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History of Scale Drawings - Early Scales


A bit of Background

Where are the old drawings?

As a result of imprudent deletions and corrupted floppy disks in the "early years", most of the drawings done prior to the 1:55 series in 2000 have been lost.  However, from a few old disks and thanks to the Wayback Machine, I've been able to recover the first (and longest) of the 1:880 "Tiny Trains" and a number of 1:110 drawings.  Following a hard drive failure in 2006, many older 1:55 drawings were also lost, as only the revised versions were posted online, but some of these have been recovered as well. 


Why do I do these drawings?  The drawings for me act as a supplement (and for a long time an alternative) to models. I had an HO scale layout starting at age 5, which eventually took over most of my parents' basement during my teenage years. However, the trains went into storage in 2007 when I made the first of several moves, and it wasn't until the end of 2021 that I built a small switching layout to get them running again. But with the drawings, instead of kitbashing and spending hours detailing, I just type or click and end up with locomotives better-looking than what I can manage in models.  There are no restrictions to what railroads and what engines I can do, and it's all done at no cost and little effort.  I hope someday to have all the main types of locomotives drawn and to have more than one in all the major paint schemes, though that's many years to come.

Drawing Scales

Although the drawings all have a print resolution of 96 PPI by default, the scale is based on a resolution of 72 PPI, since that was (historically) a common printing resolution and was used to scale the drawings at the Railroad Paintshop. All scales leading up to the 1:55 series are approximate, and in fact the exact scale of the later 1:55 drawings is 1:53.33. The 1:36 and 1:18 series are drawn at 2 and 4 pixels per scale inch respectively, so at a given printing resolution PPI, they are exactly 1:(PPI/2) and 1:(PPI/4) respectively.

Modest beginnings - 1:880 Series

My very first train drawings were done by hand, beginning when I was about three years old.  I continued making these for almost ten years.  Most consisted of small side views of complete trains, with the locomotives and cars generally less than an inch long.  Later ones sometimes included over a hundred cars and basic scenery, drawn using several sheets of paper taped together.  I started (but never finished) a couple of larger hand-drawn attempts.  My drawings were almost always of CN mixed freights, because they were based entirely on watching trains on what was then one of CN's branch lines (now the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad).

In late 1998 or early 1999, I started a series of what I called "tiny trains" on the computer in MS Paint.  These were replicas of the drawings I had done years earlier by hand.  They were roughly 1 pixel per foot, or about 1:880.  Because they were so small, several entire trains could be done in a few hours.  Given their tiny size, "accuracy" was limited to representing very basic dimensions and shapes.

tiny train

The first and longest "Tiny train" as it appeared in 1999 (complete with math and nomenclature errors).  This is the only "Tiny train" drawing still in existence.  I had drawn several others, but they have not survived subsequent floppy disk transfers and computer upgrades.  The blue lines were for cutting it when printed.

The first detailed computer drawings - 1:220 Series

Shortly after starting the "tiny trains", a CN GP40-2W was doubled in size to 1:440, allowing for a little more detail (such as round wheels).  However, this scale did not become a series; instead, the unit was immediately enlarged to 1:220.  These drawings featured handrails, engine access doors and added detail on the trucks and pilots.  The first ones were scaled by holding up an HO model in front of the screen.  I could still complete them very quickly, and within a few months I had many dozen of them completed in both undecorated and painted form.  In May 1999, I began work on a web page incorporating these drawings, which gradually expanded on the hard disk but was never actually uploaded.

1:220 drawing

Newly added to this page in 2018, these are the first three (and only surviving) 1:220 drawings from 1999. All three were renditions of HO models I had at the time (only the CR GP38-2 still exists following failed kitbashes of the other two). They did not include hood doors or pilot details, which I later added to these and all subsequent locomotive drawings.

The first displayed drawings - 1:110 Series

By February 2000, I wanted to improve on the level of detail possible in the 1:220 drawings.  This coincided with my discovery of The Railroad Paintshop, with drawings far more detailed than mine that ranged in size from 1:87 to 1:25.  This time, I took a 1:220 undecorated GP40 (the quintessential generic locomotive) and enlarged it to 1:110.  The previous 1:220 undecorated drawings were shaded gray, with black trucks and no outline around the edges of the locomotives.  Starting with the 1:110 series, I made the drawings white with black outlines, which made them easier to paint and allowed for more detail.  A month after starting this series (March 2000) I uploaded the website for the first time, which for the first year or so was on Geocities.  By October 2000, the 1:110 series was almost as large as the 1:220 line had been.

1:110 drawing

The first 1:110 drawing, an EMD GP40, as it appeared in early 2000. I remember being immensely pleased with the apparent crispness of the thin black lines on a white background, as this was the first drawing I had made in this manner. However, 1:110 drawings initially featured oversized trucks and wheels, illustrated here.

In 2023 I decided to upload a gallery of the surviving 1:110 drawings.

Intermediate and large-scale drawings - 1:60 and 1:28 Series

Earlier in 2000, I had started a line of 1:60 drawings from scratch, in which I tried to observe major dimensions.   However, the trucks looked too small when I printed the drawings, so I very soon abandoned the series.  I didn't realize at the time that the 1:110 series in fact had oversized trucks and wheels, stemming from the fact that they were essentially 1:880 drawings enlarged three times.

Around August or September 2000, I stopped the 1:60 series and deleted the drawings; this was unfortunately during the era before I started archiving older drawings.  However, just prior to doing so, I took a 1:60 GP40 and enlarged it to 1:30 (now referred to as 1:28 to reflect the actual - approximate - scale). Similar units in the GP38 and GP40 series were added in 2000 and early 2001, but ultimately I didn't yet have the skill to reach the level of detail and accuracy that was possible in such a large scale, and it would be five years before I attempted such large drawings again.

The first drawings in the 1:28 series are the oldest drawings on the site (other than the smaller-scale samples shown above) and are listed in the 1:28 section under the "2000 series".

1:28 drawing

The first drawing in the 1:28 series as it appeared in 2000 (with a few minor detail revisions from the early 2000s).

The end of the 1:110 series

It was just after completing the first 1:28 drawing in 2000 that I realized the innaccuracies in the size of the trucks with the 1:110 drawings.  Wheels that were supposed to be 40 inches in diameter were a scale 48".  I managed to convert most Blomberg truck-equipped EMD diesels to have scale-sized trucks (as in the unit below) with appropriate modifications made to the height of the fuel tank and end steps, but these modifications made the engines look notably smaller.  Also, converting all the painted drawings would have been an immense task, since it meant changing the trucks, fuel tank and steps, plus matching the original truck colour.

1:110 drawing corrected

The same 1:110 GP40 with trucks and wheels reduced to prototypical size, as it appeared in fall 2000.

The difficulty in correcting the inaccuracies of the 1:110 series, combined with the experience I'd gained, led to the introduction of the 1:55 drawings in October 2000.

Next up: The 1:55 Series