Sunday, November 10, 2013

The "one-module" challenge by Joe Fugate as published in the May 2013 issue of Model Railroad Hobbyist.

Have you been planning that dream layout for years? How's it coming?

Still stuck in analysis paralysis? Or maybe you've started construction, but can't seem to finish anything?

We modelers can dream big, but we do struggle making good on our aspirations.  Time for the "one-module" challenge!

Rather than aim for the stars, let's deliberately set the scope small so it's possible to finish in weeks or months instead of years.

Pick a subject/scene that interests you, but chose something that fits into a single module of no more than 6 feet in length. Then build it to completion at your workbench:

  • All track work finished and wired, with turnouts fully functional
  • All the scenery done, including ground cover, trees and water
  • All the structures done, including any bridges and trackside details
Aim for a completely finished module that's operational. Granted, there may not be a lot of operation on just one module, but it's finished!

If you take up the challenge, it may be more work than you thought, and may take longer than expected. But by working at your workbench, you can turn the module over, for example,
to mount any Tortoises or to run the wires - making otherwise tedious work into something that's halfway pleasant. You will tend to do better work at your workbench and be more satisfied
with the result.

Once you have this module, now add a 1x12 at each end with some staging tracks and now run trains through your finished scene!

Next, do a second module. Add this module to the other one, and move the staging to the end. Now you can run trains a little farther through finished scenes and things have gotten more interesting.
And notice - you have a finished-looking, operational layout in record time. Yes, it's small, but it's a complete layout!

So how about building your whole layout in this way, one section at a time? At any stage you can point to it with pride and have a complete layout. I think using this sectional approach has a lot going for it, as opposed to the more traditional approach that can take years before you see any real progress or can get your "running trains" fix. Or worse, the entire layout project will languish once you realize the massive scope of the project.

Turn the whole dream layout building process inside out and start tiny instead, with something you might actually be able to finish in less than a year! And then just do it over and over … and quit at any point with a "complete" layout.

Anyone up for the "one module" challenge?

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