With only one locomotive project remaining, work on the LAJ layout is drawing to a close. As I mentioned before, I’ve been thinking a lot about “what’s next?”. Honestly, I thought I’d drift and wallow for awhile trying to find something that motivated me. Ideas come from the strangest places. I was tuning the layout in the basement and happened to glance down at my bookshelf. There they were, the genesis of what will keep me occupied for the next several years….three books on the NY Harbor railroads plus the exceptional Ted Rose watercolor book. It sounds sort of idiotic but my reaction was, “Wow, I forgot I had these books and had forgotten how interested I was in this theme”.
So that will be it, a proto freelance NY Harbor layout…..in N scale….WWII era….steam power. Having done strict prototype layouts and proto freelance, I really haven’t noticed any difference in how much I enjoy one approach over the other. They each have their pros and cons. For this project I want to model the general look of The Bush Terminal railroad in the WWII era in the general vicinity of 1st and 2nd Avenue between 34th and 65th Streets in Brooklyn. Tight curves, soot covered brick, street running. I’d like to capture the brooding smokey mood of Ted Rose and Hopper’s work.
The enormous advantage of N scale is how much you can easily fit in a small space. There are no free lunches and N scale has some pretty significant challenges: lack of product availability, overly thick details, cast on grab irons, a lot of poorly running motive power, sketchy quality control of turnouts. I do think though that with some careful planning and slight of hand I can work around a lot of this.
The Downtown Spur will remain due to it’s long run length and ability to host operating sessions. I’ll maintain it but I’m not sure how much more work I’ll do on it. The LAJ doesn’t take up any room at all and will remain. The Brooklyn layout will go in the same room as the LAJ project and will be equally small. I’ve learned the hard way that you have to really keep the shackles on with N scale when it comes to limiting layout size or it will eat you alive, especially with more time consuming urban themes. More to come in the months ahead.