Sunday, September 20, 2020

The joy of a Model Railway

Today, we enjoy a guest blog post by James Hilton.

Over the years I have been lucky enough to have had a number of model railways that could be considered (nearly) finished, as in they were scenically and operationally complete, perhaps leaving space for improvement or extra detailing. These have varied in subject and scale, but they have always offered one thing, the joy of just ‘playing’ trains…

Now that might mean different things to different people and I’m not writing about any style of operation in particular, I have built and operated continuous run and more prototypical layouts. What I mean though, the joy that comes from seeing trains move in your miniature world. However, what I wanted to talk a tiny bit more about is the absolute key, accessibility.

My childhood layouts were permanent fixtures, both in outdoor, unheated garage or shed like buildings. This meant that I could run trains whenever I liked, at the flick of the power switch, watching the fluorescent tube flicker on and the miniature world wake up before the layout came to life as I operated perhaps a GWR branch train, modern image freight or North American mega freight. Later, when I re-discovered the hobby in my 20’s I built a layout in my garage again, and this was available to run, whenever I was… did it get used? No, I couldn’t leave the stock out, so it just sat idle most to the time. More recently I’ve build exhibition layouts and micro layouts that live in boxes, these are great fun to work on and build, projects that can be completed in a relatively short period but their storage means they’re just not used, and so as a result there is little joy.

Fast forward to C-19, and I notice the small shelf the length of my workbench, usually filled with particularly completed models, tucked under the current exhibition layout stored above it on a shelf could perhaps be used to build something… a plan was born for a tiny self contained slice of industrial standard gauge set in the early 1980s in South Wales. Progress was swift and I enjoyed building the layout. However the main point here is the joy this has brought… not only do I now have another layout that for all intents and purposes can be called ‘finished’ but, I can leave the stock on it so it is ready for operation at the flick of a switch, like the layouts of my childhood.

This is the key to me, a complete layout yes, but one that is ready whenever the mood takes me, or requires me to run some trains and loose myself in a miniature world of my own creation. Wonderful layouts that are locked away in boxes or only taken out to exhiitonts can be fun to design and build, and do provide the joy when they’re out, but the rest of the time they’re locked away from reality. My latest project shows that even the space starved have room for a project, and even better, one they can use whenever they need. This revelation has changed my opinions about railway modelling and caused a big re-think about my layout plans for the future. I can see a culling of the boxed micro layouts I have built, and a hunt for a home for an ‘always ready’ layout home in my house, workshop or garden. 
James Hilton
James is a professional model maker with over 30 years experience, in addition he is a kit designer and has produced kits for Planet Industrials, Narrow Planet, EuroNG and 6point5 Minimium Gauge. He keeps his own blog regularly updated, here: 

If anyone is interested in writing a guest blog poston any topic, drop me a line.


James H said...

Thanks for using this Phil, sorry about the odd typo! Happy to help out and privileged to be published elsewhere other than my own ramblings.

Phil Parker said...

Typos are part of the fun on this blog. It scares away the pedants.

Thanks so much for saving me writing a post. I hope it persuades more people to enjoy your excellent blog.