Tag Archives: small

Insight – Why am I modelling the way I do?

A recent conversation with a fellow modeller has bought me back to thinking about why I’m modelling, and what my modelling should represent. Let me explain.


I have a lot less modelling time now than I ever did before, due to my work commitment, which is driving the nature of my modelling in different (if interesting new) directions.

Among the changes I’ve had to make is in the scope of the work. Because it takes longer to complete larger and more complex projects I’m focusing on smaller easier to complete in a day projects as my primary goal. I have some large projects that remain on the table. These will be for items I cannot buy, kitbash or otherwise make out of something else.

Will this change the nature of posts that appear here on the Andrew’s Trains blog? No, I don’t believe so. This blog has always been about small layouts with lots of operational potential, and that is in line with what I am moving to in my modelling.

Weathering will continue to play a large part in my modelling, upgrading blue-box style kits to better reflect the prototype is where I found real joy in modelling as a young man. And I’m going back to that in a big way this year. There’ll be more posts along these lines to come over the next few months as I get my modelling life back in order.

With a demanding and hectic work life simplicity is my goal. Modelling simplicity likewise has to be the case. Simple projects that can be done with:

  1. tools I already have,
  2. resources I already have, and
  3. that can be completed in the time I have to give them.

This is the focus of my modelling going forward. Likewise to layout building. I have a couple of projects that I want to complete, one of which is a Supernook, a new design I’m working on now that will begin with the baseboards build before we left the USA 13 years ago. I’ll be continuing on with the US-based shunting layouts, but I’m interested in building a Australian/UK-based Minories layout soon as well.


Takeaway

I’ve made modelling a complex and often difficult endeavour. I’ve lost my love of producing models that I enjoyed building and that I am proud of. Life is short, and more so as I near my mid 50s. Time with my family and enjoying what I do is not limitless. So the time is now to make the changes that keep me happy, healed and enjoying what I do. I hope that you will stay along for the ride. With almost 100,000 unique views over the last 3 years I’m hopeful that you will stick around and see what is coming.

Site Seeing – the Switching small customers edition

There was an interesting video posted by Danny Harmon (who goes by the handle of Distant Signal on YouTube).

He focuses on the increasingly rare small switching customer. Once upon a time it was the core of railroading. And while it is harder to find, in some places it can still be found as Danny presents in this video.

Enjoy the video! And if you like Danny’s videos as much as I love his voice then like the video and subscribe to his channel. I have no affiliation with Danny other than as a happy viewer of his content.

Site Seeing – March 18 – The ‘other’ Glendale freight layout edition

It’s been a while since my last post and that is thankfully due to being fully employed for the first time in two and a half years. A full-time job is a very satisfying thing. But I digress.

As I wrote in my March 6th post I’ve worked up another idea for the Glendale Freight layout. Let me say from the outset, that this is not one of my better ideas; especially after seeing Bruce Petty’s original layout. There’s merit in the ideas expressed in the design certainly – it just doesn’t have that vibe going on as Bruce’s layout does in spades. Before I go on to tear my work apart let’s take a look at a 1/12th scale model and why I find them so useful for designing a layout.

So what’s wrong with this layout idea?

  • Firstly the central theme of the design is not the freight station, it is the entrance from staging onto the layout.
  • I wanted to have the train enter through a portal of buildings, cross the street and then go about its business. It’s a pretty skimpy idea right? There’s no meat on the bones though.
  • Why this means to enter onto the layout instead of some other way? Is there some missing story about this means of entrance; did the city grow up around the freight station for example? But isn’t this supposed to be Glendale CA, right? Well, is it?

The layout is overall 8 feet long (2400mm) and each square is 12 x 12 inches (300 x 300 mm). It is 2 feet (600mm) wide. And it’s very linear.

So what would I do different now that I’ve built this mini layout?

  1. Angle the entrance onto the layout,
  2. Angle the buildings and the street to the long axis of the layout,
  3. Cluster the switches near the end of the run around, and finally
  4. I’d make a transition between the industrial area on ‘main street’ at the entrance end and the other end of the layout – making it more suburban

And having had a while to think on how I’d make those changes here’s a rough drawing of the layout that ‘could’ spring from this thought experiment.

This design has gravitas. It is the last bastion of railroading in the inner city, and the edge of the suburbs. Sure there are some strange curves, and I’d rework the industry lead and the industry back wall too. But it is much more interesting and tells much more of a story than the first layout.

This layout could be setup as is with the industries, it could be modified for a single industry layout (say an industrial workplace such as a foundry), or it could be something that I’ve not considered and that you already have swimming around in that pool of ideas in your head. As an aside, I videoed the first layout build process. If interested in seeing that video let me know in the comments and I’ll post it here over the next week or so.

Site update – 14 November 2016 – A new Kendallville Indiana image gallery

A big thank you goes out to Charles Malinowski who recently offered me photos of the Kendallville Terminal Railway Co to post here on Andrew’s Trains. I’ve added a new gallery page in the USA Gallery section for his photos of the line. I’m hoping that there are more to come for this great and very modellable shorty shortline railroad.

Update 1: New Gallery Page

charles-malinowski-image-4

The new gallery page link above takes you to Charle’ image set, at what appears to me to be West Rush Street. The image above is full of Autumn (Fall) detail and I just love the time worn look of the railroad. There does not appear to be a single straight piece of rail in the photo, great stuff. Enjoy the link and let me know if you like Charles Malinowski’s images.

Site seeing – November 4 – The ‘I got track plans coming out my ears’ edition

Small layouts are my thing. Like most modellers in Australia space here is at a premium. So a small space layout, offering lots of operating potential, is the way to go.

Recently a long time model railroad friend Shortliner Jack shot me several links over to look at. We’ll be coming back to look closely at those this month. For right now though let’s take a look at a downloadable and one of Shortliner’s links.

Site 1: Designing small shelf Layouts for operating fun

Presented back in 2015 at the NMRA’s Thoroughbred Limited 2015 MCR Convention in Kentucky I felt that this download (in PDF format) provides a great overview of small layouts and a bit of learning about the why and how along the way.

small-layout-handout

The details shown on the Inglenook drawing on page 4 are wrong (you can find out more about Inglenooks in this post); besides that however there are some exceptional small layout designs that should inspire the modeller in you to get out there and make something.

Site 2: Railroad Line Forum – Layout Design Ideas

This is the site that Shortliner Jack pointed me to as a source for his next layout inspiration. Being in the far north of Scotland, buried in snow for 9/10ths of the year, and surrounded by only boxes of Whisky for company he has a lot of time to work on layouts. One layout in Proto48 caught his eye specifically:

There are so many more designs in this thread large and small that you’ll spend several hours looking through and pondering them all. Great ideas and thanks to Robert Chant for sharing his design on the forum.

 

Site Seeing – August 23 – Wetterau Food Services

August is the month where year 12 high school focuses on getting elder children ready to complete their schooling and head off to life or to University. This month we’ve toured possible University campuses to see what is on offer and where she can look on planning to attend next year.

Last weekend was an out-of-town visit (120km away) next weekend there’s another University visit on (only 3km away this time). All too soon she’ll be moving out and living on Campus (but don’t tell her that). Finally I’ll get my half of the train room! Anyhow – on to today’s sites of interest.

Site 1:  Wetterau Food Services

Tom Conboy’s layout’s shown in all it’s glory on the Model Railroad Hobbyist site. Tom writes on the first page: “The Wetterau Food Services Micro Layout was completed in February of 2016.  Layout planning and construction began in 2014.  I am enjoying operations on the layout, and wanted to share the steps I followed in building this micro layout here on MRH.   I  have learned quite a bit in building it, and hope you will find it informative.”

Head over and take a look through his shared build log. It is very interesting and a great looking layout. What’s not to like – a 70 tonner runs through it.

Site 2: Tom’s Model Railroad Scrapbook

This is the second of Tom’s sites where he’s shared the building of the layout.

Site 3: The Micro Model Railroad Cartel

The third site providing more information on the build of the layout in nine parts.

All great sites full of information for those interested in building a small layout and for those interested building a layout using Fome-Cor.

Site Seeing – April 11 – Small O scale layouts 6

Whether you model the US, UK, Australian, Canadian, South American or European scene one thing that O scale requires is imagination. As much as I would like to have a very large garden and shed layout, the reality is that is not going to happen due to constraints with money and time. I have not enough of either and so the scope of what I model has to be within my reach, simple to achieve and quick to build and ready to a credible level of detail and where possible use what I have to hand. On to today’s site of interest.

Site 1: Pick Purse Halt O scale in 9′ by 2′  by Richard and Sue Andrews

When space is tight using imagination allows you to find and define the layout’s place within the wider railway network; Pick Purse Halt does this admirably. Let’s take a look at the track plan first and see why.

Pick Purse Halt’s track plan

On first look, there’s not much to the track plan. One turnout and a couple of sidings. The layout portrays a small passenger halt along a GWR Country branch. So we’re set in time during the 1930s with steam railmotors and Auto Coaches on passenger work and pannier tanks working the freight trains. Let’s assume though that the line did not close during the 1960s and the Beeching cuts; where would that take us?

Single car DMUs such as RDCs, Gloucester RC&W Class 122 Bubble Cars, Tokyo abounds with types, as does Europe and I think you may now get the idea. All we’ve talked about though is the passenger service on the through line. There is also the short freight passing by and reversing into the sidings. Or coming in direct from stage left; this is where the operational potential of the layout really comes into its own.

The freight area can be worked differently in many ways both visually and conceptually:

  • As described in the plan for UK mid-1930s
  • As a factory dock during the 1950s through the 1970s and 1980s
  • As a simple team track arrangement for literally any time you like
  • As a small transload point with a Y and a platform for unloading two rail cars by pallet truck and forklift

As a small layout Pick Purse Halt punches way above its weight. So much to be done with the design and the scenic treatment depending on the era and location you model. Your choice could come down to using what you have on hand to set the location.

With controlled lines of sight, and the feeling of the rest of the railway just beyond the board, this could well prove to be the best idea of the month.

Like this post and comment if you find it useful or would like further information; if you’ve not already subscribed to keep up to date you can do so now using the link at the top of the post.

Site Seeing – April 9 – Small O scale layouts 5

While tooling around the Broadford MRC’s site looking for information on Glen Bogle mentioned earlier this month I found our next contestant for a small O scale layout well within the reach of anyone interested in the larger scale.

Site 1: Chard Creamery O gauge  8′ by 2′ (Richard and Sue Andrews)

Chard Creamery layout (8′ x 2′) – Richard and Sue Andrews

When it came time to build a new layout Richard Andrew’s thoughts turned to his boyhood memories of the S&D Railway to Basinbridge Milk Factory. Andrew says that “as I love small shunting layouts I decided to see if I could build a O Gauge layout representing a milk factory with either a river or as it turns out a canal running beside it in a 4′ x 22″ wide baseboard”.

With mock ups made Andrew decided he could put three tracks on the board without turnouts to give a loading/unloading bay for the milk, a centre road for coal and other goods, and a front siding which went to another loading/unloading bay for dry goods, butter, cheese, etc. He stresses that the layout is not a copy of Basinbridge, and chose to make the buildings of similar but freelance design.

Chard Creamery – O Gauge in a small space

The name Chard came about because of the canal that used to run from Taunton to Chard. While that canal is now long gone and Andrew had a Skytrex Barge built and painted in need of a home this seemed the ideal situation.

Skytrex Building Flats fill in the background while all main buildings are scratchbuilt out of card with a Slater’s brick overlay. The pub scene replaced a former building now relegated to the background and helps to block the view of the fiddle yard.

 

Site Seeing – April 7 – Small O scale layouts 4

Ian Futers’ layouts seem to get around more than the builder himself. Probably because he manages to build great small layouts with plenty of operating potential that remain popular year after year.

Site 1: Glen Bogle

Ian Atkinson and Chris Towers’ of Broadford Model Railway Club own the layout presently. The layout, built originally in basic form by Ian Futers, is in the process of being enhanced by the present owners. A Scottish 1950-1970s era layout with a station, goods facilities and just four turnouts comprises two 4′ 6″ scenic boards and a 4′ 6″ fiddle yard with a three road traverser board.

Operation of the line is in the late steam early diesel period. Coal, Timber and fish traffic somehow still survive along with a mediocre passenger service.

Glen Bogle - as designed by Ian Futers
Glen Bogle – as designed by Ian Futers

You can gather further information on this layout from the club’s website as a PDF download.

Like this post and comment if you find it useful or would like further information; if you’ve not already subscribed to keep up to date you can do so now using the link at the top of the post.

Site Seeing – April 3 – Small O scale layouts 2

In this continuing series during April I want to visit one of my favourite exhibition switching layouts: Ingleton Sidings.

Site 1: Ingleton Sidings

nevard_110330_ingleton-sdgs_DSC_1821_02_web1-400x267[1]Paul Allen’s masterpiece Inglenook, built in OO scale,  shows what can be scaled up very simply to British O scale (1:43) with the use of commercially available kits, RTR trucks and loco’s available now or in the very near future. The entire aim is to keep cars and loco’s short to keep the visible part of the layout within the 8′ (2400mm) maximum. Giving enough run and movement without taking up the entire house.

Ingleton Sidings, designed to sit on a standard home window sill or ironing board, illustrates what can be achieved in a minimum with RTR products and basic scratchbuilding techniques. The location as modelled is fictional and represents a small BR sorting siding during the late 1950s through to the early 1960s. The layout features point motors, 16v lighting, line side CCTV and Kadee automatic coupling. With the layout detailed and weathered to represent the last days of steam.

If you are thinking of going British O at minimum cost and personal commitment then Ingleton Sidings might be the place where you start.

Now see it in action:

First up an overview of the layout and features:

Next, from February 2014 – the initial running of DCC and Sound on the layout at the Milton Keynes model railway exhibition: