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 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.

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.