Author Topic: Carolina Central - and what should be covered in a project layout?  (Read 4562 times)

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CVSNE

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I have a fair amount of experience building, photographing and writing up project layouts for publication -- and I still hear from folks who have questions about the N scale Carolina Central.

Currently, I'm in the late planning stages for a new project layout for an upcoming book (this will only appear in the book, not as a magazine series). I don't want to give away too many details, simply because I don't have them all figured out yet but I was cursious about getting feedback on what you think should be in a project layout. Should it be detailed step and step on how to build a particular layout, or should it try to present a more general overview with the emphasis on why a certain choice was made?

What should be emphasized? What has been missing from earlier project layout series (no matter what the scale?

It issn't possible (or even desirable) to cover everything in extreme detail, but I'd be interested in hearing what you think has been covered too well, or not sufficiently.

Finally, if anyone reading this has built the Carolina Central, or some variant of it, I'd be interested in honest feedback on the articles (which appeared slightly modified in my N scale book from Kalmbach).

Thanks,

Marty
Modeling (or attempting to model) the Central Vermont circa October 1954  . . .

Pomperaugrr

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Marty.  The format I would look for would be similar to Gordon Odegard's "Clinchfield" book.  Even though it was a compilation of a series of articles, the detailed sections were very useful.  Obviously you would need to change the style of writing to flow a bit better, but the way the information was presented made it useful to those building the actual layout, or applying it to their own design.

The Carolina Central was well done and the size of the layout was its greatest appeal.

Eric

wm3798

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See my comments on the A-board.
Lee
Rockin' It Old School

Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

3rdrail

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Who will be the target audience, Marty? Are you aiming for the rank amateur that has just bought a train set, or someone with a modicum of knowledge about the hobby? That's going to affect how much detail needs to be covered, IMHO. While you can't reinvent the wheel for the rank amateur, you'll need to cite references for "how to's".

My main "gripe" with some of the MR articles was some of the "signature" buildings (Carolina Central did not have these, IIRC), which were only sketchily covered. I'd have preferred to see a separate article on scratchbuilding or kitbashing these structures, with plans. Such could be covered in an appendix to a book for those that want to make the additional effort.

Erik W

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Who will be the target audience, Marty? Are you aiming for the rank amateur that has just bought a train set, or someone with a modicum of knowledge about the hobby?

This seems important to me as well.  The focus of the book would be different for someone with some model railroading under their belt vs. a beginner.  You could skip some of the basics, for example, if the intended audience had some experience.

Erik

P.S. - Good to see you're inspired to do some writing again.
My D&RGW layout  . . . and other stuff
http://s178.photobucket.com/albums/w243/drgw55/

Ed Kapuscinski

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Yeah, the discussion about audience is REALLY important here.

I've never bought one of the "how-to" books because I feel like I'm passed a lot of that stuff, but if there were something that talks about  more advanced things, I'd be all for it.

Then again, there are probably plenty of people who still want to learn the basics.

And here's another thought, what about talking about alternatives to what you're doing.

Say you end up using one of the pikestuff Butler Buildings (the steel ones), frame it as "if you're modeling before 1970 or so, these will really be too modern, but this location also lends itself to using this kit from DPM", that type of thing.

Good luck!

Sokramiketes

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I sort of "grew up" along with the BN N scale project layout. It is still my favorite project layout from MR, and was what got me hooked on numerous things, N scale being the major one.  I nevered modeled the BN or modern day operations... but the series was still great.

There was an overall theme.  They introduced the prototype and locale first, with numerous prototype shots.  Then they talked about developing the track plan.  Subsequent articles covered basic techniques, but also went into depth about modeling specific structures to emulate the prototype.  We got to see all the processes involved. 

Pick something you really enjoy and really want to model.  Then go from there.  If you're inspired about the project, then that will show up in the pages and inspire others, even if it doesn't fit directly into their interests.  I'm sure most of us modelers are attracted to shiny objects anyway, so having a complete picture of a new prototype is equally as exciting as more pieces to the puzzle of our current favorite railroad.

Heck, even White River Junction might be worth reading about.   :D
Mike

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Better modeling through peer pressure...

John

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I liked most of the NScale project layouts, there was something to learn from all of them .. even the Malcom Furlow stuff :)

I particularly liked the Clinchfield, the BN, the Milwaukee project .. to just name a few .. I always liked the articles for layouts that didnt fit the sheet of plywood mold .. Clinchfield, being a linear layout was really interesting ..

DKS

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See my comments on the A-board.

Ditto.
“Everyone leaves unfinished business. That's what dying is.” —Amos, The Expanse

CVSNE

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Excellent question on audience - -it's the first thing I ask my clients in my current job - something that is being written for the DOD Secretary's office is going to have a completely different tone and style than a directive to a field unit.

Back to choo-choos -- The book is tentatively titled "N Scale Model Railroading Volume II"
(sexy title,  I know  8). . . ). So the book will not be about building
the layout as much as the layout will serve as the "stage" to
demonstrate projects, techniques, and tips covered in the book. So,
in the chapter on structures several structure modeling examples will
be offered (one kit built, one prepping a "ready to run" building,
and one on scratchbuilding) -- all the buildings will likely end up
on the layout.

Some more details on the layout, all of the following are still
subject to change:

1. N scale (obviously)-- about 6 x 9 feet (or something close to that)

Thanks for the input. One of the original concepts was to show a "4 x 8
in N scale" for this project -- than it occurred to me that in N scale
you have all the disadvantages of a 4 x 8 with few, if any, noticeable
advantages.

The layout will take up 6 x 9 feet (or so) overall, will likely not be
too much bigger than the 32 square feet of layout you get with a 4 x 8
but hopefully will be more interesting to view and operate.

I'm leaning towards a continous run oval schematic (back half of which
will be staging) with a stub ended branch coming from a visible
junction on the layout. Not far removed conceptually from Lionel
Strang's Appalachian Central project layout.

2. Be a logical "2nd" layout for a modeler -- not a basement filling
lifet-time affair, but include some things slightly more advanced
than the Carolina Central did -- flextrack instead of sectional
track, some grades, DCC installed from the start -- and some
operating concepts. Erik, think in terms of some of the questions you were asking Matt and I before you started your current layout -- you knew the basics, ut had been out of the loop (pardon the pun  ;D) long enough to feel you had to get some current information before starting)

3. Western prototype of some sort - I'm leaning towards Santa Fe
simply because I have the equipment -- This offers me a nice change
of pace from every other type of scenery I've ever built and will
immediately show the book is different than my first N scale book.

Marty
Modeling (or attempting to model) the Central Vermont circa October 1954  . . .

SAH

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Re: Carolina Central - and what should be covered in a project layout?
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2007, 09:50:05 PM »
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The layout will take up 6 x 9 feet (or so) overall, will likely not be
too much bigger than the 32 square feet of layout you get with a 4 x 8
but hopefully will be more interesting to view and operate.

I'm leaning towards a continous run oval schematic (back half of which
will be staging) with a stub ended branch coming from a visible
junction on the layout. Not far removed conceptually from Lionel
Strang's Appalachian Central project layout.

Marty,

Based on my experience with the Spencer Project, a 6x9 loop with backside staging featuring a junction will work perfectly as a platform for a thought provoking railroad.  Small enough to not be overwhelming.  Large enough to provide the space necessary for some advanced (read prototypical) operating concepts.  Resisting the urge to wait until the mother-of-all-layouts can be built would get more people building, rather than talking about building, a layout.  I would have nothing if I was still waiting for "enough" space.  Instead, I'm VERY satisfied with the path I've taken - 6x10, oval, staging, one town with an interchange, concept.  Get busy on that book!   ;D

OTOH, maybe I should write a book.   ;)

Steve

CVSNE

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Re: Carolina Central - and what should be covered in a project layout?
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2007, 09:23:31 PM »
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Thanks to all for the comments - I've been out of town for the last few days, and having fits getting the wireless in the hotel to work worth a darn -- but finally got online and have appreciated and enjoyed the feedback. As might be expected the same question posted on a couple of other forums ended up with a bunch of bizarre and off topic discussion on why te title of the thread changes.

All you guys stayed on topic and expressed some understanding of the need to end up with an interesting layout and a saleable book.

Thanks,

Marty
Modeling (or attempting to model) the Central Vermont circa October 1954  . . .

wm3798

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Re: Carolina Central - and what should be covered in a project layout?
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2007, 12:42:13 AM »
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That's why the Railwire is the Forum of Choice for Serious Modelers.  Oh, and silly Asshats, too.

Lee ;D
Rockin' It Old School

Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

extra7000south

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Re: Carolina Central - and what should be covered in a project layout?
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2007, 10:31:23 AM »
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Personally...
I've allways liked the Clinchfield book, It's my all time favorite!!  8)

A book directed at the above novice modeler would be good, instead of the beginner.
I also like the spiral bound books, So they can lay flat for viewing while you are modeling & refering to the book at the same time.

I allways read the "How To Build A Layout" publications out of curiousity & for new ideas.

I thought the Carolina Central was a nice project, due to it's moderate size.
Most modelers don't have a garage or basement to dedicate to a layout.
I love to see smaller and more detailed layouts myself!!  ;D

That's my two cents worth...I hope it helps?
Glenn
Petal, MS
Modeling Southern Railway In N {Normal} Scale

MGSC-NRHS
http://www.msrailroads.com/MGS.htm

ednadolski

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Re: Carolina Central - and what should be covered in a project layout?
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2007, 12:08:05 PM »
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My $0.02:  You want to avoid doing what MR mag has done a lot of lately:  regurgitating and rehashing the "same old stuff", and then (an even bigger offense IMHO)  over-generalizing it and glossing over the details to the point where it is too vague and confusing for a beginner, and useless for a seasoned modeler.

A project layout is about the project, so more info is better than less, and specificity is better than theorizing.  I'd recommend giving more details/info and more of a step-by-step approach than the recent Pelle Soeborg book, but not go overboard like R. Schleicher's "Building your next model railroad".

The project scope should be modest, a bit more ambitious than a genuine beginner effort.  I'd like to see something that included a few implementations of the same trackplan: for a "tabletop" or "doortop" plan, also include a "shelf" version and an "around the walls" version.  The key idea is to keep the same scenes/elements in all the versions, so a modeler can implement it in whatever fashion works best.

A few more items: avoid excess complexity in terms of the trackplan and operating scheme; follow prototypical principles but not slavishly so.  Scenery & structures should be modest, so that the effort is "achievable" without being a multi-year investment (at an average construction rate), but again engaging enough for an experienced modeler too.  A modern prototype would be recommended, as much of the existing published work already deals with the older eras and/or short lines, however modern-day "newbies" will be interested in the kinds of trains they see around them today.  In that vein, it would be important to avoid the sharper curves and shorter turnouts (so again, simpler is better).

Another idea:  If the layout will promote a backdrop, how about including some on-line images (.jpgs) that a modeler could download & have printed out as a set of poster-sized photo prints (a la the Doug Tagsold (sp?) articles)?   That's an area where a modeler could really get bogged down, and having prints would be a huge help esp. as there aren't many useful commercial products for that sort of thing.  (Heavy research & effort is one thing for a big basement empire that with serve for 10-20 years or more, but it can be a real turn-off for a project level effort.)  Perhaps trackplans, backdrops, decals, and additional supplementary info could all be included on a CD that sells with the book?

One of my favorite project layouts was the one in MR  from ~1992 that had a 4x8 with a winter scene on one side, and a fall scene on the other.  However the article itself was very sketchy on details.   Another favorite was Jim Kelly's "Wildcat Central" in the Jan 2001 MR.  This featured modern trains in an around-the-walls shelf, but again was just a single article.  Perhaps something that imbued the key features of these projects, with a step-by step implementation, would work well.   Personally, I'd like to see something featuring the BNSF in an area with scenic appeal such as the Pacific Northwest or even Montana.  The MRL seems like a possibility too: bigger & less isolated than a short line but not a full Class One.  (Aren't modelers still turned off by the UP licensing program?)