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The Hartford Workshop was formed many years ago by four model railroaders:  Don Clerke, Al Kalbfleisch, Harold Horner, and me, Earl Smallshaw.  We chose the name "Workshop", as opposed to "Club", because we wanted the group to be open to all model railroaders and the name of "Hartford" to establish the locale of our group, although none of us actually lived in Hartford.  We were featured in Model Railroader a couple of times since we started.  We met once a week, there were no officers or dues, just the desire to be our best in modeling.  

As with any group, some were more talented in some areas than the others.  This worked to my advantage since electrical and gapping of rails wasn't my main talent.  Over the years , Dave Bascom joined in.  Thursday night was the normal meeting night and the group went to a member's home as they were needed, to help the owner make some progress.

Photo by Peg Bascom (1998)

The Hartford Workshop members, left to right:   Harold Horner, Don Clerke, Dave Bascom, Earl Smallshaw, and Paul Mangini

Time, catches up with all of us.   Al Kalbfleisch moved to Casper, WY, and in 1999, sadly, Don Clerke died of a heart attack.  And Harold Horner, our oldest member, died in July, 2008, and David Bascom has died  in January, 2009.  During that period, Paul Mangini and later on, Dennis Fennessy joined the group.

I thought it would be appropriate to show some photos of past and current members, starting with Harold Horner.  Harold was a master mechanic.  He could do just about anything.  We all had brass locomotives which didn't run well, out of the box.  Harold would work his "magic" on them, paint them, and apply weathering to each before they were returned, running like a fine clock,  to the owner.  He also developed various fixtures to ease the work in specific areas.  




                                                                                                                              Photo by Martin Col (2004)


 Harold modeled in HO scale with emphasis on trolleys and  he  made the overhead  to power  the trolleys.   This industrial scene and  the adjacent area  has been  preserved by Gary Frost, Syracuse, NY.



This is an example of Harold's turnout control using rodding, as the prototype does. As far as I know, Harold is the only one to accomplish this.  To be sure, the bell cranks are a little out of scale but Harold's rodding worked and controlled turnouts 36" away.


               This is my Varney Dockside, my first locomotive.  I had bought Central Valley valve gear for it but had problems getting it to work smoothly.   Harold took it and installed the valve gear, installed a 2" fly wheel to ensure smooth operation, and a speaker for sound.  Some sound components couldn't fit inside the boiler so they were disguised as tanks, hung under the cab.  It was the subject of a February, 1981 MR article.  It's one of a kind.


                                                  This is my model of the HO Kemtron Mogul.  I started to build it, got frustrated with it, and it went up on the shelf.   I mentioned it to Harold and he took it home with him.  In two weeks, it was back, painted, and sound installed.  He said he had a problem with one of the driver sets that was not insulated.  To remedy this, he removed the tire from the wheel, and removed about .040" from the tire, inserted epoxy into the gap and reattached the tire to the wheel.  Problem, solved.


         It wasn't pretty, but it worked.  Long before Tortoise slow motion turnout devices came on the market, Harold made his own slow motion operation of a turnout.  He cut down a tin can, inserted a paddle and light oil inside, sealed the can with the shaft of the paddle emitting through the top.  He connected a switch machine to this device.  When the turnout was selected at the panel, the switch machine did its job but was restrained by the paddle inside, slowed by the light oil.  It took a second or two for the turnout to close, but it worked flawlessly.


The track work Harold accomplished still amazes me.  The track on the left exited the approach track to gain a better angle to the Quality Flour building.  After that, the track crossed over it self and then cut though a turnout before a car could be spotted at the loading dock.  The photo on the right connected this part of his layout to the rest of the layout.  To do this, Harold had to bisect another turnout creating the need for two crossings.  Amazing!


   Harold always tried to improve on things.  The commercial corrugated iron was much too thick for his taste so he made this fixture.  The photo on the left shows a series of wires, slightly rusted, soldered together.  This is the form of the corrugated iron.  The block, immediately to the left, had a piece of hard rubber attached to the underside top of the fixture.  Locating pins ensure correct alignment with the top and bottom of the fixture.   In the right photo, it shows the output of corrugated iron.  We used, readily available, kitchen foil.   When the foil was positioned, we squeezed the fixture in a vise which  allowed the rubber inside to make the  impression on the wires.  The result was scale thickness of prototype corrugated iron and, in no time, your could make enough corrugated iron  for all your needs, at virtually no cost.     


    Harold made many pile trestles for his layout and he made this fixture to help him achieve the correct angle to the tops of the piles.  He just simply inserted five 1/8" dowels into the fixture and cut the tops off with a fine-toothed saw.  Then, he glued the top member to the ends of the dowels and the angled piles maintained the correct angle for the assembly of the pile trestle bridge.


    The Puget Sound Model Group in Seattle wrote an article on incorporating sound in model locomotives, many years ago.  Harold said that's what we should have.  We each constructed a Radio Shack amplifier.  Harold made six cases to hold all the components.  In addition to sound, Harold developed a transistorized throttle for each system.  I made all of the panels  and we all helped wire each unit at the direction of Harold.  It seemed that Harold would say to remove 2 blue wires and insert 3 green ones every time we worked on these units.  But, in the end, they all worked according to plan. Work then began to install speakers in all our locomotives.  As I think back, Harold did that for everyone.  We had all steam sounds except bell and whistle.  I recorded a bell sound on a one-minute endless tape but the whistle had to wait until Harold could do it.  Once in  a while we would remind him of the lacking whistle but, by then, he was onto another project and it never got done.  My unit is still working and it's my power of choice when operating a locomotive.

    What is it? Sometimes when Harold needed something, he bypassed his modeling ability and just made it functional.  This is one of those cases.

    Here it is in operational mode.  When the tab is pushed open, a spring is activated and the raised portion rests under the overhead wire.  He would couple some motive power to the car, and drag it all over the trolley system, cleaning  the underside of the wire.  It is much like we clean our track with a track eraser.  This is a simple, yet effective way to keep the wire clean of oxidation for good continuity and operation. 


     Perhaps Harold's crowning achievement was his  scratch built Norfolk & Western RR Y6B.  Harold labored over this locomotive for years.  Everything, except the wheels, was made by Harold.  We chided him for not painting it but he still had to add some more parts to it, he would say.

If you thought that was the end of the Y6B, there's this story to tell.  In the tender, of this locomotive, is a can motor that drives those gears.  Why?  It was  to change the position of the reversing link.   As a prototype locomotive is put in reverse, the reversing link must be moved to accomplish this.  When Harold operated this locomotive and went to reverse it, there would be a delay until the reversing link is moved to the proper position.  Then, and only then, will the locomotive travel in reverse.  I am sure this this is the only HO locomotive, in the world, that has this feature. 

 I was visiting Harold, and his wife Pat, just before they were planning to enter the convalescent home.  He told me to go downstairs and get the Y6B and put it into the locomotive carrier that I had made for Harold years ago.  Apparently he wanted me to take the locomotive home, with me.  I said at the time that didn't he want one of his sons to have it, and he said he wanted me to have it.  And so, although the locomotive is too large for my layout, I treasure it.  I'm going to build a display case for notable model railroad items and the Y6B will be prominently displayed in the cabinet.  It will run again when there is a layout large enough to accommodate it.

Al Kalbfleisch

Al's large bldg.jpg (36492 bytes)

Littelton Power Company.  Inside the large windows are control panels for the electrical grid.  All the  control panels and Illuminated signs were made from B&W transparencies with colored cells.  They were installed into a small light box, which was controlled by a multi-zone voltage controller so they could be balanced for viewing.

Al's loco at station.jpg (46031 bytes)

Challenger passes though Salida at dusk.

Als locos at caol facility.jpg (49822 bytes)

Big engines take on coal and sand.

Al's locos exiting tunnel.jpg (62036 bytes)

Big Boy exits tunnel.

Al's locos on JA bridge.jpg (59376 bytes)

4-12-2 crosses John Allen Memorial Bridge.  The truss was a kit, but the "bents" were constructed from paper gussets and wood verticals.


Al's UP on JM bridge.jpg (45383 bytes)

Gas Turbine crosses John Allen Memorial Bridge.

Als mine.jpg (54229 bytes)

Monarch Mining Company 

Als snowshed.jpg (55484 bytes)

DD40 exits snow shed.


Al's passengercar.jpg (34428 bytes)

Luxury Observation car built from a kit.

Al's roundhouse.jpg (60896 bytes)

Work and Maintenance cars beside the roundhouse