There is no shame coming back a model and making it better. Mike Cougill’s recent blog posts show us clearly the benefit of reflecting upon one’s work and bringing it back to the workbench for improvement. If you only move forward with each project and never address what went wrong, your skills won’t improve that much. It will certainly take some precious time understanding how to address the situation, but honestly, it won’t go to waste.
While my focus with the club layout fleet isn’t the same as Mike’s desire to recreate an almost perfect rendition of a car, I am also bothered by details that are inconsistent. When you mix together cars from several manufacturers with different level of details, you end up with visual discrepancies that can really break the immersion. In this case, I’ve updated several old Athearn Blue Box era covered hoppers with wire grabs and Tichy ladder rungs. Keeping one of them unmodified is just to glaring to be overlooked… even if I completed the car’s weathering a few weeks ago.
|A few years ago, these coarse ladders were "good enough"... they no longer are.|
I know many people would consider this weathered car “good enough”. I certainly have no issue with that notion, but in my case, I see “good enough” as a moving goal post. What I considered good enough 10 years ago is different from what I now consider good enough. This mindset is a positive one when it helps you to move forward and make sensible choices so a project goes forward. What was considered a road block in the past – let’s say making custom brass handrails or parts – may now be a part of your skills. Why stay stuck in the past, accepting compromises no longer required?
I’ll soon post a few blog posts about decision to buy a cheap Bachmann GP9 diesel and turn it into a proper Central Vermont prototype. I’m perfectly well aware this model won’t win prizes or be worth showing at a RPM event, but I also know it provides countless modelling opportunities. What I did overlook a few years ago when bashing the same locomotive, I can’t do anymore. My notion of good enough moved forward. I’m no longer satisfied with incorrect louvers placement because I know how to efficiently remove and add them. Moving a fuel filler would have been a hurdle back then… now it’s a matter of a few minutes. Will I replace the less than perfect Bachmann Bloomberg trucks with better sideframes made by Athearn or another manufacturer? Maybe. Will I dare to replace the wrong phase fuel tank with a kitbashed one? Probably? As you can see, the goal post moved… Good enough no longer means a decent approximation in this case, but care to make sure all major components specific to this locomotive are in the right place. This time, what is good enough for me is starting with a lower end locomotive to make significant economies. The compromise is made on the fact I know the Bachmann shell lacks a lot of details but is sturdy enough and well design to perform well on a layout. Given the price, the detail parts I already had on hands and the fact it would provide hours of satisfaction, I thought it was good enough for me. If I ever make another Central Vermont GP9 in the future, maybe I’ll start with another model because my notion of good enough will evolve.
In conclusion, good enough shouldn’t be seen as a cheap shortcut, but has a sensible choice made to reach a goal given the circumstances. From there, you can move forward (and should if you care about what you are doing). Also, it should be applied with some consistency. You can’t be a rivet counter trashing everybody because their models are subpar according to your standards while your layout seems like what a high school student’s best effort done in a weekend. In that regard, I have far more sympathy toward someone who’s good enough efforts are geared toward achieving a coherent vision. If you don’t care about consistency, at least be honest with it. It’s your hobby and you are free to have different interests. I certainly have no problem with people enjoying the train set aspect of this hobby when they perfectly know what they are doing.