As I promised some weeks ago, I am posting an account of my visit with Troels Kirk on a recent trip to Sweden.
Troels lives in a small village not far from my Swedish cousin, and he graciously received us at his home on Thursday, July 9th. The thrill I got from spending an hour or so with Troels must be somewhat equivalent to the excitement felt by modelers who visited the famous John Allen during the 1970’s. I was also reminded of the afternoon I spent with the late Paul Scoles in Seattle in 2013.
Troels beautiful layout, the Coast Line RR, housed in a small out-building, was everything I expected it to be.
Despite living in Europe, he has captured the feel of the Maine seacoast in the 1930’s to perfection. An additional attraction for me is that Troels models in the same scale that I do, On30.
The artistry and craftsmanship of this layout is everything you would expect of a talented painter….
…..an eye for detail……
…..and the patience to recreate such a magnificent miniature world.
The front edge of the walk-around layout is almost exclusively devoted to coastal scenes; the trains generally follow a route through the middle ground……
……..and the water modeling is spectacular.
Troels’ railroad not only features locomotives with sound, but there is an elaborate system of speakers below the layout to provide sounds for specific scenes. These sound tracks were custom made by a sound artist who worked for the Walt Disney organization. Troels told me an interesting story about seagulls. You would naturally expect the Coast Line RR to feature many calls of these ubiquitous birds, but after having lived on a boat near Paris for some time, he grew so tired of constantly hearing seagulls, that he asked the Disney artist specifically not to include the sound of seagulls. Troels subsequently removed almost all of these birds from his layout. The bird pictured here is one of the few remaining.
All the structures on the layout are scratch-built except for the engine house by the
turntable, which is kit-bashed. The buildings feature the creative use of card-stock and painted paper. You can see more details about this process on Troels’ DVD, “Realistic Color for Railroad Modeling”, which is often available on eBay.
While scenery on the Coast Line RR is virtually complete, Troels continues to re-work certain areas and add details.
Troels shared a secret of his for keeping trains running smoothly. I’m not sure I had ever heard of this product, but Troels says he learned about it from a man at a museum who has to keep a large layout running flawlessly. It is applied to both track and wheels.
When I got home, I looked it up on the internet, and found that Home Depot carries what looks to be an American version of the same substance.
One feature of Troels’ railroad I’ve always admired is his dramatic treatment of the sky. It has an energy that suggests that at any moment it might suddenly storm, or burst forth into radiant sunshine.
While Troels uses mainly Bachmann On30 equipment, he paints, weathers and details it in a way that makes it look very much at home in a New England setting.
Forneys and rail buses abound……..
…..as you might expect.
Small vignettes reveal interesting stories wherever the viewer looks.
Having spent 60 years of my life in the theatre, I was especially pleased to see his rendition of a small town theatre with the cast for Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” posed on the front steps for an opening night photo.
After looking over the layout with us for some time, Troels bent over and picked up a small sketch book that was lying on the floor under the bench-work. When he opened it, here were the famous concept sketches that we have all grown accustomed to seeing from him.
Following the better part of an hour in the railroad “house”, Troels led us into his painting studio, or atelier to use the French word. It is housed in the shell of an old theatre/movie house.
Entering through the lobby, we passed the ancient ticket office.
When looking at Troels’ paintings I have always admired the amazing realism he conveys with a limited color palette.
His works are Scandinavian scenes, but the connection with his American-based railroad is unmistakable. Incredible though it may seem, Troels says that he gets up at 4:30 in the morning, and paints until around 9:30 at night.
On the small stage of the former theatre is an elaborate rig that Troels designed to photograph his paintings. He uses these high definition photos of his originals to have prints made for sale.
I’ll leave you with a few more of his beautiful paintings.
His scenes of nature are hauntingly powerful.
I can’t wait to return to Sweden, and see what Troels Kirk has got planned for the future.