A great post on Lance Mindheim’s site caught my attention at lunch today. Here is the critical idea, but you should read the whole post:
The hallmark of a good design? It’s pretty basic when you step back and think about it. A “successful design” is one that results in a model railroad that produces the maximum level of enjoyment given your own personal interests, skills, weaknesses, and lifestyle. It’s a design that targets and hones in like a laser on the areas of the hobby you find most satisfying and maximizes the time you spend on them. It also minimizes, to the extent possible, time spent on those areas you find less enjoyable.
For myself, I get almost equal amounts of enjoyment from scratch building and from operations. From this perspective, and given other constraints, Pembroke is a pretty good layout design for me. No kits are even planned for the layout. At the same time, the Brio experiment proved that it will be fun to operate. One day.
To Lance’s point, however, that day is frustratingly far away. The decision to model the turn of the Century in Proto:87 provides loads of scratch building opportunities, but that in turn takes time. Thank goodness, I have friends who invite me to operate on their layouts.
Lance considers the question of time from a layout design perspective. But the question can be considered whatever the project within the hobby.
For example, while the experience of 3D printing a whole passenger car was neat at the time (nobody else had been so audacious before) it was not a fulfilling way to build the model; I had difficulty maintaining momentum through to completion. My next passenger cars will feature a 3D printed roof, but built-up car bodies.
With number 622, on the other hand, the goal is to get operational as quickly as possible. It might be more fun to make the parts I will print and etch by hand (especially parts like the brakes and back head – anyone can see those would be fun to piece together!). However, printing is faster, particularly as I plan to build 621 and 623 too. Indeed, I briefly considered opening the cheque book to get 622, but I don’t know anyone else foolish enough to take on a diminutive 8-wheeler in Proto:87! Perhaps when I go to build the lone CA Mason Bogie, number 710, or that 4-4-2 rocket ship, number 618, we will see another 1100-part journey.
Regardless, this observation that we should arrange our projects and layouts so as to maximize time spent on the aspects of the hobby we enjoy is powerful. Thanks, Lance, for a thoughtful post.