I had a most enjoyable day yesterday as my friend Hunter Hughson visited and brought along a friend of his, Steven Lyons. (Great to meet you, Steven!)
Steven is building an HO scale layout based on the CNR’s operations in Owen Sound, so we had a lot to talk about. The three of us settled in for an engaging discussion over coffee, then headed to the layout room for an operating session.
We used the same locomotive that had given Hunter so many problems the last time he visited – and I’m relieved to report that it ran fine yesterday. There was one derailment, as it headed through the diverging route of the turnout to the turntable in Port Rowan. I’ll give that a look to try to determine what’s up. Otherwise, things went smoothly – with Hunter wearing the conductor’s hat, Steven at the throttle, and me looking after couplers and doing the hand-waving exercise that layout owners often do when showing off their work to new guests. We talked about small steam, layout/environmental sound, tree-building, the interesting discussion of the Chelthenham grain building (seen in the background in the above photo) and more. And we even managed to deliver one car and collect four during an ops session that spanned five scale hours at 4:1…
I’ve run the layout many, many times on my own – and just like any experienced crew familiar with the territory, I’ve figured out a process to do the work efficiently. It’s not the only process – there’s almost always more than one way to do something on a railway (real or modelled) – but it’s a way that works. Therefore, I really enjoy watching others tackling the switching and figuring out their own solutions. In short, it’s neat to see one’s layout come to life for others, and the three of us had a lot of fun.
After our session, we retired to Harbord House for an early dinner and more discussion. Hunter and I are like-minded modellers who value this hobby’s ability to tell stories and preserve and present history – and I get the impression that Steven is too. Plus, the three of us enjoy building things.
Our discussion touched on several subjects – from how to present the hobby as a mature pursuit worthy of serious attention (in other words, how to combat the infantilization of the hobby – the public’s perception of it being about “Big Kids Playing With Toys”)… to how to respectfully present difficult subjects (for example, modelling a railroad set in the southeastern US during the height of the civil rights movement)… to parallels between our hobby and the Maker Movement and whether we should be looking to the Makers to recruit new people into our hobby by highlighting the many sophisticated computing technologies that model railway enthusiasts routinely employ.
Plus, the food and drink were yummy (as always).
In other words, I had a great time – and I’m looking forward to our next get-together!