Your layout doesn’t lie. It will tell people what you value and what you don’t.

It will show how good a modeler you are and where you need to improve.

It will demonstrate your ability or inability to make choices.

It will reveal how organized or disorganized you are.

It will reveal your strengths and weaknesses; your focus and blindness.

Your modeling does the same; all without you saying a word.

It’s your choice. You may or may not care at all. Remember though, whatever message your layout and modeling convey, they’re only reciting from the script you wrote.



  1. Jimbofin


    Unfortunately, in my case, that is very true.

    But because the truth is there for others to see does not stop our imagination filling in the gaps. Literally so, in some cases, where things like baseboard joints are concerned.

    In the same way that we need to learn how to observe the prototype we need to learn how to observe our models.That applies to both our own and those of others. It means becoming a critic in the best sense of that word.

    But it also means learning from other models, including those that are dissimilar to our own. How often at a show, and I write this a couple of days before the big UK show, do we pass a layout by because we don’t think it is of interest to us?



  2. mike

    “…How often at a show, and I write this a couple of days before the big UK show, do we pass a layout by because we don’t think it is of interest to us?”

    Guilty as charged James! The last show of any significance I attended had the usual assortment of gigantic modular layouts that are now commonplace at such events in the US. I walked through that section of the venue barely glancing at most due to an indifferent attitude toward the huge trainset built for display only style of layout. Who knows, a more thoughtful and open-minded attitude on my part might have led me to see something useful, or at least interesting.

    That’s a great point about learning to see our models objectively. Truly objective criticism is a rare and therefore valued quality in a hobby where everyone thinks they’re an expert.

    It’s so true that we mentally fill in the gaps where our layouts come up short. It’s equally true that, over time, we stop seeing those shortcomings for what they are, quickly becoming complacent with them. In addition, more than anything, I think this growing sense of complacency resulting from the over abundance of commercial products is what will eventually kill the hobby for the average participant.


  3. mike

    Don’t mind the link at all Jim and what a thoughtful post you wrote. I’ve never considered some of the questions you raised. They’re excellent. And, such excellent modeling examples you highlighted.

    For all the work I put into my track and scenery, my rolling stock is another story. I find freight car modeling less satisfying than my peers in P48, and my stock testifies to that truth. Loudly I might add. This is why you don’t see a train in so many of the photos, the incongruity is embarrassing and, an area to focus on.

    The solution is to practice what I so often preach on this blog: To push through the unpleasant, difficult parts of the learning process and bring the stock up to the standards I’ve established on the rest of the layout.

    I’ve also looked to the military modeling community for modeling inspiration and I’m surprised to hear they also suffer from the indifference that has so thoroughly infected model railroading. Human nature knows no bounds does it?


  4. Matt


    Progression. I want to start building my own narrow gauges cars because, well I want to do that part of the hobby. However, to correctly build a frame one needs a jig to hold the various members in their correct places and to be square. I have yet to build the first jig let alone first car. Progression in a project is what we need. The article is how did I get to point Z, what was A?

    Perhaps challenging myself to write a blog post, or send something to O Scale Magazine on how to build a jig to create a frame should be “A”, and work from there to completion. Look at the steps, determine what worked and what did not and tell others of the pitfalls along the way.


  5. Jimbofin


    I think of that as the “jigsaw dilemma”

    Where do you start, both in terms of improving your skills but also putting a whole layout together, learning whilst you go but also maintaining a consistent look and feel.

    The distance from A to Z can feel a very long one.

    I wonder if some conventional thinking gets in the way? I don’t have viable alternatives in mind . But are there things about how we build a layout we could do differently, especially when taking those first steps from A?



  6. Simon

    I have bench work in place, but overflowing with bits and bobs.

    I have a modelling bench, covered in tools in half-started (note, not half-finished!) projects.

    I have a shelf overloaded with projects that could easily see me through to retirement, if not into my box.

    I have the lathe set up to re-profile some wheels: 2/3 are done, as the small pile of swarf attests – the finished and unmodified wheels are in amongst the bits and bobs, along with the loco for which they are destined, which is in parts.

    Not sure that I want to know what that says about me!


  7. George Losse


    In photography, I always believed every image, no matter the subject was a self-portrait. Because it revealed the photographers likes, dislikes, views of the subject…. So as I read this post it hit home.

    Our layouts and our models reveal as much about the modeler as they do the actual model or layouts themselves.

    Well said,
    George Losse

  8. mike

    Probably the same thing it would say about any of us, that we’re active and in the game.


  9. mike

    Thank you George and Welcome to the blog. I’m glad you’re here.


  10. P4newstreet

    Hi Mike

    It’s what I was alluding to in another topic. It’s best if you can try and detatch yourself from what the subject is and just focus on the modelling of it.

    Well it works for me anyway.


  11. Albion Yard

    I agree, my layout says a whole lot about ‘me’, and I also think that the concept can be carried on to club and group layouts. It gets a bit more intriguing there though in a dominant personality in the organisation can affect the ‘end product’ for good or bad.

    Paul m-p

  12. mike

    Welcome Paul. I’m happy to have you here and want to express my appreciation for your work.

    Mike Cougill

  13. Jimbofin


    A quick call out to your operators on Saturday at Warley. They answered a list of questions from me whilst being ever cheerful. That is part of how the layout presents itself, and its owner, as well. There were only minor mumblings about the boss changing his mind about the future of Albion Yard…