The Missing Conversation #01 cover

It has been suggested that I could provide greater clarity about the content and purpose behind our new publication, The Missing Conversation. Clarity and understanding is always a good thing, so here’s a rundown of what the publication stands for.

It is geared toward modelers who care deeply about the quality of their work and how it is presented to others, both in and out of the hobby. I want to present their work and point of view in a respectful manner. Modeling scale and choice of era is irrelevant in this regard.

This goes hand-in-hand with excellence. The publication is geared to those who feel the idea of “good enough” is a starting point for modeling rather than the destination.

A specific point of view
The Missing Conversation has a point of view. It is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s by design. The editorial focus is summed up in the first two points listed above. I’m told if you try to be all things to all people, you’ll be invisible, generic and have little or no impact. I want the publication to have an impact, hopefully, a positive one.

Some have suggested, kindly and otherwise, that these viewpoints could be considered elitist in nature. That’s an unfortunate stance. Our hobby is not as monolithic as many would like to believe. There are those who are completely satisfied with a very casual approach such as enjoying Lionel or American Flyer toy trains, while others take a more disciplined, serious tack in the form of P48, P87 and P64, along with the wide middle range between these two edges. Each is pursuing the hobby in the manner that best suits their interests. I respect this divergence but take exception with those who insist, for example, that Lionel trains be considered on equal footing with P48. The two couldn’t be more different. Not just in the obvious terms of the quality and detail but also in the mindset that drives both. I think most of us recognize this truth and can leave room for differing choices.

The Missing Conversation leans purposely toward the P48 (along with P87 and P64) end of the continuum, although it will not be restricted solely to those disciplines.

The first two volumes examine the layout design process from the perspective of the questions we ask (vol. one) and in volume two the decision process I used for my Indiana and Whitewater. Volume three examines finescale modeling, providing an overview and introduction. Future volumes are in development at this time. I hope this clears any confusion about the mission of the publication and its contents. Learn more.

08-03-2012 FYI

I realize that not everyone will be interested in every topic covered. I want you to thoroughly enjoy your purchase, so I encourage folks to select those that are of particular interest. A wide range of topics will be covered eventually, volume by volume rather than an attempt to provide something for every taste in each volume. I certainly appreciate those will want the entire series but understand we all have areas of special interest.



  1. willbacker45

    Fantastic read! Thank you for taking the time to write these! I found that while I was reading I really needed to take a step back and examine what I am doing and of course WHY! Why should I include a John Armstrongesque switching puzzle into my layout? It is not prototypical and its not really THAT much fun. Why should I have 7 industries, a yard, and a mountain scene, while my main goes in an Oval, all in a 30×10 space in 1/48 scale!?!?! I did it because it was the expectation and now I have a NASCAR loop layout with random points for switching…which is what I said I DIDNT want when I started. I enjoy a meandering coal serving branchline following the Allegheny foothills taking coal and other various products to their clients…time to redesign and reevaluate! thank you!

  2. mike

    You’re very welcome. I’m so glad Vol. 1 was helpful. Vol. 2 of TMC will take a long look at my own design process for the I&W. I talk about the choices I made and why. What went right and how long it took me to understand what was wrong with all my previous efforts. Look for it at the end of October.

    Thanks for writing in.