Re: Prototype fidelity


The reality of all groups is that their direction is dictated by the varied personalities within, and those opinions are as varied as those on this list. The club with which I'm most involved has a dominating dramatic personality who wants to make mugs and T-shirts for every event, and since he works for a major corporation producing promotional trinkets he runs with the project. For our last event celebrating an anniversary, he took our coveted logo and lopped off details while changing the railroad herald that's part of it without telling anyone so that the stitching on the hat was simpler as he tried to get it under 3000 stitches. The hobby is full off this type of decision making, done by volunteers giving generously. As the group's leader I would never accept such compromise, but in keeping the group going the leaders have to pick their battles.

No rant or rules are going change any of that. I agree that the historical societies should keep a higher standard, and any project with which I'm involved will do that. I was part of the boxcar project that Schuyler mentioned, and I've been part of dozens of others that were all as accurate as was practical for the medium (brass, resin, RTR, etc.). I led the Lackawanna F3 project at Steamtown, painting our Bangor & Aroostook F3 into the Lackawanna freight scheme to tell the story deisels in the steam era.  I personally cut off excess grab irons and moved, fashioned or added details to represent the real Lackawanna 662, since our fictitious Lackawanna 663 would have been of that class. We're not hiding the heritage, and yet we turned that catalog F3, the oldest operating and unaltered F-unit in the world, into a living model of a Lackawanna unit that today pulls trains on the Lackawanna main line and that we maintain in the actual Lackawanna shops designed to service F-units. That TRAINS Magazine readers voted that unit the "must see" diesel of 2014 shows that eaders get our message. And we're having fun with it. Our group has also rescued a 1944-AAR boxcar that was originally CNJ 24165 -- that car will get its steam-era lettering and number in the 22000-series. We may even commission an HO model of that car, and when we do it will be accurate in its appearance and details. I've been involved in the restoration and repatriation of more than a dozen steam-era freight cars, and so far all of them are correctly restored, or will be. Similarly, there are numerous steam-era freight cars around the country without in-service paint which is the choice of those doing the project. 

The results of any group project is a compromise among all of the personalities involved. How do outsiders know before buying something?  I wish the groups producing foobies would call them commemorative or some other word so that the piece isn't misrepresented. Sometimes the group producing the foobie doesn't know.

Too, the model railroading hobby is much bigger than most of us realize. The new generation are buying modern models, building railroads, networking through facebook and twitter and many other sites. There's a page for freelance modelers with more than 600 members and growing, and a bunch of them have created a very realistic system map of the United States featuring only freelance model railroads. The Train-Sim crowd is also growing, building models and track on MicroSoft train simulator. What's interesting is that at our club I've been encouraging the kids to create the many long-gone historic branches in our area -- what better way to relive these operations than to create them in realistic distances, topography and track layout, with proper steam-era freight cars, though creating digital equipment is more difficult than laying track and building scenery. If anyone has played Sid Meier's Railroads video game, they've seen some of the potential of digital model railroading.  Here in North Jersey, the most densely populated part of the country, most of the groups are growing in membership. Other areas aren't so fortunate. The "Thomas" generation is getting their licenses and our NRHS Chapter has been sponsoring kids at NRHS Railcamps, and we've been reaching out via the social media. Some of the railcampers are in their 20s now and these members are modeling and active at our events and restoration projects.

Before the moderator pulls the pin on this thread, I hope he holds back a little. The collective opinions from this group are very enlightening and helpful toward considering the bigger picture of prototype modeling. And they're helping with our internet presence -- we're currently fund raising to help pay for the new main generator in the F3, and the CNJ 1944-boxcar which is entirely run by our younger members -- the perfect project. Visit to take a look.

Thanks                           ....Mike Del Vecchio

President, Tri-State Chapter NRHS
Trainmaster, Morristown & Erie Railway

-----Original Message-----
From: devans1@... [STMFC] <STMFC@...>
Sent: Sun, Nov 23, 2014 10:34 pm
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Prototype fidelity

Really guys?

First - where are the moderators - I thought STMFC was NOT supposed to be a forum for attacking organizations business practices?

Second - talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Last I checked, the historical societies are supported by volunteers, and many, especially for long-fallen flags, are suffering from a significant drop in membership for the simple fact that most former employees have passed on. So we are to crucify a group that is still trying to promote their fallen flag while their membership drops?

Third - Does this mean a Historical Society that lacks resources to produce fine scale models (Who defines "fine scale" - perhaps only proto48 or proto87 cars need apply?) is no longer useful? I think the IRS has a different criteria (thankfully) for non-profit, educational organizations.

Fourth - A group that complains about the price of fine scale models and how they can not be afforded by many modelers , now finds it unconscionable that an HS produces "stand-in" or even "foobie" models that a much larger segment of the model railroad community can afford?

Here is a sad reality check - most Historical Societies are losing all of their former employee members. Members who worked side by side on the real railroad for decades - they joined the societies almost as a retirement club to preserve bonds and fellowship they had before they joined the society, and those members have provided all of us a very valuable service by preserving and disseminating important railroad history.

But now the HS's need to attract new members, and that will only happen by creating a sense of fellowship between mostly modelers (and a few historians) - who did NOT spend their careers working together.

This challenge is going to be very difficult - to get modelers to volunteer their time for their favorite prototype's historical society to try to keep the flag alive (instead of using that time to build more models for their layouts), and continue to preserve and publish the prototype's materials and historical information. Building a sense of fellowship between modelers so they join and volunteer their time to keep the historical societies viable will be much more difficult if members snipe at each other because they will not agree on the necessary level of fidelity in their models.

How can any of this drivel be considered a positive contribution to the core (and legally required) mission of the HS's to preserve railroad history?

If a car is too foobie for you - don't buy it.

If you want something better, volunteer to help the society produce a better product.

If they determine it can't be done, or will not do it - for whatever reason, then do it yourself - I am SURE the historical society will be happy to provide you the prototype information required for you to develop an ac curate model and sell it yourself.

This sort of intolerance needs to stop - or we will be burying the very organizations that help provide the data modelers on this list need for ANY level of model fidelity.

And you wonder why the commercial hobby press uses "rivet counters" in a derisive manner? This thread makes the case pretty convincingly.

This is a hobby guys - we are not developing flight control software that will kill someone if it does not meet all the requirements.

Sorry Mike, don't care about the food down below - this has reached a new low for intolerance.

Dave Evans

---In STMFC@..., wrote :

Andy Carlson wrote:

I find it odd that in this forum (STMFC) dedicated to promoting greater accuracy in modeling, we find several defenders of the practice of historical societies offering sham cars as fund raisers. First, fund raising should be a society lower priority of things to do, as the primary purpose of societies should be to promote the subject railroad's history. I don't believe the only way societies survive is by offering duds.

Richard Hendrickson's tiff with the Burlington society was based on the their inexcusable offering of bogus cars to the membership. Richard's strongest protest was that the mission of a society to provide ACCURATE info to the members was compromised when sham offerings are released. He felt that to many members, they look to the society for help with their own goal in acquiring useful information, and because the assumption of "If the society is offering this, it must be researched and produced to a higher level of accuracy", the society let them down.

      Andy says it exactly right, in my opinion. If a historical society cannot make financial ends meet except by issuing foobies, maybe they have exceeded their "sell by" date. If they will not be sticklers for accuracy, who will? And UNDISCLOSED foobies really are a dreadful act by an organization claiming to preserve history.

Tony Thompson             Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, tony@...
Publishers of books on railroad history

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