Saturday, October 31, 2020



E.A. Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”

    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
            Nameless here for evermore.

    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
    “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
            This it is and nothing more.”

    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
            Darkness there and nothing more.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
            Merely this and nothing more.

    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
      Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
            ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
            Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
    Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
            With such name as “Nevermore.”

    But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
    Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
    Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
            Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
    Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
            Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

    But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
    Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
    Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
            Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

    This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
    This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
    On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
            She shall press, ah, nevermore!

    Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
    “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
    Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
    Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
    On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
    Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
    It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
    Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
    And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
            Shall be lifted—nevermore!


Saturday, October 24, 2020



It took me a few weeks but I managed to push out another local business for the town of Kemper, Missouri, using the Old Indian Tobacco Shop from the Smalltown USA line by Rix Products. Because the kit is intended to sit between other buildings, there are no windows on either side but she sits between a main line/siding and a junkyard spur, so I doubt that the occupants would have much of a view anyway. 


The building was assembled using standard techniques and my favorite solvent, MEK, which is available by the quart and is far cheaper than the equivalent products from the hobby shop.  Squadron putty was used to do a sort of "plastering" effect over the brick on the right side, then lightly sanded to bring out the brick texture beneath. I used the as-molded colors as well due to laziness, only painting a few window frames and the awnings plus a wash of Robert's brick mortar. Miscellaneous details were applied to the front and rear for a bit of interest: heavy paper and wire awnings, downspouts made from scrap styrene and wire brackets, as well as the PABST advertisement and the Thomas Hart Benton mural on the right side-The Wreck of the ole' 97. I came across the piece while googling "American artists" or some such and figured it would look right at home in a small, old railroad town. Weathering powders were added and sealed with Model Master flat from a spray can, then glazing was installed.



The mural and beer logo were both printed on regular paper and sprayed with Krylon rattle-can matte finish. Once dry, they were sanded thin and affixed with diluted Mod Podge. The signage out front was simply printed out on heavier gloss paper and applied to a scrap of Sintra*, which is another new favorite modeling material. Unfortunately, the only local art shop that I knew of who carried it fell victim to the rioting and looters of Chicago. Amazon gets more of my money now, I guess.

*from the intranet: Sintra is the brand name for the high-quality PVC board, that is specifically made of moderately expanded closed-cell polyvinyl chloride, better known as PVC, in a homogenous sheet. The board is made from a lightweight material with a low gloss matte finish.



The business was obviously inspired by the movie A Christmas Story, a family favorite, and while my model railroad is not located in Hohman, Indiana (and not during winter), I used some modeler's liberty and created my own 1/87 ode to Jean Shepherd's tale anyway.



The interior is virtually unnoticeable when placed in town but I thought it would be funny to add, so once again I turned to the internet for some research. I found the scene and copied/pasted it into MS Word so I could get it sized properly, or at least close enough. The image was printed and glued to a scrap of Sintra, then installed about a half-inch from the front windows. If it were not for my impatience, I could have built an interior complete with figures and lighting but again, considering the law of diminishing returns and the building's location, this was a reasonable compromise in my mind.

I wanted to add electrical service details to the rear of the building but I couldn't find the meters that I know I have SOMEWHERE, so I stuck on a scrap box exhaust fan for the kitchen and another awning built from scrap styrene. The creeping vines are leaves from Scenic Express applied over randomly-dabbled tacky glue. 


I finally began to ponder how to accurately describe my model railroad, as "CMPS" didn't really match what I'm doing on the blog. As such, I have updated the blog's title and description to reflect this fact and hopefully it seems less convoluted than it was before. I ran out of room in the description, so I'd like to also add that Consolidated Motive Power Services still exists as an on-line customer and also on my workbench. CMPS is something I started years ago to give a name and "official" feel to the work I did for other modelers: paint, DCC, lighting, mechanical upgrades, etc. I may start it up again, depending on my amount of free time. For right now, they exist solely within the (fictional) town of Clemens, Missouri and continue to provide all sorts of locomotive and heavy diesel repair, rebuild and refurbishing services.

So, back to the railroad...

Not being a graphic designer, the best I can do right now is to cobble together some sort of corporate identity using internet resources and MS Word and Paint. I was able to download an Illinois Central-type font that included their modern logos, so I brainstormed a bit and created the example noted below. 

The River Basin still maintains the IC's "Death Star" logo as well as operations over spun-off trackage in Illinois and Missouri. Yeah, we'll have to suspend all belief to get the IC into Missouri but oh well...the next rendition will be "more accurate". I've drawn scenic and architectural inspiration from all the old river towns like Quincy, Dubuque, Galena, and St. Louis so that's the general idea: bluffs, greenery, curves, old brick buildings and nitty-gritty industrial scenes, oh and plenty of EMD power too. I may eventually have a professional graphic artist take a run at the artwork but for now, it seems like a good fit for a regional Carrier that is only concerned with the bottom line.