Monday, December 20, 2010

In the beginning

There is a idea.

I've always wanted to design & build my own model train layout. I have wanted to do this for many years, but things like life, budget, and time itself just love to get in the way of our desires. You think that you might just be able to start that once-in-a-lifetime personal project, then some chain of events will reach into your life, take that idea right out of your head, and put it back in the dusty shelf where it sat quietly for so many years.

However, earlier this year, events unfolded in my life that opened the door for me to finally be able to seriously think about building my own layout. In one of those rare moments, the stars & planets aligned, the skies cleared, and lo-and-behold, the opportunity to finally create my own layout appeared in front of my very eyes.

Build it. Now.

Since the model railroading Gods smiled upon me & presented this opportunity, I decided to heed to their calling and actually try & build my very own model railroad layout. This layout would be mine to create. A miniature World where I would be the creator.

So with that in-mind, I did what most people do in such circumstances; I bought some model railroad "how-to" books on scenery, layout design & construction, etc.

During the summer months, I would spend time after work underneath the gazebo, sipping cold beer and gazing through books & magazines looking for nuggets of inspiration that might possibly lead me to what I wanted to build for my very first model railroad layout. I also started to clean out the space I used to use for manufacturing ship model kits. This would give me a sandbox of 42' x 62' feet to build the layout - plenty of room to do whatever I want.

Now, before you say "start small my boy", I spent the last 20 years as a member of a fairly large model railroad club here in Massachusetts. During that time, I participated quite a bit in building that layout so I am quite experienced in most (notice how I say "most") aspects of layout design & construction.

So, with talent, skill, and the motivation to play with model trains, I had everything required up-front to begin world-building on a grand scale.

As Summer drifted to Fall, I engaged some of my friends in some conversations on what I could build as opposed to what I want to build. General ideas were traded back n' forth over what would be cool, fun, or practical. I considered all ideas put in on the table for discussion. I gradually  whittled the ideas down to what I would like to build for my layout. However, one question remained unresolved.  This is one of the biggest questions that needs  to be answered before you even think about starting construction: freelancing v.s. prototype. This topic alone can make or break model railroad layouts. Modeling to prototype brings in a favor of history to the layout whereas freelancing allows you to pretty much do whatever you want. Both ideas have other pluses & minuses but it is one of the biggest decisions you can make before

Unfortunately for me, one of my friends; namely Paul Cutler III who knows exactly how to push my buttons, playfully suggested that since I have the space, why not build South Station ?

South Station ?

I thought about for a few minutes.

Is. It. Possible ? Can I do it ?

Why not ?

Unfortunately for me, I suffer from AMS.

What is AMS ? Here's the definition straight out of the Model Builders Dictionary:

Advanced Modellers Syndrome (abbr. AMS):

"A syndrome whereby a modeler becomes so obsessed with adding or acquiring every PE/resin aftermarket set for a particular subject to supplement the added minutae of detail that they must have on their model. This also includes copious research to make sure everything is in order and no detail missed. Modellers with this syndrome rarely complete a project. Cure for this problem is to go back to "basics" and build a kit in a weekend or two straight out of box."

So, here we have it. My very first layout. Huge. Complicated. Expensive.

What could possibly go wrong ?

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