Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Jock Oliphhant - Winnipeg's legendary model railroad pioneer

Jock Oliphant was truly a model railroading pioneer. His spectacular layout, showcased at Railway Jubilee, the 1983 NMRA national convention held in Winnipeg, was a jaw dropping sight for anyone who viewed it. Born and raised in Scotland, with an almost indecipherably thick brogue, Jock conveyed the sheer joy of model railroading that he felt to all he met. WMRC In an article in The Lantern, the official publication of the WMRC, Vice President Dave Downie shared his reminisces of Jocks' popular scenery clinics which he often held for the club. 

WMRC History - Jock Oliphant's Scenery Clinics
By Dave Downie

   Jock Oliphant was a long time WMRC member who was Canada's first Master Model Railroader. He was the first (and only) person to win “Best-In-Show” at three successive NMRA national conventions.

   Jock was famous (or infamous) for his annual scenery clinic where he would demonstrate all the steps to go from raw benchwork to elaborate scenery in 4 inch increments on a 4 foot long module.

   He would start with screen or balled up newspaper that would be used to support the scenery for one section. Next would come the plaster soaked paper towels followed by a layer of molding plaster and rock molds on an adjacent section that had been started a year earlier. A final section would get sprayed with paint and then get a coating of zip texturing before getting some trees and bushes. All of this would take 45 minutes and it was truly like watching a artist at work. Jock made it look so easy.

   Every year, Jock would invite new WMRC members to “sit up front so they could get a really good view”. WMRC veteran members would gladly move to the back knowing that at some point in his presentation, Jock would spray everyone with water. Everyone would have a good laugh and those who got sprayed earned their “Right of Passage” into the WMRC.

   In addition to his WMRC clinics, Jock did his scenery clinic at TLR regional conventions with the same results.

   Who says that model railroading cannot be fun?

   I'd like to add that many of Jock's award winning modules were saved when his layout was dismantled and have been donated to the WinnipegRailway Museum. It is hoped that they will be put on display shortly.


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