Are You Just Practicing? A Philosophical Question.

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grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
[philosophical mode]Is your current railroad just a practice session or the real thing? Are there "stages" of model railroading?

I look at some of the more famous model railroads and think, wow, that must be graduation. Can that be attained? Will the practice pay off? My optimistic side says maybe. :D

I've got this retirement plan in mind (thanks Rex ;) ). That's a way off, I just turned 40, but I think what we've done so far is just a fancy practice session for the "real thing". I'm imagining the Rio Grande coming to life in a very realistic way.

Where are you in all this? Are you happy where you are, or do you look forward to graduation too? I don't see any reason a modeler can't enjoy a 4x8 from now on. That said, why is the drive so compelling to build the "ultimate" model railroad empire?

Right now, I'm training LGM for the build I forsee coming. Heck, when he's 30, I'll need his energy to crawl around on the floor building the benchwork. :D [/philosophical mode]
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
Practice? Nah...This is Home Base for me, I want this to be my 'dream' layout. Unless an unexpected opportunity for something finer comes along, that is...but I'm not holding my breath! :D

grande man said:
Right now, I'm training LGM for the build I forsee coming. Heck, when he's 30, I'll need his energy to crawl around on the floor building the benchwork. :D
Eric, I hate to disillusion you but...at that age, he may be too busy crawling after your GrandeKids to build your dream layout!:p :D
 
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dthurman

Guest
I think I am at the pratice session if I understand you right, the current layout while pretty operations oriented, now needs tweaking, staging, staging and more staging. We plan on moving in the next few years, so that will be our retirement home. Plus I figure in about 20-30+ years, my eyesight will be shot looking at my N scale and I will be looking into the G scale.

The only issue I see many take on is dreaming too big and never getting that layout done. I am going to an operating session Sunday of a gentlemen that is building his retirement layout, it fills the complete basement, in N scale no less, and I see his layout and just think, wow, he will be years and years to complete it, he has been working on it for 3+ years, and so far it's track and homasote, some scenery, but he has a large job ahead of him.

I think Ken, once LGM has those grandkids and hopefully Eric's MR genes will pass along, so he will have quite a few more hands to get that retirement Rio into a reality.
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
CSX_road_slug said:
GrandeKids
Hey, I like that terminology. :D

Dave, That's an interesting plan. GrandeDad pays the bills and GrandeKids get to play with trains. :D Question is, will they be "practiced" enough to build the ultimate RR? :confused: Some how, I doubt it.
 
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CBCNSfan

Registered Member
Staff member
This is it for me! I just turned 70, LOL how much practice time do you think I've got left? :D Besides by the time I get it finished I probably won't know what it is :( Life's like that :)

Cheers Willis
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
Intersting thought. I'm happy with my 8x4 alright, but it would be nice to expand to include the whole bacement! Then again I'm only 18 and am lickely to keep moving from house to apartment to ...:(

Just fortunate enough to get a bacement to have a layout in the first place.:D

I don't think of practicing, I just do what I've got to do. If I like it, I run trains on bare rails, if not I add buildings and scenery... Just keeping going at it.
 

hminky

Member
I consider it more developing techniques than practicing. I started with a 4x8 to develop techniques to do Central California scenery. Originally the layout was to be expendable now it will be incorporated into the layout. When it was On30 it was to be an end of a branchline. Now it will be the end of a peninsula in my 1870's OO/HO empire layout.



Click image to enlarge

This layout is my first real scenery and the ideas I have developed will make the larger layout construction go more quickly. I am chronicling my adventure at:

http://www.pacificcoastairlinerr.com/

It has been fun and thank you if you visit
Harold
 
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dthurman

Guest
Harold

I never realized yours was only an 8X4, your pictures always led me to think it was much larger, good job!
 

lginc

That FM guy
i feel i am still in the practice stage. i like to think each time gets better and better. grande man, i too am 40, and dads 67, and we still are building layouts together, considering the way LGM is, i would say you have a GREAT chance at attaining your goal.;):D -Dean
 

ak-milw

Member
I did all my practicing on my 5' by 9' freelance C&NW layout, it took about three years and I learned from all my mistakes on that layout. Thats when I started the larger layout and in time the larger one will over take the old one and it will have to be taken down. My only fear is that the new layout isn't big enough and I will finish it before I leave this world!!
:cool:
 

Cjcrescent

Master Mechanic
I hope I don't ramble but probably will. Please bear with me. I hope I don't bore you and you can understand what I'm trying to say.

grande man said:
Is your current railroad just a practice session or the real thing? Are there "stages" of model railroading?
Yes there are stages. I look at layouts, not as practice sessions, but an educational process. You are constantly learning, changing, improving. If not, and there was just "1 Level" to MRR, everything on everyone's layout would be the same with no "upper level", no improvement in skills, or knowledge.

grande man said:
I look at some of the more famous model railroads and think, wow, that must be graduation. Can that be attained? Will the practice pay off? My optimistic side says maybe. :D
No, that is not "graduation". If it was, folks like McClelland (sp?), Koester, Allen, would NEVER have built more than one layout. They would have already built their ultimate layout, and would have never improved upon their skill level and/or improved their RRs. They instead learned, that their present layouts had shortcomings, limitations, and problems that couldn't be solved on those layouts. So they tore their old ones out and started again.
John Allen was on the third version of the G&D when he died. Tony Koester is working on about his fourth I believe. Allen McClelland is on the fifth or sixth version of the V&O. I'm about to start my eighth layout and I know that this will be my best to date. This will be because of the skills and knowledge I learned from my earlier layouts. Will it be the ultimate, qualifying me for "graduation"? Will I attain what they have? No, I don't want to attain what they have. I do however, want to attain the best that I can, not what someone else can/has. The day that I stop improving my skills or knowledge, is the day I'm put in the ground. But, as each of them had seen ways to improve upon what they had, and brought it with them to the next level, I have tried to do the same. Now I not putting myself in the same class as them, but I believe that they have gone through pretty much the same "education" we all go through. I just don't believe that anyone ever truly "graduates".

grande man said:
I've got this retirement plan in mind (thanks Rex ;) ). That's a way off, I just turned 40, but I think what we've done so far is just a fancy practice session for the "real thing". I'm imagining the Rio Grande coming to life in a very realistic way.
Same with my Alabama Central. This one is my "retirement" plan. Will it be my last one? Hope so. Will I "finish" it ever? To some extent. Even the great G&D was never "finished". I think the question should be, "Will this layout provide the years of enjoyment I have tried to plan into it, or will it be a PITA?" Remember, with each layout, you learn what is and isn't feasible, what is and isn't attainable, and new skills are learned to make it so. I believe that you just learned how to come up with a design for, and most important build and make work the signals for the staging yards of your layout. New skills learned and applied, not only makes for an improvement on the current layout but also becomes an "automatic" improvement for any future layout. If you don't learn and improve in your skills, techniques, and knowledge along with their application to what you currently have, keep in mind that you'll never have anything better just bigger.

grande man said:
Where are you in all this? Are you happy where you are, or do you look forward to graduation too? I don't see any reason a modeler can't enjoy a 4x8 from now on. That said, why is the drive so compelling to build the "ultimate" model railroad empire?
As I said, I see MRR as an education. A never ending education. As a result, an education with no "graduation". I am happy at what I am doing. If it doesn't make me happy, why would I do it? Now I do get discouraged at times. We all do, but that is also a part of the education. John Allen said he got discouraged several times and would not even look at the RR for months. He eventually went back to it of course, and achieved some of his most spectacular work.
I really doubt if anyone can say they are ever, completely, totally, absolutely satisfied with what they have. I don't see why someone couldn't enjoy a 4x8 from now on, but I don't believe that it could be a "static" enjoyment. They would always be trying to find a way to improve it in some regard.
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
Interesting thoughts on the subject so far, everyone.

CJ, Thanks for the insight. I wonder if it's possible to get a few "specialists" together for the ultimate personal MR project. That would seem to open doors into creativity that one person might have a tough time matching. You know, a visionary with enthusiastic help. I can't seem to get two or more folks together on where to eat lunch though, so that might be asking alot. :rolleyes:

As time goes by, I'd like to plan for the project. You know, sock a few $$$ away, plan a start time to allow for completion, plan the space, stockpile track/components, etc. It would be cool to start with say, 15 grand (today's dollars), a pile of lumber, scenery materials and track. This wouldn't seem to be a candidate for a weekly budget type situation. A huge stumbling block to it's progress would be waiting each week till a check came in to run to the LHS and buy a few pieces of track or some plaster cloth.

I'd like to hear more thoughts on this subject. It's something that's been in the back of my mind for a while.
 
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dthurman

Guest
Eric

You bring up an interesting point, at the hobby shop we have a few guys that are doing something similar to what you mentioned, they are buying all their cars, engines, scenery material, track etc, but storing it away, not all in a lump sum but paycheck to paycheck, many are in their 50's. They claim it's for their retirement. The day they will have all the time to do what they need and hopefully carry them to that final train platform in the sky. I don't know if some are current MR'ers or just returning after years of absence, but it is interesting. It doesn't fit into your idea of building and growing, but it does sort of fit that squirreling away of that dream layout.

I think in a way I am doing that same thing, buying items that for the moment that won't really fit into my current layout, but for that future vision I have.

Interesting topic, thought provoking and making me at the least start thinking about what the future could hold. You do have a great plus, a son that really enjoys the hobby, something to pass along and probably create a great bond for the rest of your life. My daughter doesn't have any interest. Guess I will have to wait for her to make me a grande-dad and be blessed with a grande-son :) placing the force within him...
 

RCH

Been Nothin' Since Frisco
dthurman said:
My daughter doesn't have any interest. Guess I will have to wait for her to make me a grande-dad and be blessed with a grande-son :) placing the force within him...
These things sometimes skip generations. :confused: My dad has very limited interest in trains, although he does have an appreciation for them, but it was his dad who got me hooked.

Still, despite the generation skipping thing, my little girls seem to like trains just as much as me.... ;)

I'm 32, so I'm old enough to be out of the practice stage (I've been doing this train thing nonstop for over half my life). But, I'm just coming out of the honeymoon/new-parent hibernation phase, so I've been finding my feet again, so to speak, over the past few years. I decided to just concentrate on building toward my goal of having a few key trains (BN grain train, ATSF intermodal, BN-NS coal train, etc.) completed while my eyes are good and my girls are young. When they're older, I'll have the trains completed and the permanent layout construction can begin. Until then, I'll settle with a couple modules. Are the modules practice? Nope, they're part of the grand plan, too....
 
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dthurman

Guest
Now you bring up another thought I have had, doing that Tony Koester idea of the LDE modules. I think David Barrow (Cat Mountain Santa Fe) did for his layout, portable, but the modules are part of the bigger scheme.
 

RCH

Been Nothin' Since Frisco
Yes, and for the short-term, I've designed them to comply with Free-Mo standards, so if the opportunity arises to actually "hook-up" with anyone else who's Free-Mo'ing, I can. I've already ripped out three "permanent" layouts, so the modular element has another function, too.;)
 
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dthurman

Guest
Ryan

I may have to start thinking about that LDE idea. Do you have the link to Free-Mo? I know they are HO based, but might be interesting. My only dislike of the modulars is the connecting sections and how the scenery and track mate, that gap/non-ballasted track piece visual bothers me. Have you come up with a way to overcome that?

(Sorry for digressing a little on the topic)
 

Larry

Long Winded Old Fart
The problem w/large layouts is, you almost finish it & then you think of a way to make it better & you tare out a big section & start all over or you add another table off to the side & then you start all over again. That's why it's a never ending learning experience. I'll be 68 next year & hope my layout never stops changing. I've got soo many idea's & never have enough time to expedite those changes & don't have any kids to leave it to.

Larry
 

enjineerbill

Avid People Watcher
"Life is what happens to you while your busy making other plans"

That quote is from a song on the last album John Lennon released. It is prolific. If we stop 'practicing' will we get any better. And if we get better, when do we know it's 'Best'? True as I look back, I can see the progress I've made in modeling. But I don't like to compare. Everyone has thier own set of eyes, and behind those eyes are the visions of the individual. How many times have you looked at a train-show display and heard someone make a negative comment and not a minute later someone else walks up and raves about it like no other. I truly believe even those held in the highest regards in any field, are always trying to 'better' what they do. David Letterman said it just last night.

Got to get off the meds,

Johnny
 




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