My Gurus


A frequent contributor to Rails West, B. Smith’s LCN RR.

We all have been influenced by others at some point in our pursuit of model railroading. This post focusses on the folks who have profoundly influenced and inspired me.  You may know some of them, others may be new to you.

gil-freitag  I have to start out with the original influence–Gil Freitag.  As a fourth grader, my trips down the street to see Gil’s Stoney Creek & Western layout were just about all a 11-year old boy could handle.  Gil was very generous with me and let me borrow a lot of resources to help me learn all about the hobby.  I seriously doubt I’d be in the hobby today if it weren’t for my neighbor Gil.  He lived about 6 houses down the street from me in Houston, TX.  Click here for youtube of his layout


Gil Freitag’s masterpiece, the Stoney Creek & Western.

hpim0690  Next up is B. Smith, proprietor of the LCN RR.  He is a retired railroader among many other great pursuits.  He too has been very patient and nurturing as I have grown in the hobby.  He taught me a great deal about prototypical operations and how to make your layout function in a realistic manner.  He taught me how slow, realistic operations can really be rewarding–think about setting the brake, how the brakeman is going to get back in the cab, closing derails, etc.


One of the lonely stretches on B. Smith’s LCN RR.

B. Smith also exposed me to the virtues of isolated, generally peaceful and slow western operations.  There is something really special about railroading in the isolated West.  His work is featured often on this site.

61wslltik6l-_ux250_ Next up is Lance Mindheim.  Lance has inspired me to embrace right-sized layouts and also appreciate slow, realistic operations.  He is certainly among the very top modelers today, particularly in terms of creative approaches, blazing new paths, discovering compelling prototypes to model and realistic scenery.  For more on his outstanding work, click here. (His Los Angeles Junction Railway layout is featured above in cover photo.)


One of Lance’s previous layouts, East Rail.  –©photo by Lance Mindheim

01-weathering-confalone-intro-thumb Lastly, in terms of my gurus, is Mike Confalone.  Unlike the other three gentlemen featured above, I have never met Mike.  Nevertheless, I have drawn inspiration from him and find his work extremely impressive.  His Allagash Railway is amazing.  Click here to see more.


The Allagash Railway–©photo Mike Confalone.


The Allagash Railway–©photo Mike Confalone. The weathering is just superb.

These four people have had the most impact on my work.  The hobby is so lucky to have these guys.


There are many other folks whose work I find very compelling and would definitely belong on the “All-Star” team.  Here are just a few–

Filename: MRR-FE1113_02.psd Pelle Søeborg is one of the top modelers in the world today.  His depiction of modern western railroader is top notch.


Pelle’s layout–©photo Pelle Søeborg. A modern masterpiece.

maxresdefault Gary Christensen is truly a rockstar.  His weathering and diorama compositions are breathtaking.  For more of his work click here.


Breathtaking. Gary’s work is the best.–©photo Gary Christensen


img_4038_mrh Jimmy Simmons is a master model maker.  His Monster Model Works produces some of the finest models for layouts available today.  They build out very well and are not fussy like some wooden kits.  I have a few of his kits on the layout.  Click here for his site.


Jimmy’s work is spot on.–©photo Jimmy Simmons.


Jimmy is quite the modeler himself as well as a great producer of models.–©photo Jimmy Simmons.


One of Jimmy’s kits on my Rails West layout.

20244985620_a3b893bb39_b Butch Eyler is another weathering master.  I have had the pleasure of meeting Butch and watching him work at the Mid-Atlantic RPM each year. (The meet has been cancelled in 2017, but will likely be back in 2018.  Thanks to Norman Wolf, who is quite a modeler himself, it is a great meet each year.  Click here to see his operation.)


Butch is another master weatherer. –©photo Butch Eyler.


The rust is perfect! –©photo Butch Eyler.

His work looks just as good up close.

gsrpm-1 Ralph DeBlasi does great work modeling the Lehigh Valley.  His layout is beautiful and features an awesome fleet of Lehigh Valley locomotives.  I have seen Ralph’s work up close also at the Mid-Atlantic RPM.


Ralph is passionate about the Lehigh Valley and it shows!


His fleet of Lehigh Valley diesels are beaitiful.

I could go on and on, but I’ll share just one more…

“Mountain Goat” Greg has a nice website on his Northwest-themed modules.  He does some of the nicest interiors of any modelers I’ve seen.  Below is a rework of a Monster Model Works kits.  The results are very nice.  Click here to visit his site.


Mountain Goat Greg is an excellent builder of structures.


A master interior!

Again, there are many others, but these are the ones that come to mind right now.

Enjoy the links to these fine artists.  They are doing amazing work enriching our hobby and providing inspiration.  My thanks to all of them!



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