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Non Operational Layout

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  • Member since
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Non Operational Layout
Posted by Anonymous on Friday, November 21, 2003 10:33 AM
Hi to everyone!

I thought I would post this not so much as a question, but as food for thought. There has been some discussion on another board that specializes in Finescale Minatures kits and so forth, to create a discussion group on Yahoo that deals with designing and building model railroad layouts that are non-operational. That is, build for the fun of building, track being secondary and just a scenic item. Perhaps you might build a 1950's town with an abandoned engine facility, decaying track running behind building, that sort of thing. I would be curious as to others thoughts on this idea and how many of you are actually interested in running your trains vs. using them for photos, etc. [?]

ShayOn30
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  • From: US
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Posted by AltonFan on Friday, November 21, 2003 10:37 AM
I think that's called a diorama.

If your main interest is building things, but you have no interest or space for operation, it just may be the way to go.

Dan

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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, November 21, 2003 10:58 AM
Here we come to the question of "model railroading" versus "railroad modelling".

Ian Wilson has written some fine articles about this very question. See http://members.rogers.com/canadianbranchline/ and look under "topic of the month" for the onl-line version. (The "articles" link is a list of published pieces, not the articles themselves).

Andrew
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  • From: Blooington, IN
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Posted by JoeUmp on Saturday, November 22, 2003 12:59 AM
As far as I'm concerned, why bother modeling it if you're not going to run it? Just my humble opinion. If it tracks your train then go for it.
  • Member since
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Posted by Jetrock on Saturday, November 22, 2003 4:26 PM
It depends on what you'd like to do. I have built HO scale dioramas, though not necessarily of railroad scenes (a model of the Victorian house where I work attached to a miniature fountain as a prize for a drawing, a model of an airstrip and cave on Iwo Jima for a "History Day" display in high school) as well as somewhat railroady scenes (a miniatures wargame using HO-scale military minis that featured a small town, scenery and a non-operational railroad line running through it, with train.)

One thing to keep in mind is that most model builders don't operate their models--automobile modelers, military modelers, ship modelers, airplane modelers, etcetera, build things, including dioramas to set them in, not to use but to look at.

On the other end, those who do build vehicle models that operate (RC cars and planes and boats, model rockets, etc.) tend to not put the level of detail into their work that model railroaders (or static modelers) do, because the detail would be damaged through use.

One could even extend the analogy to dollhouses--dollhouses intended for display tend to be more detailed (and expensive) than ones actually intended for play (just as you wouldn't give little Jimmy a superdetailed brass Mikado to run around on the living room carpet.) The same thing goes for miniatures for roleplaying or tabletop wargaming--the ones intended for use tend to be a lot less detailed than the ones intended for display in a glass case.

So, in a way, it is model railroads which are somewhat unique--they are both functional and detailed. If some desire to choose functionality over detail (such as the folks on this forum who prefer to run a loop of track on a board and think scenery is a waste of time) why can't some folks choose detailing a layout over operating one?

Admittedly, it doesn't seem like a functional diorama/layout would be that much harder than a non-functional one. I mean, if you're going to glue or nail down track anyhow, it's fairly easy to attach power leads and scoot trains around. One of the reasons why I keep my layout wiring as simple as possible (manual switch control, minimal or no block control, no automatic uncouplers, etc.) is to avoid having to do a lot of wiring and "under-the-layout" work, which I like a lot less than making the top look pretty--though I do enough to ensure smooth-running track and enough functionality to get the switching chores done.
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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, November 23, 2003 2:14 PM
Consider joining a modular club; with a module, you'd essentially build a diorama, but just include the necessary electrical hookups so that it can be operated. This would give you the opportunity to display your work to a wider audience, too, when you set it up at train shows. The scene itself wouldn't need to be operational (if you include a lot of spurs and sidings), just the continuous mainline tracks, so it could be a very simple piece operationally.
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  • From: Corpus Christi, Texas
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Posted by leighant on Sunday, November 23, 2003 3:39 PM
"Operation" has a specialized meaning in model railroading-- running trains according to a timetable, switching cars to industrial tracks and in yards as if handling real commercial traffic etc. That can get pretty serious, and not everybody wants to do it too intently. There are a lot of modelers who build layouts that "run" but don't "operate" in that special technical sense. There is a loop of track where a train can run round and round, but no attempt at switching cars, following a timetable, etc. But beautiful scenery.
  • Member since
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  • From: Along the Murphy Branch
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Posted by dave9999 on Monday, November 24, 2003 9:46 PM
Bottomline is, it is your project. Do what you like and have fun.You can have a train run around and around till the wheels fall off. You can switch cars till your turnouts burnout.
Or you can have an abandoned loco sitting on a siding with weeds growing taller than the smokestack. It's completely your choice. Forget about the purist. Dave

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