Friday, July 26, 2013

Planning the Next Step

What's next? Seems like I'd get a lot of "bang for the buck" by getting rid of the pink hillside in the distance. View from Williams Creek towards the White River yard leads.
Last night was one of those evenings when I just couldn’t get motivated to work on anything on the layout. Truthfully, this whole week has been that way. Sometimes you just don’t feel inspired I guess. I’ve been dabbling with ballasting the track – even photographing and videotaping the process for future articles or blog posts – but mostly I’ve been staring at the layout – trying to figure out what to do next. I've also been struggling with the arrangements of buildings in the freelanced paper mill town of Everett.
With the test session out of the way, and the “front door” to the layout looking passable, I’m at a wonderful phase of layout construction – where I can choose to do anything.
I currently have one deadline hanging over my head.  The layout will be open for tours and operating sessions during the NMRA MER convention (our local Region) this October. So, I want it to be as presentable as possible for that. I could focus on rolling stock, or scenery, or structures, or further perfections to the operating scheme prior to that weekend. But I can’t do all of it at once. I know the old axiom that much of the work on layouts gets done in the name of layout tours. But I don’t want to enter the “model railroad season” of the fall burned out! Nor do I particularly want to rush anything just to get “something” in place for the convention tours. I’d rather showcase my best work, with most of the layout remaining unfinished.  
So, I’ve gone back and forth with this for the last couple of weeks – until it hit me. The layout has to be operational for the weekend in October. That’s still more than 10 weeks away. 
A logical approach is to work on the layout until Labor Day weekend finishing up another structure or two, or getting the “basic” scenery installed around the White River yard lead area so photos taken of Williams Creek or Everett don’t show a ridge of pink foam mountains! (see photo above) I also plan to have at least one more work session before Labor Day.
But I need to leave myself time to tweak the layout.  After Labor Day I plan to spend a week or two of evenings getting the railroad ready to operate and show off – clearing out the layout room, cleaning track, staging trains, checking decoders and the like. Then I’ll host another Sea Trial session in late September that will give me time to address any issues we uncover in plenty of time for the convention op session.
If the layout doesn’t need a lot of tweaking I can spend the my modeling time prior to the convention on the rolling stock. Frankly, I’m sick of the assortment of WM, C&O and Erie lettered locomotives we’ve been running – I’d like a lot more Central Vermont and Southern New England power on the layout! But the last four years have been spent building, and rebuilding the layout – with little or no time for locomotives and cars. It’s time to address that – but first one more big push to dress up a little more of the layout.

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