A good deal of model railroading is the doing part. Building the models. That’s what most of us are here for, the models, the trains, the operating worlds in miniature. A quote from Trevor Marshall on his Port Rowan blog recently summed up for me another part of why I’m here; “The hobby is a social one for me, so I’m really happier hosting operating sessions than I am running solo.”
Like many of you reading this, I also read quite a lot of model railroading information as well as historic railroading information. Our home libraries, website bookmarks, email in-boxes, facebook feeds, mailboxes, and other spots are all probably pretty similar, filled with information on railroads and modeling.
While I’ve written several times in the past about influential people or layouts in my modeling DNA, I thought a few quotes from my reading that have influenced a great deal of my current thinking might explain a few things as this journey moves forward.
Probably my second favorite annual magazine that arrives in the mailbox, Great Model Railroads offers quite a lot of inspiration. I find myself wishing this publication was quarterly or bi-annual on a regular basis. Back in the 2010 issue, Paul Scoles Sn3 Pelican Bay Ry & Navigation Co layout includes a sidebar discussion about operation vs scenery. “I don’t like the narrow sight lines of multilevel layouts, especially the lower decks… in the end, it’s a question of balance”. Balance between scenery and operation, between length of run and size of layout, between use of space for maximum railroading and comfort for the operators and visitors.
Very recently, Lance Mindheim wrote a piece on his blog about Picking a Theme and Setting a Scope. “Choosing the right theme can make the difference between a project that is propelled by enthusiasm versus one that stalls. If we make a less than ideal selection, sooner rather than later, we’ll lose interest. The feeling is a subtle, hard to define, lack of emotional buy in. If we over shoot the scope, bite off too much, we can become overwhelmed and the project stalls under the shear weight of a “to do” list that stretches to the horizon.” For over a decade now, the theme for my modeling has been the Yosemite Valley Railroad, and the scope was a full run of the 78 miles from Merced to El Portal. Lance’s blog post really resonates with me, and I’d imagine a lot of others at the moment. Several of you may be in the process of moving, changing layouts, changing railroad modeling interests. There are often pieces in the model railroad press about changes in railroad involved in a move, a change of scale, or otherwise a second time around at a layout.
Taken together, a pair of articles, one in the 2009 Great Model Railroads, and one in the 2012 Model Railroad Planning, point the direction ahead for me. The GMR article about Bill and Mary Miller’s modeling of the Colorado & Southern together after changing over from what Bill had started on his own before meeting Mary as a Great Northern modeler and my own similar situation, having started down my path to Yosemite before meeting my now wife, and our modeling together, provides a sort of “milepost” to my modeling life. I want what Bill talks about, that their railroad “…satisfies the twin passions that Mary and (Bill) share in the hobby; building detailed models and operating them prototypically through a realistic setting”. I am fortunate to be able to also be married to a modeler and historian who loves the same things I do in the hobby. From the 2012 Model Railroad Planning, Mike Confalone discusses his decision to move away from modeling the Woodsville Terminal and on to the Allagash. He talks in the article about how his plans had started to bog down in the size of the railroad and types of traffic he was able to generate. “The Woodsville Terminal was an interesting short line with lots of character, but the hand-to-mouth operation, moving at a snails pace, one train per day, hauling light traffic, and running at slow slow speed, just didn’t provide much excitement, so operational interest is somewhat limited. In a nut-shell, the novelty of a down-on-it’s luck short line was wearing off”.
Lastly, I return again to the web, and to Trevor Marshall, who recently set up a new page and began posting blog’s about what he refers to as his “kryptonite”, the NS&T. Trevor discusses the starting thoughts about the possibility of exploring a new railroad other than his Port Rowan branch of the Canadian National, and how exciting that idea is. He also lays out some well thought-out steps and needs to check off before he considers taking the leap and abandoning or modifying his current layout into Free-Mo modules and embarking on a new railroad and new project.
So now, let me show my full hand, having dealt those quotes and ideas on the table.
The lack of space for an actual layout based on the YV has been extremely wearing. While the ten year plan to build all the necessary rolling stock sounds awesome on paper, in reality, building equipment and then putting it safely away in Freight Crates to wait at least another decade before it gets any use is difficult to do. Building the YV alone, and my wife building the CV alone is impossible here. The room each of us would need to build a single level layout based on our individual interests is about a 4 car garage each.
That statement obviously impacts now, and future. That’s OK. Like Bill and Mary Miller, modeling together, and like Trevor Marshall’s statement that modeling is a social activistic, modeling I would say, can be separated from historical interests to some degree. My wife and I tend to be interested in many things railroad-related. It certainly doesn’t mean that our interests in the Yosemite Valley and the Central Vermont are over and put away. This journey is still a path for me to Yosemite, to researching, writing, building, and learning about the Yosemite Valley Railroad. For my wife, she’s not budging on her interest in the Central Vermont, there are too many roots and connections there.
What it does mean, however, is that a new joint project where my wife and I are building the same layout, projects toward a shared goal, is in the offing. It will be a project that fits here, can move with us and grow, and will stay within our space constraints. Working together, we’ll be able to get an operating layout up, equipment and structures built, and be operating, while at the same time continuing to delve into our own interests and new shred research interests.
A pice of advice I have seen many places in modeling, be true to your interests. We have an interest in small steam, in small Class A Shay locomotives, in ore hauling, in logging, in operation. There are lots of shared interests that will keep us busy, and me blogging, for a long time to come. The subject matter may expand from, but not leave out, the Yosemite Valley Railroad for me, but that doesn’t mean that my interests or involvement with the YV are done.
The trip to Yosemite is not over, but the meaning is changing. I’ll explain the plan shortly. I hope you’ll stay along for the ride.