I'd just like to take a time out here to thank all of you who checked out my tribute to the late Carl Arendt and took the time to post your thoughts in reply. It was very much appreciated and just shows the effect that he had on the hobby and how much he will be missed.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Sunday, March 6, 2011
It is with a very heavy heart that I write these words for I have just found out that Carl Arendt, keeper of the site Micro/Small Layouts for Model Railroads passed away on Friday at his home in Seattle.
Carl was a modern day champion of the small model railway layout. In the days when model railroad magazines in the US were featuring nothing but basement filling empires, he was proclaiming smaller is better. Not just smaller, but much, much smaller. Micro layouts. Layouts that he defined as "A small model railroad, usually less than three or square feet in area that nonethless has a clear purpose and excellent operating capability"
His extreme example was the Squarefoot Estate Railway G scale in 1 square foot (hence the name).
That was how I came to know him. I don't quite remember how I found the layout. Googling something like small model railways, I expect. But I was captivated by it and dropped him a line to compliment him. That was the beginning of a friendship that lasted some 10 years. It was like finding a kindred spirit we shared so many ideas and interests.
Carl was instrumental in starting me in Gn15 and it was then I quickly got a dose of his incredible enthusiasm for model railroads. Once I received an email from him simply titled "Wanna Race?"
Steve Bennett at Sidelines model had produced a railcar kit in O9 and Carl suggested that we had a race to build a railcar in Gn15. We were exchanging emails hourly encouraging each other on. The projects only took a couple of days and was great fun. It was something that we repeated again a few years later modelling another unusual prototype in Gn15. He was even planning to take on guest operator duties on Whinny Lane at a show in Saint Paul one year. But alas, we couldn't make that work out.
Carl's big thing though was planning small and micro model railroads, and to that end he produced the Micro Layout design gallery. A showcase of small model railroads from designers all around the world. I was an early and frequent contributor to it. The success of the site led to no less than three books containing the best plans from the site and I was pretty honoured when he asked if he could feature some of my plans in the first two books.
We corresponded regularly about track planning even going so far as to challenge each other on some layout designing projects akin to the Gn15 model making ventures (Search for "Lambertville" on the Micro Layouts gallery for our differing approaches to the same challenge.)
After a while I planned less and our correspondences became fewer but whenever I had and idea I'd jot it down and zap it off to Carl and a cheery reply would come back like you were his best mate. He had a knack of that. He made you feel as if you were a really good friend. My wife and I always looked forward to Christmas for it was then that we would get the handmade Carl Arendt Christmas card. It was nearly always some kind of wintry scene he had photographed (photography was another of his interests) and turned into a card.
A couple of years ago, quite out of the blue, I received an email from him. He and his wife, Sheila were moving from Pittsburgh to Seattle. He was clearing stuff out and had come across some back issues of Narrow Gauge and Industrial railway modelling review that he had duplicates of and would I like them.
"Sure". I said, thinking that it would only be a few issues. A week or so later two boxes arrived full of the first 70 issues! I wasn't expecting that.
Carls' cheery good nature even worked its way though to my wife. When I showed her what Carl had written about her operating Wingett's Recycling she blushed and said "Oh my Gosh..." Carl was a bit of a charmer.
When I wrote to Carl about featuring Wingetts Recycling on his site and I told him about being approached by a member of the staff of Model Railroader to feature it in their magazine. He was, to put it mildly, rather excited. He saw it as some kind of vindication of the micro layout ideal I think.
Sadly he won't get to see that article.
He was a good friend and I will miss him.