I’ve removed the last post because a true friend found the courage to tell me the truth. I apologize for the tone and demeanor of my recent postings. I seem to have lost my way lately and fallen into a hole I can’t get out of. You’re all kind enough to come here on a weekly basis to read my posts and you deserve better than I have offered lately.

Wednesday I will share the beginning of a new P48 project I’m considering. I hope the outline of my criteria proves useful to you.



  1. Simon

    Hey Mike, we all have off-periods, and the is no need to apologise for anything.

    If in a hole, with friends nearby, just holler and raise a hand. I am sure anyone who hears will come running.

    I have suffered from a similar problem for some time, but this does not mean that the time has not been put to good use. A family vacation saw me building a small hut (still needs the final touches) which got me back into the doing side of things, but at the start of this year, I decided to read Trevor Marshall’s Port Rowan blog from the very beginning. Obviously not in one sitting, but it was something I could do in the evening, sat with my wife whilst she watched the box, did her hobbies, etc. to see the gradual evolution from idea to the current state of play was encouraging. Similarly, I go back to “Pieces of the Puzzle” and issues of TMC, as well as posts on this blog, and many others (but a big shout out too to Chris Mears and Geoff Forster for their respective blogs). These all serve to reassure me that my general direction in the hobby is good, even if at times the specifics are still cloudy. The big message is that I am not alone in my endeavours, however unproductive they have been of late.

    A new project sounds good. I look forward to it.


  2. Oldie


    if you don’t mind I will repeat my comment to your missing entry as I believe that my comment is still relevant.

    Like many tyros, I get frustrated by choices and I certainly don’t have all the answers but I do know what I prefer – small intimate railways to which I can relate. This allows me to create a scene that speaks to me about my interests and provides an achievable outcome whilst challenging me to stretch my abilities.

    For example, I know that I do not have the ability to build stock or motive power but scenery is within my comfort zone therefore I carefully choose those items which will allow me to build a layout that has a fighting chance of getting finished whilst I built the setting.

    The first constraint is the available space, just 16×10, this is great for a secondary line in HO but a challenge in O scale moreover I want something that would be satisfying – no end-to end shelf layout. Instead, I chose a prototype line that abounded in curves and simple, tiny stations with stock that was both appropriate and would not dominate the scene.

    My favourite short line is the Wiesenttalbahn, that is better known as the Dampfbahn Fränkische Schweiz, a preserved steam line about 40kms north of Nürnberg. Rather than copy the modern system, my railway is set at the end of state ownership in the 60s which allows me a little more leeway in the stock that I can run, the line still used small steam locos plus a variety of diesel shunters and a railbus in everyday service.

    The release of curved turnouts by Lenz permitted a continuous run which provided full use of the available space, the prototype station trackplan is just a loop and siding whilst a brewery scene hides dual layover sidings on the opposite side of the room. Thus I can run four utterly prototypical trains and some neat operational movement in just 160 sqft.

    Other less obvious pleasures are occasional* field trips to Fränkische Schweiz and great friendships with the guys on the ground who constantly help with information.

    Building ‘Pottendorf’ has been rewarding because it is not just about the modelling, there is the interaction with other enthusiasts as well as the pleasure of research leading to the challenge of scratch building a simple rake of coaches which is not available over the counter. OK, it may not be your scene but careful selection of an achieveable outcome is possible if not essential.


    *Just a ten hour drive and a trunk full of beer on the return journey.

  3. mike

    Thanks gentlemen.

    Sarcasm is something I do very, very well. In fact I do it too well and that deleted post dripped with sarcasm. A question to ask though, is that the best way to hold a mirror up to the hobby? Am I drawing people in to consider my points or feeding the worst aspects of an already opinionated group? In short, what kind of conversation do I want to promote?


  4. Simon

    Sarcasm. Done very well.

    Are you English? 😉


  5. mike

    Only on my mother’s side.


  6. Chris Mears

    Hi Mike

    I’m sorry to read that you removed a post from the blog.

    As we’re learning to ask of our work, directly in terms of the models and the model railway complete, the question comes to the blog as well with regard to what we’re trying to record by its creation and in its existence. I’m always left with a sense of the effort and consideration you invest in each posting and regret one missing from the deck, not just for the individual gap but also in terms of the context that it provides to those posts that will follow into the future.

    Speaking of the future…a new project?! C’mon Wednesday I’m keen to hear more about it.


  7. mike

    Believe me Chris, you haven’t missed anything worth discussing with the deleted post. And c’mon back at ya. Patience is good for the soul.


  8. rcandamoonpie


    I read the post before you deleted it and definitely detected the frustration, but the sarcasm was lost on me (usually is).

    I do think there’s something worth discussing out of that post: How does one accomplish the feel of “big time railroading” without abundant resources of time, money and space? (at least that was the nature of the big layout guy vs. Mike Cougill debate). I know most folks don’t want a shortline/branchline theme and the main aim of the “big layout” crowd seems to be capturing all of the aspects of mainline railroading. Does a Freedom Layout exist within the context of a Class I mainline theme?

    Pursuit of the hobby as a craft goes along way toward stretching the hobby dollar and is a valuable time investment. However, I also know it’s hard to explain to my wife and kids what I’ve been doing when all I can show them after a few hours of time away are the failed attempts in the dustbin. I treat those as teaching opportunities about perserverance and patience, but in the end everyone (including myself) wants to see a finished product. I think that’s why consumerism can take hold so easily: Why spend all that time building it when [insert manufacturer name] has a model ready to buy?

    I understand why you deleted the post, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say there wasn’t a good conversation to be had there…

    Best Regards,
    Rhett Graves

  9. mike

    Hi Rhett

    I don’t think that a Class One theme and the idea of a Freedom Layout are mutually exclusive, as this post from Trevor’s Achievable Layouts blog demonstrates. The key in my mind is tighter focus on the aspects that most interest you and to model them intentionally rather than settle for the gross compromises we’ve convinced ourselves are normal. Of course there will always be those who won’t be happy unless they can have the whole railroad from one end to the other. My response to that is to each their own.