As some of you will know, I have become a regular contributor to discussions on Trevor Marshall’s Port Rowan blog and Mike Cougill’s OST Publications blog. Both of these can be found via my links section (to the right for most computers, but to the bottom on tablets).
It was stumbling across the thought processes which led to Trevor’s Port Rowan layout, via the S Scale SIG forum (I am active there, too, but you need to register as a member to read it) that got me out of my modelling doldrums and frankly gave me the slap across the face that I needed to make me realise that it is possible to combine something like the ramshackle emptiness of the Bishop’s Castle Railway with North American prototypes. This re-awakened my long-standing interest in the short lines owned by the Central of Georgia, which has been further strengthened by reading around the subject, and making contact with Steve Flanigan, who models the Louisville and Wadley in H0 in a small space and has shared the fruits of his personal research with me. But then, he is North American, and what are North Americans for, if not generosity?
What Trevor has really done, though, is to take operations in a slightly different direction from what seems to be the norm in North America, based on magazines and websites.
Instead of trying to run as many trains as possible over a large basement empire with multiple stations, based on use of waybills and timetable and train orders (TTO) and a dispatcher, etc., he has concentrated on the individual operations around running the daily mixed train. This includes pausing to pump up the air, align couplers, connect hoses, etc. An out-and-back turn can take up a couple of hours, after which there seems to be a visit to a local hostelry for good food and decent beer. OK, this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it is my pint of ale!
On top of this, we get superb modelling (on a par with Barry Norman and Maggie and Gordon Gravett) and a generous sharing of ideas and techniques. Well, he is Canadian, and what are Canadians for, if not politeness?
Mike’s forum is subtly different.
The same basic theme is there, that you don’t actually need a lot of layout to have a lot of fun. You get the fun by trying to model everything as faithfully as you can – the joy is in the detail.
Mike has published some booklets and books and also “The Missing Conversation”, which will form the subject of another post, but he also makes a though provoking post each week on various aspects of the hobby. He has also been editor of O Scale Trains, and a regular columnist on finescale matters in that magazine. What I like about Mike, or to be more accurate one of the many things I like about Mike, is that he has taken a stand on behalf of Proto: modelling. I have always hinted at this (and not very covertly), but knowing that I am not a lone voice means I take that stand too – albeit feeling slightly ashamed for not having taken it more clearly sooner. Well, I am English, and what are Englishman for, if not self-deprecation?
More importantly, Mike has generously provided, via his blog, a forum for intelligent, thoughtful conversation. My experience of Americans has always been positive and I wish some of their modern politicians were more careful about the impression they create on the world stage (but then, they are politicians, and what are politicians for if not promoting their own importance?)
I realise that for many people, a hobby is about getting away from thinking, but I am not mindless and I enjoy having my thoughts provoked. In the case of these three gentlemen, it has been to open my mind to what was lurking away at the back of it, and get me more interested in modelling than I have been for some time.
If you have been planning to, well, go on then.