|Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains(tm)
and New Boston and Donnels Creek:
New Boston Goes On the RoadIf you've been following along with our planning, groundbreaking, and framing articles, you know that we recently moved and are building a new, 100% raised garden railroad. I won't say I "bit off more than I could chew" in one year's time, but bitterly cold weather hit before I expected it to, so at the moment, the "new" railroad is sitting out in the cold with track installed, but no dirt or buildings.
In the meantime the Dayton (Ohio) Train Show, which has always been supportive of Large Scale and Garden Railroading, held this year's show only a few miles from my house.
Our local club the Miami Valley Garden Railway Society, had room to set up a larger railroad than they usually do, which was a good thing.
Except when they got everything planned out, there weren't enough buildings to make the railroad look "full." A call went out, and I answered, since my buildings are still in boxes from the move.
I couldn't be there for the setup, because I have a day job. I couldn't be there for the tear-down on Sunday, because I was attending a New Christy Minstrels concert near Toledo that day. (That's a story for a different audience, though.)
But one of the fellows leading the project lives only a few miles from me. So I asked him if they still needed buildings, and could he bring them home for me after tear-down. He was glad to agree.
Now some of my buildings are 30+ years old and have spent WAY too much time outside, considering how they were constructed. I went through and picked out several of my "trashbashed" city buildings, most of which I had cleaned up and fixed up for my last true open railroad (in 2015 - how time flies). (I was hoping to have an open railroad this year, but things just got away from me. We'll see.)
I also brought my original New Boston station, which is pretty solid for having been outside almost 15 years, summer and winter. Plus two North States bird feeders, the large red barn and the large church. I had left their twins on the old railroad when we sold the house, hoping I could replace them easily - which I did.
So Friday night, November 3, I loaded those buildings into my car. On Saturday morning, I took them over to the location of this year's train show.
When I got there, several communities were already set up. At first, I tried to use my buildings just to make some of the communities bigger. But the truth is, Piko buildings have a certain look, Pola buildings have a certain look, Aristo buildings have a certain look, and my "trashbashed" buildings have a certain look. I'm not saying that ANY of them is more realistic or prototypical or "in scale" than any of the others, just that mixing and matching wasn't working out.
I got there in plenty of time to keep trying things, and eventually I decided that I needed my own little town. So I set it up away from any of the others. Two of the storefronts I brought along had "issues," so I put them back in the car. Also, the barn didn't really look right anywhere - perhaps if I'd painted it first, it would have fit in better.
The buildings I based my storefronts on were designed to go "back-to-back," so by placing them that way, you see building fronts from both sides. The next two photos show the front and back of the whole town, repectively, followed by closeups of the four main building clusters.
The taller storefronts started out as Fisher Price 'Sesame Street' buildings. The shorter storefronts started out as Playskool 'Sesame Street' buildings. Though each modeler's interpretation of the same two buildings (Mr. Hooper's storefront and a brownstone apartment building) was different, all four buildings include architectural details taken from turn-of-the-last-century brick buildings. And that was important to me back in the early 1980s when I started collecting these and trashbashing them, because the only garden railroad structures you could buy then looked like they belonged in the Alps, and I wanted to model American railroads.
By the way, on the old New Boston and Donnels Creek, these buildings were divided between multiple towns and interspersed with other buildings that broke things up a little.
Details of how I prepped and painted the storefronts above are contained in my article Trashbashing Step-by-Step.
Images for printing the curtains are available in our Curtains and Shades resource page.
Admittedly the city looks like a ghost town without people, and if I ever do this again, I'll dig out enough people to populate the town.
Thanks to Frank Klatt and the others who loaned buildings, and to several club members who have donated buildings for such setups.
If you'll take a look at the track, you'll also see that club members have made "roadbed" pieces that fasten together onsite to give the track good support and a more realistic appearance. In other words, there's a lot more to setting one of these up than getting a train set out of a box, which - I'm afraid - some folks assume.
To give you an idea of what else went into this setup, I'm adding photos of the other communities below.
The last two photos give you some idea of where the New Boston buildings fit into the much larger setup.
Thanks to Gene and the other club members for your patience as I tried things out and moved them around, and for getting my buildings home safely after the show.
In the weeks following this enterprise, the club is also setting up a Large Scale railroad in Kettering tower in downtown Dayton. If you get anywhere near the Schuster center, check out the lobby of the big black building across the street. And in the lobby of the Schuster center, be sure to check out the restored display windows from the "heyday" of the Rikes Kumler department store Christmas displays.
Club members will also be setting up a Christmas-themed railroad in the Dicke Transportation Building of Dayton's Carillon Park (on S. Patterson Boulevard, just south of Downtown). There is a charge for admission to the park, but for railfans, the Dicke Transportation Building alone is worth the price of admission.
On top of that, the club is setting up a railroad at Dayton's Packard museum, which will host several private events this season, so that will get the word about trains out as well. As of this writing, there is information about all of these events on the club's home page - click on the logo to learn more.
Dirtscaping the NEW New Boston & Donnels Creek, Part 1 - If you want to see what I'm up to these days, getting my own garden railroad somewhat ready to run trains at the new house, check out this article. It includes getting the existing layers ready to install gravel and dirt, including splitting and trimming fence boards to provide a little border around the edge of the layers, and beginning to dump the gravel. Also getting a few Taxus Hicksii very cheap to give me something green this winter, even if I have to move them later.
Click on the photo to see our status as of November 21, 2017
Return to the New Boston and Donnels Creek RR Page - This is the page describing Paul Race's progress and frequent rework on his own garden railroad, started on a shoe-string budget in 1998, later expanded, and later refurbished several times as issues arose. Issues that Paul hopes to avoid by building the next iteration above ground.
Return to Family Garden Trains' Home Page - The home page with links to all the other stuff, including design guidelines, construction techiques, structure tips, free graphics, and more.
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