Build This Retro Railroad supplement suggestions

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  • Member since
    March, 2015
  • 271 posts
Build This Retro Railroad supplement suggestions
Posted by phrankenstign on Tuesday, October 03, 2017 3:17 PM

I downloaded this when I saw it here on CTT's site.

I was surprised at how many useful tips were packed into it.  The layout is 8' x 4', but many of the ideas can be used for much larger layouts.  I recommend reading it.  There may just be a tip or two many of us had never thought of before.

The text detailing the work is well-written, and the diagrams are very clearly drawn.

There are a few suggestions I think would improve its ease of use.

  • Add a table of contents.  Anyone attempting to build this layout will want to get to the particular section they are currently working on quickly.
  • Identify the sheets of stone-covered insulating material in the layout framework diagram.  I was wondering what they were.  Homasote?  Why are they cut so small?
  • Add pictures of the plastic ties being cut, used, and then cut again.  It would clarify exactly how they were used.
  • Add pictures of the actual connections made.  (Solder, lugs, tape wire nuts, etc.---What methods were used and why?)  Show how busses are used and how the wires between the uncoupling/unloading track and controller were extended.
  • Add a list of materials used for each major step.  Alternatives or substitutes could be listed also due to preferences or unavailability.

I know this supplement isn't supposed to be an in-depth, comprehensive volume.  However the suggestions for improvements I listed came to mind as I was reading it.  I believe this supplement is mainly aimed at newcomers to the hobby.  I'm sure many would have the same questions I had.  We wouldn't want those who are attempting to build their first layout to be discouraged, because they don't understand one or two things.  I think it would be better for the supplement to be as useful as possible to help keep newcomers interested in forging ahead.  Don't you?

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: US
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Posted by overall on Friday, October 06, 2017 12:07 PM

I really like your suggestion about substitute materials. I never will forget reading Linn Westcott's writtings about hard shell scenery and zip texturing as a young teenager. I called one building supply store in the town where I lived asking about Hydrocal (for the hard sheel) the guy said he didn't even know what it was and hung up on me. That was a soul crushing experience for a kid.

  • Member since
    March, 2015
  • 271 posts
Posted by phrankenstign on Friday, October 06, 2017 5:15 PM

I've moved around during my lifetime, and I've found there are many items with colloquial names.  Sometimes the locals don't understand when they hear the common names used elsewhere:

  • Soda, soda pop, pop, and Coke can all be used to order a soft drink that isn't necessarily Coca Cola.  In some areas, asking for a Coke may get the reply, "What flavor? We have Orange and Strawberry."
  • Gypsum, Sheetrock, or drywall may get blank stares in different places, but using either of the other terms will probably get them to understand.
  • I was stumped when I moved to Sheboygan, Wisconsin and someone mentioned the bubbler was just past the office on the left.  It turned out to be a water fountain!

It's the same way with a lot of the products people use while building layouts.  Sometimes the alternative names are slang, while other times the name brand is so common it comes to be used as a generic term like Kleenex.

Too bad that person on the phone didn't mention Hydrocal is a type off plaster.  Then I'm sure you would have been able to find a supplier.  With today's internet, it's much easier to find specific products.  However sometimes a product is needed quickly.  In those cases it's nice to know when similar products can be substituted instead.

  • Member since
    August, 2009
  • 76 posts
Posted by POTRZBE on Sunday, October 08, 2017 2:22 PM

I second the motion for clarity in directions.  When I was working, I would call these "regional differences".  The soda/pop was the most common but there are some parts of this great USA where a grocery bag is a sack.

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