Monday, March 12, 2018

So You Want to Build A Model Railroad... (Mid-sized Trackplan)

      Ian Rice. Mid-sized and Manageable Track Plans. (2003) Rice doesn’t design track plans. He designs layouts. The difference is that a layout has a theme, usually based on a prototype and one or more of its locations. While layouts rarely copy the prototype exactly, a good design will use the tricks of selective compression, key structures, and characteristic landscapes to create a believable impression of a real railroad.
     It’s not much of a trick to arrange track to fit a given space. Many model railroaders do that with actual pieces of track placed on the table or benchwork, which has also been built to fit the space. But whether the trackplan is drawn or sketched on paper or a computer screen, or laid out with actual track, the challenge is to translate the trackplan into a layout. Rice has the gift of visualising the end result, so he includes buildings, scenic elements, and often view blocks to encourage the visitor to see only one scene at a time. His layouts tend to be a string of dioramas.
     Rice also selects a time frame, and describes the locomotives, the traffic, and other components that will fit that time frame. He fits the benchwork to the trackplan, not the other way round. His layouts feature not only sweeping curves of track but sweeping curves of benchwork.
     The layouts shown here fit four standard sizes: a 12ft x12ft bedroom; a 10ft x 16ft corner of a basement; a 10ft x 20ft single garage; and a 20ft x 20ft double garage. Almost all use a 24 inch or larger minimum radius. They are certainly manageable, in time, money, and space. Rice discusses these and other constraints and determiners of model railroad building in the first three chapters, then offers fourteen plans, with accompanying discussion.
     He’s a good writer, if somewhat too fond self-deprecating lame jokes. Anyone who’s starting out in the hobby will find this book useful and inspirational. The model railroader who’s become dissatisfied with what’s been built, and is willing to tear down and modify or even start over, will find this book a good source of ideas to guide the redesign. Recommended. ***½

No comments: