The Model Railway Show – Episode 0045

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Layout Designs and Big Designs

In this episodeā€¦

Doug Gurin, founder of the Layout Design SIG.
Charlie Getz, NMRA President.

The Layout Designer’s Layout Designer

Gene Fowler said, “Sit starting at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead”, while William Wordsworth urged us to, “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart”. They were both referring to the art of writing – but they could have been making observations about the process of designing a model railway.

A rewarding layout design will render the qualities of model railroading that most engage the hobbyist, and serve as a blueprint for turning those ideas and inspirations into a layout. Conversely, a poor concept will deliver a layout-lifetime worth of disappointment. And the blank canvas – whether on paper or a screen – can be the most intimidating aspect of the hobby. After all, once we know what we want to build, we only need to figure out how to build it.

This is a problem that layout designers have faced since the first time a person looked at a toy train and thought it needed a better place to run than a temporary loop of track set up on the parlor floor.

There’s always been help. The hobby’s history is filled with notable layout designers – pioneers like Frank Ellison, John Allen, John Armstrong and Allen McClelland. These people, and the layouts they built – radically changed the way hobbyists think about design. But until the early 1980s, layout design evolution occurred on an ad-hoc basis.

What changed? In 1982, the Layout Design Special Interest Group was created. The LDSIG has helped identify, codify and share best practices for layout designers. Directly and indirectly, it has influenced most of the most highly-regarded layout designers in North America and around the world. And it has grown from one guy with an idea into a not-for-profit, educational organization with a global membership.

That one guy with an idea is Doug Gurin, the LDSIG’s founder and the person that notable layout designers go to when they need to bounce ideas of someone.

Doug joins Trevor to describe how he got interested in layout design, why and how the LDSIG was started and the wide range of topics that layout design addresses. He also offers some thoughts on the unchartered territory – the areas in which he thinks the next generation of notable layout designers will make their mark on the hobby.

The Magic of Scale Model Railroading

The National Model Railroad Association has embarked upon an ambitious project to preserve and promote the hobby – and you can help.

The NMRA is working with the California State Railroad Museum – one of the top attractions in the state – to create and host a long-term exhibit called The Magic of Scale Model Railroading.

As NMRA President Charlie Getz tells Jim, the museum is prepared to donate the space for a minimum of 10 years, making this a remarkable opportunity to showcase the best of this hobby to hundreds of thousands of museum visitors each year. He notes this will also provide a means to exhibit the NMRA’s collection of significant models, layout sections and even entire layouts, making them available for hobbyists to enjoy first-hand. It will tell the story of the history of scale model railroading. And it will put the NMRA on track to create a permanent museum for its collection.

But for this to happen, the NMRA must raise a significant amount of money to create museum-quality signs and display cases. If you want to contribute, you may do so through the NMRA’s donations page. Be sure to select “Magic of Scale Model Gallery” from the choices offered.

While it’s an ambitious project, Charlie is convinced this is the NMRA’s most significant undertaking in its history.

The Model Railroad Club of Toronto

On this show, Jim and Trevor note that another notable club layout is being forced out of its home in the name of progress. This time, it’s The Model Railroad Club of Toronto, an O scale club that has been active for three quarters of a century. The club must vacate its premises in the spring of 2013 and is having two last rounds of open houses – in December and February. Toronto is a world-class city with many attractions for the whole family, so if you’re looking for a mid-winter getaway, why not consider a visit and sneak in an hour or two to visit the club?

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Next time on The Model Railway Show:

Jim talks to Danish artist Troels Kirk about his novel and effective approach to creating The Coast Line Railroad in On30.

Trevor talks to modelers Seth Neumann and Chris Drome about how they’re using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) for freight car tracking on Seth’s HO scale layout.

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