“…to the heart of Coy”

I think in pictures. I have only a limited capacity at internal monologue and I think a joke is at its funniest when it’s explained. So, let’s set this up so you have a better appreciation of how most posts start. Me, the cat is sleeping by my side and there’s tea. There’s always tea. Do you read Lovecraft? I hope so because that’s the perfect voice to use in the opening words of this note because I am never far from the memory of Coy; never far from what I saw at the heart of Coy. Yes, yes, yes, I have seen to the heart of Coy.

Describing the track plan and design of Coy Paper was always relational to its end points but its was here in the middle where I spent most of my time.

She knows, you know, most of the photographs I took and posted were right here in this spot. Most mornings while I enjoyed my first cup of tea and most nights in the moments before I went to bed I’d pause to study the subtle shapes and forms bordered by these two pieces of track. I’m most proud of Coy for what it represented to me and I’m most in love with this exact section of it. Right here. It was right, here.

Little wonder that when I rebuilt Coy with On30 track it was here I focussed most of my time, nurturing this particular scene, guiding it toward what I had seen before. This same place. This small area within an already small model railroad was something I connected to so powerfully that I packed Coy’s On30 iteration (Victoria) away. You don’t throw your love in the trash. Even if you could I wouldn’t be able to make myself do that.

One of the biggest and most complete design failures in Coy was never really something I talked about and it’s only vaguely referred to in the sketch. To the left of the scene is “staging” that was both the place where trains came from or disappeared into. It’s an area that itself was only a few cars deep. Coy was designed to live on top of a bookcase. Don’t ask about how but the staging was actually inside the bookcase to the left. In theory this works very well as the inside of that part of the bookcase is a neat place to use as staging. “Inside” of a bookcase actually isn’t the problem. The problem is actually that to work (operate) the mill siding, down to Coy Paper, or most of that operating session you’re working the layout from that same left end. The engine is darting in and out of storage. It’s like I built this whole beautiful stage for the engine and it just stays in that staging–like buying the cat a fancy new toy and all she wants is the box.

I have a journal of nice paper and started using good pens this year because the feeling of pen or pencil on paper is something that reconnects the parts of me that often drift apart, even more when I’m under stress. In this book I work on my daily notes, random passages, occasional poetry, and sketches of things. This afternoon, my mind wandered to a simple observation: “Why not just flip Coy around? Did you even need that second turnout and runaround loop?”


That does work and it works very well. The industry that was Coy’s mill would be inside the bookcase where Coy’s staging was. Most importantly the engine would work out in the open. Removing that second turnout changes the headshunt into a place where some railway cars would set between operating sessions. Those resting railway cars would exist between operating sessions as part of the identity of this model railway–the purpose of this railway is these cars, where they go, why they are here.

Neither Coy nor Victoria would have ever had a backdrop. Where they live is a space along a wall in our home. This wall is filled with big beautiful windows and the walls are the original brick of the building’s walls. There isn’t a backdrop imaginable that will ever contribute as much to the scene as it takes away from the room. I have long wondered about the relationship of the contents of the model railway and the space it exists within. A question like: “What if the railway’s scene was extended by the view outside the window?” Like, if I live in the city and built a model of a suburban railway how actually that real life view out the window is a fascinating backdrop. One would compliment the other by the common theme. What I never considered was how beautiful sunlight is on the model railway. We get so wrapped up in trying to find the right combination of artificial light inside the box of a model railway but we never talk about natural light in the room. Then a moment like the one above happened. It was early evening. The very early evening’s sunlight is warming the room and it feels so beautiful in here. That same light is exploring this scene too. This is beautiful. This feels like a medium I want to play with more.

Last weekend I was sketching around some concept pieces relating Thakeham Tiles‘ railway to my Overlap concept. Part of that is the pedestrian footbridge that is an essential scene from Thakeham. In 16mm scale it’s quite a large model of quite a small thing but still so big that it could actually frame things. Things like sunlight.

What if that bridge in the model was centred in the real life window in the room? That same window that already shares the beautiful outside into our home. I mentioned how the region around the bridge (the frame created by the footpath, the abutments, the bridge itself) is like a picture frame. The railway is in front of the window but doesn’t block the window. The frame could frame natural light from the window? Light would follow that footpath in the model just like we would, on a walk, some cool autumn morning. On the model there’s some space behind the track and the bridge. Rather than some awkward edge of the scene what if the scene washed down from the track? It too could receive natural light from the window.

All of this is an enticing conceptual idea. I love the way it responds to issues with Coy’s design and marries them to brilliant new things like Thakeham and narrow gauge models that have always fascinated me. These notes are not speaking to a particular modelling scale and gauge combination. They are about a place in the sun at the heart of Coy.

Categories: Coy Paper (HO) model railway, How I think, model railway design

Tags: , ,

1 reply


  1. Big. Small. – Prince Street

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