Malcolm Furlow - Freedom of Expression

As I'm sure some of you do, I watch Model Railroader Video Plus for ideas on creating my layout. Recently they have been replaying some old videos concerning how to model effective scenery. One of the modelers is Malcolm Furlow, who created a very nice narrow gauge layout. Malcolm is a true artist and incorporated a lot of the ideas we use here on this forum. I wondered what happened to Malcolm since I haven't seen him in any recent videos. I did a little research and found that Malcolm is now an accomplished artist in Taos, New Mexico. I sent him a note and asked him why he wasn't involved in model railroading. Here is the reply I got back -

"I quit the hobby because most folks in it that I knew except for the likes of John Olson, and the work of John Allen, everyone else seemed a bit too tight-minded. I could not believe the anger that was associated with my participation in the hobby. I had a lot of admirers of my work in trains but the bombardment of hate mail just got ridiculous."

This really blew me away and reinforced why I like this particular forum. There is no "right way" to do things and Brett, Bill and Karl encourage everyone to model their own interpretation of what a particular model should look like. So, if your particular model doesn't look like the pictures in the manual or someone else's forum build, don't worry. What matters is what you think and how the model looks to you. It's ok to ask how to achieve a particular look, but everyone should strive to obtain their own individual look.

In closing, I refer back to the editorial in an issue of Model Railroader (June 2016). Folks were griping because kits were "expensive, required too many man hours and were a waste of time in lieu of buying the ready made structures." I was very proud of Neil Besougloff when he said, "Wooden craftsman kits are designed for hobbyist who relish the journey. The journey is in the construction of the kit."

So get out there, open the box, start building, and enjoy the journey!!!



  • What a fantastic thread to start and comments made Phil. Malcom Furlow is such an inspiration to many of us. I can accurately gauge the creativity of a modeler by how they feel about him. Malcolm back in his active modeling and publishing days was so selfish! Creating a wonderful layout for the Children's Medical Center of Dallas lobby was such a terrible thing to do! Bring a little joy to the unfortunate children being treated there for cancer... well Malcom, what were you thinking? There will always be haters and hated. I guess that's the very definition of free will. If you want to be an asshole you can! Just not on my forum!

    I wish I had got a chance to meet Malcolm but never did. His articles in MR got me interested in narrow gauge and backwoods modeling. But then again, that was back when MR was a magazine worth reading. Don't even get me started on that!
  • My wife tells her friends I have a model railroad. I do and I run the trains around about once a year when a visitor wants to see them go around. When they get into the basement they forget about the trains and just look at the scenes and detailed structures. Not that I am such a great builder but they had no idea anyone built things like this. I tell them I am a kit builder and the railroad is just here to display them.

    The articles by Malcom Furlow and Jon Olson in various magazines inspired me to build. I wanted to imitate what they did. Building Sierra West kits teach me how to do imitate them. I am very grateful these kits exist. There is nothing that needs to be apologized for in any of them and they keep getting better. Thanks Brett for making them.

  • I always really liked Malcolm's work. I watched his instructional videos dozens of times when I was getting starting in the hobby. I thought his most recent small G scale layout was great. It's pretty sad that someone would take the time to write a hate mail letter to someone because they don't like that persons modeling style.

  • I've told this story many times over the years but not recently so if you have heard it before indulge me please!. At the 1993 Narrow Gauge Convention I was in the contest room marveling at a scratch-built 1/2" scale K27 and some hater came up, invaded my space, and started whining like a little bitch about how this was wrong, and that was off, etc... I turned to him and asked which contest model entry was his? He walked away without another comment...

    Saw that asshole at many conventions after that and guess what? Never talked to me again. Thank goodness! This type of attitude drives modelers away from the hobby or at least from publicly sharing their work. Oh and that K27... Best of Show. Deserved it. Never met the builder. Shaped my modeling philosophy for over a decade in fact if you see my early packaging there was a tagline something like "Relax, enjoy the hobby..." based upon that contest room encounter... Modelers like Malcolm Furlow are always welcome here!
  • Long live Malcolm Furlow!!!

  • I love the fact that everyone here is so wiling to help better each other. No one holds things back. It is a true sharing of ideas and techniques. I fashion myself as an artist who just happens to like trains and the art of building miniature scenes. Some of the other modelers on here are the biggest reason that I got into this hobby.
  • One of my great memories in the journey of life. Sometime around the '80's, I can't figure exactly, The Prospect Model Railway Club in Sydney, Australia (of which I was a member) sponsored a visit by Malcolm down to our annual layout exhibition. It was a great event and Malcolm gave a half dozen or so clinics over the show's weekend.

    About a year later on one of my many business trips to the US, I managed to bend my travel through Dallas and caught up with Malcolm again. He and his lovely wife (Sharon?) collected me from my hotel, we dined out then went back to his place and played trains on his HOn3 layout until late into the night. Malcolm had a Dynatrol system, one of the forebears to DCC control. We spent a bunch of time playing push helpers on the fly up past his mines. One of the best nights.

    Phil Morrow
    Buderim, AUS
  • What an awesome story Phil, and a terrific memory! Thanks for sharing with us.
  • I've never seen this here and most likely will not. Like Brett said people who can always nit pick about a building never seem to be building anything themselves...

  • I just joined the group today and I must say what an enjoyable time I've had! I was mentored to my MMR by a guy much like Malcolm, Dick Genthner. He warned me about the "pickers" and to use the "advice" if applicable but ignore the attitudes. I have always enjoyed the friends and skills gathered along the way. I too was inspired by Olson and Furlow and built my own versions of their layouts in the past. I'm looking forward to starting my first SW build, the Deer Creek Mine in HO. I have read the instruction book 4 times already and it's time to jump in! I'm glad there is a great forum to learn from here! Thanks heaps!
  • Welcome David. Looks like you are a like minded modeler! Don't hesitate to post your build (highly encouraged). Great folks here with tons of talent!
  • I certainly will! I just finished reading about Phil's first build, the SW Wood Cutter's Shack. Just the kind of folk's I want to hang out with! So Awesome!!
  • Thanks David. I too am building the mine, but with a lot of travel, I'm not making quick progress. I will post when I get the chance. I'm looking forward to your build as well. Phil
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