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From Across The Pond

In 1954 an English company called Tri-Ang started making what they called their Transcontinental models. These were principally North American in inspiration, although some were Australian. (There were three North American diesels, based on an RS2, and an F A unit - which one is not clear, 'though I've seen it captioned as an F7 - and a matching F B unit.) I started collecting these in the mid-1960s, along with my UK railways in various scales. The Transcontinental stock is HO, so is about the same profile as British 00. Both use 16.5 mm track.

I had never really had anywhere to run the TC stock, its flanges are too deep for the track I used for my OO models, but I always intended to build a small display layout so that wheels could turn in a 'realistic' setting. US railroads to me at that time were of endless trains stretching into the distance on a single straight track (which I now know you call a tangent track) across limitless open space towards a range of distant mountains.

In 2001 the magazine Railway Modeler (to which I have subscribed since 1955 and have collected earlier copies) had a cover mounted CD which it shared with its sister magazine Continental Modeler (which covers the rest of the world outside the UK!) One of the layouts featured on this CD was a small US layout serving a small town called Maria. This was the inspiration I needed. All I had to find was a prototype location named after my better half. (I'm sure she only married me because I had a model railway, and her Dad thought little girls should have dolls, and wouldn't buy her a train set.) An internet search revealed nowhere in the US named Doreen, or Frances, but ...... there is a Francesville. Bingo. This I discovered was served by a railroad of which I had never heard: the Monon. This fallen flag had a couple of online discussion groups, so I subscribed to see what I could learn. And boy, did I learn? My questions were always answered in great detail, and just watching the ongoing discussions was (and is) both educational and amusing. I needed to support my new found friends, so I joined the society.

I have had information and gifts sent to me by people I have only met on the lists. Tom Kepshire took series of photos of present day Francesville for me, and sent them to me on a CD, with a couple of track spikes from Francesville, and a Monon Fan T-shirt. I have also been sent a profile CD, Indiana maps, and Monon memorial information. I still live in hope of meeting all these great people face-to-face, to say thanks for introducing me to the real US of A.

I still haven't got a layout. We did start one, but then put the business here on the market, so we are now in that packed-and-ready-to-move limbo that comes when you want a buyer to see a tidy property into which they can move quickly. In the meantime, I keep reading, learning, and sometimes asking daft questions.

I guess from all the above that you will realize I am taking from the group more than I give, so this may not be relevant to your project, which I wholeheartedly applaud. You will see in the listserve archives that I have made several pleas for people to talk now, and caption their photos now, before the knowledge is lost!

George Coles
Blisworth Northampton England

Blisworth is a village of about 2,300 people. It is about 4 miles south of Northampton. Northampton is the county town of Northamptonshire, and has a population of around 260,000.

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