It Started With An Itch – Part VIII
Part VIII – The Final Instalment Of Gary’s Blog
The station building was in what looked like a zillion pieces. If I wanted it to become one solid building then there was obviously a fair bit of work ahead of me. The illustration on the box though was encouraging, even if the instructions weren’t! So, gingerly picking up pieces ‘A’ and ‘B’, I began experimenting to try and work out how they were supposed to fit together.
As they were roof sections the answer was pretty obvious. Only there was bit ‘C’, a thin strip of plastic, that somehow was supposed to sit on top of them. Rather puzzlingly, it had a square hole cut in it, so what was that all about? A despairing look back at the instructions and it seemed that that was for chimney (Parts J, K, L and M) to fit into. This was all getting rather confusing and I started thinking that just maybe my layout just didn’t need a station after all.
There was though this gap on the baseboard that needed finishing. Populated with a nearby road and the obligatory pub, only a station building would really sensibly complete the scene. Really, I had no other option then than to break open the glue and to get all sticky. But then I had a thought. Back in the day, when my spitfire’s and hurricanes all looked like they had crashed straight out of the box, I had simply just dived in and stuck them together in one go. Things like setting times being boring to a 9-year-old. However, I had now been refined for a few more decades, so why all the rush?
My two trains were playing together real fine and the landscape through which they ran looked good. Some finishing touches would certainly help things along, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, so why should my station building? Patience. That was the key word! Accordingly, instead of looking at it as a whole, I instead copied the example of the diagrams that were upon the paper that accompanied all the plastic bits and broke the task down into sections. Do the roof today, the walls tomorrow, etc, etc
The whole thing now seemed far more manageable and, as the days went, by, so my station began to take shape. And it wasn’t that of a derelict, condemned, building either. Instead I was becoming rather proud of the structure that I was slowly constructing Furthermore, I was quite enjoying doing it. Amazing!
This hobby just has so many facets to it. On the face of it, there is only one, running a train around a track. But in truth, rather akin to an onion, it has many layers; each one a challenge and an experience. Some of them I had found daunting (Getting two pieces of track to join together only being an example of many) but others, landscaping for example, were just plain fun to do right from the start.
Along my journey, from simply holding a box containing a train set to building a fully functional layout, now populated with a rather nice station building and platform plus a goods shed, I had acquired a number of skills that beforehand I would have simply discarded as not being for me thanks. At times during this fascinating ride I have been a carpenter, an electrician, a welder (Ok, I was armed only with a soldering iron but the principle remains) an artist and now I was a construction engineer too! What other pastime offers up such a variety of skills?
Of course, like many other model railroaders, there are jobs that I like doing and jobs that, if I could, I would get someone else to do. Specialising, albeit with regard to a task or a certain aspect of the hobby, does certainly has its attraction. However, sometimes in order to grow, you also need to stretch, and so bravely going it alone has opened up new vistas to me. My only regret being that I hadn’t attempted to have a go at doing them before.
To my friends I am ‘Only playing with toys” and, say what I like, demonstrate what I may, their minds are never unfortunately going to change. One man’s food is another’s poison and, whilst I think (Actually I know) that they are missing out on a lot of fun. Perhaps visiting the miniature world is not such an adventure for everyone. But it has become very much one for me and more! Indeed, one of my layouts has just got an invite to its 4th show so something must be going right.
My ‘skills’ though are at a very early embryotic stage. Some may flourish, others may die by the wayside (Only through neglect though, never by desire). Accordingly, I still have much to learn and, hopefully, master. But things are getting there and although I doubt very much that I will ever be much of a scratch builder, I have nevertheless experienced some success constructing walls out of plaster and match sticks. So, who knows, perhaps the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an oncoming train after all!
Finally, honest !, I am now beginning to enjoy too another branch line of the hobby, namely research! Many magazines spoke of it, but I didn’t pay much attention at the time. However, now that my little railway network has settled down into some sort of order I am looking to build others. But, whereas before I just thought, station, pub, somewhere to park the trains, I am now considering much more themed layouts such as a China Clay mine or a Scottish lumber yard. In order to be able to achieve this, I first need to know something about how they looked and operated. Hence the reason why my ‘training sessions’ now extend long into the evening as I lounge in a comfy chair, reading a particular article or page that is of interest. I’ve turned into a student all over again! Just where is this fascinating pastime going to take me to next?
Ok, so that really is it for this story. If you have somehow managed to make it through all eight episodes of the saga then thank you very much for your indulgence. Equally, if like me, you are a newcomer to this hobby and wondering just how to start, I hope that my rather rambling tale of my early experiences will encourage, rather than deter, you. The biggest lesson that I have learnt though is to just give it a go because you are capable of doing far more than you think you can. I know, because I just have, and the rewards were not only fun, but extremely rewarding!
ts didn’t look at all bad.