Random Thoughts

The broken view / the overlap

I’d been playing around with some simple lines on a piece of paper. Representing lines of track, I imagined what it would be like to run trains in this place. As I pushed my pretend trains around I realised how much I lacked a sense of their movement. At first I thought I might simply build two independent layouts and alternate their use: Perhaps one day I use the scene that represents the place where the big railroad provides cars and on another day exchange that scene with the other one, the one that hosts the act in which we deliver the cars to the customer.

Then I wondered: could they live in the same place? Maybe overlap?

end view

In plan, it looks like this:

plan view

I build a lot of model railroads that exist in basic rectangular volumes. I find enticing the idea of breaking that front line to introduce a curve.

end view2

With some time this morning I made some coffee and formed these views to help explain the idea. While the above view is not the one I considered first, I now imagine standing here and like the way that way the foreground takes interacts with the distant view.

(To help explain things I propose the following set of sketches. I’ve reduced the entire installation to a monochromatic view and will colour the subject in red to focus the conversation.)

Scene A: The reason

1 load unload

Occupying perhaps two-thirds of the scene’s face this scene is highly detailed and focused on why the railroad exists. Maybe it’s where we deliver the coal to, load the potatoes from, or the terminal of our interurban empire.

4 switching load unload

Standing here to operate a train in this scene we find that it wraps around us to focus our attention on the railroad’s purpose. I’m amused with the idea that in our peripheral vision we can still relate to our origin but it’s “far away” and it’s not immediately obvious how we got to here from there. In this scene we see the train interacting with its purpose.

Scene 2: The interchange

2 interchange.png

Lesser detailed, this scene’s priority is to act as the origin for movement into the layout. Note how it wraps around behind the major scene allowing access to re-rail a derailed car and how it invites you peek in behind the curtain to interact with the model. Both sides of the backdrop are decorated with a sky and even a horizon’s scenery.

2b interchange backdrop.png

I can’t always see the engine but don’t need to since at this place we’re watching the train being exchanged – one set of cars for another. Our attention shifts from the arrival of a locomotive to the work of its train.

5 switching interchange

When we’re operating a train here, we stand centered in this space and  while we could look to the side to see where we’re going the act of doing so is not unlike looking further down the road. With no scenery or track connecting the two areas we can’t simply go there by moving a little bit. Clearly, we need to travel further.

Scene 3: The broken plain

3 broken plane

Using a cassette, sector plate, or like means of off-stage track that is only added when we need to move a train from the background scene to the foreground this is the wall we break through – that “hole in the sky”.

Variation 1: Drawing into the scene

6 possible removable staging

Scene 2, by its area, inherits a lesser visual priority. Further the view of the train is limited since much of it is behind the backdrop of Scene 1. If it’s the place where our train exchanges its cars for another set could we add a removable length of track to provide those cars into the scene?

Nothing new here as the idea of removable staging is so apparent in the hobby. It has a place here too. As with many of my recent designs I use staging here to provide only cars in contrast to the section at the opposite end of the layout that is required to move the train from one scene to the other. I suppose if I really wanted to get carried away this length could take advantage of my Matchbox idea and it could slide into the main body of the railway between use.

 

The camera

img_3471

I’m constantly impressed by the camera on my iPhone. Even, as I’ve just learned, when it tries to help and does something spontaneously right and wrong, taking the picture it wants instead of the one I thought I was taking.

In the above photo, I’m looking straight into the setting sun while these two GP’s make up tonight’s 509 – the Dartmouth to Autoport train.

In the instant that I pressed the button to take this photo the camera instantly changed the light levels. The sky is washed out. In doing so, look at all that cool detail in the engine’s paint. The way the paint is fading, door by door.

My photo would have been overexposed. My photo is… The camera took a different photo. Together we’ve created something neat.

And in doing so, reminded me of what it was like to be shooting on film, in a time before digital cameras, and still only learning how to take a photo.

Cool

Chris

You just have to be there

I know, my affection for photographing and sharing pictures taken near Alderney Landing here in Dartmouth is obvious.

I am so drawn to the complimentary lines in views like the above. I find places that offer patterns like these attractive and even calming. I don’t know why, I just do. Perhaps it’s that I see a strong architectural relevance here in the way that all the man-made elements repeat a parallel line that converges almost as if to a common focal point. Further that while everything man put here agrees to this pattern, the natural elements do not. There’s a contradiction that to me feels fundamental and standing here feels powerful. And good.

And the train passes through here so often that it’s easy to practice photographing in this location to test it.

Scrolling through the many photos I’ve taken at or near this particular location I noticed something that distinguishes time trackside from the hobby of model railroading: When I’m trackside I don’t get to choose between things like the best way to interpret the scene as a miniature. I just have to be present and enjoy it. That’s a quality I find attractive in the minimalist approaches to model railways.

I wonder what the minimum number of decisions a modeller could make and still complete a layout is or what they are?

I wonder how that completed work would compare to our current, decision-heavy, approach in terms of the experience for the creator.

Is there really a link between the work and the satisfaction?

Chris

That was fun

Just before Christmas a friend telephoned to ask if I might be able to help fix a broken turnout. The piece of track was a brand new Shinohara double-crossover.

Above is the “before” photo showing the issue: simply that the solder joint that bonds that missing point to its throwbar had failed and the point fell out. The point itself was still in great shape so the repair was certainly easy enough.

Just one tiny solder joint later and this second photo shows the completed repair. Like any job, I feel like I spent most of the time practising the setup for the work and the actual soldering took about three seconds time. Since I opted to “repair in place” I was rather proud of not melting any of the plastic parts. Just a bit of minor surface work softening directly under the work which I cleaned up and the scribed the molded grain lines.

I’m really honoured to have been asked to help out. Immediately this helps a fellow modeller but while packing up my tools I couldn’t ignore how satisfying the work was. Helping out is just something I want to do but doing so actually reminded me that I do still enjoy the hobby. That last bit has a value beyond words. I’ve been doubting my future with the hobby quite seriously lately so it was nice to have such a well-timed reminder that there might still be something here for me.

Thank you

Chris

And one more

Sure. Yeah. Take selfie down at the Dartmouth yard and use that as the Christmas photo for Prince Street.

I mean, it sounded like a good idea at the time.

Merry Christmas

Chris

Good morning

Thank you for reading this far, listening when I needed to vent, and encouraging when I needed that sense of community. Thank you for being my long distance pen pals and making this place feel like a part of home.

Take care

Chris

What track looks like: Colour 1

Living so close to the railroad in Dartmouth provides a great chance to see it regularly. A privilege I really haven’t had since the 1980’s. While I have no plans to interpret what I see in any literal form, in miniature at home, it does me a chance to explore questions I’ve had.

Starting in July I started photographing the track. Different locations, angles, and other perspectives. Not so much of the specific details like tie plates, rail weights, or ballast profile but to help me understand how track relates to the landscape.

Last winter I was playing around with several tests of colours on some lengths of track I had. I was questioning the base colour I’ve been considered my “go to”. Yet, looking at sections like the above I can’t help but see a familiar cast of browns. Maybe because it’s what’s there and maybe just because that’s what I want to see.

Cheers

Chris