Chuck Hitchcock’s layout of the Argentine Division of Santa Fe Railway will forever stand as one of the most inventive and innovative model railroads ever built. The techniques Chuck used in planning and bringing to life 1953 Kansas City have inspired generations of new modelers, and the hobby is forever thankful for his pioneering.
Over the course of three decades, Chuck happily toiled away in his workshop, building the HO scale structures, trackage and scenery that dedicated modelers know and love. Since its inception in 1972, Chuck has been refining, upgrading and operating the Argentine with a passion for precision and perfection. We wanted to get a sense of how Chuck created and continues to maintain this remarkable layout, so host Allen Keller visited Chuck for a behind-the-scenes tour and a conversation about all things model railroading. In this segment, Chuck discusses the techniques he utilized to construct the realistic HO scale structures you’ll find in the Argentine yard and throughout the industrial portions of his layout.
On creating lifelike industrial HO scale structures
If you’ve ever built your own HO scale structures on a model railroad layout, then you certainly know the immense benefits of working with styrene. Its durability and rigidity make it wonderfully easy to manipulate for a variety of HO scale structures, which is why Chuck utilized so much of it on his recreation of Kansas City’s Argentine Division.
To demonstrate the usefulness of styrene in making HO scale structures, Chuck walks you through a number of the industrial HO scale structures he created for his era-appropriate yard layouts and other urban sections of the railroad. You’ll see how he designed and modeled a range of HO scale structures, including the Pullman Building and its rooftop water source, the Western Auto and its trademark signage, and the K.C. Terminal Warehouse, which was actually constructed out of modules from City Plastics.
After talking about the building of his HO scale structures, Chuck reminisces on his time in the hobby, and goes over some of the challenges, setbacks and ultimate rewards of embarking on the construction of this outstanding layout. He also describes his goal of constructing a real (albeit small-scale) railroad rather than a “trainset.” Don’t miss this valuable insight from a true master of the art form!