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Our visit with Ira and The Model RR Club

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  • Our visit with Ira and The Model RR Club

    After months of planning the big day came and we finally got to visit with Ira and The Model RR Club.

    Despite near hurricane conditions I think everyone had a great time.

    I know a lot of pictures were taken and I hope to see a lot them posted in this thread.

    It's going to take me a while to get mine processed but I did do a few as a teaser.

    One from Ira's layout.

    One of Ira's dining cars.

    And, one from the club.

    Follow along as my dog and I travel the country in our van.
    FaceBook link:

  • #2
    Indeed we had a great time in spite of the weather.

    Here is Rick doing what Rick does.



    • #3
      Two more of Ira's layout.

      Two more of Ira's dining car.

      Follow along as my dog and I travel the country in our van.
      FaceBook link:


      • #4
        Hi Rick, thanks for sharing with us these photos of Ira's work. He seems like the kinda guy I would like to know. I really admire his modelling, I look forward to seeing more of his work through your photos.

        Greg Shinnie


        • #5
          I agree, thanks for kicking of a teaser Rick. Looking forward to your other shots. Thanks for your time and sharing Rick and Bruce. :up:

          Louis L&R Western Railroad
          Pacific Northwest Logging in the East Coast


          • #6
            Thanks for the pictures, Rick. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest.

            "Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect." Captain A. G. Lamplugh


            • #7
              Rick; Amazing shots!

              N00b qustion - what scale is this layout?
              CEO, Lancre Valley Steam navigation Co.


              • #8
                I know I had a great time, yesterday. I continue to be amazed at Ira's work.

                I think Rick and I took many of the same shots. But, I will post three of my favorites from Ira's layout.



                • #9
                  It was great to see the RRL Jersey gang yesterday! We had a blast seeing two terrific layouts and enjoying each others company!

                  As Rick pointed out, our first stop was Ira's house. I was simply in awe at this man's talents. His layout is very nicely done with lot's of scratchbuilt structures. Ira was quick to point out the many structures that were miniatures of structures he designed for both the NYC and Public Service (what is now NJ Transit) during his years of employement there.

                  Here is the man himself, at his workbench, proudly showing off some of his beautifully done passenger cars.

                  Ira is quite the gentleman with a dry wit that kept us all on our toes! As we were admiring the under carriage details on one of his passenger cars, someone asked if the brakes worked, to which he quickly responded 'they would except I can't find scale air'!

                  I know Rick has lot's of pictures of some of Ira's work. In fact, here's a shot of Rick as we saw him most of the day; poised over his camera framing his next shot!

                  I tried to take some pictures of Ira's work, but my camera simply wasn't up to the task of capturing the details. Truthfully though, my hands were shaking so much from being so close to some of the best work I've ever seen that each picture came out as a blur!

                  Rick thought that SteamNut and I would get a kick out of the technology that Ira incorporates into his layout. Ira did show off his control panel which he admits is 1960's technology, but as would be expected, it is neatly done, all wiring neatly cabled and organized, and the layout runs extremely smooth!

                  Needless to say, his layout features all handlaid track!

                  More to come...


                  • #10
                    This was our group's first visit in four years.

                    Ira, the "Wizard of Cranford," keeps himself in fine physical and mental shape. That's him at the right with Dutchman on the left:

                    Here he is at his workbench showing Snarlman some of his meticulous craftsmanship:

                    Some of Ira's masterpieces are his passenger cars:

                    The fully detailed interiors give no indication that they started life as La Belle kits. Love that 22 pound turkey and the sinkful of dirty dishes:

                    By the way-- the dinnerware you see on the tables in Rick's shot above was all hand-filed from nickel silver!

                    I'll close for now with this shot. In the rear you can see some of Ira's beautiful 'stained glass.' In the foreground is an old-timey gon he completely scratchbuilt except for the trucks. Turn the brake wheel and the brakes close on one of the trucks:



                    • #11
                      While my photos don't compare to those of Rick's or George's for that matter, hopefully I can contribute some what to give you all an idea of the wonderment we experienced at Ira's.

                      As has already been discussed, we all were overwhelmed with the detail in his cars, particularly these passenger cars. The details included eggs frying in a pan on the range, dirty dishes in the sink, china stacked in a china closet in the dining cars, mail with postage stamps being sorted in the RPO, and envelopes in the sorting boxes! The list just goes on and on, but Ira didn't miss one detail on these cars.

                      I know Rick got some great shots and I can't wait to see more of his pics.

                      The rest of Ira's layout is great as well. Ira worked for the NYC and Public Service, now known as NJ Transit, and designed many buildings from both entities.

                      One such structure is this engine house, which is a design he submitted for a NYC structure. He has all the support structures in place for this area.

                      A very nice detail that Ira scratchbuilt is this tank car unloading platform, which is a model of one actually used on the NYC. Fuel was pumped out of the tank cars and pumped into the holding tanks which can be seen in the pic above.

                      The interior of the engine house is completely detailed as well. Notice the interior lighting as well. I know, there are some stricking comparison's to the Walther's kit, aren't there? But this one is for real!

                      I particularly liked the backside of the structure as well, which gives the structure a lot of character.

                      Another overall shot of the engine facility complex from the other side of the layout.



                      • #12
                        Here's a few more shots of the crew in Ira's basement.

                        Mark F. talking with Ira about his engine servicing area. That's Mark Brunton half hidden by the light fixture.

                        Ira with Chuck (wvrr). Ira's about ready to remove the roof on one of his scratchbuilt cars. If it is a passenger car or a caboose, Ira has removable roofs and full interior detailing.

                        Bruce (Steam Nut) and Mark B. (Brunton). The area that Bruce is examining contains Ira's traction facilities. It looks like I caught Mark cleaning his glasses - something I had to do repeatedly since we kept going out in the rain.



                        • #13
                          On a table next to Ira's workbench was a stack of his 'sketches'. This will give you an idea of what Ira does in preparation for a scratchbuild. Remember that Ira was trained as an engineer (and draftsman) in the years before CAD.



                          • #14
                            I just re-read the thread so far and I realized that some of you may not know what we mean by
                            "The Model Railroad Club." It is located in central NJ not far from where Ira lives.

                            Read about it here:



                            • #15
                              I know that we could show Ira's interior decoration skills forever. Here is another shot of the interior of his 'latest' dining car. The kit itself started out as a LaBelle kit. I believe Ira told me he worked on this particular car for about 30 years - off and on. (He has other un-built Labelle passenger car kits on the shelf, but thought he wouldn't start another - he wasn't sure he would be modeling 30 years from now. I'm not sure.)

                              This 'breakfront' (China Cabinet) has shelves in it full with china that he turned on his lathe. The plates are brass - he paints them white and then rubs the paint off the top edges, making them look like gold leaf. Remember this is HO. Notice the lamps near the top of the side walls. Each table has a complete setting including salt & pepper shakers, sugar containers, vases with flowers, etc. He hand carved each chair individually - not molds and casting for Ira. Each chair is made from three pieces - the back (including the rear legs), the seat, and the front legs. Now you can see why it was a 30-year project.