Wednesday, 8 February 2017

A Railfan Day on Jim Dufour's B&M Cheshire Don Janes

We caught up with the Cheshire at Swanzey, NH. In the background is a Feldspar loadout.

Chasing the Cheshire

     One of the main reasons I decided to make the trip to the Springfield, MA train show was to visit Jim Dufour's B&M Cheshire Branch model railroad.  I was undecided until Jim sent out a notice announcing that he would be having an open house on the Friday before the show.  My mind was made up.  I had visited Jim's layout back in 2009 and was very impressed but I knew from photos that Jim periodically sends out to his mailing list that he had made great progress since then, namely the Troy Ledges scene that he added a few years ago. 
    Jim's layout depicts the B&M's Cheshire Branch (South Ashburnham, Mass. (Fitchburg Div.) to Bellows Falls, Vermont (Conn. River & Rutland RR) in the late 1940's and he models five consecutive towns along the line.   From east to west they are State Line, Fitzwilliam, Troy, Webb and Joslin as well as the Troy Ledges area which is a hallmark scene on the layout. Each town is faithfully modeled using photos Jim has found during his extensive research of the line.  Some of these photos are posted along the layout fascia and you can really appreciate the work that Jim has put into the layout.  Not only are the scenes accurately reproduced, the workmanship is exceptional.  Every aspect of the layout is done to perfection from structures to rolling stock to scenery details. Nothing has been overlooked.  Jim, like Neil Schofield knows when there is just enough detail added to a scene and doesn't overdo it.  When I look at each scene I feel like I am standing down by the tracks on a summer day in the late 1940's. Jim's eye for creating the prototype is exceptional.  Just study the photos and see what I mean.  
       Jim has created some of the best scenery I have seen.  His static grass is very natural looking, his use of real dirt for the ground cover base and real cinders for ballast is cinders look extremely natural and his trees and other foliage bring the scene to life.  Jim says the secret to natural looking dirt and ballast is to keep it very fine.  He sifts all his ground materials through very fine screens to achieve this look.
      Today we are going to chase the Cheshire (renamed from the Flying Yankee while on the Cheshire Branch) along the Cheshire branch and see some of the great scenes Jim has created.  The model was done by Challenger Imports and it has a LOKSOUND decoder installed in it.  The train runs extremely smooth and is a joy to watch.  Lets step back in time and go trackside on the Cheshire Branch
The Cheshire is crossing the stone arch bridge at Webb Depot Road as it overtakes a local passenger train.  Jim scratchbuilt the bridge by carving individual stones and building them up to create the bridge. Unbelievable workmanship.
This photo shows the real bridge as it looks today. Jim worked from  photos to create his model.
At Webb the Cheshire is passing a steam powered local sitting in the clear in the siding. This is a very simple scene but has lots of very interesting detail. 

At the Troy Ledges the Cheshire emerges from a deep rock cut and will cross the river and old abandoned highway. The immense rocks dwarf the train in this scene.
Another shot of the train as it crosses the bridge.  Note how Jim has duplicated the interesting stonework on the bridge abutment.
One more look at the Troy Ledges scene.
After making a station stop at troy the Cheshire is passing a local freight tucked in the siding, ready to follow the passenger out of town.
Here is another stone bridge that Jim has accurately reproduced.  The section shanty is also a model of the shanty that once stood at Troy.
Our final shot of the Cheshire is taken at the stone arch bridge just outside of State Line.  I was fortunate to have gotten a set of these stone casting and have created a similar scene on my own layout.

1 comment:

  1. Don
    Great layout and great photos.
    Thanks Don and Jim for sharing.
    Ray Schofield