In this week’s Time to Model™ highlight, we’re taking a close look at Jason Quinn’s incredible modeling skills. Thanks to an uncle who purchased him and his brothers their first train set, Jason was introduced to the world of model railroading at the age of five.
“I was probably five years old when my uncle bought my brothers and me our first Bachmann train set. It had the quintessential Santa Fe F-unit and all. This was the pivotal moment in my life where my railroad fascination began. The Bachmann set didn’t last long though – as the arrival of the train set also sparked and reignited my dad’s railroad interest. I guess it let him live his younger years on Conrail. He hired on in June of 1976 at 20 years old. He was there for 5 years or so but was furloughed and found work elsewhere.”
Quinn continued, “Having dad involved in the hobby meant better quality models were purchased, such as Athearn and Roundhouse. My dad was an award-winning model truck builder in his younger years, so I guess I got my nack for custom model trains from him if I’m honest. I grew up building not only model trains, but armor, planes, and car models as well.”
When a driver’s license afforded him access to other activities, his interest in modeling waned.
“Once I could drive, I got out of the hobby as other things were getting my attention. I returned to the hobby about 10 years ago. I went back to school and money was tighter, so I could not spend as much as I used to on my other hobbies, like my fascination with fast cars. The interest was put on the back burner for something cheaper… Well, I thought trains would be cheaper. Haha!
Quinn said that since he had left the hobby as a teenager, he had missed a lot of the innovations that model railroading went through in his absence.
“When I came back to the hobby, the Athearn Genesis SD75Ms were brand new. I was pretty amazed how far things had come, particularly weathering. I have always been gifted with artistic abilities, but figuring out how to weather was rather hard. Now keep in mind this was 10 years ago, so a lot of what we have today wasn’t there. Being the new guy, I basically just looked at these weathered models in awe. The quality of the work was outstanding, the pictures were outstanding, just overall an exceptional presentation. It was right there I decided I won’t stop till I achieve that quality,” he said.
“Every step of the way, there were challenges and satisfaction,” said Jason. “My first works were terrible compared to my work now, but at the time I was happy with it. That little bit of satisfaction was the driving force towards improvement. And just that happened, time and time again, goals were achieved and new ones set. I can remember vividly as a young child, thinking about what it would be like to be in the model railroad press. Now I can say that I know how it feels. It feels great! A true dream achieved,” he said.
Fast forward to 2020, Jason now owns a business called Quinn’s Weathering Depot. He now weathers custom trains for modelers all over the United States and has worked on hundreds of ScaleTrains.com pieces.
“I never planned to start a business doing this kind of work, but sometimes things just align and good things happen. I strive to provide the best possible model every time. I put everything I have into every piece; I follow prototype weathering patterns on the specific equipment I’m working on. If a customer supplies a specific photo, it is followed. I want to provide a premium product and a reasonable price. I feel that I do that,” said Quinn.
“When ScaleTrains first came to the market five years ago, I can vividly remember a feeling of excitement. I believe I was at the first show in which they displayed the Kit Classic RBLs. I think my buddy and I walked out with around 12 or so,” he said. “The next big item that I would consider the first ‘everyday’ model that SXT produced was the Rivet Counter SD40-2. Now that one, yeah, to say that I was excited about the Chessie System SD40-2 would be an understatement,” added Quinn.
“I was at the NMRA show that year since it was in Indianapolis, where I live. I bought ten Chessie SD40-2s immediately. To date, I have had around 30 pass through my hands. I currently own 18 Chessie SD40-2s amongst the other roads that I have in my collection. Ah, the SD40-2 the gift that keeps giving! The SXT SD40-2 was a much-needed model the next best version was a warmed-over mold from the 80s. SXT was the first to bring models to the level they are today, a level that others have to catch up to,” Jason said.
“I have weathered or painted every HO scale SXT locomotive with the exception of a Big Blow. There have been many that were just weathering jobs, but I have done several NW SD40-2s in the newer “Claytor Lettering” that has the Norfolk and Western spelled out. There have been a few CSX units I have added yellow ends and sills too. The most modified units are the Chessie SD40-2s , which I have renumbered countless units of. I had custom decals designed specifically for this job. At the time there were no correct decals for the Chessie road numbers. As a matter of fact, that project was the very first project that turned into Steel Valley Models. I did not want sell my decals myself but knew they were sorely needed, so Paul Amos took control of the selling side and I do artwork research for Steel Valley.
Quinn recently custom painted a Rivet Counter SD45 for a customer.
“The Sagana Northern SD45 belongs to Mike Kisser the owner of Rail Stream. I have been custom painting his fleet of Proto freelanced power. Mike approached me after seeing my work and asked if I do custom painting. I do offer the service, but it is not my main focus. Once we agreed on an arrangement, I started in on designing the paint job. He knew he wanted a spin on the Great Northern Big Sky Blue paint job, but not an exact copy. So, I designed a paint job that gave the “Big Sky” feel while adding its own unique look,” Quinn said.
When asked what his favorite ScaleTrains.com HO Scale locomotive is, Quinn said: “It has to be the Chessie SD40-2s, particularly the 2nd run. I have been a heavy Chessie Modeler since I got back into the hobby. As a matter of fact, I have a Facebook Page called Chessie System Prototype Modelers. This page is a no BS prototype page. I strive for it to be the gold standard of correct model information on Chessie. Therefore, it is heavily moderated for content. The Sd40-2s – are to me and many others – the pinnacle of Chessie power. I know of two individuals who roster all 20 SXT models. Chessie models are well sought after and do not get sold on the used market very often.”
We’d like to thank Jason for sharing his story with us. To learn more and to see photos of his latest custom models, check out his Facebook Page.