Trackside Miniatures: The Scratch-Built “Rail Rig Museum” By Baby Gramps

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(first posted 1/18/2016)     A little while back, we went to coffee house downtown for a concert by several performers. Before the show, I noticed a table bathed in bright lights off to the side. I walked over, and saw an older man with a bushy beard making some adjustments to a display of miniatures. I was utterly engrossed, and the man turned out to be Baby Gramps, one of the performers that evening. This is his long-time hobby. Everything here is scratch-made; not kits or anything bought of the sort. All the materials are found and made/remade; the boards on the buildings are coffee stirrers, the gears and wheels are from old clocks, and so on. So many mundane objects from everyday life are the source of the materials. I was totally lost in it for an hour, while Baby Gramps took us on a tour of his little miniature world he’s been working on for many years.

It ended when he had to leave to perform. Baby Gramps, is a highly distinctive performer with a voice that is “a cross between Popeye the Sailor and a Didgeridoo”. He’s been performing since 1964 and has quite the way with a guitar, as well as singing. A true original.

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I’m going to walk you around, but unfortunately I can’t remember all of the wonderful details that Baby Gramps shared; how exactly everything you see here was made from scratch or re-purposed. The “Rail Rig Museum” is a tribute to the little rail vehicles that small railroads often built themselves in their shops and used to inspect and repair rails, transport workers, and other purposes. Since these “rail rigs” were themselves often very creative, their world inspired Baby Gramps’ creativity. I can’t really add much more, so I’m just going to show them to you and let you get lost in them too. As always, click on the images for maximum size and effect.

By the way, “Rail Rig Museum” is just one of a number of miniature worlds that Baby Gramps has built. He’s a night owl, and this is one of the ways he spends his nights.

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And here’s Baby Gramps performing, on the David Letterman show.