Only once. I was that good.

I start a lot of layouts and a lot of models. Some get “finished” and some languish in a tray for a while before disappearing into the waste bin under the cover of darkness.

I feel like we tend to relate model railroading as an art. We tend to like that description. If model railroading is an art form why do we feel so terrible and apologetic when we don’t finish a project? The artist has his sketchbooks and in those books are a thousand drawings and ideas. Equally, a studio laden with canvases and pottery. The art is seldom the finished work as the emotion invested into it and always what it represents – that lesson learned only in the path to the finished work. In music these days it’s the thrill of finding that half-finished Beatles album? Would any of this ever have happened if all anyone ever did was commit to one project and follow it through?

Building on my thoughts on inspiration yesterday I want to know about the other layouts Jack Burgess built. I was never a Gore and Daphetid fan but I do enjoy stories about how John Allen grew as a modeller. Elsewhere, I’m fascinated with how George Sellios keeps rebuilding his layout. These are the stories I’d love to read in the hobby press. In these stories I’d love to hear about what inspired them. How each modeller decided on what to try and build and how they feel they achieved that.


  1. Hi Chris,
    Speaking of George Sellios, I read an ad in an MR that I bought at a recent train show: George had rashly decided to retire. After receiving many pleas not to, from friends/family/customers etc., he has decided to keep his business (FSM) going for two more years. Frank Ellison was the first layout I read about that directly inspired me, specifically his car-routing system and attention to set-outs and lifts at each tiny town.

    Also, let’s not forget that we can recycle layouts, structures, track, rolling stock etc. Rolling stock is usually the first to be cherry-picked from a retired/deceased modeller’s layout, though the family usually wants to sell the whole thing (a large, wooden/plaster intractable mass!).

    Once in a while, we glimpse a recycled bit of a former layout – an early part of the environmental movement, perhaps?


    1. Great sentiment, Eric. I agree.

      I watched that event circulate around FSM and George’s attempt at retirement. Considering that he handles most of every aspect of kit production I can certainly appreciate his thoughts toward retirement. Along the same vein as my thoughts on seeing more of the back story, I wonder if he’d ever share why he un-retired?

      Heavy on the recycling of equipment from layout to layout. Right now on my N scale layout I have a few boxcars that have been in my Dad’s collection since he started his layout in 1973. They’ve rolled across all of his and most of my layouts – that’s a lot of mileage.

      I don’t tend to hang on to things beyond sentimental pieces or otherwise significant models. Every so often I see something I built and it’s a neat reminder. I felt that way when my parents shared those photos of the module I’d built, and again regular when I see structures and rolling stock on friend’s layouts. Last year I sent the little HO scale micro layout I’d been working on to Tom Barbalet in California and am pleased to hear he still has it. Similarly, I was thrilled to send that 44 tonner on to your first front porch layout.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s