Thursday, July 18, 2019

Philosophy in Practice?

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!


MacSeymour said...

Well said !
My opinion, stick with the trackplan, as is, get it up & running.
As operations progress, positive changes will be evident, if need be, (or not !).
Good move already adding staging: There's that old adage- Whatever amount of staging you think you need, double it !


CVSNE said...

Appreciate the thoughts.
Not sure I agree with the old adage - realistically I don't need staging for this layout - the Richford job could be prestaged on the mainline prior to the start of the session.
Since my favorite part of the hobby is building rolling stock, I have quite a number of cars done, with more to build. So a small staging yard seemed logical as I could prestage several sets of cars for variety if nothing else.
I have more capacity than that at this point, with the idea that the local crew will assemble their train in "Beartown" (aka St. Albans, aka "staging") prior to starting their run.
Not sure how that will play out in practice.

Matt Forcum said...

Man, Your devil sounds just like my devil! The temptation to add more operational interest is really a tough one to combat. We've gotta remember that a well-designed layout is one that balances all aspects of the hobby well. That includes operational interest AND scenic interest. It's easy to forget about scenery when we are still in the "plywood pacific" stage of the process. I, like you, subscribe to the "less is more" approach to the hobby and it is good to check ourselves along the way to ensure we are on the right track.

Also, that comment on that post was VERY weird. So many twists and turns. You could write a college paper on that comment. :)

Matthieu Lachance said...

That annoying never-ending issue about operation fun! I feel your pain! Just like you, each time I tried to go off the script, it didn't turn out right. I'm glad to see you had enough wisdom to step back when it was time. All these extras would end up siphoning man hours and resources needed to complete the planned elements, pushing further the moment the layout will be fully in operation.

BillS said...

Interesting as usual, but harder to read since the colour change.You should have listened to the Angel on that.

CVSNE said...

Sorry my friend.
Is this better?

BillS said...