Re: Development of data sources an the historical record


I became a prototype modeler only after starting my business.  I relied on model railroad plans to determine which prototypes to choose.  I then scoured a major library for ORERs, Cycs and RAGs for data to support them.  However, about 2 months after issuing the XL box car I received a phone call from the late John Stewart.  He asked me how I could issue such a nice model but with such lousy lettering.   He said he had all the lettering diagrams and would be happy to send them to me.  Several weeks later I received about 25 blueprints of lettering and stencil diagrams for many PRR cars of the early 1900s.  He also sent general arrangements for many of them including the XL.  Hell, I didn’t even know this stuff existed. Not only did I revise the lettering but the model as well.  Shortly thereafter I received a letter from Richard Hendrickson with both praise and complaint.  (The complaint was wrong – he failed to read the instructions completely.)  As you would expect Richard offered to help me any time.   I was discovering that there were sources out there who knew much more than I.  Modelers started contacting me with advice and information.  By the time I issued my sixth kit I was a prototype modeler.  (I subsequently revised all of the previous kits to bring them up to prototype standards.)  Then Byron Rose contacted me with a complaint on a minor detail.  Sound familiar?  This began a long association which raised my skill level immeasurably.  Byron demanded perfection.  He reviewed all the kits before issue which is why the assembly instructions were so complete.  Rarely if ever did he tell me the kits were good.  I remember my favorite phrase to him was, “Byron, perfection is the enemy of excellence.”  I learned that there were always guys who knew more than I about a particular car or railroad.  I now knew who to contact for help and almost everyone in the community was more than willing to open their files for me.  Upon retirement I counted up all the acknowledgements in the kits and discovered that over 200 modelers and historians had assisted me. – Al Westerfield

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