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One of the great pleasures I have when going to train shows and conventions is discovering some new small 'garage' manufacturer. It's usually a hobbyist who got tired of waiting for the 'major' manufacturers to make something he's wanted, so he's finally made it for himself; then thought "hmmm, surely I can't be the only one who needs a --." I remember, for example, a fellow who showed up at the Queen Mary one year with some beautiful viaduct bridges made out of DuPont Corian (I think); and a couple of guys -- I think it was at the 2nd Denver convention? -- who had made a 'kit' of pot-metal parts to "Colorado-ize" your Big Hauler: new domes, new headlamp, a snow-plow pilot, you name it!


This year, my discovery is "SG Models", the creation of John and Pat Meyers.



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The first offering in their "Gold Creek" series of milled wood building kits is "Sam's Shoes". As you can see, the completed building is just full of character. It's designed to be a 'starter level' kit and is one of a projected group of 15 in the Gold Creek collection. It's 1/24th scale, and had a show price of $55.



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All the wood is pre-cut, and the siding is milled to the 'old west' style that you see. Door and window kits are included, as is signage -- they even threw in the shingles. The Assayer's Office and Sheriff's are the next two buildings on the schedule; I believe that John Meyers mentioned that a fire station may be the fourth.



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Almost as interesting as the nicely finished wood is the set of instructions you get with this kit. The box includes full-scale template drawings, a set of plan view drawings, an exploded drawing identifying all the parts, a parts list, and a step-by-step instruction sheet. If that's not enough, there's also a well-produced DVD, where you can follow Meyers putting the kit together every step of the way.


I'll be blunt -- with this amount of handholding, if you can't put this kit together easily, then I have serious doubts about your capabilty to make your way out of a paper bag with a flashlight and a pair of scissors!


SG Models (aka Shady Glen Models) doesn't have a website yet, but you can contact them at "[email protected]". As an aside, while looking at their DVD, I realized that I had met John and Pat during their open house at the Arizona convention a few years ago. I recognized the wonderful 7/8ths scale train station John had built as a workshop. Now there's the next kit I want!


Continuing with the building theme, here's this year's establishing shot of Randy & Nancy Brie's Pacific Coast Garden Railway Supply.



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The good news for Randy and Nancy is that Randy went and got an engineering job. The bad news for the rest of us is that Randy got a job, and PCGRS has become a part-time endeavor. But don't panic! As Randy wrote on his web site:
"This decision will impact our current build orders and slow our future product development, along with reducing the number of shows that we will be able to attend this year. We ask your patience while your structures are being built and ask you to plan well in advance of delivery for orders you are considering. [/i]
We have NO intention of closing the business. However, some structures may be removed from the product line in the future, so if you really want it, don't wait until it is too late!"[/i]


Here's one of Randy's newer offerings, the Rico Tool and Section Car Shed in 1:20.3 -



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Coincidentally, somebody's recently started a thread here on MLS asking for sources of 1:20.3 buildings, and PCGRS was mentioned as one of the few suppliers handling the scale. In the meantime, a recent One to Twenty Point Me blog entry calls Randy the "busiest F scale structure manufacturer working today."


All this talk about 1:20.3 has got me thinking, which is a dangerous activity. Here's my starting point --



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Randy's had this building available for a while now -- it's a 1:20.3 transfer depot. FYI, a transfer depot generally transfers goods from cars of one gauge to those of another, with the different gauges of track running along either side of the platform. So if you've got your 1:20.3
3-foot boxcar on this side of the track, what's parked on the other side?

Years ago, I got to visit the Apple Hill & Black Rock Railway, a layout built by Lee Klaus, who's one of the fathers and early proselytizers of the 1:20.3 narrow gauge movement. Lee had built a F-scale STANDARD gauged boxcar, I think it ran on Gauge -3 track? When this thing was parked next to a Fn3 boxcar on code 215 track, the difference between the two was enormous! The idea, of course, was to illustrate a transfer point between 3-foot and standard gauge cars.The disparity in size made it one of the most popular vignettes in the layout. Unfortunately, only about half the visitors that I saw looking at the vignette 'got it.'The other half were sure that the big boxcar was simply a special project, a model of a different scale.Occasionally I would 'butt in'and try to explain what they were looking at, but I think only a few believed me.

(NEWS FLASH!While I was writing this, SWMTP dug this out of the archives -- from the 2000 San Diego convention!)



(San Diego -- 2000)



I drew two conclusions from that experience. One was that a display of two gauges (but same scale) together could be very impressive, visually. But the other is that, for the uninitiated, the difference in sizes makes no sense -- UNLESS you could visually 'glue' the two boxcars together so that they became part of the same narrative. In other words, put a transfer depot between them!


Ånd that's why somebody needs to buy this building!


(Turns out that the protototype for this transfer depot was on the Wiscassett, Waterville & Farmington, a two-foot gauged railroad! So all the time I was staring at this model, I was musing in the wrong direction! Nevertheless...)


Moving on.. sometimes I think of Bruce Hebron (proprietor of the Metal Shedde) as a sculptor who works in scale, sometimes simply as a metal-bending Gepetto. In previous years I've shown his "AW-NUTS" train cars and his 3-D perspective wall hangings. He's still doing plenty of those, but this year I noticed he's doing more small buildings.



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Every detail that you see, from table vise to folded-up newspaper, is done in metal. Most of the lamps have grain-of-wheat bulbs.



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I think this engine house is the largest building he was showing this year. Can you see the interior lighting? Here the engine house is covering a W.W.I. era french armored railcar -- but that doesn't come with the building.



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Here's a 'group shot' of the buildings together on the Metal Shedde table.



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Actually, it's an excuse to show the "Mazzi Oil" Mack truck drilling rig, which I'm in serious lust with. Or does everbody have oil on their brain lately?


Colorado Model Structures has built an excellent reputation in a few short years, based on their inexpensive kits and modular construction pieces. Here's one their newest buildings.



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It's called the "Einsele Merchantile/Carries Bath and Laundry". I kid you not! Behind it, btw, is the "Red Mountain School House."


Michael's Custom Woodworking is another train show success story. I believe we first saw Michael at the Chicago convention several years ago. He had a few buildings along with his specialty product -- milled period siding and other scale lumber. He's been coming to more and more shows, with more and more stuff, ever since! Here he's showing a customer his very popular trestle jig.



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And one of his buildings --



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Rainbow Ridge's line of completed buildings and kits continues to expand. These buildings are made from Precision Board, and seem able to withstand all kinds of weather; especially the heavy U.V. sunlight which degrades a lot of other materials. Ross and Sue Piper have been creating all sorts of new patterns -- flagstone, cobblestone, shiplap, tile, etc. --



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And then using the new surfaces on their new buildings. (Some of their newer buildings are 1:20.3, btw.) Here are just a few examples -



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We'll finish our building survey with these pieces from J&S Woodcrafts. While J&S makes many 'normal' industrial buildings and pieces of equipment, they're especially known for their animated pieces. New this year was this steam-powered dynamo, with a turning wheel. I've seen something very similar up in McCloud, California.



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They've had various versions of this blacksmith's shop. The fire's red glow pulses, and the smithy swings his hammer down against the anvil in sync with a clanging sound.



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And finally we have this old-style oil rig, with a wooden derrick and working jack-pump.



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All for now.. but more to come!
 

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Thanks for posting all these pics.
I don't get to the big city too often.

John
 
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