Friday, September 23, 2011

The End of One Layout, The Beginning of Another Two

Well, it's finally happened, a new house is officially ours! The transition and move is now underway. My modern-era Big Island Rail HO-scale shortline has been dismantled and is ready to be moved to it's new basement home. With a new "older" home, there's a lot of non-model railroading projects to do to get comfortable in our living quarters and a lot of work to do to get the layout room ready for the new creation of a double decked, double scale layout room concept.

While waiting for the real estate deal to go down and slowly taking apart my HO layout, I had the chance to think about the good and not-so-good aspects of the layout. It started out as a "temporary" layout while in the rental home and was built with temporary construction methods to not "damage" the basement, yet give the layout a sense of permanence and sturdiness during our stay. Due to the concessions, so to speak, and not wanting to put a lot of money into a layout that would be torn apart at sometime in the future, I found I did not design the layout in a way that would hold my interests over the long haul. I guess it didn't have to. I feel I accomplished several really good scenes on the layout, but I think my operational goals were too lofty for the layout and the time and funds I had to "play trains" each week.

I've pinpointed a couple things I think are to blame for losing interest in the old layout (way before the move became a possibility). My concept for a modern-era shortline railroad on the Big Island of Hawaii (based on the premise that the old standard gauge Hawaii Consolidated Railway remained in business into the 20th Century long after the 1946 tsunami wiped out a good portion of the railroad) is a good one...different than anything I've seen or read about in the model RR'ing press...but I was thinking too much on the feasibility of the line being operational on the Island as it is today with no industry to speak of to actually support a freight-hauling railroad. Even though my BIRR is purely fictional, I seemed to put way too much pressure on myself to make the model railroad uber realistic. For me this meant the"fun" went out the window.

The other reason the layout didn't really make it for me was the lack of a continuous run option to off-set the point-to-point operations when I just want to run a train and kick back with a layout project and enjoy watching it.

Modern railroading means long cars, long trains and longer staging tracks, yard tracks and passing sidings. Even with a layout of the size I had in the rental basement, it wasn't "big" enough. I had to keep usable space around washing machines, furnace, water heater, stairs and bathroom, not to mention needing to make a "movable" layout. The  put a number of restrictions on the layout design.

With an 'operations only' concept, I over-developed the operation scheme for the pike, adding different locals, switch jobs, plant and industry switchers, unit trains..... with all that, it was hard to remember what train I ran or what cars were just dropped or needing pick-up the last time I was in the train room. I just would look at the layout, look at my switching lists and walk back upstairs.

The plan for my new layouts in the smaller basement space of our new home is focused on adding enjoyment and variety to the hobby in a way that will beckon me down to the train room and keep me there for a while. Two different scales and two different concepts for each is a strong start to adding interest to the model railroad room. With a On30 narrow gauge swamp loggers concept on the bottom and a modern standard gauge Hawaiian Island shortline shelf-runner on top, I hope I'll always have something to capture my attention for years to come.


1 comment:

  1. Your reflections on your previous layout remind me a lot of how Tony Koester opens his book Prototype To Layout: "Use extreme care when drawing a line in the sand that represents a goal, as it may instead become a barrier to even greater progress and knowledge. Besides, such lines tend to be erased over time, leading one to wonder why such a restriction was created in the first place."

    It's a great thing to keep in mind as I'm developing my own basement layout. I had actually dropped the removable link that allowed continuous running from my track plan in favor of a staging yard, but I'm wondering now, based on your thoughts above, if that wasn't a good idea...