About Matthew Forsyth:
Matt Forsyth is 53 years old, and is a resident of Northeastern Pennsylvania. He began model railroading when he was 10, after having been first introduced to the subject by his Grandfather, the late Stanley G. Forsyth.
As a young man just out of school, Stan worked as a Brakeman on the Delaware and Hudson Railroad’s Susquehanna Division @ Binghamton, NY. After a few years on The Road, being newly married and wanting to be closer to home, he took a job in the Pennsylvania milk and cheese industry, first working as a laborer at the large Borden’s Creamery at Kingsley, PA, and some years later becoming that facility’s Supervisor.
Stan Forsyth (left) in his role as Supervisor at the Borden’s Creamery, Kingley, PA in the summer of 1940, ovesees one of his employees, Bruce Jones (right).
That creamery was located track side along the mainline of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad’s Scranton Division. It was from his own work experience on the D&H and his relationship with the employees of the DL&W that Stan maintained his life-long interest in railroading.
When his Grandson Matt came along, Stan was was soon to retire, having been promoted by Borden’s to Company Milk Inspector, and later to Superintendent of Creamery Operations for Northeastern, PA. In that time he had collected many railroad tools, artifacts and lore, that he later passed on to his Grandson.
Matthew Forsyth, age 4 1/2 months, with his Grandfather, the late Stanley Grant Forsyth and his Grandmother, the late Florence Iola (Forse) Forsyth, March 12, 1963
Stan was friends with the late R. Spencer Rutherford of Harford, PA. “Spence” as he was know, was a graduate of MIT, and was retired from Bethlehem Steel, having served that company for over 35 years as their Chief of Engineering. Spence was also an “HO” model railroader, who modeled the Pennsylvania RR in the basement of his home. Stan introduced Matt to Spence, and a fast friendship formed. Matt was eager to learn and do when it came to model railroad, and Spence was happy to guide.
R. Spencer Rutherford (left) and Matt Forsyth at the house on Tyler Lake, late summer 1984
Matt Enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1979 at the age of 16. He had been modeling the PRR with Spence, but later had “rediscovered” the D&H and DL&W of his Grandfather and the Anthracite Roads of the northeast in general.
Machinists Mate Second Class M. A. Forsyth receives his Qualified in Submarines “Dolphins” from Skipper Art Jones on board the nuclear submarine USS James Monroe, SSBN 622 (Gold) in the spring of 1982
Upon discharge from the Navy in 1986, Matt returned to Penna. and to civilian life. He restarted his “HO” modeling in 1987, but that same year, while shopping at “The Train Shoppe” in Johnson City, NY, he met a man from Endwell, (Ellis Kliewer) who had retired as a tool and die maker from IBM Endicott. This fellow was building an “O” Scale UP Big Boy from scratch, and it was the most fantastically detailed model Matt had ever seen. At that very second, because of its massive heft, pulling power, and intense detail, he decided there and then that “O” Scale was the ONLY way to go!! Matt formed a relationship with Ellis, who invited him to come visit his home machine shop, to see how his Big Boy was being made. After spending the day, he discovered that Ellis was not building just one UP 4-8-8-4, but was actually building four of them. His intention was to keep one for himself, and sell the other three on the open market. Ellis was kind enough to give Matt “the tour” and a brief overview of the process, but he was not interested in teaching his methods. Even so, Matt’s desire to scratch build his own locomotives (DL&W, Erie, and D&H) was impossible to resist. He sold all his “HO” and began this new trek as a self-taught “O” Scale (P48) Modeler and Scratch Builder.
Matt began slowly honing his brass-working and machining skills, and developed his own techniques. Modeling “solo” for a year, he was eventually introduced to an old school “O” Scaler from Binghamton, NY, the late Bob Sypher; the last President of the Binghamton Model Railroad Club, established 1939. Bob knew all the ins, outs, and history of the scale, and he generously made Matt a member of the Club and mentored him for several years.
During that period Matt put P48 on the back burner and modeled in traditional “O” Scale (OW5) with The Club. Although thankful and grateful for the “O” education, he eventually became disenchanted with the current state of “O” Scale, especially from a lack of accuracy and model-availability perspective. Unlike its little brother “HO”, the offerings of accurate prototype steam models in “O” is very limited, unless you are a PRR modeler. Little was, and still is available for roads like the DL&W, Erie, LV, CNJ, D&H and other northeastern anthracite carriers. Calling upon his Navy training as well as his experience in pipe fitting, machining, and the sheet metal fabrication he had done for race car interiors and custom built Harleys, he began scratch building his own anthracite roads steam locomotives from brass and steel, or on occasion, “brass-bashing” an anthracite prototype from an older PRR, UP, or USRA brass import.
Bob Sypher, though a PRR modeler himself, also had a secondary, contagious passion for the D&H. Matt, living in NE PA was only six miles away from the old D&H Penn Division Mainline, and the summit at Ararat. Bob’s prompting, and the fact that Matt’s Grandfather had started his career on that Road, was the impetus for him to begin modeling the steam-era D&H Penn Division in “O” Scale, and shortly thereafter going back to his original 1/4″ modeling roots of 1986; P48.
The late Bob Sypher (left) and Matt Forsyth stand next to the engine facility of the Binghamton Model Railroad Club, December 11, 2009…George Losse photo
Now, with over 28 years of experience in “O” Scale and P48, his scratch-building, brass-bashing, machining, fabricating and painting skills have increased ten-fold. He has created several contest-winning models and a long list of custom-fabricated, mega-detailed steam locomotives and freight cars not only for himself, but for many other modelers and collectors. His skills are now in high demand, with Clients from all over the U.S., Europe, Australia, and Asia offering commissions for his railroad modeling work.