Update on Quinntopia

Okay, I've been absent from posting for awhile!  As I mentioned on my last post back in early November, I was having some hard drive issues with my iMac, so it was time to do some maintenance and replacement work to get things back in order!

I've also been very busy with personal activities and work, so time for working on the layout - much less blogging about it! - has not been available!  I have some time off for Christmas that I hope to catch up on a few projects...but....

I'm also hitting a bit of a creative wall.  Perhaps its the fact that cold weather makes the garage (and therefore the modelling hobby) less attractive than usual, although this was not a barrier in years past.  I've also been less satisfied lately with my track plan. Anyone familiar with my layout will know that its been basically additions and extensions onto the original single hollow-core door layout (which was essentially a couple of loops), thus "Quinntopia V1" and "V2" etc...

Unfortunately, I find I'm not particularly thrilled with what I have now.  This seemingly common phenomenon that once a layout gets close to completion there's a tendancy to want to 'start over'!  What's with that? For me, it might be that part of the joy of the hobby is in the creation process....the 'hunt is greater than the kill' or whatever that expression is.

So I've been at a stand still with the layout and need to think about what to do.  I hope to spend some time over the holidays not only getting up to speed on other modelling activitiies on this blog (and getting caught up on some of my friends blogs and various forums) but also coming up with an idea for a potentially new layout!


  1. Hi Jerry

    Good to see you back blogging again.

    Your last entry made me think about our hobby in closer detail. No fellow modeller I know has ever completed his layout. It's always a "work in progress". Surprisingly a lot of them rip up their layout and re-design from the ground up.

    It sounds like your layout has reached the next stage of its evolution. Whatever you decide to do, I look forward to reading about it in future blogs.


  2. Hi Jerry
    Why not try building some dioramas with a view to incorporating them into a new/future layout?
    That way when(not if) you come to do it, you will have a head start!
    I know many modellers with the same view, its the creating that keeps us going!!
    Have a great Christmas and new Year when it comes.
    John from Scotland

  3. Ah! Insatisfaction...
    As "The Train Spotter" said above, that's one of the blessings of our hobby: we're never done.

    You have to embrace this feeling ;-)

  4. Hah! Thanks everyone for the words of encouragement!

    John, I think you are quite right...what I am trying to imagine in my mind is something that is a bit more 'modular' that can be changed and moved around as my interests evolve. I think there will be a 'semi-permanent' city section with terminal, but with removable sections for the main lines and country side. Something like that!

  5. Dear Jerry,
    There’s been many a day I’ve opened the door of my model railway room and thought, ‘Oh no, where do I start’. Overwhelmed by indecision I usually end up going for a long walk on the beach with the dog. Each previous layout job serves only to create another. What started out as a pleasant diversion becomes an exponential and expensive pain in the backside. You build a model office but then you’ve got to light it and create an interior. You lay new track but it requires electrics, scenery, buildings and people. And on it goes, one job leads to another and these in turn create many more. As it all becomes more onerous you start to avoid the model railway room (or garage) altogether, even washing the dishes or hoovering the floor becomes preferable. I’ve even been reduced to doing the ironing rather than play with my trains. It’s a downward negative spiral.

    Many years ago I walked into my model railway room one Sunday morning feeling quite pleased and smug with myself however, the more I sat there staring at the mediocrity of it all the more despondent I became. Unfortunately, despondency led to an unrealistic belief in my own abilities, skill and potential; with the result that by the late afternoon of that particular Sunday (using only an electric screwdriver and a saw) my layout had moved from the warm security of the model railway room to the local dump via car and trailer. As I watched the big metal crusher do its work like a dispassionate executioner I felt quite elated, it was a cathartic moment and off home I headed thinking of new ideas and what a wonderful new layout I was going to create. The layouts in the magazines were but nothing compared to my abilities and imagination.

    After the trip to the dump I stayed away from the model railway room for about a week only going up the following Sunday. As I opened the door the enormity of my stupidity hit home (not to mention the amount of money I’d basically thrown into the local skip) the room looked like a battlefield. It took me about a month to clean it which in retrospect was probably a fitting punishment for my crime

    Anyway, the moral of this saga is that over the years my new layout has started to bear an uncanny resemblance to the old one and that’s not surprising because it’s still me who’s building it. My new layout isn’t really better or more satisfying to operate than the last. All I did was waste a few years of work and a lot of cash.

    Your current layout looks very good. Don’t be rash. Think of all the possibilities it has and build on what you’ve got. A layout where the problems have been ironed out and built upon replicates reality. That’s how it’s done in the real world.

    Have a good Xmas.

    Ross S
    North Berwick
    Scotland UK

  6. Wow Ross, that's incredible insight. In fact, I hate that your comment ( in addition to Alvin, Pierre's, and John's) are buried in the comments as I think each of you have such great insight it deserves its own post.

    This is an intriguing topic, and something you said Ross really struck a bell...I've been playing around with track plan ideas on the computer and what I keep creating...continues to look pretty close to what I have! There's more to say on this very interesting topic that says a lot about us as people that is really fascinating!

  7. Hi Jerry

    I have had track down twice now, first in On30, then into HO. I am now about to start N-Gauge. I have looked at more track plans than i can even imagine. I have a feeling the Design stage of this layout might go on for a long while, for fear of changing my mind half way through.

    Take it easy


  8. Getting stale is a problem I have from time to time, and I think the diorama suggestion is a good, one, although your modular idea might work too.

    I think the key is to do something fairly different from your normal, to "blow the cobwebs out". Maybe a steam diorama you could incorporate as a museum, or a totally different small or modular layout. Try a Z-scale layout that fits on a cookie tray, for example.

    And sometimes, the answer is to take the stuff you can salvage from the current layout (buildings, etc), and trash the rest of it. Then start fresh using the lessons you learned this time. I did that with my old HO layout. But that's a major step. I spent two years planning something else, discarded it, and spent two more years playing with table-top layouts before I trashed the HO layout and started Sumida Crossing. Explore other ideas before committing to something that radical.

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  12. Once the start-over bug has bitten you it's game over, it's layout cancer and there's no cure. Start planning. You'd be surprised how much you can save and re-use. The money is in the buildings and the trains, terrain is cheap, retaining walls salvageable, track almost entirely salvageable. Go for it.

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  16. @ Ken, Baron @ Allan:

    Thanks for your comments, and you are all, of course, right! The stuff that costs a ton of money are those things that can be re-used! I think one of the groups most resistent to the idea of my starting over are my family who probably can't understand the implied destructiveness of what they believe to be a decent achievement! I think what you and other commenters have said (as we all share the same 'disease' this hobby is!) is that this is a natural part of the hobby!

  17. Jerry,
    I am at the other end of the spectrum. I have been waiting to start my N-scale layout. Been planning since 2007 but interruptions during the last 5 years resulted in shelving my Rosenberg Meet layout, moving to Germany and now hoping to start in the new year. Negotiated some real estate for my layout and hope to start some knocking in Spring.

    It is okay to take a break for the hobby (but not too long :)) to avoid burnout. Perhaps it is also a time to reflect what you did, could do better. I like your layout. You are a master of hollow core door layout. You have demonstrated what one could do with a hollow core door. There is a limit and you have stretched it. But that is not the end.

    Just a suggestion. Perhaps publish a book about Quinntopia, how to build a hollow core door layout and operate one, or produce a DVD video. Daryl Kruse (Rochelle Subdivision N-scale) made a DVD of his layout before he rebuilt it into Geneva Subdivision. I got a copy of that DVD for posterity.