Back on 1 August 2013, I wrote a blog on my history in the hobby and the changes and inspirational sources. The blog promised a continuation of the discussion. Here is a little more focused blog that tries to address where I am at in this hobby. You may not find this to be of any interest so you can tune in when the next blog is released. I am afraid that my blog falls way short of expressing a philosophical point. I read Trevor Marshall’s Port Rowan blog and Mike Cougill’s OST blog with interest. I find that I lack their skill or interest to wax at great length on an issue so the following rambling is my attempt at introspective thought.
I look back at my many years in the hobby and I realize that I rarely stick to one thing very long in terms of prototype following. There are so many cars, locos and scenes that can capture my interest for a while and then the next new thing happens. To some extent I find myself following what other people like. I wonder why I do that. Maybe it is my interest in being accepted within a community. Maybe it is just sharing a other peoples interests and being able to relate to them better. Many years ago, I used to accused of being the rubber gauge guy who switched around from HO to S to HO to O to On3 to S to P48. I think that I have cured myself of that tendency. When you are younger, it is easy to start anew in a different gauge or prototype.
When you are 69 years old, the hobby becomes a finite timespan. I have to focus to accomplish my goal of building a P48 scale railroad. I can best describe my modeling over the past year of staying sort of neutral in prototype selection with three different railroads in-play. Now that is a short course to not accomplishing a thing. I have tried to apply logic to the process and create a spread sheet to rank important features of one road versus another. Oh yes, I need to add a fourth road to the mix and that is a freelance railroad much like was done in the 1950s when prototype information and models were scarce.
I have found that a logical decision process doesn’t work in the creative side of the brain. It runs on emotion. Inspiration to build models is an emotional experience to me. All the engineering training of 40 + years in the high technology world hasn’t suppressed the emotional side of the brain.
The side effects of multiple prototype interest are many. Dividing one’s time and attention between three prototype roads reduces output on the bench. It is costly when you add up the cost of brass locomotives, books, decals, photos, drawings, parts, kits and historical society memberships. Now that I am retired I have to reconcile the cost versus benefits. As soon as I invent that algorithm, the problem will be solved.
I suppose the benefits of following multiple railroads is the opportunity to meet many fine modelers and historians that might not have crossed my path otherwise. Through these friendships I have learned a great deal and had access to many interesting photos, drawings and modeling items like decals. They are the essential building blocks of any pursuit in prototype modeling. Along with this access to these modelers, I have egged them on to do things of interest to me and maybe few others. It seems that my role in the hobby has been of impresario. I have suggested new projects for decals, brass imports and detail parts. Some good has come of my suggestions although one importer has had a few close calls with my suggestions. One has a sense of accomplishment when the project results in a tangible item. I have found that my tendency towards esoteric items lessens the chances of success for my accomplice. There is another effect is the self-limiting aspect of being held back waiting for a specific project like a switch stand or a specific brake wheel. Time passes by as attempts are made to raise your pet project higher on the list of priorities.
My role as the impresario of my current modeling interest is coming to close. I need to fend for myself and do my own thing. I hope that I will get more accomplished now that I am not waiting around for a friend to do something for me.
I look at what Jim Zwernemann has done with his layout and model building and compare to my meager output. That comparison alone is forcing me to relook at my practices. He has been far more productive. Jim stopped doing patterns and kit designs for manufacturers and focused on projects that fit into his railroad. A noble idea if you have a well defined concept like Jim. That is the problem for me. A well defined concept would make more sense and allow me to get something done. Now how do I do that?
I will let you know how this all turns out. I promise not to bloviate in the column any time soon.
Now, we will return to our regularly scheduled programming. The next blog will return to the topic of Jim Zwernemann’s layout.