Earlier this year I wrote a post titled Mentor Texts, where I listed several authors who have influenced my development as a modeler. Reflecting on these works it occurred to me that one reason I go back to these half century old texts again and again is their timeless aspect.

The authors presented techniques and ideas that weren’t dependent on running down to the hobby shop to buy the newest whiz bang material or gizmo. Instead, they relied on simple foundational skills that were common among modelers of that era. Skills like scratchbuilding or the ability to handlay track and turnouts. Yes, you might need special materials like scribed siding or milled basswood shapes (substitute styrene for both of those today) for a project, but often one could do with stuff on hand from the scrap box.

It’s the emphasis on foundation skills that draw me back to these early works and what I often find lacking in contemporary articles. Clearly the craft has moved toward a greater focus on electronics and digital technologies. There is no denying that but, a little tech goes a long way for me. I’m more interested in building a solid skill set that allows me to model as I choose.

This brings me back to my mentor texts. The quality and tone of those articles continue to inspire my modeling and writing. Much of what I write is intended to provide a similar foundation for modelers.

The volumes of The Missing Conversation series encourage you to think for yourself about what you want from the craft of railroad modeling.

I believe you are a skilled intelligent modeler who understands the deep satisfaction that comes from making things; one who wants to learn from the experience of others, and I hope these works help you understand how to use the practice and discipline of a craft to develop your skills.

I believe there is a market for a deeper discussion about the craft that’s ready to be served. I believe that like any other art form, the craft of railroad modeling can teach you to see the world differently.

That is what separates this work from the others.

I wish all of you near and far a Merry Christmas and godspeed.