WoW!! What a vacation experience, one of my best.
I live in upstate Western NY and we planned a last minute family vacation to Maine. So, I knew I would be passing through what may well be the largest Model Railroading state in the union. I knew George Sellios (Fine Scale Miniatures) hosted monthly open houses for his Franklin and South Manchester and that I might also get a shot at Jimmy Deignan (we all know who he is, plus I would need 3 more paragraphs to list all his accolades) and the Historic Pennsy Middle Division. I did some 11th hour scrambling and scheduled a stop to see George on the way up and Jimmy on the way back. I was like a kid in the candy shop with anticipation.
The Franklin and South Manchester – unfortunately I ended up only having the last hour and fifteen minutes of the open house there – I know many of you have been – but for me this was like finding the Holy Grail. I was floored, flabbergasted, tongue tied, just freakin’ amazing and then actually meeting and shaking hands with the man himself. What an awesome work of Art. Besides the incredible level of detail in every cubic millimeter of the layout I think the thing that hit me most was even though there were many colors on various structures, they were blended so well the scenes just flowed. Whether you have one hour or all three – forget about it – you would need to spend years there just to digest everything. Luckily I was able to scramble around and get at least a preliminary glance at everything as I would say there were only about a dozen people at any given time – some aisle ways are narrow. George even ran a couple of trains – how cool!
I received a couple of extra added bonuses on this visit as well. I got to meet fellow forum member and phenomenal photographer Rich J. Rich and I had a very informative and insightful conversation for 10 or 15 minutes – great guy – a big help to George especially during open houses I suspect. In addition, much to my surprise and pleasure, I was able to allow my eyes to feast on his kit release for this year. What a tremendous offering – I am a sucker for those type structures – absolutely amazing! I think it may be one of my favorites compared to the last five or so. Yes, George pointed out a few of the parting lines on a couple of the small details – who cares, those are easily removed if you are worth your salt – try to find anything on the water wheel casting which is like a hundred times larger than the ones being bantered about. I have spent 32 years in industry and you generally expect to see parting lines on molded and cast parts. Maybe some folks can eliminate parting lines and that is astounding exemplary work, but again I would generally expect to find parting lines, if not flash, on occasion. In any event George is a superlative Imagineer!!
I reached out for Chester Fesmire, outstanding modeler in his own right – most notably for his ability to make vehicles come to life, who I knew lived in Maine, but was not sure where. Turns out he was fairly close by – maybe 45 minutes from us – but alas, much to my disappointment – between his work schedule and my family vacation commitments we were not able to hook up.
Funny story – could have been serious! I had been there before, but decide to make a brief stop at Boothbay railroad village – which I think is 2 foot gauge? Someone straighten me out if I am wrong. Anyhow, the steamer was out and parked at the station with 2 coach cars. The engineer yanks on the whistle for what seemed like a minute – caught me off guard a bit and nearly shattered my ear drums – I was maybe 15 feet away! Yikes. Then he calls all aboard in 5 min. I decide to wait on the gift shop porch, maybe about 50 feet away for him to pull out. Next he climbs into the cab, blasts the whistle again and cranks open the throttle. A big belch of smoke heads skyward, I think I also see something spinning end over end. Next thing I hear is clang, ting, bang, as this object hits the engine and bounces down the other side. The engineer clanks on the breaks, climbs out and I see him picking up a piece of about 10” diameter 3/8” thick diamond plate in a very nonchalant manner. Think they had this covering the stack, maybe to hold some heat and forgot to remove it. Someone of you may be able to make more sense of this, but….!
Also tried to see the WW&F – I think Waterville, Wiscasset and something – 2 footer again I think – not a lot to see – all closed up, only open some weekends I think. Small diesel switcher sitting out back – stuff in the car barn/engine house, but hard to see in.
Saw some Maine Central stuff, I think, in Rockland with working turntable and engine house. Seemed to support maybe some tourist stuff, but the bigger thing is the Dragon cement company operations.
Drove by the Bluejacket Ship Models place – caught me off guard – I think near Searsport.
Golfers – my other passion besides MRRing – played the Samoset Resort course – purported to be the Pebble Beach of the East – not even remotely close to the Pebble Beach! I dare say I think I could find a better course with ocean holes somewhere along the East coast, but maybe not. It was fun and enjoyable, great weather, a little short and congested and even a bit pricey with the twilight rates.
Wished I could have gotten to Bar Mills Models as well – so many places, so little time.
Yee Hah!! On to meet Jimmy and see his Pennsy. Although I had contacted Jimmy a couple of times and been a minor customer through the years, I was a bit self conscious as I was afraid of being intrusive and imposing.
I found Jimmy’s place – he has a marvelous home in a beautiful hilly area. Many of you lucky ducks going to CSS2010 will no doubt get there if you have not been already as I believe Jimmy will have an open house at this time. I was met near the driveway at the top by his lovely bride Jacynta – it was a pleasure to meet her and she stated the wee ones were snoozing up in the car as it was mid day and Jimmy was not about to buy the kids real beds.
I started down the hill, looking for my rope, cams and carabiners, thinking I would have to repel to the railroad and thought I heard yodeling in the distance. No worries mate, turns out it was just the vivacious Melissa limbering up Jimmy for my visit.
The very lovely Melissa met me at the walkway to the basement train room. We open the door to the basement and what to my wondering eyes appear, but the man, myth, legend himself – our very own Jimmy Deignan. What a pleasure it was to meet such a humble and gracious host that Jimmy was. It was so great to be able to spend an hour or there abouts with Jimmy and his marvelous Pennsy. Jimmy and his Posse’ (Scott, Dave, Doug and maybe some others) are doing a great job on the water and harbor extension. In fact just the day before, Jimmy had been doing another coat of water. Although, when I asked why boats were sinking and locos and cars were off the track, he seemed to let it slip that someone with the initials of DF was a little heavy handed with the HAMMERS!
Jimmy is a visionary and one to be admired and respected, he faces more challenges in a day than most of us will face in a lifetime, yet he accomplishes so much and is so very talented in so many areas. The Pennsy has a ton of great structures on it as well, from a number of manufacturers and builders. I really enjoyed my time conversing with Jimmy. My thanks to the whole Deignan crew for their hospitality! Hey Jimmy – don’t forget to get Liam added to the family tree
– I know you are already thinking about a kit in his honor just as you did for Reaghan – how super.
I was trying to scheme a way to meet Scott and Dave (hoping to get some BBQ), then thought, maybe – just maybe, I could swing by and see Bob VanGelder (SRMW) and Dick Elwell (Hoosac Valley). Then reality struck, 2.5 hours to move between Worcester and Springfield – like I said before, so many places, so little time.
Sounds like a second trip will need to be planned – hmmmmmmmm.!
Sorry this is a long and verbose diary – hope some of you enjoy it.