Future Plans…. Always Learning (Part 1)

With a track plan and benchwork sorted for the YV, and a tiny bit of tweaking going on with the NCTR, I have found myself in a rather interesting spot.  For the first time in many years, I’m sort of over the crest of the very large “what am I learning about and what am I building” wave.  It’s quite like getting to the top of the first hill on a roller coaster.  The progress on layout building, once the weather finally cooperates here in Northern Illinois for Spring and early Summer, I imagine will go fairly quickly and there should be trains running soon.

As with most projects, in model railroading or miniature war games (something else I do), I find myself planning everything out.  With track plans goes structures, with structures goes rolling stock types, with types goes industry needs, with needs goes a thought process that usually derives a minimum number of cars to keep an industry interesting while also not over-filling my storage capacity or usability of equipment.  In general, each spot I figure requires a minimum of 2 cars, and a maximum of 5, to keep everything interesting.  Likely if someone remembers moving a car on the layout, they may not remember moving a car to a given spot over again, and if they do, that car is modeled to fit a class, so it’s plausible that a class of car might visit the same spot.  Additionally, I’m modeling on the YV August of 1928, so there are only a month of days to fill, so I’m comfortable with saying that the 50ish cars I have planned to build is plenty for a roughly 14 car-spot layout plan.

The NCTR is complete fiction, and thus, the planning is a bit easier and there is more available for the 1990’s era of that layout.  The feed elevator, fertilizer plant, and manufacturing all are pretty self contained, and it’s just numbers of cars needed, with the most numbers being covered hoppers.  If there are 10 spots for covered hoppers, and usually about 7 of those are filled, I guess about 21-28 covered hoppers will eventually be owned, and a similar calculation of the other cars.

What I don’t plan to do for either of those projects is build hundreds of cars when they each will hold for operating purposes somewhere below 20 cars each.  There will be an end to the buying.  For the YV, there are only about 4 cars I’m hunting for.  For the NCTR, I need to do some additional work, but my guess is I have about 1/3 of the stock necessary to make that enjoyable.  The hardest part of that layout is finding the track at the moment here in early 2021.  It’ll sort by the end of the year is my guess.  

Then what?

I have photos of every car kit or scratch build I intend to do for the YV already on hand, most with build histories ready.  There won’t be more than one locomotive necessary.  I have structure drawings or plans for everything, track, turnouts, and I’ve tested things that need testing, where I’ve also got the 3’ show layout to practice some things on.  I’m really looking forward to getting the layout standing.  For the NCTR, I’m a little more free-form and hunt for an inspiration photo when I need it, but I recently acquired everything I need for the manufacturing plant and the feed elevator kit bashes.  Once track is in, I’ll build the structures and get on with weathering and running trains before I build the structures, just to make sure the track work has no initial issues.

Then what?

The two layouts are intended to be “small” and portable.  The intent is to be able to set them up for operating, and I’ve talked about that, and I’ll show you as they are built.  But like my analogy at the outset, I’ve crested a huge planning and design wave here, and like the roller coaster, even through some twists and turns that will be inevitable in the construction, rides do end, and ships do arrive at their destinations.  Things are not always in as much flux as I’ve ad them for several chaotic years.  

My friend Alex from Red Dirt & Rails (https://okierails.com) has mentioned that he’s been hunting for what he’ll build next.  His beautiful layout depicting his beloved Farmrail is nearly complete and he’s wondered what comes next?  We share that thinking, and I wonder what’s after the YV is standing and the NCTR is operating.  What comes next?

Answering that question, and determining what is the next is, I guess, how my brain works.

So in looking about to find my answer, there are a few things that I know I want in a modeling and railroading experience.

  1. Something different.  I’ve got a pre-depression layout and a diesel era layout.  Is there something different I want to explore.
  2. There needs to be research and learning involved.  I don’t want to do the same thing I’m doing in Proto48 or HO, just in a different spot.  It needs to be different, interesting,  require research, reading and learning.
  3. It will be in a “large” scale.  HO is amazing, but I need bigger and I enjoy model building, so we’re looking at a larger scale, O (1:48) or above.
  4. Portable.  I’m building these days what I consider to be my version of the “cameo” style layout.  Portable, single location, layout.  Adding anything else needs to conform to that.

I mention the cameo again.  This is something that is most often found in UK layout planning, with small and portable layouts going to public shows and operating single towns, fitting in limited space living situations.  I’ve spent quite a lot of time looking at UK layouts, but on a whim, I decided to look at what some of the terminology I kept seeing on those plans means.  

Down the rabbit hole!

I’ll share what I’ve found down that rabbit hole next time.

-Jeremy

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