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Meet the Modeler: Richard Weatherby

By Rene Schweitzer | August 3, 2021

From Lionel Standard gauge, LGB, and even ride-on trains, Richard enjoys model trains in a big way

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Scratchbuilt lumber mill
Vintage photo of small child watching toy trains run
Richard Weatherby at approximately age 5, watching the “Christmas Garden” display built by his dad.

How did you get started in the hobby?

I definitely remember my early years (age 5) with my first tinplate locomotive. My father built what is known locally as “Christmas Garden.” The outside loop was Lionel Standard gauge, while the inner figure eight was a wind-up O gauge passenger train.

I am celebrating 75 years in the train hobby and for the past 40 years have encouraged my two sons. We have had HO train layouts. Now, in addition to our garden railway, we have ride-on trains with big trestles (see photo below). The irony is we live on the abandoned ROW of the Maryland & Pennsylvania RR, near where I grew up in the Towson area.

Man on a ride-on train over a trestle
Richard and his son enjoy ride-on trains in their backyard. He built the 16-foot high trestle. Photo by Richard Weatherby

What was your first large scale locomotive?

My first “large-scale” locomotive was the Lionel tinplate 400E. When my boys were young, we figured they would not be able to put small gauge trains on the track, so we bought an early (1970s) LGB Stainz passenger set.

A Lionel Standard gauge 400E locomotive
Richard still has his first “large-scale” engine, a Lionel Standard gauge 400E. Photo by Richard Weatherby

What’s your favorite part of the hobby?

Being an architect, my favorite part of the hobby is the built environment, i.e. buildings and structures. I love making buildings with different materials including wood, metal, concrete, plastic, and fabric. The photos below show some examples of my projects.

What’s your least favorite part?

Garden railroad projects made from plastic
Photo by Richard Weatherby

My least favorite part of the hobby is gardening. Our yard seems to be 80% rock and 20% dirt, and a shovel really doesn’t work. The steep hillside is difficult, but on the upside, it has allowed multiple levels of track loops and trestles.

A garden railway built on a slope with trestles
Richard’s Maryland & Pennsylvania RR. His property was once part of the prototype’s main line. Photo by Richard Weatherby

What has been your biggest modeling success?

One of my biggest modeling successes was a wood shop made from salvaged cedar lumber. I biscuit joined the boards together and then ran the panels through my table saw with a dado blade to make “board and batten” siding, or tilted the blade to make shingles. After cutting shapes and window openings, everything was glued together to make an appropriate lumber mill (see photo below).

Scratchbuilt lumber mill
Richard’s scratchbuilt lumber mill. Photo by Richard Weatherby

What was your biggest modeling mistake?

My biggest modeling mistake, according to my son Dedric, is my trestles are built upside down and therefore the bents (vertical frames) are perpendicular to the track instead of vertical (plumb) from the ground. I need to slope the working surface to match the track, but keep the bents vertical.

What advice would you give to a new hobbyist?

Jump right into the hobby! Regardless of size or scale, there is no limit to what can be accomplished. There is plenty of help via the internet and available publications. We have found friends with numerous talents and specialties, from welding to live steam locomotives.

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