Hello again modelling friends! As you can tell from the title of this post I've hit what others might call 'writers block' with the layout.  And its this blog that's to blame.

Let me explain.

One of the many benefits of blogging about your hobby (trains, slot cars, war games, doll houses, exotic fish collectors, etc...) is that it gives you a nice overview of where you've been, where you're going, tracks your progress, documents things you want to refer back to later and (most importantly) connects you with others with similar or other interests (one of my personal rules about this blog is to keep a certain amount of discipline with regard to the content - it must be somehow related to N scale, European or Japanese modelling, or the pursuit of this hobby - I also have a small slot car track as well as a passion for Gerry Anderson and other sci-fi models, a growing love for the Naruto anime series, etc... but you won't find me posting about that here!).

A certain form of self-awareness also is created as you sit down to compose your thoughts on what you did in your hobby for 'the blog' and as you write it down you can't help explaining why you did it a certain way, or what others might suggest when you post some embarassing bit about your sloppy/rushed modelling job!

It was actually something I only thought of while posting on my "Model Power" kitbash back in the middle of March that has cuased me to fall off the cliff of creativity and cease all layout activities!  Here is the original comment I made in that post:
I am having a bit of an internal debate on the why/how of the actual need for a building in this location as I could just as easily have the street above the passenger terminal merge into the other road.  
Here's the photo that accompanied that comment for some context:

The truth is, I REALLY did not think about why I was adding a building to fit that triangular spot until I started writing up the post about my Model Power kitbash attempt.  So once I finished this post, I started thinking more and more...."why would a building be here? It does make more sense to have the street continue through to the bridge".

The problem is that I've already put in a lot of time into the Model Power kit bash, street arrangements, sidewalks.

So I have gridlock: I am stuck between doing what I now believe to be the 'right thing', means scrapping a lot of work, time and effort from the original flawed (I now believe) plan.

Does that sound familar my fellow hobbyists?  I think this is the hardest part of the hobby, and maybe the reason a lot of people 'stop' at some point.  You invest a lot of time and energy, attempting to do what you think is the right thing, only to discover you did it wrong (need examples?  Too many switches, too much track in tunnels can't be cleaned, baseboards not even, not enough wiring to track, etc...etc...  fortunately I have learned or am in the process of learning more of these all the time!) and it just can be sort of discouraging after a while.

And that's why we need to be tenacious.  And this is why hobbies, any hobby, is good.

Tenacity is, frankly, not something that comes easy any more in our society, its just so much easier to 'give up' on so many things of rather trivial importance.  But I also think that this can result in a bad habit.  So that it becomes easier and easier to give up on important stuff as well. 

Okay, I may be reaching here, but I think 'tenacity' is a key character trait that our hobbies can both develop and require and share in common with other activities, like sports.  It is seldom recognized or understood in most hobbies however, although we can all appreciate some of the amazing results of people who have 'stuck with it' through all sorts of trials!  And therefore, the tenacity we 'learn' in our hobbies has a positive impact on the rest of our lives? 

Personally, I know that if I don't get back into that train room and decide to 'heck with the Model Power Kitbash!' I may never go back!  And then the whole investment is 'wasted' (okay, that's a bit over the top, but you get my point I hope)!

So that's a quick update on the layout.  And explains why all of my blog posts for the past month and a half have been about cars, hobby shops, loco reviews....anything other than layout updates!

If all goes well, my next post will be about the destruction of the Model Power kitbash! Hoorah!


  1. Hello Jerry,

    I have been where you are twice. First time with my On30 layout which was scrapped, then my HO layout which was scrapped. All because of bad planning and design. And it not doing what I needed it to do.

    With your building I can see three options, put your building in and create a road end, or put the building to the side and use it as parts. The last option is to rise the building and have the road pass under it, with the building over the top.

    This is a part of the hobby that I like, not the wasting money, but the trying of idea's, and seeing if it works out.

    Stick in

    Take it easy


  2. When I start to get wrapped around the axle about something I’m working on, I try to remember that what I’m doing hobby-wise isn’t a job. I try and step back and work on something else, or not do anything for awhile. After a while - the ‘a while’ part can vary in duration - I usually have some alternative thoughts on how to proceed. I think the break somehow clears up my thinking to see alternatives I hadn’t previously considered.

  3. I understand what you're saying, but I don't think tenacity is the answer. I think tenacity is actually the problem. We get into a situation where we know we're doing the wrong thing, but we've committed ourselves to a course of action, and changing feels like admitting defeat. I can't count how many times I've done that.

    I (eventually) came to the same conclusion as JD Lowe: the solution is to work on something else, until enough time has passed that you can face the problem objectively, without the emotional entanglement with an earlier decision.

    But don't throw the work you've done away. Put it on a shelf if it's no longer relevant. Someday maybe you'll find some place it fits, or can fit with some work.

    As for the triangle: the question I'd ask is "why did you want the building there?" Was it to serve as a visual block for the road exiting at the rear? To create two distinct "scenes" on either side of it? Or because you wanted a 3D building in front of the low-profile ones at the back to disguise their lack of depth?

    Answer that question, and decide if it still matters, and you should be well on the way to choosing your next move. But go do something else first, until you're ready to come at it fresh. That's what works for me.

  4. Dear Jerry,
    I usually think of tenacity as a combination of factors ranging from endurance to patience via determination. Unfortunately, for many the word hobby is in itself pejorative and thus dismissive and therefore something not worthy of tenacity and determination. (A platform for amateurs, a trivial unimportant pursuit associated with leisure where leisure is synonymous with decadence and an over abundance of wealth).

    So far so bad: A hobby is trivial and frivolous yet an individual’s choice of hobby often says more about them than their job. A job is a necessity for many which is dictated by circumstances whereas a hobby (usually) results from free choice, personal character traits and positive non financial rewards. A true hobby isn’t something you can drop that easily or close the garage door on (so to speak). A true hobby is always there lurking in the shadows. It’s in the DNA.

    Tension arises when society sees only a frivolous hobby but the individual sees an expression of his or her character and it’s that clash or tension which forces many in this hobby to skulk away in private or, to misquote Oscar Wilde, form, ‘The hobby that dare not speak its name’.

    Is it possible that the critical self analysis required to maintain your (excellent) blog is also the same trait which impedes progress on your layout? Is Quinntopia really just a layout or has the whole (including blog) become much more than the sum of the parts? Would the layout still exist without the blog and could the blog exist without the layout?

    If Quinntopia is just a layout you’ve got some mundane work to do (and the garage door will probably stay closed for quite a while) but if Quinntopia is also that excellent N Gauge on line magazine and philosophical treatise read from New York to North Berwick, Seattle to Sydney (and even France) then you’ll just have to soldier on, we’re all waiting.

    Funnily enough, it’s often our hobbies which allow us to perform the other more mundane tasks in life and because of this, hobbies rather than being frivolous are actually one of man’s greatest achievements and worthy of tenacity.

    Ross S
    North Berwick
    Scotland UK

  5. Hi Jerry,

    I agree with the other comments so far. Often if I'm stuck I'll focus on something else unrelated, either something else on the railway or something quite unrelated. It seems that while focusing on something else my mind is often processing the problem in the back of my head, and then magically the answer just appears next time I look at the problem.

    Another fun diversion for me is to stop trying to progress the railway for a bit and to instead use little scenes on the railway to tell stories. JD does this very well with his film noir detective series. I've done it on my railway with little stories about going camping, or going down to the grain elevator to see the latest locos in town.

    As to your problem, I don't think a triangle building is so wrong. It seems plausible that the council would want to break up the roads, maybe the bridge road is a rather busy one and the other road is a quieter residential road. Often around here the council might turn the sleepy road into a cul-de-sac with plantings and speed bumps, and just pedestrian access to the busier road. If you raised the triangle building up you could have a lobby and pedestrian pass-through under it.

    The council might also have motivation to avoid an uncontrolled intersection right on the edge of a bridge, as any kind of accident or damage to the bridge there would disrupt all passenger trains; liable to cause them much grief from the railway company!

    Hope you find an answer soon, I always enjoy your updates.

  6. Jerry:

    Finish the kitbash, sell it to me and I'll use it as a training tool; make it possible for me to disassemble to see how you put it together and wired it up, etc.

    Or, do what urban planners, architects and city fathers do -- they rip down perfectly good buildings to put up something bigger/better/badder that brings new jobs to town -- also known as urban renewal.

    Or, I remember seeing a japanese rail line running through a downtown building.

    Bottom line, it's your railroad. Have fun with it. Experiment. Put something aside that isn't working and revisit it a year or three later.

  7. Thanks everyone for your advice, encouragement, and ideas! I'm still not sure what to do, but as several of you have suggested, I'm basically moving onto other areas!