2022 issue of Military Miniature. The article is a scenario for a war game based on the fight at Dead Man's Corner in Normandy and D-Day plus 1.  The article did not include all the graphics I sent them including the situation map, which I am enclosing here. This might help if you read the article to understand where the various locations are in relation to each other. 
They also did not use all the photos I sent, So I enclosed one above.

The second piece was the lead chapter for Eric White's new book, ”Building What’s In a Photo” by Kalmbach Media. I like how they did the two page spread to start off the book. If you ever wondered who was probably the first ever railfan photographer you should read this chapter.

On Thursday, Jack Thompson visited the Aquia Line. Jack is a dedicated civil war historian, re-enactor, and model railroader.  Jack was an extra actor and historical consultant to the Gettysburg series of films.  He was also in the movie "Glory." 

He was a US Marine in real life. He is also an accomplished model builder. He builds1/22.3 scale model railroad equipment that he runs on a friend's outdoor layout. 

Here he is posing with the Union staff from the Gettysburg movie. Jack is on the right, Ken Burns is the on his right and in front. The other actors from the movie are also in the image. 

The next shot is a screen grab of him in the movie.

It was fun to share the railroad with a guy as knowledgable as Jack, especially when it comes to civil war era drill. 

Jack pointed out a mistake in how my squad is marching into Brooke. They normally marched in column four abreast, but I have my squad marching only in 3 abreast. Jack graciously volunteered to paint the figures that would be needed to make the scene more accurate.  So I gave him the figures to paint and he took them home with him.

April 6, 2022

Model Railroader Magazine's Meet the Modeler Series.

Model Railroader magazine has published a brief profile on me as part of their "Meet the Modeler" series. You can find it here.

Meet the Modeler: Bernie Kempinski

Yes, that picture is a few years old. 

April 4, 2022

Chris Nevard's Blog

Chris Nevard, an accomplished model railroad photographer and modeler from the UK,  has been posting daily photos of his modeling projects. I recommend you take a look. He posts new photos daily here.    I particularly like this image.

April 3, 2022

Bonsai Bernie

The repotted tree. 

We are back from Birmingham, AL where we were visiting with my daughter, son in law, and granddaughter.  We are so happy to have everyone healthy and adorable. 

This was probably the first trip to Alabama when we didn't bring a car load of tools for home repair projects.  We managed to play a little golf in between watching Merritt sleep. 

We came home to find spring in the air, though the weather was a tad chilly at times. That means it's time for lawn and garden care. This year I had a new task, repotting a Honeysuckle bonsai tree that I purchased last September in upstate New York.

At the nursery in NY
The photo on the right side is what it looked like at the nursery. It didn't look like much to me, but my brother Rob, who is the bonsai expert, said that this tree is probably close to 100 years old. The price was very reasonable probably because it looked like it was neglected. There were other trees at this nursery that were selling for $12-18K, so this was a "great deal." Rob said he should buy it, but it wouldn't grow in Florida as it needs colder weather. 

So I said I would buy it, keep it in Virginia and he can tell me how to take care of it.  I know honeysuckles grow here as I would smell their flowers as I walked by a large group of them near the Braddock Steet metro station.

As I carried it to the cash register several other bonsai customers admired it and said it was "great deal." I don't know if they were being honest or trying to comfort me on buying what appeared to be to be a dead bush.

In winter storage in my yard

So last winter I placed it against the house with the soil covered with mulch. I watered it a few times, but mostly I didn't do anything to it. It really didn't look like much. 

But this spring it started to bloom again. 

Yesterday Rob sent me a pot from Florida that his friend Bruce sold to us. Rob also sent me some high quality bonsai soil. Today I re-potted the tree while Rob watched me on FaceTime and advised me on what to do. 

Getting ready to repot

Removing the old soil

The old soil was some type of tiny marble gravel. None of the roots were growing in the white gravel. They all were root bound around the perimeter. Rob said to remove all that soil and trim off the roots. 

We would replace the soil with high quality bonsai soil that contains several types of inorganic rock including crushed lava. The new roots would grow into the soil. The micro roots would actually grow in the lava gravel. 

Trimming roots

Once I had the old soil removed, I put a layer of the new soil in the pot and installed the tree. Rob advised me to plant the tree off center according to the golden rule. That required that I trim some more roots.

Then I had to wire the tree into the pot to prevent it from pushing out as the tree grew. Final layer of soil, some Osmocote fertilizer and a light watering. Now to see if it survives.  At some point it will bloom with yellow fragrant flowers. 

Back to trains soon.

Can you see the ant checking out the new planting?

The tree has some incredible burls that can only come from long life. The star pattern in the center is the remains of a dead branch that Rob carved last Fall while he was here.