Most custom painted and weathered rolling stock are sold out. What remains may be seen and is for sale at The Great Model Train Shows in Timonium MD. (www.gsmts.com). I will not be producing any more weathered plastic cars…….About the Structures
Meet Howard Zane
I literally entered the hobby at age 3 with my dad. We had a huge pike which although I did not assist in building during my early youth, I learned how to do almost everything in the hobby from dad and his friends. This layout was rather advanced and Dad pioneered many techniques which are now standard techniques used by many today. Every structure was scratch-built on this 1:48 pike. It was this experience that drove me into industrial design and architecture….and of course into model railroading.
I went on to earn a degree in industrial design from NYU and graduated from Parsons School of Design in 1961. Several years were also spent in Europe studying fine art and advanced design at Universities of London and Paris. The Army eventually got me as a reluctant guest at first, then taught me about airplanes and helicopters, and after many years in the service, I went on to commercial flying for a total of 18 years. Then at age 39, my love of fine art beat out flying, so I began an industrial design firm, went back to folk music playing 5 string clawhammer banjo, guitar, and several other instruments (www.newsoutherncowtippers.com) , and painting and sketching. My design firm, “Imagery” specialized in designing, fabricating and installing sales centers for new housing projects. Many times presentations required scale models of homes, which I was the model maker. It was this experience where I learned styrene techniques as 95% of my models were constructed from Plexiglas and Styrene. I also did literally over a thousand renderings using several techniques.
Just as fine art again bit me at age 39, now at age 49, model railroading really bit me in the butt…and big time. With the help of Ken Young, we started the Great Scale Model Train show (www.gsmts.com) which is now in its 31st year. I became a dealer in brass models, and began Howard Zane and associates building scale models for model railroads. Somewhere during this period I also owned a rather large hobby shop specializing in trains. My own layout, The Piermont Division has grown to almost 3000 square feet, and has been featured in three Allen Keller videos, and several others including Kalmbach’s “Dream, Plan, and Build” series. Several articles written by me and others have appeared in the model railroad press including how to use red rosin paper for scenery.
I have written a book on my layout and techniques which there are still a few copies left. Over 4200 have been sold (www.zanestrains.com).
I have been constructing and building structures for two fairly large ”O” scale layouts in the west henceforth my not attending to this site. I could not have taken on anymore work during this period. As these layouts are now taking shape, I now have time to continue with my own custom building.
Please look at Photos of the High-Rail layout I’m building in Boulder, CO. With help from Keith Albright, Bill Carl, and Joe Moltz of the Four County Society of Model Engineers, the benchwork and much of the track work was done in two sessions. I have built all of the structures and scenery on this soon to be exciting pike. Work is only about 20% complete. Even though this pike is 3 rail, all else is completely scale including weathered equipment. The other layout is in Richland, WA. The client will be building the layout. I’m constructing the structures to both his and my designs.
BUT SOON I will be offering custom built rolling stock constructed from wood. These will be built from my collection of over 1400 kits accumulated over the years. All are long out of production except for Labelle. These will be kits from Ambroid/Northeastern, Quality Craft, Gloor Craft, Labelle, Main Line, H-D, Taylor, Empire City, CRM, Suncoast, Olympic Cascadian, Scotia, and several others from golden age of model railroading. Newer wood kit offerings such as AMB/Lasercraft are magnificent, but too expensive to be able to turn a profit. If asked I will be most happy to build a customer supplied laser cut kit.
Cars will be air-brush painted and either decaled or have dry transfer graphics from my huge collection of Champ and CDS decals and transfers. All will have finishes in scale (realistic weathering) and with light weathering on trucks. Rolling stock will have underbody details, cut levers and air hoses. All will have either Kadee’s # 5 or #58 couplers and Proto 2000 trucks of appropriate design. (NOTE: I love Central Valley and Kadee trucks, but the rolling qualities of Proto 2000 trucks are hard to beat). Cars will be packaged in foam lined custom boxes. I will be building mainly prototypes from the 1890 to 1960 era. I will construct modern cars on request and I will also build kits supplied by customers.
After viewing the last video of Allen Keller’s #58 on my Piermont Division, I noticed that the hundreds of RTR, but well weathered cars left me a bit cold as they were art without a soul….and worse, mostly built off shore. The then few custom built wood cars appeared as grains of wheat in a barrel full of rat droppings, and offered the look I had been long seeking. Since, I have sold 95% of my plastic rolling stock and constructed over 350 wood cars from kits and scratch. Of course no one can construct a kit and have it appear as good as a current Kadee, Spring Mills Depot, or other fine RTR plastic car…..but I and many want the look of hand built wood rolling stock and structures. THIS IS WHAT I DO!
If ever in Columbia, MD, please stop in and visit the Piermont Division….and see first- hand what hand built and scratch built rolling stock and structures can look like in the flesh. These older wood kits may not be found in hobby shops. The only really decent source would be train shows and on-line auctions.
Huge changes on the Piermont Division pike……
I began with HO in this hobby as an Erie steam modeler in 1962 as I grew up on the Erie mainline in northern New Jersey. I also had an uncle who ran a K1 and K2 from Suffern, NY to Jersey City often taking me along. At the time, the only available Erie loco was a K5a Pacific imported by Max Gray in 1962….and then a Triplex by Leonard Blum (LMB) the same year. The triplex was neat, but not in the era I chose to model. Akane had USRA heavy Pacific’s, Mikes and 2-10-2’s that were close and I had several, but just not exact. I was a rivet counter then.
There was virtually nothing in passenger cars or cabeese except a generic design by Silver Streak with a completely wrong logo and font. Anything else would have had to been scratch-built or kit-bashed. Since I had briefly worked on the Southern Pacific in 1958, I then choose to model the SP. After army service in 1969, I was attracted to PRR, but that was the opposite of being an Erie modeler…..just too much available and it seemed that most folks I met in the hobby were modeling Pennsy at the time. When I began my current layout in 1983, I again gave Erie a try as more items became available. Around 1986 a fellow who attended an open house and also an Erie nut from Ohio, offered to purchase my entire Erie inventory. I accepted the offer and due to recent forays into West Virginia, I became hooked on the Western Maryland and C&O with some B&O tossed in for flavoring. My new scenery was heavily influenced by West Virginia, and surrounding states in the mid-Atlantic. From then until just recently I enjoyed building the layout, but dropped the Western Maryland theme coming up with a rationale that the Piermont Division leased aging and unwanted steam and diesels from just about every railroad on the North American continent. Thus I found myself playing with toys from many roads, but rail-fanning only. What I recently discovered left me cold, as I was modeling with and building choo choo’s I had never seen prototypes for. That coupled with watching an incredible video of Erie steam operations in New Jersey and New York set the stage for the future of my railroad.
Since October, I have acquired over 50 Erie steam locos, painted most of them except the recent PSC K5’s. built around 2o F&C Stillwell coaches along with finding several NWSL and RWKS Stillwells. I built 16 quality craft Erie Wood cabeese and around ½ dozen JJL Erie Dunmore crummies. There is much more.
I have decided to keep the name as Piermont, NY was once the Erie’s eastern terminus and gateway to New York City. Theme??? At this time I’m just not sure how to tie my many coal mines into this new design ( I do have several options). The scenery in Northwest Jersey and west of Port Jervis in quite similar to what I have now( except for the run along the Delaware River). That eliminates a major problem, but there is nothing even close now that would resemble Port Jervis and west. I’ll most likely convert my most recent yard and area to Port Jervis as the terrain is the closet. The Pt. Jervis station is among the most beautiful if not the most magnificent mid- sized depot in the country, and it will be my first new structure. I will not model east of Pt. Jervis as even in the 40’s, this area would not work as it was just too built up and flat. Allen Keller did a video in the mid-90’s on Harold Werthwein’s Erie pike. It is huge and quite well done…..but from what I can see from the video is how truly wonderful is his model of the Port Jervis depot . That will be an inspiration for me.
I’m also not sure at this time whether I am going to convert much of the pike to actual locations, or keep things mythical as I do now…but with Erie equipment. If I was not such an old sumbitch, it would be a no-brainer to strip everything down to the bench-work work and basic wiring and start over.
I still may re-do parts of the layout. The approval is still good for my 1600 square foot extension, but then again at 75……am I nuts!!!!! Don’t answer that !!
Please stop over anytime.
I’m adding several new structures in both HO and O scales. I no longer construct from styrene since I discovered Mt. Albert basswood products from Hunterline Models out of Canada. High rise, concrete, metal faced, and brick faced buildings will be still constructed from super-braced styrene and natural wood used were deemed appropriate. Decades back I also worked exclusively in wood, but the quality of what then was available drove me into styrene construction. I have over the years learned and pioneered several techniques with this medium, but quality wood has always been my first choice.
When attending one of our Timonium, MD shows, please visit Hunterline from Canada. Rick and Maureen carry a complete assortment of Mt Albert wood products. Also see what they have built and the wonderful kits they are offering from basswood. There is nothing in the RTR and plastic worlds than can hold a candle to this type of building and product.
Many buildings on this site have been sold, but I can easily again build the one you choose. I may change some details as I never build two exactly alike. Also any shown structure may be constructed in” HO” or “O”. I most likely can build in other scales but have not done so to date. If a sold structure is desired, we will have to discuss price as costs have gone up for materials since these were listed four years ago. Also please understand that I no longer work for $3 per hour…although still many are shocked that I don’t...
If a building is shown in one scale and you choose this building to be built in another scale, I will not and cannot guarantee exactness as commercial castings and detail parts are not available in all scales. I will, however, guarantee closeness and satisfaction.
All structures are original designs by me. I’ll only copy a building or a whatever if I like the design. Many of the single family house designs are what I refer to as Appalachian Gothic, a fictional label based on Victorian, but could have been constructed in the Appalachians during the early 20th Century. I love true Victorian architecture, and I’m excited to build such a structure, but not on speculation. There would be just too many hours to be able to turn a profit. I have built several true Victorians, but by special request and price.
Buildings have both interior and exterior 12 volt lighting. Multiple fixtures are placed so as to simulate actual evening appearance….NOT a single “tinplate” type large bulb in center of building. Buildings shown on dioramas may be removed from diorama setting if to be placed on a layout not requiring a scenic background. Or I can easily show how to install the diorama in an existing layout. I’m also available to do this work on your layout if needed.
I prefer not to ship and strongly recommend either a pick up here or delivery by me or a third party. If shipping is required, package will be fully insured. If a postal claim is to be made…either you the customer will do the paper work and necessary communications with shipper, or if I do this, there will be an hourly charge of $25. Structures if wrapped properly have survived the wrath of commercial shipping, but there is no guarantee other than reimbursement.
This site was last updated on 10/7/2013