New scratch-built Diner models

Star Lite Diner, Worcester Lunch Car No. 817, circa Dec. 1948
Photo courtesy of the Medford Police Department

I have been working off and on in my spare time since April of 2007 on 2 “HO” size scratch-built models. Originally I was just going to make a smaller version of a model I built back in 1995, the former Star Lite Diner of Medford, Mass. The model I built back in the mid-90’s is approximately 30 inches long and has a complete interior.

The new version would be much smaller and would only be the exterior. The other difference was that I was going to include the foundation, stairs and on-site annex building that housed the kitchen and restrooms. As seen in the above photo, (the only photo known to exist) only shows one side wall of the building in the rear.

When I used to frequent the diner back in the mid-1960’s the side entrance was enclosed all the way back so if you were in the diner and wanted to use the restrooms, you did not have to walk outside.

Anyway, this diner was gone by 1967 or 68 and the only remnants on the property were what was left of the old foundations which were eventually overgrown with weeds. Around 1985 the property was developed for a new Burger King restaurant. When they started to clear the land, the contractors uncovered what was left of the foundation of the diner. I took one slide of the uncovered foundation for posterity.

In starting to build the new model I had to know if the back building was similar in size (left to right) to the diner. I referred back to that slide and from what I could tell the 2 foundations were the same length. For the other 2 walls of this kitchen annex I used my imagination, even though I may have seen them when I was young, I do not recall what was there as far as windows and doors.

Front and left elevation of Star Lite Diner model

Front and right side elevation of Star Lite Diner model
with Pepsi sign.

Left and rear elevation of Star Lite Diner model

Right and rear elevation of Star Lite Diner model

When the construction of these models were underway, I realized I did not have the tools to facilitate the fine detail I needed for windows, etc. I knew I was going to use my computer graphics skills to create the porcelain panels with the name of the diner and “Booth Service” panels as well as all the stripes that Worcester used for decoration. When the window details proved too tough I decided to do them on the computer as well.

Portside Diner, Danversport, Mass. Originally the Cape Ann Grill
of Gloucester, Mass.

The second model came about because of the 651 diners built by the Worcester Lunch Car Company, only 2 were built to this size. Number 813 was originally the Cape Ann Grill of Gloucester, Mass. This one was built prior to the Star Lite and was delivered in June of 1948. It stayed in Gloucester until circa 1960 or so and was moved to Danvers, Mass. where it became the Portside Diner.

Ironically when I first started documenting diners back in 1980, I was always looking for a photo of the Star Lite Diner and for years I could never seem to locate one. One day in the mid-to-late 1980’s, I was sitting at the counter in the Portside Diner when I swivelled on my stool and looked around really quick. It suddenly dawned on me that it was pretty much the same as the old Star Lite! Yeah, I know that most Worcesters from that period of time were similar, but these virtually were identical in the configuration of the interior.

As I may have stated in an earlier post, it wasn’t until 1991 when the one and only photo (the one at the top of this post) came to light. This only confirmed what I had already discovered, the 2 diners were almost clones.

On the outside the biggest difference is the Star Lite has two overhangs, one on each end. Usually Worcester had these overhangs as a sort of canopy over a side entrance. In both of these diners there were only side entrances on the right side, the left side was all windows. The left side really did not need the overhang and in fact the Cape Ann Grill did not have one.

I believe when the Star Lite was built, either Worcester Lunch car or the owner Jim Theodore (or both) decided that the building did not look balanced and they designed the diner with an overhang on the left side as well as the right.

The other difference is that the Cape Ann Grill is one of the few Worcester Lunch Cars from this period that does not have “Booth Service” panels.

Front and left elevation of Portside Diner model

Front and right elevation of Portside Diner model

Left and rear elevation of Portside Diner model

Right and rear elevation of Portside Diner model