Breaking Marley’s Chains

Remember Marley? He’s the dead partner in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, who is often depicted in chains:

Muppet Marley
(If you need a refresher, check out this video clip from the Muppet Christmas Carol)

Well, model railway layouts can be like that too. Hobbyists often find they’re no longer having fun with a particular layout. Maybe the scale no longer appeals to them. Or they’re having problems with, for example, the performance of models of the key locomotives used on their prototype. Or they’re just bored.

But these hobbyists have invested so much time and money into their project, they’re reluctant to admit that they’re not enjoying it. To admit this, they feel, would be to admit failure. So, they continue to struggle with the hobby. They continue to try to work on a project for which they no longer have enthusiasm. Sometimes, they recover; they make a breakthrough and they move on, once again enjoying their model trains. More often, I suspect, they simply continue to drift; not engaged by the hobby, but not out of it either.

I’ve been there, several times. My solution is radical but it works.

If I find that I have not touched the layout in a full year, I know I never will. At that point, it can either continue to occupy space and collect dust, or I can tear it down and do something new.

I’m tearing down again.

In fact, I’ve already started. I’m removing my On2 model railway, a freelanced line based on the two-foot railroads of Maine:

Number 6 works the Quarry. No more...

Most of it is already gone; less than 10 feet to go as I write this.

In its place, I’ll be building a new layout in a new scale and a new gauge, with a new theme. As the blog title indicates, I’m moving my modelling focus back home to Canada and will be building a modest Canadian National branch line terminal in S scale.

I’ll write more about this later, but I’ll use this blog to document my progress.

Welcome aboard.

9 thoughts on “Breaking Marley’s Chains

  1. Glad to see you are showcasing S. I appreciate those who collect and run American Flyer trains, but we have to show those who model in other scales what can be done in S.

    As for your work — fantastic.

  2. I always enjoy seeing what experience generates in skill and understanding. I am relying on folks like you who have actually accomplished something in the hobby; so much so as to have built and rebuilt.

    I am working (for 16 years) on a model of Los Angeles in O scale.

    The project is too big, too complex and has an amateur at the wheel, and the physical plant won’t be ready for another 28 months..

    So I read everything I can lay my hands on and very much appreciate your site.

    Thank you.

    John B. Goodrich

  3. Ahh, I was hoping to find some thoughts such as this. The very thing I’m currently facing. My 7-year N scale layout project hasn’t gone totally untouched, but I find it takes greater and greater effort to make progress. I am “reluctant to admit” the enjoyment has diminished. And it DOES feel like failure to contemplate stopping. It feels like I’m quitting.

    Your words are encouraging. Thank you.

    • Hi Mitch:
      Welcome aboard! I’m glad this post was useful to you. It’s been a couple of years since I wrote that initial post about abandoning my previous layout and switching to what I’m doing now, and I can say with confidence it was the right move. I’m more energized now by what I’m working on and I do make great progress, as you’ll discover while surfing this blog.
      Cheers!

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