Before John Armstrong puts locomotives on his Canandaigua Southern layout, he “breaks every bone in their body”. John finds it a lot easier when he can lift the top off of a locomotive when he needs to look at what is underneath. One of John’s philosophies on the railroad is that the super structures of the locomotives are not fastened on, instead they simply lift off whenever he needs to do something, which is hopefully every few years. This way, on the chassis, he doesn’t have to put the locomotive on its back.
While working on it, there is a handy place to put the superstructure, which is on top of the roundhouse, as it is structurally strong. He can check whether an element is fixed or needs to be worked on more by running the locomotive without the superstructure. To do this all, it is necessary to remount the ash pans from attachment to the boiler to the chassis, which is something he wishes the manufacturers would do for modelers.
John wants his locomotives to look like they belong in the Canandaigua Southern family. Characteristics include a fire box, center of the smokebox, headlights and others. Some aspects of the commercial model locomotives cannot be controlled. Allen Keller credits John’s style and wit with helping to popularize the hobby and being an inspiration to so many people over the years.
John’s modest response is that there is a lot of enjoyment that people can share in his railroad. Modeling is a principle part of his life and he hopes all interested in the hobby can have fun together. John has always enjoyed passenger train operation, although he doesn’t think it is necessarily neglected in the hobby, people may not see its advantages. The length of the cars versus the radius often deter people from using them in their layouts. John goes on to discuss more on passenger train operations.