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Recently, I sold some old train VHS tapes here on the forum. I watched a couple of them before I shipped them out. One of them was called, "The Romance of Model Railroading O Gauge Layouts". I believe it was released in either 1994 or 1995. I bought this video when I first got back into the hobby in 1997. I enjoyed the video but of all three segments my favorite was the 3rd segment of Dave Simon's 3 rail layout from Munster, Indiana. I really liked the way he did his scenery. I thought his backdrops were incredible. The way he put flat buildings and scenery against the backdrops blended the scenery to the backdrops was just phenomenal. It really made the layout look a lot bigger than it was. As usual in these type of shows the owner does most of talking and I really like the way he looked at the hobby and connected with his philosophy. Obviously, some of what he says was dated as he only mentions the MTH Challenger and USRA Pacific but his enthusiasm for the hobby was infectious. At the very end he talks about people in the hobby just to make money from collecting trains and then he says, "Well, for the enjoyment of railroading there is no price on my enjoyment of railroading. No price whatsoever."

 

Over the years I've met a lot of great railroaders in this hobby but not Dave Simon. I was just wondering: Does anyone know him? Is he still active in the hobby? Was his layout ever published in CTT? I don't believe I ever saw it in OGR. There is a David Simon in the 2008 TCA address book but he is in NJ and I have a feeling it isn't the same person. Just curious. Thanks in advance for any information.

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Last edited by Hudson J1e
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@Nikolas Worden Holy Cow Nikolas, I can't believe you found that 8 year old post!

I would have loved to meet Dave Simon. He seemed like a really great guy and as I said I loved the way he talked about the hobby and his enthusiasm for it. I wonder what he would have thought about how the hobby has changed over the years? Things like losing Weaver, K-Line, how MTH changed with Mike retiring and other things like BTO. Even though it was 19 years ago I feel sad. He was an asset to the hobby and if his layout would have been featured some years later I think he would have been more well known due to the internet. I assume he was up there in age when his layout was featured back in 1994.

Before I got rid of my VHS copy "The Romance of Model Railroading O Gauge Layouts" I was able to convert it to DVD which I kept. I might just have to pop that in the DVD player tonight as a tribute to Dave. Thank you very much for letting me know.

@Weener Dog Dwayne, I am so glad you enjoyed the video and Dave's thoughts on the hobby. I just re-watched the video myself. I didn't recall that Dave mentioned he got into trains in 1938!! He said he was 5 years old! By contrast I would not be born for another 32 years. I earlier said the video was released in 1994 or 1995 but I wonder if it actually was released later than that because I saw a shay locomotive and I thought that MTH was the first company to release a shay locomotive in O scale 3 rail which was I think was in 1997. However, I am not 100% positive about that and I don't have time right now to research it. I thought Dave looked really young in the video. I was thinking like 54 or 55 but in reality he was probably around 10 years older than that. According to what he said he was 70 or 71 when he passed. I wonder what he would have thought about the movement to produce more and more scale models in O gauge by most of the companies that were in existence back then and the command control wars, etc. I like how he said he goes down to the basement and he is there for 3 days! I wonder if he ever went to York or was part of the TCA? It would have been cool if someone who actually knew him would have posted here but I guess he never found this forum or knew anyone on this forum. Thanks a lot guys. It was really nice to talk about him.

That was a Lionel Shay from. 1992. Mike Wolf worked for Lionel as a subcontractor and he was the one who designed the Shay and took the design with him. I'm friends with Don Varda who produced the video, as well as the Lionel Collectors Series 54, 55, and 56. Varda also used Simon's layout for his 1995 MTH video catalog. I wonder if Simon gave a lot of input to MTH in terms of product offerings? John Wendt who's layout also appeared in Romance of Model Railroading is also no longer with us sadly. He passed in 2018, but both he and Dave Simon will forever be remembered for their amazing model railroads. I'm planning on rebuilding my Lionel layout and use Simon's input as I work on it. I wonder if he is looking down on us with a smile?

Thank you for correcting me Nikolas. I didn't realize that Lionel/Mike Wolf had released the shay first. I assume the video was produced around 1994 like I originally thought? So the making of more and more scale models was in its infancy when Dave's layout was already completed. I like how Dave said that a certain train looked good to his mind's eye. I bet he would have been on board with all the scale rolling stock and locomotives that would follow and he would have upgraded his trains but never selling the postwar trains that he loved. I wonder what his opinion was of the boom in O gauge in the early 2000s and the command control systems? I guess we will never know. I am sorry to hear about John Wendt. He had a great layout as well.

Please tell Don thank you for making the video. I watched it many times when I first got back in the hobby and it brought me much enjoyment. It's a shame that no one makes videos like that anymore. Yes, there is a lot of good content on YouTube for free but I never minded paying for quality layout videos.

I am sure Dave is smiling down upon us and is happy that his layout and words are still inspiring others. Good luck with your layout.

Last edited by Hudson J1e

Sadly Dave Simon passed away in 2004. I have Don Varda's "The Romance of Model Railroading" on VHS and uploaded it on my YouTube channel at "Worden Entertainment". I loved Simon's layout and I loved his approach of using toy trains and toy train accessories in a realistic environment.

Nikolas - Couldn’t find the Varda video on your youtube channel, but did find it on youtube under Varda. Couldn’t watch the entire video, but in the first segment, one of the installers/fabricators of the layout was named Vernon Peachey. That name rang a bell. Can anyone tell me why? Thanks.

@Hudson J1e posted:

Thank you for correcting me Nikolas. I didn't realize that Lionel/Mike Wolf had released the shay first. I assume the video was produced around 1994 like I originally thought? So the making of more and more scale models was in its infancy when Dave's layout was already completed. I like how Dave said that a certain train looked good to his mind's eye. I bet he would have been on board with all the scale rolling stock and locomotives that would follow and he would have upgraded his trains but never selling the postwar trains that he loved. I wonder what his opinion was of the boom in O gauge in the early 2000s and the command control systems? I guess we will never know. I am sorry to hear about John Wendt. He had a great layout as well.

Please tell Don thank you for making the video. I watched it many times when I first got back in the hobby and it brought me much enjoyment. It's a shame that no one makes videos like that anymore. Yes, there is a lot of good content on YouTube for free but I never minded paying for quality layout videos.

I am sure Dave is smiling down upon us and is happy that his layout and words are still inspiring others. Good luck with your layout.

I definitely will. I'm an ambitious filmmaker myself and I'm looking into making my own series of toy train movies. I'm still thinking of a title for the project, but to sum it up it will a cinematic tribute to the world's greatest hobby.

@Hudson J1e posted:

@Mark V. Spadaro Mark, IIRC Vernon Peachy was also well known for his scratch built turntables. I remember seeing them right across from Lionel at York in early 2000s. They looked very nice.

Nikolas your project sounds like something I would be interested in. Please keep us posted.

Absolutely! I'll make a post later about the project and I'm always looking for suggestions and ideas for a toy train film.

@Hudson J1e posted:

That is good news. Perhaps he just doesn't come to York anymore? I looked but I could not find the website. I did find this article about him from 09/01/2016.

https://dailyprogress.com/news...d5-93667feff630.html

Nice article, but, the link in the article to Mr. Peachey’s Model Railroad Custom Benchwork website was not working.

Mark, yes I could not get it to work either. The address must have changed over the years. It's not a big deal. I was just curious about it. I am not in the market to hire someone to build a layout. I re-watched the John Wendt segment of the video and it was really cool how Vernon built the layout in sections and installed it in his attic. I am sorry to hear that Mr. Wendt passed on. He really enjoyed running the trains. His layout was on the cutting edge back then.

Thanks Nikolas, but I'm pretty sure that's not Mr. Peachey's business.  I think this Facebook page is/was Mr. Peachey's, but it hasn't been updated since 2020, and the link to the website referenced there returns an error:

https://www.facebook.com/profi...p?id=100036932143112

A long time ago I had the idea of asking him to build me a custom lift bridge.  I would love to know that he's still in business, but I doubt he is.

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