Saturday, February 25, 2017

Given & Druthers - What's Wrong With It?

Listening TrainMasters TV episode2 of their TOMA project prompted me to understand with I always had a problem with that "Givens and Druthers" thing. While often referenced as a great way to build a layout, I always thought it was in fact the best way to paint yourself in the corner of the room. No offense to John Armstrong how was probably a leading mind in the hobby back then, but I think most folk will overlook an important ingredient to make that "recipe" work.

...and that's the problem. People think the G&D approach is a recipe. Throw you favorite ingredients and you'll get you favorite cake, isn't it? Not really.

Any person with a minimal knowledge of meal preparation knows not only you need to have the right ingredients, but even more important is having the right quantities. While you quantity the elements in anything related to chemistry, you have to use hierarchization when tackling a very subjective artistic problem like a layout. Failing to understand that is the best way to get the most indigest cake you've ever ate and end up hating it for a very long time.

G&D is a good way to find out your interest and general parameters, but it's not the first step and far to be the last one. G&D rarely address your available hobby time, resources or skills... and it doesn't help to set some hierarchy among the elements that will become your building blocks.

Everybody knows any project is made of compromises. You have to choose among various options and that can't be done without comparative the value of each one. Depending on individuals, the value of each element will be different, that's a given! Thus, what works for others won't probably work flawlessly for you. Didn't I say previously there wasn't a recipe... but only a method. Once you know the relative value of your given and druthers, you can really start to see the project shaping up. Each time you'll face an issue, you'll be equipped to make an educated choice and focus your effort on what really matters, bringing a sense of coherence and purpose to your work.

And before people start to bash my critic of John Armstrong, let me say that it is clear he had in mind the G&D could only work within hierarchization. In fact, the G&D can be a good preliminary tool to identify your building blocks and start to put them in order. Unfortunately, it seems this is often overlooked by most people using John's interesting way to organize layout building. In that regard, many sins by confusing what was a method as a recipe. Let not fool yourself by the candy store, or you'll get a few extra cavities!

And never forget a tool doesn't decide for yourself as much sophisticated it is...

Working Grade Crossing Signals

Last wednesday, we tested the grade crossing signals in Villeneuve during an actual operating session at the cement plant. While it didn't work flawlessly since detection times still have to be fine tuned, it was a generally pleasant addition.

I feared it would be only a gimmick, but in fact it added another level of interest. The signals help to better implement the rule when doing switching moves where a street is located. In that regard, implementing slow speed made a lot of sense. Also, a manual on-off switch was added to control the signals at will during certain situations.

The other grade signals will soon follow on D'Estimauville avenue. As a matter of fact, all protected crossings are in the urban part of the layout while the other ones in the rural parts use regular crossbucks. I feel it helps to differentiate the scenes and type of operation you have to do.

Meanwhile, the same evening we looked at old Villeneuve pictures from the 80s and mid-90s and found out insulated boxcars were still served the cement plant regularly. Many were spotted at the warehouse. Thus, I decided to reroute two Walthers insulated cars to the plant. They used to be in newsprint service to Clermont, but I seldom used them since they looked awkward (Walthers had the tendency to paint its moden CN rolling stock dark chocolate brown). In a future rebuild program, they will be repainted and get some additional details and modifications.

Just for fun, here's the consist used to test the grade crossing. It was probably one of the largest train we ever assembled to serve the plant but it served it's purpose admirably while performing real operation.

The consist was pulled by a pair of GMD1, but before leaving D'Estimauville, the dispatcher decided that engine 1906 was enough for the job.

The first part of the job was to pick up a unit of gypsum and coal hoppers stored on the siding.

When done, the crew waited the autorization to leave D'Estimauville up to Villeneuve.

In a matter of a few minutes, the GMD1 was building up speed pulling its 23-car long consist. Another proof you don't need a huge empire to run long realistic trains with a purpose.

It should be noted that using D'Estimauville as a scenicked staging area have many benefits including some work required to build up the train depending what is stored on the siding. It's not a big operation, but it is enough to get the feeling you have to set up your train before going somewhere. Generally, about 50% of the cars are left on the siding while the locomotives, a few cars and trains emerge from the hidden staging area as if they arrived from Limoilou yard. I think setting up a proper departure is a good way to be in the right mood. And since D'Estimauville as a spartan track plan, it's a good way for visitors to get a hang of how the layout work, i.e., a tutorial.

1/87 Modern Farm Tractors

Finally, I received a nice 1/87 Massey Fergusson tractor ordered from AliExpress recently. Made by United Hobbies, this HO scale keychain (yes! you read that right) is a fairly accurate depiction of a classic MF 135 tractor.

Over the year, I've always been puzzled by people dotting their 70s, 80s and 90s farm scene with old Farmall tractors. While they certainly served for decades, you hardly set the era right on a layout using them. On the other hand, other prototypes were all too modern, fitting the 1990s and 2000s. They generally represent European or very large tractors only found on big farms. In between, there was almost nothing so I was glad to discover a decent mid-sized tractor and one that was sold bu the thousands in the good old days.

However, keep in mind the UH model is a little bit crude to be displayed in the foreground, particularly the front wheel width, the three-point coupling system and driving wheel. However, someone could easily fix that up if wanted. Except that, it is a good representation of the real thing with a nice paint job. I suspect this model could truly shine with a good waethering.

To be noted, UH also produce other farm equipments in it's 1/87 keychain product line thought I think they look a little bit cruder and less suitable for a layout.

By the way, the road in Clermont is progressing nicely. I used a DAP Pre-mix Concrete Patch putty. While it's a little bit coarse, it can be sanded down to some extent. It also requires more than a coat because it can crack when drying. The color is quite good and the material is kind of rubberized when cured. It means it can be easily removed but will also not crack if applied over joints and different materials. I picked up the trick from Ken Patterson's What's Neat videos. It's not a 100% fool-proof method, but I'll see what can be done with it. Unfortunately, while quite cheap, I wasn't able to locate a single hardware store that sold the stuff in Canada. It wouldn't certainly not become my weapon of choice when dealing with roads but it certainly does the job.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

More Typical Operation in Charlevoix...

Train #522 assigned motive power ready to pick up the consist bound to Clermont.

Today, we review another job scheduled during the last operating session. Yet again, nothing fancy, but you'll see that spicing up the game doesn't require to add more track or industry...

Train #522 includes many cotton boxcars for Dominion Textile.

When I staged train #522 eastbound to Clermont. Jérôme was on duty and he asked for some "challenge" which was a clear miscalculation on his part. But well, I've learned since a long time you can throw the worst puzzle to this guy and he will find his way out: he's a professional after all.

And several empty newsprint boxcars for Donohue.

The scenerio I created was based on what was available on the layout. Remember two weeks ago I brought a series of 40ft boxcars to photograph them on the layout. They were stored on Clermont passing track and I thought it would be a nice idea to keep them there. Imagine they were extra cars stored there. Also, Coop Agrivoix still had the wrong covered hopper spotted on their track and waited to get a correct grain boxcar. Meanwhille, Donohue was full capacity and so was Dominion Textile... I could already sense working the area would be slightly more challenging than usual.

Train #522 slowly crawl along Charlevoix's coves.

To make things more complicated, train #522 had 16 cars, clearly 8 cars too long for the runaround at the end of the line... and that didn't count the 7 extra cars cluttering the said runaround in Clermont. 

Only to find Clermont "yard" is already full of extra cars.

Power was provided by a pair of powerful Atlas RS18. They would have to pull a train weighing about 8 lbs. We knew it would be enough for the job even if the 23.5" radius and 1.5% short grade on the peninsula could cause problems.

Some serious work has to be done to clear the mess.

As should be expected from Jérôme, he overcame the challenge nicely and decided that every extra cars in Clermont should be returned to Limoilou yard. This element of creativity was the only way to solve the puzzle and would make a lot of sense from a railway company's perspective.

At the end of the day, Coop Agrivoix finally gets two full grain boxcars.

Ninety minutes later, train #523 rumbled through Villeneuve at notch 8, pulling 21 cars and weighing about 10.5 lbs after a hard day... The train disappeared in Limoilou and every cars went back into the drawers.

After intensive switching at the paper mill, train #523 leaves Clermont.

Incidently, it was a good occasion to rearrange the drawers, pulling out every cars that had nothing to do with the layout and bringing more order into the "Team Track" drawer to make it more user friendly.

En route for Québec City...

Simplicity and Informal Operation

We often stage such informal operation sessions. Rarely use the formal recipe used when we have visitors because it would require a lot of work for something we are already accustomed. We will explore why in the following paragraphs, but you should know our club meetings are generally one evening per week with a big part of time dedicated to building the layout and improving rolling stock and locomotives. Often, one member will operate while others do something else. In that regard, keeping things simple and easy to set make sure operation can be done on the spot when desirable.

In our case studies, each operation session was set in less than 5 minutes and didn't require any switch list or written order. Instructions were given prior to departure including the jobs to do at each location. Additional instructions were given on the the spot in the same manner a plan manager would have done.

Sure, I'd like to implement a switchlist system with cars selected automatically by a computer, but for the moment, it is not required, at least not when operating with our club core members. Some would say we are doign informal operation, but that's not the case wince every move and cars have well-defined purposed. However, the layout is very simple, the customer routines are well-established and the pool of cars is quite self-explanatory. The only element to determine is if a car is ready to leave or must stay on spot. And that can be done quite easily by playing the customer's role when required.

My point here is that "serious" and prototypical operation doesn't always require extensive paperwork, particularly when your layout didn't reach that stage yet. It can be achieved by simply following the railroad practices as required by the situation. In our case, writing a switchlist for Jérôme or myself is a pure waste of time. We know the layout by heart. Only a computer-generated switchlist could be interesting because it is unpredictable. Being human, I'm bound to create recurring patterns inconsciously, which isn't the case with the computer. However, the patterns have never had a significative impact on a session enjoyment. Most Murray Bay trains of the 80s were highly predictable anyway. But I must admit I have a tendency to forget some irregular customers such as Béton Charlevoix, General Cables and other invisible team track customers. JMRI wouldn't overlook these as much as I do.

We also came to the conclusion most visitors aren't actually interested in prototypical operation. A big part of the crowd just want to run long trains... which can't be achieved on our point-to-point layout. I've been curious to see if this is a mainstream approach, but I often get the hunch not that much people are interested by the operation aspect of trains in Quebec. I'm well aware I could be highly biased due to  my personal experience though. The echo chamber can be extremely deceptive on such a subject matter. But I'd say I know much more people I'd call "runners" than "operators". Running a prototypically correct consists matters more than operating it. And I'm not judging anybody here since both are interesting activities that bring their share of joy.

That said, I'm pretty sure designing a large club layout to suit the divergent tastes of many model railroaders must be a soul crushing inferno made of compromise... not sure I'd like to venture there...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Some Typical Operations in Villeneuve

It was a matter of time before a nasty cold would affect me and it sure did this weekend, bringing modelling almost to a halt (exception made for slowly converting a bunch of crappy Roundhouse 50ft boxcars into decent CPR cars).

However, a few days before the cold hit hard, I had the chance to operate the layout a little bit while a future asphalt road was drying in Clermont. Nothing fancy, but I wanted to show want a very simple switching run can become when you take time to do it right.

Having read some recent articles on Facebook by Bob Fallowfield about the joy of operating a "small" layout, I decided to time the process. I took slightly more than an hour to perform at a decent pace, taking time to apply brake, do the air tests and many other little things.

The first train to run that evening was Limoilou switcher. The train was scheduled to bring two empty cement cars, two loaded gypsum hoppers and three empty insulated boxcars to Ciment St-Laurent, then switch the plant and bring back the outbound cars to Limoilou. On duty was a trusty Rapido 4-axle GMD1 #1906. Let's see the pictures...

CN 1906 is arriving in D'Estimauville to pick up cars.

CN 1906 pick up the cars on the siding.

A group of 3 insulated boxcars are seen on the consist.

Time for an air brake test before departing.

Setting up boxcars and cement hoppers at the cement plant loading bays.

Unloading a cut of coal and gypsum hoppers over the conveyor.

Ready to pickup the caboose before leaving Villeneuve.

Another air brake test.

The train enter Limoilou reaches Limoilou yard few minutes later.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Weathering the Proto 1000 NSC Newsprint Boxcar Fleet

CV boxcar weathered with usual weathering powder techniques and washes.

The art of weathering is generally considered from the modern concept of “rust buckets” point of view. While quite pertinent for our era, the further you go back in time the less you are to find them, except in very specific occasions or type of services.

CV boxcar faded with Pan Pastel with lettering cleaned after application.

My recollections of CN trains in the 1980s are somewhat clear: locomotives had a subtle layer on dirt on the cab but the paint was otherwise in excellent shape, cabooses were relatively clean with a light layer of darker dirt and cars were most of the time very clean except a few ones in ballast service. Only the cement cars were a real mess and even then, not to the point of being rust buckets.

DW&P boxcar weathered using only the airbrush and light washes.

Murray Bay being a subdivision mainly dedicated to newsprint transport, most cars were in excellent condition and generally at the top of their game due to the commodity. I don’t ever recall seeing rusted cars with peeling paint. The big difference was that some were faded while newer ones still had their fresh glossy finish.

While this is all uncertain memories from 30 years ago, looking through pictures from the 80s made clear to me newsprint cars were indeed in good shape. It’s why when I decided to weather my Proto 1000 NSC newsprint boxcars, I decided to keep things subtle.

Following prototype pictures, I was able to determine CV boxcars with yellow doors were indeed covered by a substantial amount of dirt, but all the other boxcars were quite pristine. At this point, it was clear that the big part of the job would be to fade the paint. And fading didn’t mean a generic coat over the model, but rather a modulation of colors as seen on the prototype.

To achieve this effect, I tried Pan Pastels then weathering powders. The first ones require too much effort for what I was trying to achieve while the second ones makes stark contrasts. Very useful, but definitely not for lightly weathered model.

I then decided to only use my airbrush and very light washes to achieve the effect. This is a technique I experimented last summer when weathering the Harlem Station layout rolling stock fleet. Basically, here are the few steps I followed over a period of few days.

First, car roofs were painted with a coat of lightly oxydized galvanized steel. My father worked with metal most of his life and I’m well aware galvanized steel or aluminium paint never keep their shiny and sparkling appearance. Most modellers will use a metallic paint out from the bottle then weather it, but I find it a bad way to achieve the correct color. Instead, I generally mix my custom color using aluminium and white paints to get a whitish slightly metallic look. Some drop of black can be used to vary the final tone or to give variety among a fleet. This makes for an extremely nice base to apply weathering.

When the model is ready, here are the steps to weather the car:
-Fade the model with a white wash applied evenly;
-Highlight the middle of each steel panel with the white wash;
-Add contrast and shadow over rivets and seems using an India Ink + alcohol mix (this can be achieve with any grungy colored wash);
-Add more dirt with the India ink mix at the seam between the roof and sides, between the car ends ribs, on the lower part of the ends, on the sill, behind the ladders, on each side of the door and along the tracks and plug door rods;
-Cover the roof with an even coat of India ink mix;
-Use oil paint to create streaking pattern on the roof panel ridges and along the door tracks;
-Apply the white fading wash over the roof to bring the various effect together under a coat of dust;
-Apply dust projection on the car sills and ends using a tan color wash;
-Paint the trucks and wheel with dark brown and weather them with rust and black weathering powder.

It’s good to note many steps were followed by a liberal application to seal the weathering. I still can see some areas of improvement like adding waybills and recoloring some tack board to represents distressed wood as seen on some random cars.

At the end of the day, light and subtle weathering requires much more effort than medium weathering. The reason is that you need to follow many steps to build up the fading effect while exerting a lot of restraint to not overdue it. The goal is to create subtle color variation instead of stark contrasts associated with heavily weathered cars. I’m well aware this kind of weathering effects is often used by aircraft and military modellers. The trick is to use very light washes and build up the effect. Unfortunately, this kind of weathering is rarely referenced in model railroading even if many modellers do use it.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Kitbashed CN MoW Pickup - Part 1

Among many projects going on, it's time to complete the CN vehicle fleet. I don't want this fleet to be too big. I've seen my share of layouts covered in fire trucks, work trains and MoW equipment. Just enough is required to set both the era and the corporate image of the railway.

This time, I'm using a Trident Chevrolet Blazer and a Mini Metal MoW trucks. I'm not following a special prototype, but common wisdom.

The Bronco's rear part was cut and salvaged because it could be used on another project. The Mini Metal MoW rear part with tool boxes and wheels are used. The Trident underframe was split in two to fit the new vehicle lenght.

At this point I'm satisfied with the look and started to make a new cab rear wall out of styrene. Everything will be painted in CN Orange and lettered with Highball CN MoW truck decals. Mini Metal hi-rail sets of wheels will be attached later.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Electronics & Open House

Last club meeting was an open house thus I didn't venture in complicated scenery work but tackled another CN vehicle project which will soon be featured.

That didn't prevent us from installing a pair of custom built signal on Sous-bois street in Villeneuve. Programming the circuitry to fine tune detection isn't exactly a piece of cake, but it is progressing steadily. When that will be figured out, we will start to dress up the signals with details and paint.

Another electronic project came to life out of necessity. Recently, both Atlas CN zebra RS18 got serious decoder issues that required a factory reset. However, when you pair a decoder with a keep alive, it is no longer possible to do it. So, instead of removing the keep alive each time we have a problem, we decided to install a small micro switch hidden in the fuel tank. It works perfectly and didn't required any modification to the model shell or frame.

Finally, a visitor brought is SP Daylight cars to show off. He is actually in the process of replicating that iconic train. He got about half of the 20-something required cars and have ordered the locomotives. While I'm not a passenger fan, the cars are extremely attractive and well done. They are made by MTH and BLI.

It certainly was a good occasion to see if the nicely replicated diaphragm could handle our 23 inches minimum radius... without problem! I was even surprised by the fact they didn't look too bad. This is certainly the kind of train you run on a very large club layout with broad curves.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Montmorency as it could have been

Don't ask me why, but yesterday - when thinking about Montmorency - I thought about Prof Klyzlr's Chicago Fork exhibit layout. This little O scale gem is based on the classic Inglenook track plan but set in a realistic surrounding.Not treated as a fantasy terminal, it makes for a nice diorama but also for a nice little switching layout as someone isn't forced to play the Inglenook rule. It is certainly limited, but less than you think.

The thing is Chicago Fork had a lot in common with later year Montmorency: a main line, an industrial siding and a passing track. In the case of Montmorency you replace passing track with the old wye west leg.

Having a set of 18" x 80" hollow core doors always ready for layout experiment, I was curious to see if I could build a classic 5-3-3 Inglenook out of it. I used Peco code 83 #6 turnouts and decided to use 4-axle diesel as motive power and 50 ft boxcars as rolling stock. And everything fit the allowed space without requiring annoying cassette and other gimmicks.

At that point, the question was to know if this layout could capture the sheer awesomeness of Dominion Textile. Recently, fellow modeller Stéphane Melançon sent me this nice picture shot probably in the very early 1980s and I thought it would be nice to try to replicate this view.

And here is the result, which is far better than I thought. Not only the track plan work but it represents well the prototype. Better, the Dominion Textile plant as a 5 feet long brick facade which is exactly what we need to convey that big cotton processing complex.

Montmorency Falls in HO scale

By setting the layout in 1978, I can reuse my dilapidated Montmorency Falls station model. Not only it add a little bit of visual interest but it is used to hide the layout end. The same is done with trees and structures on the right side where topography start to raise on the prototype.

While I argued yesterday replicating this scene would require a lot of space, I changed my mind a little bit. I still think someone could build an entire scene around this complex, but framing a part of the scene, in particular the west section, it is possible to convey the sense of place nicely. As a matter of fact, such a small layout could indeed be connected to other modules later if one wish so. But the big lesson being this little exercise is choosing your angle of attack can dramatically influence the success of replicating a prototype.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Murray Bay as it should have been

Sometimes, I just try to find myself good excuses for not doing certain parts of the layout. I find them interesting subjects, but don’t find them interesting to model. Such is the case with Montmorency and the pitiful state of that area tells a long story about my lack of interest – as an active modeller – in doing it. It happened a few times in other areas, particularly what is now Clermont and I certainly don’t what to see the project stall because of a perceived hindrance.

At this point, while most modellers ask themselves about what they can add to their layout, I’m one of these weird ones asking what can be removed, particularly in the case of hindrances. Since 2014, I’ve been working with that mindset to weed out the project of unnecessary elements. And now I’m facing another uninspiring challenge…

I certainly would love to model the entire subdivision and full scale industries, but I just can’t and will never have the time or resources. I’m not betting on my retirement to “model more” when in fact we know the future is such an uncertain thing.

As I said, over the year, there are parts of a layout that always bug you. They slow down the progression, are made of compromise and often are huge obstacles to other parts that could be done. The recent work on Clermont during the last months proved me one thing: when it’s time to make scenery, I can be quite fast. All the stuff you witnessed took about 4 evenings to do!

But a recent discussion with Simon Dunkley about the Tring Subdivision track plan put forward the linear nature of railways and the vast spatial separation existing between locations. And since there is nothing new under the sun, I took a good look at my original track plan for the Murray Bay subdivision including the peninsula which was drawn back in February 2011. I was surprised at my boldness back then to propose an entire area (where Montmorency now stands) absolutely devoid of any industry. I certainly felt the need to cram the area with an unnecessary passing track, but otherwise clearly understood this U-shaped area should be treated as one single coherent vista. Needless to say that track plan met stiff opposition from the club back then and we tried to find a “purpose” to this empty scene. Subconsciously, it seems we couldn’t get over the idea that an empty scene is a wasted scene…

Less clutter, more immersion.

Now, fast forward to 2017. I look at that scene which crushes my will to work on it.  It’s probably the 5 or 6 redesign here! OK, the real Montmorency Falls location is a terrific place for railroading in real life, but one absolutely impossible to model correctly. The plant is huge, you have an 87 meter high dramatic waterfall, steep cliffs, a 4-span steel bridge and an impressive power plant set of ruins… plus a station and many others…All that is cool and great. But it would need an entire shed and a 8 feet deep shelf to start to convey any impression of the place. Whatever I do seems to be a miserable caricature of the real place. It’s easy to put a sign saying “Montmorency”, but I certainly don’t get the feeling it is Montmorency. I’ve known the place for more than 3 decades.

On the other hand, I have this nice peninsula depicting a railway finding its way around treacherous capes and cliffs. The scene is about 8 feet long when it should represent about 40 miles… Each time I’m standing in the aisle, I can see the scene expanding up to Montmorency, giving us the impression our train is traveling a cove somewhere in Charlevoix.

I know one thing: both scenes could work but Montmorency will require an impressive amount of details, the kind of details that require a lot of careful attention and sustained efforts. These aren’t the condition within which our club works. At one evening meeting per week at best, you can’t start to tackle that kind of challenge and expect great results before the end of the decade. Meanwhile, building nice mountainous scenery is something within our range. We are efficient at that and our techniques are getting better each time.  Expanding the Charlevoix scene would be hard to do and would make for an impressive landscape. I can already imagine trains running with such a dramatic backdrop.

In regard to operation, this is another thing. Jérôme argues that switching Dominion Textile is a good way to slow the train so you don’t reach Clermont in a matter of just a few seconds. I certainly won’t say he’s wrong. Is point is valid and makes a lot of sense. I certainly agree with that! So what can we do… Could a single mainline in the middle of nowhere can impact the layout operation?  Well, I think no.

Here’s my reasoning. First, Dominion Textile is a dying industry at that point. Traffic is minimal and we only switch it from time to time on an irregular basis. Second, Charlevoix is filled with short sidings located in pure wilderness. According to the 1980s videos, they were used to store work trains, equipment and ballast cars in case of emergency. Louis-Marie and I can easily recall that many trains back then pulled ballast hoppers, cranes and gondolas in company service. They were generally at the end of the train, in front of the caboose. This is something we’ve always wanted to include on our trains, but the lack of track in Clermont makes it hard to do.

Thus, could we replace the Dominion Textile dwindling traffic by having a MoW siding? I do believe it’s possible and that it would make a lot of sense. The siding would be overgrown and absolutely insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but could be useful when required. Also, the real Cap-aux-Oies tunnel would effectively hide the furnace room entrance.

So, am I walking away from Montmorency? Not now, but I do think we don’t have to model every “great” prototype on the line. Dominion Textile is impressive, but should we cling to it? You have two choices: two highly compressed scenes that hardly work together and don’t really look the part, or a single well- handled location that tells a story. Given Montmorency couldn’t be expanded, Charlevoix wins in my mind. It would also be logical that everything on the small layout room is about the urban Québec City area and the larger room on the other side of the furnace is about Charlevoix and wilderness. It’s a simple matter of coherence.

 Oh! And let me add another point. The more industries you have, the less you care. Our operation time is limited and having too many customers means we have to neglect them. Maybe I’m getting lazy as I get old, but I’m certainly no longer attracted by unwanted challenges. Building a club layout is already a challenge, why complicate matters by making it artificially complex?

Anyway, at the end of the day, I just want to ask an obvious question. What prevent a main line being interesting to operate? Trains are made to run and I see absolutely no problem allocating a significant part of a rather large layout that that purpose… Are we forced to model every damn signature scene on a prototype so we can boast with confidence in capital letters: “Hey! Look! This is M U R R A Y   B A Y   Subdivision!” Gosh, if storytelling thought me a thing is that better exposition tells much more than infodumping. In that case, I think Dominion Textile on our layout, as great as it sounds on paper, is nothing more than a useless and over complicated 3D battle scene imagined and directed by George Lucas himself… I’m certainly not walking down the path of Hollywood with the layout, we know it will end in the most spectacularly boring way! Charlevoix cliffs may look overly simplistic on a track plan but at least they support a story… and a good one!