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.

May 26, 2022

Mid-West Wanderings, Part 2

Coal mine off Corridor H near Mt Storm WV

After completing several jobs at my son and daughter-in-law's house, the road trip continued with my driving to Indianapolis to attend the joint NMRA/RPM Indy Junction Meet. The meet was very successful. About 500 people attended. The hotel was very large and it offered multiple clinic rooms, space for several model train layouts, and two large rooms for vendors.  It was great fun to meet new people, especially folks that say they read this blog! Thanks. Leave a comment if you can. I was greeted at the registration desk by my wife's 2nd cousin, Barbara Soward. She is a model railroader who is married to Fred Soward, the NMRA Louisville Division superintendent. 

Nice limestone quarry model in the contest room

Some type of furnace model in the contest room
RPM Meets and NMRA conventions have a lot of similarities but with just a few differences. For example. the NMRA had a model contest room where NMRA personnel judged the models.  I could not see the name tags for the contest models, so I don't know who made them, But, there was also a RPM room where folks could display models without judging.  This worked very well in my opinion as the judging room was more formal with visitors required to be quiet and to leave drinks at the door. Meanwhile, the RPM room was more social with folks gathering to discuss models and enjoy the experience. 

The judging  is part of the Master Model Railroader process, but it also adds a competition where the "best" models are selected.  I don't get too worked up over the model contests as there is a lot of subjectivity involved.  That is why I tend to prefer the RPM approach.  I had some of my civil war railroad models on display in the RPM room. 

RPM meets also have a tradition of reimbursing clinicians for their presenting a clinic at the meet. For example, at the MARPM, all clinicians get free registration. Normally, the NMRA doesn't not do that. They do reimburse some of the officers' expenses and sometimes for the key note speaker. Mike Skibbe, the RPM manager at Indy Junction, invited me to attend, and the meet did cover my registration fee but none of my other expenses. Nonetheless, that was welcome as the travel expenses were somewhat high this year with gas at $5.30 a gallon.

Nice Great Lakes lumber schooner model at the RPM by Greg Rich

Scene on John Dick's layout 

I presented 2 clinics at the meet describing my Aquia Line progress, I attended 5 other clinics, and visited one home layout, which was John Dick's Milwaukee Road Beer Line. 

Kevin Kayser's clinic on the C&O in Kentucky was neat. He uses a lot of Alkem Scale Models products.  

Bill Darnaby presented a clinic on his Maumee Railroad. About half way through he said, "well that's finished, what's next? "Then he proceeded to show pictures of the Monon RR, a favorite of his youth. I thought he was going to say he was going to rebuild the layout as the Monon. But he calmed my fears by describing how he is just building detailed, scratch built models of his favorite railroad just to keep building. He does not plan to dismantle the Maumee. 

Bill Neale gave a nice talk on what he did on his layout during COVID and after a successful back surgery. His changes included new lighting, fascia paint and operating signals. The latter was a big job. 

Gerry Albers presented a talk on lessons learned from building his huge Virginian RR set in WV. Gerry lives near Cincinnati, but was unavailable for touring when I was there the week before. 

Kieth Kohlman did a clinic on Realistic Outdoor Photography. He showed many examples of artful photographs of his N Scale models and modules taken out doors. 

Beautiful O scale turnouts

I did see some nice O Scale track work and switch stands for sale in the vendor area.  

It was fun to see a lot of folks I know. Notably, Doug Tagsold showed me photos of yet another expansion of his narrow gauge railroad. He is an amazingly fast builder. 

Alas, I developed a sore throat the first night there, so I returned to Lexington the next day after my final clinic was over. Luckily, my son runs a COVID testing lab, so he tested me as soon as I got to his house, and then again next day when I developed cold like symptoms such as runny nose, head ache, and sinus congestion. Luckily, I did not have COVID, just a cold. But, that meant the rest of my trip to see my granddaughter and her parents had to be cancelled. I also missed out on a lot of planned activities at Indy Junction.

I stayed with my son for one extra day to finish installing a new stair railing to his basement. That job was really difficult as they bought a pre-fab-ed aluminum stair railing that was designed for 35 degrees. But their existing  stair railing was 45 degrees. It took me all day to get it installed.

I returned home via the Corridor H road from Weston, WV to  Strasburg, VA. This route is not yet complete so there are some 2-lane sections. But the new 4-lane sections run along the ridge tops through some beautiful mountain scenery. I passed the old B&O line through Buckhannon and then through the Western Maryland RR territory of Elkins, Parsons, Thomas and Davis. I saw a coal mine with lots of trucks in action, and the CSX marshaling yard near Mount Storm power plant, but all shrouded in fog. I returned safe and sound, but very tired. I did another COVID test when I got home and I was negative. Luckily the cold symptoms are waning and I feel better now.  It was a good trip, despite being cut short and not getting to see my granddaughter. 

Former WM depot in Parsons, WV. I stopped there for a lunch break.

May 21, 2022

Mid-West Wanderings Part 1

View from Turkey Spur Overlook at Grandview Park


Amtrak Cardinal at Clifton Forge
My trip began with rain in Virginia, but by the time I was in the mountains of West Virginia the weather was glorious.

I stopped at Clifton Forge, VA to eat lunch. I was just in time to see the Amtrak Cardinal arrive. Then I stopped at Grandview State Park to take a break and do some hiking. I got some spectacular photos with the lead one probably my favorite.

I arrived in Lexington, KY at my son and Daughter-in-law's house where they surprised me with news that I was going to be a grand pa for a second time! So exciting.

Interior of the half dome at Cincinnati Union Terminal

The Alkem Scale Models pig?
The next morning I met John Burchnall, my host for the weekend, at the American Sign Museum for a weekend tour of sights and layouts in the Cincinnati area. We also visited the Cincinnati Union Terminal where we did some railfanning. Next we visited EnterTrainment.

One of the early rail scenes at EnterTrainment

These model buildings are nearly 8 feet tall
EnterTrainment is a spectacular indoor G scale model railroad. It is about 25,000 square feet. The venue also has a railroad museum, hobby shop and a fun house for kids and adults. While we were there we got the VIP treatment with a backstage tour. We also got to meet Je'rod Cherry, a former NFL defensive back with New England Patriots. He was doing working with Don Oeters, the owner of EnterTrainment, on some charity work.

Jerry Strangarity (l) and John Burchnall (r) at Jerry's layout

A detailed scene on Jerry's Layout
The next day we visited Jerry Strangarity's highly detailed Reading Railroad HO Scale layout, Jerry is a master builder of models and telescopes. The images show some examples of his fantastic work.
Coal Breaker scene on Jerry's layout

In the afternoon, I presented a talk on waterfront terminals and operations to the Cincy Division. They had a great audio visual set up. The talk was simultaneously broadcast on Zoom. They must have enjoyed it because they invited me back for another talk next year.

Chase and Muziki taking the Porsche to work
while I stay at the house to do projects

I returned to Lexington where Chase and Mizuki had prepared a smoked pork loin on their smoker. Then we roasted S'mores at the fire pit while we watched the Luna eclipse.
The next morning the kids took the Porsche to work, while I stayed home and did home improvement projects on their house.

The trip continues with a visit to Indianapolis for another NMRA event. 

May 12, 2022

On the Road Again

Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.” Ludwig Van Beethoven
Is there any doubt that model railroading can be considered art. This scene from 
Brian Kelly's HO Scale C&O layout might argue for it.

I returned from Florida last week and spent the rest of this week catching up and doing what we called in the Army "recovery."

The Florida trip was great. I took AMTRAK Autotrain there and back.   I had a roomette going down and coach seat coming back. The roomette was nice, but not as good as a night in a hotel. The coach seats are better than airplanes, but still not as comfy  as the roomette.

The train ride down was on time but coming back we were 5 hours late due to equipment trouble and then late crew change.  But, I was lucky both times as my car was one of the first to be unloaded.

Other highlights of the trip  include my first rounds of golf where there was money at stake. I actually ended up winning in both matches, thanks to a skin and closest to the pin in the first and  by sinking a long birdie putt in the other to win another skin in a scramble. If you are not a golfer, you have no idea what I just said, and that's OK. 

We visited two museums, the Brevard County Veteran's Museum and the Valiant Air Museum. 

Both were great.  The Brevard Museum had a nice variety of items on display from all services and across US History. These choppers were on display outside. 

Valiant Air has a great collection of restored aircraft. Only a few of them can still fly, but most are in pristine condition.  Here we see my Cayman GTS in front of a not so pristine Czech Mig.

We visited two model railroads. 
 On Sunday we visited Rich Bellanger’s new HO/HOn3 layout. Rich is a prolific and talented modeler in several genres- wooden ships (he built the model of the US Constitution at the Brevard Museum),  aircraft, armor, and trains. He has an interesting way of making concrete streets and sidewalks for his layout. He uses black gatorfoam and Rustoleum cement color texture spray paint. He then details cracks and expansion joints with a pencil. Simple and effective.

On Monday we visited Tom Johnson's bedroom-sized layout. It’s a beautiful gem with amazing attention to detail. Tom is the master of integrating roads into the backdrop. 
Tom said he gets his model  trees from a supplier in Poland. They flock them with miniature leaves that have the correct shapes. 

The IPMS meet went well. There were about 55 people that entered models, down from previous years.  There are some really nice models on display. All my models won awards including a second place for best large diorama for the Full Metal Jacket, and also for my Stay a While and Listen fantasy diorama.  My brother's large helicopter and tank diorama got the Cinema Militaire award.  

For some reason the creature from the Black Lagoon was a popular theme at the meet. They had a full size mannikin as well as several models of it. 

While we were at the show we were able to watch a Spacex launch from the town of Cape Canaveral. That was very cool.

As soon as I returned home, I attended an op session at Brian Kelly's C&O layout. It had been almost 20 years since I last saw it. He has created a gorgeous layout that is as well sceniced as any you might find. Plus, he uses several Alkem Scale Models kits on his layout.

I am departing tomorrow to attend two NMRA events on consecutive weekends. On 15 May I will be in Cincinnati presenting a talk to the Cinncy Division of the NMRA.

On the next weekend 20-21 May.  I will be at the Indy Junction NMRA and RPM meet.  In between I plan to see my kids and granddaughter.