Sunday, September 23, 2012

Of Lone Wolves and a Great Canadian Model Railroad

I once was a lone wolf model railroader.

When I started back in the hobby, in 1987, I was so unsure of my abilities that I didn’t tell anyone I was building a layout. It was about three years before I invited anyone over to see it. I still remember the anxiety: Was it good enough? What would he say?

That memory came back to me recently when I met another lone wolf modeler—two of them actually, brothers Walter and Ed Pankratz who are building a fantastic layout in Walter's basements.

The two have created a great Canadian model railroad based on CPR passenger operations in the 1950s. (Although some freights also show up, as does a bit of CN. An occasional modern CP Rail freight also makes an appearance.)

The layout, a folded dogbone with a yard in the middle peninsula, features code 83 track, dozens of expertly made kitbashed and kit built buildings, good-looking scenery, working signals, and fine models of transition and stainless steel passenger cars (many made from kits). A highlight is the new Canadian from Rapido.

As on many layouts, there is still work to be done on this one—ballasting and painting track, for instance, and more scenery. But in the six years since they started creating it, the two brothers have come a long way.

There are lots of modellers like the two brothers—people who are not members of local model railroad clubs or who otherwise keep mostly to themselves.

That's OK; not everyone has to be part of a club, and a local hobby shop can often be a great source of inspiration. (In this case, the brothers seem to get a lot of ideas and inspiration at Warehouse Hobbies.)

What amazes me is how many modellers like them there are in my city; I'm just glad I had a chance to meet Walter and Ed and see their Great Canadian Model Railroad.

Speaking of which, how I met the brothers is a story in itself. I was out a local park walking my dog when I came across a guy flying a model airplane.

I went over to talk, and compliment him on his model, saying that I once considered flying model planes but chose a hobby where I was unlikely to crash my investment—model railroading.

“If you like trains, you should go talk to the guy over there,” he said, pointing to a man who was watching him fly that day.

That guy turned out to be Ed. I introduced myself, and we had an enjoyable conversation. I invited the him and Walter over to see my layout, and they reciprocated by inviting me to see theirs. And that, as Bob Harvey would say, “is the rest of the story.”

See more photos of Ed and Walter's layout here, here and here. 


1 comment:

  1. From one lone wolf to two more (let's call them the Wolf Brothers) I say...nice layout. Liked the grain elevator, stockyard, and yard scenes, scenery and rolling stock.

    And I liked the nice, shiny track, like mine, although theirs has ballast.

    While it's OK to model in relative obscurity, it's also OK to share photos as you've done, John. I say, more please! Hooooooowl!