Hi, my name is Bruce B. Blackwood. Born in 1958, I have spent most of my life in Maryland. My love for trains started very early. My father, Norman Blackwood, was master model railroad number fifty-one. Sometime in the late '70s, I went to a MMRA convention with my Dad where I bought an Alco models caboose in O scale brass. From then on, the O Scale 2 rail model-railroading hook was severely set.
Somewhere around here is a picture of yours truly, running my father's HO layout at the very early age of three or four. Over the years, I have helped work on my dad's model railroad until his passing.
I graduated from Northwestern Senior high school a year early in 1975. Later, I attended Ricks college in Rexburg, Idaho, leaving with an Associates degree in Automotive Business Management. I served a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Louisiana/Mississippi/Alabama mission area from 1979 to 1981. Afterwards, I studied electrical engineering at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, for one year.
My girlfriend at the time had too much persuasion on me, and I went home to Maryland thirty-four years ago, and married her. Together, we have raised four children of which my only failure was being unable to convince any of them that they needed to be model railroaders. However, one daughter does want my pickle car collection when I get to that big model train set-up.
I have always loved the swap meet / train show part of this hobby, and I have attended hundreds of train shows as a vendor. Around 1985, I borrowed $1000 to start a model train business, buying and selling mostly large-scale trains, through mail-order and swap meets (the internet as we know it today did not exist). I had a stent with outdoor garden railroading, as our first house had a very small basement. I installed about 500 feet of track outside, including a tressel over a 6 foot Koi pond.
My goal was always to open a retail brick-and-mortar model train store. It took a few years of work, but we were finally able to achieve my goal and open BURRETT HOBBIES. My wife and I worked the store two nights during the week and on Saturdays for a couple of years until we could build things up and go full-time. Our store largely sponsored and ran a G-scale gathering, which was a lot like today's mini conventions. Sometime in the late '80s, we bought a larger house and I started work on my first two rail O scale layout. As the months went by, I quit my day job and together, my wife and I ran our store for twenty some years as our sole source of income. With the onslaught of the internet, and health insurance costs skyrocketing (my wife and I were not getting younger); the old saying of "the best way to make a small fortune in the retail model hobby industry was to start with a large one" was becoming clearer and clearer.
My working career had consisted of automotive jobs from lot boy up to service manager, in both independent small repair shops to midsize dealerships. I also spent a few years as the warranty administrator for a large Ford re-manufacturer. When other opportunities began presenting themselves, we closed the store and I took work as a lead carpenter for a company building glass houses .... ere ... Sun Rooms. From there I hired on with the DC subway system and became an AA electrician before health issues required me to retire.
I've had a long stent of personal restoration projects; including a '28 Buick, '49 Roadmaster, '65 Riviera GS, '66 Riviera GS, '68 Corvette tri power, '67 Camaro RS/SS and a variety of Mustangs. I have had over two hundred cars in my life so far. I've also served in many leadership positions for my church, including roles in the youth leadership, many positions in the Boy Scouts ( I am an Eagle scout ) including committee chair and Scoutmaster, counselor in bishoprics, and most recently the high priest leader.
In my previous house, I had accomplished about half the track laying of a John Armstrong design when our family grew and a larger house became available. The first layout was then taken up, and most of the bench work transferred.I am working on this layout presently and I model whatever I like. The pretense of my layout is that a wealthy entrepreneur bought a steam engine and then found that there was nobody that could restore it for him. So being the entrepreneur that he was, went out and hired some of the best retired experts he could find, and bought a roundhouse for them to restore his locomotive properly. It didn't take long for word to get out about what he was doing. When the locomotive was restored and put into operation, the entrepreneur found that there was money to be made, and so opened a restoration roundhouse. This gives me plausible reason to have, say, a SP daylight sitting next to a B&O EM1 and maybe a Pennsy K4 sitting in the same area. The entrepreneur also found that the many people who were willing to pay to have work done also had passenger and freight cars, which gives me reason to have all sorts of passenger and freight cars around the layout.
In addition to my lifelong passion of model railroading, my service on the executive committee of the very successful 2018 SONC also helps qualify me to lead the O Scale Kings