These things usually read like some kind of historical resume, outlining all of a person’s wonderful accomplishments. Well the heck with that. I don’t have that many wonderful accomplishments.

I’ve been interested in trains since I was two. That’s when I got my first toy train. Lots more soon followed. I had an American Flyer tinplate when I got older and loved the smoke capsules you could drop down the stack. Real smoke, real steam! At least to a five or six year old. The tinplate was replaced with HO where I stayed for decades, well into adulthood. In my twenties, I dabbled with O scale and later On2-1/2 as it was called then. Like many others, my twenties and thirties weren’t a good time for modeling and stuff was put away.

I returned to the hobby in 1994, things having settled down considerably. The HO came out again as I got reacquainted with model railroading. An embarrassing series of failed layouts followed, until I couldn’t see what I was doing in HO due to aging eyes in that enlightening decade of my forties. A return to quarter-inch scale solved that problem and the Indiana and Whitewater put an end to the failed series of layouts. It’s essentially finished and it’s still a delight to work on with lots of detailing yet to be done.

Over many years, and in various ways, I’ve learned to trust my gut and follow a different path. Sometimes it’s been rocky as well as incredibly satisfying. These experiences have informed my approach to the hobby. Here are a few examples.

I enjoy a small layout much more than a large one.  Smaller layouts simply suit my temperament and attention span better. All of my previous layout failures were from projects that were more than I could handle. I get bored and tend to change my mind constantly on a long multi-year project such as the typical basement size layout. I’ve found a smaller project holds my interest better.

I enjoy detail. My experience as a fine arts painter helped me focus on all the details of a subject, sometimes to exclusion of the big picture. Working in quarter-inch scale is a joy from this perspective.

I enjoy representing things accurately. I worked in P87 because it was more accurate, letting me detail the track with scale flangeways and switchpoint spacing. In P48 the level of such detail is on steroids and I love it.

I’m a philosopher. This should be obvious to anyone who has read my writing for any length of time. I think about this hobby in ways a lot of folks have never even considered. I bring my artist’s eye and temperament to bear on my modeling,   focusing on individual aspects of a layout as parts of the whole, rather than individual pieces. To me a layout can become a three-dimensional sculpture capable of expressing the intangible. I also use the hobby as a practice for self-improvement. I see it as a journey of discovery, a way to learn what you’re actually capable of doing.

I’m also a klutz. All my emphasis on craftsmanship is a declaration of war against my own doofus skill levels. I can do good work, but I really have to focus hard to get there. I’m always getting in a rush and tend to settle too easily for mediocre results. I’m always trying to slow down and focus. Like many modelers, I’m my own harshest critic.

OST Publications Inc. is a two-man operation.  It’s just us, along with Joe’s wife Jaini who is the company treasurer. Joe handles the nuts and bolts of the company. His main focus though is on O Scale Train Magazine, which he owns. In accordance with my uber fancy job title, my focus is here, writing our books Pieces of The Puzzle, Detailing Track, Modern Freight Cars Series and our newest, The Missing Conversation, along with making tons of evil plans for world domination.

Finally, I have a really dry sense of humor. Take the world domination stuff lightly!! Well, sort of.  😉

Regards,
Mike