Friday, May 1, 2015

"Friendly Fridays... The B&M Cheshire Branch."

Jim Dufour's careful re-creation of the Boston & Maine's Cheshire Division circa late 1940's is a real labor of love. His research on the New Hampshire portion of this line focused on five consecutive stations just over the Massachusetts line.
It consumes most of his 17' x 28' townhome basement and was begun in 2005.

Jim runs a combination of steam and first generation diesel. His track plan is single track around the basement walls with a peninsula and run-through staging that is segregated, but visible and readily accessible as it runs against the back of the stairway landing. Because of that configuration, there are no duck-unders or gates required for visitors or operators to negotiate. Utilities have been effectively screened from view and fascia and skirting complete the layout's presentation.

Jim's use of photographic backdrops expand scenes very effectively. He shot this photo himself on location. The double-arched bridge still stands today near the state line. Jim scratch built it using resin casting techniques.

The J. M. Parker grain elevator at Fitzwilliam was scratchbuilt based on an old postcard that Jim acquired. To his credit, he has the good sense to employ a B&O hopper here.

The pastoral nature of this line is evident, as is the time period and season being modeled through details along the right-of-way and gravel road.

Milk train #5500 rolls through the town of Troy where Jim is carefully custom building the downtown structures and local businesses. B&M structures proudly show their colors throughout the layout.

The scenic area of Troy Ledges is on the peninsula portion of the layout and depicts the railroad crossing over both the Ashuelot River and the Old Keene-Troy Road. This scene was a railfan's paradise prior to Route 12 highway improvements.

The Mudsucker Run makes its way east bound around the peninsula end on this mostly wall-hugging layout. Jim has taken advantage of the peninsula's depth to depict the most rugged scenery on the layout.

The depot at Webb is dwarfed by the hilly backdrop... another example that dramatically expands the scene. Overall, the backdrops are a combination of both personal and commercial photographs that have been enlarged and printed for mounting.

The area around the Golding Keene loadout is still getting some final scenery touches. The industry was a local company that mined feldspar, an abrasive-type ore that is the main ingredient in Bon Ami household cleanser.

Jim has some terrific videos on You Tube that he and friends have produced. Click here to get started on them. He also was a subject of Model Railroad Hobbyist's Train Master's TV series this past March. Jim is an active member and contributor to the Boston & Maine Railroad Historical Society. He'll be a clinician at the New England/Northeast RPM in Collinsville, CT, May 29-30th. 
Jim is located midway between Boston and Worcester and typically holds open houses in the fall and just before the big Springfield show in January. Check the Cheshire out. You'll be pleased that you did.

Train 5503, the Green Mountain, is photographed  at Troy Ledges in November 1951. Which is the model and which is the prototype?



  1. Jim's layout is one of my all-time favourites. I'm glad he's getting more recognition for his work and your photos are terrific - thanks for sharing them here.
    I would add that Jim's layout occupies the basement, but there's actually quite a bit of open space in the room, which makes it easier to host visitors. It's a great example of a layout that is not so complex that it'll become a maintenance nightmare, while still offering entertaining operations and a lifetime of challenging modeling projects.
    Here's a direct link to the TrainMasters TV segment on this wonderful slice of the Boston and Maine.
    - Trevor (Port Rowan in 1:64)

  2. Trevor - Your piece on the Cheshire in the 'achievable layouts' part of your blog is spot-on... and BTW, not all photos are mine... a few were provided by Jim via email updates during the past year, although at this point I have no idea which are which... thanks for checking in.

  3. Thanks Jim for pointing me to this post - which I'd missed. So nice to get to "visit" the layout again through your writing and your (and Jim's) photos!

    1. I enjoyed your post, too!... a great review, plus an enjoyable update of newly completed scenes... I especially liked viewing photographs that gave a little more context than the traditional close-ups... see you 'round - JF