The Backwoods Miniatures Story
Miniatures is run by Pete and Jen McParlin from Netherton, a small
village in Northumberland, near the border between England and
The Snake River Lumber Company
I acquired a passion for narrow gauge modelling while building my H0n30 Snake River Lumber Company during the 1980's and 90's. The layout was exhibited at numerous shows in England before its retirement and sale during the early 1990's. While the layout used a wide variety of commercial and kitbashed stock, I also found a need for various parts which couldn't be obtained commercially. This, together with my professional involvement in graphic design, led me into the production of cast and etched parts for my own use - and occasionally other H0n30 modellers.
Our First Kits
I eventually produced a cast and etched locomotive kit - a body-only kit for an Ingersoll-Rand bogie switcher, using the Austrian Lilliput B-B diesel chassis - which started to sell quite well. From this point onward, my modelling became secondary to the production of further kits, and Backwoods Miniatures was born. Our next kit was a semi-freelance railcar for 009 (British 4mm scale on 9mm gauge) based on an example used in German SouthWest Africa (Namibia). We then branched out into a range of Irish 3'0" gauge prototypes in 4mm scale covering many of the popular locomotives from these delightful (but hitherto rarely modelled) lines.
An Expanding Range
By the mid-1990's Backwoods had a wide product range and I had produced a variety of locomotive and coach designs; this gave us the confidence to move into the 009 market in a big way. I have always been evangelical about prototype accuracy; I don't mind freelance models, but if someone tells me that a model represents a particular prototype, I'd prefer that it actually looked like that prototype. Many 009 kits of the period didn't, and used proprietary N gauge chassis with inside frames and wheels of inaccurate size, spacing, etc. I set out to prove that 009 models could be accurate, and the result is part of the range that you see today.
Across The Pond
My interest in narrow gauge in the USA, and logging in particular, inevitably led me to produce kits for that market. In the last few years our Porters and Climax have made inroads into the American Sn3 market and we are now working on further development for this scale, as well as moving into On3. We now have a range which, including our "back catalogue" of older products to special order, now runs to over 50 kits. There are plenty more developments in the pipeline, so watch this space!
Pete McParlin (left) and Jan Rons at the Portland (Oregon) Narrow Gauge Convention, September 1999.