A Personal Challenge

Sitting at home over Memorial Day weekend, 2021, I had an idea.  I was looking at some online posts about what miniature painters and table-top war-gamers refer to as “piles of shame”, and some people were listing off all the miniatures they have that are unbuilt and unpainted.  While I have that kind of thing myself, the part of those posts that caught my eye was them setting a goal for the next 12 months.  That sounded fantastic to me, to get up, get out of planning, and start building.  

With those “piles of shame” in mind, I decided that a reasonable goal for myself is to set an operating session on a model railroad at my house as the goal for Memorial Day weekend, 2022.  As I knew I would be starting from essentially the zero point with projects, 365 days sounds like a long time to get one shelf-style layout built.  However, I’m building 3 at the same time.  

I have my Yosemite Valley Railroad in 1928.  That is my labor of love.  However, I’ve run into some vision issues (again) and I’m working those out.  I have almost got all the freight cars to be able to run one operating session on the YV built, I have all the track I need.  The locomotive and the control system, and structures, are the challenge there.  Those will be the hurdles to jump over to get the YV operating by the end of May, 2022.

The plan for the YV has not changed. I’m building toward this track plan, though the structures might shift a little.

I have also the Wisconsin Central, North Cumberland layout in HO.  With the SDL39 model still due in December, I am looking forward to running that layout.  I have the structures, and I have a good chunk of the freight cars.  If the SDL39 is delayed, I also have the GP39-2 that I weathered.  The challenge with the HO projects is the size.  I can see things, but there won’t be any changes to freight equipment to upgrade them like I have done in the past.  Just weathering.  

Third…. Yes…. I have jumped feet-first into the fun of British O gauge.  I discovered that I can run small steam, a decent number of freight vans and wagons, a couple of passenger cars, and it all fits and operates in a smaller space than American O, but the scale is even bigger (1:43).  I’m just getting started, so there are challenges with structures, locomotives, wagons, vans, and just about everything.

A LMS 3F Jinty in British O.
One layout section of laser-cut benchwork from CMR Products

With 3 layouts to sort of ‘race’ ahead, I got a good jump on things.  I spent a few days just building benchwork sections from CMR and Masterpiece Modules like I have previously discussed.  After about 10 days, I had all the modules in-house built for all 3 layouts.  

Baseboards for the Yosemite Valley Railroad layout.
Baseboards for the LMS
In-progress photo of the Atlas Ice Dock for the YV layout. At the point pictured, it is ready to be taken apart into several sections and primed. It then went into waiting for some paint to arrive.

At the same time, I spent about a week working on building an Atlas O Ice Dock.  Where will that go?  I plan to add it to the YV layout.  Merced Ice & Cold Storage was likely too small for a full ice dock, and was more likely shipping block is in already iced reefers brought online from the Southern Pacific.  However, it’s possible that there was a raised structure on the same property at one point, and I wanted to build the kit, so Merced Ice & Cold Storage will have a small ice dock on my layout.  (My friend, Wes Swift also had a nice dock on his YV layout, and Jack Burgess has a model of Merced Ice where there is a small icing platform as well, so I’m feeling like I’m in good company with this addition.). I got the building to the point of it being in primer, and then needed to wait for some paint to come, so I moved to another project.

With the ice dock stalled, I started construction of a brick building for the HO project.  The kit is a machine shop from Walthers Cornerstone.  It’s intended to join up or be in the yard series so it could attach to their roundhouse.  On my layout, it will be one part of a building complex that will be a tool & die company, making metal stamped parts.  I started off cleaning up the parts for the building off the sprue.  Over a period of about 10 days I painted, added mortar, and assembled the building.  I like the result.  It’s much improved from the stock injection molded color of the plastics, and it’s based on the tool and die company my wife works at, so there is some degree of reality in the color choices.  An overhead crane and a concrete tilt-up position of the company will join this building soon.  A few additional large details, like a dust collector and bailer, and possibly a conveyor for loading scrap metal into gondolas will be added to this building before I call it fully completed, but I can start using it to plan.

The above 4 photos are of the main building for March Tool & Die.

At this point, I need to go back and finish the ice dock next.  While I am working on 3 layouts, working on more than 1 project at a time and having something in motion all over the place will quickly overwhelm and shut this whole goal process down.  It’s probably going to be a ‘rule’ for myself that I have to finish a project before I can start the next.  

Why structures first?  Because other than for the YV, I don’t have firmly set track plans.  I want to get the structures built so I can get the track arrangements laid out.  Before long it will be time to sort some of the real challenges for everything, including joining the modules, DCC systems, and legs.  I’m avoiding some of those for the moment because I haven’t yet found the “right” solutions.  It should be in interesting 365 days.

I’m posting as often as there is something worth posting on my Facebook and Instagram.  I’ll update here when time allows, but at a minimum, I’ll provide an update on progress in this form once a month.

(340 days and counting from today….)

-Jeremy

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