I’m borrowing the title for this from well-known Southern Pacific modeller Tony Thompson. The latest entry on Tony’s blog is called “Explaining” Your Layout and it articulates something I’ve thought about a lot with my own layout projects – namely, that most of the people who see our layouts are probably not members of the hobby. They are our non-hobby friends, our spouse’s friends, our family, colleagues from work or school, the guy who arrives to fix the furnace, and so on.
For a layout to be successful, I think – really, really successful – it’s those people that we have to impress.
Non-hobbyists won’t know the difference between a 2-6-0 and a 4-6-0 – or a GP-7 and a GP-9. But they sure know the difference between a 1950 Chevy and a 1980 Toyota. They also know the difference between a Maple and an Oak – and that neither of these look like a clump of lichen stuck on a toothpick.
That’s why on my current layout – representing Port Rowan, Ontario in the 1950s (in S scale) – I have invested a lot of time and effort (and a fair bit of money) to try to build convincing scenery.
Fields and orchards consume a lot of real estate on my layout and require a lot of plants to fill. But I think they’re big enough to convince a casual visitor that they’re looking at a farm, not a garden:
And so on.
It’s also why I’ve paid attention to scene composition – especially, to leaving space between structures and scenes. I haven’t packed the space with track. Instead, I’ve set the railway into its environment:
At least, that’s my goal. My layout is very much a work in progress and there’s a lot to do still. For example, I need to build more trees for the Lynn Valley – a lot more. But so far, I’m pleased with how it’s working out.
Great post, Tony – thanks for sharing it!