The first time I watched the above video it caught my attention but it’s taken some time to settle in before I really started to “get” just how very smart an idea it is. It’s unlikely I’m going to say much new or of value from here on out – not that it will dissuade me from writing anyway – so stop reading here and just watch the video. I’m sharing the video as I close out my thoughts on fitting big layouts into small or non-existent spaces as part of my More Than Micro series of posts.
We spend a lot of time discussing the art of “selective compression” in the hobby. We edit buildings deciding how much we can cut out to make them fit and we do the same to shorten lengths of track and even the trains themselves. The challenge is deciding how much fat we can trim before we’ve made the thing unrecognizable. Focussed on a set of standard module plans he describes how to model much more railway than could traditionally be placed in the room. Doing so allows us to stretch past the practical limits of the room’s walls.
That same dynamic nature also allows us to easily adapt the railway to various operating schemes too and the layout can always be the right size for the number of fellow operators we have at any time to help run the thing.
Armed with schedules and a plan of types of operations he’d like to model, Riley prioritizes the movements of the railway as the primary decisions guiding the design of the layout. We rely on that theatre metaphor a lot and I can’t help but wonder if what Riley describes isn’t the closest I’ve come to someone really finding a tangible interpretation.It feels like staging a ballet and I like it. Speaking of research, I find it’s been so much easier to find records of train movements and consists than it is to find a photo of the back wall of a station that burned to the ground twenty years ago. Riley’s approach really plays to the value and strength of this reality and might be a fun perspective to start from.
When we first set out to model a railway, we approach that design with a certain set of goals. As we lay track and run those first trains we are afforded a chance to test our understanding of the real thing in the miniature copy we’ve created. What happens when we learn that, in doing so, our interests mature and we’re left curious to explore something different from the same stretch of railway? Riley describes an opportunity to allow the layout to mature with our interests without having to start completely from scratch and the layout matures directly as our interests do.
Riley has clearly put a lot of thought into his idea. I’m quite grateful he produced the above video so he could share them with us. I think he’s developed something quite smart and I’m intrigued.