Central Electric 
Railfans' Association

Traction Models

Friday, October 09, 2020 9:25 AM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

For the first time ever, the CERA Blog is featuring traction models and will be presenting additional pieces on this topic in upcoming editions.

This month we are featuring the model traction work of Larry Konsbruck (1962-2019). Larry was an incredibly gifted model builder and painter whose services were highly sought after. He was adept at building traction models (1:48 scale) in either brass or (his favored medium) in Strathmore laminations. Larry was also a custom painter for several decades, working for hobby shops, model importers, and individual customers. He was known for his historical accuracy and it was common for him to rebuild commercial models to proper specifications. Larry’s color selections were generally accepted as being as close as possible to those of the prototypes he modeled.  Below we offer a sampling of Larry’s work (all in 1:48 scale):

Chicago PCC cars wore a number of liveries over the years. In this lineup, prewar No. 4021 wears its original Buckingham Gray with “tiger stripes” added in later years to emphasize the width of these cars to motorists. No. 4018 is in an experimental scheme from 1944 when several prewar PCCs were painted in several schemes to determine the best one to adopt for the coming order of postwar cars. Pullman-built 4158 is in the adopted livery of Mercury Green, Croydon Cream, and Swamp Holly Orange. And, in a “what-might-have-been” paint scheme, 4371 shows how the cars might have appeared had they survived well into later decades on the CTA.

Larry liked to pose his completed work on specially-built modules and would then photograph them in natural sunlight. Chicago Surface Lines No. 2762, a 1903 St. Louis Car Company product, is posed on one of the modules. This is a Strathmore model scratchbuilt and painted by Larry. Often such a project involved hundreds of hours until completion.

This broadside view is of another 1903 St. Louis Car Company model built and painted by Larry.

In what could have been a shop scene on the Illinois Terminal in Decatur, No. 277 awaits attention from the shop crew while flanked by parlor-observation Cerro Gordo and a Class B. The passenger cars were originally imported by GHB International while the Class B was from Car Works.

IT “Alton” car No. 101 poses on Ralph Nelson’s traction layout. The model, now owned by Bruce Moffat, was originally a limited-edition Ken Kidder import. Larry rebuilt the end windows to proper dimensions, then detailed and painted the model.

Three examples of Illinois Terminal equipment pose for photographers on Ralph’s layout. They are (left-to-right) No. 277 with its original arch windows, No. 101, and Class B 1569, one of the few electric locomotives repainted in “apple green.” The latter is a Car Works import.

In 1939 the Des Moines & Central Iowa purchased three Jewett-built interurbans (Nos. 170, 179, and 180) from the defunct Lake Shore Electric, where they continued in service for another decade. Larry modified a Locomotive Workshop brass kit by adding baggage doors on each side, truss rods, DM&CI’s imposing snow plow, and the roof-mounted bell common to many Iowa interurbans. This beautifully detailed and painted model is now owned by Ralph Nelson.

The Indianapolis & Southeastern Railroad purchased ten Cincinnati curved-side cars in 1928, each with its own unique paint scheme. Larry painted a Car Works import as I&SE No. 200. All striping and scrollwork were accomplished solely by means of very skillful masking. When I&SE ended operation in 1932, the cars became “boomers,”  going to such diverse properties as Beech Grove (Indiana), Inter City at Canton, Ohio,  and Shaker Heights, which later sold their five cars to the Milwaukee Rapid Transit and Speedrail in 1949.

One can imagine oneself walking along Fox Street in South Elgin as one of the Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric 300-series cars rolls past on its southbound schedule to Aurora. This model was a Ken Kidder import offered in both AE&FRE and Shaker Heights versions. Larry painted this particular model as an AE&FRE car with sunburst ends and made several corrections to the Kidder model.

CTA No. 4 was one of four high-performance experimental cars (Nos. 1-4) built by St. Louis Car Company in 1960. Owing to their experimental nature, there were variations of control, motors, and trucks. No. 4 and its three sister cars were modified for Skokie Swift service upon the line’s opening in 1964.  The model is shown at Ralph Nelson’s layout. Current could actually be collected through the bow trolleys, but this particular run “came a cropper” as the overhead was not built for pan operation. The model holds down service via “third rail” on Bruce Moffat’s Moffat Electric Lines. Larry used automotive lacquer for most of his work and many of these colors, such a Mercury Green, Colorado Spruce Green, and Swamp Holly Orange were carried by DuPont and Ditzler (PPG) under those names.

Painting a PCC car means lots of curves and lots of stripes. Cleveland (represented here by No. 4266) adopted a paint scheme designed by Raymond Loewy. Simple it is not, but Larry brought if off beautifully on this Car Works product. There are subtle differences in line width and curvature designed to give nightmares to any custom painter. Larry appeared not to have been fazed.

Cincinnati had the only PCC cars equipped with twin trolley poles. The prototype, No, 1169, was delivered in August 1947 by St. Louis Car Company and featured an attractive paint scheme featuring three stripes running below the belt rail. Larry modified a Car Works all-electric PCC, adding the two poles and oversized housing as well as an superbly executed paint job.

Larry painted the same prewar PCC in five different ways. The first shows No. 4021 in the Buckingham Gray with “tiger stripes.” The others show four of the six experimental paint schemes adopted by Chicago Surface Lines in 1944, each a possible candidate as the standard livery for the anticipated postwar cars. The primary color for each car is as follows: 4035—orange with maroon V-front; 4022—Clipper Blue; 4018—Mercury Green, Croydon Cream, Swamp Holly Orange (colors eventually adopted); 4050—Coronado Tan. Photos of all six variations (executed by St. Petersburg Tram Collection) can be found on page 12 of CERA Bulletin 146.


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