Would you tour this layout?

One of the ways that I lose hobby time is by helping to organize the Railway Modellers’ Meet of British Columbia.  This is the local NMRA divisional meet, and consists of all the same things as a regional or national meet, but on a smaller scale, and dare I say a higher quality.

This year, the self-guided layout tour will be coming to North Vancouver, and I happen to know that John Green (whom I’m thankful has agreed to take on layout tours again) identified Pembroke as a possible host layout.  Now, fortunately there are quite a few good layouts on the Shore, and I’m hopeful that some others will agree to host. But in the event that they don’t, I’ve agreed to welcome the tour to my basement.

But the question is, should I even bother?  It is unlikely that #10 will be running on the day, and so, it will effectively be a static display with massing models.  Is there enough here to make it worth stopping for a typical model railroader?

I have approximately six weeks before the crowds (realistically 20-30 people) would descend.  Where should I focus my efforts for maximum effect?

  • Improve the scenery along the embankment.   I have a feeling this would have the maximum impact.
  • Finish the roundhouse.  This is, after all, already started, and I’m also doing a clinic on the Cricut.  So, I should get some more experience with the tool, no?
  • Install the turnout controls.  They’re kind of neat, but currently not necessary due to the static locomotive.
  • Work on the backdrop.  This would have a big impact too.
  • Improve the river.  It still doesn’t look much like a river to my eye, and probably to anybody else’s either.

Well, thanks for listening.  If you have an opinion, I’m happy to hear it, but I suspect the clinic is going to dictate what gets done.



21 thoughts on “Would you tour this layout?

  1. I think this may be a rhetorical question since you seem to supply the answer in the question. Personally a layout in the making, so to speak, is very interesting to see. A description of what is going on, where it represents, and what is planned is as or more informative than a complete railway.

    The roundhouse seems to be top of the list and I would like to see some more out of the Cricut. Of course the #10 would be nice to see as well as a clinic featuring OnShape.

    The backdrop, on my layout, is a work in progress as other parts of the foreground are developed.

    My two cents.

  2. I’d tour, without a doubt. If there was just done what’s there now. Tours don’t always have to be operational layouts. I find that places where there are things in progress that I can learn from are just as enjoyable as places where there is display running going on. My own plans don’t include loops for display, so realistically, it’s either run something back and forth, or let it sit somewhere.

    As for what to work on, I’d suggest finding one of those things that really grabs you and you can get closer to finishing. They all sound like vastly different skills, and would all have an impact.

  3. Presumably you know roughly which other layouts will be included in the layout tour? How is your layout different from the others? Are they all P87, early period with handbuilt locos? If not, I would be tempted to put up some simple displays on a couple of those features (maybe have a laptop with a slide show running) and use those to focus the conversation. If people arrive in 1s and 2s, you can have discussions about whatever catches their attention. On the other hand, if all 30 to arrive on a bus, conversation may be a bit more difficult!
    When I have done a demonstration at an exhibition, a successful day is one where I make absolutely no progress on the project that I have taken to demonstrate – but my voice is hoarse.
    I hope that this helps.

  4. I’d certainly attend and look forward to seeing the layout were I attending.

    If you’re doing a clinic on the Cricut than showing work, even if only a start, showing the output would tie the layout tour to the clinic and return. Might be a neat relationship.

    The turnout controls are cool. Again, neat to showcase the design.

    Pembroke is a fascinating work in progress and you’re very engaged in its construction. I think it could be the centerpiece for a wide array of interesting discussions.


    1. LOL. You’re welcome any time Trevor.

      We must always remember: they’re just models. It would be disappointing if they got big greasy fingerprints on them (or worse) but they are nothing compared to the friendships we enjoy through the hobby.

      1. Hi René:
        Of course I was joking about touching the models with potato chip grease on my hands. (I prefer to touch the trains after tossing butter through spaghetti with my hands – much greasier!)
        Seriously… I suspect that a tour of your layout will be of great interest to some, and of little interest to others. But that can be said of most layouts – or, more accurately, of most hobbyists, who have trouble seeing beyond their own scale/gauge/era/prototype interests. So, focus on the few who “get it”.
        For that reason, I encourage you to take part in the tour. There will be some who will get great pleasure from seeing your layout – even if the trains aren’t running. They will likely go away with ideas to use on their own layouts, which is one of the best reasons to go on tours.
        You might even meet somebody during the open house who will become a regular helper and/or operator down the road. One of my best friends in the hobby in the Greater Toronto Area is someone I met through the Layout Design SIG – and I probably never would’ve met him otherwise.
        – Trevor

  5. Absolutely you should participate. Many very unique ideas like the led was backdrop, two very different turntables people can spin, switch machines, staging on the windowsill. All combined Pembroke is different anything else they will see in the Lower Mainland (Colin Dover’s new layout may one day be closest but it isn’t on the tour).

    Maybe just move some of your ideas further along without completing any one if you dont have time: like install a few of the RPM’d switch stands, advance the Cricut roundhouse, display your slow ops operating schema (and Brio test bed?). The backdrop is good and different as it is. Adding a strip of scenery may not differentiate it as much as your other items.

    The maps are a great idea…maybe small proto photos beside the models too glued to foamcore so they stand up?

    My $0.02
    Lots to see.

  6. I don’t know what a ‘typical’ model railroader is, so I can’t directly answer the question.

    I suspect because ‘we’ and I’m thinking here about a good number of the bloggers that I read, perhaps think more about the whole art of model railroading than others who are happier with a more ‘plug and play’ approach. Simple answer, for me, and judging by other comments above, its a straightforward yes, I’d love to visit.

    Why? because its clear that some of what you are doing is different, the presentation of the layout for me is always of interest. The header image to this piece already gets me thinking I like the look of what’s going on here. I like to see something move too, it helps the minds eye fill the gaps not yet completed. The opportunity will probably give you a good basket full of ideas and comments from visitors, someone may have the eureka solution for a task or issue you haven’t realised you’ve got yet! In the UK we don’t really have these sort of ‘open houses’, but have the exhibition scene and circuit instead. They’re good but most definitely not the same thing. I do get visits to my place a few times a year, small groups of four or five, or individuals. Normally arranged via mutual acquaintances, and I can’t recall a single time I’ve not learnt or heard something of value from attendees. So yes, just do it!

      1. Thank you Rene, it won’t be this year I’m afraid but I appreciate the offer :0) It gets me thinking that this interweb thing could be a medium one day for remote bloggers to hold open houses!
        Brgds Paul

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