Wednesday, October 18, 2017

At A Snail's Pace

When I write too much about track planning and layout design, this is generally a good indicator I’m not working that much on the club layout. While this is not an optimal situation, it has at least the advantage to take a step back and assess the project as a whole and fine tune the approach.

Also, working on other “what if” designs are not wasted time since practice makes perfect. For this reason, I never fear to tackle such challenge for the sake of honing my skills. And at the end of the day, this is extremely useful hobby time since what I learn from layout planning and model railroading can be used directly in my architecture practice.

By the way, I still have one last design in the oven until I go back to our main subject. Such occasions also gave me time to revisit my Temiscouata project and fine tune some aspects in regard with era, operation, rolling stock, scenery and benchwork construction. I’m certainly taking my sweet time with this one, but I see no reason to rush things up.

But back to Hedley-Junction…

We are progressing at a slow pace on the club layout. Conflicting schedules and commitments are making it hard to gather together and work efficiently. It is certainly how I expected this autumn modelling season to be, but at least we aren’t stalled. Villeneuve yard is now entirely ballasted and only two short sidings needs to be done at a later date when the cement plant will be definitely installed. Given it took me about 4 sessions to bring the ballasting up to 90% in less than 8 hours, I consider it a great achievement for myself. Truth to be told, I no longer hate ballasting track. It also means we will be able to run trains from D’Estimauville to Clermont again.

The next goals are quite simple and include touching up the ballast job, modelling the roads and grade crossings, then starting to add vegetation and ground cover. However, the biggest job will be building the cement plant. I brought back the base board home and will soon revise my plans. However, knowing I’m in danger of getting paralyzed by overplanning, I guess I’ll simply go forward as best as I can and address issues on the spot. Most people would consider my plans are more than enough for the job, but it seems my professional background is kicking in. It’s hard setting my mind in such a way I don’t have to plan every detail for workers to do the job.

And finally, the last but not the least, I’ve also (re) started working on JMRI Operations to create switchlists. The learning curve is definitely steep but the results are rewarding. As a working example, I’m using the Harlem Station layout to better grasp the software possibilities before implementing it on the club layout. One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t understand the software if you are not building dozens of trains to really understand how cars are routed. Practice makes perfect and this is both true in the real and virtual worlds. JMRI isn’t about slapping the correct ingredients in the correct order, you seriously need to fine tune many things since no layout is identical to the next one and worked examples are nothing but handy templates, not ready to go solutions. As much as I often said model railroading isn’t the sum of technics, the same apply to operation. You need to add a sense of purpose – a soul – into the logic behind the scene.

For those interested, you can take a look to my Harlem Station blog for additional information. I’ve particularly explored how historic evidences can feed the operating concept and have a sizeable impact on how you can make JMRI behave in a more prototypical way.

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