Chris Mears and I are having an interesting conversation about why we’re doing the craft. Chris approaches the topic as one looking for both inspiration and direction, while I’m searching for the next challenge after forty-plus years of doing the usual stuff.

We both have the needed skills and understand the commitment involved in practicing this craft on a serious level and trying to understand where Chris is in his journey helps me reflect on my own. I also have a growing sense we’re not the only ones at such turning points.

Chris has shared excellent observations, such as how many of his prior choices were based on available hobby products rather than what would truly engage him on a deeper level. I think we all go through that stage and sadly, many never grow beyond it. Chris is ready to move beyond such limitations and understands that ongoing satisfaction involves a different context. But what context exactly?

This strikes me as a significant question, one the literature of the craft ignores. As we corresponded, he mentioned how the typical magazine article goes as follows, and I’m paraphrasing: “I grew up watching SP steam (doing whatever) and ever since I’ve been in love with those magnificent smoke-belching monsters and my layout recreates those halcyon days of yore. Here’s my hobby shop and lumberyard shopping list used to build it.” (Translated as, I used ME code70 flex track and turnouts, Walthers Cornerstone buildings, Woodland Scenics, blah, blah, over a grid style bench work made from… (Yawn…))

For those born after 1985 or even after 1955, how are we to relate to this? As experienced modelers we know the how-to conventions and the product list but as Chris wondered, what about why did you make this choice versus another?

“Well, I ahhh… Umm, gee, I got nothing here.”

Exactly. Most of us never give the reasons behind our choices a second thought, or a first one for that matter. We just measure the available space and start throwing lumber and model train stuff at it until it’s full. Then we do it all over again because it was so much fun the first time. (Yay, spending money. Hurray!)

What compels you?
Chris is ready to move toward a project that he hopes will bring him long-term satisfaction. If I understand our discussion correctly, he’s ready to commit to serious work but is struggling to decide on a direction that is compelling for him.

Having done my own soul-searching, I knew the typical generic advice would be less than useless. All I can do is sympathize over the task ahead of him. (A relatively enjoyable one I hasten to add.) I did, however, share a couple of past layout stories and my decision process involved.

One centered on the massive, doomed from the start, PRR in Richmond which never really made it off the drawing paper (thank God). I shared how a couple of treasured childhood memories were to become prominent scenes on this layout and how it all came to a screeching halt when I realized the futility I was embracing.

Why futile? Because I could never recreate such memories in physical form to my satisfaction. There are too many intangible elements, such as the crisp autumn air punctuated by the warm blast of diesel exhaust, as I stood on a street overpass watching a long freight come out of the yard and passing mere feet below me. What about the warmth of steam radiators in the depot waiting room, or the comforting presence of my dad on those outings? None of that translates into model form. On a visceral level, if not conscious, I realized such memories are better left to the mind, rather than a lifeless imitation in 1:87.1 scale. Yes, imagination would fill in such blanks for many people, but I made the right decision for me.

With the weight of that albatross lifted, I turned to a different set of memories surrounding the yard engine working a decrepit siding that ran next to our house. I loved the slow methodical motion of the loco and cars moving along this track, the accessibility of being right there with the action by pacing along on my bike up and down a street that ran the length of the spur.

Again, I left those specific images to my memory, but the slow running, ponderous motion qualities I loved would translate into many forms I could model. To this day, those qualities of slow methodical train movements inspire my modeling choices.

Why am I doing this?
How did you get to where you are in the craft? Ever reflect on that? I confess I didn’t until I felt a sense of dissatisfaction with my work and began asking questions about what inspires me now? After forty years, umpteen layouts and countless models, what do I really want to do with these skills and knowledge? Do I have anything original to say about railroading, or am I just biding my time following convention, until the last train pulls out of the station?

These questions will never make the pages of Model Railroader nor, I suspect, anywhere else, which is a shame because they’re questions modelers like Chris are asking in earnest and our conversation about them has been enlightening on so many levels.

Could we find a different set of questions?
Chris suggested that we need a different set questions and I agree completely because how we describe the craft frames our view of it. Further, our words illustrate whether we are being pushed toward certain ends or pulled toward ones of our choosing. The hobby as product mindset pushes people toward certain outcomes focused around ongoing habits of consumption and choices based on availability. You see this at work in the typical magazine article described earlier with its product-centric emphasis.

However, contrast this with the mindset of an individual making considered choices based on ideas, qualities or themes that hold great meaning or significance on an emotional level. Such a person is being pulled toward an outcome of their choice and their motivation comes from a very different place. The difference between the two is how the subject is framed. One asks what’s available; the other asks what do I want? One externally motivated, the other internally.

What questions might we ask? It’s hardly an exhaustive list but here’s a start.

If you had one, what was your first encounter with a train?
What impression did that encounter make?
Who was with you or were you alone?
What quality of railroads stirs your imagination? Why? (C’mon, you knew the why question was coming.)
Can this quality be reproduced in miniature?

This picture needs a new frame
I suppose every model building craft has their own conventional mindset and people who push the boundaries of it, along with those who believe the status quo is just peachy. And, I imagine that the other crafts are swimming in product choices as much as we are.

Here’s the thing: when getting products is no longer an issue, when the basics are well-known but no longer satisfy or offer a challenge, what then? That’s the question many experienced modelers are coming to grips with. It’s the conversation that’s missing and one we could all learn from. Thanks, Chris.



  1. Trevor

    Always thoughtful, Mike (and Chris).

    A comment on this:

    “I grew up watching SP steam (doing whatever) and ever since I’ve been in love with those magnificent smoke-belching monsters and my layout recreates those halcyon days of yore. Here’s my hobby shop and lumberyard shopping list used to build it.” (Translated as, I used ME code70 flex track and turnouts, Walthers Cornerstone buildings, Woodland Scenics, blah, blah, over a grid style bench work made from… (Yawn…))

    The thing is, the first sentence is actually a really good reason to build a layout. Modeling something from one’s history is a great way to use the hobby to express something significant.

    But the second sentence – the shopping list and how-to – is where many of these visions fall short, big-time. It’s almost impossible to use off-the-shelf products to recreate a specific time and place. Structures, scenery and even details (e.g.: color of the mailboxes) are specific to their time and place – and the modeler must pay these the same amount as one invests in getting the details correct on a locomotive. Otherwise, the layout ends up looking like a Walthers catalog ad.

    On a second point, you write…

    For those born after 1985 or even after 1955, how are we to relate to this?

    I don’t think that’s the problem. We can relate to stories beyond our own experience. I’m doing that now with my layout – and I do that every time I see a well-done movie or TV show. The problem is, how does the layout builder effectively express that story to those who are less familiar with the subject? I would argue that most layout builders don’t even think about that because they’re too wrapped up in building a layout that they see, fully-formed, in their mind’s eye.

    Again, great post! Thanks as always for sharing your thoughts.

    – Trevor

    Port Rowan in 1:64
    An S scale study of a Canadian National Railways branch line – in its twilight years

  2. mike

    Hi Trevor,

    I think the story aspects are what Chris and I are trying to get at in our discussion. As you say, such understanding may be crystal clear in the owner’s mind but how am I to understand what I’m seeing? Let’s use the analogy of a museum display. You have these objects on display. How is the museum to convey their importance to me through the display? Typically it’s via signage and other interpretive means that connect the objects to the larger context of history.

    That hat belonged to a former US president. Was it a favorite of his, a gift from a family member, or something picked out by a staffer to enhance the president’s personal image? Knowing the context helps me understand the hat as an object of historical significance and helps me make connections to my own experience.

    How am I to understand your layout? The tendency we have is to just assume the trains are enough. You have steam engines, so that must mean it’s the 1950s. The scenery looks like it’s in the east but I’m not sure because that wild west frontier street scene looks vaguely out of place. I look around for clues but don’t find many, or they’re confusing and inconsistent. What am I to take away from your layout? As you say, the vast majority of people couldn’t care less about any of this.


  3. Chris Mears

    This is pretty neat. I’m still ruminating over our discussion and where I think I’d like to take it next. What I can say is how much I’m enjoying discussing the subject and my enthusiasm to see where it can be taken.

    I don’t have a lot of personal experience with real railroads. What I do have is a cadre of railways that I enjoy researching and collecting information about. I know that some of these are railways that I’m deeply passionate about but may not be ones that could be translated into a viable model railway in the space I have available in my home. For example, I am a fan of GO Transit during its first decade of operations. I’ve collected a large stock of slides and photos, along with GO paperwork and GO documentation. I’ve had the pleasure of charting out their operations and daydreaming about modelling the line someday. While I can certainly see a life well wasted on the subject of GO in terms of models I struggle to see a layout built around this operation. The good news is that my love of GO isn’t diminished by my knowing that it’s something I’m never going to have a miniature version of here at home. That’s fine.

    I tend to get swept up in ideas of what I could do in what I have available and launch into those without engaging some passion first. I remember reading an article about Ben King on how he settled on his freelanced Timber City & Northwestern Railroad. In the article he professed a long interest in the Pennsylvania Railroad and in building models of its equipment. As he grew closer to contemplating a model railway he started to come to the realization that the version of the Pennsylvania he’d actually be able to model wasn’t the railroad he was in love with. I enjoyed reading about how he started to inventory his interests and eventually started to develop what he did and then pursued them. It’s a story that I think we could be telling more in the hobby press but too often aren’t. I’m personally interested in these stories but I think it could benefit the new modeller too as they start to think in terms of a model railway beyond the train set.

    I’m fascinated with the storytelling aspect of this hobby and think that the decisions we make with regard to prototypes can be guided by this. I’m keen to learn more about how we find those stories? What about them was so engrossing that we want to invest our lives in retelling them and makes us want to tell those same stories to others? Lately, I tend to think that once the story is found the rest just falls into place.


  4. Simon


    You wrote, amongst other nuggets:
    None of that translates into model form. On a visceral level, if not conscious, I realized such memories are better left to the mind

    Chris commented:
    …the Pennsylvania he [could] model wasn’t the railroad he was in love with.

    Terrific points. I had thought, about 12 years ago, that working in 1:32 scale would get me closer to what I wanted, and I have lately been toying with returning to that path. But the larger the scale the more obvious were the missing sensory aspects, I.e. the smell, the warmth and the vibrations from standing close to an ageing diesel. It can never work, but as Chris says, it doesn’t diminish my love for the subject. In fact, just the opposite: a futile attempt to recreate what cannot be created may seriously disrupt and even destroy cherished memories.

    Model engineers working on railway themes tend to focus their attention on locomotives, looking to use them as real steam engines pulling full-size people on tracks that are functional, but which are not models of “real” track.

    Railway modellers are different. We tend to model not just one aspect, but several – and we don’t stop at boundaries of the railway territory, either. One manifestation of this (which applies to the majority, I suspect) is the ability to add purposeful movement to the scene, or as we call it, operation. This doesn’t have to be complicated (how many trains can I control properly at once? Not even one, as occasional lapses of concentration have revealed in the past!) but it does mean that we tend to think globally, in terms of layouts and maybe even themes, so this comment struck a chord:
    I can see a life well wasted on the subect… terms of models but I struggle to see a layout…

    To draw a parallel with the “story” motif, the layout is the setting, the trains the characters and purposeful, meaningful operation (to replicate the operations and purpose of a real railway – to transport goods and passengers from A to B) is the plot. The story itself is more than the sum of the parts, but if any of those parts is below par, the whole gets pulled down even further

    Getting this right means lifting that blessed albatross and uncovering the compelling story. It might be right under your nose, if only you stop looking elsewhere, if only you accept that intangibles will remain intangible.

    Thanks, guys, for sharing your thoughts, and allowing us to eavesdrop. I am certainly glad that I didn’t miss this conversation! It has really helped me break free of at least one chain. Maybe more are on the way…


  5. Marz

    Trevor, Chris, Simon and or gracious host, Mike,

    A wonderful conversation indeed. Throughly enjoyable and provocative (in a good way to challenge perceptions). I would not dare insult anyone and regurgitate your views as my own. Duly however, I am on board and have similar experiences and attitudes. My only offering to this conversation are two quotes that I learnt many years ago studying World War II history which I feel are appropriate;

    “The pessimist (model railroder) sees difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist (craftsman) sees opportunity in every difficulty”


    “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results”

    Winston Churchill


  6. mike

    It’s been suggested the questions I offered in my post fall short of discovering the “why” behind our choices. I agree with the caveat they’re simply a beginning point.

    They were also an attempt to move thinking away from the hobby as product mindset into the realm of hobby as idea or quality.

    Obviously, we’ve far to go.


  7. Simon

    Maybe we can’t, fundamentally, say why?

    I have found that the more I put into a model, the more satisfying it is. The logical conclusion to ths is scratchbuilding. That explains the motivation to keep going when things don’t go right.

    You have helped me understand why, despite quite a few models being built (and some actually reaching completion!) modelling the trains I remember fails to satisfy me – because it can’t compete with my memories.

    But why model railways, and why S scale? Because I like them. Why do I. Like them? Ultimately, no idea and frankly, if I could explain it then maybe I wouldn’t enjoy it.

    Why do I make the choices I do? Well, if I am going to end up building a fair portion myself, then maybe it makes sense to avoid common themes in mainstream scales, but to be completely honest, that is more a post-hoc justification. I like looking at something and saying, “I made that.”

    I often tell people that as I work with computers and my head, then coming home and making things satisfies the inner creative side of me, but I enjoyed modelling when I was a child and did things like woodwork at school. And anyway, this suggests that artisans go home and play chess, etc. Some may do, of course, but that isn’t the usual archetype for someone who plays chess.

    Why do I make the choices that I make? Because that’s the kind of guy I am…
    Are they always right? No. Frequently, maybe even usually the further I go back in my hobby path, I have gone down blind alleys: sometimes more than once, sometimes from a different direction. What I have started to learn is not so much why, as why not. This sounds like a negative situation, but it isn’t. A negative situation would be going down the same path without learning why it didn’t work before: there may be recoverables and good points, too.

    I think that for anything to be of value, it has to be acquired via hard work. Whether the hard work went into earning the money to buy something, or whether it went into making it oneself (and learning the requisite skills) is, I suggest, where the difference between us all who regularly read this blog and the majority of the hobby lies.

    We often ask ourselves how to get “box openers” to make things. Maybe we need to ask ourselves why we think that is required?


  8. renegourley

    After examining my own motivation, I think Simon has hit on a nugget here: “Why not?”

    Why even seek to find something that will inspire you for years to come? Why not simply find something that is feasible, and really dig in? You may just find that there is depth there that you hadn’t anticipated.

  9. renegourley

    Mike, as possibly the main perpetrator of suggesting that the questions fall short, may I offer a couple more:

    Which model railroad do you most admire, and why? (Thanks to Simon for pointing out the need for why).

    Who do you believe has the best approach to the hobby, and why?

    Obviously these are not as subtle as the ones in Chris’ original posting, but they might have helped me find my muse.

  10. Simon

    I cannot give a single answer to either of those two “why” questions, as I am inspired by numerous modellers, their layouts and their approach to the hobby.

    However – and with a degree of irony – I can distill the “what” that they have in common, regardless of subject matter, and it is two things:
    (1) A subject which is achievable (doesn’t demand too much initially), and yet extensible (can be extended by building more, so keeps the interest going);
    (2) An approach which has no issues with using something already available if it is suitable, with modifying it if required, or with building it oneself if that is the solution -and the desire to learn any new skills which may be needed along the way.

    As examples, Trevor’s Port Rowan could be run with a single engine, a single baggage car, a single combine and maybe a dozen freight cars. Yet alternative eras can be run, other freight cars built, other engines constructed. He is using a mixture of kits, modified RTR and scratchbuilding.
    Mike’s Indiana and Whitewater is a simple layout, with a similar mixture as Trevor’s Port Rowan. Although Mike has no stated intention to build more than one engine and fewer than 10 freight cars, the concept could easily support a programme of building a larger roster to allow the changes to be rung.
    In the UK, Jas Millham started the Yaxbury Branch in S scale with the idea of one engine, two coaches, and maybe a score of wagons with a single terminus, expanding (if the layout proved to be satisfying) to include a small wayside station and part of a junction, all to fit into a 16’x8′ space. It now occupies two levels in his attic, and he has well over 10 engines.
    Geoff Forster’s Llangullo only has two turnouts, is very modest in size, and could be operated by a single engine, one coach and a dozen wagons. Yet it can act as a setting for alternative trains, and could be incorporated into a larger scheme if so desired.
    East Lynn and Nunstanton wasn’t Trevor Nunn’s original objective when he started in S scale over 40 years ago: he started with a small branch line terminus, Wicken. All of the stock he built for that layout has a place on the larger layout, which latter has given him a very fulfilling retirement.
    Your own Pembroke branch shows the same potential. You could start with your 4-4-0 and not a lot else, but you can support more variety in the future.

    These are all simple themes, capable of supporting growth. Some have, some may, some will not grow. They are all the product of a “builder’s mindset”.

    And what is more, they are all satisfying the needs of their builder.

    Until recently, I have always had the sense to look for an extensible theme, but have also found it daunting, and feared the commitment it entails. Consequently, I could have more to show for my 30 odd years as an adult in the hobby. I have a lot less than those who like opening boxes, but also a fair bit more than those who do absolutely nothing at all, and most importantly I have acquired materials, tools and skills along the way that put me in a position to build things. I find myself reaching a point in life where it makes sense to settle down to a single theme (maybe with an alternative distraction for when the muse is not there) and get on with it.

    I know what both the primary and secondary interests are to me, and I know which scale it will be. I don’t know why those two interest me, but I also know that I don’t need to. I do know what is my personal path in the hobby, though, and why I want to follow it. That, to return to Mike’s question, is far more important. Time to follow that path.

    I mean, why not?


  11. Frisco John


    First post, I’m going to ramble a little so bare with me. I’ve had a 30 year love/hate affair with this hobby. I started like many with an Atlas track plan that was basically trying to put th Pennsy mainline on a 4 by 6. Needless to say, the results were not rewarding. I had no childhood memories of any railroad, so I never had a Tony Koester moment where I wanted to recreate my youth. Over the years I got a lot of bad ideas from the model press. It seemed 20 years ago both MR and RMC were filled with articles of taking four engine shells and cutting them up to make one with all the fans/louvers in the right place. Most of my attempts were half finished or in the trash. I was also basement challenged, but in retrospect I had plenty of room for a satisfactory layout knowing what I know now. But I did find several articles interesting and seemed to be the direction I wanted to go, shortlines. RMC was pretty good a couple of times with the Lenewee County and Indiana and Ohio pieces. But still, never really got anything built.

    About ten years ago for some bizarre reason I got interested in British OO scale.
    Bought some Rice, Norman books and a book on GWR branch line stations. The English approach made a lot of sense to me. Work on one for three years, start over. But again stymied, I bought some locomotives and they were just awful, and of course had no DCC or sound which is mandatory now. Most of my active hobby around this time was buying Accurail boxcars and adding details. Cheap and somewhat satisfying, but still no railroad or theme.

    Five years ago we moved into a house with a decent basement. I finally started building a layout in HO using up a small portion,a 12 by 26 “L”. It is a branchline of the Frisco that ran in the west bottoms area of Kansas City. It was what I’ll call a Lance Mindheim design, industrial switching old brick warehouses, 22 turnouts. Operationally, it is pretty good and runs fairly well. But after five years of working on it, I’m sort of like Chris, so much to do I’ll never get there. Also, it just doesn’t grap me anymore. I almost hate to go to the basement. But I have learned some things;

    1) Your better with one turnout that works 100% of the time without derailment than five where you have to use the 0-5-0.
    2) It does not take that much railroad for satisfying operation.
    3) It is very hard to model urban scenery convincingly, or maybe I just like ground cover more than asphalt.
    4) My operating interest starts to wain at about 30 minutes.
    5) We are not even in the shake the box mode anymore, open the box put it on the track. I remember the first RTR boxcar I ever saw, a Kadee for about $30.
    Thinking who is going to buy that, ha, ha. Five years later that is about 95% of the hobby. There is zero satisfaction doing this in my book at you end up spending more money trying to feel good about the hobby. Anybody need a BRC genset locomotive, I have two.

    I find Trevor’s Port Rowan so compelling. I enjoy how it it fact tells a story, like the recent blog about the Airstream trailers. I think both he and Mike make an excellent case for larger scales. Tomorrow is my birthday and last week I went on EBAY and bought myself a present. I have a package in the basement with a 2 rail Weaver GP-38-2 undecorated. Where will this lead? I don’t know I have not taken off the UPS packaging, I’m almost scared to. Is there an O guage shortline with about five hand laid turnouts ( Mike,I have your book) in my future. I don’t know. Will my wife think I’n nuts , well that ship sort of sailed.

    Again, thanks for letting me ramble. I also want to thank Trevor and Mike for their websites. I check them daily. I also check Lance’s and Tom Johnson’s Inrail, but both have gone pretty silent. I use to also like Hill’s New Castle Industrial Railroad, but that went off the air several years ago.


  12. mike

    Welcome John,
    Yours is a familiar story that we all identify with. I think there’s a huge disconnect in this hobby between what the intelligencia promotes and the reality the majority has to deal with. As Lance and Trevor have shown, there are alternatives.

    Edit: Well excuse my poor manners. Happy birthday John. I hope it’s an enjoyable one.


  13. mike

    Outstanding thought Rene’. It gets to the very heart of the matter.


  14. Chris Mears

    Good evening

    After a busy weekend offline I’m just getting caught up on this thread and I’m thrilled to read everyone’s thoughts above. Further still, to see those that have appeared on Simon’s and Rene’s own personal blogs. I just finished reading Rene’s thoughts on “why” with respect to the Canada Atlantic. That’s a beautiful example of just exactly what I’m asking for. That’s the inspiration.

    I hoped that this could become a conversation and so very happy to read evidence to prove that it has. In terms of questions I’ve been trying to identify a few that are of a more generic nature. When I first mentioned the Inside the Actor’s Studio questions I was in a model railways frame of mind and tried responding to them in terms of the hobby directly. So instead of reinventing the questions, I’ll just alter the context to focus my replies on model railways. Here goes:

    What is your favorite word?
    Transit. These are the trains I have the most direct experience with. I like this sum of experience since not every time I’ve used transit, either light or heavy rail, was because I wanted to see a train. I’ve used it as often as a necessity of transport during work or a family vacation as I have when I’ve deliberately gone in search of it. The dual role it plays in my world underscores my belief in its value in the greater context of urban development and that a strong investment in transit is in no small part a direct investment in the sustainability in the community as a whole. I’ll apologize for the somewhat politicized parts of this paragraph but still leave them in there for their emotional value. As inspiration for a model railway I consider transit prototypes as what I’d be modelling is a reflection of something I believe in. That feels pretty good.

    What is your least favorite word?
    Sorry. This has nothing to do with the hobby. We often drop this word as a declaration of either something rude we’re about to do or to terminate an idea without remorse.

    What turns you on?
    Back to the hobby here. A well built turnout is a perfect example of what turns me on. John nailed it with: “Your better with one turnout that works 100% of the time without derailment than five where you have to use the 0-5-0.” One layout comprising only of one perfectly built turnout will be a joy to operate whereas an empire built on those lousy Snap Track turnouts that are constantly derailing cars and stalling locomotives. We can engineer in happiness and we can design it. When we use unreliable track we’re making a commitment to just not having a layout we’re going to enjoy using and we’re setting ourselves up to fail. Make yourself happy. But that single perfect turnout isn’t worthwhile just for reasons of reliability but also as evidence of craftsmanship but your first scratchbuilt turnout that works really well isn’t easy and it is quite an accomplishment. C’mon, we’ve all done it and had that moment where we finally built a decent turnout and then spent the rest of the evening pushing a boxcar through it. None of this “one perfect turnout” advocacy is proto… or finescale… it’s just buy the best you can get or build that one perfect. That one perfect turnout is the one time you’ll need to do this so it’s okay.

    What turns you off?
    Not respecting another modellers work. If you can see it it’s because he’s sharing it and only because the exhibitor is inviting you to see his work. Respect the courage that takes to do this and the pride that he’s communicating to you when he shows you what he’s working on. Not at your skill level yet? Remember, you were there once. Not the style or the subject you model? It’s a model, learn from the technique and the presentation and bring that home to your world.

    What sound or noise do you love?
    The whir of an electric motor. Geez, I don’t know why but I just love it.

    What sound or noise do you hate?
    Train cars falling off the layout. A few things make a sound like no other: a box of beer bottles and a trainload of derailed cars headed to the floor are two excellent examples.

    What is your favorite curse word?
    I’m not going to swear online which is weird since I probably do it in spoken word more often than I give myself credit for. It starts with S and seems to apply everywhere.

    What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
    Brass model importer. Heck, any model importer. I love following along on Jason Schron’s chronicles and it speaks to a type of work I enjoy and environment that I know I thrive in: project-based and high travel.

    What profession would you not like to do?
    Hobby shop owner. I’ve worked on the other side of the counter. For nine years I depended on that career as my primary source of income and it was how I fed my family. They were the most rewarding and educative years of my entire professional life and I would never trade them for anything but the risk of the business these days with unpredictable inventory (e.g. Ever think we’d live in a time when you couldn’t get rail joiners or flex track? We do now.) and high unit prices on items. I’ll never find the words to thank folks like Mike Larisey (Maritime Hobby) or Ian Dryden (Don’s HO) for taking the business on and doing so well at it.

    If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
    Hey, we’ve got a 2mm scale track building clinic going on in a few minutes and that chassis building clinic is right afterward. We’ve got some lovely Taylor Fladgate just opened and you should really go enjoy the clinics.

    I believe this hobby is an art. Like any art we do ourselves well when we provide ourselves with some time for introspection. The lessons learned never fail to appear in the work you complete afterward. Model railroading is not art (I believe) because of the models we build but for the process to get there. Thanks, everyone, for reading and commenting on this thread and especially to Mike for hosting it. This is a terrific party and I hope it’s only just begun.



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