Friday, March 3, 2017

Visit to Ed Kapuscinski's N Scale Conrail Layout

Ed Kapuscinski blogs about his Conrail modeling in N scale at his Conrail 1285 blog, and his layout and modeling showcase the potential for prototype modeling and operation in N scale. Ed is strongly connected to the Conrail Historical Society, and it shows. His layout certainly evokes a gray mid-80s winter/spring day in the York, PA-Baltimore area,  and this post in particular caught my attention because of the catenary bridges.

Here's a view across Windsor Street Yard on Ed's Conrail layout. The overall impact is an immersive and convincing experience: his scenery and weathering, photo backdrop, and rolling stock choices make it difficult to tell at a glance just what scale this is, and set the time and place. I was feeling a cold wind and and thinking of bad 80s top 40 radio just looking around! 
I had a chance to see Ed's layout when he graciously hosted an open house on a recent Saturday (that's the back of me in the black hat and gray shirt). Ed and his friendly crew not only showed off the awesome and a-building layout, but made sure everyone who visited were welcomed and oriented. No small feat managing a crowd during an N scale layout tour--even a generous-appearing space is deceptively small on all but the largest N scale layout. Ed generously spent time chatting with me, mostly about NEC catenary and scenery modeling. He showed me his indestructible catenary tower mounting method, which uses magnets to 'fail beautifully'--will be experimenting with this approach myself for my Shapeways/DesignDyne catenary tower installation.

My biggest takeaway from my visit to Ed's Conrail layout had to do with atmosphere. Ed's layout transported me to a time and place. He accomplished this with color and composition--particularly scenery choices, weathering, and photo backdrops. The number, size, and shape of his trees particularly impressed me, and vindicated some of my own scenery strategy--I feared that many of my trees were too big but both my reference photos and now Ed's layout show that 3-5" trees are appropriate for the mid-Atlantic seaboard in N scale. Ed didn't have layout sound (that I noticed, anyway) but during our conversation about the NEC and wire, Ed brought up 'singing wire', a phenomenon familiar to anyone who has been trackside on the NEC or any other electrified mainline. We wondered if it had ever been modeled--and now I think I might need to figure that out for the Old Line Corridor!

Looking forward to seeing more of Ed and his work in the future!
Crossing the bridge near CP Loucks (I think). The blending of colors, texture, and weathering gives Ed's layout a prototype feel. And his trees are appropriately proportioned!