The Missing Conversation Vols. 1-2


Layout design is a confusing, intimidating process for many of us. Okay, for all of us. We start by thinking in terms of the track plan; measuring the space to see how much we can fit into it. Then the compromises start coming as reality intrudes on our visions of empire.

I suggest that starting with a track plan is putting the cart before the horse, especially if you aren’t clear on why you want features that create more problems than they solve. In this two-part edition of The Missing Conversation, I outline an approach based on a series of questions that helped me focus the layout on the things I really wanted with a better understanding of why they were so important to me. This product includes both volumes.


FromThe Introduction To Vol. 1

There is simply no shortage of opinion exploring the subject on how to design a layout.

Different schools of thought exist from the John Armstrong method, otherwise known as a givens and druthers list, to layout design elements, where you pick and choose a series of locations from prototype railroads and string them together for a design.
There are also dedicated books, magazines and groups both online and off exploring the subject in excruciating detail, yet to many, the process seems as shrouded in mystery as ever. Let me ask a heretical question:

Is it broken?

At a TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference, marketer and author Seth Godin gave a presentation titled:“It’s Broken,”where he talks about mindless systems, thinking and rules that are designed to serve a bureacracy instead of people.
Let me ask, has the current layout de- sign process fallen into the broken category? Do we follow the rules and conventions simply for the sake of following rules?

Is it broken because the community standards and culture of the hobby say this is how it’s typically done? Some will say that is a ridiculous notion, while others might agree that the tools, the process and outcomes produced have become a bit predictable. Some will ask: What’s the alternative?

Intro From Vol. 2

The Essentials
For each of us there is some aspect of real railroading that we’re trying to express with our layouts and modeling that is essential for us. It’s different for everyone and some modelers articulate it better than others because they are clear about the “why” of their modeling in addition to the “what.”

In this volume, I share the path to finding what that essential aspect was for me and the decision process behind the design my P48 Indiana and Whitewater. I cover both the good and bad and don’t hold anything back. We learn more from our mistakes than successes. Settle in for the journey.


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