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Tony Koester and his column Locked

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Tony Koester and his column
Posted by pastorbob on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 9:08 AM

I have been in model railroading for 74 years now, first train at age 6 months from my father who was a Santa Fe engineer and wanted a boy to play trains with.  He got it.  Since then I have never been without a layout except for a few months in college when I had to discover I could slide a sheet of plywood under a dorm bed.

Tony talks about reactions from other model railroaders to his ideas and thoughts, some good and some bad.  I have disagreed at times with Tony, but I have been in agreement a larger percent of the time.  I picked up a good amount of my layout building ideas from articles by Tony and others in MR and other sources.  I was sorry to read about the two gentlemen he mentioned that were on a vendeta against everything he said, but I found that in all the years I served as a pastor, while also working in the computer field, that there were those who agreed with me and those who didn't.  I managed to learn a few things from those do didn't including a couple of gentlemen who post on this forum and are "old school" model railroaders.

But my Santa Fe in Oklahoma in 1989 (HO) has served me well since the first track was laid in 1984 and I owe much of it to comments from other modelers like Tony.  I have had several of the "well knowns" visit over the years, and I believe my books indicate Tony was here at one time also.

So just want to say to Tony and others on the MR staff who work to provide info, tips, ideas, on the hobby, "THANKS", because through many of your articles, I have been able to build a better railroad.

Robert (Bob) Miller, MMR 138.

Bob Miller http://www.atsfmodelrailroads.com/
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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 9:22 AM

Bob,

thank you for your appreciation of Tony´s work and the many helpful hints he has given us over the years. I too like his column very much - a reliable source of food for thought.

I am into model railroading for 47 years now and, aside from the actual modeling work, I like a positive dialogue with friends. We don´t have to agree at all times, but we should at least maintain a civilized approach to settling disputes.

I am sorry to read that there a few folks who are unable to do so.

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Posted by duckdogger on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 9:28 AM

I agree with the value of contributions Mr Koester has made to the hobby.  He is more "fanatical" in his approach to some aspects than I, but when I contrast his views to mine, I often arrive at a better result.

Yea team Koester.

Paul

Trains. Cooking. Cycling. So many choices but so little time.
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Posted by BRAKIE on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 9:37 AM

I have read Tony's comments for years and at first thought yup,just what the hobby needs  another wacko "expert".Surprise

However,as I matured in the hobby I found myself agreeing more with Tony's views..

I still enjoy reading Tony's "Train Of Thought" column.

Larry

SSRy

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“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.
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Posted by mobilman44 on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 10:33 AM

Hi,

I've been playing with trains since the mid '50s, and have been an MR reader/subscriber since the December, 1955 issue (and an RMC subscriber since the '70s). 

I certainly don't know Mr Koester personally but have read his works for some time.  One thing I have noticed, is that he (and a few other authors that have been around awhile) went through their "only my way is right" period - but all have definitely mellowed with age.  Of course I've seen this with many other folks that once had "assertive personalities"  including myself. 

I've learned that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and while I may not agree with it, I may still learn something from them.  In any case, I need to respect their opinions, as I wish them to respect mine.  Of course that's easy to say....................

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by Heartland Division CB&Q on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 10:47 AM

Bob.... Thanks for sharing some of your personal background as well as your gratitude for Tony Koester's monthly commentary.

When I receive Model Railroader each month, I read two columns first, and then read the rest later. I read Trains of Thought by Tony, and I read Workshop by Jim Hediger. Both men deserve lots af appreciation from model railroaders. They certainly have been inspirational and informative to me.

You mentioned Tony has critics, and I should not be surprised because there are always judgemental people based on my observations. Yes, there are some of those in our hobby. We model railroaders are just people.

However, in my opinion, the model railroad community tends to be less critical, less spiteful, and less judgemental than other groups of people. I think Tony would have more critics if he were in another profession.

Again in my opinion, the quality of people who are model railroaders does add to the enjoyment of "The World's Greatest Hobby".

Happy Model Railroading!

GARRY

HEARTLAND DIVISION, CB&Q RR

EVERYWHERE LOST; WE HUSTLE OUR CABOOSE FOR YOU

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Posted by HaroldA on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 11:04 AM

I have always read Tony's column and appreciated his words of advice down through the years.  He is also featured on several of the Dream, Plan, Build series and to see him in action is always a treat.  People may disagree with him at time, but then people probably disagreed with Linn Wescott or Gordon Odegard as well but even today some invoke their names with a certain sense of respect. 

So Tony, if you ever read these posts, thanks for everything!!

There's never time to do it right, but always time to do it over.....

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Posted by wedudler on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 11:18 AM

I enjoy Tony's "Train Of Thought" column too. Thank you Tony!

Wolfgang

Pueblo & Salt Lake RR

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 11:33 AM

I agree.  Tony's columns are always one of the first things I read each month.  And while I sometimes agree and sometimes don't, they are always enjoyable and usually thought provoking.

MR is and has been my favorite magazine since 1971.  I have all the issues but 6 or so back to 1948 and a few earlier ones as well.

Enjoy

Paul

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
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Posted by tomikawaTT on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 11:50 AM

A hearty, "Amen," to Pastor Bob Miller.  I lack a bit over one year of his seniority, got my first 'real tinplate' Lionel at the age of five months, and agree entirely with what he posted.

 

I recall that, toward the end of the series on building the Coal Fork branch of the AM, RPO included a letter from someone complaining about, "Too much Koester."  My remark (to my wife) was, "If he thinks there's too much Koester, all he has to do is build something as interesting, write it up as thoroughly and convince MR to publish it."  As an unpublished author, I know just how easy that is!

 

I will be referring to those Coal Fork articles as I build the 1:80 scale Tomikawa Tani Tetsudo.  The location may be half way around the world, but the concepts, ideas and scenery are remarkably similar.

 

Chuck (Modeling Central Japan in September, 1964)

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Posted by corsair7 on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 11:53 AM

pastorbob

I have been in model railroading for 74 years now, first train at age 6 months from my father who was a Santa Fe engineer and wanted a boy to play trains with.  He got it.  Since then I have never been without a layout except for a few months in college when I had to discover I could slide a sheet of plywood under a dorm bed.

Tony talks about reactions from other model railroaders to his ideas and thoughts, some good and some bad.  I have disagreed at times with Tony, but I have been in agreement a larger percent of the time.  I picked up a good amount of my layout building ideas from articles by Tony and others in MR and other sources.  I was sorry to read about the two gentlemen he mentioned that were on a vendeta against everything he said, but I found that in all the years I served as a pastor, while also working in the computer field, that there were those who agreed with me and those who didn't.  I managed to learn a few things from those do didn't including a couple of gentlemen who post on this forum and are "old school" model railroaders.

But my Santa Fe in Oklahoma in 1989 (HO) has served me well since the first track was laid in 1984 and I owe much of it to comments from other modelers like Tony.  I have had several of the "well knowns" visit over the years, and I believe my books indicate Tony was here at one time also.

So just want to say to Tony and others on the MR staff who work to provide info, tips, ideas, on the hobby, "THANKS", because through many of your articles, I have been able to build a better railroad.

Robert (Bob) Miller, MMR 138.

WhenI first got involvedd in the hobby in 1977,  Tony Koester was the editor of Railroad Model Craftsman. In those days Tony was first building his Alleghany Midland layout and these articles and those on the V & O got me started in HO. It was only a short time later that I realized a garden apartment was no place to build 4 x 8 layout in HO. So I switched to N. That was OK but it didn't fir into the apartment too well either as I had no decicated space for it either. I Still read Tonys column and dreamt of the day when I would have a dedicated space for my layout and that came about in 1982 when we moved into our house and I got 12' 6" x 14 foot room in which to build my dream layout. Tony's influence was at work there and it still is.

While I never completed the first major N Scale layout because work and life got me out of model railroading in 1987. I cam back in 2007 when I retired and decided I needed to do something other than vegetate in front of the TV set tO maintain my sanity. So now I am buildinbg a the Hudson & Hartford which recreates the New York Connecting Railroad as it might have been had carfloating not be virtually killed off in 1970 by the Penn Central and Conrail.

All of my designs have been influenced by Tony in one way or another over the years. I've read and possess mst of what he has written in RMC and his columns in Model Railroader and the books he has written. They are very instructive and none of what he has written has ever give cause to get upset. If anything they've given me a reason to keep working and to find new ways of getting things done.

Thanks, Tony.

Irv

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Posted by NevinW on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 12:57 PM

I thought his recent column was very interesting.  There are always a few that get so worked up and take things so seriously that there is no room for discussion.  I thought the story about the AM car he mailed to one of his critics as a peace offering being sent back unopened was hilarious.   I have always liked his columns and thought he had a lot of important things to say about the hobby.  It is always one of the first things I read when my MR arrives.  -  Nevin

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Posted by dknelson on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 3:00 PM

Tony Koester's column is almost always the first thing I turn to when a new MR arrives, just as Model Railroad Planning is the "extra" issue of MR that I never fail to get, although I have not missed too many Great Model Railroads.

I try to avoid deep and heavy model train discussions if I can, but I have noted that there is something about the whole notion of staging yards that gets fellows to arguing with some heat.  More even than DCC.  So I am not surprised by his experience with the two readers.   

I have to admit that sometimes there is a certain way Koester phrases things that seems guaranteed to annoy and even belittle those who disagree -- maybe this is not an exact quote, but he is prone to start out by saying something like "Most thoughtful (or "advanced" or "modern") modelers now agree that ....." which doesn't say much for those who do NOT agree, be it about prototype modeling, double deck layouts, sound, hidden vs visible staging, timetable and train order operation.   It is almost more a writing style thing than anything else. 

But his writing is always interesting and I hope we have many more years of the column.

Dave Nelson 

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Posted by csxns on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 3:45 PM

Tony Koester Thumbs UpThumbs UpThumbs Up

Russell

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Posted by jmbjmb on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 4:13 PM

Sometimes I agree and sometimes I disagree, but his columns are the first thing I read each month.  I do think that his wording can sometimes be a bit of "my way or the high way" like Dave N mentioned above.  However it does seem to have mellowed over the years into a more affable tone.  To speculate a little, the tone and wording may have played more a part of the two gentlemen mentioned than the actual content.  I am honest enough to admit that I often found his column infuritating the first few years and at times thought MR needed a point-counterpoint column to balance things out.  Now, the only thing I wonder about his column is when he's going to announce the NKP is gone and he's replacing it with his true love -- a large scale version of Peterboro NH in the steam days.

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Posted by Voltronman on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 6:18 PM

Tony KoesterThumbs DownThumbs DownThumbs Down

 

Sorry I am NOT a fan by any means.  After he parts the magazine and the world I hope they bring in young UP TO DATE minded person who can speak to the modern guys.  He is all old school and I never read his columns with any interest.  A young New Yorker model railroader would be a good candidate for his job.  When is there going to be a new job opening I ask myself.

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Posted by mobilman44 on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 6:36 PM

Hi again!

I fail to understand how anyone can get worked up so  negatively about someone's column in a model railroading magazine.   If the writer "offends" you so much, then I would urge you not to read their works, or not buy the magazine, or better still, submit your own columns!

I've been involved in this forum for several years, and one of the things I really like is that it proves out that this hobby has so many, many different preferences (i.e. era, scale, RR, operation, locale, etc., etc.), and yes, some of us feel very strongly about them. 

But what we have to understand is that there truly is no "right or wrong" in our individual viewpoints on model railroading, and what's really important is that we all love trains!

Now if only MR would dedicate itself to HO, postwar, Santa Fe and Illinois central modeling................

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by grizlump9 on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 6:44 PM

we are all but as God made us,  and some of us are much worse.   i think we are lucky to have Tony and guys like him in this hobby.   problem as i see it, if indeed it is a problem, is that for whatever reason there are fewer people contributing to the magazine.   therefor, poor Tony seems to come across like that little know it all kid we had back in grade school who kept waving his hand in the air in response to everything the teacher said.  sort of like Martin Prince on the Simpsons.   he is actually a gifted person who is articulate and knowledgeable.   he just seems to monopolize the magazine since there are so few other contributors.  without him, Model Railroader would look like a weekly, hick town newspaper.

grizlump

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Posted by Motley on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 7:29 PM

Voltronman

Tony KoesterThumbs DownThumbs DownThumbs Down

 

Sorry I am NOT a fan by any means.  After he parts the magazine and the world I hope they bring in young UP TO DATE minded person who can speak to the modern guys.  He is all old school and I never read his columns with any interest.  A young New Yorker model railroader would be a good candidate for his job.  When is there going to be a new job opening I ask myself.

Let me guess. You're a "New Yorker" right? Ya figured that as much. Strong words for someone who could easily not read someone's column if they don't like them.

I haven't read a whole lot of Tony's columns, but the few that I have read are very knowledgeable and don't seem to cocky to me.

Michael


Director -
Mile-HI-Railroad
Prototype: D&RGW Moffat, UP, GN. BNSF 

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 7:46 PM

I am sorry, but I find Voltronman´s comment undue and inappropriate.

What is an up to date minded person, who is supposed to speak to the modern guys? This is a sense- and useless statement.

I like Tony´s column, but that does not mean I agree to everything and all he states. Just food for my own thoughts...

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 7:57 PM

 I fail to see where Tony is not "up to date". Because he models the 1950's, like an awful lot of peopel do?

 I have a fairly complete collection of MR goign back to that very first Trains of Thought column. If you don't think Tony has changed witht he times - he was doing a proto-freelance railroad set in the 70's when he started. Backdated it to the steam era. Then TOTALLY RIPPED IT DOWN and satrted over with a prototype layout. When you have a basement-size layout that supports many operators runnign prototypical operation and totally rip it out to do somethign different - I'd say there's change right there. Remember also when the column started the AM wasn't even 'complete' yet.

                              --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by PRR_in_AZ on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 8:01 PM

I think Koester does an decent job.  Heck the guy's layouts look awesome - he must know a thing or two. Wink I agree that you don't have to agree with every thing he says (that's kinda the beauty of the hobby).  I also find that words can be read and interpreted a thousand different ways by a thousand different people.  What may be offensive and snobbish to you may not be to some.  This seems to happen quite a bit on forums as well (people sometimes read too much into things).   I take what info is useful to me and forget the rest.

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 10:34 PM

Hi Everyone! I am in a poor position to comment on Tony's columns, but here is what I have to say-I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone in this hobby would express such negative views about anyone's writing. Please, if you disagree, do it in polite terms. I thought that we fellow modelers would at least be civil to each other. OK - there are different ways to do things, but does that justify vitriol? Why? There is so much conflict in the world today that I can't understand why we as RR hobbiests can't rise above that. Let's all try a little harder to respect each other and be polite. If we can't then that gives us precious little separation between us and the disidents and terrorists (dare I say that!). We have an obligation to be civil to each other! So please let's try.

Dave

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, October 7, 2010 7:14 AM

Why, oh why, would anyone find it necessary to take on Tony Koester or his monthly column.

It is good stuff, and I read it every month.

25 years of writing this column is more than admirable and provides a sense of continuity in a hobby that recreates the past as much as it promotes the future.

The two guys who took exception to Tony's writing, as he noted in his most recent column, objected to his stance that staging yards are an important part of a layout.  What is so objectionable about that view?

Tony, I hope that you are able to write the column for another 25 years.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by slammin on Thursday, October 7, 2010 7:50 AM

Voltronman

Tony KoesterThumbs DownThumbs DownThumbs Down

 

Sorry I am NOT a fan by any means.  After he parts the magazine and the world I hope they bring in young UP TO DATE minded person who can speak to the modern guys.  He is all old school and I never read his columns with any interest.  A young New Yorker model railroader would be a good candidate for his job.  When is there going to be a new job opening I ask myself.

Just think how dull these forums would be without the trolls! Too bad they don't do something constructive, like chase cars!

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Posted by cedarwoodron on Thursday, October 7, 2010 9:48 AM

When I was a young boy in the 1960s, it was Linn Wescott's HO Model Railroad that Grows which I read religiously over and over to learn about the hobby. As an adult, still fascinated by the hobby, I enjoy all master practitioners' articles, including Tony Koester's. Their experiences and their opinions are valuable as resources for today and tomorrow, as each of us learns something new with each hour spent working on our railroads. Rather than nit-pick or opine from a fastidious standpoint, we should treasure the fact that some of us, who have the talent and ability, are able to write about many aspects of the hobby. These are not armchair modelers- they are doers. The growing body of literature that this hobby has maintained is a testament to the selfless efforts of all who share their perspectives. Less criticism and more discussion would be my view for all of us. Thanks, Tony- be assured that you will be read and re-read for years to come!!!!!

 

Cedarwoodron

Minnesota, Sioux Lake & Western Ry- serving the good folks of the north central farm belt

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Posted by cwclark on Thursday, October 7, 2010 11:16 AM

   I feel pity for the guys that don't appreciate the old school  methods of MRRing. Some of the old school techniques will never go away, (for instance, zip texturing, or building a layout on cookie cutter plywood instead of the fairly recent techniques using foam board.)  Personnally, I hate foam board, I find it hard to work with and a lot more messier than working with the old school techniques using plaster.)

     Guys like Tony have kept this hobby alive for years .  If you think his columns are great, You should see him in action on the Dream, Plan, Build how-to videos.  Tony is nothing less than one of the "masters" at work to say the least.....chuck

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Posted by selector on Thursday, October 7, 2010 11:42 AM

Fellas, trust me, I am entirely neutral on the topic as first posted.  Don't have enough history, so I can't evaluate a person's writing except in terms of grammar, logic, and such.  So, I don't mind seeing criticism.  It should be delivered with some care and consideration, but it isn't always going to be laudatory, and that is what we have here.  Let's just let the comment pass, take it for what it is, a dissenting opinion (and stated in general terms that he would like a more 'modern' approach to the hobby...not sure what or why, but that's all we have to go on from voltronman).

Either Koester speaks to you, or he doesn't.  All can say how it goes for them.  I just ask that we choose our words carefully.

-Crandell

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Posted by corsair7 on Thursday, October 7, 2010 11:44 AM

grizlump9

we are all but as God made us,  and some of us are much worse.   i think we are lucky to have Tony and guys like him in this hobby.   problem as i see it, if indeed it is a problem, is that for whatever reason there are fewer people contributing to the magazine.   therefor, poor Tony seems to come across like that little know it all kid we had back in grade school who kept waving his hand in the air in response to everything the teacher said.  sort of like Martin Prince on the Simpsons.   he is actually a gifted person who is articulate and knowledgeable.   he just seems to monopolize the magazine since there are so few other contributors.  without him, Model Railroader would look like a weekly, hick town newspaper.

grizlump

It's not that there are fewer contributors. It is that there are fewer model railroaders each year as kids aren't into trains as much as they used to be. So guys like Tony are left to pick up the slack.

Tony happens to be a very talented model railroader and a talented writer and there are fewer of those each year. Why you might ask?

First of all model railroading isn't an inexpensive hobby with the average locomotive costing $100 or more and teh average freight car costing in the $20 range it just isn't within the average kids budget (allowance) to be able to spend that kind of money nowadays much less within the average adults budget. Add to that the amount of time one needs to devote to one's school work, job, signofocan others and familes and you've got a situation where having a hobby is soething one has to leave until retirement. So where is the new blood any hobby needs to prosper and survive?

Irv

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Posted by jmbjmb on Thursday, October 7, 2010 4:14 PM

corsair7

First of all model railroading isn't an inexpensive hobby with the average locomotive costing $100 or more and teh average freight car costing in the $20 range it just isn't within the average kids budget (allowance) to be able to spend that kind of money nowadays much less within the average adults budget. Add to that the amount of time one needs to devote to one's school work, job, signofocan others and familes and you've got a situation where having a hobby is soething one has to leave until retirement. So where is the new blood any hobby needs to prosper and survive?

Irv

Yes & no to some extent.  On a relative basis, cars & locomotives aren't any more expensive than when I was a kid years ago.   I would have to save for months to buy a single locomotive or a couple of cars.  On the other hand, I didn't need a dozen locomotives or 200 cars.  A 4x8 or maybe self was great to have.  Structures -- we called it scratchbuilding with balsa, paper, and paint.  A couple of dollars vs the hundred or so for a large structure today or even $30-$40 for an already completed, ready to run (oxymoron??) structure.  In many ways I contend the bar has been set to high by the over representation of highly detailed mega layouts in the press combined with the need for instant results.  I'm glad to see more smaller layouts shown in MR because it represents where most model railroaders actually are rather than the top 10%, of which Tony Koester is probably among. 

For example, let's take the staging yard argument that was discussed above.  If you have plenty of room, it's easy to devote a good space to hidden staging (or in another room or somewhere out of sight).  On the other hand, if you have a very small room, it is much harder to give up that space from the visible railroad (as I recall, Tony has always been an advocate of hidden staging as opposed to visible staging).  In my small railroad, fully one third of the space is staging.  As the overall size of the layout goes up, the relative percentage devoted to staging will usually go down, making it more emotionally acceptable.

And yes, I'm going to now link those two paragraphs for the point.  Intentionally or unintentionally, we have created the appearance that you must have a large space, with large crew, and lots of trains, staging, etc, etc, etc to be a model railroader.  Time, space, and money.  You must have a lot of all three to be a real model railroader.  Or at least that's the message sent.  We need to be more inclusive.  As someone mentioned above, the HO Railroad that Grows inspired them years ago.  We need that inspiration today for the next generation.  A railroad they can build over time with economical materials.

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