Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Progress Pics

You've heard me say it before - and you're likely to hear me say it often - how important it is to do your best to do even a little bit of work on the layout when you can. I admit, a 5 minute block of time is probably not worthwhile (though I'm sure there's somebody out there that's that efficient), but if you have even as little as 15 minutes while waiting for dinner you can make steady progress on your layout - provided you string enough of those little blocks of time together.

That said, larger blocks of time are certainly best for larger sections of the project. The main thing is to not just go down to the layout and stare/mull/(over)think about it too much. I know as well as anyone the value/necessity of "thinking my way into" a project, but lots of time can be wasted just staring at things. One strategy that's been working for me lately is to make out a list of those "bite-sized chunks" you can do when you have those little blocks of time. That way, you can get right to it, rather than just trodding the same mental ground all the time. And you can take advantage of opportunities for extra time and help as the come.

Case in point: All too often I schedule a "work" session and end up spending most of the time talking over different solutions rather than making any actual progress. True, progress does not always equal accomplishment, but sometimes it's better to make use of the extra hands at least as much as the extra brain.

Recent activity on the layout illustrates how having help and having bite-sized lists work together...

Pieter was over recently and - after discussing different approaches (for just a *little* while), we came up with a benchwork solution for the Saybrook Wye. Having the extra set of hands (in addition to the extra brain power) resulted in another major accomplishment for the layout - building out Saybrook. This is the view as you come down the basement stairs (things are just temporarily mocked up since I still have to remove a treadmill from that side room).

Incidentally, the funny angles of that particular piece of benchwork were made much easier by this angle clamp which allows you to hold lumber at any angle for screwing together. I highly recommend you add this to your toolbox - at $12, it's a bargain.

Having Pieter over was a big help, but most of the time I'm working solo. So that's where the "bite sized chunks" of project become critical. I was sorely tempted to spend the evening reading, but decided to head to the basement "for just 15 minutes or so" to see if I could get in the working mood. Guess what - I ended up spending a couple hours. Here's the east end of the Saybrook scene as it goes through the wall - with a 4-track mainline mocked up. In this pic, I've just started attaching the plywood that will take the mainline into staging.

Here's the other side of that hole through the wall - plywood to support the start of staging, all attached now.

A longer view, looking "west" back toward the Saybrook scene (though the hole in the wall). The subroadbed coming towards you will support the mainline going around the return loop.

Looking "east" again - and you can see where the subroadbed is going to join the return loop. The staging yard will evenutally occupy much of that vacant space just beyond the main section of plywood.

And a close-up of a typical subroadbed splice.
Not a hugely impressive accomplishment for the 90 minutes' time, but that's an hour and a half more into the layout. Eating an elephant one bite at a time.... And it's MUCH further than I would have been had I succumbed to the siren song of the armchair. I hope you'll be inspired to do "just a little bit" on your layout too. And if you are, drop a note or leave a comment. We could all use a little extra motivation when it comes to working on the railroad!


  1. You certainly got motivated on our work night when I said we had about an hour remaining...

    1. Nothing like a (not so) subtle prodding to get me going! :^)