Model Railroader Profile: Tom Patterson’s Chesapeake, Wheeling & Erie

Model Railroader Profile: Tom Patterson’s Chesapeake, Wheeling & Erie

Today begins a new monthly article, the Model Railroader Profile. Each month we’ll highlight a model railroader who has a blog or YouTube channel that can offer some tips and advice on the hobby that everyone can use.

To start off, we’re highlighting Tom Patterson’s Chesapeake, Wheeling & Erie. On his first blog post, Tom wrote, “The Chesapeake, Wheeling and Erie Railroad is an HO scale layout representing a free-lanced, coal hauling railroad set in West Virginia in the mid-1970’s.”

A pair of custom painted SD40s lead a coal train on Tom’s model railroad. Photo used with permission

Tom’s blog covers many aspects of model railroading that can provide many of us with ideas or help. From buildings, scenes, detailing, weathering, and much more, Tom’s Chesapeake, Wheeling & Erie can certainly be an inspiration to all of us.

Tom’s February 5, 2012 post, for instance, discusses and illustrates rock outcroppings and ground cover. It’s the fourth in a series of posts on the topic and Tom provides numerous photos to show the process of the project. For ground cover, Tom started off using static grass but wasn’t pleased with the final look. He ended up scraping it off, repainting the area, and coming back later to reapply the static grass, adjusting his method. In the end, he was much happier with the result.

The second application of the static grass was much more to Tom’s liking. Photo used with permission.

In the same part of the project, Tom added a culvert and drainage. For rocks in the drainage, he used actual rocks he had scooped from the bottom of a stream. Tom sifted the collected rocks through finer and finer meshes until he was left with only tiny rocks of appropriate scale size. Tom put the rocks in place, sprayed them with a glue mixture, and added some weathering to help them blend in with the overall scene.

Tiny rocks form the culvert drainage on Tom’s layout. Photo used with permission.

Tom’s August 16, 2015 post was the first of a two-part series on weathering a covered hopper. To weather the hopper, Tom used many of the same techniques that I described in the November 2016 Insiders Club Monthly Report. Also, as I, too, suggested, Tom used photos of a prototype hopper as a guide for the look that he wanted to achieve. Tom did use a technique that I did not, which is the application of a wash to the side panels to achieve the streaking and fading. To remove the wash from the ribs, which wouldn’t weather in the same way as the panels, Tom used a cosmetic sponge. You may recall that in our January 2017 Insiders Club Monthly Report, I used sponges to remove wet paint from the surface of the rails on the track I was detailing.

The covered hopper Tom weathered. Photo used with permisision.

From February 1, 2015, Tom discusses and illustrates with photos his custom painted Chesapeake, Wheeling & Erie bicentennial unit. It’s a beautiful red, white, and blue engine that shows how such an engine can liven up the looks of a model railroad locomotive roster. If your model railroad is set in the same era and you wanted to include a custom bicentennial unit, you could use the same techniques as described in our March 2017 Insiders Club Monthly Report to design your specific paint scheme.

Tom’s custom painted CWE bicentennial unit. Photo used with permission.

Tom was kind enough to also share a short question and answer session with us.

Me: Tom, how long have you been model railroading?

Tom: I got a Lionel trainset for Christmas in the mid-1960’s but got back into model railroading seriously in the late 1970’s.

Me: Why did you choose to do freelance modeling instead of modeling an actual railroad, and are there any well known model railroaders that inspired you?

Tom: I was heavily influenced by Allen McClelland of Virginian & Ohio fame and Eric Brooman of Utah Belt fame which inspired me to freelance. Plus, back in the late 1970’s, it was much easier to freelance given the limited amount of rolling stock that was available.

Me: What advice would you give to someone who is just beginning to get involved in the hobby?

Tom: My advice would be to just get started. Find a prototype that interests you and buy some equipment. Start with DC because, a) it’s relatively easy to get something running quickly and, b) you can always convert to DCC later. But just dive in and get started. It’s a wonderful hobby and there is an incredible amount of information available today on all aspects of model railroading, from electronics to scenery to scratch-building structures.

Thanks, Tom, for allowing us to profile your blog and your Chesapeake, Wheeling & Erie model railroad in our inaugural Model Railroader Profile.

All of that is just a small part of what you will find on Tom’s blog. If you are like me, you’ll find tons of inspiration by perusing the various blog posts. See you next month with another Model Railroader Profile!

Are there parts of Tom’s blog or layout you especially find interesting and helpful in your modeling? Tell us about it in the comments below or on our Facebook discussion group. Also, feel free to share the link to this article with anyone you think might like it!

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Robert Thomson

Robert W. Thomson is a life-long railfan, the son of a former L&N Railroad B&B gang foreman, and an amateur photographer. He was born and raised in southeast Tennessee but now lives in Butte, Montana with his wife, Connie and cat, Charlie. Robert has worked as a park ranger, underground mine tour guide, freelance roleplaying game writer, and ran his own roleplaying game publishing company until selling it in 2012.

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