Thursday, January 5, 2012

Traction Comes to the Model Railway Show Podcast

Something I missed over the holidays was the appearance of traction and electric railroads on the Model Railway Show podcast. Tom Piccirillo, the famous traction modeler who is also the owner of MicroMark Tools, talked with Trevor and Jim via telephone.  Tom discussed the roots of his traction interest and traction/electric modeling in general.

Jim cited Bob Hegge's Crooked Mountain Lines as a principal inspiration for Jim's excellent Somerset County Traction System, which features O scale traction operations under pantographs. The Crooked Mountain Lines--an HO version in the 50s, more famously in O scale into the 70s and early 80s--appeared on the pages of Model Railroader and Railroad Model Craftsman during those years, as well as in at least one long-lost coffee table book on model railroading. By the late 70s, the CML appeared in the background of Bob's lavish construction articles, such as a monstrous four-truck freight motor piece that ran in the October 1979 MR. Turns out though, that the CML was actually a fairly modest layout in terms of space and simple track plan. Bob reportedly passed away sometime in the early 80s, before images of his work would have found their way on the the web.

Bob's influence on the Somerset County Traction System shows--especially in the way stout-hearted electric locomotives just seem to be passing through the beautifully executed and proportioned scenes. Unfortunately, I cannot offer a link to photos that show why the CML seemed to have such a great impact on so many model railroaders.  As a testament to how beloved was Bob and his CML, the National Model Railroad Association offered a limited edition 'Heritage Car' in CML livery a few years ago.  It's too bad we don't have more to remember Bob by, but Tom's Somerset County Traction System is doing a bang-up job of carrying on the Crooked Mountain tradition.


  1. I remember this too, and yes it was an aspirational layout.

  2. The coffee table book you refer to is The Encyclopedia of Model Railways. I have a copy, and it does have that fabulous article and photographs of Crooked Mountain Lines. I'll attempt to scan it at some point. Email me on richard [at] menwithhill [dot] net if you'd like to get in touch.