Back in 1962, a model railroader named Allen McClelland began to build the Virginian & Ohio, an HO scale model, in his home. But it wasn’t just any model. Allen created his railroad to be just like the real thing… a real railroad, only in 1:87.1 scale. He used prototypical methods in the modeling, in the selection of equipment, and in the operation of the railroad. At the time this was a real change from the common practice, and in the intervening decades, the V&O – as a railroad, not just as a layout – has become one of the icons of the model railroad world.
Allen wasn’t alone. Two of his friends, Tony Koester and Steve King, built their own railroads along the lines of the V&O: the Allegheny Midland (Koester) and Virginia Midland (King). Together, the three railroads shared a “family” relation along the lines of the real-life Chessie System or Family Lines, known as the Appalachian Lines.
In recognition of the relative fame of these model railroads and the immense contributions to the hobby by their creators, Fox Valley Models released a set of N scale model equipment decorated in the V&O and AM colors… a “fantasy” version of FVM’s GEVO engine, along with a set of coal hoppers and boxcars. In one sense, these are not N scale models… they are 1:1.83 scale models of the “real” Appalachian Lines equipment (which was itself HO scale…).
I picked this one up from my favorite online model retailer, Fifer Hobby Supply, on special order. Mike & Robin have a great operation, and are very easy to work with. I may also pick up an Allegheny Midland boxcar, and I might even consider a few of their coal hoppers as well, if I can find them. The GEVO locomotives are too big and modern for the CH&FR, but it might not be out of the question to custom-paint an SD40 or something, one of these days…