Tag Archives: Model Railroad Hobbyist

Ops, TT&TO, invective, and blah-blah-blah

It’s been a while since my last post. Life has become hectic with lots of work (as the opposite to none at all for quite some time) so to keep the blog moving I thought I’d cross post my response to Joe Fugate’s recent editorial: Secret to needing less layout on page 11 of the June 2017 edition of the e-zine ‘Model Railroad Hobbyist’. I found that as I read through the responses there was a lot of heat being generated by those for and against the smaller layout ethos. A recent kind email from a new model railroading friend Charles Malinowski got me to thinking about the original post on Joe’s editorial and the thought that perhaps it might be time to draw that line in the sand on this blog too.

If you can, take a moment, to read of some of the initial responses to Joe’s posting. Then either read my post on the MRH  site or as reproduced below. Don’t be shy. Got something to say, then comment and start the conversation here. It’s the only way we all learn.

Am I missing something? Did the hobby just become a pain in the butt during this discussion (and I’m not through reading all the responses yet)? Timetable and train orders, and… all to much work for me. While I understand that model railroading is all things to all people I don’t need all of that other stuff to make a me a happy modeller or operator.

I like small layouts. I live in rented accommodation, and will likely for the remainder of my life due to circumstances beyond my control. My wife loves the idea of me ‘not’ cluttering the place up with ugly wooden stuff that takes over the space, so I have to consider the aesthetic of any layout design as well as the piece of furniture it must also purport to be.

I’m limited in space, money and the time I have available to actually build the thing. So a long time ago I took the first mile, last mile approach to railway modelling. I model industries and locations where there is a lot of work to go on (switching) at an industry or location (such as a team track facility) getting the loads in and out in an efficient and useful way.

Do I care about Timetable and Train Order operation? Nope. Does it affect me as either the modelled customer or as an operator? Nope. And lastly, does it affect my enjoyment of the hobby? Nope. Would I love to model TT&TO operations? I’d love to but I cannot afford it.

I use paperwork, operations plans and rule books to model, and there’s a reason for this. I like my crew (usually my son and I) to feel the need to get the work done efficiently and with haste. There’s a train to catch out there somewhere and our cars need to be on it. I love operating by real railroad rules and with prototypical operations paperwork.

I focus on the things that matter to me, and that is the first mile and the last mile. What happens in between where the rail line curves away from my business – is none of my business. I put a lot of thought into what makes operations work for me. And I’ve shared that online as well. And it is not all that hard to achieve, especially in a small space. You can read more about that on my blog.

Joe’s TOMA approach I like. It means that it is achievable, in space, time and money. It gets you working quickly and allows for interests to develop as your skills and knowledge develop. Big TOMA, small TOMA, even in between TOMA… who cares? The idea is to get something going that allows you to play, find out what you enjoy the most and do that with the effort you have available.

Thanks Joe for sharing that article. I’ve been following along with the TOMA approach because it mirrors what I’m already doing and because it makes sense from my son’s perspective (Dad can we get something running now, I want to play with the trains again).

I appreciate that others do things differently. It’s a good thing. Let’s not get so focused on the forest that we forget about the trees. Happy modelling from Ballarat in Victoria.


Site Seeing – May 25 – MRH Universal modelling sizes chart

If you have not become a reader and participant with the crew over at Model Railroad Hobbyist, now is certainly the time to do so. IN the current issue (May 2017) of their free online magazine they have great download: a universal modelling sizes chart.

Has all the major gauges in the chart in both PDF and Excel format free for download.

Go here for the download page.

Enjoy and have a great day.

It’s Choice Joyce!

It’s not often that you get great service. Most often you get frustration, not satisfaction. Rarely if ever do you get to be pleased, surprised and delighted. This week I can report however, that after much frustration and a lot of emails I was very pleasantly surprised when not only did a vendor fix my problem they knocked me over with their offer to make it right.

Before I provide the details I want to make it plain that I receive no support, endorsements or other business related freebies from this vendor. This was a case of simple customer service, done very well, and thoughtfully resolved for a customer who was having trouble with some video downloads.

I’ve mentioned Model railroad Hobbyist here in the past. As a free (as in beer) online monthly model railroad magazine they set the bar for what an online e-zine in our hobby should be. They provide great content and have outstanding columnists and content each and every month.

The other side to that enterprise is the commercial video store. You can buy videos for download on several subjects. In the past I’ve mentioned Mike Confalone’s Allagash Central and the excellent modelling involved in the layout. I like his modelling ethos and style so much I’ve bought several of his videos. The most recent his weathering videos on locomotives and freight cars. It was during the download process from the Model Railroad Hobbyist store that I noticed I had some problems with the files.

Joe Fugate the proprietor could have said “righto here are some replacement files” and left it at that. I’d have been happy with the service and moved on. What prompts me to post is what happened next. I got another email from Joe telling me that no one has ever had this many problems with downloads. He supplies me with new links to the source files in the Amazon cloud and offered a 6 month membership to their flagship Train Masters TV offering.

This came completely out of the blue; like a bolt of lightning. I was literally thunderstruck. Not stupefied however. I took Joe up on his offer and yesterday got my free six month membership started. I’m not trying to get you to join. I don’t want you to give over your hard-earned to Joe and the team on my say so. I do want you to know about the excellent customer service I’ve experienced and think when next you go to purchase hobby related items about the customer service you get.

Will I continue to give my money to MRH and their video store? You bet. The story above is the reason I’ll continue to do so. It’s old-fashioned customer service. Making right what’s gone wrong and then adding a bit more for your trouble. Thanks Joe and the team at MRH for your support in getting the problem resolved and for the sweetener too.


Site seeing: 01 November – Model Railroad Hobbyist Painting EBook

The nice folks over at Model Railroad Hobbyist have available for download (to MRH Subscribers only) the Guide to acrylic painting … in a post-Floquil world. Written by Joe Fugate, this 42 page PDF (zipped download) provides a means for railway modellers to work beyond the end of the Floquil model railroad paint era.

Designed to get you where you need to go when repainting Floquil railroad colours using paints from the following manufacturers:

  • Vallejo Model Air / Game Air
  • Badger MODELflex, and
  • Model Master

This guide provides a timely and useful map to help get the right colour for your next model rail painting project. You can find the download location at:


Keep in mind though that you need to be a subscriber. No payment required so if you are not already a subscriber, you really ought to be. Each month the MRH team produce an outstanding free magazine packed with great stories, information, and resources. Plus there are the forums. Yep you guessed it – I’m a fan and have been since day one.