Author Topic: So who's doing circus modeling?  (Read 1097 times)

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randgust

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So who's doing circus modeling?
« on: January 10, 2018, 09:13:40 PM »
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Since I discovered that the scroll-covered Queen Anne historic house just down the street from me was owned by J. Augustus Jones, owner of Cole Bros. Circus 1915-17, I've had a ball researching the story and discovering that he 'probably' was also the driving force behind the invention of the 70' Warren Flat (built right here), as he was an investor in the local railcar company as well as on the board of the bank that financed the equipment trusts.   This was like ground zero in this town for early railroad circus development.

So off on another oddball modeling tangent, I've been slowly building a "Cole Bros. World Toured Circus" train of that era.  So far I've got two of the WONDERFUL wood stock car kits from Dietrich (one stock, one elephant), six flats (1 N kits and five MT's) and a couple ancient passenger cars (Western Railcraft).  That's almost as long as his actual train of the era.   And I'm having fun with the wagons - I'm designing my own in resin from scratchbuilt masters and redoing MT's with my own decals.  Another story.

So who else is doing what?   I have to admit I fell in love with the carnival N-trak module with that fantastic light and animation show that was at Altoona a couple years ago and was surprised to find an online video of it by Peteski that he did the light and animation package?   Holy smokes.. freakin' awesome....for anybody that hasn't seen it: 


I thought N logging was tough, this may be tougher to pull off, so I'm wondering what other stuff is out there I'm missing and if anybody else is trying to do an OLD circus train like I am.   Some of the coolest stuff seems to have disappeared - I can't get any response out of Sparkling Star models for some of those really nice wagons they had at one time.

I'm not ready to do a whole circus for sure....he said...

   

peteski

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Re: So who's doing circus modeling?
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2018, 09:46:30 PM »
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Thanks for your kind words!

Actually Randy, that video shows our carnival (not circus) NTRAK modules. There is a difference (but many people do not realize it).
While both are traveling exhibits, carnival is mostly amusement games with some side-shows, while circus is mostly exhibits in tents (not rides).

This is a collaboration between Roland Kelley and me. He does the research and model building while I do lights and animation. Most of the wagons are scratch-built and decorated with custom decals.

But since you mentioned circus, our modules are actually designed to be either a Royal American Shows Carnival, or Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus (depicting the entrance, sideshow and the menagerie tents).  The carnival and circus scenes are inserts which plug into the NTRAK module. Roland also modeled the RKB&B train which is displayed when he displays the circus scene.  This has been (and still is) a fun project.   There is an article in the works (will be published in the N-Scale magazine when I finally finish my part).

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prbharris

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Re: So who's doing circus modeling?
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2018, 03:11:53 AM »
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This is a collaboration between Roland Kelley and me. He does the research and model building while I do lights and animation.

I have to admit I fell in love with the carnival N-trak module with that fantastic light and animation show that was at Altoona a couple years ago and was surprised to find an online video of it by Peteski that he did the light and animation package.....

I, too, loved the module; it was great to see the modules in real life and to chat to you both a while back. You have a fantastic collaboration.

While both are traveling exhibits, carnival is mostly amusement games with some side-shows, while circus is mostly exhibits in tents (not rides).

The books on the era by Circus World Museum 'Trains of the Circus 1872-1956' and 'Show Trains of the 20th Century' both by Fred Dahlinger Jnr really demonstrate the difference. Both though used the Warren and Mt Vernon style cars - the prototype of the www.nscalekits.com cars - indeed the Strates Show still uses one of the 70' falt cars as its end car for lading purposes 'circus style'.

So off on another oddball modeling tangent, I've been slowly building a "Cole Bros. World Toured Circus" train of that era.....So who else is doing what?   I thought N logging was tough, this may be tougher to pull off, so I'm wondering what other stuff is out there I'm missing and if anybody else is trying to do an OLD circus train like I am.

There are quite a number of circus modelers out there, and many are now incorporating trains in their models. It would be good to see some other demos. I am looking forward to hear how you are getting on, Randy.

Some of the coolest stuff seems to have disappeared - I can't get any response out of Sparkling Star models for some of those really nice wagons they had at one time.

It does seem that there is a market for additional wagons - the MT ones are a good start. We have some good drawings....so what is the interest?

Peter

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up1950s

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Re: So who's doing circus modeling?
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2018, 07:49:08 AM »
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I have interest in rubber tire wagons of the 40's and 50's . They also can be used as construction site lockers and offices .

randgust

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Re: So who's doing circus modeling?
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2018, 08:15:20 AM »
+1
While digging around for Cole information the other night I stumbled on this one.    It's a little out of my era although I suspect some of those wagons date that far back.  It looks like all they did was put tires on wagons that had wagon wheels before.

This is just amazing and priceless- Cole Circus setup and prep in 1950, in color.    One of the things I noticed was how...well....weathered things look on a lot of the wagons.   I don't thing I've ever seen circus modeling where there was any appreciable weathering.

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Train stuff is at the front, but the whole video is unlike anything I've ever seen before - this is the real deal instead of the modern-day Ringling and Baraboo circus train stuff.    And notice the near-grimy condition of the actual Big Top.

mcjaco

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Re: So who's doing circus modeling?
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2018, 09:20:45 AM »
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Calling @altohorn25. Come in good buddy.


narrowminded

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Re: So who's doing circus modeling?
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2018, 06:05:41 PM »
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That movie clip is outstanding, Randy! 8)
Mark G.

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Re: So who's doing circus modeling?
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2018, 06:10:12 PM »
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I model four different era circus trains.  I have the MTL P T Barnum train (cute but not very accurate), the MTL 1980's RBBB train (white scheme), the MTL 1990-2017 train (silver scheme) and a scratch built 1932 RBBB train.  The 1932 train is based on the car list in "The Circus Moves by Rail"  The Circus at that time moved in four sections.

 I model a modified version of the first section. (combining the wild animal cage wagons of the first section with the wagons carrying the big top from the second section).  My goal is to have all four sections (40 flats, 23 stock cars, 25 coaches, currently I have 22 flats, 13 stock cars, 4 coaches)

The main difficulty is finding wagon wheels for the various wagons.  When I built the 1932 train, about 1985, I think I cleaned out the entire stock of Preiser farm wagons in the country, to get wheels.  The baggage wagons are blocks of wood, various actual lengths, with scale boards on the sides for bracing.  Now that I have enough MTL cage wagons, I am now turning my scratch built cage wagons into more baggage wagons.  The tent pole wagons are scribed wood decks with a bulkhead front end, MTL flat car stakes for the sides and wires cut to proper length and number, for the various tents (only the big top at this time, Menagerie tent coming soon).

North Bank Road

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Re: So who's doing circus modeling?
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2018, 11:46:37 PM »
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Thanks for sharing this clip Randy. I too have been modeling Cole Bros. in N scale for some time. I will look forward to seeing your wagons. I noticed in the video that these wagons all had the hard rubber wagon tires. The weathering was there, but short lived as usually everything got a fresh coat of paint before the new season began. The Cole Bros. circus is a bit harder to model, since no one produces these for sale. Everything I have done is with custom made decals purchased off the market. It is getting better, but would always like to see more. The freight and pole wagon is a niche that needs filled. I sure wish Star models produce a few more.

Thanks again, Rick

prbharris

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Re: So who's doing circus modeling?
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2018, 02:37:15 AM »
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These sound great projects - thanks for these, and the video that I have not seen before. We have decals for the Coles Brothers Mt Vernon and Warren 70' flat cars that we produce.

The main difficulty is finding wagon wheels for the various wagons. 
As it happens we  have a pattern for [and indeed have produced] some 'gun cart' wheels from an unmarketed Model T Ford project that was commissioned but never followed up [the measurements supplied to us were incorrect!]. I have not got the dimensions of the wheels but these might work - they are cast metal. If there is interest, I will get more details and post them here.

Peter

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altohorn25

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Re: So who's doing circus modeling?
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2018, 11:17:08 AM »
+4
Here' some of my "circus" modeling (I don't have access to any of my other pics here at work).  This is a 29 car wild west show train I'm working on that was on the rails for about 3 months in 1938.  Each wagon is scratch built from the original dimensions.  It  will be a pretty neat looking train when it is all finished.  All the stock and flat cars were manufactured by Warren Tank Car Company. [ Guests cannot view attachments ] [ Guests cannot view attachments ] [ Guests cannot view attachments ] [ Guests cannot view attachments ] [ Guests cannot view attachments ] [ Guests cannot view attachments ]

The rubber tires are from semi bogies.

Besides this train, I have a 1970's Royal American Shows Carnival Train, a 1940's RBBB Train, and a 1990's RBBB Train.

Lots of possibilities for modeling some interesting equipment when you do these kind of trains.
Nate Pierce
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randgust

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Re: So who's doing circus modeling?
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2018, 04:29:25 PM »
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Wow, that's cool.   I've seen that in the circus books but how did you ever figure out the colors??

I've got three different wagons in resin that I've already done that I'm probably going to offer.   I've also done my own decals for Cole for the "Cole Bros. World Toured Shows" which is what it was advertised as during my time period.    I'm really trying to find out what else is available so I'm not duplicating anything else out there, this is too small of a niche to be competing against each other.   But anybody doing this needs a crapload of wagons.  I can't imagine modeling all four sections of RBB&B!

If you're looking for circus and wagon wheels I'd recommend Grandt Line, as they even sell in bulk on unpackaged sprues if you ask.   The wheels on my kits will be from them.   If you look closely, you'll see that's what MT used as well.  You really can't beat them.

http://www.grandtline.com/for-the-model-railroading/n-scale-model-railroad/

I never could figure out how "Warren Tank Car" got into the circus car business until you trace the history of J. Augustus Jones.   He and his brother Elmer originally came from here and did several circuses.  But he was a good enough businessman he also was on the board of the bank, owned a furniture company and I suspect an interest in Warren Tank Car.   The first steel cars from Warren came on the same year he re-equipped the Cole Bros circus.  I haven't categorically proven he commissioned the Warren car design, but the dots are awfully close together.   The remaining Warren flatcars out at the Baraboo Circus Museum have trust plates from the Warren Savings Bank, which is the one he was a director of.  If I look to my left out of my office window, that ornate brick bank building is still right there in all its glory.

Bank director or not, he was so 'hands on' with his Circus that he was kicked in the knee while loading one of the horses in the circus stock car, and it got infected.  He barely made it home, and died there at age 50 from the injury.   His monument in the local cemetery is truly heartbreaking - its not broken, it is to symbolize a life cut tragically short:  http://www.warrenhistory.org/People%20&%20Places%20Trunk/9Jones%20Grave%20site.jpg 
His house is just around the corner from mine, walk by it twice a day, and always wondered why it had so much scrollwork gingerbread on it until I discovered who once owned it. 
   http://www.warrenhistory.org/People%20&%20Places%20Trunk/9Jones%20Circus.html
Another curious fact is that the circus pioneers such as Barnum and Cole regularly sold and leased their names to other circuses.  Jones was out under his own name for a couple years, and then leased the Cole name.
His brother Elmer stayed in the Circus 'two car show' business for many years, and his animals reportedly were wintered over locally, including a camel, which is documented in local photos.
Warren car is still standing and operates as Warren Railcar Repair.   I hung out in the office during college in the 70's, but no remaining photos or documentation from the circus era had survived even then.   The owner has enjoyed my research as I've stumbled onto stuff over the years.   I'm trying to make my train correct enough to end up at the local historical society as an exhibit when I'm done with it.
I've always considered my town the 'birthplace of the modern intermodal flatcar' until proven otherwise, and also noticed the extreme resemblance between the first 75' F39 PRR intermodal flats and a Warren circus flat.  Again, dots are awfully close together there.

And, finally, not all Warren flats look exactly alike.  I've seen variations on the curves of the side girders with changes in the arc of the arches, and whether or not it is top, bottom, or both.   The N scale kits one has a pronounced top arch, the MT car is almost flat.  The MT car also comes with extended coupler roller bearings, and that's not really right.   The cars ran very closely coupled, and had at least Bettendorfs and maybe archbars when first built.  The one surviving Warren flat on the Strates train does have roller bearing trucks under it.   So you can mix up your train with the two flavors of Warren, NSC's Mount Vernon flat, etc.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2018, 05:03:56 PM by randgust »

altohorn25

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Re: So who's doing circus modeling?
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2018, 11:25:29 PM »
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Some pics of the other trains I mentioned in my previous post:

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prbharris

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Re: So who's doing circus modeling?
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2018, 03:45:02 AM »
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Wow, that's cool.   I've seen that in the circus books but how did you ever figure out the colors??....

I've always considered my town the 'birthplace of the modern intermodal flatcar' until proven otherwise, and also noticed the extreme resemblance between the first 75' F39 PRR intermodal flats and a Warren circus flat.  Again, dots are awfully close together there.....

And, finally, not all Warren flats look exactly alike.  I've seen variations on the curves of the side girders with changes in the arc of the arches, and whether or not it is top, bottom, or both.   The N scale kits one has a pronounced top arch, the MT car is almost flat.  The MT car also comes with extended coupler roller bearings, and that's not really right.   The cars ran very closely coupled, and had at least Bettendorfs and maybe archbars when first built.  The one surviving Warren flat on the Strates train does have roller bearing trucks under it.   So you can mix up your train with the two flavors of Warren, NSC's Mount Vernon flat, etc.

I have really enjoyed your research on the very earliest intermodal cars!! The earliest specially made flat car that I am aware of was the Brill 50' car for the Great London Circus in 1880! These were wooden - and it was the introduction of steel in the 1920's that led to the 70' cars we are discussing here.

However, I would argue that the Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee 'Ferry-Truck' cars, of 1926, although later than the 19th century start of circus flat cars, was a more 'comprehensive' albeit less common service!

With regards to paint schemes - there are a few color pictures that I have in our research library, but by far the most comprehensive data I have seen is from the Carstens 'Rail-Craft Library' pamphlet C29  Ed Harold H Carstens, Carsten Publications [1975] 'Circus Trains and Modeling'  Fredon NJ. Although in black and white the inside pages give examples of 18 different circus and show paint schemes on Warren and Mt Vernon cars. These were taken from more contemporary articles [that I have not seen, and do not know the date of]  from Railroad Model Craftsman by Ross Porter, Emmett Kelly Jnr and Paul Larson. Does anyone have access to these?

The difference in the radius of the side sills between MT and our Warren cars is probably a 'mistake'. We took our dimensions from the drawings - and a lot later realized that the loaded wagons, at 70', sagged, reducing the upper sill curve! This can be clearly seen in a number of pictures of loaded and unloaded Warren cars in one consist - but this does not negate your comments, that a consist ccan have a nunmber of different looks including the Warren and Mt Vernon cars. It seems that circus owners were not particularly bothered about a systematic consist - it just had to look 'eye catching'!

Do keep those N Scale Circus and Show trains coming - they look great.

Peter

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Mark W

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Re: So who's doing circus modeling?
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2018, 01:25:45 PM »
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Some pics of the other trains I mentioned in my previous post:



My father recently began trying to collect this train.  Do you run yours often?  We're finding the Con-Cor cars will not stay coupled at all.  I plan to begin converting everything to body-mounts and re-build the bolster pin mounts. 

Also looks like you found/made a the bus!  Any more info on that?


Lots of cool videos on the modern prototype on Youtube. 
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