New year, new layout. Finally a new post.

I’m going to dive right into this one. I started this post much earlier today and have been trying to craft a nice preamble that addresses the hiatus since my last post and responds to all the “why” the old layout was taken apart. I’ve enjoyed trying to accomplish something in this regard but can’t seem to complete the post and really dislike its design. So, without any further distraction, I’m starting over again.

I’ve put together this pretty pair of sketches to help describe the space for the new layout and some thoughts on how I’d like to use it. If I place it here in the post we can all look at it and take advantage of the pause it offers us to top up our glasses.

New Layout Area 20150102So after a lot of distraction my “layout in the living room” is, for the first time, actually in the living room. Previous iterations had been constructed and all wound up living in our dining room. When we first bought this house I’d eyed this corner of our living room and thought it to be an almost ideal location for my model railway empire. Silly as it may sound, I’ve coveted this space almost as much as having a dedicated room. It feels pretty neat to finally be placing something in this corner. As the drawing notes, it’s certainly not a vast area but it somehow feels like just the right amount of space and more than enough for any of the schemes I’m likely able to get up to.

The new layout is against a plain wall and is not in front of any windows. I missed having a backdrop on my previous lines and look forward to being able to install one. I can also install some sort of dedicated lighting valance above the layout in this location. With better lighting and a proper backdrop layout photography should be easier – no more red or orange walls to contend with.

I've been experimenting with different colour profiles for my track. I'm most happy with this particular section. Also in the spirit of working on things I built a cardstock mockup of a typical PEIR freight shed.

Red sky at night…

We naturally tend to think of the layout in terms of the broad side view and this one will be no different. What I am amused with though is that there is a neat opportunity to view the layout from the end and many of its visitors will see it from this angle first. I thought of real locations such as Elmira, Prince Edward Island. Though I’m far from committing to a model of Elmira I did want to share this photo to help illustrate the potential of this location for this type of scene:Elmira_colour_1970s

What amuses me so much about this perspective is how it introduces the model to the viewer exactly how the prototype did and continues to do so today. In this layout design I’m as keen to explore a true prototype location as I am the way in which I present it. I want a scene that I’m as keen to “railfan” as I am to build and operate trains within. Perhaps it might help the viewer to more easily identify with the scene if their perspective is familiar? As the above photo of Elmira station illustrates this same view could be modelled featuring another of my passions:

AMT evening commuter train standing at Lucien l'Allier with borrowed VIA F40 at the helm.

AMT evening commuter train standing at Lucien l’Allier with borrowed VIA F40 at the helm.

Or a third example of this “design from the thin end” approach could work quite well for a model of the Claremont-Concord’s West Lebanon:

DSC00704So far, I’ve moved the old benchwork into the new space. To this end, I need to sew a quick curtain to wrap around the layout itself to tidy up the view of the junk that sits below the layout. I’m keen to share the evolution of the new line and will do so in the coming weeks.


Categories: How I think

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10 replies

  1. Hi Chris,

    Is it going to be N scale? I do wish I could have retained the view of the station from the end of tracks on Pembroke. It’s one of the views I visualize when I think about the layout. I also think, in the interest of lowering the barrier to operations that you should make staging permanent, rather than removable.

    Looking forward to following the progress,

    • Good morning

      This layout will be in N. Given the limited space scales appreciably larger just don’t offer the composition I’m hoping to achieve here. That said, the temptation never fully goes away and there are times, late at night, where I ponder thoughts of extremely minimalist Proto 87, 3mm, or narrow gauge optons for the space (forget I said that).

      Thanks for the comment about Pembroke. You’ve really hit exactly on what I’m so curious about for this next plan of mine. It’s not that I plan on trying to operate the line from the end but it’s that I have the opportunity to present the scene as most know it.

      Thanks again


  2. Hi Chris,

    Interesting thoughts. You might wish to replace corner A with a curve: easily made made by laminating several layers of thin ply, each layer bonded with white glue. This will be less damaging to both layout and person if walking into the layout.

    Re the “end on” view, you might wish to search out Tony Woods’ and Ian Manderson’s “Villiers Street” layout, which was a small engine facility viewed end-on. Try this photo link:
    Villiers Street.
    (I have attempted to type in the code for that. No idea if it worked until after posting the comment!)

    Another layout worth looking for is Jordan Foster’s “Schiller Point”, which had a similar viewpoint in O scale – the tight turnouts here added to the forced perspective view.
    Schiller Point

    For real perspective modelling, albeit not operational, the late Jack Nelson’s work is truly inspirational – worth a web search.
    Jacl Nelson

    Hope they help!


    • Good morning Simon

      Thanks for the layout suggestions. I will take a look at these later on today. I’m quite looking forward to them in fact.

      I agree about rounding off that corner. Currently I have the old benchwork in place with the square corner as shown in my drawing – this should serve as a very practical test of how practical this exposed corner will be.

      Since I’d like to consider a lighting valance over the layout, observations made now on the layout surface itself will echo into that design too.

      Thanks again. Now off to go check out those links.


  3. New year, new layout, new post, new views. Great ideas and congratulations on moving to the new space, Chris. Keep us posted on the possible staging where the furniture is presently. The backdrop will allow you to give even more sense of place!

    • Thanks Eric. I really appreciate the enthusiasm.

      That wall marked as furniture sure is an alluring option but as tempting as it is I don’t think it’s territory I’ll push into. I have briefly toyed with a pair of very thin (e.g. 4″ wide) shelves mounted on both walls. Obviously the trade-off is basically all scenic elements but it brings some interesting options for long runs to more customers.

      Thanks again


  4. I read a quote from Chuck Jones, the animator who created the characters of Bugs Bunny, Roadrunner and Wil E. Coyote. He said in order to draw a coyote, you have to find the coyote in yourself. In other words, you have to understand the mindset and character of the subject at hand to render it convincingly.

    I know you’ve struggled with your design choices and I won’t insult your intelligence by offering un-informed advice. You don’t my need my advice because I think you already have the answers to any questions, you just need to listen more closely. -Mike

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