Author Topic: The drawing board, and to it my abrupt return...  (Read 2692 times)

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biker_ray_pa

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The drawing board, and to it my abrupt return...
« on: May 09, 2008, 02:51:37 AM »
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<sigh>  :-\

I'd been working on my layout for a bit over two years. It was coming along fairly well, albeit slowly, and I was by and large satisfied with the results. My two major industries, a brickworks and a limestone mine, were entirely scratchbuilt and largely finished, and looked pretty good. Enough track was laid that I could run trains and do some basic ops, and enough scenery was in place that it didn't have a Plywood Central feel. My design was an around-the-walls point-to-point, and two of the four walls were up and running. Tortoises operating flawless turnouts, DCC panels every few feet, and nary a derailment on the very carefully laid trackwork.  That was in October, 2007.

Fast-forward. The above description still fits the layout, but that's it. No progress, no nothing. Every time I start a MRR project, it remains unfinished. I started planning my time so that I could get manageable chunks of railroad done, but more often than not I would end up just standing there looking at it, maybe running a local back and forth a few times. Lately, even the local has sat motionless, the fire in its boiler down to cold ash. Then, just a few days ago, the stark realization finally sat in.

It was time to admit that, as far as building a large layout, I had bitten off more than I could chew.

Every small bit of progress would only remind me how far I had yet to go. In March, I scratchbuilt five company houses, then realized that my overall plan would call for a total of twenty-two more, not to mention dozens of other structures existing only as blueprints. Prototype fidelity left me second-guessing every small detail, and locked me out of using the motive power I've come to love the most, first-generation PRR cab units.

So tonight, I came home from work and broke out the crowbar.

<sigh>  :-\

Now, as my scratchbuilt structures are wrapped in bubble wrap and packed in boxes, and the remainder of my past +/- 3 years of work lays heaped on the burnpile out back, here I sit. The defeatist feeling is heavy in the air, but the whiskey tastes good, and in a storage unit 30 miles away my old 2 1/2' x 5' layout is smiling, knowing that it will be coming home soon.

PRR, mid-50's, 2 1/2' x 5' with a hollow-core-door "wing" on each side.

Somebody hand me my graph paper tablet. And another Jim Beam, please.


wm3798

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Re: The drawing board, and to it my abrupt return...
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2008, 07:46:29 AM »
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Sounds like a good time to start working on the garden railroad!
Lee
Route of the Alpha Jets

Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

shark_jj

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Re: The drawing board, and to it my abrupt return...
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2008, 10:42:17 AM »
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It is a good topic, how big is too big?  My current layout is 14x25 with 3 decks and there are times when I feel overwhelmed.  I started building manual switch machines and after finishing a dozen or so felt some sense of satisfaction and then realized there were 93 more to go.  My buddy, also in N scale has a layout that is two level 20X30 and he and I have had this conversation several times.  The problem is that we want to run good sized trains and we are both modelling large mainline prototypes.  That is one of the beauties of N Scale in that you can accomplish that.  In HO in the same space, as I discovered for 30 years, you are modelling a small branch.  I find that I get the most done if I don't look at the layout as a task to be done.  That would mean committing so many hours a week, having goals, and all of that good stuff which works for a lot of people.  I work on mine simply when the urge hits.  I find when that happens I will get lost in the layout and work for hours on end and significant changes happen.  I may not go back for 2 or 3 weeks or work on other stuff.  Then once again the bug will hit and off I will go.  It is a bit erratic but I am making significant progress, so I'm happy.  The other good thing about N Scale is the large modular community.  You can have a small layout but as long as you build it to modular standards you can transport one or more pieces to a show and 100 car trains, 6 axle units, and big time steam are yours for the asking.

wm3798

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Re: The drawing board, and to it my abrupt return...
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2008, 11:08:28 AM »
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I'm at an impasse with mine right now, in terms of physical plant.  This is mainly because of the dual purpose of the room (my son has his bedroom in there until I get some more renovations done).  Due to my financial situation, the details of which are too gory to get into here, that's not likely to change very soon.

But on the other hand, my strategy has always been to build the layout in sections, and get each section far enough along that it could keep me entertained.  I had the first section completed in about a year's time, and over the course of another year, I added enough temporary infrastructure that I could reasonably run some operations on it.  So for now, I'm not really overwhelmed or feeling like it'll never get done.  If push came to shove, I can live with it as is for the foreseeable future.

The advantage of working in sections is that I can look at expensive things like switch machines or tedious things like ballasting and making trees in more bite size pieces.  I also tend to stock pile supplies for the next section while I'm working on the first.  That way there are few if any real spikes in the budget, and by the time I set about to start the work, most of what I need is on hand so it can move pretty quickly.

And, all along, I can take a break from working on the layout and run trains, which keeps me from going crazy.  I couldn't imagine having a vast basement empire where most of it was unfinished, or the track wasn't installed to the point where I could run something regularly.
Lee
Route of the Alpha Jets

Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

up1950s

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Re: The drawing board, and to it my abrupt return...
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2008, 11:14:23 AM »
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One method that comes to mind is to build a perimeter mainline . Add turnouts at designed locations for future modules but finish detailing the main line before anything else . This will give you photo ops , some running , and a desire to grow from those placed turnouts . Then when that's completed you could add removable modules one at a time . By doing it this way , the completed moduled can be saved , and reused if major layout dismantling should visit you again . Finish each module before going on to the next . This method will concentrate your efforts to be focused on smaller sections than the whole enchilada . The only thing that gets destroyed in the rebuild is the perimeter main line , and some of that can be modulated as well . You will need to have a layout planned to place those turnouts on the main , but thats a given on any layout .

shark_jj

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Re: The drawing board, and to it my abrupt return...
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2008, 12:26:22 PM »
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You are hitting the schedule issue right on the head.  After completing the benchwork, I moved quickly to install the mainline.  4 track mainline with a helix and over a hundred turnouts took around a year, but it got me running.  You're right, when I get frustrated, I run trains.

biker_ray_pa

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Re: The drawing board, and to it my abrupt return...
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2008, 01:14:13 AM »
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More than anything it’s been therapeutic. My large layout was becoming more a bugaboo than an enjoyment, and starting to actually make me enjoy the hobby less. My “traveling layout” is home again now, taking up way less space and allowing me to just relax and run some trains. Maybe in the future I’ll try again to tackle a large layout, but for now, I think giving my layout the Gordon Freeman treatment was the smartest thing I’ve done in a while.

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: The drawing board, and to it my abrupt return...
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2008, 11:51:02 AM »
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Gordon Freeman FTW... awesome.

Hyperion

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Re: The drawing board, and to it my abrupt return...
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2008, 03:08:06 PM »
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You have no idea how weird it is for me to be on a model railroading board and here people make references to Gordon Freeman.  Or, for that matter, goatse, 2G1C, rickrolled, etc, etc.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2008, 03:09:45 PM by Hyperion »
-Mark

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: The drawing board, and to it my abrupt return...
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2008, 04:36:56 PM »
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I'm glad to know we're not quite like any other place :)

biker_ray_pa

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Re: The drawing board, and to it my abrupt return...
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2008, 07:57:07 PM »
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You have no idea how weird it is for me to be on a model railroading board and here people make references to Gordon Freeman. 

Probably just as weird as MAKING a Gordon Freeman reference on a model railroading board and having some people get it.  That's why the Railwire is my favorite board (the only one I regularly visit anymore) - because it's got a wonderful "geek overlap" factor. Even just a couple years ago, online geeks were still pretty much segregated - train geeks, computer geeks, gaming geeks, RC geeks, intarweb geeks. Now, you're seeing some fora - Railwire in particular, as far as the ones I visit - where those various branches of geekery are starting to mesh and overlap. I for one think that is VERY cool indeed. It's also a tribute to the quality of the community here.

As I work on my new small layout, I'll now be certain to have a couple businesses like the Black Mesa Coal Company or Aperture Laboratories Camera Supply.

(or a commuter train on the City 17 branch  :P )

Anybody else ever decided to go from a large layout to a small one, rather than vice versa? I'm sure I'm not the only one.



« Last Edit: May 11, 2008, 07:59:02 PM by biker_ray_pa »

Lucas in Alaska

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Re: The drawing board, and to it my abrupt return...
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2008, 10:13:14 PM »
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biker_ray_pa

I'm interested to hear how big your layout was and just how much you got done.

I really haven't played Half-Life, could you explaine what the Gordon Freeman treatment is. I am a Halo fan myself.

Lucas in Alaska

biker_ray_pa

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Re: The drawing board, and to it my abrupt return...
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2008, 10:27:29 PM »
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biker_ray_pa
I'm interested to hear how big your layout was and just how much you got done.

Not huge, but room-sized. Had it been totally finished, it would have been app. 16' x 15' with a 6' x 8' addition, around the walls on a 2'-2.5' shelf. At the time of its demise, I had about 40 feet of mainline, a turntable, a passing siding and two industries. Scenery was at about 50%. It was just too much for me. I mean, I could have finished it eventually, but I would have had to make a lot of quality concessions. If you look at some of the jaw-droppingly awesome layouts the folks here have, you can see why quality is the last place one would wish to skimp.

I'd rather have small and well done than large and compromised. Plus, I can design a small layout where I can still do some ops. "Protolancing" rather than adhering to a prototype will give me more flexibility, too.

I guess that opens another question in my book: does anyone here do ops on a small layout? It seems like a natural for N scale.


I really haven't played Half-Life, could you explaine what the Gordon Freeman treatment is. I am a Halo fan myself.

The Gordon Freeman treatment = kill it with a crowbar.

If I'd had a Gravity Hammer, that would have been a good alternative.  8)
« Last Edit: May 11, 2008, 10:29:38 PM by biker_ray_pa »

Greyryder

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Re: The drawing board, and to it my abrupt return...
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2008, 12:36:25 AM »
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I'm more a DOOM fan, myself. Chainsaw that sucker!

Operations on a small layout depends on what kind of operation you want to do. I've got a 1 x 4 1/2' switching layout, with five industries, and an interchange track. I bring five cars onto the layout, and take five cars out. Certain types of cars can only go to certain industries, and with one spur switchbacked off another siding, there's a little bit of a switching puzzle aspect on top of just serving the the various companies.

It takes about an hour to run a single turn, depending on how slow I keep the engine running.

wm3798

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Re: The drawing board, and to it my abrupt return...
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2008, 12:53:41 AM »
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My layout isn't huge, yet...  I have plans to fill a room about the size that you've just abandoned.  I've got about a third of the layout up, but I've added some temporary trackage so it functions and provides for operations.
But yeah, as long as you have some decent staging, and a yard where you can assemble and break up trains, you're golden.
I recommend looking at any article regarding ops on David Popp's New Haven layout.  It's a relatively small track plan, but it's got all the elements needed to make for a fun ops session.
Lee
Route of the Alpha Jets

Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net