May 12th, 2016
This past weekend Larry Maier, Tony’s design engineer, and I attended the annual meeting of the East Coast Santa Fe Modelers group in Doylestown, PA. While rekindling friendships and forging new ones, we were able to visit three significant model railroads in varying degrees of completion.
Common to each railroad is the significant time invested in each one. These are large private layouts and each one has contributions from members of a round robin group who visit each other’s railroad to help achieve the vision of the individual owner. All the owners jokingly referred to each stage of the railroad’s progress as a “lifetime” and several more lives were needed before there would be a semblance of completion. They all felt without the help of their friends, the project they had undertaken would perhaps be overwhelming.
This brings up an interesting point concerning model railroading in general. The hobby brings together people of immensely diverse backgrounds, skills and ideas. I’ve met modelers where once the trains are running, scenery and a finished look fall into the category of ‘to be done later’ [of which I plead guilty], while to others, the scenery and finished look are of paramount importance. Personally, I enjoy doing the preliminary historical research, electrical system design and laying track [not to mention weathering locomotives]. When asked, I also like to share my own experience in professional railroading as a former employee of CSX and parlaying this resource to modelers interested in prototype operations.
In northern Vermont we’re fortunate to operate a relatively large private layout as a group and over the years we’ve been called upon to help with various projects to upgrade and improve the railroad. I like to think of this as investing in our enjoyment and paying the owner and hobby back. We all can reminisce about who helped with what [with some kindly teasing thrown in for good measure] and a good time is had by all both in the construction/project phase and while operating.
Not all of us have the time, money, space, or desire to build a large layout. However, we encourage you to join a club or seek out other modelers in your area. While we all love seeing our models move and come to life, it’s really about the people and the relationships we build along the journey getting there.
Happy railroading, Erik