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The Joe Martin Craftsmanship Museum

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  • The Joe Martin Craftsmanship Museum

    I have just returned from vacation. The first week was spent with my son and daughter in law in Carlsbad Ca. This time I was able to get in a visit to the Joe Martin Craftsmanship Museum in Vista. It was well worthwhile, and I encourage anyone remotely near the area to make a visit as well.

    Visitors are accompanied by a docent. We arrived at noon and were fortunate to have the director, Craig Libuse for a guide. Joe Martin was in for a visit and we had a chance to chat with him as well. We were later joined by Pam Weiss, Lead Toolmaker who had several of her models on display as well as an almost completed Gatling Gun and her version of Ron Colonna's Offy engine in precess.

    Pam is a very talented machinist and modelmaker, and it was a very enjoyable visit with both her and Craig. The tours are very low key, and you are not at all rushed, but encouraged to take as much time as you wish.

    The tour starts in the shop area of the museum, and a Westbury Seal and Jerry Howell's V-4 engines are demonstrated as well as the shop itself. You then go upstairs to the museum itself.

    The museum is beautifully done, all models are well displayed with maker's name as well as all pertinent information included. Most are in glass cases, but are very accessable for up close inspection and photos. The Rudy Kouhoupt collection is in the first room, the Knapp collection takes up a large part of the second room. They are currently building a larger facility nearby to make room for more models.

    I had my camera with me, but did not unlimber it as it was a case of taking a photo of every model or none. They do have an excellent CD of photos of the collection available for a small contribution, and I availed myself of one of them.

    This video gives a good account of what you can expect to see.

    NOTE: This is the video showing the original location in Vista. In 2011, the museum moved down the street to Carlsbad and now occupies a much larger 16,000 s...

    The museum is an adjunct to the Sherline Factory. As we arrived around lunch time, there was no one in the museum, and we were directed around back to contact a guide. We passed through a portion of the manufacturing and shipping area on our way back through to the museum proper, and it is one of the cleanest, most orderly facilities I have seen, quite a contrast to the South Bend factory in its final days and an indication of the quality and attention to detail one can expect from their products.

    After leaving the museum, we had lunch and then went to the Vista Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum which is a couple of miles away. This is a 55 acre facility with many antique farming engines and machines. It is open every day of the week, and you are free to roam the grounds. This was my second visit, and, while there were a few people around, you are pretty much on your own. Admission is free and you should plan at least four hours or more to see it all. Prepare for dust and uneven ground and bring water.

    They have a website, but I do not seem to be able to access it for some reason so I am forced to supply a Tiffipedia link for it;

    Jim H.

  • #2

    Thanks for posting the link to the Joe Martin Craftsmanship Museum. I had only seen a few photos and enjoyed getting a chance to see more of it. It obviously takes a tremendous amount of time and money to run the museum and we are fortunate to have someone make the effort to preserve and display these models.

    Here is a short video that Craig passed me a few weeks ago. It shows some of Rudy Kouhoupt’s engines in the museum.

    Rudy's Engines
    Traverse City, MI


    • #3
      Nice museum,it's good to see the work of people who were instrumental in the hobby preserved.
      I just need one more tool,just one!


      • #4
        The museum is not static, but is continually changing with new items added continually. Craig had just received two new models when we were there.

        When Craig and Joe found out that I was involved in the hobby myself, and was familiar with many of the builders, the tone of the tour changed a bit and we shared not only our enjoyment of model engineering but also memories of our mutual friends and aquaintances.

        Pam joined us when she returned from lunch and added her knowledge of modeling and machining as well. She is a very skilled machinist, and her work is the equal of any on display.

        On the whole, a visit is like visiting the shop of a friend, not a museum.

        A direct link is;

        Clicking on the slideshow will give a taste of what is on the CD, which has over 250 photos on it. I don't know if the CD is available on order, but it should be, it includes many models not currently on display such as Rich Carlstedt's engines.
        Jim H.