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Thomas Mix
Captain, United States Marine Corps - Retired

Tom and Bente Mix
Monument, Colorado - October 2016

Tom Mix is without question one of the finest craftsman in model railroading.   Tom is known throughout the hobby for his exquisite scratch built Proto:48 and On3 models, and moreover, for his dedicated service to his country as an officer in the United States Marine Corps.
  Tom grew up in Colorado, and currently resides in Monument, Colorado with his wife of 62 years, Bente.

Tom has been building models since he was six years old.  He has also been scratch building since that time, building miniature structures, model airplanes, and other models throughout his youth.  With the onset of the Korean War in the early 1950's, Tom enlisted in the Marine Corps at the age of 16, after talking his mother into signing his enlistment papers.  After Tom completed USMC boot camp and infantry training, he attended school to be an aviation mechanic.  Tom progressed in his Marine Corps career quickly, eventually becoming an aviation crew chief serving in both Japan and in Quantico, Virginia.  The crew chief is one of the most important people assigned to a military aircraft, as he/she is responsible for ensuring that the aircraft and crew are prepared to effectively and safely complete each mission.

While stationed in Japan in the mid 1950's, Tom's modeling interests shifted to railroads.  He purchased his first hand built HO brass locomotive from a small shop in Tokyo, a Union Pacific Challenger 4-6-6-4.  The model cost him $20, which at that time represented a large portion of his monthly Sergeant's pay.  Tom modeled in HO scale throughout the 1950's, focusing on one of his favorite railroads, the Union Pacific.  During his assignment to the Marine security detail at the American Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark from 1954 to 1955, he met and married his wife, Bente.

While stationed in Quantico, Virginia in 1959, a series of articles and plans in Model Railroader captured Tom's interest, and he decided to scratch build his first 1/4" Scale brass locomotive.  He purchased a Unimat SL lathe and began work on a Union Pacific S Class 0-6-0 switcher.  As he started construction he made the decision to build the model using "fine scale" standards, with true to prototype wheel treads and wheel thicknesses, using a prototype track gauge of 4 feet 8-1/2 inches - standards that are now defined as Proto:48.  During the construction of the UP 0-6-0, Tom taught himself to machine drivers and axles, punch rivets, and to solder.

While at Quantico Tom was commissioned as an officer in the Marine Corps, and after graduating from Officer Candidate School, he was assigned to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Southern California.  While on his way to his new assignment, he stopped to measure and photograph a preserved Union Pacific 0-6-0.  After examining the prototype, he decided that the model he was constructing had a number of mistakes that needed to be corrected.  His study of the prototype for his first "Proto:48" model established an overall modeling approach that to this day includes extensive research, accurate construction, and exact detailing.  These characteristics are inherent in all of Tom's models.  His reliance on proper research is reflected in his large library of reference books, prototype plans, photographs, and materials.  One of the important characteristics of Tom's modeling is his ability to infuse the "look and feel" of the prototype into his models.  He does this using a variety of modeling techniques and materials and a dedication to prototype design and detailing.

Tom continued his modeling throughout his career in the Marine Corps.  He achieved the rank of Captain and retired in October of 1972.  Tom and his wife moved back to Denmark after his retirement and lived there for ten years.  While in Denmark Tom modeled in On3 fine scale, and scratch built several On3 locomotives, including a Colorado & Southern 2-6-0 and a Shay.  While in Europe Tom learned to use nickel sliver as a primary material in his modeling, and the combination of brass and nickel silver is a distinguishing characteristic of his scratch built models.

While in Copenhagen Tom purchased a Sunset USRA Heavy 2-8-2, and proceeded to modify it into an accurate Proto:48 CB&Q Class O-4 Mikado.  Converting the O Scale model to Proto:48 required the construction of new cylinders and machining and re-gauging the drivers to fine scale standards.  Tom scratch built a new CB&Q cab and oil tender, and added a complete Elesco Feedwater Heater system with the requisite piping and detail.  With the completion of the O-4 Tom decided to model exclusively in standard gauge, with a concentration on the CB&Q.  The CB&Q O-4 2-8-2 was Tom's last steam locomotive conversion from O Scale to Proto:48.  Given the extra work required to correct or scratch build key components to meet fine scale dimensions, Tom decided it would be more efficient to completely scratch build his future models.

Tom and Bente eventually moved back to Colorado and settled in the Colorado Springs area.  He added to his shop with a new lathe, mill, and precision drill press.  He researched and scratch built a number of CB&Q steam locomotives of different classes, and added Proto:48 diesels, rolling stock, and structures to his collection.  All of his models were built from actual prototype drawings, which required no dimensional compensations for Proto:48.  Tom's locomotive models feature scale dimensioned materials and include such innovations as DCC controlled miniature computer motors to activate working valve gear reverse mechanisms.  His rolling stock models have included scratch built fully detailed brass trucks, and his structures have been detailed to the point of including scale birds on the roofs.  Tom's models and construction techniques have been featured in several publications, including the Proto:48 Modeler and O Scale Trains. 

It is easy to see the parallels in Tom Mix's USMC and modeling careers.  The principles of disciplined effort, learning to do things correctly, and striving for overall excellence are always evident.  Tom's models are a part of his legacy, and he trusts that future owners of his models will enjoy not only how well they depict the prototypes, but also what they ultimately represent.

Tom Mix - Capt., USMC, Ret.
August 28, 2017

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