That is the question today. The question is, do I want to build an exact replica of an area, or do I want to create a scene and operate more?
I have seen in my reading and my travels some beautifully done layouts with scenes created of an area with scratch built structures right down to the last nail hole. Several narrow gauge layouts come to mind. I’ve seen some layouts with beautifully weathered locomotives and rolling stock that has caused my jaw to drop in amazement. I’ve seen some modules and dioramas of certain areas on a railroad that are accurate right down to the last rivet which are amazing as well.
Even though I’ve become a bit of a kit basher as far as buildings are concerned, I’m definitely not a scratch builder. I just don’t have the skill. Some modelers have that skill, some have excellent skills in scenery, some have excellent skills in weathering. While not the best out there, I believe in have some skill in weathering, and an eye for details.
For those that scratch build replicas of buildings or entire areas right down to the last rivet, I congratulate you! For those modelers who are sticklers for counting those rivets on locomotives and rolling stock, more power to you as well. That’s just not my direction however.
I personally love to operate. More specifically to switch cars, for that is what I used to do for almost six years. I love using waybills and switch lists, for that’s what I’m accustomed to. On my layout, I’m lost to the world for three to four hours blocking consists, then taking that train and switching out industries along the way. When I operate in this manner, I actually feel I have moved freight across the railroad and have accomplished something.
While my layout isn’t an exact replica of the Kanawha Valley or of the Hitop area, I believe I’ve captured a feel for West Virginia in my modeling. Several towns are not geographically in the right location, but the overall scene is there and the overall feeling I believe that one is actually in the hills of West Virginia.
While all of my motive power and rolling stock is weathered to some degree, I do have some rolling stock that perhaps doesn’t quite fit my era modeled. The reason for this: one is the lack of some types of cars that are now out there and still available for my era. Meaning they’re from either the twenties, or they’re from the 2019 time frame. Do the models fit in the overall scheme and scene however? I believe they do. Do they look good weathering wise? Yes,I believe so. A lot of modelers as I do wouldn’t care, as long as they fit in. Another reason for a newer era car is one that I weathered for sale that after looking at the result, made me consider keeping that car after all the work put into it, and quite frankly, I loved the look after the weathering.
So, there it is. I believe in making a layout look believable and realistic without building everything down to that last rivet. I believe in operating, and operating a layout realistically. If it looks good and operates well, then I’m happy.
Now back to operating…..!