To see a full-size view of the images posted, just click on them.

RULES FOR POSTING COMMENTS: This blog is meant to be interactive. Please utilize the comment feature to respond to posts that prompt a reaction. You do not have to agree with me to post, but I do ask that your comment pertain to the post itself. I also ask that "anonymous" guests attach some sort of name to their comments so readers can tell everyone apart. (If you cannot follow these simple rules, your post may be DELETED or at the very least mocked for the entertainment of those who can respect my guidelines.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

When it rains....

......I'll bet you thought I was going to say, "it pours," as a lead-in to some observation of the collective calamities of the times we find ourselves in.........but, nope. I mean it literally. What does one do when it rains?

Not a bad idea.....but in clear violation of self-isolation!

Specifically I am referring to what I have been up to projectwise. The current corona-lockdown in NJ  means very little to me in terms of impact. My life has not significantly changed except in terms of shopping. But I am always busy. On sunny days I have been taking advantage of the warmer than usual Spring to get a LOT of yard work done.

But what about when it gets chilly and rains? Well, I have been working on a model railroad project. Now I don't have a permanent railroad set up, but I do put up an O-gauge rail line for my Dickens Village at Christmastime.

You can see the track bending through the port section of my Dickens Village.

So, here's what's going on. I have an 'as-close-as-can-economically-be done' train cruising around my Dickens set-up. It is certainly slightly anachronistic.

For the period, this train would be more correct......but this set is extremely expensive!

Instead, I have a trio of these "Overton" passenger cars, which are also clearly labelled as part of the Pennsylvania Railroad, not London, England.

The rail industry grew and developed quickly between 1830 and 1870. "A Christmas Carol" was written in 1840. But in just Dickens' lifetime the style of coaches changed dramatically. As such, I am willing to allow for inaccuracy. Still, as you can see, the passenger cars one buys come empty. The total absence of passengers, which can be easily noticed in the large, lighted cars seems depressingly eerie in an otherwise bustling city. does one fill those seats?

The simplest way is to buy model railroad people in the proper scale and period. However, I soon discovered that finding Victorian passengers in 1:48 scale is nearly impossible. And finding them economically? Clearly impossible. But, I did find a great lot of O-gauge plastic figures on e-Bay, with the only problem being their dress. 

They were all 1940s-1950s era people.

So, I bought them anyway and when they arrived, got down to work. I used my customizing experience to cut, grind, glue, and mold in an effort to not only restyle their clothing, beards, and hairstyles, but alter their poses. All of the seated figures came in the same pose.......hardly realistic in a car-full of passengers. So, I angled arms, turned heads, added books and newspapers, gave some of them canes and walking sticks, and ultimately ended up with this:

These shots show the figures as W.I.P. You can see the improvised top hats made simply from cut plastic rods glued to brims made from hole-punched acetate, and Victorian bonnets made from craft paper. 

The next step was the painting! This admittedly was the truly 'fun part' for me. I am not 100% finished because I am waiting for a can of primer to arrive from eBay since I ran out in mid-project. However, I did get all of the seated passengers done:

I am quite pleased with the results so far. I have a small amount of standing figures I made to resemble passengers, conductors, and rail workers.....including, of course, the engineer! Naturally I will post shots when everything is complete.

But.................there is more than one reason for me posting this. Readers here well know that I have consistently posted my projects in the past. Nothing new there. But many of us are now in mandated isolation or self-isolation. And the one lament I have heard over and over is the 'stir craziness' of people unused to being home. My advice to you all is: think out of the box! Don't just turn on the TV. Read if you want. But beyond that, try doing something. It doesn't have to be elaborate. It doesn't have to be something requiring skills you may not possess, but when was the last time you tried an endeavor outside of your established comfort zone? This is your chance. Try something new. Challenge yourself. You may learn something and you may learn even more about what talents you may have in latency just waiting to be aroused.

And please! If you don't have a blog of your own, send me a shot of what you it a project, or recipe, or whatever, and if appropriate, I will post it here! And remember, BE SAFE! Whatever you do, follow the five:


  1. My complements on your train set. Lots of time, patients, skill and fun.
    I also have a much smaller train set up. i have a small city then a line going out into the country past farms and homes. Not quite elaborate as yours.

    1. Actually archedone, yours sounds more elaborate than mine. And it certainly sounds much more permanent. Mine only goes up for Christmas and because it's comprised of Dept. 56 houses and people, scale is all over the place.

      I'm curious. What scale and time period is your set-up?

    2. my setup is a rail king and it's a Great Northern RR freight train. 2-8-0. Mine was only a winter layout but after i moved i had more room and made it permanent. i did that with the thoughts my grand son would play with it. I was so wrong. the houses and business i have i bought at garage sales and most of the people and houses don't fit the gauge.

    3. That sounds great. And yeah, that wish that youngsters take up the mantle just doesn't seem to apply anymore, but that doesn't negate having the set-up for your own enjoyment. Rail King is great......far superior to Lionel. Getting scale right is a challenge, but sometimes you just have to ease up on one's own attention to detail.....and for ME? that's very hard, but I know it's probably crazy for me to self-impose so much restriction.

      Anyway, it's nice to see there are other 'train people' out there among the reader here! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Seeing your miniature work is a genuine pleasure and the best thing this morning(which isn't a bad morning.

    I am doing some leather work, admittedly pretty primitive compared to genuine leather craftspeople. But,as you advise, it's the process of doing the work that is so enjoyable and diverting.

    My train collection consists of one Lionel engine and a whistling tender. No tracks, nothing else :) But I do enjoy looking at it.

    1. Thank you, Tomy. There's nothing wrong with a display piece as a source of pleasure......and you're putting a lot less wear&tear on the unit.

      I invite you to send me some shots of the leather work and I will post them here as a spotlight for you and inspiration for others to DO something. (You may recall I dabbled in leather a while back, but it was also pretty primitive stuff compared to what a true craftsmen can accomplish. But boy did I save a lot of money on accessory pieces for my RenFaire costumes.( the post is: Non-kinky leatherwork, January 28, 2018 )

  3. To me this an amazing level of detail, well done.
    I got a good laugh with #5 on the list!

    1. Thanks, Bill. Coincidentally, not more than an hour ago the primer arrived and I finished spray-priming the remaining figures. It is supposed to rain tomorrow, and there aren't as many left as I've already done, so I should be able to finish this project very soon!

      So far I think you're the only person to catch that I altered #5 which for some weird reason is "FEEL sick? Stay home." I couldn't understand why they had this clever body part theme going for 4 of the 5 and then abandoned it. I would think it could have been: "HEAD Use it and stay home" But I like my ASSHOLE version better.

  4. Verrrrryyyy nice. It's equally difficult finding people in 1:24....but painting them is much easier.

    1. Thank you for the compliment and comment. Ah, 1:24! Now there's where you can get some great detail going.

      Also, please continue to participate but next time please add a name of some kind to the end of your note so we all can recognize you as an individual and not just another nameless "anonymous". That's too much like being another unit in the Borg. ;-)