I recently shared my discovery of Matthieu Lachance’s Quebec South Shore blog. In amongst his recent posts was a proposal for what is a operations and prototype modeling based layout with no turnouts. Here’s the blog post:
By eliminating the turnout he’s able to devote the full scene to presenting the industry itself. By devoting the full length of the scene to the mill siding, he’s able to use the full six feet so that his model industry can move the same number of cars as the prototype. If he includes the turnout, he is then forced to divide that same space into one scene where the siding meets the mainline and the other part where the industry is. In terms of presentation, the viewer’s attention is on the story at this industry. For layouts that live in very public places, like mine, this is a good thing. Imagine the effect this has on communicating your vision, of that scene, to the viewer? Not only does this feel like a really great approach to rationalizing the space he has available but also unifies the presentation into a more solid presentation.
In terms of operating interest, I don’t think that the elimination of that final turnout really has any negative effect on the entertainment value during the session. Our focus remains on car spots and placing cars on the siding in the correct order as the customer requires. That games remains the same here. In fact it gets better since we’ve got more track to play with and with that extra track, a few extra car spots. That off-stage switching lead could also be of a variable length since it isn’t required to be fixed to the layout or left in place between operating sessions – if you need room for three cars, easy; if you need room for twelve feet, do that too.
This is a novel opportunity to consider the layout from a different perspective. Instead of HO scale Chris, trackside with his HO scale camera; or HO scale Chris up in the cab feathering that throttle trying again for the perfect hitch; I’m HO scale Chris on the loading dock finishing the paperwork and making sure that the car I need at door three isn’t at door one…again. This simplification in track layout pushed the focus back on the scene and the way the train actually operated.
I had never considered this perspective before or this design approach. I believe this is truly innovative. I’m having fun contemplating my reaction to it as a design piece and from that reflection I’m discovering what I like and don’t like in terms of design. This feels really exciting.