In the comments on another posting, a reader wondered how far one could deviate from a prototype while still calling it a model of a prototype. For example, if the prototype location is straight, can one curve it (say, 90 degrees, to model the location on an L-shaped shelf)?
As with so many things in this hobby, for me the answer is, “It depends”.
On my Port Rowan layout, my rendition of Port Rowan, Ontario is straight (like the prototype), although compressed somewhat. But while the railway’s line through the next town up the line – St. Williams – was straight, my version of St. Williams is L-shaped. It also features a structure I scratch-built based on a prototype in Cheltenham, Ontario – 174km away.
(The west end of St. Williams is a product of my imagination – and I can live with that)
St. Williams plays an important role on my layout – but it’s a supporting role. My real interest was in modelling the activity in the terminal at Port Rowan.
What’s more, I only have one prototype photo of St. Williams, showing the area around the station. I would not put the station on a curve (although I did move the siding switch closer than on the prototype):
(Not 100% accurate – but it works for me)
That said, I also know that I have designed St. Williams to operate like the prototype. St. Williams had one double-ended siding and one stub-end spur, so that’s what I’ve modelled – even if I have monkeyed with the physical arrangement somewhat. Building St. Williams with a lap-siding, or a wye, or a yard, or a diamond crossing with the Lake Erie & Northern, or even a couple more stub-end sidings – all in the name of “enhancing” the operation – would also change the character of the place so much that it would no longer be St. Williams. At least, not to me.
So, it depends. It depends on the prototype. It depends on one’s tolerance for variation from the prototype – keeping in mind that sometimes the variations are necessary if one wants to build the prototype in the space on has. It depends on what prototype photos one has – what scenes one wants to re-create.
And it depends on what scenes one wants to enhance. I would argue that the curve through St. Williams actually makes my modelled version more interesting, visually, than the prototype. I love the look of the main and siding swinging around the cornfield in the first photo in this post – a view I could not enjoy if I had built St. Williams more faithfully.