I started building the Richford Branch last summer - early August to be exact (see this post). Even though I've done a pretty good job of sticking to the script (ie., the plan Lance Mindheim designed) I have been tempted a time or three to "Add just (chose one) <more track//more industries//a spot for that structure kit that looks cool but doesn't really fit with the rest of the layout>."
The only one of these changes to make it to the plywood stage is the staging yard. Lance designed the layout with a deliberately simple, small staging yard. I added an extra eight inches or so of benchwork and added a few more staging tracks.
That was, in itself, fine.
But it also put me firmly on the precipice - It was like the those devil vs. angel arguments from classic film and television:
Devil: "Add a couple more tracks and sidings and the Canadian Pacific interchange could be a "live" one, and create an another operator position or two."
Angel: But you're not a CP modeler - the CP tracks are there to provide context. Besides, where does the devil think these "live staging" tracks will be?
Devil: Along the narrow walls at both ends of the layout - you could screen it with hills and trees. After all, you'll never need to access them. There's almost 4 whole inches between the CV line and the wall. Plenty of room!"
Angel: So a CP train is just going to be sitting there behind the scenes you want to build - you know, the ones that inspired this whole project in the first place?"
Devil: "Plans are made to be broken."
Angel: "You discussed with this with Lance when you were designing this thing. And he made some really valid points about not needing to add more operating capacity - there's plenty there already."
Devil: "That guy ruins all our fun!"
Okay, enough of the silliness.
I'll summarize all this by saying even though I wish I hadn't added extra tracks (and benchwork) to the staging yard, it's in place and working so I'm not going to change it out now.
And, other than some roadbed, which is easily removed or scenicked over, I didn't get that "live staged" CPR connection in place before I stood back and realized how silly it would look.
That takes care of adding additional track and more "operating interest."*
What of the temptation of adding things that really fit the theme of the layout? One perfectly valid approach is to say "It's a hobby, I like it!" and simply be done with it. Perhaps if it's not around, there won't be a temptation to use it?
Seeing what my friend Bernie Kempinski is dealing with this week has given me pause. He's had to pile all his stuff in the center of the room, and he's amazed at how much stuff was living under the layout. I know some of it he hasn't seen in years.
Of course, there's no universal standard defining too much, or too little, stuff . It varies from person to person.
And it's not because I'm a hoarder, or have some sort of psychological disorder (see the last comment on this post for one of the oddest comments I've ever received on this blog!).
I've come to realization the very presence of things I know I won't use on this layout are actually impeding progress. They're just "in the way" - even if they're stashed under the layout or in the back room.
* Of course, the added operating position would have consisted of running a short train from behind a row of trees, setting off and picking up some cars at a feed mill, then the CV interchange, before heading into another stub ended track at the other end of room. Hardly engaging, especially compared to the CV Richford local job!