Sunday, January 10, 2021

2020 Accomplishments/2021 Goals

With the new position at work, I'm afraid there isn't nearly as much time for layout work and blogging as I'd like. I'm certainly not complaining, just explaining why it seems I can't get around to posting until Sunday evenings. BUT! The good news is that I have been able to make some progress (albeit slow) on the layout and I'm hoping to get the blog caught up to it soon. If I have a New Year's Resolution for The Valley Local blog, it's to be able to post shortly after working on the layout - that way it's always up to date. Fingers crossed...

Speaking of resolutions though, here it is 10 days into the New Year and I haven't shared any firm plans on what I hope to accomplish in 2021. I did do a little retrospective last week that showed where the layout was at the end of 2019 and were it is/was at the end of 2020 . . . but it's often good to have a checklist at hand to keep you focused. Kinda like I did last year year before last . . .

So, I'll go over what I'd hoped to accomplish going into 2020 & see how I did. Whatever's left will make up my resolutions/punch list for 2021 . . .

Finish Wethersfield

How I did: Got all the major structures done and installed, roads/grade crossings done, as well as basic scenery done. Wethersfield was my major scenic accomplishment of 2020.

What's left: The blasted photo backdrop. I still haven't decided how to go about it. Once I do, and get it done, "all" that's left is details, chain link fences around the lumber co., lumber piles, details around houses, trees, details around the station, etc.

Finish East Berlin

How I did: Poured the river, weathered the road & station. Along with a killer backdrop (if I don't say so myself), I'll call East Berlin definitely at a level of "done-ness."

What's left: Need to build a concrete loading dock, work on the transition between the backdrop and foreground on the right wall, and add all the fun details that bring a scene to life. I don't mind admitting East Berlin is one of my favorite parts of the layout - and with just one turnout, is surprisingly fun to operate all by itself.

Finish Dividend

How I did: With Dave Messer's buildings, I got a huge head start in 2020, but then got distracted with Wethersfield. By the end of the year though, I'd started roughing in the new scenic contours.

What's left: I'm actually working in Dividend now. I have to color the rocks in the cut, do basic scenery & ground cover, add the structures, and build the "tank farm" at the south end of the complex. Also have to do a photo backdrop here, but - believe it or not - unlike Wethersfield, I didn't obsess over it and it's already 90% done. I only have to add another image, stitch it together, and get it printed.

Finish Saybrook

How I did: Big Fat Goose Egg. I think all I accomplished here in 2020 was to lay down a few samples of ballast.

What's left: Route 1 overpass at the left/east end, signal bridge at the right/west end, photo backdrop (although part of it is already done), and - of course - ballasting the track.

East Haddam

How I did: Actually, this is more a report of how Dave Messer did. Unfortunately, he passed before completing them, but he made huge progress on the structures.  I haven't done anything else here but place the structures.

What's left: I need to finish the structures - and am very much looking forward to "collaborating" with Dave once again, through the notes he left on how to go about it. The photo backdrop that needs to be done here is going to be particularly challenging since the scene looks east, with the Connecticut River behind the scene, on the backdrop. Once I figure that out, all that's left is "just" scenery (although I have a small cottage to build and place up on the hill, to represent the Camp Bethel cottages).

J-1 Class 2-8-2 #3022

How I did: Another big fat goose egg. This project has been on my bench for years. Fortunately, I have a trusted friend that's working on another J-1 for me, so once I can finish the tender and detailing, I can send it off to him for finishing.

What's left: Have to finish the cut-down tender, including detailing, move the whistle to its proper location, and fabricate an "over smokebox" handrail. I'll likely leave the painting and weathering to another.

Class DEY-3 & DEY-5 Diesels

How I did: This is getting repetitive, but another zero here.

What's left: Mike Redden over at New England Model Works makes the proper cabs, and I have the parts on-hand to do the two Alco S-2s (New Haven Class DEY-5) I need for the Shore Line locals, as well as the S-1 (DEY-3) needed for the Valley local. Painting shouldn't be too tough since in my era they're still in the solid Pullman Green livery. I do need proper decals though . . . Fortunately, I think somebody may be working on those . . . soon.

Operating Sessions

How I did: Not surprisingly, I hosted just ONE operating session all year - and that was during the Springfield show. I did, however, do a few solo operating sessions which were a lot of fun, though a bit lonely.

What's left: Just looking forward to whenever things open back up this year so I can start hosting sessions again.

And THAT more than just about anything else will motivate me to get as much done on the layout as possible as soon as possible. I'd really like to have some significant progress to show my operators to welcome them back to The Valley Line.

With a lot of discipline, and a little luck, I'll have a lot more "How I did"s and fewer goose eggs to report this time next year. Thankfully, despite the crazy schedule lately, I'm well on my way. Hope you'll continue to follow along!


  1. Chris, it takes some courage to do such a retrospect. While there are some things that didn't get done, I am hopeful you enjoyed yourself and the hobby, you feel good about the progress you did make and you are happy that you shared it with friends if only via this blog. I have enjoyed reading your progress and seeing your photos. Ken

    1. Thanks Ken! I'm seldom happy with my pace of progress, but knowing that you and others enjoy following along makes sharing all the more worth it. Really glad to have you on board and thanks much for the encouragement! Here's to a more-productive(? :) 2021!