A Few Photos from Dick Knotts’ Layout

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Milepost 858

Back at Milepost 855, I mentioned my old friend Dick Knotts. Recently, I was looking for some other photos and ran across some pictures of his layout that he had sent me so I thought I’d share them with you so you could get a feel for the type of modeler that Dick was.

To start with, Dick was a camelback modeler. All of the locomotives on his layout except one, a Shay, were camelbacks. Many of those locos, Dick kitbashed himself as back when Dick was modeling in the 70s & 80s, there weren’t all that many camelback models available. He even got me hooked on trying my hand at a couple but that is a post that will probably not make publication.

Dick used to correspond via cassette tape which was nice as well. Every so often, I’d get a tape in the mail and listen to him for about 45 minutes tell me what was going on in his world including the latest additions and projects on the Troll & Elfin, the name of his railroad. This was a particularly effective way to communicate as he could literally walk me through a project or technique by describing it in detail as he went along. I’d receive far more in those recorded tapes than in a handwritten letter or one of todays way too brief emails.

Dick was also a pretty good photographer and this was in the days prior to digital photos and Photoshop. As can be seen in the model above, Dick actually put some smoke & steam in some of his photos. He did this by suspending gray & white cotton with a thread where the smoke should be. The “smoke” was moved so that it showed but the thread didn’t. Note the steam leaving the loco via the pop-off valve on the rear of the boiler and a little excess around the cylinders. Pretty realistic for the times.


Dick was also an active member of the National Model Railroad Association and several of his writings appeared in their monthly magazine. His railroad was featured in MODEL RAILROADER back in the early 1980s and was also featured on a layout tour when the NMRA held their annual convention in Washington, D.C. in the early 1980s as well. Janet & I were indeed fortunate to visit Dick and his wife, Fran, and have a personal tour of the T&E when we were in the Washington D.C. area one year while we were on vacation. They were the most gracious hosts.

It was great to have someone like Dick be sort of a mentor to me. He was always willing to help out with questions and was more than willing to share his knowledge with me and many others through his lifetime. I’m a better modeler today because of the things that my friend Dick Knotts encouraged me to try. That’s what it is all about.




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