A recent Facebook post in the Micro/Small Model RR Layouts group regarding problems with a member’s switching layout prompted me to write this post.
Here in essence is what was said:
“I built a switching layout based on Lance Mindheim’s “One Switch Layout” plan. The first time I ran a switch job it was very absorbing. The second time (different switch list), I realized that I had figured out the “trick”, and it was more tedious than interesting.”
Working in the rail industry this is the standard operating procedure. The first time you do a thing is often stressful if not outright terrifying, and then the tedium sets in as you make this just another part of your day. And perhaps, that is the difference between knowledge and understanding.
Most days are going to be the same. You drive a train. You deliver and pick-up. You go back to your starting point and berth the train or hand it over to another crew. And this is a good thing. When things get very different there is a problem and that can ruin your day. Each industry may be simple to switch or there may be gyrations required to get cars fettled into the right spots. You don’t know until you get on-site and check the tasking from the receiver or shipper. Same but different. That’s the nature of the business.
In the same vein, the model should be much the same. Every time you operate the layout, the track and switches won’t change (unless they break). However, with an interesting industry, with more than one spot, nothing will ever be the same twice. This is where the interest comes in for me. It is the troubleshooting required to get a car out of spot 2 of the 3 on the spur, get another car into that spot and work with the industry to get it out that makes it interesting.
So what do we take away from all of this? Tedium is a daily part of any ‘work’ task. Adding interest is the job of the layout designer and builder. Ensuring that you have industries with more than one spot and that at least one of those spots requires a certain car on occasion will ensure that you have operational interest in all of your operating sessions.
Working with the industry is how you make sure that your layout does not go stale. There are resources available for understanding this concept. I’ve linked to Tony Thompson’s outstanding website (see resources below) for more on ‘Sure Spots’.
- Visit Tony Thompson’s excellent website “Modelling the SP” using the link to get to part 1 of 4 on Sure Spots. I’ll quote Tony here on what a Sure Spot is: “The concept of a “sure spot” means a particular point at which a car must be spotted, such as one particular spur, or a particular loading or unloading facility along a spur, or even a particular door at an industry.”
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