It Started With An Itch – Part VI
Part VI Of Gary’s Blog
The magazines had certainly helped to identify the cause of some of my layouts problems but what about this thing with the speed? When the trains ran at and above a certain speed, no problem, but slow them down below it and hey, we’re right back in Houston territory. Perhaps it was time to take stock of what UTube had to offer.
So I did and after sitting there and watching various peoples videos for a few hours I was left firmly stuck in between two worlds. The first, the one populated with layouts that were surely beyond any mortal’s creation, had made me feel more than a mite crushed. My efforts to date weren’t even a meteorite compared to these planets of wonder and beauty. How did anyone achieve that level of artistry and perfection?
The second world was filled with welding devices and wiring diagrams that were also way beyond my understanding and comprehension. It was all rather beginning to look like quite a few of my evenings were going to have to be spent at night school. Education had not been all that enjoyable the first time around, so to go back to it a second time, and voluntarily!
My options were not looking at all encouraging. Whilst I might dream (I did!) about creating a layout even halfway as good as I was seeing online or spread across a magazine page; a date with Jennifer Aniston was much more of a certainty. And, as for wielding a blow torch around, you could forget it! The same, in spades, going for all those electrical wiring maps too!
Rocks and hard places. The temptation to simply call it a day was growing. I had scratched the itch and had some fun. But now, I was not enjoying things half as much. Perhaps then simply putting the trains away and forgetting all about them really was the best thing to do. I had always imagined running a train set to be a fairly easy, straightforward thing to do. But now, hard, tough, experiences were teaching me otherwise. Did I really still want to play this game?
But there again, Bonny, and to a lesser extent, Lindy, had both ran around the track, and I had really enjoyed getting them to do so. Big challenges had been thrown at me and a part of the fun had definitely been the effort of solving them. Perhaps I was therefore looking at this hobby the wrong way up? Alice had sucked a sweet and found a different perspective, should I copy her example?
Diets involving magic mushrooms though are frowned upon by the authorities. But, the hobby was obviously being enjoyed by a lot of people (Number 2 in the U.K apparently). So, just what enchanted ingredient had they eaten? I rather hoped that it involved ice-cream !
Alas, I can’t quite make any claims that frozen confectionary worked the trick. But it did nevertheless have quite a sizeable role to play as I poured once again through all the various videos and articles seeking a solution to my problem. Then, just at the point that I was about to call it quits for real and empty the pram of all its toys, I came across an article that, whilst covering the building of baseboards rather than running trains, gave me back a glimmer of hope. It was in the form of a spirit level.
Whilst my track appeared to be perfectly level to an untrained eye, i.e. moi !, a spirit level would be able to confirm whether or not this was indeed the case. So, I quickly jumped into the car and pointed it once again in the direction of B & Q’s. As a youngster, working part time in a factory where my duties included going to the local shops to fetch various items, I had fallen for the gag “Go and buy a bubble for the spirit level”. Older, and possibly, wiser I was now buying one for real. Hoping desperately that it would do the required magic !
Now, in my defence, it should be said straightaway that the rails were perfectly flat. Yeah there were slight undulations over a stretch, but, within the neighbourhood of a few connected pieces, things were pretty much as they should be. Well at least as far as one bubble was concerned, the other two jury members were not quite so sure.
The prosecution’s case, it has to be admitted, was pretty strong. Whilst one of the other bubbles at least condescended to show part of itself, the other one was being much coyer. Of course, this did not relate to the majority of my track, just the sections where slow speeds were most definitely not advisable. So out came the hammer and chisel as, what I was now beginning to call ‘Scheduled Track Maintenance’ in defiance to my friends growing amusement, got underway.
Many months had now passed since I had first opened up this Pandora’s box. Progress, of a sort, was being made but I still had everything crossed as I approached my obstinate layout clutching Lindy firmly in hand. Having observed the very different attitudes of my two engines, Bonny, eager to please, Lindy far less obliging, I had decided that if ‘Miss Uncooperative’ actually did decide to cooperate, then Bon Accord would encounter few problems doing likewise. In fact, to this day, Lindy is my weapon of choice when conducting any track testing just for this very reason. My stable of engines has grown considerably, but Lindy remains my most stubborn train. Still love her though!
Especially, as having been awarded the thumbs up from all three bubbles, the track was now very much to her liking. Lindisfarne running at all speeds through all sections of the track, bar none! It had taken some time, and oodles of patience, but at long, long last my layout was open for traffic.
But a board, with rails nailed down all over it, is just that. A board covered in track. If I really wanted to impress my micky taking friends I needed to furnish it with scenery. Say a station, a goods yard, maybe even a river leading down into a lake. Something, which of course meant some mountains too. My ambitions were boundless.
I was also aware that they were more than slightly out of control because even though it had taken some time, I was beginning to get a suspicion that nothing about this hobby is as simple and straightforward as it seems. But there again, how hard can it be to just chuck some green and brown paint around before adding a few buildings. That, I was about to find out !