Five BIG Layout Mistakes...that made me destroy my train layout!

The train room is quiet now: No scenery, no track, no buildings...no trains.  As many of you know, the plan to start over has been on my mind for quite some time.   I've shared a few of the reasons why I was increasingly unhappy with Quinntopia (version 4 being the 'nail in the coffin' so to speak).  The short answer is that I was greedy...I expanded a lot faster than I should have, took short cuts that I should not have taken and tried to do too much.

To be honest, a lot of it worked out okay, and as I look at some of the photos now of the former layout, I do go....'wait...why did I tear it down?'!  However, in order to ensure that the record is clear, I decided to simply put out the four main mistakes or decisions that I made that ultimately (and maybe in conjunction with others) led to me being less and less dissastisfied with the layout.  I will start with number four and work through the the number one reason I had to change the layout:

# 5 --- NUMBER FIVE --- #5

When I put in my tram line back in 2009/2010, Kato's Unitram system was not yet released or available.  I used the tight radius tracks from Tomix (which are fine) and I also used a plastic material for streets ( called 'sintra', the reason was to avoid the common challenge of plaster around the track). Unfortunately, the track needed constant cleaning so that the very light weight tram's could run on the track.  In addition, cleaning this track was difficult because....
....there was a ton of detail on the streets! 
Yes, the cars can be easily moved, but the street lights? Under constant threat of GIANT hand with a track cleaner wiping out a $10-$15 street light? What a pain!  Yeah, I agree, it looks nice, but operations were bad and maintenance was a nightmare.  I think Unitram will solve some of these issues, and next time (if there is a next time!) I probably won't run tram lines where its hard to clean!

# 4 --- NUMBER FOUR --- #4

It's not so much that I had too much track/not enough scenery, its more a result of the fact that my layout was basically one addition after another (Quinntopia version 4 was added on to version 3, which was added on from version 2, etc... you get the picture).   This is not the worst thing necessarily, but it did ultimately mean that my track plan resembled the 'light cycles' game from Tron - but with Unitrack!
So I had a nice long 'main line' but my two other lines were sort of confined within the outside line. Maybe not the worst thing, but everything was pretty much single track.  Hello? I'm modeling TGV's and Shinkansen's and I have single track lines?

# 3 ---- NUMBER THREE ---- #3

Yeah, the terminal looked great.  But as far as how easy/practical/convenient/fun it was to move trains in and out of this terminal?  Not fun.  They went through a maze of switches on basically a long curve and I would have a derailment or power loss each time.
Again, it looks great! But getting trains in/out of that terminal was a pain! I think if I had chosen different switches (I still think the Minitrix R4 Polarized-frog switches I used for the 'throat' aren't too bad, but I won't be using them next time) I might have had different results.  I think a complicating factor is that all the tracks sheer off the right in the below photo - creating what is in effect a lot of turnouts on a large curve.  Bad news.
# 2 ---- NUMBER TWO ---- #2

Below is the ugly interior of my control panel. It looked nice from the outside and (believe it or not) it did work well enough! But I hated the mess! I avoided showing much of the wiring mess in any of the photos I ever posted, so the below is sort of a secret of the spaghetti of wiring that I had set up. Honestly, it was just depressing.

# 1  ---- NUMBER ONE ---- #1

The below schematic shows the expansion I call 'Quinntopia Version 4' in Yellow.  While this yellow expansion section allowed me to have a nice long-running main line, a huge terminal with storage space for long TGV's and Shinkansen (yeah...see above!) it also took something away: Room for people.
Now, I'm not entirely an idiot...I did try to ensure that the areaa between the yellow expansion area and the older 'green' layout section had a good 30" of walking space.  This area was the best spot to observe the layout - you would be surrounded on three sides by the layout when you were in this little U-shaped spot.  But it felt claustrophobic.  Only one person could ever really be there at any one time.  You could watch the layout from other spots, but they are even more 'tight' or from an 'end' angle that doesn't show as much.  

I just did not like the 'feel' much when I went into my train room.  It felt 'crowded'.

It took a while, but I realized I missed my smaller layout (see below for the original size)- but it was far more 'comfortable' in the sense that there was plenty of room to watch and wander around. 
So I think keeping the 'human element' (a "Feng Shui' of train layouts?) is important.  My next layout will be smaller but I think (and hope) I'll enjoy it more because you won't feel so over-whelmed by it.

So that's it!  Like I said, most of this is about going too big, too fast.  I don't regret it as it gives me new ideas and (I hope) smarter ideas on how to make the next version much more enjoyable and easier to maintain!


Terminal for Sale...

Well, as part of the process of 'rebooting' Quinntopia, one of my favorite pieces is just too large to fit into the next version.

So its for sale...see this listing on eBay:

Maybe...I could dismantle it and use the two buildings separately!  That would make two nice, modern style office buildings. But, before I do that, I thought I would try and sell it.

But, as I mentioned on my last post, what its worth?  Hard to know.  On the one hand, its 'homemade' has no 'warranty' and has a lot of errors, goofs, and gaffes.  So is it presumptuous of me to ask a high price?

Then again, I put a lot of time, energy and effort into it. So what's it worth?

Its like Economics 101...let's see what the market will bear! If nothing else it should be interesting.

And now I'm having second thoughts, maybe I should abandon the whole station idea altogether and just try and sell or re-use myself, the two office structures?

Not sure, not sure... thoughts? Comments?


Preparing for the Next Stage

Well, its all over!  I have to say, now that I've gone through the demolishing stage it feels both liberating and exciting!  I have lot's of photos and lots of memories of 'Quinntopia Versions 1 though 4' and (more importantly) experience and thoughts about what to do better.  The above photo is - of course! - the infamous yellow legs that once held the layout.  I have a simple little table top (originally used to set up a 1/32 Carrera digital slot car system!) that I've put on top to have a place to clean and organize all the stuff.

Speaking of 'stuff'....Baronjutter (one of the many great people I've met through this blogging experience!  I've said it before but its worth repeating if you are new to this blog: I highly recommend starting a blog to share your hobby! Or at least connect and share on one of the N forums!) made a brilliant point that demolishing a layout really only means the loss of scenery and benchwork.  My benchwork was pretty shoddy and the scenery looks old after a while, so really I've only lost a little bit of track.

Where's all the other stuff? Here it is!

Below is most of the track.  For the time being its crudely organized by manufacturer and type (e.g. "Kato curves", etc...) and still needs to be cleaned and better indexed so I know what I've got on hand.  Also, some of it might be sold as well!
 I have short little shelf that I use to store small buildings on.  Most of these will be boxed up for re-use....or sold!
 Some of the larger highrises awaiting storage....

 Again, my workbench, now unusable until I clear some space out!
As you can tell from some of the above comments, part of the process right now is to make room and select what pieces will be a part of the next layout.  I already know that a trolley/tram line is out (I love the idea; but I could never get my trams to operate well except at high speed!), large yards and/or lots of switches are out; and a terminal-end passenger station will also be out.  Which means this big monster is surplus!
While I know I want to sell it, its so large, its not easy!  It basically has three parts: The terminal, the canopy structure, and the platforms.  The biggest problem is that the platforms are about 65" (1.65m!) long!  Combine that with a station that is 16" wide and about the same tall, and its a nearly impossible structure to shop in one box...more like three! And I just question...with all the hassle of getting this ready to ship, the size of this thing, the cost of shipping....is there any return in it for me to even both selling it? Should I just hang on to it?  Maybe just sell it to someone in the local area (Seattle? :-) )
Well, the station and canopy can fit in one box (I believe the box below is 18x18x24 - which is a huge box for shipping and will easily put shipping costs close to $100!).  But is this stations still cool without the platforms?  Geez...what other maniac would even have a layyout to fit this on! Am I crazy! :-)
What do you think?  And how much do you think its worth?  Since I built it custom, I feel its pretty unique, but its also 'home-made' and there's really no reference point to compare this to.  I've obviously also got a lot of time put into this building, so I don't want to just give it away! Quite a problem!

I still have some other stuff to put on eBay, thankfully not quite as problematic as the 'psuedo Berlin' terminal shown above! But this one is sort of 'in the way' at the moment for me mentally.  Guess I'll clean track until I figure out what to do!