Built For Fun

Layouts in this web site are all built for the purposes of enjoyment. After all, that's why we pursue the model railroad hobby—it's fun for us. What other hobby combines such a wonderful variety of creative skills? A successful layout requires the skills of an engineer, an electrician, an artist, a city planner, a painter, a carpenter, a surveyor, a plasterer, a wallpaperer, an interior designer, a systems engineer, and—for operations—a train engineer, dispatcher, yardman, and maybe even a gandy dancer. Sometimes one has to invent new devices to actualize one's dream layout desires. My logging elevator is a case in point. Other times one has to figure out how to modify items built for one scale so they will work in a different scale. The N-scale electromagnetic uncouplers on my layout are an example: they're designed for HOn3 but can be modified for N-scale.

For the most part, then, people build model railroad layouts according to their definition of fun. What's interesting to those of us who have been reading this magazine for decades is that the definition of fun varies so greatly. To some, fun is defined as modeling a prototype as precisely as possible in looks, operations, consists, switching operations, or terrain—or all of these things. To others, just a general feel of the prototype is enough, and accuracy isn't as important as whether the finished layout is fun to operate. (Let's face it: If we operated exactly like the prototype, it would be very cumbersome to deal with and eventually we'd realize that such operations would be experienced as work, not play.) Still others like to freelance it and try to get all the aspects of the hobby they enjoy most into a dream layout. I confess I'm among the latter group.

I liked reading about the world's grandest layout (September 1997, Model Railroader, the Northlandz article) where the public has to walk a mile just to see the whole layout, but I surely wouldn't want to handle the maintenance for such a huge layout! I especially like the spirit and ambition of such people whose minds can dream up such wonderlands and whose talent can handle actualizing them.

My definition of fun includes limiting a layout to a size that is not burdensome to build or maintain, so—like most hobbyists—although we'd all like to visit Northlandz and other huge layouts, it's not what we want for our own personal dream layout. But that's just one of my requirements for a fun layout. See the next web page for the rest, as compiled by both myself and my layout partner, my wife:
The 44-Throttle Railroad: Squirrel Valley
waterfalls on a multi-throttle layout