I’ve been thinking about building another layout. I’ve missed the simple pleasure of impromptu running, the construction aspects and, I admit, I enjoy the basic planning stages, and thinking about what to build.
What to build? It’s the question that stops people dead in their tracks. It’s easy to become paralyzed by all the choices and decisions to be made.
I’ve got this space: what to build? I like this era: what to build? I also like all that other stuff: what to build? Should I switch scales or change prototype: what to build?
In an era of abundance, simple choices become impossible because there are just too many options. What if I make the wrong choice? Hey no problem, just sell the stuff for a fraction of what you paid and go buy something else. It’s just a hobby and it’s all good, right?
Well, maybe, or maybe not.
At this stage of life, I want to keep things simple, especially my involvement with model trains. So how am I answering the question of what to build?
I want to be very clear that I’m not offering another layout design process. I’m also not speaking to rank beginners taking their first steps beyond a trainset. What I share in this post and in future posts are simply my choices, driven by specific criteria that are meaningful to me. In no way am I proposing that they are universal solutions for everyone. The only advice I extend is to take what you need or find interesting and ignore the rest.
For this layout, I’m not switching scales or eras. I’m comfortable with my choices so those questions aren’t even on the table for me. As for operations, watching the local in Centerville as a child or L84 today, it’s the same experience. I’m focused on what’s happening in front of me. It matters little where that train came from or how those cars were processed to get here. My interests and questions are on the here and now, and that focus is the main driver for this project. I’ll cover this in more depth in a future post.
I’m aware this electron microscope view of operations is unusual but it’s where my interests lie and it’s taken me awhile to understand this. It also takes fortitude to ignore the layout design thinking imposed by the literature and the well intentioned but unsolicited advice from others about what I (actually they) could do with all the empty space I’m supposedly wasting. (Thanks for sharing but see Rule Number One folks.)
What I’m considering is building one or two cameos that are linked together by non descript staging track. Each cameo would be a complete scene much like paintings hung on a gallery wall. The scenes will be related to each other but not connect directly. This format has more in common with diorama building where the trains provide an advanced level of animation. In my view the design provides more flexibility both visually and operationally. I don’t have to worry if part of the train is in the “next town” when switching because the lack of distance between the two isn’t so painfully obvious. The fascia frames each scene completely and directs attention toward the middle and away from the edges, if that makes any sense.
Of course the major downside is the limited nature of such operations. Switching a few cars may be fun at first but repeating the same moves can become boring. If you enjoy the challenges and interaction of more complex operations, this is not for you.
I saw this idea many years ago in one of Iain Rice’s books from Kalmbach but have never seen it executed. I’m interested to see how or even if it will work. There are no guarantees and I may abandon the project on a whim if I major problems develop. To paraphrase a quote I read recently: One experiment is worth more than a hundred expert opinions.
I have a space picked out, a preliminary design and have gathered some supplies but I haven’t cut the first piece of material yet. I have a lot going on and modeling time is not on the list for now, so don’t expect to see photos of new work anytime soon. They will come later.