Saturday, March 21, 2015

Learning To Refrain Your Ambitions

The most dangerous thing about model railroading is overreaching. More than often, we think we need every detail from the prototype to ensure we get the right sense of the place and the scne is recognizeable. But just like a TV series scenario, a movie or theatre, most of the time, we only need to give enough hints to convey the core message.

Yesterday, I took some time to check out if Pointe-au-Pic could be easily implemented on the layout. The answer is in the gray zone and I tried working out something with Jérôme.

First of all, we found out Rivière Malbaie's riverbed was too large. It looks quite funny in fact and unnatural. Also, the river bed is almost 2.5 inches lower than St. Lawrence river which is only a few feet apart. Makes absolutely no sense. If we place a wharf there, the discrepancy will look pretty bad. So it's a no-go.

Also, space is at premium. The wharf will look cramped between the peninsula ends and the river. So this leaves u with little leaway to implement a wharf scene. On the other hand, the idea of a small road along the track with cottages work perfectly to set the scene right. I guess you can't have anything you want.

So, as things are, it leaves us with little option. Actually, the peninsula is the oldest surviving part of the layout. Funnily, it's construction standards are better, but track engineering standards are subpar. Maximum radius is 22" which is quite insufficient. Nowadays, I consider mainline minimum should be at least 30" and 36" or 42" when possible. Anyway, the track is code 100 and will need to be replaced some day with code 83. It means most scenic elements will be destroyed in the process. No big deal, but not something you decide on the spot.

As things are, we can improve a little bit the peninsula by implementing a 30" radius curve. But that doesn't help us to make the scene farther apart and more realistic. The only way to reach a good compromise is to extend the peninsula enough to make things more believeable.

Everything would be fine if the furnace wasn't there. This device takes a lot of place in the wrong space. If it was removed, we could extend the peninsula enough to get a realistic wharf and a longer run along the St. Lawrence river, which is a key element of this particular prototype. Also, it would make enough room to optimize Dominion Textile scene with a possibility to add the iconic Montmorency River bridge that was almost built against the textile plant. Better, the plant itself can be expanded almost to its true lenght, which emphasize the feeling it is a major rail customer and not some gimmick.

Going the bold and easy way

Well, all that is almost pipe dream. Moving the furnace isn't a small endeavour you undertake only to get one small siding running along a diminutive regional wharf. In the event we would get the space, would it really be a wise choice? More room is always a Pandora box. As you can see, it was quite easy to fill every little corner with "prototypical" postcard scenes. They may look great together but do they really mesh well? Are they even required? Yesterday, it was evident the biggest problem with the layout is the lack of space were the train travel along non-descript common landscapes. In a word, the ORDINARY.

As modellers, we always want to model unique feature, sacrificing any space available to conversation pieces. If I look back at my proposed plan, I can see many pitfalls.

First, how to merge together Montmorency River and the small brick plant? In real life, there was effectively a brick plant located on the other bank, but you had to be on Orleans Island to see them together because of topographic features. Also, we have to decide if the scene behind the bridge is Montmorency Falls or the more tame landscape of St. Lawrence River. I do feel the scene would crumble. Too many things doesn't mesh together. Something has to go... Probably the bridge and maybe, the furnace, in this case, is useful to make an effective separation between alien scenes.

On the peninsula, Cap-Martin tunnel is a fun scene, it can even be modelled full scale since the prototype is about 200 feet long. However, is it required? On 90 miles, only 700 feet of tracks are tunnels. Is it that much a determining aspect of the line? I guess no. But a sinuous mainline nesting between cliffs and the river sure is. To be honest, with its proposed location, I feel the tunnel is neither a bad idea nor a great one. It fits the place and its location is similar to the real one, on a sharp and vicious cape. Is it also a logical scene divider to make people understand you are leaving Côte-de-Beaupré and now entering the heart of Charlevoix. And we have to be honest, a tunnel is a great way to hide a sharp curve like this one. I'm not sure we would be pleased to see passenger cars travel this place!

The wharf. Having an interface with the wharf is a neat idea. But do we need to model the wharf itself with the boats? We could easily, with little effort, only model the large expand of asphalt working as an intermodal pad to load ships. Anyway, in the modern era, a large warehouse was built there and most commodities were first stored there. It would be easier to get rid of the relative proximity of Clermont bridge and Pointe-au-Pic wharf, both located about 12 miles from each others.

Getting real and keeping only the essentials

As you can see in this streamlined version, most of our intentions are still intact yet they don't shout in your face there existence.   Everything is more subtile and blend together well. From my big schemes, only Cap-Martin survives intact and the reason is quite simple. It DOES have a purpose in telling the story of the layout. Among many other reasons, it tells us Murray Bay, Pointe-au-Pic and Clermont are part of the same valley system. That's enough for me. Think of it as Lynn River Valley on Trevor Marshall's Port Rowan layout a "scenic" scene divider.

Whatever the choice we make in the future, there's no doubt we will have to seriously think about how we will handle the new peninsula. Rebuilding for the sake of rebuilding the same thing doesn't make sense to me. We will have to find a balance between available space and the uncluttered feeling we want for our layout. However, the great thing about the human mind: it only needs a few recognizeable clues to perfectly picture an entire scene. We should try to work with this idea much more.

No comments:

Post a Comment