John Paganoni's Central Vermont - New London to Montville CT

March 24th 2018

Pictures by Gary Mason and Mat Thompson, MMR

A Visit to John Paganoni’s Central Vermont

By Nicholas Kalis

So what did you miss by not attending John Paganoni’s HO scale Central Vermont open house in Manassas? For one thing, you missed John’s multiple examples of scratch-built structures and rolling stock that populate this wonderful spare-bedroom sized layout. Perhaps most importantly, you missed the encouragement that you would have taken away from seeing John’s efforts. John’s layout demonstrates that one need not fill up an entire basement to enjoy this hobby. Indeed, John’s layout fills a modest spare bedroom on the second floor of his home made available as his children have grown. You too can use a spare bedroom to build your dream layout if you follow in John’s footsteps.
Like many folks, John models the place and time of his childhood. In John’s case it was Montville, Connecticut. What made the most impression on me? It can be boiled down to two things – John’s scratch-built New London wooden roundhouse (which is illuminated) and his scratch-built fleet of Central Vermont cabooses. John’s six-stall roundhouse reflects its appearance in the 1950s. I also enjoyed the waterfront scenes John had in progress. John also has an extensively re-worked Central Vermont P-1-a class 0-8-0 road number 507 as she looked in 1951. John’s model earned 112 points out of 125 possible points at our Potomac Division 2015 Mini-Con. We all knew John was a talented modeler who has frequently shared his modeling talents with our Potomac Division. This, however, was his first open house. That John’s layout is not completely landscaped can be ascribed to time spent on his other hobby which is making highly sought-after mandolins.
As the layout tour coordinator, I would like to stress several takeaways from our visit.
1.    Your layout need not be complete to host an open house – John’s was not.
2.    Your layout need not have scratch built structures but a smaller layout gives its owner more time for such endeavors.
3.    His visitors appreciated the comradery that we all enjoyed.
4.    Even though many visitors came just before the 4 PM “cutoff”, all felt welcome to stay beyond 4PM to chat and, to enjoy Superintendent Brian Sharon’s banjo playing (John and Brian are both musicians in addition to their day jobs – though both are retired).
5.    Even if you are retired, you can still host an open house (as layout tour coordinator, I sometimes hear from folks that they cannot host an open house because they are retired and just can’t seem to organize themselves in this phase of their life).
6.    We all enjoyed the snacks John’s wife baked for us and the other refreshments provided us – Nancy did not let any health challenges stop her from being a terrific hostess.
7.    A spare bedroom can make for a great layout room.
8.    John improves his modeling skills by working on small dioramas (which were on display) – so can you!
9.    John did a great job of pointing out the many scratch-built structures on his layout.
10.    John shared with me that the deadline of his open house impelled him to make quite a bit of progress on his layout.
11.    John had some trepidation about hosting an open house but when the day of his open house rolled along, he had something he was proud of, that ran, had sound, had some illumination, and that he was proud to describe to visitors.
12.    Visitors appreciated the handout that John had prepared that explained the prototype that he was modeling.
I believe some of John’s scenes are worthy of the cover of any fine model railroading magazine – I believe Matt Thompson is working on getting some photos of John’s layout published.
If you get an opportunity to visit John’s layout during a convention or in a few years when he is once again on the layout tour, don’t miss it.
Thank you John.