I’m pleased with how much I’ve managed to accomplish in four years: On this date (October 13) in 2011, my friend Pierre Oliver visited and we assembled the benchwork for my Port Rowan layout – marking the official start of construction.
As I look back over the past 12 months, I see that the layout is maturing. I’m doing fewer big projects and fewer essential pieces. Instead, I’m enjoying tackling more esoteric projects – things that the layout does not need, but that I want because they’re neat.
The most obvious examples can be found in my equipment roster. I’ve enjoyed working on a number of S scale items that are not required for the layout – including some things that, frankly, would never show up in Port Rowan. These include CNR 44 Tonner Number 1… CNR RS18 3640… CNR gas electric 15815… and CNR scale test car 52274*.
Beyond working on new equipment, I also tuned up some existing stock. For example, I upgraded my steam fleet with WOWSound decoders and Keep-Alive modules. And a trip to the New England Northeast RPM prompted me to check my fleet for damaged or missing parts and perform all those little repairs that can otherwise build up.
Layout-wise, the biggest change over the past year was building and installing approximately 50 new trees in St. Williams:
(Click on the photo to see a before and after comparison)
This has made a huge difference to the appearance of this part of the layout and will inspire me to continue to add more trees in the coming year – especially in Port Rowan.
Finally, it was an important year for getting out of the layout room.
For starters, over the past 12 months I’ve done a lot of work with Barry Silverthorn at TrainMasters TV. I graduated from a radio and TV program a quarter century ago and many of the skills I learned at school are finally being put to some use. I’m learning something new – about the hobby and about myself – every time I do a show with Barry, and I’m looking forward to doing more in the coming year.
Also significant, a year ago I organized a monthly supper club for some fellow railway enthusiasts in the region. This has been a great success and I encourage others to do it, too: It’s easy to organize and very rewarding. Unless you’re brand new to this blog, you’ll know I’m an advocate for combining the hobby with more social elements. Ops sessions almost always involve a meal, and I have an entire blog category devoted to “eat, drink and be merry“.
No matter how seriously we take the hobby, it is still a hobby – it’s supposed to be fun (and if it isn’t, you’re doing something wrong). It’s time with friends, doing something we all enjoy. So make the most of it!
Whether you’re new to the blog or have been following since the beginning, thanks for reading. And a special thanks to those of you who have contributed through the comments function – from information to “attaboys”. I enjoy the exchanges.
The house renovations continue and my tools and projects remain packed away. But I still have access to the layout (as the lead photo suggests) and I’m enjoying running the Daily Mixed, or a Freight Extra, to Port Rowan and back as time allows. As the renovations wind down, I’ll return to the workbench and have more to write about here.
(*By the way, I’m looking for a second model of the scale test car. This was imported by South Wind Models. If you have one you would like to turn into hobby dollars, please visit my About the Author page and use the form at the bottom of the page to get in touch.)
(UPDATE: It only took a few hours. Thanks to Sam for pointing me at a scale test car. I have purchased it and eagerly await its arrival. S scale is cool: There’s a lot of stuff available, but unlike in other scales in which I’ve worked, you have to ask for it to find out about it…)