Robert Sloan, Decals and Etchings, 1973 – 1985.

Robert Sloan was a Professor of Geology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis who became interested in narrow gauge railways and modelling them in the early 1970’s. He became a well known author on early Colorado three foot lines, and  produced decal sheets for these lines. He also produced etched overlays in thin brass (0.010″ is mentioned in the review below) for loco conversions which included some of the Maine Two Footers.

Initially advertising as Sloan Decals, in later adverts he traded as Robert Sloan. He sold the business in 1984/85 to Narrow Gauge Stuff of Hopkins, Minnesota. Just over a year after they announced the acquisition in the May 1985 edition of the Narrow Gauge and Short Lines Gazette magazine, Narrow Gauge Stuff stopped advertising in the Gazette.

Click on each picture to view a larger copy.


This review appeared in the November 1977 edition of the Narrow Gauge and Short Lines Gazette magazine under the New in Review banner.


The catalog, whose pages are shown below, was obtained in 1978 (the second edition), and the text afterwards comes from Robert Sloan’s auto-biography published on his University website.





Extracts related to modeling taken from Robert Sloan’s auto-biography, written in 1995-1996;-

In the winter of 1972, I had run across a photograph of a pair of very fancily lettered refrigerator cars in a book, and desperately wanted to build those cars. But I didn’t want to hand letter them with a 0000 brush or a crow quill pen under a microscope. So I spent many hours deciphering the letters on the photo, Sal even got into the act as we would think of what the letters might be at night in bed, then get the book with the photo and check likely candidates out. (Between us we called it “Retches Barley” since that was one of the words we thought we figured out late at night.) After there were few more changes, I drew the lettering on a car side drawn to scale at ½” to the foot, sent the artwork to the only decal manufacturer I knew of, the Meyercord Company, that had made the prewar model airplane decals I had used. I set it up so that on each sheet there would be a full set of O scale decals, ½ set of S scale, 7½ sets of HO scale and tucked away in otherwise waste space 2 sets of N scale (That, so far as I knew, no one was doing). 800 sheets of decals cost $300 to make, so I took a gamble thinking there might be enough modelers out there to buy them, drew up a set of plans and a set of instructions and sold them as a set. I announced them in Slim Gauge News, in Spring 1973, a modeling and historical Narrow Gauge railroading magazine, where I had started writing articles. My gamble paid off, in the first 30 days all of my investment was returned, when I sold the decal business in 1984, I still had half of the original decals left. This lead to the Sloan Decal Business, which made enough money to cover the costs of my railroading and my professional research. The business went from lettering to specialty brass etchings when I took over the Beaver Creek Line of etched cabs and tender wraps, I wound up making brass etchings to convert existing inexpensive models to Narrow Gauge locomotives in the next larger size, N to HO narrow gauge, HO to S narrow gauge, and Z to N narrow gauge. I added a few white metal castings into the line as well, again for conversions. This made it possible for many to model narrow gauge cheaply. Over the years I wrote some 65 articles for various magazines, organizing them into several books. My model railroad and historical railroad bibliography is almost as large as my professional bibliography, although the papers did not take as long to write.

I kept the business until 1984, when it became too time consuming, then sold it, the items are still mostly in production. In the process I made many models including about 20 narrow gauge locomotives and many cars in several different scales, all of them one of a kind. I gave most of them away to friends. I modeled and built locomotives and cars in the following gauges and scales. On3, On2½, Sn3½, Sn3, HO, HOn3, HOn2½, OOn 2’3”, N and Nn3. I never did develop a complete layout, construction and history was more important to me than operation.

Click here to view the full autobiography (150+ pages….!) on another browser page.


The extract from the Narrow Gauge and Short Lines Gazette magazine appears by kind permission of Bob Brown, Editor and Co-owner.



LeeTown Model Service, Inc., an early supplier.

LeeTown Model Service, Inc. is the trading name adopted by the partnership of Lee Snover and Darryl Townsend for their professional modeling activities. As a trading enterprise, LeeTown specialised in Narrow Gauge Railways, Geared Locomotives and high quality (Micro-motor) transmissions. From the 1970’s onwards, they were well known for their On3 Climax locomotive parts and kits, but they also played a significant role in the commercial development of Maine On2 modelling.

LeeTown have always traded from a Belvidere NJ address. Darryl Townsend moved away from this area, and produced some models under the Town Models banner in Illinois. Click here to view the Town Models topic.

Wes Ewell, a noted Maine Two Foot fan, shared a couple of reminiscences of LeeTown in the early days (circa 1965 – 1970) of Maine On2 modelling on the Yahoo! group;-

Darryl Townsend, Lee Snover, Charlie Brommer, John Derr, and I were all charter members of the Mid-Atlantic Narrow Gauge Group that Don Brown brought together nearly 50 years ago. We would gather at Don’s house in Summit (NJ) every month to share ideas and interests. We quickly became a production group, though, working together to produce drawings, kits, parts, and finished models. Darryl was teaching obstetrics at Temple University in Philadelphia, but later moved to Chicago. Lee and Charlie continued on their own. John and I collaborated on drawings for 20 years.  Those were very active years for the two-foot community. 

-Wes Ewell- 5 Aug 2015


Forty years ago I did a bunch of catalog and ad drawings for Lee Snover in exchange for models and parts. One of those was one of the first brass Forneys and his etched tank for #22. This was a most unusual piece in that it was etched in the round, not rolled from a flat etching. I think Terry Smith bought mine when I switched to Sn2. If you can find one today it is worth every dear penny you might have to pay for it. The #14 resin tanks that Jim Eagan sold were also excellent and worth the $130 that the one just sold for on eBay. –Wes – 24 November 2010


Terry Smith wrote;- I did acquire Wes’s model of tank #22 via Bob Werner of the Hobbybarn, see below.

Editors’ note; the heyday of LeeTown’s activities in Maine On2 (circa 1970 -75 or so) predates my own exposure and interest. LeeTown also had their own approach to advertising by using a mixture of formal display adverts in the Narrow Gauge modeling magazines, which sometimes included future plans with invitations to write in for more info, or statements such as more info in new catalog and the occasional “snippets” and pictures of new parts released to columnists and reviewers which were used in Editorials, mixed in with occasional use of classified adverts.

Looking through the old issues of the Narrow Gauge modeling magazines these days, it is not that obvious whether some of the parts mentioned were made by LeeTown themselves or whether they were acting as retailers, and whether the items actually ever appeared.

With these factors in mind here’s a brief overview of the significant points of LeeTown’s Maine On2 activities (subject to confirmation and change);-

November 1969 Finelines: advert suggesting that a batch of 25 SR&RL #6 models was in process for delivery in late 1970, $50 deposit to reserve.

September 1971 Finelines: editorial and advert about the new process B&SR/B&H Tank Cars.

January 1972 Finelines: editorial about the SR&RL #6 and Forney superstructure etches.

March 1973 Slim Gauge News: editorial showing On2 swing motion trucks (as used under the B&H tank cars) complete with brake beams and Grandt Line wheelsets. These could be parts supplied by SRECo.

March 1974 Finelines: advert offering SR&RL Railcar#5 plus future plans for a batch of B&SR loco #7 for release in late 1975 or 1976.

September 1974 Finelines: LeeTown featured as a parts supplier in a Hobbybarn advert announcing the CB SR&RL #6 and offering an alternative set of parts for the home constructor.


SR&RL #6 in On2 RTR?


This is the advert from the November 1969 edition of Finelines magazine which introduced the SR&RL #6 model.

LeeTown Model Service Bridgton Tanks


LeeTown Model Service announced their Bridgton Tank models (note completed tanks only) with this advert in the September 1971 edition of Finelines magazine. Component parts had been advertised during the preceding year as they became available.

Note that the phrase “a new process etched tank” in the above advert is believed to refer to the basic tank body being a brass tube that was etched in the round. It is also believed that LeeTown used the same sized brass tube for both the smaller #22 tank and the larger #14 tank, resulting in the #14 tank appearing undersized.


This model of B&SR/B&HR tank #22 was acquired second-hand from Wes Ewell via Bob Werner of The Hobby Barn. Wes has stated that he received this model as part payment for drawings and catalog illustrations that he did for Lee Snover of LeeTown around 1970. Given that date, the flat car that the tank is mounted on would have been scratch built.


This model of B&SR/B&HR tank #21/#14 consists of a Leetown etched “in the round” brass tube tank, (obtained as raw etched brass tube from Bob Werner of the Hobbybarn) which was expanded to the correct diameter and finished off with Portland Products tank ends, dome, safety valve, necklace, ladder and handrail supports. It was mounted on a flat car built from an SRCS 30 foot B&SR flatcar kit with a scratch built cradle and straps.

SR&RL Railbus #5 in kitform + RTR & future B&SR loco #7?


This is a cut-down copy of the advert from the March 1974 edition of Finelines magazine which offered SR&RL Railbus #5 in kit form and RTR and which also announced future plans for a batch of B&SR loco #7 for release in late 1975 or 1976.

SR&RL #6: set of parts


This Hobby Barn advert from the September 1974 Fineline magazine lists LeeTown as a supplier “………..for those who wish the challenge of constructing the engines themselves…….”. People who knew Bob Werner would not find it hard to imagine the smile on his face as he wrote those words.

In the context of this blog and this post, Narrow Gauge modeling magazines refers collectively to Finelines, Slim Gauge News and the Narrow Gauge and Short Lines Gazette. These are now available on DVD from Bob Hayden. Click here for more information.

All adverts from Finelines and the Narrow Gauge and Short Lines Gazette magazines appear by kind permission of Bob Brown, Editor and Co-owner.




Scale Railway Equipment Company – an early supplier from the 1960’s

The Scale Railway Equipment Company was started by Jim Eagan sometime before the Editorial below appeared in the September 1967 edition of Finelines magazine under the heading “What’s New?”.


SRE has always had a reputation for quality parts for the Maine On2 modeller. SRE parts and kits appear regularly on the current second-hand and internet auction sites, where, if correctly identified, they are sought after.

Looking backwards from our current viewpoint, the advertisements in the Narrow Gauge modelling press suggest that the SRE business wandered in directions away from the initial focus on Maine Two Foot.

SRE is mentioned as a component supplier for the first runs of the Custom Brass SR&RL coaches and cabooses, the Town Models SR&RL boxcar and Chris Cardinal’s Laconia coaches.

Click on each image for a larger view.


This full page advert from the May 1968 edition of Finelines magazine shows the SRE products then available.



This Editorial appeared in the March 1971 edition of Finelines magazine under the What’s New? banner, and announced the arrival of the sprung lost wax brass trucks.



This advert from the January 1972 edition of Finelines magazine gave a status report for the large Bridgton tank car, as well presenting an increasing range of parts.



SRE advert from the November 1972 edition of Finelines magazine showing the variations available for the large tank (car).



SRE advert from the January 1976 edition of Narrow Gauge and Short Lines Gazette showing the kits available for 1976 which ran throughout 1976.



SRE placed this advert in the March/April 1978 edition of the Narrow Gauge and Short Lines Gazette magazine announcing the arrival of the lower cost white metal trucks.



SRE ran this advert in the Narrow Gauge and Short Lines Gazette magazine from January/February 1981 until September/October 1982, after which they appear to have taken a break from advertising in the Gazette, and then resumed on a spasmodic basis with other products (ie not Maine On2). Note that our review period currently finishes at the end of 1986, and that the focus here is on the Maine On2 items.


The SRE catalog: this catalog was obtained sometime in the early 1980’s, and carries a listing of UK sourced 7mm scale figures.





Monson Flat Car

The first advertisement for this car kit appeared in the November 1971 edition of Finelines magazine.




SRE Bridgton & Harrison Tank Car #14 

This model was first announced at the end of 1971 and was available from the end of 1972 onwards.


SRE advert from the November 1972 edition of Finelines magazine showing the variations available for the large tank (car).

The tank was an epoxy resin casting produced by Bill Clouser using his “Customcast” process, and included the dome, with a separate casting for the cradle. Details such as the filler cap, relief valve, handrail supports, ladder were investment cast brass. Handrails, bridle and grab irons were brass wire. As shown in the advert above, the tank was available separately or with a cast 30 foot flat car body. The model was introduced at the end of 1972 and was reviewed in Model Railroad Craftsman, June 1974 edition with corrected photographs in the July 1974 edition.


Parts of the tank only kit, taken from the instruction sheet illustration.



Notice the Bill Clouser Custom Cast logo and labelling. These two pictures show the 30 foot flat car model to carry the tank car body.


For further pictures of the SRE Bridgton Tank car model click here to open another page in your browser.


SR&RL Phillips Water Plug

This kit appears to have been announced in the November/December 1977 edition of the Narrow Gauge and Short Lines Gazette magazine. It was reviewed in the January/February 1981 edition with the comment “…back on the market…”.






All adverts from Finelines and the Narrow Gauge and Short Lines Gazette magazines appear by kind permission of Bob Brown, Editor and Co-owner.


Photo setup 1 – a simple plain background

This topic is posted to support a current thread on the Maine On2 Yahoo! group.

One of the things that makes preparing pictures for this blog easier is if the subject has a simple plain background.

Take this picture as an example;-


This is an example of what we call a “model documentation” type picture, where the aim is to show the model and it’s details. Note how a plain background does just this.

Note also the dust spots shown by the yellow arrows – which only appear when the DSLR that took this picture is used in aperture priority mode and takes pictures at f/32.

And here’s a picture showing the wider view of how that was achieved;-


Note that the background and base to the model are clean sheets of white paper, as used by the computer printer. The background sheet is held in position by Scotch tape and a cardboard box (on edge). The base sheet is held in place by the weight of the model, supported by a familiar box from an SRCS kit, and drapes down to the table, giving a soft rolled over edge.

The lighting is simple summer sunlight, as shown by the garden behind.



Narrow Gauge Specialties, an early supplier, 1971 – 1974?

Chuck Collins, founder and owner of Narrow Gauge Specialties, made some interesting postings to the MaineOn2 Yahoo! group about the early days of On2 which have been edited as this introduction;-

My brother Ric and I first started modelling the Maine two footers in 1961 after reading Allan Hanson’s article “The Sandy River Goes HOn2” in the April 1961 issue of Model Railroad Craftsman. We began modelling in HOn2. In 1970 we switched to On2 so we could get more detail in our models.


In 1971 I started Narrow Gauge Specialties to develop modelling products in On2 scale. I released limited runs of kits, brass castings and photo etching sets of various two foot gauge prototypes. At that time there were no commercially available On2 locomotives so I set out to produce parts for B&SR #7/SR&RL #10. I released the etching set for B&SR #7 in August 1971. After that various castings and freight car kits were released.


Although the B&SR #7/SR&RL #10 project was never completed, I have to acknowledge and thank Bill C. Brown for getting me started with it. He was an excellent On2 modeller and had produced patterns for the main frames, firebox brace/frame spacer, pilot beam and apron and other items for SR&RL #10 which I incorporated into my line of parts.


All NGS items were manufactured by me and I still have the master patterns. I cut the wood and did the master patterns for the brass castings. The actual casting was done by Kemtron. The plastic parts were from Grandtline. Ric did sell some On2 etching sets under his own name.


Those were exciting times when On2 modelling was just starting to happen.


Chuck Collins


Ric did sell some On2 etching sets under his own name. Click here to view Ric’s Etchings on another page.


Here is the first advert that we can find, from the May 1971 edition of Finelines magazine. Notice the wealth of lines carried.


This advert comes from the July 1971 edition of Finelines magazine.


This advert comes from the September 1971 edition of Finelines magazine.



This editorial review of the Narrow Gauge Specialties products and offering comes from the November 1971 edition of Finelines magazine. Looks like Bob Brown was impressed by the quality of the merchandise.



This advert comes from the January 1972 edition of Finelines magazine, and highlights the focus on On2. Notice the limited offer at the bottom, which suggests that NGS may have built a batch of RTR loco’s.



This editorial review of some of the Narrow Gauge Specialties B&SR #7 loco castings comes from the May 1974 edition of Finelines magazine. It looks like NGS took a break from advertising, relocated and brought out some more parts.


This advert appears in both the May 1974 and July 1974 editions of Finelines magazine. We can find no further adverts from NGS – did they continue in business without advertising in Finelines or the Gazette?


All adverts from Finelines appear by kind permission of Bob Brown, Editor and Co-owner.



Maine On2 layouts – Ric Collin’s Phillips and Rangeley, circa 1914 – 1918

The editors gratefully acknowledge a number of informative postings by Chuck Collins to the MaineOn2 Yahoo group which have been edited and incorporated into this posting;-

Here is a little more On2 history. My brother Ric and I first started modeling the Maine two footers in 1961 after reading Allan Hanson’s article “The Sandy River Goes HOn2” in the April 1961 issue of Model  Railroad Craftsman. We began modeling in HOn2. In 1970 we switched to On2 so we could get more detail in our models.

These pictures were taken on Ric Collins’ now defunct SR&RL On2 railroad. Ric’s railroad depicted the SR&RL circa 1914-1918 and modeled the line from Phillips, Maine to Rangeley, Maine. The pictures were taken in the early 1990’s before Ric had to dismantle the railroad because of a move. It was never rebuilt.

The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. My name is Chuck Collins and I was the one that ran Narrow Gauge Specialties. I am still in this world for now but not sure for how long. My brother Ric Collins is also still living. Neither of us model in On2 anymore. We are both involved in small scale live steam trains.


SR&RL #9 at Madrid.

Wes Ewell, a noted Maine Two Foot fan, wrote in 2008;- “I had a chance to visit Ric’s layout before he moved and it was quite a treat to see.  He ran a long curving mainline through hilly scenery between Phillips and Rangeley.  Ric’s wife Alice built most of the buildings.”

Now let’s resume that trip and enjoy the scenery.


SR&RL #9 on Sluice hill.


SR&RL #10 at Madrid.


SR&RL #10 crossing Main Street.


SR&RL #19 on the bridge.


SR&RL #19 and log train crossing the highway.


SR&RL #19 and log train coming down Sluice hill.


SR&RL #20 and train going up Sluice hill.

This picture featured as the Maine On2 Yahoo! group home page heading picture early in 2008. Chuck Collins wrote “It shows my SR&RL #20 on her way up Sluice Hill. The locomotive is a Custom Brass Import which I reworked with a new micro-motor and gearbox, detailed and painted.”


SR&RL #22 passing the Phillips engine house.

Wes Ewell wrote “Ric’s layout was most impressive. When you lifted the roof off his Phillips engine house you found a full stable of On2 locomotives, most of them scratch built using Ric’s own etchings. I had long admired the etchings that he and his brother produced back in the 1970s, so was delighted and honored when he pointed out a Portland Forney sitting in front of his Rangeley engine house that he had built from my etchings.”


SR&RL #24 at Phillips.

This picture featured as the Maine On2 Yahoo! group home page heading picture in mid  2008. Chuck Collins wrote “It shows SR&RL #24 after her recent arrival from Baldwin Locomotive Works, sitting in front of the depot at Phillips. The locomotive is a Custom Brass Import which was detailed and painted by my brother, Ric Collins”.


SR&RL #24 and train going up Sluice hill.

Ric’s layout was the venue for an annual get together of West Coast Maine Two Foot fans and the last of these in 1995 was captured on home video which was posted to YouTube a couple of years ago at

Charlie Siebenthal wrote “I had the privilege of attending many of Ric’s annual 2-foot meets. Great layout and a rare chance to rub elbows with so many 2-footers. Bob Schlechter took up the host duties for a couple of years after Ric’s move. Last I heard Ric was into live steam garden railroading and golf.”

Here is a little digression from Maine On2 ………………….to show there is life afterwards!…………..

In the heading paragraphs, supplied by Chuck Collins, he wrote that we (he and his brother Ric) are now both involved in small scale live steam trains. Here are some pictures of Ric’s 16mm scale Mount Greta & Murieta garden line;-





The line features in a number of YouTube videos such as the Mt Greta steamup 2016 which can be seen at

Ric’s brother, Chuck, has more eclectic tastes in his 16mm scale modelling, choosing to follow South African (and other) Two Foot gauge prototypes with his Avontuur Light Railway shown here in this YouTube video;-