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Why V-Scale?

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Why V-Scale?
Posted by kelticsylk on Thursday, September 29, 2005 1:25 PM
I'm going through all my old model magazines and after looking at decades of drawings, articles and advertisements I have noticed the following...

Not one single trackplan seems to hold a candle to the virtual routes I've run. No matter how big, they still can't run prototypical trains in the same way the simulators do. When they are small they are even worse. I can now understand why none of the plans ever really appealed to me when I was building HO scale layouts. For the type of railroading I like you need to fill your entire house with train layout...

In V-Scale I have the space to run lashups of Centipedes (and 100 car trains)without worrying about "minimum radius" or overhang (unless I enter industrial trackage).

Many of the articles I found contain maps of the real area the layout is supposed to represent. While the map is interesting to me, the layout plan usually pales by comparison. In V-scale I can use the map and build the railroad the way it's supposed to be as in this example of the actual track plan from the route Newark & Jersey City Railroading by Teemu Saukkonen...

In the documentation for the route, Teemu apologizes because "Most of Jersey City and Newark area waterfront are included , PRR terminal in Jersey City could not be made because of the tile size problem, but PRR Greenville terminal is included". Only in V-Scale would someone apologize for only including "Most of Jersey City and Newark area waterfront"

The only major advantage to "real" modeling for me comes from building models I can hold in my hands. I don't personally like pawing a finely detailed model. You want to touch them as little as possible. All those scale hand grabs tend to bend or break too easily. And building and maintaining the hundreds of models required for a Class 1 railroad seems too daunting a task to me...

In V-scale an entire train of hoppers requires building only one car. Only the numbers need change, and only if you're a purist about such things. I can spend my time building more variety (and all those passenger trains I love).

For me personally, the cost of a layout big enough to run long freights and passenger trains is prohibitive...No, make that ridiculous! If I had to pay the going prices for my growing fleet of virtual first generation cab diesels I'd have spent the equivalent of several small automobiles. Then there's all the other paraphanalia that goes into a model railroad. Beside the rolling stock, etc, you have yards of wood, pounds of plaster and miles of wire (not to mention the layout room remodeling). Like many other folks today, I can't afford a new wing on my house just for trains. I couldn't justify that sort of expense even if I hit the lottery! In V-scale, even if I buy a payware route, I still get an entire division (or more) and all it's equipment, scenery, structures, sounds, weather, and challenges for less than $100.

I like scratch building virtual models. It's challenging while remaining inexpensive enough to enjoy. I'm just completeting a series of Baldwin cab units including at least one of every model Baldwin produced in the late 1940's

Doing the same thing with real plastic, wood and metal would probably require even more time, more skill, and a lot more money. When I did finish it, it would be confined to running the loop around whatever layout I was able to fit in bedroom, basement or garage. It could run on that route and only that route, unless I carry it to a friends or a club layout (where I risk damaging it in transit). In V scale I can set it loose on one of any number of routes and let it roll. Even better, I can e-mail the model to a friend who needs one. Within minutes my friend has the model up and running on whatever route he chooses to enjoy.

I can model several prototypes. Not just the cars or engines, but the railroad itself. I'm working on a model of GM's Aerotrain in several paint schemes and I test the Pennsylvania version on Pennsylvania rails between Harrisburg and Altoona...

on the PRR Middle Division from Tom Pearce, Bill Aukamp, and Mike DiMaio. To test the other versions I can use an NYC "layout", a UP "layout", and any other "layout" where the Aerotrain operated.

I regularly run my CNJ double ended Baldwin models on the Jersey Central portion of Werner Mueller's Lehigh Valley route. My SAL Baldwins run on any of several routes based on Seaboard trackage...

Then there is a set of ALCo DL-109's I'm developing...

Can you imagine what these would cost in brass? In V-scale they cost me the price of the modeling and simulator software, well under $100. The real investment is my own time, which may total in the hundreds of hours for the entire series. For almost nothing I get months of enjoyment, which is what this hobby is all about.

Not only can I model my favorite part of my favorite railroad, I can model any railroad it connects with. If the Jersey Central interchanges with the Pennsylvania in Newark, I can model significant sections of both roads...

as Temu has done on his Newark & Jersey City route. What's more he has done this with every road that has an interchange with the Jersey Central!

Recently I have heard that it's possible to merge several related routes. Some friends and acquaintences have been doing just that over the past several months.. So far they have about 3000 miles of track covering several states. I have a beta copy and it seems to work very well. It now seems very possible to model most if not all of a Class 1 railroad. In the view below you can see the actual route stats...

Yes that does say four million, eight hundred and eighty six thousand, seven hundred and twelve meters (4,886,712 m) There is NO WAY that could be accomplished in any other scale!

Most V-scale "layouts" are huge by model standards. This is great in my book. You don't have to imagine the train runs from Denver to where ever. It actually does! There is nothing like watching a streamlined passenger train cruise across endless miles of country-side like it was meant to. I regularly test run this model of the M10000 west out of Denver on Donald Karch's Rollins Pass route...

My own experimental Allegheny Eastern is very small by V-Scale standards, but it still emcompasses the entire area of Johnstown, Pennsylvania and will...

include the B&O, PRR, Johnstown Traction and the Cambria & Conemaugh trackage in the city. The terrain you see is produced from actual data of the area obtained from Pennsylvania State University.

All is not rosey, there are many disadvantages to V scale and the various simulators used to experience it, but I have found they are less inconvenient than the obstacles to other "real" scales. Like the others, V-scale requires a learning curve to operation and modeling but this is a minor consideration given the benefits. There seems to be no limit to what is possible. From where I'm sitting, V-Scale sure beats anything else I've seen so far.
Frank Musick
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Posted by RedLeader on Thursday, September 29, 2005 2:15 PM
Everything you say I understand, Frank; but I rather kiss my g-friend on her lips than kissing a picture of her... same with my trains...

p.s. I don't really kiss my trains... well not very often ;)


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Posted by steveblackledge on Thursday, September 29, 2005 2:54 PM
If you are happy with V scale thats great, i run trains on MS train sim and enjoy building long consists with lots of power up front but i still prefer modeling in HO scale
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Posted by Leon Silverman on Thursday, September 29, 2005 3:04 PM
When I was a youngster, I took things apart to see how they worked but could not reassemble them. As I grew up, my interest in putting together models taught me how to put things together again. Virtual model building does not teach mechanical or electrical dexterit. You never learn to make things work. Similators teach people how to operate machines, not build or fix them. I can work up a sweat preparing my train room ( I am spackling the drywall I just installed) but V-scale is simply a way to prevent a couch potatoe from falling asleep in front to the TV.
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, September 29, 2005 3:30 PM
I definately see the advantages of "V scale".

The best way I could approximate railroading in a very small space is with a "single location" or "railfan" style layout, where you're basically just watching trains run by on a module.

Like you, for me, a huge model railroad is just too time/cost/space/sanity prohibitive.

I am *almost* tempted to check out V-modeling. However, ever since burning up way too many hours on "jezzball" (a simple yet highly addictive windows video game) years ago in college, I've written off video games forever, and find it difficult to not think of V-scale as a video game.

The more "reality" and less "virtual" my life is, the better.

Besides, there's nothing like getting your hands on a model train. It's just so dang cool.

I think to satisfy the "largeness" problem lately, I've been researching real life railroading in my area. That is pretty interesting stuff.

Good post though, and it will be neat to see how this type of "modeling" plays out in the future.
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Posted by vsmith on Thursday, September 29, 2005 3:43 PM
Sorry but to me Virtual RR's are in the same principle as going to a Strip Club...

If I can't touch it, what's the point?

   Have fun with your trains

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Posted by tstage on Thursday, September 29, 2005 3:44 PM

Have to agree with the above comments. (Redleader - great analogy! [(-D])

I've only been modeling for about a year and a half now. In that time I have learned quite a bit about carpentry, electronics, tracklaying, model building, painting, making scenery, etc. I would NOT have had the wonderful privilege of learning and obtaining new skills had I not chosen to model in 3D.

That's not to say that virtual RRing doesn't have it's place. There's some terrific aspects about it that are real pluses. Like Redleader pointed out, it's still no substitute for both seeing it and touching it.

I also look at it this way: If the electricity goes out, it's true that both of us won't be able to run trains. But only one of us goes back upstairs...I can STILL model. [tup]


Time...It marches on...without ever turning around to see if anyone is even keeping in step.

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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, September 29, 2005 4:20 PM
I do both. Models are nice, of course, but everything Frank says is true (at least for me). Both are just different forms of modeling the same thing. It's really cool to run a physical model that you built (kit) on a layout you painstakingly also built, but when it comes to real operation and running prototypically sized trains in a variety of loacations, it's hard to beat virtual.

To take the "kissing your girl friend" analogy a bit further; Is model railroadng like playing with a plastic blow-up doll rather than the real thing?

But, really, all of this is only a hobby. You, yourself, participate in the way you enjoy, and who cares how anyone else does it.

BTW, Frank, what kind of PC do you have and what software (it looks MSTS based from your website).
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, September 29, 2005 4:30 PM
You can't run it on the Mac, so I won't use it. Thats all there is for me to say.
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, September 29, 2005 4:30 PM
Now where did I hide that "Virtual" button in the basement?
Another advantage to V scale is as the eye sight sneaks off to where ever it goes to, you can go to a bigger monitor!
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Posted by ereimer on Thursday, September 29, 2005 5:01 PM
i think virtual railroading is pretty cool . i bought an early version of Trainz and had a lot of fun with it , and i might buy the 2006 version when i see it in a store , there have been some impressive changes since the 1st version . what i'll probably do is V-model the portions of the Sante Fe Prescott and Phoenix railway and it's connections to the ATSF and SP that i can't fit in my basement .

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Posted by palallin on Thursday, September 29, 2005 5:25 PM
MRing has always balanced between modelling and operating. "V-scale" tends to appeal to the operator.
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Posted by fiatfan on Thursday, September 29, 2005 5:48 PM
Very interisting topic, Frank.

I spend most of my day in front of a computer screen. By the time I get home I'm ready to do something else. Sure, I check in on this forum and a couple others, but that's about a half hour tops. Most of the evening I spend doing anything but sitting in front of a computer screen.

As others have mentioned, I really enjoy model building. I also enjoy operations but I really don't want to take hours moving from one town to the next. It takes me about a minute and a half to move from one town to the next. There I do local switching and make up trains to move back to the other town,

I have a small layout (about 8X12) that suits my needs perfectly. I am glad you found a system that suits your needs. I think that's what this hobby is all about, doing what pleases you.

I must say, however, that I really like the amount of money you spend compared to what I have spent...[:D]


Life is simple - eat, drink, play with trains!

Go Big Red!

PA&ERR "If you think you are doing something stupid, you're probably right!"

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Posted by Train 284 on Thursday, September 29, 2005 6:26 PM
Very cool! Impressive!
Matt Cool Espee Forever! Modeling the Modoc Northern Railroad in HO scale Brakeman/Conductor/Fireman on the Yreka Western Railroad Member of Rouge Valley Model RR Club
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Posted by kelticsylk on Thursday, September 29, 2005 6:30 PM
I agree with all of you. Each of us should enjoy the hobby the way we see fit. I can't help feeling there are folks out there who don't know there is an alternative to other scales. The cost is so low that almost anyone can get started in model railroading, even couch potato's on a budget. It's a unique way to try out those armchair ideas or test your dream layout.

It seems to attract a lot of young people. I believe this is due to the computer / video game enviroment. I think we see a lot of current day railroading because of this (the kind of folks to whom Conrail is a fallen flag). There are also a fair amount of 1970's era routes with a seeming minority of "transition era" modelers (me included) thrown in to balance all that shiny CSX and NS equipment.

I also agree with the idea that model railroading can teach you many skills you need for everyday life. I was able to build a very convincing fake fireplace while remodeling my old house using those skills. Yes, there is all that fun with electrical and soldering and wood work, but I do those things anyway. Studding out a basement is a ton of work and I'm not as young as I once was. Don't even want to think about sheet rock...UGH! what a mess that was.

Real or virtual we are still playing with replica's. If I wanted to work with real trains I could volunteer at the local rail museum or hire on with the nearest shortline. I'm pretty sure that might be a bit too strenuous for these old bones.

Don't get me wrong, I like making mine runs to the other side of the 4x8 as much as the next guy. I just enjoy model railroading more now that I use the simulator.
Frank Musick
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Posted by TrainFreak409 on Thursday, September 29, 2005 6:47 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by banini_jeque

You can't run it on the Mac, so I won't use it. Thats all there is for me to say.

If you get a version of Virtual PC, you could run it. And with a Mac being a naturally faster machine, it should have no problem running it.[;)][8D][:D][:p] I used to be a Mac-man myself, but I didn't really have a great Macintosh, so it is used for simple CAD now.

I like V-Scale, since I don't have an actual layout just yet.[8D] I hope to soon though.

kelticsylk, do you make any models available for download? For Ultimate Trainz Collection? Have you made any turbines?[:D]

Scott - Dispatcher, Norfolk Southern

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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, September 29, 2005 7:02 PM
I have a huge layout in Trainz and think I could qualify for a year of experience for an engineer's job if you count Train Simulator. However click and boom a perfect model appears just doesn't have the same satisfaction as building one. Looking at a TV screen always looks like a TV screen, however a model can look like the real thing. It is not a lot cheaper either; once you start deciding you need new activities and new routes, and a fast internet connection to download all of you great stuff, a subwoofer, life size controls, and of course a air freshener that smells like diesel and journal grease.

A big tip for your computer, trains just won’t sound right till you get a subwoofer, and I mean a big subwoofer, not a $30 excuse for a subwoofer.

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Posted by dave9999 on Thursday, September 29, 2005 7:15 PM
I fire up the MSTS every now and then, but it's no subsitute for
model railroading. Besides, when I play the game, I usually
just turn off derailments and drive really, really fast!!!

It's fun, but I get bored with it pretty fast. I can get in the train room
and have the time get away from me. Sometimes it get's really late
before I realize it.

Besides, you don't get plaster under your nails playing a simulator.[;)]

To each his own, I guess. Good luck, Dave
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Posted by dinwitty on Thursday, September 29, 2005 7:16 PM
What dissapoints me so far with the train simulators is the lack of Multi-player or otherwise. One train only except for CPU controled trains.

To me that has to be the next step for the simulators to do.

In the meantime their cool, I however have a lot invested in HO and will continue to hobby HO.

I havent used my MS Train Simulator for a while, I need to bring it back up to speed.

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Posted by bikerraypa on Thursday, September 29, 2005 7:30 PM
Oh, it is definitely something that I think would be a lot of fun. I have a sneaking suspicion, however, that I don't quite have the computer skills to do it.

A few years down the road, maybe V will be the scale of choice, and those of us doing N and HO will be over in the Toy Trains forum with all the Hi-Rail and tinplate guys. I can see the threads now?

Ready to Download or Kit?

Person 1: I'm new to MRR, and I was just wondering, how hard is it to program a locomotive kit? All I've ever used is the Ready-To-Download stuff from my LHS (local hobby server)

Person 2: I hate these (*&^^ RTD items. Takes all the skill out of it. I remember back in the day when all we had were Pentium 4 machines and we really had to PROGRAM our own locomotives. Nowadays, blah blah blah blah...

The more things change, the more they'll stay the same. All aboard!!

Ray out
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Posted by Junctionfan on Thursday, September 29, 2005 8:32 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by vsmith

Sorry but to me Virtual RR's are in the same principle as going to a Strip Club...

If I can't touch it, what's the point?

In some cases, one might wonder if it is safe to touch.........
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, September 29, 2005 9:37 PM
If I want to nap in front of my computer I'll play train simulator.
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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, September 30, 2005 1:01 AM

I just saw this posted over on the Atlas Forum:

I had thought you V-Dudes only used prototypes for skins. Interesting how he used a weathered model. But then I'm a little biased.

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