Here is just a collection of things that I enjoy and will give you a better idea of the world I live in....
Please take some time to browse through my previous postings on the left side of the page.

I hope you enjoy my random thoughts and blog subjects...
thanks - Mike

ferroequinologist (n)

Latin ferrum iron + Latin equus horse + -logist
A railroad or model railroad enthusiast. (From Dow's Dictionary of Railway Quotations.) "Ferroequino" derives from the Latin for "iron horse," an early term for a locomotive.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Research makes for a great layout

Its a lazy Sunday afternoon and I was doing some fundamental research for my layout. As you may or may not know, I model from 1940 to 1945. This era is interesting to me due to my father being in the 101st Airborne and my Mom the bride awaiting his return during WWII, they were married on Dec 7th 1941 (sound familiar?). Moreover I, like most guys, are fascinated by the War and its affects worldwide. It was when the railroads were in their zenith and the home front was geared up and a well oiled (and lean) machine. But there are a ton of things you have to realize when locking yourself into a certain era to model. Certain sacrifices need to be made such as eliminating models that did not appear in that era. This include automobiles, rolling stock, and locomotives. (Gone is that nice shiny 57 chevy and GP 35's in my collection). If the box car is over 40 feet in length you better question what type it was and what year it was produced. Only early 1st generation diesels are allowed and of course the good part of this equation is lots and lots of steam, well worn, weathered and beaten up steam. Making things nice and clean with fresh paint was not a priority during these years but rather how much equipment, troops, and supplies they could move was the theme of the day for railroads.

So to keep truly honest with myself when I model, and since I did not live in that era, I have to research a great deal on how it was to live in the good ole USA during the war. The sacrifices that were made and the things that would seem alien in today's world that were readily acceptable during this time frame.  Its one of those situations where I wished I would have asked mom and dad about these things when they were alive but such is life. But I guess deep inside me, I model this era as a tribute to them and the "greatest generation".

With that said, you really have to determine what works when planning, the automobiles is easy, if it was made after 1945 then it goes on Ebay. Actually due to the war private automobile production ceased, even Lionel stopped production of trains and retooled to make compasses used by the Navy and other shipboard devices.

War bond posters went everywhere so I make it a point to place these on fences, buildings, and interiors...
Gas ration tags were placed on automobile windshields as well because everyone was classified by the amount of gas they needed for personal use  and were restricted to that amount. Another way to tell your story is the price of gas that would be on the station sign was in the 19 cent range in 1941 and 21 cent range at the end of the war. Longing for these days now?

Rubber, metal, even butter was in short supply and rationed so your layout should not have a gas station full of new tires. I am reminded of the movie "A Christmas Story" when they get a flat tire during their Christmas tree shopping trip and father takes pride in the time it takes to change one bald flat tire for the full bald spare.

Other facets of life you might not consider are mail boxes were painted green not the red white and blue we are use too. Stop signs were Yellow and Black not red and white as they are now.
There was no such thing as a yield sign, there were not introduced until 1950.

Simple things like the way the roads were marked where different. Until 1971 the center line was white rather than the yellow that is around today. Due to the lack of technology with reflective signs, most signs were not reflective as a whole but rather they contained "cats eyes" which were small reflectors that were used to spell out the sign such as this railroad cross buck.

I guess my thrust behind this post is to influence you to do your homework if you choose to take the route that I have in modeling a particular era in railroading. You know 95% of the people that will see my work  may never notice these minor details, but to me its important to do it right for that 5% that may have lived during that time in history. It is really a tribute to them and the sacrifices they made makes it worth the effort.


Cristake said...

What a great post here, sir! I'm sure that this text would fit any magazine or could successfully dub any documentary film about that era and/or this great hobby. And in terms of rail modelling and WW2, I remember I read somewhere on the internet that even Churchill and Göring were into railroad modelling... (Walt Disney, too). Is fascinating how this hobby is connected to so many other aspects of history, culture, society - the life and time themselves.

Best regards from Romania

Mike Jobe (espeemike on the blogs) said...

Thanks Chris for your kind comments and you are absolutely correct this hobby has transcended many borders, beliefs and eras. This post for instance is a great example, I would have never imagined meeting and befriending someone from Romania.

regards from Texas USA