Maine On2 layouts – Scenery Extra – Bill Kerr and the Calgary Monday night crew do scenery

Scenery Extra – Bill Kerr and the Calgary Monday night crew do scenery. 


A recent reply posted to Trevor Marshall’s Port Rowan blog reminded us that a number of modellers have been inspired by pictures of the late Bill Kerr’s layout and scenery, and that we had some un-published pictures showing more of what we originally understood to be Bill’s scenery work. As this posting developed, it became clear that Bill’s particular focus in his scenery efforts were trees and the use of blonde wigs as grass, and that a lot of the scenery on his SR&RL layout was done by Rick Reimer as he demonstrated and taught his scenery techniques to the “Monday night group” members.

For the 10 or so years that I knew him, Bill Kerr met with a small group of like minded modellers who worked together on their home layouts (and other projects) in rotation on most Monday nights, despite having varied scales, gauges and outlines. The regular members in that timeframe (2002-2013) to my knowledge were Gary Graham, Bill Carr, Nigel Knight and Bill Kerr himself.  Bill often referred to the group as the “Monday night crew”. I believe that the group also included Rick Reimer and Herb Stroh before then.


~1997 – 2013 Rick Reimer’s backdrop on Bill Kerr’s home On2 SR&RL layout

Here’s just a small part of Rick Reimer’s hand painted backdrop for Bill’s own On2 SR&RL layout. This particular scene is behind Strong, just off to the left of picture 1 in the posting about the layout.


To visit the post showing more of Rick’s work on Bill’s layout click here.

2001 Sandy River On30 demonstration module

Gary Graham writes: the module shown below was built mostly by Bill Kerr.  It was part of a series of On30 modules built by Rick Reimer, Bill Kerr, Bill Carr, Gary Graham and Herb Stroh for the 2001 Calgary model train show.  Rick Reimer did indeed teach all of us how to build scenery during that project. Bill Kerr humorously referred to these classes as “The University of Rick”.

Here are two photos of an On2 water tank (Sanders on the SR&RL) doing duty on the On30 module.  The water tank is Bill’s work, while the paint job is mine (we used it as a lesson in how to paint with an airbrush).  Bill also constructed the bridge, which is based, as I recall, on a structure used by the SR&RL.




circa 2003 On30 Sipping and Switching Society modules.


This picture shows Bill Kerr talking to visitors at the Calgary Supertrain meet in 2003, no doubt modestly telling the onlookers how easy it is to make scenery and “come to the classes”. Bill once described the “layout” shown as part of an On30 modular layout built by that years’ class of “The University of Rick”, Bill’s humorous way of describing the program of scenery building classes originally run by Rick Reimer.

The award is Runner Up in the People’s Choice category.


Gary Graham writes; the picture of Bill at Supertrain 2003 was taken by me, as is the photo above of the On30 module that was constructed by Rick Reimer, Bill Kerr, Bill Carr, Herb Stroh and myself. Bill Kerr scratch-built the freight shed, Bill Carr scratch-built the passenger station, and all of us participated in the scenery construction and ancilliary details.

Rick had historically used the “On30 Sipping and Switching Society” logo to describe the group of people who worked under his tutelage constructing various On30 modules over the years, and for Supertrain 2003 it was our turn to use the name.  It was a tremendous learning experience, as Rick shared his scenery methods, including how to build all the trees featured on this particular module.

I believe the name and logo is currently in use by Rick and the fellows helping build his Ruphe & Tumbelle Railway in Calgary (featured in a number of issues of the On30 Annual).

2006 Free-Mo standard HO module for Calgary SuperTrain

This section written by Gary Graham (Thanks very much Gary!)

Bill Kerr, Bill Carr, Nigel Knight and I also built a Free-Mo standard HO module for SuperTrain 2006.  This featured Bill Kerr’s tree, shrub and grass work.  Here’s a selection of photographs of the module. They were all taken by me while the module was being built in my basement and were intended as a construction record rather than something staged for publication.  I tried to choose a selection of photos that show off Bill Kerr’s tree work while minimizing background clutter.

The Bait Shop”

ggmodu01aThe building, wharf and trestle were scratch-built, and my oldest son donated a fish from his Playmobil camping set. The feature tree beside the picnic table is Bill Kerr’s work.

 “Broken down truck”

ggmodu02aThis scene illustrates Bill Kerr’s sense of humour (look closely at the green truck). He said it was one of the easiest paint jobs he’d ever applied to a figure. Bill Carr built the grain bins from a kit, and Nigel Knight constructed all the fencing on the module, including the barb-wire version in the immediate foreground and the snow fence in the background.

 “Trees and fence”

ggmodu03aA closer look at Nigel’s snow fence and some more of Bill Kerr’s trees and shrubs. The HO standard gauge track is hand laid.

“Trees and graveyard”

ggmodu04aBill Kerr and Bill Carr teamed up to build the evergreen trees in this scene. The graveyard is surrounded by lilac bushes Bill Kerr fabricated as an experiment. The buildings are repainted Atlas plastic kits and yes, we really did hand-paint a bunch of rocks white. Since this was a Free-Mo module, space was left at track’s end for the connecting rails to the next module.

“Western Canadian-style hedgerow” 

ggmodu05aBill Kerr said he didn’t want this to look like a scene from the English countryside when he installed the bushes. Nigel, who originally hails from England, assured him that it did not.


ggmodu06aWhen we designed the module, we wanted the road leading down to the wharf to pass through some trees. Bill Kerr took care of the trees.  


2008 Coffee table layout 

In one long gone email, Bill described the coffee table layout below as his students’ work for that years’ Calgary Supertrain meet. Bill was by now taking the “University of Rick” scenery building sessions, maybe associated with his ownership of Selkirk Scenery, a scenery materials supplier started by Rick Reimer.

Gary Graham writes; The On30 coffee table layout was built by two members of the Calgary Free-Mo group under Bill Kerr’s tutelage. Bill Carr confirmed that the builders were Murray Larsen & Peter Bouma.

Murray Larsen writes;- The two pictures taken were taken in my basement by myself. This was the completed project. Bill was awesome with Peter and I. It was our first time working with the foam, Bill slapped a knife in our hands saying “here you go boys, make a hill”. His push helped to make the finished product look so good. His comment on the trees was that is the first time I have seen the fall colours used, they look good.




2012 Maine Two Foot Halt scene

Gary Graham writes;- This On2 module was built for SuperTrain 2012 after the show organizers asked us (the Monday night group, consisting of Bill Carr, Bill Kerr, Nigel Knight and Gary Graham) and others to contribute dioramas that showed what kind of modelling could be done in small spaces.  We decided to build one that emphasized the scenery instead of the trains.  Bill Kerr made all the trees, using fall colours, and this was his last model railroad project.

Bill Kerr wrote in an email dated 2012;-

Trees are super trees. For some reason everyone looks to me when it comes to leaf application. I think we finally got the underbrush right for the woods.  Module incomplete, requires at least another 20 trees.

Found a easy way to steam them (supertrees) last night, to straighten them out, wife’s $5000 Miele steam oven. The old adage, you get what you pay for ;^)  Works great I can fully  steam 4-5 trees at a time.

Scene is made up, Gary has a bridge that was not used when replaced with a trestle, the bridge just did not work on Gary’s layout scene. 8 years into layout construction, and it gets replaced.   Flagstop is to service the fishing hole.

 Grass is of course blonde wig.

 3rd picture, the railway cut has a nice dirt overhang, on the top of the embankment.  How to; to come. It is so easy.

 Trevor, thank you for your contribution to the module even if they are S scale.



GG: Photos of module taken 15 minutes after Envirotex Light poured into creek bed.

Chris Abbott has posted a good selection of hi res pictures of this module on his own blog;-  and if you have time then it is well worth browsing the home layouts of Gary Graham;-  and Herb Stroh;-

Footnote: The Selkirk scenery materials mentioned here can be obtained from the latest iteration of the supplier, Selkirk Leaf. Click here to visit their home page.

1 thought on “Maine On2 layouts – Scenery Extra – Bill Kerr and the Calgary Monday night crew do scenery

  1. Pingback: Maine On2 layouts – Bill Kerr’s SR&RL | The Maine On2 FAQ

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.