Bonnie Dundee

Bonnie Dundee

Friday, 28 December 2012

Filtering options

I have mentioned the criteria I used to judge possible projects against. These were nothing formal and there was no actual judging or scoring, it was much more a process of elimination, based on preference to one option over another. One of the most challenging choices for me was understanding what I want to run? What form of railway did I really want as a major, long term project? Mainline, branch, urban or rural? In order to try and make some sense of this I will discuss the process to show how it worked for me.


I trawled magazines, the web, forums, blogs etc for layouts that I knew I liked and in doing so came across many more that were new to me. I collated a list of my favourites, irrespective of era, location, size or format and marked down my initial thoughts of advantages and disadvantages. I ended up with a list of about 30 of my favourite layouts. I printed out some sheets with about 4 layouts to a sheet, with pictures and notes and cut them up into individual pieces. One of the first tests was to ask, "if I owned this, would it satisfy me to build it, operate it and build the stock for it? If the answer was no, the layout was removed. The next question was, "Would it be too much for a one man build? If the answer was yes it was withdrawn.

Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses is a vital part of this process. For example, I can drive past a building and think, "wow that is so model-able", but I am aware that whilst I may think it would me great to have that on a scene, I also know that it will never happen. If I had a pound for every building I have started and not completed I would have enough for .... well another engine. You see I would rather start another wagon kit than work on a building. Irrespective of how impressed I am with a structure; and I understand them, I was trained as a civil engineer, I like structures but just don't want to spend time working on them. So this has to be factored in to the choices I make.

I then filtered using my own strengths and weaknesses, so a lot of the layouts that had made it in, like Wibdenshaw, were bumped down the list because of the amount of buildings and layouts like Morfa, moved up because of the lack of them. This left a number of options but all in more rural settings. Over a number of weeks I kept coming back to the list and judging one against another, on no other basis than that of preference. This was not a judgement of one is better than the other, but rather one would suit my needs better than the other. One of the things I dislike in our hobby, especially in forums is the sycophancy that permeates a lot of the threads, so when I say that a particular layout was influential it is done so in a purely non-partisan way.


To give an example of this I went back through old magazines and layouts like Hursley, North Shields and Blakeney were included. Now a long time ago I travelled to London to see Hursley and the MRJ exhibition. It is a great layout, one of the best models ever produced, but would I want to own it - no, so it was out. North Shields is a fantastic layout but is it build-able for me - no, so it was out. Would there be enough operation in Culreoch or Morfa? This filtering system helps reduce the choices from a few dozen down to just a few.


As magnificent as a lot of the work currently on display is, much of it would not suit my specific needs. Included in these needs was the fact that the layout will be located in an attic, in between roof trusses, which exclude a perpendicular view and rather force the observer into the scene. Therefore a long vista was preferable to a view that required a left to right perspective. This led to the conclusion that large elements of the layout would be rural scenery, with three main choices; a mainline passing through a single scene (Stoke Summit ish), a secondary station model in full (like Herstmonceuxor a number of smaller elements joined together (Morfa style). 

looking south
The physical location of the layout can dictate some of the criteria used in the decision making process. This shot shows the view that operators get of Balbeggie Sidings. The roof trusses effectively force you into the scene, making a long vista more useful that the traditional side to side view.

Having settled on the a short list I then tested them as described earlier. This was a really useful exercise, but it was only manageable because a lot of the work filtering ideas was already done.  What I have found through all of this work is that whilst I have previously avoided modelling a station, the area that I now want to model has few places of operational interest (with shunting etc) outwith the local stations. However I remain of the view that I want a layout where the station does not overpower the trains. That is the sort of feel that I want to develop. The next stage will use historical mappings to go through the various stations and other locations available in the area I was looking at. To follow.

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